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Cavalry and chariots against infantry
#31
Quote: There is a reason why for example in 1302 Robert II, count of Artois, bought 5 "great combat horses" for 280 livres each (on average), 2 "cart-horses" for 50 livres each, one "fast horse" for 60 livres, 14 "nags" for 34 livres each and 3 "small horses" for 12 livres each. As you can see one "great combat horse" was worth as much as 5 "fast horses", 6 "cart-horses", 8 "nags" and 23 "small horses".

But among horses physically fit and trained for combat there was still a considerable variety of quality.

Andrew Ayton's book "Knights and Warhorses" is particularly good in this field (pardon the pun), although it is restricted to records from the reign of Edward III.
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
#32
Quote:
Quote:I remember a video of some horse smashing into another horse in some race, but 10 horses out of 1,000 would not dictate cavalry tactics.

But 10 horses out of 1,000 is exactly a proportion of trained combat horses to all horses.

Because - you know - elite heavy cavalry formations did not fight on "any horse they could find".

I mean 10 out of 1,000 of a single charging unit/line, this specific argument has to do with special horse personalities rather than training. Whether a horse could/can be trained to smash into a solid obstacle still remains to see, the ancient and medieval Greek sources certainly do not contain any such mention as far as I know. Maybe you can find some evidence of such training, even modern efforts would be interesting.
Macedon
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#33
Quote:But 10 horses out of 1,000 is exactly a proportion of trained combat horses to all horses.

Because - you know - elite heavy cavalry formations did not fight on "any horse they could find".

There is a reason why for example in 1302 Robert II, count of Artois, bought 5 "great combat horses" for 280 livres each (on average), 2 "cart-horses" for 50 livres each, one "fast horse" for 60 livres, 14 "nags" for 34 livres each and 3 "small horses" for 12 livres each. As you can see one "great combat horse" was worth as much as 5 "fast horses", 6 "cart-horses", 8 "nags" and 23 "small horses".

But among horses physically fit and trained for combat there was still a considerable variety of quality.

In 1628 prices of combat horses used by Polish army varied from 200 to 1000 - 1500 ducats.

By comparison in the same time price of one ox in the city of Lvov was 3,5 ducats.

This means you could buy between ca. 60 and ca. 430 oxen for 1 combat horse. And each soldier of husaria (Polish-Lithuanian elite heavy cavalry) needed to have several combat horses. This is why only very rich people (and their retinues) could afford military service in this formation.

Horse was the single most expensive part of accountrements of Polish-Lithuanian so called "Winged" Hussars. A horse could be more expensive than all other parts of the accountrements altogether.

And people who had their private stud farms and inbreedings of good quality horses - were equivalents of modern Bill Gates. There were many private stud farms and inbreedings of horses in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth - and they "produced" some of the finest horses in Europe (they were known as the Polish breed - a nowadays extinct breed of horses).

Many of other Medieval and Early Modern Era horse breeds are also extinct nowadays - one example is the original Friesian horse (modern so called Friesian horses are not really the original Medieval breed, but rather a result of "genetic reconstruction" and an "imitation").

==================================================

Edit:

Quote:this specific argument has to do with special horse personalities rather than training.

Selection of horses to breeding, training - and then to combat - was based on their personalities, genes (although knowledge of genes was unknown back then, they knew about inheritance of features by progeny of particular stallion and mare - this was used in selective breeding) and physical features.

Nobody would even bother to train a horse that was visibly a "coward". Intensive and extensive artificial selection (selective breeding) was applied to produce horses with desired features.

Quote:Whether a horse could/can be trained to smash into a solid obstacle still remains to see.

There are accounts of horses smashing into and ramming solid obstacles such as:

- wooden fences
- wooden palisades
- wooden chevaux-de-frise (kind of anti-cavalry obstacle - see photo*)
- enemy infantry
- allied infantry (by panicked or mad with pain horses)

Horses mad with pain also often behave in an extremely suicidal way (like smashing into brick wall, etc.). The above mentioned examples are not suicidal - because horses can successfully smash through, for example, a wooden fence. Also smashing and ramming infantry is usually not suicidal for a horse (unless infantry has a lot of pointy and sharp, long sticks - to confront the charge).

Combat horses of heavy cavalry were not fragile, contrary to some myths. They were muscular, large animals, selected to this role basing on their physical features (strong bones, muscles, etc.).

* http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plik:Cheval..._02598.jpg

Perhaps it was the matter of both training and inheriting "proper" genes as the result of selective breeding (i.e. choosing a particularly "brave" stallion to impregnate also rather "brave" mares).

When desired features were noticed in behaviour of a particular horse, it was used for reproduction.

By the way - according to Vegetius:

"Few men are born brave, but many can become so through training and force of discipline."

I suppose the same can be applied to horses (with one exception - through artificial selection and selective breeding, people could cause bigger percentage of horses to be born brave).

========================================================

Something about High Medieval (13th century / times of Crusades) combat horses:

Quote:Albertus Magnus in his 13th century work "Animalibus" ("About animals") distinguished 4 types of horses: combat (dextrarii or bellici), to riding (palefridi), to fast riding (curiles equi) and workehorses (runcini). A rich knight had at least several horses: for travelling, for carrying luggage and for combat. A combat horse, especially courser, differed from other horses in strength, stamina, speed, manoeuvrability and quick reaction to orders as well as fiery temperament (combat horses were usually stallions, which explains their fiery temperament). What decided about price of a combat horse, were its combat values: size, tallness, wide and muscular chest, hard and short back, wide and convex rump, strong legs with hard knees and short fetlocks, proper temperament and confident moves, nimbleness, lightness of moves. Also its look was important. Apart from this, a trained horse was not afraid, of course, of combat turmoil, smell of blood, etc., etc.

Compared to steppe horses of Mongols, or even Arab horses, coursers of European knights looked extremely impressively:

"A European horse, carrying a knight in armour, was like living tank - ferocious during charge, undefeated in battle (...)".

Just like today, most sought-after were horses of white and black colour. Also bucksins were valued. But the most important was combat usefulness of a particular horse - its individual features such as stamina, courage, intelligence. A horse of proper colour, with mentioned values, was enormously expensive. Such specimen were looked for among Norman horses. Danish horses were especially valued because of bravery. Monarchs of this state were keeping a herd numbering about 2000 of such horses in Fredericksburg. From neighbouring countries originated Frisian and Flamand horses. These last ones were valued by knights due to their great tallness. France by the end of Middle Ages was importing from Germany horses characterized by strong stature and great strength, which allowed to carry a rider in full plate armour. However, the most expensive were horses from Italy and Spain. The Moors, who captured the Iberian Peninsula (711 - 1492) came there riding on Middle Eastern and North African horses. These races of horses, thanks to interbreeding, added the Spanish so called berber race, used by knights, additional speed and stamina. Also in that region famous of their beauty and grace, jennet horses - were breeded. Jennets were a bit too delicate for heavy cavalry, but their further interbreeding with formerly used heavy races, added the destriers used by knights more beautiful look and elegance. Similar interbreeding between races of European and Middle Eastern horses took place during the Crusades - it led to creation of races more aggressive and brave in combat and more resistant to hardships of war.

===================================================

Thanks to the Italian Renaissance, we have some accurate sculptures of Late Medieval combat horses:

http://hipologia.pl/news/show/id/73/lang/pl/page/13

[Image: 500-1235562464-Gatamelatta_XV_w._wlochy.jpg]

[Image: 500-1235562780-posag_Gatamelatty_XV_w._wlochy.jpg]

[Image: 500-1235562452-Colleoni_1491.jpg]

As you can see these horses are rather muscular and strong.

The first one looks a bit ponderous (but perhaps it is just an impression - like with Grizzly Bear - and in reality it could move fast). The second one has visibly strong legs. Strong legs was a desired feature for a combat horse that was meant to be used by heavy cavalry for direct, shock charges. That's because the easiest way to stop a charging horse, is to crush his leg bones. Horse's chest - with well-developed muscles (and often protected by armor) - was a much less vulnerable place than its legs.

====================================================

Edit:

The description below can give us some idea on the mechanics of a cavalry charge (of course each cavalry formation in each historical period, most likely had a different way of conducting a charge, or even several different methods depending on situation - this description is true when it comes to charge tactics of Polish-Lithuanian Winged Hussars in the 17th and early 18th century):

Quote:I quote below excerpts from such an interesting article (link) written by doctor Radosław Sikora:

http://www.radoslawsikora.republika.pl/m...Liubar.pdf

How did hussars charge?

Aleksander Michał Lubomirski was a brother of the Hetman Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski, while Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski was Hetman's son. Stanisław Herakliusz had a brother – a future Hetman (in the period of 1702 - 1706) Hieronim Augustyn Lubomirski. Hieronim Augustyn Lubomirski was the author of the earliest (that is known today) regulations documented for the Polish cavalry. It bears the date 1704. These regulations describe in detail how the hussars should charge. And what is particularly interesting, the manner of the charge in the regulations is almost identical with the description of the charge of Aleksander M. Lubomirski's hussars at Liubar in 1660.

The table below permits us a comparison of the regulations and the charge at Liubar:

[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=198101&stc=1...687135.jpg]

And what about the concept that hussars could alter their formation, even during a charge? There is still some rather strong controversy over this issue.

6 Leszczyński's account translated by Dariusz Wielec.
7 Ibid.

Published in 2006, in his Osprey book 'Polish Winged Hussar 1576 – 1775', author Richard Brzezinski noted:

'A theory has developed in recent years that hussars conducted half the charge in loose formation, and closed up knee-to knee just before the final spurt, so minimizing missile casualties and allowing the charge to be aborted at the last moment. This theory, apparently introduced by the historian J. Teodorczyk in 1966, flies in the face of western cavalry doctrine. Western writers insist that the entire charge be conducted in tight order, as cavalry formations tend to spread out when horses gallop, with braver riders dashing ahead, and cautious or poorly mounted men falling behind.'

After the analysis of the Lubomirski's regulation, Brzezinski concludes:

'The idea that hussars could alter formation even during a charge is clearly a myth.'

The example presented above, of the charge at Liubar however, says nothing about the cohesion of the hussar formation during the charge. The similarity between Lubomirski's regulations and the description of the charge would suggest (and directly imply) that the hussars at Liubar charged knee-to-knee the entire the time of the charge, and thusly, it would appear to support Brzezinski's generalized thesis.

As a matter of fact, this conclusion, among other highly debatable issues, is not such an easy one to arrive at. The hussars, in fact, could have altered and did alter their formation during a charge. But I should start from the very beginning of the story...

In 1966 Jerzy Teodorczyk published his article about the battle of Gniew (Mewe) 1626. This article caused enormous damage in the Polish historiography of this period, because of the fact that Teodorczyk's erroneous arguments were widely accepted in Poland after their presentation, and had remained undisputed until the publication of my book, 'Fenomen Husarii' in 2004.

As a personal note, allow me to clarify, that for nearly a decade, I have been a critic of J. Teodorczyk's hussar thesis work. Through my extensive research, I have detected and demonstrated flaws in his work. My first books and my PhD thesis demonstrate how my own findings have concluded in opposition to Jerzy Teodorczyk's thesis. That said, I would be the last person who would need to defend Jerzy Teodorczyk’s work. However, not everything in his article deserves a harsh critique...

Jerzy Teodorczyk indeed introduced the idea that hussars altered their formation during a charge. He based this on various sources and Polish regulations for cavalry from the 18-20th century. He also knew of Hieronim Augustyn Lubomirski's regulations from 1704. It is my conclusion, that most of these sources unfortunately were incorrectly interpreted by J. Teodorczyk, as I said most but not all of them.

Among other things, Teodorczyk provided a fragment of Bartosz Paprocki's recommendation for Polish cavalry from 1578. Paprocki wrote:

'Whereas the martial exercise is to train a soldier so he could orderly stand in formation, where they order him, quickly attack, and to spread/loosen [open ranks] and to come together [close ranks]'

This clearly indicates a concept and practice of altering the cohesion of a formation of the Polish cavalry. Paprocki wasn't alone in writing about this altering of cavalry formation during its movement. I submit that neither Teodorczyk, nor Brzezinski were aware that Marcin Bielski, in his book published in 1569, wrote in his description a passage very similar to Paprocki.

Bielski wrote that for 'knight people' it is useful very much to train often in the field. Among other things they should train 'spreading and cramming/crowding' (opening and closing ranks). Bielski’s account also described that there were various signals given by the trumpets to open and to close the ranks.

Did hussars open and close ranks in battles too? And, did they do it during a charge?

The simple answer is – yes. They did all these things. Fortunately, I was able to find a primary source, written by the Polish hussar Wespazjan Kochowski, who described the actual altering of formation during a charge. This occurred in the battle of Basya, the same fortunate year 1660 AD.

Kochowski wrote that, being under a fierce fire of some 40 Russian cannons, Polish cavalry (7 banners under Chalecki), in order to avoid casualties; 'spread their formations into a moon'. (Which, from most descriptions of cavalry formations, they describe that the center was slightly behind the wings of the formation, so, in this case, it could acceptably be interpreted more correctly as a ‘Crescent-moon’ shape). This happened after the trumpet had given a signal to begin their attack. So, as we can see by this example, the change of formations could and did happen during a charge.

What is the conclusion then? It is, therefore, my conviction that hussars usually charged in knee-to-knee formation that made perfect sense. This was the most typical manner to deliver a successful charge. Thus this manner or method was recommended either by the Lubomirski's regulation of 1704 or by Andrzej Maksymilian Fredro's military treaty of 1670 (publication date).

But sometimes, given the unusual circumstances of the battlefield, it was better to charge with open ranks. And therefore hussars also trained and charged this way as well, utilizing both techniques. And such trained they were also much better able to alter the formation density during their charge.

===========================================

And such an excerpt (not that it is particularly relevant - it just shows that even light, skirmish cavalry - such as Numidian skirmishers - sometimes practiced direct charges, to not so bad effect):

While describing the battle at the outskirts of Zama (a much later one, against Jugurtha) in 108 B.C., Sallustius (59.) writes:

"(...) during the fight Numidian cavalrymen, self-confident (...) contrary to the usually applied tactics consisting of attacking and retreating, were directly knocking against the enemy, breaking their battle array and sowing confusion into their ranks; hereby (...) almost achieving victory over Romans."

The cut parts - "(...)" - describe how cavalry was supported by light missile infantry in this fight.
#34
If I am not mistaken, nothing in your post has to do with cavalry charging into a solid mass of infantry or tactics thereto. The charge of the hussars at Liubar was made against the Russian cavalry (according to the same text you have used), a "modernized" Russian force deployed in two units of horsemen armed with carabines (certainly among other weapons), but of -in the text- undescribed armament and density of order.

As to the value, weight and built of warhorses, this was a very important matter, again because in cavalry vs cavalry charges the impetus gained was of utmost importance. Alone, it says nothing as to how cavalry was used against infantry.

Regarding horses touching, pushing a bit against infantry at walk, this also has nothing to do with smashing into them. This is what the Byzantine cataphracts also did. They tried to keep their order as tight as possible so that as small a number of enemy infantry as possible could penetrate their ranks and then fought with them with their maces, slowly making their way forward if possible.

If you want to find evidence as to the implementation of such tactics, you should not look for reports on individual occurrences but ones that involved masses of horses and horsemen. Tactics were not tailored upon the individual prowess of only a few exceptional men or horses but on the ability to produce a repeatable result in the hundreds and thousands.

Btw, what is written about the hussars changing formation during the attack, that is approach at open order and charge at close order, the evolution being performed during the advance, was standard tactics in the Byzantine army, so I do not understand why it is described as something that peculiar.
Macedon
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#35
I think something people here are missing is the importance of the warrior mindset. Many who write about the more personal aspect of warfare cite is as the most important trait you can possess, being higher than training (exposure and repetition)and discipline (reward vs. fear, carrot and stick).

While some might ask "Why would someone charge into a wall of pointy things if it meant almost certain death?", a person with a warrior mentality would ask "Why wouldn't I charge them?"
#36
Quote:The charge of the hussars at Liubar was made against the Russian cavalry (according to the same text you have used), a "modernized" Russian force deployed in two units of horsemen armed with carabines (certainly among other weapons), but of -in the text- undescribed armament and density of order.


The article that I linked mention also a charge against a regiment of Cossack infantry deployed behind cavalry and part of which was protected by a wagon fort (tabor) - check pages 7 - 8.

According to the description, some of the Cossack infantry was confused by routing Russian cavalry, but others stood firm and in well-prepared defensive formation inside the wagon fort (tabor) - despite this, both groups of infantry were defeated by charging hussars, although the group which stood firm caused much more problems. Excerpt from pages 7 - 8:

http://www.radoslawsikora.republika.pl/m...Liubar.pdf


Quote:(...)

- The Lances of Wilczkowski's hussars came in contact and penetrated into
the Russian cavalry.

- Having shattered their lances the Wilczkowski's hussars then used their
'pallashes'

- In support of the already fighting Wilczkowski's hussars, Wyżycki's
hussars, also wielding lances, charged the Russians.

- 'Moskovites [...] fled and put the regiment of [Cossack] foot behind them in confusion'

- 'The husars followed closs to their [Russian - Cossack] leaguer [tabor], troading
downe and killing many of the foot souldiers, and takeing 3 collours.'

However, this was no easy engagement or an easy fight. Jerzy S. Lubomirski
added that Cossacks were firing at the Polish cavalrymen, killing and wounding
many hussars. The Cossacks cleverly tried to avoid Polish lances by falling flat
on the ground. In the melee, the Cossacks squeezed-in, crowding under the
hussars’ horses and overturned some of them. All in all, despite this chaotic
distraction, the husaria ultimately managed to reach the last wagons in the
tabor, inflicting serious damage to the Russian-Cossack forces.

- Then: 'Being come neer the arrier guards and fired upon, they [hussars] in wheeling of beat through a body of the cosakes foot, and so confounded [them] that about 7 or 8 hundred [Cossacks] being separated from the rest, gott into a wood and fyred upon us [Patrick Gordon's dragoons] going by. Which, being in a manner inclosed, made me make a stand, but more dragownes comeing up, wee got orders to dismount and attact these cosakes, whom after halfe ane houres dispute wee overcame and gave no quarters.'

- According to accounts of an anonymous officer in Stanisław Rewera
Potocki's Division, the husaria accounted for the killing of several hundred
enemy soldiers in this action.

(...)

==========================================


Quote:Btw, what is written about the hussars changing formation during the attack, that is approach at open order and charge at close order, the evolution being performed during the advance, was standard tactics in the Byzantine army, so I do not understand why it is described as something that peculiar.

Hmmmm, so now I don't understand it too. Thanks for this interesting information.

Perhaps the reason is that some military historians specializing for example in Early Modern Era sometimes simply don't know about some facts researched / discovered / established by historians specializing for example in Ancient / Medieval Era, and vice versa.
#37
Yes, I did read it. The charge (the gallop, the lowering of the lances, their smashed spears...) was made against the Russian cavalry which received it without a counter-charge, strange for "shock" cavalry, maybe they were mainly skirmishers.

Their battle against the infantry is described in a very logical and understandable manner.

'Moskovites [...] fled and put the regiment of [Cossack] foot behind them in confusion'

First, there is no mention of any massed infantry line in close order. Secondly the source that the author uses clearly speaks of the infantry being confused (in disorder and with low morale). Of course I do not have the original nor would I be able to translate it myself should I have it, so I put my faith in the translation given here.

'The husars followed closs to their [Russian - Cossack] leaguer [tabor], troading
downe and killing many of the foot souldiers, and takeing 3 collours.'


Again no mention of any close ordered line.

However, this was no easy engagement or an easy fight. Jerzy S. Lubomirski
added that Cossacks were firing at the Polish cavalrymen, killing and wounding
many hussars. The Cossacks cleverly tried to avoid Polish lances by falling flat
on the ground. In the melee, the Cossacks squeezed-in, crowding under the
hussars’ horses and overturned some of them. All in all, despite this chaotic
distraction, the husaria ultimately managed to reach the last wagons in the
tabor, inflicting serious damage to the Russian-Cossack forces.


Some of the cossacks fell flat on the ground because they knew that horses would not normally step on prone human bodies. The battle is further described by the author as a totally disordered melee, with footmen crowding around stationary horsemen as would be expected. In the end, they lost, no reason is given here, I would suggest that at least some groups of Hussars managed to band together and fight the Cossacks as any cavalry should fight any dispersed, confused infantry, by riding through their numbers at gallop, not allowing the infantry to engage them in a static fight.

- Then: 'Being come neer the arrier guards and fired upon, they [hussars] in wheeling of
beat through a body of the cosakes foot, and so confounded [them] that about 7 or 8 hundred
[Cossacks] being separated from the rest, gott into a wood and fyred upon us [Patrick
Gordon's dragoons] going by. Which, being in a manner inclosed, made me make a stand, but
more dragownes comeing up, wee got orders to dismount and attact these cosakes, whom after
halfe ane houres dispute wee overcame and gave no quarters.'


If I understand it correctly, this describes what I wrote above, as hussars wheeled to avoid stationary battle. When these men got in a wood, the hussars dismounted to face them. Now, as the numbers given show a great numerical difference between the Hussars and Russians in this action, I have to assume that the Polish hussars were much better equipped and armored or they would never have attacked on foot so many Cossacks. It also mentions dragoons, which would up to a point mean that the Russian cavalry was not really shock cavalry.

In all, there is absolutely no hint in this text at any charge that would remotely resemble the type we are looking evidence for.
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#38
Quote:Eduard, you keep repeating things like "throw his pony on the spears" and assuming that such attacks were suicidal for the cavalry horses and riders. I suggest that the first step is to write battle narratives at the traditional big-picture level, and then to perform a Face of Battle analysis of the mechanics of these big events to understand how they could have worked.

I think that you are mistaken here too. Writing battle narrative at the traditional big-picture level relies on other battle-narrative at the big-picture level, and only very slightly on what actually happened. As you would know from Keegan, the narrative tradition is basically corrupt, or rather, it suffers from literature rearing up its ugly head. If you make this the basis of a reconstruction, no wonder you have to deny throwing your horse into a mass of spears is suicide.

I am sorry Sean if I sound school-masterish, I just hope I can persuade you to start with logic and psychology, not with a seductive literary tradition, when you develop your ideas.
I think that we have a difference of methodology here. My view is that the best way to study any aspect of the observable universe is to work from observation and evidence first, then use reason to analyze and order that evidence. This provides a basis for resolving disagreements about assumptions, it allows us to test our assumptions, and it reduces the influence of our preconceptions on our observations. I also think that one can describe an event at a high level without knowing how and why it occurred. One can describe how Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940 in a few sentences, or in a whole book, and both are valid even if the first begs many questions.

I think that any form of comparative evidence, such as psychology or one's own experience riding, is valuable but needs to be used as critically as any other evidence. In particular, it is dangerous to assume that the first comparative evidence which comes to hand (such as a book on Napoleonic tactics) describes a universal truth. For example, Engels' study of Alexander's logistics assumed that Alexander relied on pack animals, so it needs to be adapted to describe the many ancient armies which carried supplies on wagons.

Could you explain a bit more about your methodology and why you use it?
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
#39
Reply to Macedon,

OK - I admit that I have not enough knowledge about this particular battle to dispute it further, whether it was a disorganized melee or a rather organized battle. I've only read about it in the article quoted above and on some internet fora and in books generally about husaria (rather than specifically about this battle) - but there were no extensive descriptions. Perhaps I can consult the author via private message on another forum and ask him about more details.

Anyway - there are more examples of husaria charging and defeating pikemen in battle. Some of these examples that comes to my mind at the moment (but this is not a complete list) are:

- Lubieszow 1577 - Landsknecht pikemen (as well as Danzig militia)
- Byczyna 1588 - Austrian pikemen
- Kircholm 1605 - Swedish pikemen (twice, in two subsequent phases of the battle)
- Klushino 1610 - Swedish-German-Scottish and Russian pikemen
- Moscow 1611 - Russian pikemen (also western-style ones)
- Mitawa 1622 - Swedish pikemen
- Smolensk 1633 - English & German pikemen in Russian service
- Mogilev 1655 - Russian pikemen
- Domany 1655 - Russian pikemen
- Polonka 1660 - Russian pikemen
- Liubar 1660 - Cossack pikemen (already discussed above)

Actually at Polonka in 1660, Russian pikemen did repulse some other charges of hussars - but hussars charged there without lances (they already broke their lances and had no time to go to supply columns for new ones - as Polish-Lithuanian armies transported spare lances in their supply trains).

More controversies are regarding how exactly did this happen. There were several methods.

Already quoted author, Radosław Sikora, deals with some of these battles in detail and describes how exactly the hussars were able to beat pikemen in each of them. But regarding some battles there are still controversies or lack of enough detail to establish everything with 100% certainty.

However, primary sources from the era tell us enough to conclude that horses of hussars were trained enough to have no problem with charging against solid or pointy objects.

For example already mentioned R. Sikora deals with this myth. He quotes primary sources from different battles (Kluszyn 1610, Kumejki 1637, Lubnie 1638, Olkienniki 1700) which prove that horses could hit with their chests into: pikes, fences, wagons, various wooden obstacles.

We have also some depictions from the era, showing hussars versus pikemen combats.

Below I provide some excerpts from the era combined with pictures from the era:

From the battle of Klushino 1610 - confrontation of Strus' hussars vs Taube's infantry (ultimately the hussars were victorious and pushed Taube off the field, but after multiple charges):

"(...) our horsemen, after ramming fences, with which the enemies treacherously strengthened their defences, plunging into pikes with chests of horses, suffered a lot of damage. (...)"

"German musketeers (...) deployed near field fortifications like behind a swamp, behind a fence, in dense formation, harmed us, protected by pikemen."

And here a picture depicting the confrontation of Strus' Hussars and Taube's infantry:

[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=161750&stc=1...327482.jpg]

Photo comes from Radosław Sikora's article (in English) about the battle of Klushino:

Article about the battle of Klushino in 1610:

http://www.radoslawsikora.republika.pl/m...luszyn.pdf

Here another painting (by Peter Sayers) - from the battle of Kircholm 1605 - hussars breaking a pike-shot regiment:

"(...) our lancers wipe out not only enemy cavalry, but also pikemen, as fresh examples from Livonia prove."

"Hussars attacked against pikemen, as it had to be, they broke the enemy formation, but not without own damages."

[Image: rtakt02.jpg]

=============================================

Some interesting discussion took place here (see also You Tube videos showing behaviour of modern horses) - in total 9 pages and surely many controversies:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.p...2&start=30
#40
It seems you are particularly interested in the Polish cavalry of the late 16th early 17th centuries. Unfortunately an era which I have not researched. Provide the sources so that we can understand the mechanism of the hussar charge, when and how they charged. I hope you will excuse me if I do not research them myself in depth, I really do not have the time. However, I am more than happy to read through any trustworthy source - I personally prefer primary sources or sources as close to the era as possible rather than conclusions already made by researchers - you can provide. Always keep in mind that cavalry "attacking" infantry was not unusual. It is the mode of the attack and the tactical details we are discussing.

I would be intrigued to learn that the Polish hussars developed a method to train their horses to act with no regard to their safety but this changes little to the basic argument until we find so many examples as to treat such charges as a usual tactic in pitched battles. The fact that the Japanese used kamikaze tactics in WWII does not mean that hurling aircraft onto warships was a commonly adopted tactic.
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#41
Quote:It seems you are particularly interested in the Polish cavalry of the late 16th early 17th centuries.

Polish-Lithuanian hussars is not the only or main field of my interest when it comes to cavalry and military history. But this a rather good example of efficient shock cavalry in confronting infantry.

Quote:Provide the sources so that we can understand the mechanism of the hussar charge, when and how they charged. I hope you will excuse me if I do not research them myself in depth, I really do not have the time. However, I am more than happy to read through any trustworthy source - I personally prefer primary sources or sources as close to the era as possible rather than conclusions already made by researchers - you can provide. Always keep in mind that cavalry "attacking" infantry was not unusual. It is the mode of the attack and the tactical details we are discussing.

Of course. I do realize that we are discussing here the mode of the attack and the tactical details - and also the reasons why infantry was successful or not in defending against a cavalry charge. I will provide some more information (and primary sources I hope) on the methods used by husaria when I have some more free time. But you should know, that there are still controversies regarding this among various authors (although Radosław Sikora is recently considered as perhaps the best researcher of fighting methods of hussars - which doesn't mean that there are no some researchers who still disagree with him at least in some aspects). The problem is that primary sources do not describe everything in such details, that would be pleasing for us, nowadays. Perhaps for people of that time, these things were so obvious and those mechanisms of combat so well-known, that they did not consider as necessary to describe such matters in extreme details. That's why we are to some extent forced to rely on interpretation and conclusions made by modern researchers - based on analysis of those 16th - 17th century primary sources. There is often shortage of some tactical details in descriptions from primary sources.

Quote:I would be intrigued to learn that the Polish hussars developed a method to train their horses to act with no regard to their safety


Perhaps indeed they had such horses. Surviving casualty reports and casualty lists from that time show that repeatedly casualties among horses were much higher than among men.

Some primary sources from the battle of Kircholm suggest that 600 Polish cavalry at Kircholm which frontally charged the Swedish pike-musket infantry of the first echelon (3840 men), lost as many as 150 horses (25%), while only 30 or 40 men were killed. And the infantry formation was broken (the charge was victorious - despite these 25% of precious horses being lost).
#42
The Polish-Lithuanian hussars of the seventeenth century are a very interesting case, but I have not read much on them and will never learn the appropriate languages to read the primary sources. So thank you for the references to these Polish(?) scholars such as Dr. Sikora! I think that one problem that we Anglophones have is that we grow up with stories of infantry defeating cavalry, so we tend to underestimate cavalry.

You might be interested in Henrik Olsgaard's account of the time that a good rider on a trained horse crashed into the Saxon shield-wall at the 2006 reenactment of Hastings (here). The rider thought that the infantry were going to part to let him through, and the infantry thought that he was going to wheel off at the last moment. Most of the horses refused to get close to the shield wall, but most of them had been recently hired so were not trained warhorses and not used to their riders.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
#43
Sean Manning wrote:
I suggest that the first step is to write battle narratives at the traditional big-picture level, and then to perform a Face of Battle analysis of the mechanics of these big events to understand how they could have worked.

Sean, perhaps I am mistaken, but this gave me the impression that you start with writing a battle narrative, and then evolve a model of how it worked. If you really work that way, I implore you to desist. Read battle narratives, yes, but starting with writing them yourself, no, don't do it, because then you have already tied yourself down before you have even started.

I always start with reading, and thinking about what I have read. I remind myself that what I am reading is literature, not a battle-report, even when reading Thucidides or Procopius, who come very close to journalism. I try to find the explicit and implicit assumptions about warfare, which you can also find in epic poetry or other unexpected sources. I collect the recurring clichées and think about their connection to reality. And I try to look at it in the light of our present knowledge of the behaviour of men under battle conditions. I detest theorizing about the ancient mind-set or whatever they call it, I simply assume it is all done by sentient human beings of flesh and blood, the rest is only bogus knowledge. Talk with reenactors, mounted policemen, veteran soldiers, but always remind yourself of the particular circumstances under which they operated and that define their horizons.

When you have studied the evidence and reached a conclusion of how things really worked and you want to write a story of what you have discovered, then, but only then, it makes sense to start with battle narrative, because battle narrative is literature, and literature is made to tell a story to an audience. From this narrative you can then work your way towards your explanation.

But any story starts with an idea, not with a method. Ideas come from god or whatever, not from following a set of rules or using a system.
#44
Quote:The Polish-Lithuanian hussars of the seventeenth century are a very interesting case, but I have not read much on them and will never learn the appropriate languages to read the primary sources. So thank you for the references to these Polish(?) scholars such as Dr. Sikora! I think that one problem that we Anglophones have is that we grow up with stories of infantry defeating cavalry, so we tend to underestimate cavalry.

On the other hand, we Eastern Europeans perhaps tend to overestimate cavalry. While the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle between both points of view. Wink Indeed most source references to the history of Polish-Lithuanian hussars are in various Eastern, Northern and Central European languages, as well as Turkish (basically in languages of those who used them and those who fought against them).

There are some exceptions of course - like the diary of Patrick Leopold Gordon (born 1635 - died 1699), which is written in archaic English (or Scottish maybe?). He was a Scottish national and a general of the Imperial Russian army, who fought against Polish-Lithuanian forces in numerous battles:

http://www.abdn.ac.uk/riiss/diariesofpat...rdon.shtml

Quote:You might be interested in Henrik Olsgaard's account of the time that a good rider on a trained horse crashed into the Saxon shield-wall at the 2006 reenactment of Hastings (here). The rider thought that the infantry were going to part to let him through, and the infantry thought that he was going to wheel off at the last moment. Most of the horses refused to get close to the shield wall, but most of them had been recently hired so were not trained warhorses and not used to their riders.

Very interesting story. I have read a similar one (but with people being afraid of horses coming close to them - not inversely Wink) regarding the making of the movie "Waterloo":

Quote:"Extras playing British infantry panicked repeatedly and scattered during the filming of some of the cavalry charges. Attempts to reassure them by marking the closest approach of the horses with white tape similarly failed, and the scene was cut."

Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066549/trivia

This is about the famous scene of the French cavalry charge against British infantry squares. Or rather about the first planned version of that scene - in which horses apparently were supposed to actually hit the infantry, but extras playing infantrymen were too afraid of trying this.

I've read, that in reality some of those 26 British squares nearly got broken by French cavalry - and were saved only by counterattacks of returning British cavalry under Lord Uxbridge. Anyway - according to what I've read, it did not look like in this movie, and casualties of the British infantry were heavy, despite the fact that it repulsed French charges in supposedly-invincible square formations.

======================================

Edit:

Yes - Dr. Radek Sikora is a Polish scholar. But he is active on a few English-language fora. If you see a user with nick "Radosław Sikora" on some history forum, be 99% sure that it is him. He has also published some English-language articles, including on his website (check the "Materiały" section):

http://radoslawsikora.republika.pl/
#45
As a practical note:

If we want to understand how relatively common or uncommon it is for cavalry to defeat infantry or infantry to defeat cavalry, then it helps to decide on specific sources [such as all the battle descriptions in Ammianus] and then tally up the references both to cavalry defeating infantry and to infantry defeating cavalry, and then to expand this by adding additional sources [such as all the battle descriptions in Procopius] and keep tallying up the references both ways.

If we seek out examples of cavalry winning or infantry winning, these don't do as much to establish how relatively common or uncommon it is for cavalry to defeat infantry or infantry to defeat cavalry.

It may also be possible to tally how often the cavalry wins by frontal attacks, by flank attacks, by surprising unprepared infantry, and so on, by tallying the times the cavalry wins, and dividing these between unreliable accounts, unclear accounts, clear accounts of frontal attacks, etc.

It would be a big project, especially if we go through several different sources, and I'm not sure how reliable the actual battle descriptions are, but it might be worth doing.


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