At the beginning of this period, the battalions of the Prussian Line usually fought in a linear formation three ranks deep, overwhelming the enemy with fire before a well-timed bayonet attack. By the end, the preferred formation was eight to 12 ranks deep. The responsibility for conducting the fire-fight was now given to the skirmish elements and the artillery. The formed battalions provided support for the fire line, and conducted the decisive bayonet charge. Whatever the change, the spirit and ability of the infantry remained consistently high throughout this bloody period.