Shock tactics

Shock tactics

First Crusade displaying a heavy cavalry implementation of the shock tactics] Shock tactics, shock tactic or Shock attack is the name of an offensive maneuver in battle in which the attacking forces engage into close combat with extreme action and massive force. The shock tactic is a fully committed attack designed as a sledgehammer blow against the enemy and aimed to break their formations, shatter their morale and eventually rout their soldiers.


Shock tactics were usually performed by heavy cavalry, but was sometimes achieved by heavy infantry. The most famous shock tactic is the medieval cavalry charge. This shock attack was conducted by heavily armoured cavalry armed with lances, usually couched, galloping at full speed against enemy formation.


After the introduction of firearms the use of the cavalry charge as a common military tactic waned. Infantry charges armed with firearms became more common. The culmination and downfall of the infantry charge was at World War I, when masses of soldiers made frontal attacks on the trenched enemy. The machine gun made this tactic a futile one and only with the invention of the tank did shock tactics become viable once more.

At World War II the Germans adapted the shock tactics to modern mechanized warfare. The Blitzkrieg was a shock tactic based on tanks which gained considerable achievements during the war and was afterwards adopted by most modern armies.

The US tactic of Shock and Awe at the Second Gulf War is a shock tactic based on a combination between land and aerial warfare.

Famous shock attacks

*Pickett's Charge (July 3, 1863) at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.
*Charge of the Light Brigade (October 25, 1854) at the Battle of Balaklava in the Crimean War.
*Charge of the 21st Lancers in the Battle of Omdurman, September 2, 1898: the last cavalry charge in battle by a British cavalry unit.
*Battle of Beersheba (October 31, 1917) in World War I: one of the last successful cavalry charges in history.
*Battle of Krojanty, a cavalry charge that gave birth to the myth of Polish cavalry charging German tanks.

hock units







ee also

*Shock units
*Close combat
*Close Quarters Battle
*Cavalry tactics
*List of military tactics
*Military doctrine
*Military History

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  • shock tactics — plural noun 1. Orig tactics of cavalry attacking in masses and depending for their effect on the force of impact 2. Any course of action aimed at achieving an object by means of suddenness and overwhelming force (figurative) • • • Main Entry:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • shock tactics — ► PLURAL NOUN ▪ the use of sudden violent or extreme action to shock someone into doing something …   English terms dictionary

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  • shock tactics — Synonyms and related words: aerial tactics, aggravated assault, aggression, airborne tactics, amphibious attack, applied tactics, armed assault, armored tactics, assailing, assailment, assault, attack, banzai attack, barrier tactics, blitz,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • shock tactics — plural noun the use of sudden violent or extreme action to shock someone into doing something …   English new terms dictionary

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  • shock tactics — UK / US noun [plural] the use of shocking images or descriptions to force people to think about something or to do something …   English dictionary

  • shock tactics — /ˈʃɒk tæktɪks/ (say shok taktiks) plural noun a method of attack by mobile units in which the suddenness, violence, and massed weight of the first impact produce the main effect …   Australian-English dictionary

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