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Title: Rout  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of English criminal law, Unlawful assembly, Spartan army, Battle of Arkansas Post (American Revolutionary War), Dogs in warfare
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A rout is a chaotic and disorderly retreat or withdrawal of troops from a battlefield, resulting in the victory of the opposing party, or following defeat, a collapse of discipline, or poor morale.

A routed army often disintegrates into of "every man for himself" or sauve qui peut as the survivors flee for safety. A rout often results in much higher casualties for the retreating force than an orderly withdrawal. On many occasions, more soldiers are killed in the rout than in the actual battle. Normally, though not always, routs either end a battle or provide the moment the winner needs to win decisively a battle (or even campaign).

The opposite of a rout is a rally, in which a military unit that has been giving way and is on the verge of a rout, suddenly gathers itself and turns back to the offensive.


Historically, lightly equipped soldiers such as blitzkrieg warfare that characterized World War II, the French Army was decisively defeated in the Battle of Sedan (1940) opening a 20 kilometres (12 mi) gap in Allied lines into which Heinz Guderian poured his mechanized forces. German tanks kept the rout going, and the Allies were unable to stabilize the situation before the Wehrmacht occupied Paris and forced the capitulation of the French government.


Feigned routs may be used as a military deception to entice an enemy into pursuing the "retreating" force, with the intent of causing the enemy to abandon a strong defensive position or leading the enemy into an ambush. This carries some risk because a feigned rout can quickly turn into a real one.

In the Banastre Tarleton as rout, as intended. In over-aggressively pressing the attack, the British lost cohesion and were overwhelmingly defeated in the resulting double envelopment by the Americans.

This feigned rout tactic had several benefits. It was a ruse de guerre that played off British expectations that an undisciplined militia would rout on contact, creating British overconfidence. The militia screened the main American force from view. By asking for only two volleys before the retreat, Morgan set an achievable goal for shaky and poorly trained militia facing British regulars. And it allowed the militia to remain intact for later parts of the battle.

Leading up to the French decisive victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon ordered his forces to retreat so he could feign a grave weakness. Desperate to lure the Allies into battle, Napoleon gave every indication in the days preceding the engagement that the French army was in a fragile condition, even abandoning the dominant Pratzen Heights near Austerlitz.

It is thought that Breton cavalry performed a feigned rout at the Battle of Hastings.

Other uses of the term

A rout is a synonym for an overwhelming defeat as well as a verb meaning "to put to disorderly retreat" or "to defeat utterly" and is often used in sports to describe a blowout.

In law, a rout is a disturbance of the public peace by three

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