PURSUIT PROBLEMS. The term "pursuit" means, in a tactical context, harrying a foe defeated on the battlefield in order to increase the enemy's disorganization and casualties. It is a way of using relentless speed and fresh troops to capitalize on battlefield success and inflict an even greater defeat on the enemy. Pursuit is difficult to accomplish because it requires a commander to look beyond the battlefield, anticipate the outcome, and collect forces in the right places to exploit what are sometimes fleeting opportunities. Eighteenth-century armies that were infantry heavy and used cavalry largely as battlefield shock troops were poorly configured for pursuit. Since most terrain in eastern North America was unsuitable for cavalry, European competitors during the colonial wars rarely expended the time and the almost prohibitive expense to get horse soldiers to the battlefield. The British had experimented with incorporating light cavalry, the most useful force for pursuing a broken foe, into the overall scheme of linear tactics. However, the only British victory in America that culminated in an effective pursuit was Camden, South Carolina, on 16 August 1780.
SEE ALSO Camden Campaign.
revised by Harold E. Selesky