What do you call a person who leads a charge, or otherwise leads a body of soldiers into combat 'from the front'?

My context is historical but with a request this specific I'll take what I can get.

  • 1
    There's point man, which doesn't seem correct for a "charge," but it might help you with your "or otherwise" part.
    – J.R.
    Jun 7, 2013 at 1:13
  • 3
    The new guy, maybe? Jun 7, 2013 at 4:47
  • 1
    Standard-Bearer: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard-bearer It may be worth reviewing this entry as it lists various more ancient to merely historical variations of the phrase or term.
    – JustinC
    Jun 7, 2013 at 14:39
  • @JustinC: Please add this as an answer!
    – Charles
    Jun 7, 2013 at 14:43
  • A leader who leads by example? From my perspective as a conscientious objector/pacifist: bellicose; foolhardy; a man with a death wish; a hopeless Romantic (in the sense of one who thinks it a great and glorious honor to die in battle for one's country, king, or queen); a fool; and yes, perhaps, brave, fearless, stout-hearted, and dauntless. Jun 7, 2013 at 18:23

3 Answers 3



1: one who bears a standard or banner

2: one that leads an organization, movement, or party

It may be worth reviewing the given Standard-Bearer Wikipedia article, as it lists various more ancient to merely historical variations of the phrase or term.

  • Not for nothin', but you want your standard bearer to be toward the center of your formation rather than out front, since they can't really fight while carrying the thing.
    – chaos
    Jun 10, 2013 at 15:48

It depends on your perspective:

RAINA (eagerly turning to him, as all her enthusiasm and her dream of glory rush back on her). Did you see the great cavalry charge? Oh, tell me about it. Describe it to me.
MAN. You never saw a cavalry charge, did you?
RAINA. How could I?
MAN. Ah, perhaps not—of course. Well, it's a funny sight. It's like slinging a handful of peas against a window pane: first one comes; then two or three close behind him; and then all the rest in a lump.
RAINA (her eyes dilating as she raises her clasped hands ecstatically). Yes, first One!—the bravest of the brave!
MAN (prosaically). Hm! you should see the poor devil pulling at his horse.
RAINA. Why should he pull at his horse?
MAN (impatient of so stupid a question). It's running away with him, of course: do you suppose the fellow wants to get there before the others and be killed? Then they all come. You can tell the young ones by their wildness and their slashing. The old ones come bunched up under the number one guard: they know that they are mere projectiles, and that it's no use trying to fight. The wounds are mostly broken knees, from the horses cannoning together.
RAINA. Ugh! But I don't believe the first man is a coward. I believe he is a hero!                         — Bernard Shaw, Arms and the Man

  • Other options might be "glory hound," "suicide jockey," "bellwether," "lead lemming," and "first dead guy."
    – Sven Yargs
    Jun 7, 2013 at 2:48
  • Stoney, you've made my day. I love The Chocolate Cream Soldier. :^)
    – J.R.
    Jun 7, 2013 at 2:58
  • @J.R. - As long as it's not the Straus operetta, which Shaw called "a putrid opera bouffe in the worst taste of 1860" :) Jun 7, 2013 at 3:05
  • @Stoney: No, I was referring to Shaw's work...
    – J.R.
    Jun 7, 2013 at 9:36
  • @J.R. It's the first Shaw I ever read - my father pointed me at it when I was 15 and I can remember to this day howling with laughter for two solid hours. Jun 7, 2013 at 10:51

The concept of a point man is somewhat related, though it's not a command role so much as physically leading the group, and is more relevant to routine movement than a charge.

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