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Front to flank?

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  • Front to flank?


    I have been recently reading 'Hannibal' by Theodore Ayrault Dodge and I came across the phrase "forming front to a flank." The passage was describing a battle between Hamilcar Barca and some rebellious mercenaries - in context:

    "Hamilcar moved towards his enemy on a line parallel to their front, in three columns. He was about to 'form front to a flank,' but under the conditions was better justified than Frederick later at the battle of Kolin. At all events he suceeded,- as indeed the last of kings came close to doing too."

    The author continues to describe a maneuver that caused the rebels to think he was retreating and break their ranks in pursuit, allowing his smaller force to defeat the disorganized rebels.

    The term seems itself self explanatory, but given the context and the author later states, as a general rule "Don't manoevre so as to be obliged to form front to a flank," I cant make much sense of it.

    Can anyone give me a hand with this?


  • #2
    Check out He might have a notion what this means as he does animated battle maps just as you describe.

    I'm also Twittering this question to see if anyone knows the answer;
    Our forefathers died to give us freedom, not free stuff.

    I write books about zombies as E.E. Isherwood. Check me out at


    • #3
      I emailed the administrator of the art of battle (thanks for the tip Siberian Heat) and I got this extremely helpful reply:


      First of all thank you for your compliments to the site, I'm certainly working to make it even better. Explaining small tactics and terms such as this one using animations is actually going to eventually be a new project for me for just this reason: many texts are quite vague.

      My preferred work on topics like this is Burne's "The Art of War on Land". In it he describes this maneuver:
      "To form front to a flank - To wheel outwards till the line is paralll, instead of perpindicular to the L[ines] of C[ommunication]. This is a vulnerable position. Avoid it but induce the enemy to take it up - i.e. protect your own communications whilst threatening those of the enemy.

      Example - Imagine an invading army landing at Hull and advancing on Liverpool. An English army based on London, by advancing to engage the enemy at Manchester would thereby protect its own L of C whilst threatening the enemy's."

      I've recreated his figure. sketchily. He also talks of a "strategic flank" which is the flank that if turned cuts the L of C. In this case its the invading army's eastern or left flank whereas the English army doesn't have one.


      [LIVERPOOL] < [INVADING ARMY]---------[HULL]

      ____________________[ENGLISH ARMY]

      __________________________________________________ _____[LONDON]

      Anyways, I hope this helped. If you have any battle requests please don't hesitate to pass them on.


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