Cavalry: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cavalry (from French cavalerie, cf. cheval 'horse') were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest (after infantry and chariotry) and most mobile of the combat arms. A soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman or trooper.

The designation of cavalry was not usually given to any military force that used other animals, such as camels or mules. Infantry who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries as dragoons, a class of mounted troops which later evolved into cavalry proper while retaining their historic title.

From earliest times cavalry had the advantage of improved mobility, making it an

"instrument which multiplied the fighting value of even the smallest forces, allowing them to outflank and avoid, to surprise and overpower, to retreat and escape according to the requirements of the moment."[1]

A man fighting from horseback also had the advantages of greater height, speed, and inertial mass over an opponent on foot. Another element of horse mounted warfare is the psychological impact a mounted soldier can inflict on an opponent.

The mobility and shock value of the cavalry was greatly appreciated and exploited in the Ancient and Middle Ages armed forces, and some consisted mostly of the cavalry troops, particularly in nomadic societies of Asia, notably the Mongol armies. In Europe cavalry became increasingly armoured cavalry and eventually became known for the mounted knights. During the 17th century cavalry in Europe lost most of its armour, and by the mid-19th century only some regiments retained the cuirass.

In the period between the World Wars, many cavalry units were converted into motorised infantry and mechanised infantry units, or reformed as tank troops. However some cavalry still served during the Second World War, notably in the Red Army. Most cavalry units that are horse-mounted in modern armies serve in purely ceremonial roles, or as mounted infantry in difficult terrain such as mountains or heavily forested areas.


Role of cavalry

In many modern armies, the term cavalry is still often used to refer to units that are a combat arm of the armed forces which in the past filled the traditional horse-borne land combat light cavalry roles. These include scouting, skirmishing with enemy reconnaissance elements to deny them knowledge of own disposition of troops, forward security, offensive reconnaissance by combat, defensive screening of friendly forces during retrograde movement, retreat, restoration of command and control, deception, battle handover and passage of lines, relief in place, linkup, breakout operations, and raiding. The shock role, traditionally filled by heavy cavalry, is generally filled by units with the "armored" designation.


Assyrian cavalry


Before the Iron Age, the role of cavalry on the battlefield was largely performed by light chariots. The chariot originated with the Sintashta-Petrovka culture in Central Asia and spread by nomadic or semi-nomadic Indo-Iranians.[2] The chariot was quickly adopted by settled peoples both as a military technology and an object of ceremonial status, especially by the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom of Egypt as well as Assyrian and Babylonian royalty.

The power of mobility given by mounted units was recognized early on, but was offset by the difficulty of raising large forces and by the inability of horses (then mostly small) to carry heavy armor. Cavalry techniques were an innovation of equestrian nomads of the Central Asian and Iranian steppe and pastoralist tribes such as the Persian Parthians and Sarmatians.

The photograph above right shows Assyrian cavalry from reliefs of 865–860 BC. At this time, the men had no spurs, saddles, saddle cloths, or stirrups. Fighting from the back of a horse was much more difficult than mere riding. The cavalry acted in pairs; the reins of the mounted archer were controlled by his neighbour's hand. Even at this early time, cavalry used swords, shields, and bows. The sculpture implies two types of cavalry, but this might be a simplification by the artist. Later images of Assyrian cavalry show saddle cloths as primitive saddles, allowing each archer to control his own horse.

French Republican Guard - May 8, 2005 celebrations

As early as 490 BC a breed of large horses was bred in the Nisaean plain in Media to carry men with increasing amounts of armour (Herodotus 7,40 & 9,20). But large horses were still very exceptional at this time. Excepting a few ineffective trials of scythed chariots, the use of chariots in battle was obsolete in civilized nations by the time of the Persian defeat at the hands of Alexander the Great, but chariots remained in use for ceremonial purposes such as carrying the victorious general in a Roman triumph, for chariot racing. The southern British met Julius Caesar with chariots in 55 and 54 BC, but a century later, in the Roman conquest of Britain chariots were obsolete even in Britannia.

Ancient Greece: City-States, Thessaly and Macedonia

Warrior's departure; an Athenian amphora dated 550–540 BC.

Cavalry played a relatively minor role in ancient Greek city-states, with conflicts decided by massed armored infantry. However, Thessaly was widely known for producing competent cavalrymen, and later experiences in wars both with and against the Persians taught the Greeks the value of cavalry in skirmishing and pursuit. The Athenian author and soldier Xenophon in particular advocated the creation of a small but well-trained cavalry force; to that end, he wrote several manuals on horsemanship and cavalry operations.

The Macedonian kingdom in the north, on the other hand, developed a strong cavalry force that culminated in the hetairoi (Companion cavalry) of Philip II and Alexander the Great. In addition to these heavy cavalry, the Macedonian combined arms army also employed lighter horsemen called prodromoi for scouting and screening, as well as the Macedonian pike phalanx and various kinds of light infantry. There were also the Ippiko (or "Horserider"), Greek "heavy" cavalry, armed with kontos (or cavalry lance), and sword. They wore leather armour or mail and hat. They were medium cavalry, rather than heavy cavalry. They were good scouts, skirmishers, and chasers.

The effectiveness of this combined-arms system was most dramatically demonstrated in Alexander's conquest of Persia, Bactria, and northwestern India.

Roman Republic and Early Empire

Tombstone of a Roman auxiliary trooper from Cologne, Germany. Second half 1st C. AD

The cavalry in the early Roman Republic remained the preserve of the wealthy landed class known as the equites—men who could afford the expense of maintaining a horse in addition to arms and armor heavier than those of the common legions. As the class grew to be more of a social elite instead of a functional property-based military grouping, the Romans began to employ Italian socii for filling the ranks of their cavalry. At about the same time the Romans began to recruit foreign auxiliary cavalry from among Gauls, Iberians, and Numidians, the last being highly valued as mounted skirmishers and scouts (see Numidian cavalry). Julius Caesar himself was known for his admiration of his escort of Germanic mixed cavalry, giving rise to the Cohortae Equitates. Early emperors maintained an ala of Batavian cavalry as their bodyguards until the unit was dismissed by Galba after the Batavian Rebellion.

For the most part, Roman cavalry during the Republic functioned as an adjunct to the legionary infantry and formed only one-fifth of the showing force. This does not mean that its utility could be underestimated, though, as its strategic role in scouting, skirmishing, and outpost duties was crucial to the Romans' capability to conduct operations over long distances in hostile or unfamiliar territory. In some occasions it also proved its ability to strike a decisive tactical blow against a weakened or unprepared enemy, such as the final charge at the Battle of Aquilonia.

After defeats such as the Battle of Carrhae, the Romans learned the importance of large cavalry formations from the Parthians. They would begin to substantially increase both the numbers and the training standards of the cavalry in their employ, just as nearly a thousand years earlier the first Iranians to reach the Iranian Plateau forced the Assyrians to a similar reform. Nonetheless, they would continue to rely mainly on their heavy infantry supported by auxiliary cavalry.

Reenactor as a Roman auxiliary cavalryman.

Late Roman Empire and the Migration Period

In the army of the late Roman Empire, cavalry played an increasingly important role. The Spatha, the classical sword throughout most of the 1st millennium was adopted as the standard model for the Empire's cavalry forces.

The most widespread employment of heavy cavalry at this time was found in the forces of the Parthians and their Iranian Sassanid successors. Both, but especially the latter, were famed for the cataphract (fully-armored cavalry armed with lances) even though the majority of their forces consisted of lighter horse archers. The West first encountered this eastern heavy cavalry during the Hellenistic period with further intensive contacts during the eight centuries of the RomanPersian wars. At first the Parthians' mobility greatly confounded the Romans, whose armoured close-order infantry proved unable to match the speed of the Parthians. However, later the Romans would successfully adapt such heavy armor and cavalry tactics by creating their own units of cataphracts and clibanarii.[3]

The decline of the Roman infrastructure made it more difficult to field large infantry forces, and during the fourth and fifth centuries cavalry began to take a more dominant role on the European battlefield, also in part made possible by the appearance of new, larger breeds of horses. The replacement of the Roman saddle by variants on the Scythian model, with pommel and cantle,[4] was also a significant factor as was the adoption of stirrups and the concomitant increase in stability of the rider's seat. Armored Cataphracts began to be deployed in eastern Europe and the near East, following the precedents established by Persian forces, as the main striking force of the armies in contrast to the earlier roles of cavalry as scouts, raiders, and outflankers.

The late Roman cavalry tradition and the mounted nobility of the Germanic invaders both contributed to the development of mediaeval knightly cavalry.


Arab camel cavalry

Early organized Arab cavalry under the Rashidun caliphate was a light cavalry armed with lance and sword, its main role was to attack the enemy flanks and rear. Armor was relatively light. The Muslims' light cavalry during the later years of Islamic conquest of Levant became the most powerful section of army. The best use of this lightly armed fast moving cavalry was revealed at the Battle of Yarmouk (636 A.D.) in which Khalid ibn Walid, knowing the importance and ability of his cavalry, used them to turn the tables at every critical instance of the battle with their ability to engage and disengage and turn back and attack again from the flank or rear. A strong cavalry regiment was formed by Khalid ibn Walid which included the veterans of the campaign of Iraq and Syria. Early Muslim historians have given it the name Mutaharrik tulai'a( متحرك طليعة ), or the Mobile guard. This was used as an advance guard and a strong striking force to route the opposing armies with its greater mobility that give it an upper hand when maneuvering against any Byzantine army. With this mobile striking force, the conquest of Syria was made easy.[5]

A Mamluk cavalryman

The Battle of Talas in 751 CE was a conflict between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang Dynasty over the control of Central Asia. Chinese infantry were routed by Arab cavalry near the bank of the River Talas.

Later Mamluks were trained as cavalry soldiers. Mamluks were to follow the dictates of al-furusiyya,[6] a code of conduct that included values like courage and generosity but also doctrine of cavalry tactics, horsemanship, archery and treatment of wounds.


Central Asia

The Indian literature contains numerous references to the cavalry forces of the Central Asian horse nomads like the Sakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Pahlavas and Paradas. Numerous Puranic texts refer to an ancient invasion of India (16th c. BC)[7] by the cavalry forces of five nations, called five hordes (pañca.ganan) or Kśatriya hordes (Kśatriya ganah), which had captured the throne of Ayudhya by dethroning its Vedic king Bahu[8]

Ottoman Horse Archer.
Hungarian horse archer.

The Mahabharata, Ramayana, numerous Puranas and some foreign sources numerously attest that Kamboja cavalry was frequently requisitioned in ancient wars. V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar writes: "Both the Puranas and the epics agree that the horses of the Sindhu and Kamboja regions were of the finest breed, and that the services of the Kambojas as cavalry troopers were requisitioned in ancient wars " [9]. J.A.O.S. writes: "Most famous horses are said to come either from Sindhu or Kamboja; of the latter (i.e the Kamboja), the Indian epic Mahabharata speaks among the finest horsemen" .[10]

Mahabharata (950 c BC)[11] speaks of the esteemed cavalry of the Kambojas, Sakas, Yavanas and Tusharas, all of whom had participated in the Kurukshetra war under the supreme command of Kamboja ruler Sudakshin Kamboj.[12] Mahabharata and Vishnudharmotari Purana especially styles the Kambojas, Yavansa, Gandharas etc as "Ashva.yuddha.kushalah" (expert cavalrymen).[13] In the Mahabharata war, the Kamboja cavalry along with that of the Sakas, Yavanas is reported to have been enlisted by the Kuru king Duryodhana of Hastinapura.[14]

Herodotus (484 c BC–425 c BC) attests that the Gandarian mercenaries (i.e. Gandharans/Kambojans of Gandari Strapy of Achaemenids) from the twentieth strapy of the Achaemenids were recruited in the army of emperor Xerxes I (486-465 BC), which he led against the Hellas.[15] Similarly, the men of the Mountain Land from north of Kabol-River equivalent to medieval Kohistan (Pakistan), figure in the army of Darius III against Alexander at Arbela with a cavalry and fifteen elephants.[16] This obviously refers to Kamboja cavalry south of Hindukush.

The Kambojas were famous for their horses, as well as cavalry-men (asva-yuddha-Kushalah).[17] On account of their supreme position in horse (Ashva) culture, they were also popularly known as Ashvakas, i.e. the "horsemen"[18] and their land was known as "Home of Horses".[19] They are the Assakenoi and Aspasioi of the Classical writings, and the Ashvakayanas and Ashvayanas in Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi. The Assakenoi had faced Alexander with 30,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry and 30 war elephants.[20] Scholars have identified the Assakenoi and Aspasioi clans of Kunar and Swat valleys as a section of the Kambojas.[21] These hardy tribes had offered stubborn resistance to Alexander (326 c BC) during latter's campaign of the Kabul, Kunar and Swat valleys and had even extracted the praise of the Alexander's historians. These highlanders, designated as "parvatiya Ayudhajivinah" in Pāṇini's Astadhyayi,[22] were rebellious, fiercely independent and freedom-loving cavalrymen who never easily yielded to any overlord.[23]

The Sanskrit drama Mudra-rakashas by Visakha Dutta and the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan refer to Chandragupta's (320 C BC–298 c BC) alliance with Himalayan king Parvataka. The Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a formidable composite army made up of the cavalry forces of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Kiratas, Parasikas and Bahlikas as attested by Mudra-Rakashas (Mudra-Rakshasa 2).[24] These hordes had helped Chandragupta Maurya defeat the ruler of Magadha and placed Vhandragupta on the throne, thus laying the foundations of Mauryan Dynasty in Northern India.

The cavalry of Hunas and the Kambojas is also attested in the Raghu Vamsa play of Sanskrit Poet Kalidasa.[25] Raghu of Kalidasa is believed to be Chandragupta II (Vikaramaditya) (375–413/15 AD), of the well-known Gupta Dynasty.

Crimean Tatar soldier fighting with the soldier of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Europe's steppe frontier was in a state of semi-permanent warfare until the 18th century.

As late as mediaeval era, the Kamboja cavalry had also formed part of the Gurjara-Pratihara armed forces in 8th/10th centuries AD. They had come to Bengal with the Pratiharas when the latter conquered part of the province.[26][27][28][29][30]

Ancient Kambojas were constituted into military Sanghas and Srenis (Corporations) to manage their political and military affairs, as Arthashastra of Kautiliya as well as the Mahabharata amply attest for us. They are attested to be living as Ayuddha-jivi or Shastr-opajivis (Nation-in-arms), which also means that the Kamboja cavalry offered its military services to other nations as well. There are numerous references to Kambojas having been requisitioned as cavalry troopers in ancient wars by outside nations.

Xiongnu or Hun, Tujue, Avars, Kipchaks, Mongols, Cossacks and the various Turkic peoples are also examples of the horse-mounted peoples that managed to gain substantial successes in military conflicts with settled agrarian and urban societies, due to their strategic and tactical mobility. As European states began to assume the character of bureaucratic nation-states supporting professional standing armies, recruitment of these mounted warriors was undertaken in order to fill the strategic roles of scouts and raiders. The best known instance of the continued employment of mounted tribal auxiliaries were the Cossack cavalry regiments of Tsarist Russia. In eastern Europe, Russia, and out onto the steppes, cavalry remained important much longer and dominated the scene of warfare until the early 1600s and even beyond, as the strategic mobility of cavalry was crucial for the semi-nomadic pastoralist lives that many steppe cultures led.[31]

Tibetans also had a tradition of cavalry warfare, in several military engagements early on with the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), including Emperor Taizong's campaign against Tufan in 638.

East Asia

A bas-relief of a soldier and horse with saddle and stirrups, from the tomb of Chinese Emperor Taizong of Tang (r. 626-649), c. 650

Further east, the military history of China, specifically northern China, held a long tradition of intense military exchange between Han Chinese infantry forces of the settled dynastic empires and the mounted nomads or "barbarians" of the north. The naval history of China was centered more to the south, where mountains, rivers, and large lakes necessitated the employment of a large and well-kept navy.

In 307 BC, King Wuling of Zhao, the ancient Chinese ruler of the former State of Jin territory, ordered his military commanders and troops to adopt the trousers of the nomads as well as practice the nomads' form of mounted archery to hone their new cavalry skills.[32] Soon afterwards the cavalry tactics employed by the State of Zhao forced their enemies in the other Warring States to adopt the same techniques in order to mount any effective attack against their swift movements on the battlefield.[33]

The adoption of massed cavalry in China also broke the tradition of the chariot-riding Chinese aristocracy in battle, which had been in use since the ancient Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BC-1050 BC).[34] By this time large Chinese infantry-based armies of 100,000 to 200,000 troops were now buttressed with several hundred thousand mounted cavalry in support or as an effective striking force.[33] The handheld pistol-and-trigger crossbow was invented in China in the 4th century BC;[35] it was written by the Song Dynasty scholars Zeng Gongliang, Ding Du, and Yang Weide in their book Wujing Zongyao (1044 AD) that massed missile fire of crossbowmen was the most effective defense against enemy cavalry charges.[36]

The Qianlong Emperor in ceremonial armor on horseback, painted by Giuseppe Castiglione, dated 1739 or 1758.

On many occasions the Chinese studied nomadic cavalry tactics and applied the lessons in creating their own potent cavalry forces, while in others they simply recruited the tribal horsemen wholesale into their armies; and in yet other cases nomadic empires have proved eager to enlist Chinese infantry and engineering, as in the case of the Mongol Empire and its sinicized part, the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368). The Chinese recognized early on during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD) that they were at a disadvantage if lacking the amount of horses the northern nomadic peoples mustered in their armies. Emperor Wu of Han (r. 141 BC-87 BC) went to war with the Dayuan for this exact reason, since the Dayuan were hording a massive amount of tall, strong, Central Asian bred horses in the HellenizedGreek region of Fergana (established a bit earlier by Alexander the Great). Although experiencing some defeats early on in the campaign, Emperor Wu's war from 104 BC to 102 BC succeeded in gathering the prized tribute of horses from Fergana.

Cavalry tactics in China were enhanced by the invention of the saddle-attached stirrup by at least the 4th century, as the oldest reliable depiction of a rider with paired stirrups was found in a Jin Dynasty tomb of the year 322 AD.[37][38][39] The Chinese invention of the horse collar by the 5th century was also a great improvement from the breast harness, allowing the horse to haul greater weight without heavy burden on its skeletal structure.[40][41]

The cavalry of Korea was first introduced during the ancient Korean kingdom Gojoseon. Since at least the 3rd century BC, there was influence of northern nomadic peoples and Yemaek peoples on Korean Warfare. By roughly the 1st century BC, the ancient kingdom of Buyeo also had mounted warriors.[42] With contacts, military intercession, and sailed ventures to Korea, cavalry of Goguryeo were called Gaemamusa (개마무사, 鎧馬武士) and were similar to tanks in the age of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.[citation needed] King Gwanggaeto the Great often led expeditions into Baekje, Gaya confederacy, Buyeo and against Japanese invaders with his cavalry.

The ancient Japanese of the Kofun period also adopted cavalry and equine culture by the 5th century AD.

South Asia

In the Indian subcontinent, cavalry played a major role from the Gupta Dynasty (320-600) period onwards. India has also the oldest evidence for the introduction of toe-stirrups.

European Middle Ages

Horse-mounted Normans fighting in the Bayeux Tapestry, 11th century.

Although Roman cavalry had no stirrups, their horned saddle allowed the combination of a firm seat with substantial flexibility. But the introduction of the wraparound saddle during the Middle Ages provided greater efficiency in mounted shock combat and the invention of stirrup enabled a broader array of attacks to be delivered from the back of a horse. As a greater weight of man and armor could be supported in the saddle, the probability of being dismounted in combat was significantly reduced.

In particular, a charge with the lance couched under the armpit would no longer turn into pole vaulting; this eventually led to an enormous increase in the impact of the charge. Last but not least, the introduction of spurs allowed better control of the mount during the "knightly charge" in full gallop. In western Europe there emerged what is considered the "ultimate" heavy cavalry, the knight. The knights and other similarly equipped mounted men-at-arms charged in close formation, exchanging flexibility for a massive, irresistible first charge.

A 13th century depiction of a riding horse. Note resemblance to the modern Paso Fino.
A Hussite war wagon: it enabled peasants to defeat knights

The mounted men-at-arms quickly became an important force in Western European tactics, although it is worth noting that Medieval military doctrine actually employed them as part of a combined-arms force along with various kinds of foot troops. Still, Medieval chroniclers tended to pay undue attention to the knights at the expense of the rank and file, and this has led early students of military history to suppose that this heavy cavalry was the only force that mattered on Medieval European battlefields—a view with hardly any grounding in reality.

Massed English longbowmen triumphed over French cavalry at Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt, while at Gisors (1188), Bannockburn (1314), and Laupen (1339), foot-soldiers proved their invulnerability to cavalry charges as long as they held their formation. However, the rise of infantry as the principal arm had to wait for the Swiss to develop their pike squares into an offensive arm instead of a defensive one; this new aggressive doctrine brought the Swiss to victory over a range of adversaries, and their enemies found that the only reliable way to defeat them was by the use of an even more comprehensive combined arms doctrine as evidenced in the Battle of Marignano. The introduction of missile weapons that were simpler to use, such as the crossbow and the hand cannons, also helped remove the focus somewhat from cavalry elites to masses of cheap infantry equipped with easy-to-learn weapons. These missile weapons were very successfully used in the Hussite Wars, in combination with Wagenburg tactics.

This gradual rise in the dominance of infantry led to the adoption of dismounted tactics. From the earliest times knights and mounted men-at-arms had frequently dismounted to handle enemies they could not overcome on horseback, such as in the Battle of the Dyle (891) and the Battle of Bremule (1119), but after 1350s this trend became more marked with the dismounted men-at-arms fighting as super-heavy infantry with two-handed swords and poleaxes. In any case, warfare in the Middle Ages tended to be dominated by raids and sieges rather than pitched battles, and mounted men-at-arms rarely had any choice other than dismounting when faced with the prospect of assaulting a fortified position.

Renaissance Europe

Knighted cavalry and noblemen, painting by Jan van Eyck (ca. 1390-1441).

Ironically, the rise of infantry in the early 16th century coincided with the "golden age" of heavy cavalry; a French or Spanish army at the beginning of the century could have up to 50 percent of its numbers filled with various kinds of light and heavy cavalry, whereas in medieval and 17th century armies the proportion of cavalry seldom rose beyond twenty-five percent. Knighthood largely lost its military functions and became more closely tied to social and economic prestige in an increasingly capitalistic Western society. With the rise of drilled and trained infantry, the mounted men-at-arms, now sometimes called gendarmes and often part of the standing army themselves, adopted the same role as in the Hellenistic age - that of delivering a decisive blow once the battle was already engaged by either charging the enemy in the flank or attacking their commander-in-chief.

From the 1550s onwards, the use of gunpowder weapons solidified infantry's dominance of the battlefield and began to allow true mass armies to develop. This is closely related to the increase in the size of armies throughout the early modern period; heavily armored cavalrymen were expensive to raise and maintain and it took years to replace a skilled horseman or a trained horse, while arquebusiers and later musketeers could be trained and kept in the field at a much lower expense in addition to being much easier to replace. The Spanish tercio and later formations relegated cavalry to a supporting role. The pistol was specifically developed to try and bring cavalry back into the conflict, together with manoeuvres such as the caracole. The caracole was not particularly successful, however, and the charge (whether with sword, pistol, or lance)remained as the primary mode of employment for many types of European cavalry, although by this time it was delivered in much deeper formations and with greater discipline than before. The demi-lancers and the heavily armored sword-and-pistol reiters were among the types of cavalry that experienced their heyday in the 16th and 17th centuries. These centuries also witnessed the high-water mark of the Polish winged hussars, a force of heavy cavalry that achieved great success against Swedes, Russians, and Turks alike.

Eighteenth Century Europe and Napoleonic Warfare

Gardes du Corps of the Kingdom of Hanover (Germany) in 1838.

Cavalry retained an important role in this age of regularization and standardization across European armies. First and foremost they remained the primary choice for confronting enemy cavalry. Attacking an unbroken infantry force head-on usually resulted in failure, but the extended linear formations were vulnerable to flank or rear attacks. Cavalry was important at Blenheim (1704), Rossbach (1757), Eylau and Friedland (1807), remaining a significant factor throughout the Napoleonic Wars. Massed infantry was deadly to cavalry but also offered an excellent target for artillery. Once the bombardment had disordered the infantry formation, cavalry were able to rout and pursue the scattered footmen. It was not until individual firearms gained accuracy and improved rates of fire that cavalry was diminished in this role as well. Even then light cavalry remained an indispensable tool for scouting, screening the army's movements, and harassing the enemy's supply lines until military aircraft supplanted them in this role in the early stages of World War I.

Eylau knew the greatest cavalry charge of the modern history, when the entire French cavalry reserve, lead by Maréchal Murat, launched a huge charge on and through the Russian infantry lines. The French horsemen also proved that cavalry could be a decisive element during the Peninsula War in Spain.

19th century

By the 19th century, European cavalry fell into four main categories:

The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava by William Simpson (1855), illustrating the Light Brigade's charge into the "Valley of Death" from the Russian perspective.

There were cavalry variations for individual nations as well: France had the chasseurs à cheval; Germany had the Jäger zu Pferd; Bavaria had the Chevaulegers; and Russia had Cossacks. Britain had no cuirassiers (other than the Household Cavalry), but had Dragoon Guards regiments which were classed as heavy cavalry. In the United States Army, the cavalry were almost always dragoons. The Imperial Japanese Army had its cavalry dressed as hussars, but fought as dragoons.

In the early American Civil War the regular United States Army mounted rifle and dragoon regiments were reorganized and renamed cavalry regiments, of which there were six. Over a hundred other federal and state cavalry regiments were organized, but the infantry played a much larger role in many battles due to its larger numbers, lower cost per rifle fielded, and much easier recruitment. However, cavalry saw a role as part of screening forces and in foraging and scouting. The later phases of the war saw the Federal army developing a truly effective cavalry force fighting as scouts, raiders, and, with repeating rifles, as mounted infantry.

Post Civil War, as the volunteer armies disbanded, the regular army cavalry regiments increased in number from six to ten, among them the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment of Little Bighorn fame, and the African-American U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment and U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment. These units, along with others (both cavalry and infantry), collectively became known as the Buffalo Soldiers. These regiments, which rarely took the field as complete organizations, served throughout the Indian Wars through the close of the frontier in the 1890s.

19th-century Imperial Expansion

Cavalry found new success in Imperial operations (irregular warfare), where modern weapons were lacking and the slow moving infantry-artillery train or fixed fortifications were often ineffective against native insurgents (unless the natives offered a fight on an equal footing, as at Tel-el-Kebir, Omdurman, etc). Cavalry "flying columns" proved effective, or at least cost-effective, in many campaigns—although an astute native commander (like Samori in western Africa, Shamil in the Caucasus, or any of the better Boer commanders) could turn the tables and use the greater mobility of their cavalry to offset their relative lack of firepower compared to European forces.

The British Indian Army maintained about forty regiments of cavalry, officered by British and manned by Indian sowars (cavalrymen). The legendary exploits of this branch lives on in literature and early films. Among the more famous regiments in the lineages of modern Indian and Pakistani Armies are:

The charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman

Several of these formations are still active, though they now are armoured formations, for example Guides Cavalry in Pakistan.[43]

The French Army maintained substantial cavalry forces in Algeria and Morocco from 1830 until the Second World War. Much of the Mediterranean coastal terrain was suitable for mounted action and there was a long established culture of horsemanship amongst the Arab and Berber inhabitants. The French forces included Spahis, Chasseurs d' Afrique, Foreign Legion cavalry and mounted Goumiers[44].

Cavalry's demise

Italian cavalry officers practice their horsemanship in 1904 outside Rome.

At the beginning of the 20th century all armies still maintained substantial cavalry forces, although there was contention over whether their role should revert to that of mounted infantry (the historic dragoon function). Following the experience of the South African War of 1899 - 1902 (where mounted Boer citizen commandos fighting on foot from cover proved superior to regular cavalry) the British Army withdrew lances for all but ceremonial purposes and placed a new emphasis on training for dismounted action. In 1908 however the six British lancer regiments in existence resumed use of this impressive but obsolete weapon for active service. In 1882 the Imperial Russian Army converted all its line hussar and lancer regiments to dragoons, with an emphasis on mounted infantry training. In 1910 these regiments reverted to their historic roles, designations and uniforms.

Austro-Hungarian cavalry, 1898.
German Cavalryman in September 1914, German South-West Africa.

In August 1914 all combatant armies still retained substantial numbers of cavalry and the mobile nature of the opening battles on both Eastern and Western Fronts provided a number of instances of traditional cavalry actions, though on a smaller and more scattered scale than those of previous wars. The Imperial German Cavalry, while as colourful and traditional as any in peacetime appearance, had adopted a practice of falling back on infantry support when any substantial opposition was encountered. These cautious tactics aroused derision amongst their more conservative French and Russian opponents but proved appropriate to the new nature of warfare. Once the front lines stabilised, a combination of barbed wire, machine guns and rapid fire rifles proved deadly to horse mounted troops.

For the remainder of the War on the Western Front cavalry had virtually no role to play. The British and French armies dismounted many of their cavalry regiments and used them in infantry and other roles: the Life Guards for example spent the last months of the War as a machine gun corps; and the Australian Light Horse served as light infantry during the Gallipoli campaign. In September 1914 cavalry comprised 9.28% of the total manpower of the British Expeditionary Force in France - by July 1918 this proportion had fallen to 1.65%[45]. The German Army dismounted nearly all their cavalry in the West.

French cuirassiers, wearing breastplates and helmets, parade through Paris on the way to battle, August 1914.

Some cavalry were retained as mounted troops behind the lines in anticipation of a penetration of the opposing trenches that it seemed would never come. Tanks, introduced on the Western Front in September 1916, had the capacity to achieve such breakthroughs but did not have the reliable range to exploit them. Since mounted troops were too vulnerable and slow moving to act in effective support of the new weapon, history recorded no significant role for cavalry in mechanized warfare, and post war planning in the allied nations replaced horse cavalry with mechanized cavalry.

In the wider spaces of the Eastern Front a more fluid form of warfare continued and there was still a use for mounted troops. Some wide-ranging actions were fought, again mostly in the early months of the war.[46] However, even here the value of cavalry was over-rated and the maintenance of large mounted formations at the front by the Russian Army put a major strain on the railway system, to little strategic advantage.[47]

In the Middle East mounted forces (British, Indian, Turkish, Australian, Arab and New Zealand) retained an important role, though of the mounted infantry variety.

Post World War I

A combination of military conservatism in almost all armies and post-war financial constraints prevented the lessons of 1914-18 being acted on immediately. There was a general reduction in the number of cavalry regiments in the British, French, Italian and other Western armies but it was still argued with conviction (for example in the 1922 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannia) that mounted troops had a major role to play in future warfare. The 1920s saw an interim period during which cavalry remained as a proud and conspicuous element of all major armies, though much less so than prior to 1914.

Cavalry was extensively used in the Russian Civil War and the Soviet-Polish War. The last major cavalry battle was the Battle of Komarów in 1920, between Poland and the Russian Bolsheviks. Colonial warfare in Morocco, Syria, the Middle East and the North West Frontier of India provided some opportunities for mounted action against enemies lacking advanced weaponry.

Interestingly the post-war German Army (Reichsheer) was permitted a large proportion of cavalry (18 regiments or 16.4% of total manpower) under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. The U.S. Cavalry abandoned its sabres in 1934 and commenced the conversion of its horsed regiments to mechanized cavalry, starting with the First Regiment of Cavalry in January 1933.

In the British Army, all cavalry regiments were mechanised between 1929 and 1941, redefining their role from horse to armoured vehicles to form the Royal Armoured Corps together with the Royal Tank Regiment.

The thirty-nine regiments of the Indian Army were reduced to twenty-one as the result of a series of amalgamations immediately following World War I. The new establishment remained unchanged until 1936 when three regiments were redesignated as permanent training units, each with six, still mounted, regiments linked to them. In 1938 the process of mechanism began with the conversion of a full cavalry brigade (two Indian regiments and one British) to armoured car and tank units. By the end of 1940 all of the Indian cavalry had been mechanised, receiving light tanks, armoured cars or 15cwt trucks. The last horsed regiment of the Indian Army (other than the Viceregal Bodyguard and some Indian States Forces regiments) was the 19th King George's Own Lancers which had its last mounted parade at Rawalpindi on 28 October 1939. This unit still exists (though in the Pakistan Army) with an armour TOE.

During the 1930s the French Army experimented with integrating mounted and mechanised cavalry units into larger formations. Dragoon regiments were converted to motorised infantry (trucks and motor cycles), and cuirassiers to armoured units; while light cavalry (Chasseurs a' Cheval, Hussars and Spahis) remained as mounted sabre squadrons. The theory was that mixed forces comprising these diverse units could utilise the strengths of each according to circumstances. In practice mounted troops proved unable to keep up with fast moving mechanised units over any distance.

World War II

While most armies still maintained cavalry units at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, significant mounted action was largely restricted to the Polish, Balkan and Soviet campaigns.

A popular myth is that Polish cavalry armed with lances charged German tanks during the September 1939 campaign. This arose from misreporting of a single clash on 1 September near Krojanty, when two squadrons of the Polish 18th Lancers armed with sabres scattered German infantry before being caught in the open by German armoured cars.[48] Two examples illustrate how the myth developed. First, because motorised vehicles were in short supply, the Poles used horses to pull anti-tank weapons into position.[49] Second, there were a few incidents when Polish cavalry was trapped by German tanks, and attempted to fight free. However, this did not mean that the Polish army chose to attack tanks with horse cavalry.[50] Later, on the Eastern Front, the Red Army did deploy cavalry units effectively against the Germans.[51] (See also Polish cavalry.)

A more correct term should be "mounted infantry" instead of "cavalry", as horses were primarily used as a means of transportation, for which they were very suitable in view of the very poor road conditions in pre-war Poland. Another myth describes Polish cavalry as being armed with both sabres and lances; lances were used for peacetime ceremonial purposes only and the primary weapon of the Polish cavalryman in 1939 was a rifle. Individual equipment did include a sabre, probably because of well-established tradition, but in the case of a melee combat this secondary weapon would probably be more effective than a rifle and bayonet. Moreover, the Polish cavalry brigade order of battle of 1939 included, apart from the mounted soldiers themselves, light and heavy machine guns (wheeled), Anti-tank rifle, model 35, anti-aircraft weapon, artillery like Bofors 37 mm anti tank gun or light and scout tanks, etc.

Polish cavalry galloping through a bombed town during the Polish Defensive War of 1939.

The Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940 saw mounted cavalry used effectively by the Greek defenders along the mountainous frontier with Albania. Three Greek cavalry regiments (two mounted and one partially mechanised) played an important role in the Italian defeat in this difficult terrain [52].

By the final stages of the war only the Soviet Union was still fielding mounted units in substantial numbers, some in combined mechanized and horse units. The advantage of this approach was that in exploitation mounted infantry could keep pace with advancing tanks. Other factors favouring the retention of mounted forces included the high quality of Russian Cossacks and other horse cavalry; and the relative lack of roads suitable for wheeled vehicles in many parts of the Eastern Front. Another consideration was that the logistic capacity required to support very large motorised forces exceeded that necessary for mounted troops.

Romanian, Hungarian and Italian cavalry had been dispersed or disbanded following the retreat of the Axis forces from Russia. Germany still maintained some mounted (mixed with bicycles) SS and Cossack units until the last days of the War. 18th Indian Cavalry Regiment (later 18 Cavalry of Indian Army), fought in a dismounted role, in Tobruk as part of 9th Australian Division.

The U.S. Army's last horse cavalry actions were fought during World War II: a) by the 26th Cavalry Regiment (PS) in World War II - a small mounted regiment of Philippine Scouts which fought the Japanese during the retreat down the Bataan peninsula, until it was effectively destroyed by January 1942; and b) on captured German horses by the mounted reconnaissance section of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division in a spearhead pursuit of the German Army across the Po Valley in Italy in April 1945.[53]. The last horsed U.S. Cavalry (the Second Cavalry Division) were dismounted in March 1944.

All British Army cavalry regiments had been mechanised since 1 March 1942 when the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons (Yeomanry) was converted to a motorised role, following mounted service against the Vichy French in Syria the previous year. The final cavalry charge by British Empire forces occurred on 21 March 1942 when a 60 strong patrol of the Burma Frontier Force encountered Japanese infantry near Toungoo airfield in central Burma. The Sikh sowars of the Frontier Force cavalry, led by Captain Arthur Sandeman, charged in the old style with sabres and most were killed.

The last substantive and successful classical cavalry charge of the war - and the final such confirmed charge in history - was probably that made in August 1942 by a cavalry unit of the Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia (Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia, or CSIR) on the Eastern Front. A charge by the 3rd Dragoons Savoia Cavalry Regiment of the Prince Amedeo Duke of Aosta Fast (Celere) Division was not only made, but it was successfully made.[54]

Post World War II to present day

Polish 66 Air Force Squadron of 25th Aeromobile Cavalry Brigade.

The Soviet Army retained horse cavalry divisions until 1955, and even at the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was an independent horse mounted cavalry squadron in Kyrgyzstan.[55]

Several armored units of the modern United States Army retain the designation of "cavalry". The United States also had "air cavalry" units equipped with helicopters, though that designation has fallen out of use, with the term Air Assault coined for that mission and modern "cavalry" being retained for ground-based mobility.

While most modern "cavalry" units have some historic connection with formerly mounted troops this is not always the case. The modern Irish Defence Force (IDF) includes a "Cavalry Corps" equipped with Panhard armoured cars and Scorpion tracked combat reconnaissance vehicles. The Irish Defense Force has never included horse cavalry since its establishment in 1922 (other than a small mounted escort drawn from the Artillery Corps when required for ceremonial occasions). However, the mystique of the cavalry is such that the name has been introduced for what was always a mechanised force.

United States Army Special Forces on horseback with the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan, which frequently used horses as military transport.

Some engagements in late twentieth and early twenty first century guerrilla wars involved mounted troops, particularly against partisan or guerrilla fighters in areas with poor transport infrastructure. Such units were not used as cavalry but rather as mounted infantry. Examples occurred in Afghanistan, Portuguese Africa and Rhodesia. The French Army used existing mounted squadrons of Spahis to a limited extent for patrol work during the Algerian War (1954–62) and the Swiss Army maintained a mounted dragoon regiment for combat purposes until 1973. There were reports of Chinese mounted troops in action during frontier clashes with Vietnam in the mid/late 1970s. The Portuguese Army used horse mounted cavalry with some success in the wars of independence in Angola and Mozambique in the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1964-79 Rhodesian Bush War the Rhodesian Army created an elite mounted infantry unit called Grey's Scouts to fight unconventional actions against the rebel forces of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. The horse mounted infantry of the Scouts were very effective and feared by their opponents in the rebel African forces. In the 1978 to present Afghan Civil War there have been several instances of horse mounted combat.

South and Central American armies maintained mounted cavalry longer than those of Europe, Asia or North America. The Mexican Army included a number of horse mounted cavalry regiments as late as the mid 1990s and the Chilean Army had five such regiments in 1983 as mounted mountain troops (see Jane's "Armed Forces of Latin America" by Adrian J. English).

A number of armored regiments in the British Army retain the historic designations of Hussars, Dragoons, Dragoon Guards or Lancers. Only the Household Cavalry squadrons maintained for ceremonial duties in London are mounted.

Cavalry or mounted gendarmerie units continue to be maintained for purely or primarily ceremonial purposes by the United States, British, French, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Chilean, Portuguese, Moroccan, Nigerian, Venezuelan, Brazilian, Peruvian, Paraguayan, Polish, Argentine, Senegalese, Jordanian, Pakistani, Indian, Spanish and Bulgarian armed forces. The Army of the Russian Federation has recently reintroduced a ceremonial mounted squadron wearing historic uniforms.

The mounted President's Bodyguard of the Indian Army during a state visit by a foreign dignitary in New Delhi, India.

In the United States, the Horse Cavalry Detachment of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division is made up of active duty soldiers, still functions as an active unit, trained to approximate the weapons, tools, equipment and techniques used by the United States Cavalry in the 1880s.[56][57] In addition, the Parsons' Mounted Cavalry is a Reserve Officer Training Corps unit which forms part of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University.

The French Army still has regiments with the historic designations of Cuirassiers, Hussars, Chasseurs, Dragoons and Spahis. Only the cavalry of the Republican Guard and a ceremonial fanfare (trumpeters) for the cavalry/armoured branch as a whole are now mounted.

In the Canadian Army, a number of regular and reserve units have cavalry roots, including The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal), the Governor General's Horse Guards, Lord Strathcona's Horse, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, and the South Alberta Light Horse. Of these, only the Lord Strathcona's Horse [58] and the Governor General's Horse Guards maintains an official ceremonial horse mounted cavalry troop or squadron.[59]

Both the Australian and New Zealand Armies follow the British practice of maintaining traditional titles (Light Horse or Mounted Rifles) for modern mechanised units. However, neither country retains a horse mounted unit.

Today, the Indian Army's 61st Cavalry is reported to be the only remaining non-ceremonial horse-mounted cavalry in the world.[60] It was raised in 1951 from the amalgamated state cavalry squadrons of Gwailior, Jodhpur, and Mysore. The 61st Cavalry together with the President's Body Guard parade in full dress uniform in New Delhi each year in what is probably the largest assembly of traditional cavalry still to be seen in the world. Both the Indian and Pakistan Armies maintain a number of armoured regiments with the titles of Lancers or Horse, dating back to the nineteenth century.

As of 2007 the Chinese People's Liberation Army employs two battalions of horse cavalry in Xinjing Military District for border patrol work (see website). In the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake there have been calls to rebuild the army horse inventory for disaster relief in difficult terrain.

Light and armoured cavalry

Alexander the Great using armoured cavalry, fighting Persian King Darius III

Historically, cavalry was divided into light and armoured cavalry and Horse archers. The differences were mainly the size of the mount, and how much armor was worn by the mount and rider, and the active role they played in war.

Early light cavalry (like the auxiliaries of the Roman army) were typically used to scout and skirmish and to cut down retreating infantry and for defeating enemy missile troops. Armoured cavalry like the Byzantine Cataphract were used as shock troops—they would charge the main body of the enemy and in many cases, their actions decided the outcome of the battle, hence the later term "battle cavalry".[61]

During the Gunpowder Age, armored cavalry began to approach obsolescence. However, many units retained cuirasses and helmets for their protective value against sword and bayonet strikes and the morale boost these provide to the wearers. By this time the main difference between light and battle cavalry was their training; the former was regarded as a tool for harassment and reconnaissance, while the latter was considered best for close-order charges.

Since the development of armored warfare the distinction between light and heavy armor has persisted basically along the same lines. Armored cars and light tanks have adopted the reconnaissance role while medium and heavy tanks are regarded as the decisive shock troops.

Social status

From the beginning of civilization to the 20th century, ownership of heavy cavalry horses has been a mark of wealth amongst settled peoples. A cavalry horse involves considerable expense in breeding, training, feeding, and equipment, and has very little productive use except as a mode of transport.

For this reason, and because of their often decisive military role, the cavalry has typically been associated with high social status. This was most clearly seen in the feudal system, where a lord was expected to enter combat armored and on horseback and bring with him an entourage of peasants on foot. If landlords and peasants came into conflict, the peasants would be ill-equipped to defeat armored knights.

A Trooper of the Blues and Royals on mounted duty in Whitehall, London

In later national armies, service as an officer in the cavalry was generally a badge of high social status. For instance prior to 1914 most officers of British cavalry regiments came from a socially privileged background and the considerable expenses associated with their role generally required private means, even after it became possible for officers of the line infantry regiments to live on their pay. Options open to poorer cavalry officers in the various European armies included service with less fashionable (though often highly professional) frontier or colonial units. These included the British Indian cavalry, the Russian Cossacks or the French Chasseurs d' Afrique.

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries most monarchies maintained a mounted cavalry element in their royal or imperial guards. These ranged from small units providing ceremonial escorts and palace guards through to large formations intended for active service. The mounted escort of the Spanish Royal Household provided an example of the former and the twelve cavalry regiments of the Prussian Imperial Guard an example of the latter. In either case the officers of such units were likely to be drawn from the aristocracies of their respective societies.

On film

Some small sense of the noise and power of a cavalry charge can be gained from the 1970 film Waterloo, which featured some 2000 cavalrymen,[citation needed] some of them cossacks. It included detailed displays of the horsemanship required to manage animal and weapons in large numbers at the gallop (unlike the real battle of Waterloo, where deep mud significantly slowed the horses).[62] The Gary Cooper movie They Came to Cordura contains an excellent scene of a cavalry regiment deploying from march to battleline formation. A smaller-scale cavalry charge can be seen in The Lord of the Rings (2003); although the finished scene has substantial computer-generated imagery, raw footage and reactions of the riders are shown in the Extended Version DVD Appendices.

Some cavalry forces

Some contemporary horse cavalry officers

See also


  1. ^ p.4, Rodger
  2. ^ p.1, Menon
  3. ^
  4. ^ The raised rear part of a saddle
  5. ^ p.239, Muir
  6. ^ tradition of al-furusiyya is defined by principles of horsemanship, chivalry, and the mutual dependence of the rider and the horse
  7. ^ p. 182–183, Pargiter.
  8. ^ Harivamsa 14.1–19; Vayu Purana 88.127–43; Brahma Purana (8.35–51); Brahamanda Purana (3.63.123–141); Shiva Purana (7.61.23); Vishnu Purana (5.3.15–21), Padama Purana (6.21.16–33) etc.
  9. ^ War in Ancient India‎, 1944, p 178, V. R. Ramachandra Dikshtar - Military art and science.
  10. ^ Journal of American Oriental society, 1889, p 257, American Oriental Society; The Social and Military Position of the Ruling Caste in Ancient India: As ..., 1972, p 201, Edward Washburn Hopkins - Caste; Mahabharata 10.18.13; cf: Ancient Indian Civilization, 1985, p 120, Grigoriĭ Maksimovich Bongard-Levin - History; Cf also: A History of Zoroastrianism, 1991, p 129, Mary Boyce, Frantz Grenet.
  11. ^ p.182, Pargiter
  12. ^ MBH 1.185.13; Felicitation Volume Presented to Professor Sripad Krishna Belvalkar, 1957, p 260, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Shripad Krishna Belvalkar.
  13. ^ Ashva.yuddha.kushalah: Mahabharata 7.7.14; See also: Vishnudharmotra Purana, Part II, Chapter 118; Post Gupta Polity (AD 500–700): A Study of the Growth of Feudal Elements and Rural Administration 1972, p 136, Ganesh Prasad Sinha; Wisdom in the Puranas 1969, p 64, professor Sen Sarma etc.
  14. ^ Some Kṣatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, p 238, Dr B. C. Law - Kshatriyas; The Battle of Kurukshetra, 1987, p 389, Maggi Lidchi-Grassi - Kurukshetra (India).
  15. ^ Herodotus, Book VII 65, 70, 86, 187.
  16. ^ History of Persian Empire, p 232, Dr A. M. Olmstead; Arrian's Anabasis III, 8.3-6; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 216, Dr Raychaudhury.
  17. ^ Ashva.yuddha.kushalah: Mahabharata 7.7.14 Kumbhakonam Edition; See also: Vishnudharmotra Purana, Part II, Chapter 118; Post Gupta Polity (AD 500–700): A Study of the Growth of Feudal Elements and Rural Administration 1972, p 136, Ganesh Prasad Sinha; Wisdom in the Puranas 1969, p 64, prof Sen Sarma; etc.; Kashmir Polity, C. 600-1200 A.D. 1986, p 237, V. N. Drabu - Political Science.
  18. ^ Hindu Polity: A Constitutional History of India in Hundu Times, 1943, p 145, Dr K. P. Jayaswal.
  19. ^ i.e: Kambojo assa.nam ayata.nam. See: Samangalavilasini, Vol I, p 124; See also: Historie du Bouddhisme Indien, p 110, E. Lamotte; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 133 fn 6, pp 216-20, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee; Some Kṣatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, p 238, Dr B. C. - Kshatriyas; Studies in Indian History and Civilization, 1962, p 351, Dr Buddha Prakash - India.
  20. ^ Age of the Nandas and Mauryas, 1967, p 49, Dr K. A. Nilakanta Sastri.
  21. ^ "Par ailleurs le Kamboja est régulièrement mentionné comme la "patrie des chevaux" (Asvanam ayatanam), et cette reputation bien etablie gagné peut-etre aux eleveurs de chevaux du Bajaur et du Swat l'appellation d'Aspasioi (du v.-p. aspa) et d’assakenoi (du skt asva "cheval")" (See: Historie du Bouddhisme Indien, p 110, E. Lamotte; See also: Hindu Polity, A Contitutional History of India in Hindu Times, 1978, p 140, Dr K. P. Jayswal; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 133 fn 6, pp 216–20, (Also Commentary, op. cit., p 576, fn 22), Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee;; History of Indian Buddhism: From the Origins to the Saka Era, 1988, p 100 - History; East and West, 1950, pp 28, 157–58, Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, Editor, Prof Giuseppe Tucci, Co-editors Prof Mario Bussagli, Prof Lionello Lanciotti; Panjab Past and Present, pp 9–10, Dr Buddha Parkash; Raja Poros, 1990, Publication Buareau, Punjabi University, Patiala; History of Panjab, Vol I, (Editors): Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Josh, Publication Bureau, Panjabi University, Patiala; History of Poros, 1967, p 89, Dr Buddha Prakash; Ancient Kamboja, People and country, 1981, pp 271–72, 278, Dr J. L. Kamboj; These Kamboj People, 1979, pp 119, 192; Kambojas, Through the Ages, 2005, pp 129, 218–19, S Kirpal Singh etc.
  22. ^ Ashtadhyayi 4.3.91; India as Known to Pāṇini, 1953, pp 424, 436–39, 455–457, Dr V. S. Aggarwala.
  23. ^ See: History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 225, Dr Buddha Prakash; Raja Poros, 1990, p 9, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala.
  24. ^ In Sanskrit:
    asti tava Shaka-Yavana-Kirata-Kamboja-Parasika-Bahlika parbhutibhih
    Chankyamatipragrahittaishcha Chandergupta Parvateshvara
    balairudidhibhiriva parchalitsalilaih samantaad uprudham Kusumpurama
    (Mudra-Rakshasa 2).
  25. ^ Kālidāsa, 1960, p 141, Raghunath Damodar Karmarkar.
  26. ^ Indian Historical Quarterly, XV-4, December, 1939, p 511 Dr H. C. Ray.
  27. ^ History of Ancient Bengal, 1971, pp 182–83, Dr R. C. Majumdar.
  28. ^ Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 625.
  29. ^ Dynastic History of Magadha, 1977, p 208.
  30. ^ Epigraphia Indiaca, XVIII, p 304ff.
  31. ^ This needs a re-write—the chronology is all over the place.
  32. ^ Ebrey, 29-30.
  33. ^ a b Ebrey, 30.
  34. ^ Ebrey, 29.
  35. ^ Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China, 41.
  36. ^ Peers, 130.we can right anything
  38. ^ "The stirrup - history of Chinese science." UNESCO Courier, October, 1988
  39. ^ "The invention and influences of stirrup"
  40. ^ Needham, Volume 4, Part 2, 322.
  41. ^ Needham, Volume 4, Part 2, 305.
  42. ^ Ebrey, 120.
  44. ^ L'Armee d'Afrique 1830-1962, General R. Hure, Paris-Limogues 1977
  45. ^ page 212, The Oxford History of the British Army, ISBN 0-19-285333-3
  46. ^ First World War - Willmott, H.P., Dorling Kindersley, 2003
  47. ^ Stone, Norman (1975). "The Eastern Front 1914-17". Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0-684-14492-1. 
  48. ^ Zaloga, S. J. (1983). "The Polish Army 1939-45". London: Osprey. ISBN 0-85045-417-4. 
  49. ^ Time Staff (April 22, 1940). "The New Pictures". Time.,9171,763905-1,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  50. ^ Davies God's Playground Volume II pp. 324-325
  51. ^ Davies God's Playground Volume II p. 325
  52. ^ "The Armed Forces of World War II 1914-1945, Andrew Mollo, ISBN 0-85613-296-9
  53. ^ Personal memoirs of Colonel Ernest Neal Cory, Jr., Esquire
  54. ^ Nicholas Farrell (October 31, 1998). "Sabres for savoy". The Spectator. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  55. ^ Carey Schofield, Inside the Soviet Army, Headline, 1991, p.133-134
  56. ^ First Team! Horse Cavalry Detachment
  57. ^ Hubbell, Gary. "21st Century Horse Soldiers." Western Horseman, December 2006, pp. 45-50
  58. ^
  59. ^ The Honours, Flags, and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces
  60. ^ India Polo Magazine
  61. ^ p.490, Lynn
  62. ^ Waterloo Film review by Major J G H Corrigan. Accessed 2008-02-07.


  • Ebrey, Walthall, Palais (2006). East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Ebrey, Patricia Buckley (1999). The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43519-6 (hardback); ISBN 0-521-66991-X (paperback).
  • Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 2, Mechanical Engineering. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
  • Peers, C.J. (2006). Soldiers of the Dragon: Chinese Armies 1500 BC-AD 1840. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.
  • Menon, Shanti, Chariot racers of the Steppes, Discover, April, 1995
  • Rodger, N. A. M., The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain 660-1649, W W Norton & Co Ltd., 1999 ISBN 039304579X
  • Muir, William, Annals of the Early Caliphate: From Original Sources, Smith, Elder & co., London, 1883
  • Pargiter, Frederick Eden, Dr., Chronology based on: Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Oxford University Press, H. Milford, 1924, Reprint 1997
  • Lynn, John Albert, Giant of the Grand Siècle: The French Army, 1610-1715, Cambridge University Press, 1997

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource


Mary Lee Stubbs and Stanley Russell Connor
Part 1; Cavalry
Wikipedia logo Wikipedia has more on:
Cavalry (United States).
U.S. Army Center for Military History publication
  • The cavalry organization of seventeen regiments in effect when the United States entered the war against Germany was based upon the National Defense Act of 1916. In May 1917 emergency laws called for immediate increase to the full strength authorized by the National Defense Act, and organization of the remaining eight new cavalry regiments began at once. To speed up the process, certain old units in June 1917 transferred two-thirds of their men to the new regiments.
  • The new regiments were numbered the 18th through the 25th. But, one month after their organization was completed, all eight began training as field artillery. On 1 October 1917 Congress acted to make their conversion to field artillery legal, and on 1 November 1917 the 18th through the 25th Cavalry were redesignated as the 76th through the 83d Field Artillery. Although Congress specified that the units would reorganize as cavalry after the emergency, such action was never taken. Hence, the histories of the former 18th through 25th Cavalry are currently perpetuated in a number of artillery units.
  • An act of Congress on 18 May 1917 provided for twenty National Army (or temporary) cavalry regiments, which were designated 301st through 320th. Fifteen of them, the 301st through the 315th, were organized in early 1918 at various National Army camps, but in August of that year they, too, were converted to field artillery. Thirty field artillery regiments, the 44th through the 72d, and nine trench mortar batteries, the 15th through the 23d, were organized from them. None of those units served outside the United States and all were demobilized in January-February of 1919. The 316th through the 320th Cavalry were not activated during the war years.
  • By the time the United States entered World War I, the machine gun, together with improved artillery, barbed wire, and elaborate field fortifications, had produced a stalemate on the European Western Front. The Allies and the Germans, with their opposing armies anchored on the sea in the west and on the mountains in the east, repeatedly used waves of infantrymen and heavy artillery barrages in vain efforts to break the deadlock. Their critical need was for mobility and shock action, both traditional roles of horse cavalry, but static trench warfare and the machine gun had made use of the horse impractical.
  • Four regiments of U.S. cavalry- the 2d, 3d, 6th, and 15th- nevertheless formed a part of the American Expeditionary Forces, and engaged chiefly in remount duty. That they would have been used otherwise during the latter part of the war, had they been available, was implied by General Pershing in 1920. He stated that, once the forces were in the open, cavalry would have been of great value on several occasions, and Allied cavalry trained in American tactics would have been most effective in the pursuit of the enemy northward toward the Meuse.
  • Since U.S. cavalrymen had been trained to fight dismounted as well as mounted, many of them did see action as foot soldiers. Again, as in earlier wars, many individual awards for gallantry were earned by the dismounted troopers who fought in other arms and services.
  • Only a very small portion of the U.S. cavalry saw any mounted service in France. In late August 1918, just before the St. Mihiel offensive, a provisional squadron was formed from Troops, B, D, F, and H of the 2d Cavalry. Fourteen officers and 404 enlisted men from those troops with convalescent horses furnished from the veterinary hospital moved to old Camp Jeanne d'Arc, near Neufchateau, for training in mounted action. Lt. Col. Oliver P. M. Hazzard commanded the squadron. Among the troop commanders was Capt. Ernest N. Harmon who, during World War II, was to command the 2d Armored Division and then the XXII Corps.
  • After about ten days of training, one troop of the Provisional Squadron was detached and marched to Menil-la-Tour, where it reported for courier duty with the 1st, 42d, and 89th Divisions. The remainder of the squadron reported to the 1st Division on the night of 11 September 1918, and by a few minutes past noon of the next day U.S. cavalrymen, mounted, were at Nonsard, about five miles behind the original front line of the enemy. Sent out on reconnaissance duty beyond their capabilities, the cavalrymen met the enemy in considerable force and were routed. Later, in the Meuse-Argonne action, the squadron with three troops maintained liaison between flank divisions and those on the front lines. Among the trenches, which made movement of a whole troop impracticable, small patrols, sometimes riding and sometimes walking, acted as military police and couriers. By mid-October, when withdrawn from the front, the squadron had only 150 mounted effectives, largely because of the evacuation of sick and wounded horses.
  • After the armistice, Headquarters, Band, and six troops of the 2d Cavalry acted as advance guard for the Army movement into Germany, and afterward were stationed along the Rhine with the American Army of Occupation.
  • Although few U.S. cavalry regiments went to Europe during World War I, all were well represented there by individual cavalrymen. For example, between May and September 1917, one regiment alone- the new 16th Cavalry- lost most of its original officers by promotion in the National Army; and from May 1917 until November 1918 more than a hundred enlisted members of that regiment received commissions in the National Army. Many of these men saw service in France. After the armistice twenty-six of them returned and reenlisted as noncommissioned officers.
  • Vacancies in cavalry units created by promotion and reassignment were filled by new personnel, and the regiments were moved to the Mexican border, an area well known to the older cavalrymen. Germany's efforts to rekindle trouble between the United States and Mexico were met by the concentration of a cavalry force in the southwest. In December 1917 the 15th Cavalry Divisionthree brigades of three regiments each- was organized in Texas. There were no other cavalry divisions in the Army then, but no explanation for designating this one the 15th has been found. Like the divisions organized during previous emergencies, the life of the 15th was short. Actually, a full division organization was not completed, and it was discontinued in May 1918. The brigade headquarters lasted until July 1919 when they, too, were disbanded.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CAVALRY (Fr. cavalerie, Ger. Kavallerie or Reiterei, derived ultimately from late Lat. caballus, horse), a word which came into use in military literature about the middle of the 16th century as applied to mounted men of all kinds employed for combatant purposes, whether intended primarily for charging in masses, in small bodies, or for dismounted fighting. By degrees, as greater refinement of terminology has become desirable, the idea has been narrowed down until it includes only "horsemen trained to achieve the purpose of their commander by the combined action of man and horse," and this definition will be found to cover the whole field of cavalry activity, from the tasks entrusted to the cavalry "corps" of 10,000 sabres down to the missions devolving on isolated squadrons and even troops.

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The evolution of the cavalry arm has never been uniform at any one time over the surface of the globe, but has always been locally modified by the conditions of Early each community and the stage of intellectual develop- of ment to which at any given moment each had attained. The first condition for the existence of the arm being the existence of the horse itself, its relative scarcity or the reverse and its adaptability to its environment in each particular district have always exercised a preponderating influence on the development of cavalry organization and tactics. The indigenous horses of Europe and Asia being very small, the first application of their capabilities for war purposes seems everywhere to have been as draught animals for chariots, the construction of which implies not only the existence of level surfaces, perhaps of actual roads, but a very considerable degree of mechanical skill in those who designed and employed them. The whole of the classical and Oriental mythologies, together with the earliest monuments of Egypt, Assyria and India, are convincing on this point. Nowhere can we find a trace either of description or delineation of animals physically capable of carrying on their backs the armed men of the period. All the earliest allusions to the use of the horse in war either point directly to the employment as a draught animal, or where not specific, as in the description of the war-horse in Job, they would apply equally well to one harnessed to a chariot as to one ridden under the saddle.

The first trace of change is to be found, according to Prof. Wm. Ridgeway (Origin and Influence of the Thoroughbred Horse, p. 2 43), in an Egyptian relief showing Nubians mounted on horses of an entirely different breed, taller and more powerful than any which had gone before them. These horses appear to have come from the vicinity of Dongola, and the strain still survives in the Sudan. The breed is traced into Arabia, where only second-rate horses had been reared hitherto, and thence to different parts of Europe, where eventually centres of cavalry activity developed. The first detailed evidence of the existence of organized bodies of mounted men is to be found in Xenophon, whose instructions for the breaking, training and command of a squadron remain almost as a model for modern practice. Their tactical employment, however, seems still to have been relatively insignificant, for the horses were still far too small and too few to deliver a charge with sufficient momentum to break the heavy armed and disciplined hoplites. The strain of ancient battle was of an entirely different order to that of modern fighting. In the absence of projectiles of sufficient range and power to sweep a whole area, the fighting was entirely between the front ranks of the opposing forces. When a front rank fighter fell, his place was immediately taken by his comrade in the rear, who took up the individual combat, excited by his comrade's fate but relatively fresh in mind and muscle. This process of feeding the fight from the rear could be protracted almost indefinitely. If then, as a consequence of a charge, a few mounted men did penetrate the ranks, they encountered such a crowd of well-protected and fresh swordsmen that they were soon pulled off their ponies and despatched. Now and again great leaders, Alexander, Hannibal and Scipio Africanus, for instance, succeeded in riding down their opponents, but in the main, and as against the Roman infantry in particular, mounted troops proved of very little service on the battlefield.

It was, however, otherwise in the sphere of strategy. There, information was of even greater importance, because harder to obtain, than it is nowadays, and the army which could push out its feelers to the greater distance, surround its enemy and intercept his communications, derived nearly the same advantages as it does at present. Hence both sides provided themselves with horsemen, and when these met, each in the performance of their several duties, charges of masses naturally ensued. This explains the value attaching in the old days to the possession of horse-flesh and the rapid spread of the relatively new Dongola or African strain over the then known world.

The primitive instinct of aboriginal man is to throw stones or other missiles for purposes of defence (apes will throw anything they can find, but they never use sticks); hence, as the Romans penetrated ever farther amongst the barbarian tribes, their horsemen in first line found ever-increasing need for protection against projectiles. But the greater the weight of armour carried, the greater the demands upon the endurance of the horse. Then, as the weight-carrying breed was expensive and, with the decay of the Roman Empire, corruption and peculation spread, a limit was soon placed on the multiplication of charging cavalry, and it became necessary to fall back on the indigenous pony, which could only carry a rider from place to place, not charge. Thus there was a gradual levelling down of the mounted arms, the heavy cavalry becoming too heavy to gallop and the light not good enough for united action. Against such opponents, the lighter and better mounted tribesmen of Asia found their task easy. They cut off the supplies of the marching infantry, filled up or destroyed the wells, &c., and thus demonstrated the strategic necessity of superior mobility.

With the decay of civilization discipline also disappeared, and, as discipline consists essentially in the spirit of self-sacrifice for the good of the community, its opposite, self-preservation, became the guiding principle. This in turn led to the increase of armour carried, and thence to the demand for heavier horses, and this demand working through several centuries led ultimately to the breeding of the great weight-carrying animals on whose existence that of medieval chivalry depended. These horses, however, being very costly and practically useless for general purposes, could only become the property of the wealthy, who were too independent to feel the need of combination, and preferred to live on the spoliation and taxation of the weak. This spoliation eventually impelled the weaker men to combine, and at first their combination took the form of the construction of fortified places, against which mounted men were powerless. On the other hand, expense put a limit to the area which fortifications could enclose, and this again limited the supplies for the garrison. Horsemen sweeping the country for miles around had no difficulty in feeding themselves, and the surrender of all beleaguered places through starvation was ultimately inevitable, unless food could be introduced from allied towns in the vicinity. It was of no use to introduce fighting men only into a place which primarily required food (cf. Lucknow, 1857) to protract its resistance. Hence some means had to be found to surround the supply-convoys with a physically impenetrable shield, and eighteen-foot pikes in the hands of powerful disciplined soldiers met the requirements. Against eight to ten ranks of such men the best cavalry in the world, relying only on their swords, were helpless, and for the time (towards the close of the 15th century) infantry remained masters of the field on the continent of Europe.

England meanwhile had developed on lines of her own. Thanks to her longbowmen and the military genius of her leaders, she might have retained indefinitely the command of the continent had it not been for the invention of gunpowder, which, though readily accepted by the English for sieges in France, proved the ultimate cause of their undoing. It was the French who developed the use of siege artillery most rapidly, and their cavalry were not slow to take the hint; unlike the longbow and the crossbow, the pistol could be used effectively from horseback, and presently the knights and their retainers, having the deepest purses, provided themselves with long pistols in addition to their lances and swords. These weapons sent a bullet through any armour which a foot-soldier could conveniently carry, or his commander afford, and if anything went wrong with their mechanism (which was complicated and uncertain) the speed of his horse soon carried the rider out of danger. A new form of attack against infantry, introduced by the French at Cerisoles, 1544, thus developed itself. A troop or squadron, formed in from twelve to sixteen ranks, trotted up to within pistol shot of the angle of the square to be attacked and halted; then each rank in succession cantered off man by man to the left, discharging his pistol at the square as he passed, and riding back to his place behind the column to reload. This could be prolonged indefinitely, and against such tactics the infantry were powerless. The stakes carried by English archers to check the direct charge of horsemen became useless, as did also chevaux de frise, though the latter (which originated in the 14th century) continued to be employed by the Austrians against the swiftly-charging Turks till the close of the 17th century. Thus it became necessary to devise some new impediment which, whilst remaining mobile, would also give cover and an advantage in the final hand-tohand shock. The problem was solved in Bohemia, Poland and Moravia (Hussite wars, about 1420), where, distances being great and the country open, greater mobility and capacity in the convoys became essential. Great trains of wagons were placed in charge of an infantry escort, of which a part had become possessed of firearms, and these moved across country in as many as twelve parallel lines drilled to form laagers, as nowadays in South Africa. Again the cavalry proved helpless, and for nearly a century in central Europe the word "Wagenburg" (wagon-fortress) became synonymous with "army." Then an unfortunate inspiration came to the wagon-men. A large gun was relatively cheaper to manufacture, and more effective than a small one. To keep their assailants at a distance, they mounted wall-pieces of about one-inch bore on their wagons. For a moment the balance inclined in their favour, but the cavalry were quick to see their advantage in this new idea, and they immediately followed suit. They, too, mounted guns on wheels, and, as their mobility gave them choice of position, they were able to concentrate their fire against any side of the laager, and again ultimate surrender was the only way out of the defenders' dilemma.

The interesting problem thus raised was never finally solved, for the scene of action now shifted to western Europe, to the valley of the Po, and more particularly to the Netherlands, where fortresses were closer together and the clayey nature of the Rhine delta had already made paved roads necessary. Then, the Wagenburg being no longer needed for the short transits between one fortified town and another, the infantry reasserted themselves. Firearms having been much improved in the interval the spearmen (pikemen) had already (about 1515) learnt to protect themselves by musketeers trained to take advantage of cover and ground somewhat in the same fashion as the modern skirmisher. These musketeers kept light guns at a distance from their pikemen, but dared not venture far out, as their fire was altogether inadequate to stop a rush of horsemen; when the latter threatened to intervene, they had to run for safety to the squares of pikemen, whom they assisted in turn by keeping the cavalry beyond pistol range. Hence the horsemen had to fall back upon more powerful guns, and these, being slow and requiring more train, could be most economically protected by infantry (see also Artillery).

Thus about the close of the 16th century western armies differentiated themselves out into the still existing three types - cavalry, artillery and infantry. Moreover, each type . and dragoons. At this period there was nothing to progress disturb the equilibrium of two contending forces except the characters of their respective leaders. The mercenary element had triumphed everywhere over the feudal levies. The moral qualities of all were on'the same indifferent level, and battles in the open followed one recognized course. Neither army being able to outmarch the other, both drew up masses of pikes in parallel lines. The musketeers covered the deployment of the heavy guns on either side, the cavalry drew up on the wings and a strictly parallel fight ensued, for in the absence of a common cause for which men were willing to die, plunder was the ruling motive, and all control and discipline melted in the excitement of the contest.

It is to the growth of Protestantism that cavalry owes its next great forward leap. To sweep the battlefield, it was absolutely essential that men should be ready to subordinate selfish considerations to the triumph of their cause. The Roman Catholicism of the day gave many loopholes for the evasion of clear duty. but from these the reformed faith was free, and it is to the reawakened sense of duty that Gustavus Adolphus appealed. This alone rendered combination amongst his subordinate leaders possible, and on this power of combination all his victories depended. Other cavalry soldiers, once let loose in the charge, could never be trusted to return to the field, the prospective plunder of the enemy's baggage being too strong a temptation; but the king's men could be depended on, and once brought back in formed bodies, they rode over the enemy's skirmishers and captured his batteries. Then the equilibrium of force was destroyed, and all arms combined made short work of the opposing infantry alone (Breitenfeld, 1631). But the Swedish king perished with his work half done, and matters reverted to their former condition until the appearance of Cromwell, another great leader capable of animating his men with the spirit of devotion, again rendered the cavalry arm supreme. The essence of his success lay in this, that his men were ready everywhere and always to lay down their lives for their commoncause. Whether scouting 70 m. to the front of their army, or fighting dismounted to delay the enemy at defiles or to storm fortified strongholds, or charging home on the battlefield, their will power, focused on, and in turn dependent on, the personality of their great leader, dominated all human instincts of fear, rapacity or selfishness. It is true that they had not to ride against the modern rifle, but it is equally true that there was no quick-firing artillery to carry terror through the enemy's army, and it was against masses of spearmen and musketeers, not then subjected to bursting shells or the lash of shrapnel and rifle bullets, that the final charges had always to be ridden home.

Each succeeding decade thereafter has seen a steady diminution in the ultimate power of resistance of the infantry, and a corresponding increase in the power of fire preparation at the disposal of the supreme leader; and the chances of cavalry have fluctuated with the genius of that leader in the employment of the means at his disposal, and the topographical conditions existing within each theatre of war. During the campaigns in Flanders, with its multiplicity of fortresses and clayey soil, cavalry rapidly degenerated into mounted infantry, throwing aside sword and lance-proof armour, and adopting long muskets and heavier ammunition. Presently they abandoned the charge at a gallop and reverted to an approach at the trot, and if (as at Blenheim) their influence proved decisive on the field of battle, this was because the conditions were common to both combatants, and the personal influence of "Corporal John," as his soldiers called Marlborough, ensured greater steadiness and better co-operation.

When Frederick II. became king of Prussia (1740), he found his cavalry almost at the nadir of efficiency; even his cuirassiers drilled principally on foot. "They can Frederick manoeuvre," on foot, "with the same precision as II.; reform my grenadiers, but unfortunately they are equally of the slow." His enemies the Austrians, thanks to their Prussian wars against the Turks who always charged at a cavalry. gallop, had maintained greater dash and mobility, and at Mollwitz the Prussians only escaped disaster by the astounding rapidity of their infantry fire. In disgust the king then wrote, "Die Cavallerie is nicht einmal werth dasz sie der Teufel week holet," and he immediately set about their reform with his usual energy and thoroughness. Three years after Mollwitz, the result of his exertions was apparent in the greatly increased importance the arm acquired on the battlefield, and the charge of the Bayreuth dragoons at Hohenfriedberg (June 4, 1 745), who with 1500 horses rode over and dispersed 20 Austrian battalions, bringing in 2 500 prisoners and 67 colours, will always rank as one of the most brilliant feats in military history.' The following years of peace (1745-1756) were devoted to the methodical preparation of the cavalry to meet the requirements that Frederick's methods of war would make upon them, and it is to this period that the student should devote special attention. From the very outbreak of the Seven Years' War (1756) this training asserted its influence, and Rossbach (1757) and Zorndorf (1758) are the principal examples of what cavalry handled in masses can effect. At Rossbach General v. Seydlitz, at the head of 38 squadrons, practically began and ended the destruction of the French army, and at Zorndorf he saved the day for the Prussians by a series of the most brilliant charges, which successively destroyed the Russian right wing and centre. These battles so conclusively demonstrated the superiority of the Prussian cavalry that their enemies completely altered their tactical procedure. They now utilized their enormous numerical superiority by working in two separate armies, each almost as strong as the whole Prussian force. When the latter moved against either, the one threatened immediately threw up heavy entrenchments, against which cavalry were, of course, ineffective, whilst the other pursued its march. When Frederick, having more or less beaten his immediate opponent, I The loss of the regiment was twenty-eight killed and sixty-six wounded.

17th- was subdivided, the cavalry becoming heavy, medium century began to threaten the other army it entrenched likewise. Against these methods the Prussian army soon wore itself out, and though from time to time the cavalry locally distinguished itself, no further opportunities for great decisive blows presented themselves.

The increased demands made upon the mobility of the Prussian horsemen naturally resulted in the gradual rejection of everything which was not essential to their striking power. The long muskets and bayonets were laid aside, but the cuirass was retained for the melee, and by the close of the great struggle the various branches of the arm had differentiated themselves out into the types still adhered to, heavy cavalry, dragoons, hussars, whose equipment as regards essentials thenceforward hardly varied up to the latter years of the 19th century. The only striking difference lies in the entire rejection of the lance in the armament of the charging squadrons, and the reason is characteristic of the principles of the day. The Prussian cavalry had realized that success was decided, not primarily by actual collision, but by the moral effect of the appearance of an absolutely closed wall of horsemen approaching the adversary at full speed. If the necessary degree of cohesion was attained, the other side was morally beaten before collision took place, and either turned to flight, or met the shock with so little resolution that it was ridden over without difficulty. In the former case any weapon was good enough to kill a flying enemy; in the latter, in the melee which then ensued, the crush in the ranks of the victors was still so great that the lance was a hindrance rather than a help.

In the years succeeding the war the efficiency of the Prussian cavalry sank very rapidly, the initial cause being the death of Seydlitz at the early age of fifty-two. His personality had alone dominated the discontent, lethargy and hopelessness created by ruthless financial economies. When he was gone, as always in the absence of a great leader, men adapted their lives to the line of least resistance. In thirty years the wreck was complete, and within the splendid squadrons which had been accustomed to manoeuvre with perfect precision at the highest speed, there were (as F. A. von der Marwitz in his Nachlass clearly shows) not more than seven thoroughly trained men and horses to each, the remainder being trained for little longer and receiving less attention than is the case with modern and line or auxiliary cavalry.

For the generation preceding the outbreak of the French Revolution, Frederick the Great's army, and especially his cavalry, had become the model for all Europe, but Cavalry in the the mainspring of the excellence of his squadrons revolu- was everywhere overlooked. Seydlitz had manoeuvred great masses of horsemen, therefore every one else must have great masses also; but no nation grasped the secret, viz. the unconditional obedience of the horse to its rider, on which his success had depended. Neither was it possible under the prevailing social conditions to secure the old stamp of horse, or the former attention to detail on the part of men and officers. In France, owing to the agricultural decay of the country, suitable remounts for charging cavalry were almost unobtainable, and as this particular branch of the arm was almost exclusively commanded by the aristocracy it suffered most in the early days of the Revolution. The hussars, being chiefly recruited and officered by Alsatians and Germans from the Rhine provinces, retained their individuality and traditions much longer than the dragoons and cuirassiers, and, to the very close of the great wars, we find them always ready to charge at a gallop; but the unsteadiness and poor horsemanship of the other branches was so great that up to 1812, the year of their destruction, they always charged at a trot only, considering that the advantage of superior cohesion thus gained more than balanced the loss of momentum due to the slower pace.

Generally, the growth of the French cavalry service followed the universal law. The best big horses went to the heavy charging cavalry, viz. the cuirassiers, the best light horses to the hussars, and the dragoons received the remainder, for in principle they were only infantry placed on horseback for convenience of locomotion, and were not primarily intended for combined mounted action. Fortunately for them, their principal adversaries, the Austrians, had altogether failed to grasp the lesson of the Seven Years' War. Writing in 1780 Colonel Mack, a very capable officer, said, "Even in 1769, the cavalry could not ride, could not. manage to control their horses. Not a single squadron could keep its dressing at a gallop, and before they had gone fifty yards at least ten out of forty horses in the first rank would break out to the front," and though the veteran field marshal Lacy issued new regulations, their spirit seems always to have escaped the executive officers. The British cavalry was almost worse off, for economy had reduced its squadrons to mere skeletons, and the traditional British style of horsemanship, radically different from that in vogue in France, made their training for combined action even more difficult than elsewhere. Hence the history of cavalry during the earlier campaigns of the Revolution is marked by no decisive triumphs, the results are always inadequate when judged by the magnitude of the forces employed,. and only the brilliant exploit of the 15th Light Dragoons (now Hussars) at Villers en Couche (April 2 4, 1 794) deserves to be cited as an instance of the extraordinary influence which even a few horsemen can exercise over a demoralized or untrained mob of infantry.

tip to the campaign of Poland (see Napoleonic Campaigns) French victories were won chiefly by the brilliant infantry fighting, cavalry only intervening (as at Jena) to charge a beaten enemy and complete his destruction by pursuit. But after the terrible waste of life in the winter of 1806-7, and the appalling losses in battle, Napoleon introduced a new form of attack. The case-shot preparation of his artillery (see Artillery) sowed confusion and terror in the enemy's ranks, and the opportunity was used by masses of cavalry. Henceforward this method dominated the Napoleonic tactics and strategy. The essential difference between this system and the Frederician lies in this, that with the artillery available in the former period it was not possible to say in advance at what point the intervention of cavalry would be necessary, hence the need for speed and precision of manoeuvre to ensure their arrival at the right time and place. Napoleon now selected beforehand the point he meant to overwhelm and could bring his cavalry masses within striking distance at leisure. Once placed, it was only necessary to induce them to run away in the required direction to overwhelm everything by sheer weight of men and horses. This method failed at Waterloo because the ground was too heavy, the slope of it against the charge, and the whole condition of the horses too low for the exertion demanded of them.

The British cavalry from 1793 to 1815 suffered from the same causes which at the beginning of the 20th century brought about its breakdown in the South African War. Over-sea transport brought the horses to land in poor condition, and it was rarely possible to afford them sufficient time to recover and become accustomed to the change in forage, the conditions of the particular theatre of operations, &c., before they had to be led against the enemy - hence a heavy casualty roll and the introduction into the ranks of raw unbroken horses which interfered with the precision of manoeuvre of the remainder. Their losses (about 13% per annum) were small as compared with those of South Africa, but this is mainly accounted for by the fact that, operations being generally in the northern hemisphere, the change of climate was never so severe. Tactically, they suffered, like the Austrians and Prussians, from the absence of any conception of the Napoleonic strategy amongst their principal leaders. As it was not known where the great blow was to fall, they were distributed along the whole line, and thus became habituated to the idea of operating in relatively small bodies. This is the worst school for the cavalry soldier, because it is only when working in masses of forty to sixty squadrons that the cumulative consequences of small errors of detail become so apparent as to convince all ranks of the necessity of conforming accurately to established prescriptions. Nevertheless, they still retained the practice of charging at a gallop, and as a whole were by far the most efficient body of horsemen who survived at the close of the great wars.

In the reaction that then ensued all over Europe, cavalry practically ceased to exist. The financial and agricultural exhaustion of all countries, and of Prussia in particular, was so complete that money was nowhere to be found for the great concentrations and manoeuvre practices which are more essential to the efficiency of the cavalry than to ?' S' that of the other arms. Hence a whole generation of officers grew up in ignorance of the fundamental principles which govern the employment of their arm. It was not till 1848 that the Prussians began again to unite whole cavalry divisions for drill and manoeuvre, and the soldiers of .the older generation had not yet passed away when the campaigns of 1866 and 1870 brought up again the realities of the battle-field. Meanwhile the introduction of long-range artillery and small arms had entirely destroyed the tactical relation of the three arms on which the Napoleonic tactics and strategy had been based, and the idea gained ground that the battle-field would no longer afford the same opportunities to cavalry as before. The experiences gained by the Americans in the Civil War helped to confirm this preconception. If in battles waged between infantries armed only with muzzle-loading rifles, cavalry could find no opportunity to repeat past exploits, it was argued that its chances could not fail to be still further reduced by the breechloader. But this reasoning ignored the principal factors of former successes. The mounted men in America failed not as a consequence of the armament they encountered, but because the war brought out no Napoleon to create by his skill the opportunity for decisive cavalry action, and to mass his men beforehand in confident anticipation. The same reasoning applies to the European campaigns of 1866 and 1870, and the results obtained by the arm were so small, in proportion to the numbers of squadrons available and to their cost of maintenance as compared with the other arms, that a strong reaction set in everywhere against the existing institutions, and the re-creation of the dragoon, under the new name of mounted rifleman, was advocated in the hope of obtaining a cheap and efficient substitute for the cavalryman.

Later events in South Africa and in Manchuria again brought this question prominently to the front, but the essential difference between the old and new schools of thought has not been generally realized. The "mounted rifle" adherents base their arguments on the greatly increased efficiency of the rifle itself. The "cavalry" school, on the other hand, maintains that, the weapons themselves being everywhere substantially equal in efficiency, the advantage rests with the side which can create the most favourable conditions for their employment, and that, fundamentally, superior mobility will always confer upon its possessor the choice of the circumstances under which he will elect to engage. Where the two sides are nearly equally matched in mobility, neither side can afford the time to dismount, for the other will utilize that time to manoeuvre into a position which gives him a relative superiority for whichever form of attack he may elect to adopt, and this relative superiority will always more than suffice to eliminate any advantage in accuracy of fire that his opponent may have obtained by devoting his principal attention to training his men on the range instead of on the mounted manoeuvre ground.

Finally, the "cavalry" school reasons that in no single campaign since Napoleon's time have the conditions governing encounters been normal. Either the roadless and barren nature of the country has precluded of itself the rapid marching which forms the basis of all modern strategy, as in America, Turkey, South Africa and Manchuria, or the relative power of the infantry and artillery weapons, as in Bohemia (1866) and in France (1870), has rendered wholly impossible the creation of the great tactical opportunity characteristic of Napoleon's later method, for there then existed no means of overwhelming the enemy with a sufficient hail of projectiles to render the penetration of the cavalry feasible. The latest improvement in artillery, viz. the perfected shrapnel and the quick-firing guns, have, however, enormously facilitated the attainment of this primary fire superiority, and, moreover, it has simplified the procedure to such a degree that Napoleon is no longer needed to direct. The battles of the future will thus, in civilized countries, revert to the Napoleonic type, and the side which possesses the most highly trained and mobile force of cavalry will enjoy a greater relative superiority over its adversary than at any period since the days of Frederick.

The whole experience of the past thus goes to show that no nation in peace has ever yet succeeded in maintaining a highly trained cavalry sufficiently numerous to meet all the demands of a great war. Hence at the outbreak of hostilities there has always been a demand for some kind of supplementary force which can relieve the regular squadrons of those duties of observation and exploration which wear down the horses most rapidly and thus render the squadrons ineffective for their culminating duty on the battle-field. This demand has been met by the enrolment of men willing to fight and rendered mobile by mounts of an inferior description, and the greater the urgency the greater has been the tendency to give them arms which they can quickly learn to use. To make a man an expert swordsman or lancer has always taken years, but he can be taught to use a musket or rifle sufficiently for his immediate purpose in a very short time. Hence, to begin with, arms of this description have invariably been issued to him. But once these bodies have been formed, and they have come into collision with trained cavalry, the advantages of mobility, combined with the power of shock, have become so apparent to all, that insensibly the "dragoon" has developed into the cavalry soldier, the rate of this evolution being conditioned by the nature of the country in which the fighting took place.

This evolution is best seen in the American Civil War. The men of the mounted forces engaged had been trained to the use of the rifle from childhood, while the vast majority had never seen a sword, hence the formation of "mounted rifles"; and these "mounted rifles" developed precisely in accordance with the nature of their surroundings. In districts of virgin forests and marshland they remained "mounted rifles," in the open prairie country of the west they became cavalry pure and simple, though for want of time they never rivalled the precision of manoeuvre and endurance of modern Prussian or Austrian horse. In South Africa the same sequence was followed, and had the Boer War lasted longer it is certain that such Boer leaders as de Wet and de la Rey would have reverted to cavalry tactics of shock and cold steel at the earliest possible opportunity.

Therefore when we find, extending over a cycle of ages, the same causes producing the same effects, the natural conclusion is that the evolution of the cavalry arm is subject to a universal law which persists in spite of all changes of armament.

Employment of Cavalry

It is a fundamental axiom of all military action that the officer commanding the cavalry of any force comprising the three arms of the service is in the strictest sense an executive officer under the officer commanding that particular force as a whole. The latter again is himself responsible to the political power he represents. When intricate political problems are at stake, it may be, and generally is, quite impracticable that any subordinate can share the secret knowledge of the power to which he owes his allegiance.

The essence of the value of the cavalry soldier's services lies in this, that the demand is never made upon him in its supremest form until the instinct of the real commander realizes that the time has come. Whether it be to cover a retreat, and by the loss of hundreds to save the lives of tens of thousands, or to complete a victory with commensurate results in the opposite direction, the obligation remains the same - to stake the last man and horse in the attainment of the immediate object in view, the defeat of the enemy. This at once places the leader of cavalry in face of his principal problem. It is a matter of experience that the broader the front on which he can deliver a charge, the greater the chances of success. However strong the bonds of discipline may be, the line is ultimately, and at a certain nervous tension, only a number of men on horses, acting and reacting on one another in various ways. When therefore, of two lines, moving to meet one another at speed, one sees itself overlapped to either hand, the men in the line thus overlapped invariably and inevitably tend to open outwards, so as at least to meet their enemy on an equal frontage. Hence every cavalry commander tries to strike at the flank of his enemy, and the latter manoeuvres to meet him, and if both have equal mobility, local collision must ensue on an equal and parallel front. Therefore both strive to put every available man and horse in their first line, and if men and horses were invulnerable such a line would sweep over the ground like a scythe and nothing could withstand it. Since, however, bullets kill at a distance, and inequalities and unforeseen difficulties of the ground may throw hundreds of horses and riders, a working compromise has to be found to meet eventualities, and, other things being equal, victory inclines to the leader who best measures the risks and uncertainties of his undertaking, and keeps in hand a sufficient reserve to meet all chances.

Thus there has arisen a saying, which is sometimes regarded as axiomatic, that in cavalry encounters the last closed reserve always wins. The truth is really that he who has best judged the situation and the men on both sides finds himself in possession of the last reserve at the critical moment. The next point is, how to ensure the presence of this reserve, and what is the critical moment. The battle-field is the critical moment in each phase of every campaign - not the mere chance locality on which a combat takes place, but the decisive arena on which the strategic consequences of all pre-existing conditions of national cohesion, national organization and of civilization are focussed. It is indeed the judgment-seat of nature, on which the right of the race to survive in the struggle for existence is weighed and measured in the most impartial scales.

Before, however, the final decision of the battle-field can be attained, a whole series of subordinate decisions have to be fought out, success in each of which conditions the result of the next series of encounters. Every commanding officer of cavalry thus finds himself successively called on to win a victory locally at any cost, and the question of economy of force does not concern him at all. Hence the same fundamental rules apply to all cavalry combats, of whatever magnitude, and condition the whole of cavalry tactics. Broadly speaking, if two cavalries of approximately equal mobility manoeuvre against each other in open country, neither side can afford the loss of time that dismounting to fight on foot entails. Hence, assuming that at the outset of a campaign each side aims at securing a decisive success, both seek out an open plain and a mounted charge, sword in hand, for the decision. When the speed and skill of the combatants are approximately equal, collision ensues simultaneously along parallel fronts, and the threat of the overlapping line is the principal factor in the decision. The better the individual training of man and horse the less will be the chances of unsteadiness or local failures in execution, and the less the need of reserves; hence the force which feels itself the most perfect in the individual efficiency of both man and horse (on which therefore the whole ultimately depends) can afford to keep fewer men in reserve and can thus increase the width of its first line for the direct collision. Careful preparation in peace is therefore the first guarantee of success in action. This means that cavalry, unlike infantry, cannot be expanded by the absorption of reserve men and horses on the outbreak of hostilities, but must be maintained at war strength in peace, ready to take the field at a moment's notice, and this is actually the standard of readiness attained on the continent of Europe at the present day.

Further, uniformity of speed is the essential condition for the execution of closed charges, and this obviously cannot be assured if big men on little horses and small men on big horses are indiscriminately mixed up in the same units. Horses and men have therefore been sorted out everywhere into three categories, light, medium and heavy, and in periods when war was practically chronic, suitable duties have been allotted to each. It is clear, on purely mechanical grounds, that the greater the velocity of motion at the moment of collision the greater will be the chances of success, and this greater speed will be on the side of the bigger horses as a consequence of their longer stride. On the other hand, these horses, by reason of their greater weight, are used up much more rapidly than small ones. Hence, to ensure the greater speed at the moment of contact, it is necessary to save them as much as possible to keep them fresh for the shock only, and this has been the practice of all great cavalry leaders all over the world, and has only been departed from under special circumstances, as by the Germans in France in 1870, when their cavalry practically rode everywhere unopposed.

Collisions, however, must be expected by every body of troops large or small; hence each regiment - ultimately each squadron - endeavours to save its horses as far as this is compatible with the attainment of the special object in view, and this has led everywhere and always to a demand for some intermediate arm, less expensive to raise and maintain than cavalry proper, and able to cover the ground with sufficient rapidity and collect the information necessary to ensure the proper direction of the cavalry commands. Originally this intermediate force received the designation of dragoons; but since under pressure of circumstances during long periods of war these invariably improved themselves into cavalry and became permanent units in the army organization, fresh names have had to be invented for them, of which Mounted Infantry and Mounted Rifles are the latest, and every improvement in firearms has led to an increased demand for their services.

It is now relatively easy to trace out the considerations which should govern the employment of his cavalry by the officer commanding a force of the three arms. Assuming for purposes of illustration an army numerically weak in cavalry, what course will best ensure the presence of the greatest number of sabres at the decisive point, i.e. on the battle-field? To push out cavalry screens far to the front will be to court destruction, nor is the information they obtain of much real service unless the means to act upon it at once is at hand. This can only be supplied economically by the use of strong advanced guards of infantry, and such supplementary security and information as these may require will be best supplied by mounted infantry, the sacrifice of whom will disturb least the fighting integrity of the whole army.

Imagine an army of 300,000 men advancing by five parallel roads on a front of 50 m., each column (60,000 men, 2 army corps) being covered by a strong advance guard, coming in contact with a similarly constituted army moving in an opposite direction. A series of engagements will ensue, in each of which the object of the local commander will be to paralyse his opponent's will-power by a most vigorous attack, so that his superior officer following him on the same road will be free to act as he chooses. The front of the two armies will now be defined by a line of combats localized each about a comparatively small area, and between them will be wide gaps which it will be the chief business of the directing minds on either side to close by other troops as soon as possible. Generally the call will be made upon the artillery for this purpose, since they can cover the required distances far more rapidly than infantry. Now, as artillery is powerless when limbered up and always very vulnerable on the flanks of the long lines, a strong cavalry escort will have to be assigned to them which, trotting forward to screen the march, will either come in contact with the enemy's cavalry advancing with a similar object, or themselves find an opportunity to catch the enemy's guns at a disadvantage. These are opportunities for the cavalry, and if necessary it must sacrifice itself to turn them to the best account. The whole course of the battle depends on success or failure in the early formation of great lines of guns, for ultimately the victor in the artillery duel finds himself in command of the necessary balance of guns which are needed to prepare the way for his final decisive infantry attack. If this latter succeeds, then any mounted men who can gallop and shoot will suffice for pursuit. If it fails, no cavalry, however gallant, has any hope of definitely restoring the combat, for against victorious infantry, cavalry, now as in the past, can but gain a little time. This time may indeed be worth the price at which it can be bought, but it will always be more economical to concentrate all efforts to prevent the emergency arising.

After the Franco-German War much was written about the possibility of vast cavalry encounters to be fought far in advance of the main armies, for the purpose of obtaining information, and ideas were freely mooted of wide-flung raids traversing the enemy's communications, breaking up his depots, reserve formations, &c. But riper consideration has relegated these suggestions to the background, for it is now evident that such expeditions involve the dissemination of force, not its concentration. Austria and France for example would scarcely throw their numerically inferior cavalry against the Germans, and nothing would suit them better than that the latter should hurl their squadrons against the frontier guards, advanced posts, and, generally, against unbeaten infantry; nor indeed would the Germans stultify their whole strategic teaching by weakening themselves for the decisive struggle. It follows therefore that cavalry reconnaissance duties will be strictly local and tactical, and that arrangements will be made for procuring strategical information by wireless telegraphy, balloons, motor cars, bicycles, &c., and that on the whole that nation will be best served in war which has provided in peace a nucleus of mounted infantry capable of rapid expansion to fill the gap which history shows always to have existed between the infantry and the cavalry. Such troops need not be organized in large bodies, for their mission is to act by "slimness," not by violence. They must be the old "verlorene Haufe" (anglice, " forlorn hope") of former days, men whose individual bravery and decision is of the highest order. But they can never become a "decisioncompelling arm," though by their devotion they may well hope to obtain the grand opportunity for their cavalry, and share with them in harvesting the fruits of victory.

The great cavalry encounters of forty to sixty squadrons on either side, which it has been shown must arise from the necessity of screening or preventing the formation of the all-important artillery lines, will take their form mainly from the topographical conditions of the district, and since on a front of 60 to ioo m. these may vary indefinitely, cavalry must be trained, as indeed it always has been, to fight either on foot or on horseback as occasion requires. In either case, thoroughness of preparation in horsemanship (which, be it observed, includes horsemastership) is the first essential, for in the end victoty will rest with the side which can put in the right place with the greatest rapidity the greatest number of sabres or rifles. In the case of rifles there is a greater margin of time available and an initial failure is not irremediable, but the underlying principle is the same in either case; and since it is impossible to foretell exactly the conditions of the collision, all alike, according to the class to which they belong, must be brought up to the highest standard, for this alone guarantees the smooth and rhythmical motion required for covering long distances with the least expenditure of physical and nervous strength on the part both of horse and rider. As a consequence of successes gained in these preliminary encounters, opportunities will subsequently arise for the balance of fresh or rallied squadrons in hand to ride home upon masses of infantry disorganized and demoralized by the combined fire of infantry and artillery, and such opportunities are likely to be much more numerous at the outbreak of future wars than they have been in the past, because the enormous gain in range and rapidity of fire enables a far greater weight of metal to be concentrated on any chosen area within a given time. It cannot be too often reiterated that cavalry never has ridden over unshaken infantry of average quality by reason of its momentum alone, but that every successful cavalry charge has always owed its issue to a previously acquired moral superiority which has prevented the infantry from making adequate use of their means of defence. Nor will such charges entail greater losses than in the past, for, great though the increase of range of modern infantry weapons has been, the speed and endurance of cavalry has increased in a yet higher ratio; whereas in Napoleon's days, with an extreme range for musketry of 1000 yds., cavalry were expected only to trot Boo yds. and gallop for 200, nowadays with an extreme infantry range of under 4000 yds., the cavalry are trained to trot for 8000 yds. and gallop for 2000.

Neither the experiences in South Africa nor those in Manchuria seriously influenced the views of the leading cavalry experts as above outlined, for the conditions of both cases were entirely abnormal. No nation in western Europe can afford to mount the whole of its able-bodied manhood, nor, with the restricted area of its possessions, could repeat the Boer tactics with useful effect; in Manchuria, the theatre of operation was so far roadless, and the motives of both combatants so distinct from any conceivable as a basis for European strategy, that time was always available to construct entrenchments and obstacles physically insuperable to mounted arms. In western Europe, with its extreme development of communications, such tactics are impracticable, and under the system of compulsory service which is in force in all nations, an early decision must be sought at any cost. This motive imposes a rapid-marching campaign in the Napoleonic style, and in such warfare there is neither time nor energy available for the erection of extemporised fortresses. Victory must therefore fall to the side that can develop the greatest fire power in the shortest time. The greatest factor of fire power is the long artillery lines, and as cavalry is the one arm which by its mobility can hamper or prevent the formation of such lines, on its success in this task all else must depend. Hence both sides will concentrate every available horse and man for this special purpose, and on the issue of the collisions this mutual concentration must entail will hang the fate of the battle, and ultimately of the nation. But the cavalry which will succeed in this task will be the one in which the spirit of duty burns brightest, and the oath of allegiance, renewed daily on the cross of the sword, is held in the highest esteem.


The existing organization of cavalry throughout the civilized world is an instance of the "survival of the fittest" in an extreme form. The execution of the many manoeuvres with the speed and precision which condition success is only possible by a force in which, as Frederick the Great said, "every horse and trooper has been finished with the same care that a watchmaker bestows upon each wheel of the watch mechanism." Uniformity of excellence is in fact the keystone of success, and this is only attainable where the mass is subdivided into groups, each of which requires superintendence enough to absorb the whole energy of an average commander. Thus it has been found by ages of experiment that an average officer, with the assistance of certain subordinates to whom he delegates as much or as little responsibility as he pleases, finds his time fully occupied by the care of about one hundred and fifty men and horses, each individual of which he must understand intimately, in character, physical strength and temper, for horse and man must be matched with the utmost care and judgment if the best that each is capable of is to be attained. The fundamental secret of the exceptional efficiency attained by the Prussian cavalry lies in the fact that they were the first to realize what the above implies. Af ter the close of the Napoleonic Wars they made their squadron commanders responsible, not only for the training of the combatants of their unit, but also for the breaking in of remounts and the elementary teaching of recruits as well, and in this manner they obtained an intimate knowledge of their material which is almost unattainable by British officers owing to the conditions entailed by foreign service and frequent changes of garrisons.

Further, to obtain the maximum celerity of manoeuvre with the minimum exertion of the horses, the squadron requires to be subdivided into smaller units, generally known as troops, and experience has shown that with 128 sabres in the ranks (the average strength on parade, after deducting sick and young horses, and the N.C. officers required as troop guides, &c.) four troops best satisfy all conditions; as, with this number, the squadron will, under all circumstances of ground and surroundings, make any change of formation in less time and with greater accuracy than with any other number of subdivisions. The size of the unit next above the squadron, the regiment, is again fixed by the number of subordinates that an average commander can control, and the universal experience of all arms has settled this as not less than four and not more than eight. Experiments with eight and even ten squadrons have been tried both in Austria and Prussia, but only exceptional men have succeeded in controlling such large bodies effectively, and in the end the normal has been fixed at four or five squadrons in quarters, and three or four in the field. Of these, the larger number is undoubtedly preferable, for, with the work of the quartermaster and the adjutant to supervise, in addition, the regimental commander is economically applied to the best advantage. The essential point, however, is that the officer commanding the regiment does not interfere in details, but commands his four squadron commanders, his quartermaster, and his adjutant, and holds them absolutely responsible for results.

There is no unity of practice in the constitution of larger units. Brigades vary according to circumstances from two regiments to four, and the composition of divisions fluctuates similarly. The custom in the German cavalry has been to form brigades of two regiments and divisions of three brigades, but this practice arose primarily from the system of recruiting and has no tactical advantage. The territory assigned to each army corps provides men and horses for two regiments of cuirassiers or lancers (classed as heavy in Germany), two of dragoons, and two of hussars, and since it is clearly essential to ensure uniformity of speed and endurance within those units most likely to have to work together, it was impossible to mix the different classes. But the views now current as to the tactical employment of cavalry contemplate the employment not only of divisions but of whole cavalry corps, forty to sixty squadrons strong, and these may be called on to fulfil the most various missions. The farthest and swiftest reconnaissances are the province of light cavalry, i.e. hussars, the most obstinate attack and defence of localities the task of dragoons, and the decisive charges on the battle-field essentially the duty of the heavy cavalry. It seems probable then that the brigade will become the highest unit the composition of which is fixed in peace, and that divisions and corps will be put together by brigades of uniform composition, and assigned to the several sections of the theatre of war in which each is likely to find the most suitable field for its special character. This was the case in the Frederician and Napoleonic epochs, when efficiency and experience in the field far outweighed considerations of administration and convenience in quarters.

Hitherto, horse artillery in Europe has always formed an integral portion of the divisional organization, but the system has never worked well, and in view of the technical evolution of artillery material is no longer considered desirable. As it is always possible to assign one or more batteries to any particular brigade whose line of march will bring it across villages, defiles, &c. (where the support of its fire will be essential), and on the battle-field itself responsibility for the guns is likely to prove more of a hindrance than a help to the cavalry commander, it is probable that horse artillery will revert to the inspection of its own technical officers, and that the sole tie which will be retained between it and the cavalry will be in the batteries being informed as to the cavalry units they are likely to serve with in war, so that the officers may make themselves acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of their future commanders. The same course will be pursued with the engineers and technical troops required for the cavalry, but it seems probable that, in accordance with a suggestion made by Moltke after the 1866 campaign, the supply columns for one or more cavalry corps will be held ready in peace, and specially organized to attain the highest possible mobility which modern technical progress can ensure.

The general causes which have led to the differentiation of cavalry into the three types - hussars, dragoons and heavy - have already been dealt with. Obviously big men on little horses cannot manoeuvre side by side with light men on big horses. Also, since uniformity of excellence within the unit is the prime condition of efficiency, and the greatest personal dexterity is required for the management of sword or lance on horseback, a further sorting out became necessary, and the best light weights were put on the best light horses and called hussars, the best heavy weights on the best heavy horses and called lancers, the average of either type becoming dragoons and cuirassiers. In England, the lance not being indigenous and the conditions of foreign service making adherence to a logical system impossible, lancers are medium cavalry, but the difference of weights carried and type of horses is too small to render these distinctions of practical moment. In Germany, where every suitable horse finds its place in the ranks and men have no right of individual selection, the distinctions are still maintained, and there is a very marked difference between the weights carried and the types of men and horses in each branch, though the dead weight which it is still considered necessary to carry in cavalries likely to manoeuvre in large masses hardly varies with the weight of the man or size of the horse.

Where small units only are required to march and scout, the kit can be reduced to a minimum, everything superfluous for the moment being carried on hired transport, as in South Africa. But when io,000 horsemen have to move by a single road all transport must be left miles to the rear, and greater mobility for the whole is attained by carrying upon the horse itself the essentials for a period of some weeks. Still, even allowing for this, it is impossible to account for the extraordinary load that is still considered necessary. In India, the British lancer, averaging i i st. per man, could turn out in marching order at 1 7 st. 8 lb (less forage nets). In Germany, the hussar, averaging ro st. 6 lb, rode at 18 st., also without forage, and the cuirassier at 21 st. to 22 st. Cavalry equipment is, in fact, far too heavy, for in the interests of the budgets of the departments which supply saddlery, harness, &c., everything is made so as to last for many years. Cavalry saddles fifty years old frequently remain in good condition, but the losses in horse-flesh this excessive solidity entails are ignored. The remount accounts are kept separately, and few realize that in war it is cheaper to replace a horse than a saddle. In any case, the armament alone of the cavalry soldier makes great demands on the horses. His sword and scabbard weigh about 4 lb, carbine or rifle 7 lb to 9 lb, 120 rounds of ammunition with pouches and belts about i 2 lb, lance about 5 lb, and two days' forage and hay at the lowest 4 0 lb, or a gross total of 70 lb or 5 st., which with i r st. for the man brings the total to 16 st.; add to this the lightest possible saddle, bridle, cloak and blanket, and 17 st. 8 lb is approximately the irreducible minimum. It may be imagined what care and management of the horses is required to enable them under such loads to manoeuvre in masses at a trot, and gallop for distances of 5 m. and upwards without a moment for dismounting.

Reconnaissance and Scouting

After 1870 public opinion, misled by the performances of the "ubiquitous Uhlan" and disappointed by the absence of great cavalry charges on the field of battle, came somewhat hastily to the conclusion that the day of "shock tactics" was past and the future of cavalry lay in acting as the eyes and ears of the following armies. But, as often happens, the fact was overlooked that the German cavalry screen was entirely unopposed in its reconnoitring expeditions, and it was not till long afterwards that it became apparent how very little these far-flung reconnaissances had contributed to the total success.


It has been calculated by German cavalry experts that not i % of the reports sent in by the scouts during the advance from the Saar to the Meuse, August 1870, were of appreciable importance to the headquarters, and that before the orders based upon this evidence reached the front, events frequently anticipated them. Generally the conviction has asserted itself, that it is impossible to train the short-service soldiers of civilized nations sufficiently to render their reports worth the trouble of collating, and if a few cases of natural aptitude do exist nothing can ensure that these particular men should be sufficiently well mounted to transmit their information with sufficient celerity to be of importance. It is of little value to a commander to know that the enemy was at a given spot forty-eight hours previously, unless the sender of the report has a sufficient force at his disposal to compel the enemy to remain there; in other words, to attack and hold him. Cavalry and horse artillery alone, however, cannot economically exert this holding power, for, whatever their effect against worn-out men at the close of a great battle, against fresh infantry they are relatively powerless. Hence, it is probable that we shall see a revival of the strategic advanced guard of all arms, as in the Napoleonic days, which will not only reconnoitre, but fix the enemy until the army itself can execute the manoeuvre designed to effect his destruction. The general situation of the Battle Of Staffarda, 1690. (From a contemporary engraving.) Action O.v THE Bulganak, 1854. (From a lithograph by W. Simpson.) enemy's masses will, in western Europe, always be sufficiently fixed by the trend of his railway communications, checked by reports of spies, newspapers, &c., for, with neutral frontiers everywhere within a few hours' ride for a motor cyclist, anything approaching the secrecy of the Japanese in Manchuria is quite unattainable, and, once the great masses begin to move, the only "shadowing" which holds out any hope of usefulness is that undertaken by very small selected parties of officers, perfectly mounted, daring riders, and accustomed to cover distances of roo m. and upwards. These will be supported by motor cars and advanced feelers from the field telegraphs, though probably the motor car would carry the eye-witness to his destination in less time than it would take to draft and signal a complete report.

Tactical scouting, now as always, is invaluable for securing the safety of the marching and sleeping troops, and brigade, divisional and corps commanders will remain dependent upon their own squadrons for the solution of the immediate tactical problem before them; but, since both sides will employ mounted men to screen their operations, intelligence will generally only be won by fighting, and the side which can locally develop a marked fire superiority will be the more likely to obtain the information it requires. In this direction the introduction of the motor car and of cyclists is likely to exercise a most important influence, but, whatever may be the conveyance, it must be looked upon as a means of advance only, never of retreat. The troops thus conveyed must be used to seize villages or defiles about which the cavalry and guns can manoeuvre.

Formations and Drill

Cavalry, when mounted, act exclusively by "shock" or more precisely by "the threat of their shock," for the immediate result of collision is actually decided some instants before this collision takes place. Experience has shown that the best guarantee for success in this shock is afforded by a two-deep line, the men riding knee to knee within each squadron at least. Perfect cavalry can charge in larger bodies without intervals between the squadrons, but, ordinarily, intervals of about ro yds. between adjacent squadrons are kept to localize any partial unsteadiness due to difficulties of ground, casualties, &c. The obvious drawbacks of a two-deep line are that it halves the possible extent of front, and that if a front-rank horse falls the rear-rank horse generally tumbles over it also. To minimize the latter evil, the charge in two successive lines, to yds. apart, has often been advocated, but this has never stood the test of serious cavalry fighting; first, because when squadrons are galloping fast and always striving to keep the touch to the centre, if a horse falls the adjacent horses close in with such force that their sidelong collision may throw down more and always creates violent oscillation; and secondly, because owing to the dust raised by the first rank the following one can never maintain its true direction. It is primarily to avoid the danger and difficulty arising from the dust that the ranks in manoeuvre are closed to within one horse's length, as, when moving at speed, the rear rank is past before the dust has time to rise.

Of all formations, the line is the most difficult to handle, and, particularly, to conceal - hence various formations in column are necessary for the preliminary manoeuvres requisite to place the squadrons in position for the final deployment previous to the charge. Many forms of these columns have been tried, but, setting aside the columns intended exclusively for marching along roads, of which "sections" (four men abreast) is most usual in England, only these survive: - Squadron column.

Double column of squadrons.

Half column.

In squadron column, the troops of the squadron formed are in line one behind the other at a distance equal to the front of the troop in line. The ideal squadron consists of 128 men formed in two ranks giving 64 files, and divided into four troops of 16 files - a larger number of troops makes the drill too complicated, a smaller number makes each troop slow and unhandy. When the squadron is weak, therefore, the troop should still be maintained as near 16 files as possible, the number of troops being if necessary reduced. Thus with only 32 files, two troops of 16 files would be better than four of only 8 files.

All other formations of the regiment or brigade are fundamentally derived from the squadron column, only varying with the order in which the squadrons are grouped, and the intervals which separate them. Thus the regiment may move in line of squadron columns at close interval, i.e. i i paces apart or in double column as in the diagram. To form line for the charge, the squadrons open out, still in column, to full interval, i.e. the width they occupy when in line; and then on the command "Line to the front," each troop moves up to its place in line as shown in the diagram. When in line a large body of cavalry can no longer vary its direction without sacrificing its appearance of order, and as above pointed out, it is this appearance of order which really decides the result of the charge before the actual collision. Since, however, the enemy's movements may compel a change, an intermediate formation is provided, known as the "half column." When this formation is ordered, the troops within each squadron wheel half right or left, and each squadron is then able to form into column or line to the front as circumstances demand, or the whole line can be formed into column of troops by continuing the wheel and in this formation gallop out into a fresh direction, re-forming line by a simple wheel in the shortest possible time.

Bibliography. - G. H. Elliot, Cavalry Literature (1893); v. Bismarck, Uses and Application of Cavalry in War (1818, English translation by Lieut.-Col. Beamish, 1855); G. T. Denison, A History of Cavalry (1877); Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, Letters on Cavalry and Conversations on Cavalry (English translations, 1880 and 1892); Colonel Mitchell, Considerations on Tactics (1854) and Thoughts on Tactics and Organization (1838); E. Nolan, Cavalry, its History and Tactics (1855); Roemer, Cavalry, its History, Management and Uses (New York, 1863); Maitland, Notes on Cavalry (1878); F. N. Maude, Cavalry versus Infantry and Cavalry, its Past and Future; C. von Schmidt, Instructions for the Training, Employment and Leading of Cavalry (English translation, 1881); V. Verdy du Vernois, The Cavalry Division (1873); Maj.-Gen. Walker, The Organization and Tactics of the Cavalry Division (1876); C. W. Bowdler Bell, Notes on the German Cavalry Regulations of 1886; F. de Brack, Light Cavalry Outposts (English translation); Dwyer, Seats and Saddles (1869); J. Jacob, Views and Opinions (1857); F. Hoenig, Die Kavallerie als Schlachtenkorper (1884); Sir Evelyn Wood, Achievements of Cavalry (1893); H. T. Siborne, Waterloo Letters; Desbriere and Sautai, La Cavalerie de 1740 a 1789 (1806); Warnery, Remarques sur la cavalerie (1781); v. Canitz, Histoire des exploits et des vicissitudes de la cavalerie prussienne dans les campagnes de Frederic II (1849); Cherfils, Cavalerie en campagne (1888), Regiment in Line r r r r _r r r r 1Z&71/:=17&I r r r r Line of Squadron Columns (Close interval) ? r--?

ail lg. NIL aim i aim ' 'NAN vie Nil slim aim Nis Double Column i f l Half Column Manoeuvres Service de surete strategique de la cavalerie (1874); Bonie, Tactique francaise, cavalerie en campagne, cavalerie au combat (1887-1888); Foucart, Campagne de Pologne, operations de la cavalerie, nov. 1806jan. 1807 (1882), La Cavalerie pendant la campagne de Prusse (1880); De Galliffet, Projet d'instruction sur l'emploi de la cavalerie en liaison avec les autres armes (1880), Rapport sur les grandes manoeuvres de cavalerie de 1879; Kaehler, Die preussische Reiterei 1806-1876 (French translation, La Cavalerie prussienne de 1806 a 1876); Cavalry Studies (translated from the French of Bonie and the German of Kaehler, with a paper on U.S. cavalry in the Civil War); v.Bernhardi, Cavalry in Future Wars (English translation, 1906); P. S., Cavalry in the Wars of the Future (translated from the French by j. Formby, 1905); D. Haig, Cavalry Studies (1907); v. Pelet Narbonne, Die Kavalleriedienst (1901), Cavalry on Service (English translation, 1906); Erziehung and Fiihrung von Kavallerie. The principal cavalry periodicals are the Revue de cavalerie, the Kavalleristische 1VIonatshefte (Austrian), the Cavalry Journal (British), and the Journal of the U.S. Cavalry Association. (F. N. M.)

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Simple English

Historically, cavalry have been soldiers who fought while riding horses. In modern times, "cavalry" means the fast branch of the military, as opposed to the slower infantry (soldiers on foot).

Soldiers have fought on horses ever since people have ridden horses. Because horses are strong, cavalry members can wear more armour than infantry and carry heavier weapons. Because horses are fast, cavalry members can ride into battle more quickly than infantry members.

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