It’s not exactly “memory” in the conventional sense, but it’s worth dabbling in the killer math of military history. A deadly game of rock, paper, scissors.
The foundations on which we built Empire
They’re just a secret to share
The offensive force of rifle fire
The defensive fortress of the square.
The advantages of the musketry line
They are best learned mathematically.
And not a hundred meters in front
As a Frenchie I would certainly agree.
The French attack you in column
Of maybe 10,000 or more
That stretch back for hundreds of meters
With 20 or less at the head.
They choose their way over their stumbles
A crowded and dense mass of men
And plan that by pressure of numbers
To break through a defense.
But a column will pay a terrible price
In pain and in death and in blood
That numbers are simply a device in
Mathematics of battle and war.
Stop the spine as you go
Shoot from the front 20 men
While a line of a thousand muskets or more
Pay this over and over again.
And the speed of the volley sequence says
The cycle of prime, load and fire
Three volleys a minute brings three spits from Hell
The thunder of the choir of King George.
And practice and drill and practice again
Makes the shot go as planned
But all the training and instruction of men
They can never be taught to stand up.
And so the mathematics of war
It would counteract the strength of his spine
But the line would always be vulnerable
At a cavalry horse charge.
So you kindly looked at the training you had done
In the drill yard that helped you prepare
To make an efficient maneuver on
Hearing the command “Shape square!”
When the spearmen charged you stood and held the line
Until signaled by bugle or drums
To break square too early in time
He invited the wrath of his weapons.
For a six pound shot hitting on the line
I’d pull out a redcoat or two
But 20 or more would go to hell
If in the square one flew.
But once we were ready and the bayonets fixed
Or our pikes were stuck in the ground
There was not a lancer in all of France
It wouldn’t swing your charger.
And when they fell back from a failed attack
The bugles once more would give the signal
Three volleys repeated while retreating
A red line gift from King George.