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"French Nap. Dragoon Tactics" Topic


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MiniPigs24 Aug 2019 1:54 p.m. PST

And I suppose all nations' heavier sort of dragoons.

Did they attack/charge more like cuirassiers or light cavalry?

Did they use a column for attacks? Or, did they attack in line?

Sho Boki Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Aug 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

And what are differences between the charges of Cuirassieurs and Light cavalry?
And when and where Cavalry charges in column? Except the questionable charge at Eylau.

As far as I know, charges supposed to be similar to all cavalry, in lines with two horses deep.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2019 3:59 p.m. PST

While they were trained to fight on foot when mounted French dragoons were battle cavalry – they had about the same size horses as cuirassiers and tactically were more like cuirassiers than hussars

Garde de Paris25 Aug 2019 3:36 a.m. PST

French dragoons were initially mounted on Norman stock, a mediocre horse.

When Napoleon anticipated the invasion of England, they were afoot, hoping to capture English mounts.

As he moved from the Channel to Ulm in 1805, leading then to Austerlitz, many of his dragoons were formed into foot battalions. They were gradually mounted on captured Austrian, and after Jena/Auerstadt on the excellent Prussian mounts.

I only study and paint for the Peninsular War in Spain, and the French dragoons are my "maid of all work."

GdeP

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP25 Aug 2019 4:36 a.m. PST

French dragoons were the only "none light" dragoons too still receive proper infantry training.
And at times performed light cavalry duty of scouting.

On the other hand they would often be used in the "heavy cavalry " divisions as reserve together with the cuirassiers.


So a proper split personality.

Steamingdave225 Aug 2019 7:23 a.m. PST

When I started playing Napoleon's Battles ( preferred tules in my new club) a couple of years ago, I found it very confusing that dragoons were classed as "light cavalry". Most rulesets I had played in the last 50 years treated them as heavy cavalry, not quite as good as cuirassiers, but close. From what I have read about the Peninsular War, French dragoons were often used in the way dragoons were originally intended, as mounted infantry, as well as in a general cavalry role.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP25 Aug 2019 7:29 a.m. PST

I always think heavy cavalry were shock troops reserved solely for the field of battle. Light cavalry were for recce, pursuit of an already beaten foe, lines of communication etc. No real role on the battlefield unless unavoidable.

So French dragoons were…oh. I do see the problem.

They were somewhere in between

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP25 Aug 2019 8:50 a.m. PST

By the time of the Revolutionary Wars, dragoons had evolved into another cavalry arm, and were no longer merely mounted infantry as they were when they were first organized.

Interestingly, the French often listed them as light cavalry, which you can see on some of the period uniform prints.

The average cuirassier armed and equipped weighed approximatle 309 pounds. A dragoon at 273 pounds and a hussar or chasseur at 251 pounds. A well-cared for horse can carry to up one-fourth of its weight, so dragoon horses would usually be smaller than those of the cuirassier and carabiners and larger than those for hussars and chasseurs.

Cavalry companies did not have the same strength among the different types of cavalry. Cuirassiers and carabiniers had 3 officers and 86 men per company; dragoons had 3 officers and 116 men, and the hussars and chasseurs had 4 officers and 140 men per company.

All types of cavalry in the Grande Armee fought and charged on the battlefield and the Guard light cavalry also did.

Interestingly, the Guard dragoons were classed as heavy cavalry.

In the great charge at Eylau there was only one division of cuirassiers, d'Hautpoul's, and three divisions of dragoons-Klein's, Grouchy's, and Milhaud's.

Sometimes in the Grande Armee dragoon units were employed in the cavalry screen with the light cavalry.

As for those dragoons who served dismounted in 1805-1806. For the planned invasion of England, Napoleon organized two divisions of dismounted dragoons. Those divisions were abolished when the Grande Armee turned eastward. Napoleon could mount three squadrons out of every four of his dragoon regiments and they served as such in the campaign. The dismounted squadrons made up a division of four provisional regiments. These could not all be mounted after the 1805 campaign, those not mounted being formed into two provisional regiments. These were sent to a depot in Wittenberg as horses and ancillary equipment became available after Jena.

Twenty-four dragoon regiments were sent into Spain, the remaining six went to Italy after Tilsit. The six new light horse lancers formed in 1811 were taken from six dragoon regiments who furnished cadres for the new regiments, and the remaining cavalrymen were divided among the dragoon regiments remaining in Spain.

Sho Boki Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Aug 2019 9:18 a.m. PST

The answer to question still the same.. they all, carabiniers, cuirassieurs, heavy dragoons, light dragoons, lancers, hussars etc., as regular cavalry, they all charged in the same way on battlefield. And no columns for charge.

Rod MacArthur25 Aug 2019 9:39 a.m. PST

The British "An elucidation of several parts of his majesty's regulations for the formations and movements of cavalry – 1798" contains diagrams of cavalry charging infantry lines in column of squadrons.

The idea was that the first squadron drew the enemy fire, the second hit the line before it could reload, whilst the third and fourth squadrons wheeled outwards by half squadrons and rolled the line up from the centre.

I have not come across an account of it being used in practice.

Of course, the French massed cavalry attacks at Waterloo were in columns of squadrons, which is why there are reports of so many separate charges being delivered, when each Regiment actually made 3 or 4 separate Squadron charges. The frontage of a square did not permit charges of more than one squadron, perhaps only half a squadron. Each squadron was of course in line.

Rod

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Aug 2019 1:24 p.m. PST

…they all charged in the same way on battlefield. And no columns for charge.

I have to with Rod. There column charges in various forms and the heavy cavalry in several nations including the French would often charge at a trot boot-to-boot rather than a full gallop, which was the light cavalry convention.

Sho Boki Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Aug 2019 4:06 p.m. PST

Yes, there were different speeds used and tactical tricks, but regular cavalry usually always charged in close order, lines of squadrons, two horses deep. Charges per echelon wasn't charges in columns. Column means more than two horses deep order and was impractical. Horses work with their chest and rear horses don't support the front ones in charge.

Rod MacArthur25 Aug 2019 11:52 p.m. PST

Sho Boki,

Cavalry in columns of squadrons were still at spacing of one column (or occasionally half a column) between successive squadrons, so column does not mean more than 2 horses deep. Just think of it as a series of waves.

Rod

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 4:04 a.m. PST

Lots of reviewers enjoyed the Osprey on this topic, myself included: link

Sho Boki Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 4:49 a.m. PST

Yes, I understand this, Rod. But every rear line or wave charged separately and don't supported charging line in front of them.

If I understand the question correctly, then MiniPigs exactly asked about charging squadron formation. When trumpets sounds and officers cry "Charge!" and enemy is less than 100 meters in front of you, in wich different formations may charging squadron of heavy or light regular cavalry be in normal circumstances?

Squadron is equivalent with Battalion and Battalion may charge in line and in column and even as skirmish band. I suspect, that about possibility of such diversity of formations for Squadron were asked.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 5:03 a.m. PST

For an excellent period memoir on cavalry tactics, see Antoine de Brack's Light Cavalry Outposts.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 8:20 a.m. PST

de Brack describes Austrian cavalry charging in column while his cavalry deployed into line.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 4:56 p.m. PST

French cavalry divisions usually were in two lines when formed for action. The regiments in the first line formed their squadrons abreast in a two-rank line.

The regiments in the second line formed 300-400 yards to the rear of the first line in a column of squadrons, with the squadrons one behind the other.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 4:58 p.m. PST

It should also be noted that French dragoons were organized in homogenous divisions of dragoons, though dragoon divisions could be in heavy cavalry corps along with cuirassiers and carabiniers after the cavalry corps were organized ca 1812.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 7:10 a.m. PST

I think that it would be a mistake to assume that all engagements saw the same formations and tactics. Reading narratives, you see a number of variations depending on terrain and battlefield conditions. There are even instances of heavy cavalry standing to receive charges.

Sho Boki Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 7:51 a.m. PST

Yes. And in which formation standing cavalry squadron(s) stands? :-)

Of cource terrain dictates exceptions, for example famous charge of Polish cavalry at Somosierra.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 9:36 a.m. PST

The Poles charged up the pass in a column of fours because of the terrain.

Scott Sutherland28 Aug 2019 10:00 a.m. PST

For a reliable indication of how Cavalry worked, I suggest you consult the actual manuals.

By 1780 you tend to get only a single manual for all types of Cavalry.

For example from the French (1805) Ordonnance provisoire de la Cavalarie, a free text translation of the section on charging infantry you can get information such as

Charging a line of Infantry
The charge by echelons can also be employed successfully against a line of infantry. Because such attacks menace and successively worry the soldier, and will often also cause them to precipitately engage in an ineffective fire.

However, it may be taken that an enemy so threatened will not await a charge of cavalry in line, but will form a column or square. The cavalry should use a column of attack, composed of its four squadrons, each charging in succession. The squadrons will deploy with distances equal to twice their frontage.

Once the first squadron has commenced the attack it will be promptly followed by a second squadron. If the first squadron penetrates the infantry the second will overthrow the flanks and complete the rout. If the leading squadron is pushed back, it can escape to the right and left and reform, at the tail of the column. Thereby allowing the second squadron to charge and repeat the process with the third.
Such charges delivered quickly and successively would undoubtedly end up shaking the square. Especially if they are directed, as they must always be, at the corners of the square.

The corners present fewer defences when they are not supported by artillery. Particularly when delivered from the right-hand side of the infantry as it leaves them with less well-directed fire.

The squadrons which did not charge would be sent to pursue the infantry, until they were stopped by calls, or were recalled by sounding the rally. They would then return to their position in the column with the formed squadrons.

See link

Plates to complement this ordonnonce can be found at
link

Similar documents can be found on link
Use the terms "Cavalrie" "reglement or ordonnance" and select the time frame 1790 to 1816.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 10:04 a.m. PST

Yes. And in which formation standing cavalry squadron(s) stands? :-)

Sho Boki:

Well, in the case on April 20,1809 related by Chlapowski in Memiors of a Polish Lancer page 60 he writes:

The cuirassier division arrived, with the brigde of Carabineirs at its head. The Emperor deployed it straight away, for he saw that the Austrian cavalry, in columns in front of Ratisbon, had begun to advance towards us. soon an ulan regiment in six squadrons trotted up to within 200 paces of the Carabiners and launched a charge at full tilt. It reached their line, but could not break it, as the second regiment of Carabiniers was right behind the first, and bheind it the rest of the cuirassier division.

The Carabinier brigade not in line, on regiment beside the other, but rather one behind the other. The descriptions suggests there wasn't any distance between the first and second regiments. Also, if the uhlans had been six squadrons abreast against a regiment of Carabiniers, the line of Uhlans would have extended beyond the Carabiniers' flanks.

von Winterfeldt28 Aug 2019 11:37 a.m. PST

but most likely also the Ulanen did not attack all at once with 6 squadrons?

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 1:06 p.m. PST

My understanding was that in general French cavalry, whether heavy or light, advanced at a brisk, steady trot.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 1:35 p.m. PST

42Flanker. That is my understanding for heavy at least. Don't think so for lights. It was always a trade-off between order and speed. Heavies went for boot-to-boot order while the lights' forte was speed.

There were a number of variations that could be used in a cavalry attack. For instance, a typical formation for British light was one squadron behind the other in a formation that would be called an open column if they were infantry.

SHaT198429 Aug 2019 3:32 a.m. PST

>>And no columns for charge.

Wrong. Tell that to Kellerman at Marengo.

Formation was, sometimes, a battlefield necessity or expedient, caused by poor command, obstructions or defiles, or simple surprise enemy action.

Sho Boki:
..paces of the Carabiners and launched a charge at full tilt. It reached their line, but could not break it, as the second regiment of Carabiniers was right behind the first, and bheind it the rest of the cuirassier division.

The Carabinier brigade not in line, on regiment beside the other, but rather one behind the other. The descriptions suggests there wasn't any distance between the first and second regiments.

Both the citation and response make no sense.
The first suggests that no action on the part of the Carabiniers- which appears ridiculous.

Secondly, suggesting that two successive regiments deployed 'en bataille' (plus other in the rear) ARE not in line is equally ridiculous.

I'd question that 'no space' between them as well. They may well have been 'closed up' to quarter spacing (thereby not allowing a radical change of direction) but no self respecting cavalry commander of the period would deploy, halted, unlike the Russians of the Heavy Brigade charge scenario 50 odd years later.
d

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2019 5:36 a.m. PST

My understanding was that in general French cavalry, whether heavy or light, advanced at a brisk, steady trot.

Depended on the situation and the cavalry commander in question. Some commanders in the Grande Armee preferred to charge at the trot because it was easier to control

The French heavy cavalry at Eckmuhl charged at the trot because the horses were winded/tired from the approach march to the battlefield.

'It is not only its velocity that insures success; it is order, formation and proper employment of reserves'-Napoleon.

Cavalry did charge in column when necessary. De Brack recommended that it do so when light cavalry were faced by enemy heavy cavalry.

While there was an ordonnance of 1788 as well as a provisional ordonnance in 1804 for cavalry (the latter modifying the former) both of these reflected the old Royal Army's employment of cavalry which was relatively stiff and 'hesitant.' The Grande Armee's cavalrymen developed their own aggressive tactics during the French Revolutionary Wars. And it should be noted that the cavalry 'operated and fought by regiments.'

Stoppage29 Aug 2019 6:33 a.m. PST

I am disconcerted that General Bonaparte mainly used the French Dragoons in Spain.

Were they actually more useful in civil-unrest situations? Were they in fact paramilitaries like the Gendarmerie?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2019 7:12 a.m. PST

French dragoons were soldiers, cavalrymen, and not a paramilitary unit.

It should also be noted that the Gendarmerie were also used as combat units when necessary. Davout's gendarmerie detachment a Auerstadt charged and captured a Prussian artillery battery.

The standards to get into the gendarmerie were exacting and the Gendarmerie of Spain was excellent. The Dromedary Regiment in Egypt was put into the gendarmerie when it returned to France.

The French dragoon regiments were the de facto French heavy cavalry in Spain with the exception of the 13th Cuirassiers who fought under Suchet which was organized from the two provisional heavy cavalry regiments originally sent into Spain.

It should also be noted that the six new French line lancer regiments were created from dragoon regiments, five of them being in Spain at the time. They sent their cadres home and the remaining troopers were divied up among the remaining dragoon regiments.

It should also be noted that in Murat's great charge at Eylau, three of the cavalry divisions that took part were dragoon divisions. Only one of the divisions employed was cuirassiers.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2019 8:07 a.m. PST

The first suggests that no action on the part of the Carabiniers- which appears ridiculous.

Secondly, suggesting that two successive regiments deployed 'en bataille' (plus other in the rear) ARE not in line is equally ridiculous.

Sho Boki:

I can't help you there. That is exactly what was done. The narrative says the Uhlan's charge 'reached their line', not that there was a counter-charge. Under the command of the emperor no less. How close the second line was isn't clear, other than 'right behind' doesn't suggest quarter distance, particularly if the second line aided in stopping the uhlans from 'breaking' the first line.

This isn't the only account of heavy cavalry standing to take a charge.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2019 8:19 a.m. PST

Attacking at the trot.

We have noted during the French cavalry attacks that some British witnesses were surprised at the slow speed at which the French cavalry charged, and that some put it down to the poor state of the ground. However, this was not the case.

It is generally accepted that two compact, ordered bodies, who were determined to close with their enemy, would have to come to a virtual standstill in order to engage in hand-to-hand combat. First hand accounts of when two cavalry forces did come to blows certainly support this theory and place the advantage with the side with the best order rather than the greatest velocity. Lasalle, who had been one of the most respected of Napoleon's cavalry commanders (but who had been killed in 1809), seemed to believe that cohesion and order were the most important aspects of a successful charge; recommending the charge at the trot to his subordinates. Seeing an enemy force approaching at the gallop he is quoted as saying; "there are lost men".

Waterloo: The French Perspective
By Andrew Field

Sho Boki Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Aug 2019 10:05 a.m. PST

McLaddie: "Sho Boki: I can't help you there.."

It wasn't me.. :-)

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2019 8:47 a.m. PST

McLaddie: "Sho Boki: I can't help you there.."

It wasn't me.. :-)

Sho Boki: My apologies to both you and SHaT1984. I think there is another bug rearing its head. Last night when I saw your comment, I looked at the post--it was listed as yours--even though Sho Boki was referenced in it.

This morning I got ready to post, is shows: SHaT1984

Go figure.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2019 9:47 a.m. PST

While I think there were more common formations and tactics used by cavalry/dragoons, I also think we miss alot if we assume there was 'one way' it was done.

Part of tactics is to do the unexpected and be flexible in the face of varied terrain and enemy responses. Wellington sounded almost disappointed after Waterloo when he noted that the French came on in 'the usual way.'

Zhmodikov03 Sep 2019 11:03 a.m. PST


It is generally accepted that two compact, ordered bodies, who were determined to close with their enemy, would have to come to a virtual standstill in order to engage in hand-to-hand combat.

It is generally accepted that hand-to-hand combat was a very rare outcome of cavalry charges against other cavalry.


Cavalry seldom meet each other in a charge executed at speed; the one party generally turns before joining issue with the enemy, and this often happens when their line is still unbroken and no obstacles of any sort intervene.

Lewis Edward Nolan, Cavalry: Its History and Tactics, London, 3rd edition, 1860, p.234.


First hand accounts of when two cavalry forces did come to blows certainly support this theory and place the advantage with the side with the best order rather than the greatest velocity. Lasalle, who had been one of the most respected of Napoleon's cavalry commanders (but who had been killed in 1809), seemed to believe that cohesion and order were the most important aspects of a successful charge; recommending the charge at the trot to his subordinates. Seeing an enemy force approaching at the gallop he is quoted as saying; "there are lost men".

Sad to see Jomini's false opinion on cavalry tactics still appears in recent books, as well as his awkward attempts to create an illusion that his opinion is confirmed by the authority of a famous cavalry general.
Jomini, Précis de l'art de la guerre, Paris, 2e partie, 1838, p. 252, the author's footnote (*)
Jomini, Summary of the Art of War, New York, 1854, p. 309, the author's footnote *.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2019 12:45 p.m. PST

Not napoleonic, but swedish cavalry of the great northern riding on small horses beat Danish and saxon cavalry riding big horses exactly because they charged at a gallop using superior élan and aggression.
Same can be said for the donimation by the prussian cavalry during the SYW.(and napoleonic cavalry was based on the style and training of the prussian SYW cavalry)


If the cavalry is well trained there is no need to trot to keep cohesion and formation.

And ofcourse keeping squadrons in reserve.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2019 8:22 p.m. PST

If the cavalry is well trained there is no need to trot to keep cohesion and formation.

Don't you mean well-trained horses--of the same size? when groups of horses gallop, their natural tendency is not to stay together. If horses of different sizes gallop, the ones with shorter legs won't keep up.

In war, it was very difficult to always get horses of equal size, let alone equal training throughout the squadrons.

Cohesion is lost with horses at a gallop. Watch this three minute clip of two squadrons of the French Republican Guard cavalry move from a walk to a trot to a gallop: They move to a gallop at 1:56 minutes.

Cohesion goes out the door.

Snapper6905 Sep 2019 1:16 a.m. PST

A lot of confusion originates in the terminology. What is often referred to as a "gallop" in contemporary writing is what we would call a "canter" in English. A full gallop was referred to as a "career" or "stretched gallop", depending on the language written in (Carrière, gestreckter Galopp). Both the trot and the canter offer several speed ranges, often depending on the size, breed and/or constitution of the horse. My Andalusian partbred preferred a slow canter during group rides where the other horses were at a fast working trot. As a former cavalry reenactor I can say that it is perfectly feasible to maintain formation at a fast canter. According to Prussian regulations, the full gallop was only to be used for the last 50 paces or so of the charge, on the trumpet signal "Fanfaro", so as to maintain formation for the shock.

Stoppage05 Sep 2019 1:50 a.m. PST

@McLaddie

So my first and fifth troops on the black horses are going to be quicker than my fourth and eighth troops' on their piebalds?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP05 Sep 2019 2:43 a.m. PST

So my first and fifth troops on the black horses are going to be quicker than my fourth and eighth troops' on their piebalds?

Stoppage: Only in a fog.

According to Prussian regulations, the full gallop was only to be used for the last 50 paces or so of the charge, on the trumpet signal "Fanfaro", so as to maintain formation for the shock.

Right, because going to a full or stretched gallop for any distance threatened a formation. 50 paces is about 41 yards with a British pace of 30 inches.

The term ‘canter' originated in English, in England. It is short for the ‘Canterbury gallop. It's a three beat action between a trot and a gallop.

Not all military regulations and treatises refer to a canter. For instance, the 1805 study, A Series of Military Experiments has the charge go from a walk, to a trot to a gallop to a charge in the last 80 yards. De Breck speaks of 50 yards going to a 'full gallop' as opposed to a gallop.

Regardless, order is difficult to maintain at a gallop, particularly a full gallop.

Delort05 Sep 2019 7:35 a.m. PST

Zhmodikov: I am not challenging the first hand evidence from the era that suggests hand to hand combat rarely took place between cavalry forces, and this seems to agree with the second statement (for which you give the reference (a near contemporary cavalry officer). So I am not sure what your point is? And secondly, (again, I am not saying you are wrong), but on what basis was Jomini's opinion on cavalry tactics 'false'? Jomini was, after all, a contemporary writer and witness of cavalry action; who challenges his opinion? I am genuinely interested.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP05 Sep 2019 8:07 a.m. PST

Sad to see Jomini's false opinion on cavalry tactics still appears in recent books, as well as his awkward attempts to create an illusion that his opinion is confirmed by the authority of a famous cavalry general.

Completely agree.

Jomini was a failed staff officer and military governor and never commanded troops in combat.

His eventual rank was adjutant-commandant, the staff equivalent to colonel.

He was also a deserter and a renegade.

He was also 'contemptuous of military routine and always readt to advise and consent' when he was nothing more than a volunteer civilian ADC to Ney in 1805. He also portrayed himself to others 'as Ney's chief of staff, preparing plans and orders' which was sheer invention on Jomini's part.

His behavior as a messenger from Ney to Napoleon's headquarters resulted 'in a brusque lesson in military courtesy' from Berthier.

In short, Jomini suffered from an inflated ego, believed himself to be much more capable than he was (he would fail twice in Russia as a military governor and would, as Ney's chief of staff, help him ruin Napoleon's planned envelopment at Bautzen in 1813), and what he didn't know, he would make up.

Using Jomini as a reference is problematic as he is unreliable as a historian and was never a soldier.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP05 Sep 2019 10:35 a.m. PST

Regarding de Brack and some of his methods, apparently he had a different standard operating procedure for charges.

He would go forward with his regiment 'at an easy gait' with the sabres still in their scabbards which would not give away what he intended to do.

When he got close enough he would command 'Draw saber' and then immediately 'Charge' which would not only surprise the enemy, but would also not give his own men time to think about it.

It should also be noted that cavalry at the walk averaged three to four miles an hour; 6 when trotting; galloping 8-10; and between 12 and 15 at the charge.

Lion in the Stars05 Sep 2019 11:05 a.m. PST

It should also be noted that cavalry at the walk averaged three to four miles an hour; 6 when trotting; galloping 8-10; and between 12 and 15 at the charge.

Yup, horses are not notably faster in a strategic sense than infantry.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP05 Sep 2019 11:17 a.m. PST

And that also applies to artillery, horse or foot.

Zhmodikov05 Sep 2019 11:17 a.m. PST

Delort wrote:

I am not challenging the first hand evidence from the era that suggests hand to hand combat rarely took place between cavalry forces, and this seems to agree with the second statement (for which you give the reference (a near contemporary cavalry officer). So I am not sure what your point is? And secondly, (again, I am not saying you are wrong), but on what basis was Jomini's opinion on cavalry tactics 'false'? Jomini was, after all, a contemporary writer and witness of cavalry action; who challenges his opinion? I am genuinely interested.

By the way, the "near contemporary cavalry officer" borrowed his statement from a book written by another "near contemporary cavalry officer", Charles Jacquinot de Presle:
Jacquinot de Presle C., Cours d'art et d'histoire militaries de l'École Royale de cavalerie, Saumur, 1829, p. 205.

My point is: there is no sense to argue that "first hand accounts of when two cavalry forces did come to blows place the advantage with the side with the best order rather than the greatest velocity", while we know that two cavalry forces seldom came to blows face to face. One side usually turned to flight well before another side reached it, and if any real blows were made, they were usually made in pursuit.

Many cavalry officers stressed the importance of speed:

The charge must be decided promptly, and executed vigorously; always made and carried out at speed.
The first object is to break through and disorder the enemy's array, then make use of the sword to complete his discomfiture.
Powerful horses urged to their utmost speed, their heads kept straight and well together, will seldom fail to attain the first object in view; sharp swords, individual prowess and skill do the rest.

Lewis Edward Nolan, Cavalry: Its History and Tactics, London, 3rd edition, 1860, p. 285.

See also:
Jacquinot de Presle C., Cours d'art et d'histoire militaries de l'École Royale de cavalerie, Saumur, 1829, p. 190.

I say that Jomini's opinion on cavalry tactics is false, because I know no cavalry officer who agreed with Jomini's opinion, while I know several cavalry officers and a few staff officers, who wrote that cavalry should accelerate to the gallop or to the carriere by the critical moment of their charge against other cavalry, and some of these cavalry officers strongly criticized Jomini's opinion, for example, Württemberg cavalry officer Friedrich Wilhelm von Bismark (Jomini mentions him), Prussian staff officer August Wagner (Jomini mentions him too), and Saxon cavalry officer Friedrich Wilhelm Siegmann (he wrote a book on cavalry tactics in the middle of the 19th century). I say that Jomini's reference to General Antoine Charles Louis de Lasalle is not convincing at all, because Jomini didn't name the battle and didn't describe the circumstances, in which Lasalle supposedly said his words: "Voilа des gens perdus!", while we know from a competent eyewitness (Polish cavalry officer Dezydery Chłapowski), that Lasalle's cavalry did accelerate to the gallop at the battle of Aspern and Essling.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP05 Sep 2019 11:29 a.m. PST

I would suggest that Jomini knew next to nothing about cavalry tactics, infantry tactics, artillery, and staff operations and procedures.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP05 Sep 2019 11:52 a.m. PST

Yup, horses are not notably faster in a strategic sense than infantry.

Actually it is. Horses are long distance trotter, and can mix between walk and Trott over large distances. Hence Russians cossacks being hundreds of km inside German territory by the time the feeble remains of the grand armee crossed back into Poland.
A single well trained humans can walk long distances, but a formation of men not so much, it's often just a few hours a day that can be used for actual marching, the rest is used for food, sleep and recuperation.
And even in down time, the cavalry can move faster as they can forage faster.

A pure cavalry formation will put infantry in the dust, and continue to move further and further away.

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