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What is the origin of Infantry being called the Queen of Battle?

The earliest attributed quote credits Sir William Napier (1785-1860) with saying “Infantry is the Queen of Battles.” In a text by a Mr. G. Maspero, published in 1892, the army of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (7th century, B.C.) is described as follows: "There is, on an average one hundred foot soldiers to every ten cavalry and every single chariot; the infantry is really Queen of the Assyrian battles.” The expression hailing infantry as the queen of battle was widely in use at the time of Napoleon I (1769-1821).

The ascendancy of the infantryman has been dated as far back as the English victory at Crecy in 1346, and to the later Battle of Agincourt, scene of another English victory over the French, in 1415. The decisive weapon in both battles was the English longbow; at Crecy the French crossbowmen could not match the rate of fire of the bowmen, while at Agincourt the massed French cavalry fell before the waves of arrows fired against them by an outnumbered English army led by the young king, Henry V. Both battles were stunning affirmations of the power of capably led and properly armed infantrymen.

References to the queen of battle (or battles) continue to appear in doctrinal literature from the time of the First World War until today, and one of the most popular theories on the selection of the queen as symbol of our branch lies in the queen’s dominance of a chessboard, where she enjoys much more freedom of movement and mobility than any other piece. Her position as the most powerful piece on the board is indeed analogous to the role of the Infantry on the battlefield, and – like our branch – it is she who may well determine the final outcome. The king, on the other hand, is a vulnerable figure, and must rely upon others to protect him.