Napoleon was not less original as a tactician than as a strategist. His manoeuvres on the field of battle had the promptness and decision of the thunderbolt. In the actual shock of conflict, as in the preparations which he made for bringing it on, his object was to amuse the enemy upon many points, while he oppressed one by an unexpected force of numbers. The breaking through the line, the turning of a flank, which had been his object from the commencement of the fight, lay usually disguised under a great number of previous demonstrations, and was not attempted until both the moral and physical force of the enemy was impaired by the length of the combat. It was at this period that he brought up his guards, who, impatient of inactivity, had been held in readiness for hours, and now, springing forward like wolf-dogs from the leash, had the glorious task, in which they rarely failed, of deciding the long-sustained contest. It may be added, as further characteristic of his tactics, that he preferred employing the order of the column to that of the line; perhaps on account of the faith which he might rest in the extreme valour of the French officers by whom the column was headed.
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