I've found the picture below on the TotalWar game series forum, but doing the reverse image search, shows that it is actually quite popular (however, I couldn't find the author or the title):
It depicts a Prussian line infantry unit marching towards enemy. My (actually pretty silly question) is: why is the soldier at the bottom left of the drawing shooting during the march without waiting for the command from the officer?
The Wikipedia article on line infantry says:
The soldiers were supposed to fire volleys at the command of officers, but in practice this happened only in the first minutes of the battle. After one or two volleys, each soldier charged a musket and fired at his own discretion, without hearing the commands of the officers.
Line tactics required a strict discipline and simple movements, practiced to the point where they became second-nature. During training, the drill and corporal punishments were widely used.
However, this scene takes place before the unit has "connected" with the enemy: the officer is in front of the soldiers and the front row is marching instead of kneeling. So why are the two soldiers on the bottom left already shooting/reloading after the shot?
- Artistic licence - such thing would never happen in a disciplined Prussian army (at least not so early in the battle), but it shows nicely how the line infantry works?
- Just two undisciplined soldiers that can't wait for the fight and shoot prematurely?
- Some sort of marksmen expected to shoot from the greater distance?
If indeed the 3rd answer is correct - was it a common practice to have such snipers attached to a regular unit? Were they armed differently than the rest of the squad? While the smooth-bore muskets are horrible to be used in marksmanship, there were already in use proper rifles, such as the German Jager rifle or British Baker rifle. I know about designated UNITS of sharpshooters (like the British Green Jackets), but this doesn't seem the case.