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"Ratio of Trotters v Gallopers?" Topic

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875 hits since 10 Feb 2017
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Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2017 6:54 a.m. PST

Obviously this varied by year, from action to action and from army to army.

But what should be the expected mode here? 50:50 for both sides? Is that largely satisfactory?

Should Swedish vs Dutch methods be the determinant?

Should any one side have a majority of one or another?

Dexter Ward10 Feb 2017 8:56 a.m. PST

Trotters and Gallopers are a bit of a wargames myth.
Very few (if any) ECW cavalry had the discipline to caracole. Everyone at least tried to use the Swedish system.
Having said that, if you want to maintain such a distinction:
Royalists should certainly always be 100% gallopers.
Parliament probably 100% as well from 1643 onwards.

Personally, I'd make everyone gallopers and just make early war Parliamentary cavalry poor.

Nik Gaukroger10 Feb 2017 11:53 a.m. PST

I'm not sure even calling it the Swedish system is really an accurate one – it is just the tactics used by combat horse from the late C16th onwards. What happened was a lightening of equipment from the full cuirassier kit to the "demi-cuirassier" kit and a thinning of the ranks in a formation to about 3. If you're going to call it anything I'd just call it the "German style" as it came out of the TYW.

Also it is clear that some Parliamentarian cavalry used firearms at times early in the war. The left wing at Edgehill for example, and also, as described at Roundway Down where they are described as being deployed 6 deep and standing shooting their firearms when the Royalists charged them.

Timmo uk10 Feb 2017 12:49 p.m. PST

From about First Newbury on I'd call them pretty much all, with the odd exception, somewhere between Trotters and Gallopers. The preferred doctrine for all cavalry regardless of which side they fought for seems to have been to charge at a 'round trot' whilst maintaining cohesion, saving their firearms for close quarters.

As mentioned above most wargames rules over simplify the cavalry action or rather base the tactical doctrines they model for the entire war on what happened at Edgehill. There seems to be a myth that the Royalist cavalry tore into their opposite numbers and defeated them in all the large ECW battles but that just isn't true.

I've never been totally sure of the best way to represent ECW cavalry actions on the table-top. As ancient and creaky as they might seem to today the George Gush WRG rules did a fairly good job. If you supported cavalry with pockets of musketeers and got lucky you could hope to cause enough casualties to disorder an incoming charge but it rarely made a huge difference. The cavalry that stood to receive the charge, training and the bonuses firearms gave could ensure that well trained and well equipped Parliamentarian horse could beat the less well equipped and lower class Royalists. Of course that rule set always gave the temptation to filed lots of A class Royalist horse who would tear off into uncontrolled charges.

The Gallopers were always too powerful in Forlorn Hope. I used to make a lot of Parliamentarian horse elite to boost them due to the extra armour and pistols they may have carried as a work around but I never felt that set of rules was really satisfactory for the cavalry melee.

War Without an Enemy has been the first set I've read that does really tackle what I think were the true cavalry tactical doctrines and I may yet adapt them, currently I find the rule set too onerous to play and I don't think it handles the infantry combat as well as Forlorn Hope does. I definitely still think there is the opportunity for somebody to create a set of rules that is fun and fast to play with plenty of decision points and that works equally well for both horse and foot aspects.

Timbo W10 Feb 2017 1:20 p.m. PST

Well said Timmo,

iirc Forlorn Hope had 2 types of trotters, Trotters (F) that relied on firepower and formed in 2 ranks (representing 6) and Trotters charging at the 'good round trot' usually in a single rank on the table representing 3.

Trotters (F) being the Edgehill Parlts and Trotters later horse eg Cromwell's.

Someone made a good point that a 'wing' of horse of several regiments would be likely to use the same tactics, as the Lt Gen or Commissary Gen would probably choose which actic was to be used.

But its very difficult to get a clear idea of how trotty F-trotty-gallopy a particular force would be at any one time. Not to mention the other armies involbed, Anti- and Pro- Royalist Scots Covenanters, Scots Royalists, Confederate and Protestant Irish of several different forces and outlooks at different times, etc!

Codsticker11 Feb 2017 10:48 a.m. PST

Well said Timmo,

I agree,; good post on all points. thumbs up

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 11:09 a.m. PST

I was looking at this for the rules I'm writing with Andrew Brentnall. We decided to go with:

"Dutch" in six ranks, reliant on ranged firepower at the halt (carbines, pistols, sometimes supporting shot, even artillery). Parliamentarians often fought in this manner in the first half of the war. We have the Dutch in larger units.

"Swedes" (or whatever you want to call them) fighting in three ranks and reserving their pistols for melee. Again, sometimes supported by shot. Royalists often fought in this manner in the first half of the war; in the second half of the war both sides seem to have fought this way.

Often, during, playtests, the "Swedes" sweep away the "Dutch" but when I played Roundway Down last week, the stationary "Dutch" Parliamentarians shot up and routed my entire left wing brigade. Gulp.

If anyone is at a loose end, Andrew will be running a spectacular participation Edgehill game next Saturday (25th) in Chalgrove near Oxford- you can PM me or email me via link and I'll book you in, and you can see how it works.

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