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TOPIC: Cavalry and chariots against infantry

Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331451

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Peter wrote:
Who would expect to find such a confirmation of cavalry power in a British source...:whistle:

Most British scholars of cavalry! I mentioned this regiment on page one of this discussion, by the way.

Perhaps you show a bias too much for the Continental and should temper some of your post Medieval cavalry comments with a wider reading of the Peninsular, Crimean and Near Eastern campaigns of the British Army(most of which occur in the Victorian period; some of which are against comparable enemies faced by ancient cavalry)?
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331458

Peter wrote:
But from that short OT about the greatness of Rome it seems that some people on this forum are to some extent biased in favour of praising the Roman Empire in all aspects (hence some posts describe it as "almost industrial", with "super high living standards of entire population", etc.). This partially explains why the same posters also tend to overestimate the power of infantry and underestimate the power of cavalry. After all the Roman army initially relied chiefly on heavy legionary infantry.
But Peter. You are the same. You "are to some extent biased in favour of praising the" hussars and I think that makes you overestimate the power of cavalry and underestimate the power of infantry.

Cavalry did not dominate battlefields in all periods of military history...
If cavalry was so effective as you make it out to be(no matter the periode), you wouldn't have seen the wide use of dismounted men-at-arms during the 100year war... (by both sides)

And if it was so effective why was the roman army based on infantry? surely they had the knowledge and economic power to do otherwise.
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Last Edit: 2 years 2 months ago by thomas aagaard.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331460

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My dear Peter,

I am certainly not British. And as far as differences between Albion and the continent are concerned, I strongly recommend you try Etudes sur le combat, for some very sobering and professional continental scepticism on the performance of cavalry as a projectile to crush infantry. And I saw a young German military historian on a German TV channel, did not catch his name unfortunately, who gave a description of the performance of the cavalry (and of infantry) at the battle of Liegnitz entirely agreeing with Keegan and especially Ardant du Picq (Keegan got most of his idea's from him, but he mistook Ardant for his Christian name, so it is difficult to retrieve him in his sources).

Sorry Peter, but I consider this piece of the great Winston Churchil as a standard battle piece, that is, a piece of literature, maskerading as battle-report/journalism. Don't get me wrong, I am sure most of the boys from the lancers were convinced this was what had happened, but that does not necesarilly make it true.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331463

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Macedon wrote:

Yes, but the smoke and the sound was something that the horses could get used to like the sound of elephants in antiquity. Actual missiles thrown against them, seeing them flying towards them are another story.

Marcus Junkelmann notes in his Die Reiter Roms that their horses reacted with remarkable phlegm to blunted javelins and pseudo-stones being thrown at them, even the horses that would always bolt as soon as a pedestrian approached them waving a scutum about. Surprising, considering the temperament of these creatures, isn't it? Cannot find it back though, I'll try to retrieve the passage.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331471

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Hi, in regards to Roman Infantry against cavalry charges I have 2 questions. Were pila effective as a defence against cavalry? Were they thrown in a volley when the cavalry got close or did the romans use them as spears like the Greeks in their phalanxes? To my thinking pila would be too short and wouldn't project too far beyond the shield to be a deterrent against cavalry so I assume the romans would have packed their legions with missile troops and steady nerve by the legionaries would be crucial as timing of volleys was important.
Just one other question regarding cavalry vs infantry in ancient warfare. Were cavalry charges against ancient infantry a case of who blinks first? If the infantry blinks and attempts to flee then the horses ride into the gaps to inflict more damage to the remaining infantry or if the horses blink when seeing an unwavering line of spears and attempt to turn to avoid them at the last possible moment. I can see that people all have strong feelings about this by the number of posts on this thread but in regards to problems when comparing similar tactics from different eras I was thinking about the infantry square which in Napoleonic times was effective against cavalry eg. the British at Waterloo but in Roman times at the battle of Carrhae the infantry squares were inneffective against Parthian horse archers.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331475

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Pila were missile weapons, and were used in volleys against incoming troops, mounted or on foot. There was a leaf-shaped head on some pila that is thought to have been used against elephants/horses. On one occasion I can think of, Caesar instructed his troops to hold on to their second pilun, and use them to thrust into the faces of attacking cavalry. (Demoralizing, eh?)

They were too short to be used as pikes in the traditional sense. Much more effective to stick one in somebody's mount at ten paces than to wait until the cavalryman's longer lance was in your own face, wouldn't you think?

Once a line of infantry broke and ran, cavalry were used to run down and slaughter the fleeing soldiers. I don't think they'd have been used often in a frontal attack, but their greater speed would be used to flank and surround troops held in place by other infantry.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331483

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I'm with David on this one. Using the speed of the horses to outflank infantry and to roll up the flanks or attack archers would be a far more sensible use than throwing them head on against drawn up infantry. Also, disrupting the logistics and threatening the baggagetrain in a hit and run manner would cause any enemy commander serious worry. Accounts of the battles show that the head on attack on infantry is a very costly way of utilising cavalry.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331487

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Robert wrote:
Accounts of the battles show that the head on attack on infantry is a very costly way of utilising cavalry.

With normal cavalry, sure. However, as I've said before, there is evidence that very heavily armoured cavalry (cataphracts, and later clibanarii) were specifically intended to break up infantry formations, and trained to do so. They lacked the speed and maneuverability for rapid flanking attacks, so head on assault (or at least the threat of it) would surely be their purpose.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331490

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and I think that makes you overestimate the power of cavalry and underestimate the power of infantry.

Cavalry did not dominate battlefields in all periods of military history...

Not at all, because I never claimed such things like "cavalry dominated battlefields in all periods of military history". Claiming that I ever wrote such thing, is simply a lie, because I didn't.

Not only I did not claim anything like this - but I also explained in this thread why infantry was often able to beat off cavalry with relatively small losses, basing on examples of many battles.

It is other posters in this thread who try to prove ridiculous things like the idea that horses won't charge infantry and that heavy shock cavalry was just purely a "psychological weapon"...

Here is what a guy claimed on another forum plus my response to this:
The sight and sensation of such a formation heading my way would scare the crap out of me. Most probably, you too.

Rather no because I have mind on my own and I know that trying to run away from cavalry = certain death, because I'm slower.

You seem to claim that horses have mind on their own, but on the other hand that humans don't...

That is simply stupid. Humans are much more intelligent and much more capable of rational thinking than horses.

And - of course - I don't say that infantry never panicked, because people also do irrational things. But the problem is that people are much more intelligent and rational than horses, and will do such things less frequently than horses. Horses - like other animals that can be domesticated, tamed, trained and selectively bred - and will do things their human masters want them to do.

With normal cavalry, sure. However, as I've said before, there is evidence that very heavily armoured cavalry (cataphracts, and later clibanarii) were specifically intended to break up infantry formations, and trained to do so. They lacked the speed and maneuverability for rapid flanking attacks, so head on assault (or at least the threat of it) would surely be their purpose.

There is evidence that there were also light or medium shock cavalry formations (usually lance-wielding ones, as lance was the best weapon for this task), doing the same, and also suffering small losses. Polish Hussars are described as heavy or medium cavalry, but their horses were not armoured - yet they were capable of breaking enemy infantry formations while suffering small casualties.

The conclusion is that you don't need iron-clad horses to break infantry without staggering losses. You need elite, trained cavalry with good horses, using long enough lances and proper tactics.

21st Lancers in the 1880s were by no means such a good cavalry, yet they destroyed experienced in anti-cavalry combat Dervishes while trading casualties at a ratio 30 men and horses vs 200 men...
Last Edit: 2 years 2 months ago by Peter.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331492

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Let's see...

The question as worded in the OP, that is a simple "Cavalry and Chariots against Infantry" is too wide an issue to produce simple results. I tried to put some rules to clarify the conditions to be discussed but I see that most posts are very general and thus greatly misleading. What cavalry (or chariots)? Against what infantry? Where? How are they armed? Armored? Define verbs like "attack", "overcome"...

I guess that what we are interested in in this topic specifically is the tactical choice of a general to order a unit/part/line of his cavalry to charge an enemy line of soldiers standing in close order, having at least a decent depth (less than 4 was termed "weak" or "shallow" by the ancients and the Byzantines).

Charging open-ordered and scattered troops, disordered, confused or routed masses of footmen, very shallow infantry formations was nothing out-of-the-ordinary and I guess that no one would deny that it was a tactic followed in these situations.

1. First we wanted to establish the mechanics and the nature of the horse. The question was "Would a horse, even if urged by his rider, simply gallop into what it considered a solid wall of closed order men?" We have direct quotes from the ancients and later writers that this was not considered a threat and most here believe that such behavior was, to say the least, very rare. Peter, who may be a bit overly excited by the image of lines of horsemen smashing into SUCH lines of infantry provided what he considered evidence, much of it interesting. The videos I personally view as mostly inadequate to produce anything else than a negative result. The model was useless because it was impossible to make out what it said, it certainly looked like an author tried to make some calculations as to what would happen if a horseman (or a small car) actually smashed into a file of men but its results or the actual conditions and opinion of the author were impossible to read. Whatever the case, he would also be the target of criticism but we all know that there are people who believe that cavalry did indeed habitually smash into close-ordered infantry lines.

2. We also talked about training. It is true that there is no text I am aware of that supports that armies used such training. After seeing horses dance and do tricks and stuff I guess one could train horses to do dangerous things and stunts (isn't jumping over tall, seemingly solid obstacles dangerous in the mind of horses? - and yet they are trained with those lego-walls which teach horses that it will be the wall that will give in instead of them. I guess that dressing up straw men with clothes and having horses smash into them might produce the same effect). However, there is no mention of any such training, not among the ancients, nor among the armies of later years. Does it mean that such a training did not exist? No, but in order to call it a "common tactic" there should be something in the sources... Maybe there is such a text in Polish? And another question that jumps to mind, why weren't elephants, even larger animals, trained to trample the enemy?

3. We talked tactics. It is true that such charges are very rare in the accounts of battles. Many have the tendency to interpret any place they read that "cavalry attacked/charged/assaulted infantry" as evidence for such charges but they are not. Especially for ancient cavalry, most often armed with javelins, these instances are normal "skirmishing" attacks, often in close order with what the ancients called "perispasmos", attack and retreat evolutions. Infantry was powerless against such attacks, it only could grin and bear the pressure, relying on its defensive equipment. The difference between normal cavalry and dispersed cavalry was that the former could be engaged by other cavalry, which was the main task of all cavalries throughout history. However, as time goes on, infantry quality decreases and cavalry starts assuming a new, dominating role on the battle-field. In the west, those who have power, the means, land and arms, become armored horsemen, only a few places remain that provide adequate infantry to stand before such men in battle. At that point, cavalry adopts the tactic of charging (that is moving against, not smashing into) enemy infantry formations, which were not expected to stand the psychological pressure. Cavalry makes charges against infantry, 2-3-6 or more times in battles. There is just no way that a trampling smash of horses into any infantry mass that kept its close order and heart and place would not result in a prolonged fight that would decide who of the two would win and who would lose, both with disproportionately heavy casualties, thus making the accounts of multiple charges strange. In the east, cavalry is also predominant. The Byzantine manuals take fully cavalry formations as the norm and then add mixed and infantry formations. In them, cavalry is not supposed to charge, let alone smash into, enemy close-ordered infantry. The cataphract example I mentioned was an exception and even it was suggested to take place against the enemy general. If he had posted himself among infantry, then special care should be taken for the morale of the cataphracts. Again, cavalry is supposed to occupy itself with the enemy cavalry and infantry is used as a safe haven for horsemen to retreat to if hard pressed. Tactically, cavalry was advised to dismount if it could not overcome the enemy cavalry and act as infantry.

Here we have the Norman/Frankish "exception". The Latins were known among Byzantines as being irresistible in their first charges. However, in the really many examples of such action, they too were normally reluctant to charge enemy infantry and when they did, descriptions do not suggest a violent smash. Tactically, they mostly were used against cavalry.

With gunpowder things change... This blasted invention changed formations, depths, armor, everything. Suddenly, lines are abandoned in favor of squares with gaps, through which cavalry can attack and cannons roar... Lines of infantry are now getting shallower, their order gets more open. Cavalry charges change along. They still are mainly used against enemy cavalry or vulnerable, unsupported artillery and when they attack infantry, once they survive the volley(s), they have a number of options. They can smash into the enemy front if they waver, lose their cohesion etc, they can ride through the gaps and attack flanks and rear. During the Napoleonic wars, a square was considered very safe against cavalry, even though the men had no shields, the cavalry might also have firearms, horse-artillery could really shred them to pieces. Were there attacks against squares? Yes, some successful -because of the square's disintegration or just because some horsemen were indeed able to jump, shove etc their way into it- but that does not change the fact that cavalry was not tactically HABITUALLY do that.

Peter brought up a very good example though of cavalry really described as "plunging against the pikes" of it enemy. I am no expert in the battles of the 17th century, I know that tactically they were something between those of the 19th and those we consider pre-gunpowder and TRUSTING in what Peter has brought forward as his sources, should anyone dispute them, I might change my mind, we have at least one example of cavalry charging into infantry at a crazed gallop, conquering it, despite losing a hefty amount of men and horses. Was it because their horses were specially trained to do so? Was it because the Swedes started to disintegrate before the impact? The thing is that it looks a sound example of such an attack. Here, though, one has to determine how often the winged hussars did such charges. Of course, we have to see what they charged against. The article (webpage) that he posted talked about Swedes deployed in a very open order. Were they? Where were the pikemen? Where were the musketeers? How, and how fast, did they change places, what was their anti-cavalry formation like? Was it a square with the musketeers in the middle? Maybe a square with pikemen in front and the musketeers in the last ranks? All this is important to know, before saying anything about how strange such a charge was. Any insight on the period by someone who knows better would be welcome here. Also, some kind of insight as to how common it was for the hussars to attack infantry IN THIS MANNER would also be valuable. I read that it was only in that battle of Kirchholm that such a charge is relatively well documented but, as I said I am no expert in that particular era. Peter mentions other instances but I personally need to see evidence before saying that there are. Here, Peter, it would be nice if there was an English translation of the texts you offered - the whole texts rather than simple quotes, to see if they describe how the whole incident played out rather than just the second of the impact.

IF Peter is right and the winged hussars indeed charged in such a manner as a standard tactic, this I view as an exception and certainly not as the rule but it would be interesting to see how they managed that. Was it their long lance that made it possible? The training of their horses? Some kind of warrior code? Or was it that the conditions on the battlefield allowed them to do something "new"? And why did they not dress their horses with at least frontal pieces of armor, since it was the pikes they were mostly afraid of?

Ammianus I will not discuss, because, whatever anyone says based on a translation is as trustworthy as the translation itself. We have discussed this a number of times, since translators are usually interested in producing a beautiful text and have most often no idea of military terminology or tactics, they have to be very studiously examined. BUT, and here I mainly mean you Peter, you have to start putting the conditions in the picture. Horsemen would of course physically attack confused masses of men, shoving them at walk or trot, and still trample them.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331493

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they too were normally reluctant to charge enemy infantry

There are accounts of battles in which Polish-Lithuanian hussars were also reluctant to charge enemy infantry. The main reason was difficult terrain or infantry having field fortifications.

Also the enemy having lots of artillery (which can disrupt cavalry cohesion) was discouraging.

You guys overlook the fact that obstacles and field fortifications were used by infantry very frequently throughout history. Already Romans were using caltrops as far as I know.

Cavalry versus strong enough field fortifications built in difficult terrain is often helpless.

Strong field fortifications (such as wagon forts) was how the Hussites defeated undisciplined knights on numerous occasions - such a movie depiction of a battle from the Hussite Wars:

Field fortifications and obstacles (wagon forts, ditches, palisades, solid fences) can be seen:

Last Edit: 2 years 2 months ago by Peter.
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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331496

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Now... let's see what Churchill himself writes about this highly praised cavalry charge at Omdurman.. As always, the real, uncommented, primary source is most valuable and I am amazed that no one produced the actual complete text where many details are given that paint a picture MUCH DIFFERENT to that given by the texts given here :

-Page 188, Chapter : The Sensations of a Cavalry Charge

"...

I noticed, 300 yards away on our flank and parallel to the line on which we were advancing, a long row of blue-black objects, two or three yards apart. I thought there were about a hundred and fifty. Then I became sure that these were men enemy men squatting on the ground. Almost at the same moment the trumpet sounded Trot/ and the whole long column of cavalry began to jingle and clatter across the front of these crouching figures. We were in the lull of the battle and there was perfect silence. Forthwith from every blue-black blob came a white puff of smoke, and a loud volley of musketry broke the odd stillness. Such a target at such a distance could scarcely be missed, and all along the column here and there horses bounded and a few men fell.

The intentions of our Colonel had no doubt been to move round the flank of the body of Dervishes he had now located, and who, concealed in a fold of the ground behind their riflemen, were invisible to us, and then to attack them from a more advantageous quarter 5 but once the fire was opened and losses began to grow, he must have judged it inexpedient to prolong his procession across the open plain. The trumpet sounded 'Right wheel into line/ and all the sixteen troops swung round towards the blue-black riflemen. Almost immediately the regiment broke into a gallop, and the 2ist Lancers were committed to their first charge in war!

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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331497

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I propose to describe exactly what happened to me: what I saw and what I felt. I recalled it to my mind so frequently after the event that the impression is as clear and vivid as it was a quarter of a century ago. The troop I commanded was, when we wheeled into line, the second from the right of the regiment. I was riding a handy, sure-footed, grey Arab polo pony. Before we wheeled and began to gallop, the officers had been marching with drawn swords. On account of my shoulder I had always decided that if I were involved in hand-to-hand fighting, I must use a pistol and not a sword. I had purchased in London a Mauser automatic pistol, then the newest and the latest design. I had practised carefully with this during our march and journey up the river. This then was the weapon with which I determined to fight. I had first of all to return my sword into its scabbard, which is not the easiest thing to do at a gallop. I had then to draw my pistol from its wooden holster and bring it to full cock. This dual operation took an appreciable time, and until it was finished, apart from a few glances to my left to see what effect the fire was producing, I did not look up at the general scene.

Then I saw immediately before me, and now only half the length of a polo ground away, the row of crouching blue figures firing frantically, wreathed in white smoke. On my right and left my neighbouring troop leaders made a good line. Immediately behind was a long dancing row of lances couched for the charge. We were going at a fast but steady gallop. There was too much trampling and rifle fire to hear any bullets. After this glance to the right and left and at my troop, I looked again towards the enemy. The scene appeared to be suddenly transformed. The blue-black men were still firing, but behind them there now came into view a depression like a shallow sunken road. This was crowded and crammed with men rising up from the ground where they had hidden. Bright flags appeared as if by magic, and I saw arriving from nowhere Emirs on horseback among and around the mass of the enemy. The Dervishes appeared to be ten or twelve deep at the thickest, a great grey mass gleaming with steel, filling the dry watercourse. In the same twinkling of an eye I saw also that our right overlapped their left, that my troop would just strike the edge of their array, and that the troop on my right would charge into air. My subaltern comrade on the right, Wormald of the 7th Hussars, could see the situation too and we both increased our speed to the very fastest gallop and curved inwards like the horns of the moon. One really had not time to be frightened or to think of anything else but these particular necessary actions which I have described. They completely occupied mind and senses.

The collision was now very near. I saw immediately before me, not ten yards away, the two blue men who lay in my path. They were perhaps a couple of yards apart. I rode at the interval between them. They both fired. I passed through the smoke conscious that I was unhurt. The trooper immediately behind me was killed at this place and at this moment, whether by these shots or not I do not know. I checked my pony as the ground began to fall away beneath his feet. The clever animal dropped like a cat four or five feet down on to the sandy bed of the watercourse, and in this sandy bed I found myself surrounded by what seemed to be dozens of men. They were not thickly packed enough at this point for me to experience any actual collision with them. Whereas Grenfell's troop, next but one on my left, was brought to a complete standstill and suffered very heavy losses, we seemed to push our way through as one has sometimes seen mounted policemen break up a crowd. In less time than it takes to relate, my pony had scrambled up the other side of the ditch. I looked round.


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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331498

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Once again I was on the hard, crisp desert, my horse at a trot. I had the impression of scattered Dervishes running to and fro in all directions. Straight before me a man threw himself on the ground. The reader must remember that I had been trained as a cavalry soldier to believe that if ever cavalry broke into a mass of infantry, the latter would be at their mercy. My first idea therefore was that the man was terrified. But simultaneously I saw the gleam of his curved sword as he drew it back for a ham-stringing cut. I had room and time enough to turn my pony out of his reach, and leaning over on the off side I fired two shots into him at about three yards. As I straightened myself in the saddle, I saw before me another figure with uplifted sword. I raised my pistol and fired* So close were we that the pistol itself actually struck him. Man and sword disappeared below and behind me. On my left, ten yards away, was an Arab horseman in a bright-coloured tunic and steel helmet, with chain-mail hangings. I fired at him. He turned aside. I pulled my horse into a walk and looked around again.In one respect a cavalry charge is very like ordinary life, so long as you are all right, firmly in your saddle, your horse in hand, and well armed, lots of enemies will give you a wide berth. But as soon as you have lost a stirrup, have a rein cut, have dropped your weapon, are wounded, or your horse is wounded, then is the moment when from all quarters enemies rush upon you. Such was the fate of not a few of my comrades in the troops immediately on my left. Brought to an actual standstill in the enemy's mass, clutched at from every side, stabbed at and hacked at by spear and sword, they were dragged from their horses and cut to pieces by the infuriated foe. But this I did not at the time see or understand. My impressions continued to be sanguine. I thought we were masters of the situation, riding the enemy down, scattering them and killing them. I pulled my horse up and looked about me. There was a mass of Dervishes about forty or fifty yards away on my left. They were huddling and clumping themselves together, rallying for mutual protection. They seemed wild with excitement, dancing about on their feet, shaking their spears up and down. The whole scene seemed to flicker. I have an impression, but it is too fleeting to define, of brown-clad Lancers mixed up here and there with this surging mob. The scattered individuals in my immediate neighbourhood made no attempt to molest me. Where was my troop? Where were the other troops of the squadron? Within a hundred yards of me I could not see a single officer or man. I looked back at the Dervish mass. I saw two or three riflemen crouching and aiming their rifles at me from the fringe of it. Then for the first time that morning I experienced a sudden sensation of fear. I felt myself absolutely alone. I thought these riflemen would hit me and the rest devour me like wolves. What a fool I was to loiter like this in the midst of the enemy! I crouched over the saddle, spurred my horse Into a gallop and drew clear of the melee. Two or three hundred yards away I found my troop already faced about and partly formed up.


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Cavalry and chariots against infantry 2 years 2 months ago #331499

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The other three troops of the squadron were reforming close by. Suddenly in the midst of the troop up sprang a Dervish. How he got there I do not know. He must have leaped out of some scrub or hole. All the troopers turned upon him thrusting with their lances: but he darted to and fro causing for the moment a frantic commotion. Wounded several times, he staggered towards me raising his spear. I shot him at less than a yard. He fell on the sand, and lay there dead. How easy to kill a man! But I did not worry about it. I found I had fired the whole magazine of my Mauser pistol, so I put in a new clip of ten cartridges before thinking of anything else.

I was still prepossessed with the idea that we had inflicted great slaughter on the enemy and had scarcely suffered at all ourselves. Three or four men were missing from my troop. Six men and nine or ten horses were bleeding from spear thrusts or sword cuts. We all expected to be ordered immediately to charge back again. The men were ready, though they all looked serious. Several asked to be allowed to throw away their lances and draw their swords. I asked my second sergeant if he had enjoyed himself. His answer was c Well, I don't exactly say I enjoyed it, Sir but I think I'll get more used to it next time? At this the whole troop laughed.

But now from the direction of the enemy there came a succession of grisly apparitions of horses spouting blood, struggling on three legs, men staggering on foot, men bleeding from terrible wounds, fish-hook spears stuck right through them, arms and faces cut to pieces, bowels protruding, men gasping, crying, collapsing, expiring. Our first task was to succour these and meanwhile the blood of our leaders cooled. They remembered for the first time that we had carbines. Everything was still in great confusion. But trumpets were sounded and orders shouted, and we all moved off at a trot towards the flank of the enemy. Arrived at a position from which we could enfilade and rake the watercourse, two squadrons were dismounted and in a few minutes with their fire at three hundred yards compelled the Dervishes to retreat. We therefore remained in possession of the field. Within twenty minutes of the time when we had first wheeled into line and began our charge, we were
halted and breakfasting in the very watercourse that had so nearly proved our undoing. There one could see the futility of the much vaunted Arme Blanche. The Dervishes had carried off their wounded, and the corpses of thirty or forty enemy were all that could be counted on the ground. Among these lay the bodies of over twenty Lancers, so hacked and mutilated as to be mostly unrecognisable. In all out of 310 officers and men the regiment had lost in the space of about two or three minutes five officers and sixty-five men killed and wounded, and 120 horses nearly a quarter of its strength.


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Macedon
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