Rotte (German, file), is the whole of several men standing one behind the other, who are therefore inseparable in every respect; even in dispersed skirmish combat the two men of a Rotte are the seconds of one another, and therefore must not move away from each other. The number of Glieder (ranks) a formation is deployed in, equals the number of men in a Rotte; the man in front is called Rottenführer (file leader), the rearmost Rottenschließer (file closer); the ones in the middle are called Rottengäste (file guests). When, by turning, the men of one rank come to stand one behind the other, this is not a Rotte, but is called a file, instead.

Source: Rumpf, H. F.: Allgemeine Real-Encyclopädie der gesammten Kriegskunst (Berl. 1827)

Rotte (from lat. rupta, originally as much as fraction), crowd, pack; in the military a number of soldiers standing one behind the other in line formation. The Rotte counts as many men as there are ranks standing one behind the other. Until the Thirty Years’ War, foot troops were deployed 10, 16, 20 and 25 men deep (cf. Rottmeister). As a result of the improved firepower of small arms, early 18th century infantry formed line of four ranks, later reduced to only three, and further reduced to just two ranks in the British army of the Napoleonic Wars. In the German army the Rotte of infantry and cavalry consisted of only 2 men.

Flügelrotte, the Rotte deployed on the right or left wing. An absent man in the second rank creates a blind Rotte (typically the left Flügelrotte). The modern Bundeswehr forms a three-deep line, so there are three men per Rotte.

In hunting, Rotte refers to a pack of boar or wolves.

Source: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, 6. Auflage 1905–1909

Military Glossary