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"How many feet/meters taken up by a cavalryman?" Topic


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985 hits since 12 Apr 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2017 3:40 p.m. PST

When riding "stirrup to stirrup."
I mean in breadth, of course.
I've seen 1 meter mentioned on here, but that seems rather narrow to me. Horses move around and shuffle, right? And feet stick out. Might be more like 1.5 meters?
Thanks!

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2017 5:16 p.m. PST

Cornwell in his Waterloo book suggests 5-6 feet.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2017 5:23 p.m. PST

+2 for best possible answer…

SJDonovan12 Apr 2017 6:52 p.m. PST

I happen to be re-reading 'Napoleonic Wargaming by Charles Grant at the moment and in the chapter on cavalry he states: "it is a fact that each mounted soldier occupies four feet of frontage (on an average)" and he goes on to calculate that a 150 man squadron lined up in two ranks of 75 men would therefore have a frontage of 100 yards.

And if it's good enough for Charles Grant …

Sho Boki12 Apr 2017 8:45 p.m. PST

Infantryman 60cm.
Cavalryman 90cm.
3 infantrymans takes the same front as 2 cavalrymans.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2017 9:05 p.m. PST

Thanks for the info.
This is all going into what will be my greatest project thus far :)
Way better than eBases even.
If I can pull it off….

von Winterfeldt12 Apr 2017 10:56 p.m. PST

I would disagree with Cornwell – but opt for 1 m.

janner12 Apr 2017 11:08 p.m. PST

British Napoleonic manuals stipulate a squadron in line occupying nearly as many yards as it has files. Specifically, they state 34" per horse including the 6" between the knees of each file.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2017 11:32 p.m. PST

How about 14 cavalry in a single line occupying the same frontage as 20 infantry?

This is about 3:1 infantry to cavalry frontage. Hmm. I assume 24" frontage per file (for simplicity sake, I know it could be smaller in the manuals, but its not such a difference that it keep me up at night).
So, in my ground scale scheme, 3 soldiers cover 72", or 6 feet.
Two cavalry thus cover ~6', or about 36" each. Maybe a little more, maybe little less?
So, adding in two ranks, this means that 28 cavalry would be on the same frontage as 60 infantry in ranks. That is, on a 13m frontage, or 42 feet.
This seems to be reasonable.
So, a full squadron of 120 cavalry in two lines would be on a 180 foot/~56m frontage.
And a full regiment in two lines of two squadrons would be 480 cavalry on a 106m frontage. Maybe with some gap between the two sets of squadrons.
Perfect…. : )

4th Cuirassier13 Apr 2017 1:34 a.m. PST

In Kriegsspiel von Reisswitz says a squadron of 150 riders had a frontage of 100 paces. Elsewhere he describes the default cavalry formation as three ranks, so I presume that is 50 riders wide at 2 paces per rider. No distinction is made between light and heavy. There is such a distinction in light vs heavy movement rates, so the book is not blind to the possible difference, but thinks there was none worth mentioning as regards frontage.

Scharnhorst's Militärisches Taschenbuch uses the term 'pace' (Schritt) all the time, but fails to define it. Well, he does, but this was in the era of different countries all having their own feet and inches that were almost but not quite the same. A French pace was 26" which was two French feet (three making a metre), i.e. 67cm; a British pace was 30" so 2.5 English feet or 76cm. The length of a German pace seems to have varied according to what sort of German you were, but I have seen it described plausibly* as 77.8cm. If one went with the latter, then one of Kriegsspiel's riders occupied 155cm, which is just over five feet.

* link

SJDonovan13 Apr 2017 1:42 a.m. PST

From what everyone has written it sounds like Charles Grant was a bit generous with the frontage he afforded his cavalry. Possibly to make things fit neatly into his neatly with his 1" = 10 yards ground scale?

Napoleonicbustsandprints Inactive Member13 Apr 2017 2:49 a.m. PST

Hello wonder if anybody can help and direct me, my other half is fanatic about anything Napoleonic and I'm looking to buy add to his collection of soldiers but I thought about what else could I buy him different? Thanks

SJDonovan13 Apr 2017 3:42 a.m. PST

@Napoleonicbustsandprints

I would start a new thread about this. I am sure you will get plenty of suggestions.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2017 4:18 a.m. PST

I've just been reading Ardant Du Pic's book. He was a French officer who fought in the Crimean War and was killed in the Franco-Prussian War. A bit later than the Napoleonic period I admit, but he does discuss the Napoleonic Wars a lot.

One of the most useful things about his book is that it is based on his own, fairly extensive, experience of battle. He highlights many areas where theory and practise don't match! It is difficult to get horses to stay as close together as manuals say, for one thing. Also, the moment a squadron of cavalry starts moving it spreads out. The gaps between horses are big enough that when two opposing squadrons charge each other, the riders pass one another through the gaps. This clearly would not be possible if they maintained the 'boot to boot' formation that often gets talked about!

Of course, he may be talking out of his arse. But he was there and we weren't…..

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2017 4:21 a.m. PST

two horsemen per 25mm.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2017 7:45 a.m. PST

Reisswirz says 3 ranks as Prussian reg. Of the time, but third rank is weaker than first two. It says nothing of intervals.
Most likely for game purpose, what is needed is manouevre space( and intervals), as troops use far more than their strict frontage, and try to keep it free of friends.
Roughly count 1.2-1.5 m actual and divide numbers of men by two ( for two ranks, even if many ncos and officers are not in the ranks), it gives a rough right size for cavalry 1750-1870++
When they charge they also tend to expand.
Then as for inf. Or art spacing, it seems not evey nation uses the same!

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2017 10:28 a.m. PST

I also wonder, the "boot to boot" formation would be incredibly dangerous if a horse falls.

Being spread even a little bit more would greatly reduce the chances of your horse also tumbling or a piece of kit snagging on a falling comrade and pulling you down along with it.

Rod MacArthur13 Apr 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

I think they always moved with 6 inches between boot-tops as per British regulations. I always assume 1 metre (40 inches)per cavalryman, including the space to the next one.

Rod

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2017 5:26 p.m. PST

The regulations [French and British] recommend assuming some 3 feet of front per horse with as Rod says, 6 inches between boottops. Heavy cavalry would attempt boot to boot. [One reason for the taller boots than light cavalry] That means that two riders would be facing three to four infantrymen in the front row depending on how you calculate the infantry frontage.

link

von Winterfeldt13 Apr 2017 11:18 p.m. PST

the full charge would be only in the final stage of the attack, I see no reason why light cavalry should cover a wider frontage than the heavies. The usual distance at walk, trott and canter should be maintained without spreading out too much.

4th Cuirassier14 Apr 2017 4:02 a.m. PST

Has anyone ever measured the distance between the outsides of the boots of a mounted man? I am struggling with the idea that, after subtracting the width of two stirruped feet, a horse would fit into what's left of a metre. But I haven't tried it.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2017 4:55 a.m. PST

I persist that for games the relevant basing is the maximum size they need to do what they did, which is way more than parade, at walk close order drill. Horses need space, right and left to overcome obstacles ( or what is for them an obstacle, be a mice , a corpse, a bush with unkwown depth underneat+++) and people need intervals for formation changes and cadres moving between lines. Ok, it depends if you do skirmish or battles.
They might walk at 0.9 but will charge in the end with 1.2++ between files, which is in most games system is the relevant stuff as the front of fighting cavalry vs infantry.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2017 7:53 a.m. PST

the full charge would be only in the final stage of the attack, I see no reason why light cavalry should cover a wider frontage than the heavies. The usual distance at walk, trott and canter should be maintained without spreading out too much.

von Winterfeldt: Because heavy cavalry often 'charged' at a trot. That was SOP for the French, order and presenting a wall being more important than speed. A full gallop/charge lost that order quite quickly which is why it was started only @150 yards from the target.

Horses need space, right and left to overcome obstacles ( or what is for them an obstacle, be a mice , a corpse, a bush with unkwown depth underneat+++) and people need intervals for formation changes and cadres moving between lines. Ok, it depends if you do skirmish or battles.

Quite true, but then those generally don't apply to a charge and is one reason that the field a charge would cross was 'reconned' before the charge whenever possible and often cavalry was not charged/used because of the ground, such as Corruna.

<q.Has anyone ever measured the distance between the outsides of the boots of a mounted man? I am struggling with the idea that, after subtracting the width of two stirruped feet, a horse would fit into what's left of a metre. But I haven't tried it.

Yes, I have, and that is the distance cavalry manuals give… But then I had a problem that a man could fit into a 22" space in line, but that is one number given, 24" and 26" are also given. depending on the nation and their actual 'inch' measurement.

von Winterfeldt14 Apr 2017 9:09 a.m. PST

I agree that horses needed space, but so do men, all the drill was to maintain the closeness – and elbow to elbow touch regardless – even when running, a close as possible formation was envisaged.
As for cavalry, the same basic idea, it was not cowboys and Indian, the kind of tactical aim and task would determine the formation, cavalry could attack wildly – in so called swarm attacks when needed, but when asked for en muraille attacks, they would try to do so

janner14 Apr 2017 1:57 p.m. PST

It is difficult to get horses to stay as close together as manuals say, for one thing.

Understanding that reenactment is a long way from facing a whiff of grape, my group and I do our very best to follow British regulations for the period.

We find that it is perfectly possibly to maneouvre in they way they describe as long as the rider is competant and the trooper has been prepared for working in very close proximity with other mounts and to deal with the inevitable noise, flags, blackpowder etc. This also seems to reflect the instructions given by Antoine Fortune de Brack for his French regiment of light horse shortly after assuming command.

As an aside, I'm in the process of preparing my mount for this season and I try to follow original methods. Next week is trumpet week grin

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2017 3:25 p.m. PST

I was fortunate enough to see the Canadian Mounted Police Horse Troop perform. 30+ horses operating in very complex formations and maneuvers in close proximity. In talking to the troopers later, I asked what the more important considerations were for working that closely. She said:

1. The size of the horse and it's pace
2. Practice.

Yes, the Troop's horses are especially chosen for size so that their gait is very similar. And they count 'paces' in carrying out their maneuvers. It was an aha moment for me. The 'pace' had been noted several places concerning cavalry, but I assumed it was just a holdover from all the concern given to paces with the infantry…

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2017 9:23 p.m. PST

That makes total sense yeah.

janner14 Apr 2017 10:48 p.m. PST

Quick clarification on my post, 'trooper' in Regency Britain meant the mount, not the rider.

LORDGHEE15 Apr 2017 1:48 a.m. PST

what does it look like, well the Gentleman in charge of the French mounted police unit as his retirement requested that he parade and charge his full unit, this has become a tradition as offices have done so since, there is anther video of a company commander charging her unit around a track.

The Glorious French

YouTube link

this is the video with out commentary sorry I could not find the full one or the others.

it seems he started something in the 1970's

this is interesting also

YouTube link

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2017 8:15 a.m. PST

Quick clarification on my post, 'trooper' in Regency Britain meant the mount, not the rider.

Interesting. Where did you find this?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2017 8:21 a.m. PST

Lordghee's YouTube link I think is a colorized version of an earlier black and white youtube video.

You can see how close the riders are to each other and how once they break into a slow gallop [before drawing swords] that order is maintained, but it goes when a full charge gallop is begun. That is just two squadrons we see.

janner16 Apr 2017 2:41 a.m. PST

Interesting. Where did you find this?

From period correspondence, the official title was 'troop horse' and trooper seemingly became the colloquial form. In the Regency period, the private soldier rider was more usually referred to as a dragoon (or guardsman if in the household cavalry).

The term 'troop horse' can be found fairly readily, such as in John Lawrence's treatise on horses, 1802, and an advert in The Morning Chroncle dated 16 Sep 1806 refered to the sale of 'trooper horses' of 5th Dragoons. To be fair, I was perhaps a little too emphatic, as one can also find the odd reference to cavalry riders being called troopers.

I'll try and dig out some clearer references when time permits thumbs up

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2017 7:33 a.m. PST

Janner:

Thank you for that. I found this in the 1806 and 1811 editions of Charles James' Military Dictionary of Technical Terms.

TROOPER:
Any body of soldiers. Troop in cavalry, a certain number of men on horseback who form a component part of a squadron. It is the same, with respect to formation as a company in infantry.

janner16 Apr 2017 11:19 a.m. PST

Interestingly, his 1810 and 1816 editions stated, 'There is no such thing as a trooper in British service.'

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2017 9:32 p.m. PST

Interestingly, his 1810 and 1816 editions stated, 'There is no such thing as a trooper in British service.'

The first edition I know of was 1802, then his 1810 two volume edition, and an 1811 one volume second edition of the 1802 version. I haven't seen the 1816 version.

So, Where in those editions? It's not under the term "Troop?" and there is no term 'trooper' given. Nor is that stated under cavalry, hussar or dragoon that I can see, though if you want to be very technical, they weren't called cavalrymen either, but rather hussars and dragoons.

janner16 Apr 2017 10:28 p.m. PST

Here's a link to the Fourth (1816) Edition, link

It is under the definition for 'Troop', p, 940, which matches the definition in the First Edition and the second volume of the Third Edition (1810). I don't have access to the Second Edition (1805).

Interesting, he uses trooper several times to describe cavalrymen, so it may have been more frequently used than I thought.

As an aside, I wonder when Light Dragoon (Hussar) units switched from calling their private soldiers 'dragoons' to 'hussars'.

Lion in the Stars17 Apr 2017 6:16 p.m. PST

@Janner: do you have a Facebook page or something for the group to share pictures with the world?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Apr 2017 7:47 p.m. PST

Janner:

Thank you for the link. Great addition to my 'library.'

I think that light dragoons were called hussars when they regiments were made hussar regiments… grin

Mike the Analyst18 Apr 2017 11:53 a.m. PST

Always worth a read when considering cavalry. This is 100 years later but they still are using 1m or slightly less.

link

P29.

See also P32 for gaits – and 33-34 for comments about stamina.

The tactical descriptions later on are useful but some like the line of squadrons in column of platoon are not Napoleonic.

janner18 Apr 2017 12:54 p.m. PST

Janner: do you have a Facebook page or something for the group to share pictures with the world?

Sure,
xvld.org
link

I think that light dragoons were called hussars when they regiments were made hussar regiments…

Both personal diaries and official records relating to XVLD indicate that the unit continued to use 'dragoon' during this period. Yet the manual for Light Dragoons and Hussars suggests an earlier introduction. I suspect it varied between units.

4th Cuirassier19 Apr 2017 4:12 a.m. PST

I wonder if the correct treatment of cavalry facing is to consider that of charging units to be the same?

If cavalry spread out during the charge then they're going to spread out to similar distances surely.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 Apr 2017 10:13 p.m. PST

If cavalry spread out during the charge then they're going to spread out to similar distances surely.

Most charges would only go at a gallop in the last 150 to 200 yards, a full gallop within that, so 'spreading out' was forward and back rather than side to side. See the Charge video above.

I finally took the time to look up at least one regulation for cavalry. The British 1799 Cavalry regulations have this as the distances [page 4]

Distance of Files:
Loose Files: The distance of files, at which the regiment forms and moves, is six inches from boot-top to boot-top, being calculated for the gallop as well as the walk of the squadron:

Close Files: CLose files, is the distance taken before dismounting, when each man's boot-top touches, but without pressing.

Open Files: The full breadth of of a horse from boot-top to boot-top; it is the distance left when from close files the left files rein back to dismount, and is a distance at which recruits and horses must be exercised.

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