FORMATIONS. When soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder facing the front, they are formed in a rank or a line; when they stand one behind the other they constitute a file. Two or more files make a column; two or more ranks (or single lines) are also called a line. (The term "column" is most commonly used in the sense just defined, although men can also be in a "column of (single) files" or "Indian file.")
Linear tactics—as opposed to the massed formations of the Greek Phalanx of ancient times and the Spanish Square that was doomed by field artillery—evolved with the advent of effective muskets. A "line of columns," was used in the Franco-American attack on Savannah on 9 October 1779.