'Gung-ho' is the modern expression that sums it all up. It was first used in 1942 to refer to raids by United States marines. Its origin was Chinese and denoted a team effort. But the practice of the headlong charge against the enemy, either on horse back or on foot, reaches back into the mists of time. Sometimes it met with success; on other occasions the outcome was total disaster.
Oh, there are many expressions for it: 'to ride (or charge) hell for leather', or 'to go at it full tilt', or, as Lancastrians will have it, 'to go for it, muck or nettles', or, indeed, most memorably from the trenches of World War I, 'to go over the top', alternatively expressed as 'Up, lads, and at 'em'. Undoubtedly the most celebrated instance of this impetuous behaviour was the 'wild' Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, duly immortalized in Tennyson's rousing poem of the same year.
The article refers to what the author describes as the "heroic impetuosity" of two lieutenant-colonels, George Lake and Charles Taylor, during the Battles of Roliça and Vimeiro.
The article can be downloaded here
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