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heavy cavalry engaging heavy cavalry
#31
Quote:Btw, could you give a ref regarding the Bactrians and the Thessalians? I do not seem to be able to find it in my translation of Rufus.
Its Rufus, Historia Alexandri Magni, 3.9.1, 3.11.1-3, 3.11.13-15. Rufus says that the Bactrians rode over an ala of Thessalians with their impetus, a noun which medieval writers often use for the effect of a cavalry charge. He says that they were defeated because they let themselves get scattered in victory, and because the Thessalians made some sort of turning movement and attacked them while they were disordered. I believe that Arrian neglects this scene in his version of the battle (just like Rufus does not emphasize that the Macedonian phalanx had trouble crossing the river).

Arrian's version of the Granicus would be another interesting example of a hand-to-hand fight between cavalry. There may be something in the accounts of the Bactrian campaign, but I am not so familiar with the sources there.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#32
I could imagine that hand-to-hand combat between 2 heavy cavalry units could not have happened exactly the same way as with heavy infantry, because they would need more room, and the men fromt he ranks behind could not literally push those in front of them. Furthermore, when 2 enemy horses are stationary and close to each other, the ride could easily hack at the horse of his opponent than the actual man.
In movies it is common to see cavalry charges in which the riders would hack at each other with one or 2 strikes while the horse would ride past each other, but this could only happen if the ranks had been broken.
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#33
There are a limited number of things that can happen when a formed body of cavalry charges another head on:

1) One side looses heart before contact and they turn back or to the flanks and flee.

2) Both sides are equally comitted and both slow down before contact, then approach each other at a walk or trot and a large melee ensues.

3) Both sides open their ranks somewhat during the charge - the horses can see gaps in the opposing ranks before contact and the two bodies of cavalry "thread" each other at speed.
Martin

Fac me cocleario vomere!
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#34
I believe in one of Julian's Orations about Constantius II he describes a cavalry action between Constantius' cavalry and that of Sharpur II.

Looking at a much later time period, but probably still having some validity in this debate, is the interactions between cavalry during the American Civil War.

Combat between Confederate and Union cavalry forces genrally had both sides cavalry units move quickly towards each other, the riders exchanging fire or sabre slashes before charging through, wheeling quickly around and repeating until one unit had enough and broke off.
Adrian Coombs-Hoar
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#35
Perhaps this is the suitable thread to ask this question.

What is the rough timeframe of existence of heavy cavalry types typical for Antiquity? For example cataphracts - when this cavalry formation was born, when was it disbanded (perhaps after the end of the Komnenian period of Byzantine military). Same when it comes to companion style / Agema style Macedonian-Hellenistic cavalry and other types of Ancient heavy cavalry (clibanarii perhaps can also be treated as a separate type, even though they were very similar to cataphracts and only trained / used for different purposes, but each of these formations sometimes performed task typical for the other one). Here I wrote about the timeframe of existence of cuirassiers (it was roughly 1484 - 1915, of course during that time-frame this formation was evolving and changing, but it generally continued to serve as heavy cavalry during the entire period):

http://www.romanarmytalk.com/7-off-topic...=90#342451

I'd like to know similar time-frames for Ancient types of heavy cavalry (some of them survived until the Middle Ages - like cataphracts, who survived in the Byzantine Empire and perhaps in some other states too?).


Quote:Combat between Confederate and Union cavalry forces genrally had both sides cavalry units move quickly towards each other, the riders exchanging fire or sabre slashes before charging through, wheeling quickly around and repeating until one unit had enough and broke off.

But neither Confederate cavalry not Union cavalry were heavy cavalry formations.

They also did not count as specially trained shock melee cavalry.

Sabre was a secondary weapon for them - they were more dragoons than real cavalry.
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#36
Quote:
Mark George Little post=341931 Wrote:Horses seldom charge into enemies, who are noisy, smelly, freaky and look deadly. They are pretty smart animals, a lot of training is needed even to charge into common spear levies.

There has been much talk of how "enemy-shy" horses were back in ancient times; and how a full charge against a solid infantry or cavalry wall was a physical impossibility. I take a different stance-- YES, cataphracts did charge against a formation because their horses were trained specifically for such warfare. Anyone who has played polo knows this. A polo pony is trained to pass by its opponent by mere inches. The horse does not balk, stop, or even flinch. I am so tired of hearing how the ancients were so crude, so stupid, that they could not breed or train their horses to accomplish what modern horses now do. :twisted:

Perhaps I'm the Devil on this one, but I believe it's a realistic-- and pragmatic-- interpretation in a huge jar of "old hat" prognostications. :whistle:

I fully agree with your post, Alanus, as you can see in my other "cavalry posts" on this forum.

Including the thread linked in my post above as well.
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#37
As for Machiavelli, quoted by Macedon on the previous page:

1) Machiavelli lived in period of crisis of cavalry use and quality in Western Europe (the 1510s to the 1520s)

3) He wrote his book in 1519 - 1520, the most recent war to influence his views was the war of the League of Cambrai, in which cavalry indeed was present in small numbers and played an unimportant role.

2) Machiavelli never ever fought in a battle personally, nor he saw a real battle personally

As someone pointed out on the previous page, Machiavelli was an "armchair general", like we are.

He wrote his book shortly after the introduction to warfare in Western Europe of the new model of infantry tactics and organization - the tercio (developed by Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba during the early period of the Italian Wars) - which dominated the battlefields of that area. It took time before cavalry adopted efficient ways of countering the tercio (and also other-than-tercio infantry types needed to adopt such new ways).

For some time tercios were impenetrable from the front, for both any other infantry and cavalry.

Early tercios were like Alexander's Macedonian phalanx of their time.

However, tercios were not unbeatable, as already battles of the late 16th century proved.

There is no surprise that Machiavelli - himself a laic in military matters - considered infantry as superior during the golden age of tercios and the age of crisis for traditional forms of heavy cavalry, still similar to Medieval ones (which shortly before the introduction of tercios had been very important in Italy).

So it is very important to see such opinions in their proper context.
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#38
Peter wrote:
Quote:What is the rough timeframe of existence of heavy cavalry types typical for Antiquity? For example cataphracts - when this cavalry formation was born, when was it disbanded.
Philip Sidnell in his book “Warhorse" mentions that Scythians & Massagetae used small numbers of heavy cavalry, made up of their nobility & their assorted retainers supported by swarms of horse archers to fight & kill Cyrus II of Persia in 530 BC.
Quote: “They differed from the usual horse archer in that they were well protected by heavier armour. As well as bows they carried sword, lance & the axe like sagaris for punching through armour. Spears found in Scythian graves were initially identified as short javelins, it only being realised later that they were so long between 10 & 12 feet that they had been broken in half to fit in the tombs. Such long spears could only have been used in shock combat."
Don't know if that is the first instance of appearance of heavy cavalry in warfare but Massagetae or their neighbours, probably developed heavier “shock cavalry to work in combination with their own horse archers to attack, break up, isolate & kill or drive away enemy horse archers on Steppes.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#39
I know the Persians adopted Cataphracts, but I don't know when (some time during the Achameanids though). the First Roman use of Catafractarii is recorded under the Emperor Hadrian in 130-something AD on a Tombstone in the middle east (Syria, I think, but I don't know). They became prevalent after the rise of the Sassanids in the 210's and 220's as the Army adapted to fight their new enemy, which was more organized and stable than the earlier Parthians.
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#40
Definitions are a big problem. The division between "heavy" and "light" cavalry seems to be four or five hundred years old ... sixteenth-century writers use it, but as far as I know the Romans only divided infantry that way, and the Greeks divided cavalry by armament. I don't find this division useful for ancient and medieval cavalry.

Quote:There are a limited number of things that can happen when a formed body of cavalry charges another head on:

1) One side looses heart before contact and they turn back or to the flanks and flee.

2) Both sides are equally comitted and both slow down before contact, then approach each other at a walk or trot and a large melee ensues.

3) Both sides open their ranks somewhat during the charge - the horses can see gaps in the opposing ranks before contact and the two bodies of cavalry "thread" each other at speed.
The other possibility is that 4) individual cavalry units pass besides or along each other, shooting and hurling and slashing at close range. This does not have to reflect lack of courage, just a tactical decision to keep moving rather than stopping and fighting face to face “like infantry.” I think that most cavalry in Xenophon's day and Polybius' day preferred this way of fighting (Polybius 12.18, Xen. Hipparchos et de re equistri passim).
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#41
Vindex wrote:
Quote:Polo ponies are trained to ride off their opponent. You can bump (but not too hard...legally) but there are rules about angles of approach, and certainly not head on.
Hi Moi, just on polo & fitness of horses & seeing you have practical experience with horses I have a few questions.
1. How long does a polo match go for?
2. Are you limited to one horse in a match?
3. I understand that polo matches can be pretty full on & horses & their riders do a lot of turning, twisting & sprinting so how tired is your horse/horses after a match & does it need recovery time after games?
I only ask as I always believed that with heavy cavalry the commander only really has “one shot in the locker" in how he used his cavalry & timed his attacks & ensured that they weren't lured from the battlfield chasing enemy cavalry for too long or looting enemy camps etc. as I understand horses tire eventually & need a long time to recover, up to a day or 2 I have heard. So he couldn't have his heavy cavalry riding to & thro around the battlefield during the battle tiring their own horses & not being able to participate in remainder of battle. Any insights on recovery time of horses after a battle would be appreciated. I only ask as I think horse nomads performed well against enemy cavalry because besides their natural horse riding & herding skills they practised & developed tactics & how to work in tandem with team mates isolating & crowding opposition horses & riders through ancient forms of equestrian sports like polo & Buzkashi. Pazyryk mummy tombs archeologists found an ancient Scythian gaming carpet depicting equestrian games on it with riders & horses. Just a thought.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#42
Michael - I'll send you a PM so we don't side track the discussion.

Unless other people are interested and DON'T think it is a distraction. Polo is pretty "light" though Confusedmile:
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!
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#43
I think Michael and Aetius seem to have a handle on the antiquity of heavy horse.
According to Herodotus and Frontinus, the 530 BC battle began with a shower of arrows from both sides, then Tomyris pulled the "fake retreat" ploy, drawing Cyrus into a canyon. Her forces then turned around, and hit the Persians with shock cavalry. I always loved that story because the world's greatest general (of that particular time-period) ended up as a woman. :woot:

Here's a semi-realistic portrait of the woman General from a Medieval manuscript:

[attachment=7787]tomyris1.JPG[/attachment]


The Sassanians had a heavy unit called the Royal Savaran, evidently named after an elite Persian family.

I would think that the earliest Roman heavy cavalry would have been patterned after the Roxolani cataphracts they encountered along the Danube in AD 60-68 and again in the Dacian wars.


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Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#44
Hi Alanus with the Roxolani heavy cavalry & how the Romans formed their own cataphract unit. Rather than train a whole new cavalry force from scratch & learning to use a longer lance which would require time & training & good riding skills so I wouldn't be surprised if the Romans recruited a lot of Roxolani troops for their new cavalry squadron (or a core group to train others) as part of the new subsidy arrangements between Hadrian & Rasparaganus who Romans referred to as king of the Roxolani in 117AD as Rome would have had conditions attached to their subsidies to the Roxolani. Just a thought
Btw regarding your picture of Cyrus defeat you have got to love how medieval artists depicted ancient battles.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#45
Sounds logical. Confusedmile:

Within a treaty between Hadrian and the Roxolani king Rasparaganus, the Romans would have an excellent opportunity to receive new cavalry input. Especially considering Rasparaganus was made a "Friend of Rome" and Hadrian became fond of his new gifted horse. Notice the "aspar" in the king's name, which I think denoted "horseman."
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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