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"Breitenfeld Cavalry Question" Topic

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Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2018 4:13 a.m. PST

For my education on this battle, why would/did the Imperialists put all their irregular/hussar-type cavalry on one flank and all their cuirassier type units on the other?

Daniel S04 Mar 2018 4:30 a.m. PST

With regards to the Cuirassiers they didn't, you had cuirassiers on both flanks.

The Croat cavalry (who were not hussar style, the Imperials regarded the Hussars as a separate type)ended up on the right as their main use was in the pursuit, Tillys plan was to break the inexperienced Saxons first and then turn on the Swedes. The Croats were to pursue the routed Saxons to keep them from reforming while causing general havoc in the rear area of the Swedish-Saxon army. The sources do not tell us if the Croats were part of Fürstenbergs cavalry wing from the start or if they were sent into action from a reserve position once the Saxon rout had begun. They are not mentioned in the initial contact between the Saxons and Imperial-Leugist cavalry.

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2018 5:17 a.m. PST

Many thanks Daniel. I had been reading a scenario for Breitenfeld in an old Miniature Wargames magazine (number 50) which described the deployment as above – I thought it sounded a bit odd.

Thanks again.

davbenbak Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2018 7:07 a.m. PST

Just to make sure I am on the same page. My understanding is that the Croats were a sort of light "irregular" cavalry armed with lances, swords and pistols. Perhaps very similar to how we think of Cossack units. More of a support unit as they were as likely to follow their own concerns as they were direct orders from the chain of command. Does this sound right?

Daniel S04 Mar 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

Not quite, the "bestallungen" or "Patent" which regulated the recruitment of the Croat units usually designated them as "croatische Arquebusiere", their basic equipment was saber and wheellock arquebus with the men having additional weaponry such as pistols, warhammers, panzerstecher and pallasch if they owned them.

The Croats were a sort of semi-regulars really, they were raised by contract just as the German cavalry in Imperial service was but unit organisation and administration was less strictly regulated and many units were quite short lived and only served for a campaign or a year or two. On the other hand a number of regiments served for quite some time with some only being disbanded during the army reduction of 1649-1650.

In active service their typical willingness to obey the chain of command was more or less them same as that of the other regiments. Otherwise they would have been pretty useless for the missions they were given. They did however have less discipline and cohesion on the battlefield and were for the most part not well suited to fighting the enemy head on even with an advantage in numbers. Indeed they were not expected to stand their ground when facing actual "battle cavalry" and Croat officers were not court martialed for their units taking flight in the same way as the regular cavalry was.

They did however excel in pursuing a defeated enemy as well as harassment, raids and outpost duties during the "small war", particularly if they were backed up properly with squadrons of heavier cavalry.

Druzhina04 Mar 2018 8:13 p.m. PST

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