While one understands today by it usually closely one behind the other driving vehicles in small width, the column marked in 19. Century mobile, more deeply than spreads infantry federations, which replaced up to then usual line tactics. The subsections (gangs, sections, courses etc.) stood thereby one behind the other. As first this tactics was used of the troops of the French revolution on a large scale together with the Tirailleuren and the arrangement in army divisions.
One differentiated opened from closed columns. At an opened column the one behind the other standing parts had so much distance that they could swing easily to the line. Depending upon use one spoke of
- route columns with narrow front and large depth
- rendezvous columns with nearly square structure (2 courses width), in order to meet large masses on smallest area. These were also very well suitable for the attack with the bayonet and for the education from square Karrees to the defense by Kavallerie.
- Maneuvering and engagements columns; rectangular formations (1 course width), which were mobile from the prominent officer easily to grasp and into all directions. They could be regrouped rapidly to the line and pulled together again.
One called column line the formation, with which several troop bodies stood next to each other in column in a row (with larger distances). The grouping in columns opened an up to then unknown flexibility in the guidance of smaller combat forces on the battleground. While the column formation in the Napoleoni wars always covered a whole battalion, one went starting from center 19. Century over to form company columns at first in Prussia, then generally. First however only two companies ( of four) used this tactics , while the other two educated a “half battalion” than reserve. By the company columns the troops became still more mobile and more flexible and were less vulnerable opposite the ever more powerfully becoming Feuerwaffen. A further improvement took place via introduction from Tirailleuren, which became the crucial element of each army.