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"2nd rank: lances or swords?" Topic

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SJDonovan01 May 2015 1:23 p.m. PST

The subject of the weapon carried by the 2nd rank in lance-armed regiments came up in this thread: TMP link and I was wondering whether there was any definite information on the subject? I was under the impression that second ranks were generally armed with swords not lances but does anyone know whether this was the case for all nationalities?

Mick the Metalsmith01 May 2015 1:49 p.m. PST

I think Rory Muir addressed the topic in one of his books. It was found that formed lancers, with the second rank having swords addressed the vulnerability of the first rank if it was passed through by the enemy. Since lancers were a late modification, it may have had to do with supplying the forces with new equipment too.

This was at least the French practice. As for Cossacks or irregular cavalry, they never expected to actually charge or counter-charge formed cavalry.

Bandolier01 May 2015 2:23 p.m. PST

According to this:

125 man squadron was officially equipped as follows:
Total of 125 sabers, 109 pistols, 57 lances, 52 musketoons with bayonets and 9 carbines.

The French at least copied the Polish style of having a second rank of sabres. I think the Russians did too.

It also gets forgotten that many 'lancers' were actually armed with carbines or musketoons.

HistoryPhD01 May 2015 3:56 p.m. PST

Bandolier, it certainly gets forgotten by pretty much every single producer of miniatures in all scales.

xxxxxxx01 May 2015 8:48 p.m. PST

For Russians ….

--- For Cossacks and Native irregular cavalry : in almost all cases, lances for all troopers … these were serving under contracts or treaties or concessions between their ethnic leaders and the Russian Emperor, and they provided their own weapons (except in rare cases) and so their other armement would to some extent be dependent on the wealth of the trooper, his family and that of his immediate officers …. the "extra" arms started with 1 or 2 pistols and it could extend to rifle, musket, carbine, blunderbus, sword, scimitar, turkish style sword-knives of many types, maces, bow and arrow, and so on.

--- For "Horse" and Uhlan regiments (originally raised in ex-Polish territories) : lances for front rank only …. these lance armed were actually distinguished from regular troopers by being named товарищи / tovarishchi / comrades and being paid 50% more than a regular Russian army cavalry trooper …. also, these units were volunteer, at last until the conscription levy No. 80 (of the 5th revision) in Septemebr 1810 …. these distinctions must have been lost as these regiments lost their unique "Polish" ethnic characteristic, but I am thinking this would have been shortly after 1815, as several Ukrainian and Bug Cossack formations had been taken into the army as Uhlans …. the Chuguev Cossacks had been taken into the army as Uhlans in 1808, all were lance-armed and none were distinguished as товарищи (all the troopers were distinguished as "cossacks" were paid 20% more than regular army troopers)

--- For Hussars : lances for the front rank only …. these had been volunteer (like Polish) and Native (like Cossacks) in the mid-1700's, raised from Serbians, Moldovans, the other Translyvanian and Transcarpathian peoples …. by 1800, they were just regular Russian army units, and had lost all their ethnic identity

- Sasha

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2015 3:45 a.m. PST

Perrys do sword armed Line and Guard lancers for the French anyway. FN 28, 124 ans 128. None for the Brunswickers.

For the Austrians, Prussians and Russians any kind of Uhlans would be welcome.

SJDonovan02 May 2015 1:45 p.m. PST

Thanks for the replies everyone. As a rule of thumb it seems that regular lance-armed cavalry would have swords for the second rank. Does anyone happen to know whether this holds true for Prussian Landwehr?

pbishop1202 May 2015 7:23 p.m. PST

I have only 1 lancer regiment (Vistula) for my French Peninsular army. Front Rank figures and all are lance armed. I've had them for several years now, and I don't recall Front Rank selling sword armed figures. So while I may not be historically accurate, the unit looks cool.

Marcel180903 May 2015 4:35 a.m. PST

Can't trace the source right now, but I have read that the Prussian Landwehr cavalry had all of its troopers armed with lances, so no second rank sabres here.
From a purely wargames perspective, all my French lancer units have mainly lances. 5a real unit with halve it's men without lances may look good, a wargames unit of say 12 figures with some command 3 or four lancers and some with sabre just does not look good in my opinion)

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP03 May 2015 4:39 a.m. PST

Napoleon first overloaded his new lancer regiments (1-6) when formed in 1811, giving them sabre, lance, and carbine. Later they adopted the Polish practice of the first rank having lances and sabres, and the second having sabre and carbine.

xxxxxxx03 May 2015 11:59 a.m. PST

"the second having sabre and carbine."

Kevin makes a good point to remember : in regular army units, if the second rank did not have lances, they would not be sabre-only, but sabre+carbine – as Kevin notes, "the Polish practise".

- Sasha

SJDonovan04 May 2015 12:23 p.m. PST

Thanks for the replies everyone. Interesting stuff. I may start another thread concerning the practice of Prussian landwehr units in the hope that our resident Prussian experts will reply.

von Winterfeldt04 May 2015 1:22 p.m. PST

Didn't Napoleon even introduce for the first rank in 1811 the carabine as well?

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