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"Cavalry Actions in Boer War" Topic

16 Posts

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458 hits since 21 May 2023
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Comments or corrections?

Leadjunky21 May 2023 10:59 a.m. PST

Was there any use of cavalry in any Boer War battles aside from the mounted infantry role?

Royston Papworth21 May 2023 11:22 a.m. PST

Top of my head, Elandsgaate, British lancers catch mounted Boers who were trying to retreat. Bad vibes for the Boers..

There may be some others for Bobs advance, I remember the cavalry carried out a lot of outflanking movements, but they may have been more like mounted infantry actions..

Leadjunky21 May 2023 1:25 p.m. PST


I am trying to decide how to represent mounted units on tabletop. Due to cost I didn't want to have mounted and dismounted figures for every mounted infantry unit. I typically play The Sword and the Flame, so that might crush the budget pretty quickly as the figure count is high. I guess I could always just ratio the Boer units down when mounted. Anyone have any suggestions?

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 1:53 p.m. PST

As was said, not much knee to knee cavalry action in the Boer War.

I always like to hear what people actually did with their armies as compared to what they think should be done.

For me, I did 1 mounted to 1 foot figure for all leaders, all British/allied mounted troops as well as a ZARP squadron. For my Boers it is 1 mounted figure for each 2 foot figure.

Leadjunky21 May 2023 3:20 p.m. PST

That sounds like a good compromise Col. D.
Did the Boers field infantry or was it all mounted infantry?

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 3:24 p.m. PST

From what I recall of reading, the Boers were essentially mounted infantry. Of course they had artillery but representing them for TSATF, I think I would do dismounted figures on the whole, with a bunch of horses.
Elandsgaate as Roysten said was a fairly major action. I think there is even a painting of it.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 4:58 p.m. PST

I'm sure there were some foot Boers, however, like white helmets on the 24th foot in the Zulu War, mounted Boers are the only ones that make an appearance on my table.

As far as artillery goes, mine is a foot force. That said, I do have one limber with a crew that has never seen dices rolled in pleasure. The artillery crews like the ZARPs are in something of a (mostly mixed) uniform.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 6:35 p.m. PST

My Elandsgaate game.


Leadjunky21 May 2023 9:51 p.m. PST


Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 10:07 p.m. PST

The Boers ride their horses to the battlefield dismount, keeping the horses at a safe distance then fight on foot. If they retreat then they move to their horses mount up and leave.

Royston Papworth22 May 2023 11:28 a.m. PST

As OC implies, for most battles you could actually use just foot figures for the Boers

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 1:37 p.m. PST

IIRC, the Sword and the Flame suggests the cost cutting measure of having all Boers dismounted, but including a few riderless horses. When the Boers are deployed dismounted the horses are placed behind them, when they are mounted on the move the horse are placed in the middle of the foot Boers. As has already been mentioned, the Boers usually fought dismounted, in cover. Heck, you could probably get away without any Boer figures for battles like Magersfontein where they occupied hidden entrenchments.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 1:53 p.m. PST

For my 2nd Boer War games, I don't use dismounted horse figures, I just replace the dismounted figures with mounted ones. I game it at the battalion/commando unit level whereas TSATF is at the skirmish level. Also, TSATF covers the 1st Anglo-Boer War, I do the 2nd Boer War using Fields of Honor rules. In my games, the Boers rarely mount up. I am mostly doing the set-piece battle part of the war. The guerilla war comes later and could be done with a modified TSATF. The weapons are significantly different between the two wars.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 2:13 p.m. PST

My British horse units spend most of their time dismounted. The Elandsgaate scenario was an exception. If Mounted British cavalry can get to the flank of the Boer positions the Boers have no choice but to try to mount up and retreat. Usually doesn't work out well for the Afrikaners as in my Elandsgaate game. However, in the same game, the British player did try to charge the front of a Commando which was uphill, with a Mounted Infantry unit, and got sent right back down the hill with significant casualties as seen in the photos.

We did the Talana Hill battle. The mounted 5th Dragoon Guards charged frontally a Commando which was in skirmish formation. The British player rolled the worst he could, the Boer player rolled the best that could be rolled and half of the Dragoons were shot out of the saddle and the rest routed. Defiantly want to dismount or charge the flanks mounted instead.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 2:57 p.m. PST

British horse units played a significant role in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. they help make the British victory possible. In the final stages of the set-piece battle portion of the war, the British out Commando the Commandos.

The British mounted as many units as possible. Lots of mounted infantry, even artillery units were turned into mounted infantry. As many units as they had horses for.

British purchasing agents scoured the Empire and the United States for horses. Now the British could outflank the Boer positions. They were moving faster than the Boers could react.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 8:06 p.m. PST

And as a result of all the mounted infantry actions, the British determined that any future war would be won by mounted infantry…..

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