- Renaissance assault-infantry unit
The Grenadier is the assault infantry unit of the Renaissance age. Armed with his trusty musket, he is suited to strike forces as well as city Defense. When combined with the mobile Field Gun, they make a potent force.
The earliest firearms were primitive devices, lacking buttstock or trigger, which had to be held under the arm making them difficult to aim. The harquebus, which employed both of these things, was developed in the late 15th century. It’s slow rate of fire and inaccuracy did not make up for the fact that soldiers could now fire from their shoulders. Nevertheless, some 16th century armies, most notably the Spanish tercio, employed harquebusiers with pikemen, who would open fire on approaching enemies and then retreat behind the pikemen as the range of combat got closer. In 1588, 10,000 English troops were experimentally equipped with firearms, against Spanish forces relying on archers; the success of the English forces played a major role in the rise of firearms as the weapon of choice for infantrymen.
The musket was the first firearm to employ a flintlock firing mechanism. Heavier and more powerful than a harquebus, it could be relied on to fire 2 to 3 times a minute at 100 to 150 yard range with minimal misfires. By the end of the Thirty Years’ War, infantrymen, armed with muskets, and pikemen were about equal in numbers for most armies. Smaller tactical groups of infantrymen facilitated quicker rate of group fire with minimal mutual interference. Lines dropped from 8 to 10 in the 17th century to 2 to 3 at the end of the 18th century. Military strategists, most notably Prince Maurice of Nassau, a great Dutch military teacher, developed drill - the preparation for war by prescribed movements and formations - to increase efficiency. The invention of the bayonet in 1670 gave infantries little reason to keep pikemen, and infantry units employed muskets and bayonet exclusively from then on.