Frontal assault

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The military tactic of frontal assault is a direct, hostile movement of forces toward the front of an enemy force (as compared to the flanks or rear of the enemy). By targeting the enemy's front, the attackers are subjecting themselves to the maximum defensive power of the enemy. It may be a commander's only resort when no other options are available. The risks of a frontal assault can be mitigated by the use of heavy supporting fire, diversionary attacks, or the use of cover (such as smokescreens or the darkness of night).

Before the 19th century, a frontal assault against a thin line could be effective when conducted by horse cavalry. However, as the accuracy, rate of fire and range of firearms increased, this procedure proved increasingly suicidal. Cavalry charges against deeply regimented infantry formations were also frequently repulsed as exemplified by the Battle of the Golden Spurs in Flanders in 1302.

This style of combat was sometimes used in the American Civil War. Although officers were taught the value of tactical flanking attacks and strategic turning movements, they occasionally resorted to direct assaults when other options were unavailable. The bloody results of such assaults against field fortifications as Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, and Franklin have made these battles some of the most memorable of the war. Pickett's Charge, arguably the most famous direct assault of the war, was unsuccessful against defenders with minimal fortifications, but with superior artillery support. This style of combat was rapidly becoming outmoded because of the increased accuracy of rifles and the increased use of defensive field works in the later years of the war.

Frontal assaults were also the cause of massive casualties in the trench warfare of World War I.

Battles with notably successful frontal assaults[edit]

Battles with notably unsuccessful frontal assaults[edit]

See also[edit]