The cuirassiers were always the elite force of Napoleon's army. Their crushing close-formation attacks were deservedly hailed as the decisive factor in Napoleon's success. The Napoleonic Wars represented the heyday of the cuirassier, and they would continue to be fielded until the opening battles of World War I. These cavalry soldiers took their name from the heavy metal breastplate (cuirass) that they wore. While the armor was not enough to protect against the flintlock muskets of the era, they were able to deflect shots from long range and they were very effective in close quarter melee fighting. As close fighting became the primary purpose of the cuirassier, they fought primarily with swords. Many did carry a pistol as a secondary weapon.