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26

As Wladimir noted, the precise "vs" analysis is impossible since it depends heavily on what kind of armor, weapons, tactics, training and commanders both infantry and cavalry have, as well as economics of society (which heavily influences these things for the cavalry which is a lot more expensive to equip/train, especially heavy cavalry). Also, it's ...


17

The infantry sets their spears, meaning bracing them against the ground, to present a barrier to the charging horsemen. The long spears, also known as pikes, when held in a tight formation provided a spiked wall that would challenge mounted opponents. Some horses would balk when encountering the pikes while others would be impaled. The goal was to unhorse ...


13

That's not exactly how it worked. As not everybody was able to become a knight (especially without richness), many squires were adult, sometimes more than 30 years old, and because of their experience, they were well-trained fighters. Don't think of heavy cavalry only as knights. For example, the regular heavy cavalry unit in Poland was called Chorągiew ...


12

As legend says, after they lost Battle of Kosovo (1389) Serb units, most notably their light cavalry, have spread to Hungary and then further over Europe. In Medieval Hungary, these became known as hussars since about 1432 (Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology, p. 306); they were greatly developed by Matthias Corvinus ...


10

There are no magic recipes to win a war. Caesar's tactic was new and surprising, it demoralized the attackers who were certain of their superiority. But this only works once - once that tactic was known it was no longer effective. Note that this wasn't the only reason that Pompey got defeated, it is probably even more important that Pompey's behavior was ...


9

The situation is complex. While the pike-or-equivalent must be of a sufficient length and density to be effective against cavalry, the longer the weapon the more difficult it is to adjust formation and facing. Cavalry's most effective weapon on the battlefield is its speed. A mass of spearmen facing one direction are easily flanked and broken up, and then ...


9

As a melee fighter, heavy cavalry would have depended on armor to block melee weapons once they got in range, and that alone would justify its use. As far as effectiveness against firearms the best I've ever found is that quality armor of the time was somewhat effective against small arms and muskets at range, though muskets could easily penetrate at close ...


9

The infantry-cavalry balance has changed a lot over time. And back and forth. In primitive warfare, the addition of a large animal gave the advantage to the cavalry. This changed during the times of the Greeks and Romans, who invented the phalanx and legion INFANTRY formations that had no cavalry counterparts. By "stabilizing" riders in horses, the ...


9

Several reasons. First and foremost, they perform the same role on the battlefield, providing a fast moving spearhead. Second, and related, many of the units were cavalry units before getting tanks, they just exchanged their horses for tanks. Artillery exchanged guns pulled by horses (and trucks) with self propelled guns (at least part of them, most armies ...


8

Even in modern combat horses are still used. There was a book written about US Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan who relied heavily on horses in combat. The book is called Horse Soldiers.


7

Barbara Tuchman provides a a partial answer in A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century: At fourteen or fifteen, when [the young noble] became a squire, the training for combat intensified. He learned to pierce the swinging dummy of the quintain with a lance, wield the sword and a variety of other murderous weapons, and know the rules of ...


7

Both sets of statements are true: The Cossacks were inferior to other types of cavalry, and the Cossacks were "effective," because they were good enough to do the job. To take just one example, the cuirassiers were the most heavily trained, heavily armed cavalry around. That means that there were relatively few of them. The Cossacks were the opposite: They ...


7

I've found some evidence during the Mongol invasion of Japan (it is wikipedia, but it's cited to a reasonable, but not fantastic degree): "in 1274, the Yuan fleet set out, with an estimated 15,000 Mongol and Chinese soldiers and 8,000 Korean soldiers, in 300 large vessels and 400-500 smaller craft, although figures vary considerably depending on the source" ...


6

There are two things that the Mongols had to their advantage when they waged war, significant numbers and superior training and discipline. These two factors almost always ensured that they would have the upper hand in any engagement. I found one source that suggested that a typical military unit for the Mongols would consist of three major units. One unit ...


6

Cossacks in 1800th are the light cavalry. The lightest one. Even Hussars needed carts with grain and food. But Cossacks used them only if it was absolutely impossible to "take" everything in site. So, they were very very quick. Yes, in battle they were weaker. But they were not meant for the battle, but for innercepting on the enemies communications. For ...


6

There was a number of minor fight incidents, involving cavalry units during WW2, see here or here. However cavalry was used as a mean of transportation, or as a mounted infantry. The last significant battle where cavalry used as a separate combat arms seems to be battle of Komarow in August 1920, during Polish-Soviet war.


5

In Battle of Zama Hannibal had the army of greenhorns. Veterans were dead already. It needs a great amount of previous experience to stand against a horse that is galloping against you and even to throw something at the rider. BTW, in that battle, cavalry acted rather as a lock, as in Cannes on the Carthago side. It would be difficult to throw a Macedonian ...


5

Infantry square I believe that the most obvious tactic against cavalry is the infantry square formation, which was used by ancient Romans, and later revived during Napoleon wars. But of course the main reason for their creation was to prevent any attack from behind. Still, there was a rule regarding horses in particular, not to shot too late, as wounded ...


5

Yes. This is called "combined arms" and occurred all the time; providing you could afford the cost of horses and the delay of infantry. While the range and reach of pole-arms had some uses before the arrival of set-piece battles involving horses (a/k/a The Cavalry); pole-arms exploded in popularity once horses were common enough and cheap enough - ...


4

Both Union and Confederate cavalry in the civil war fought almost exclusively as dragoons, using their mounts only as transportation, except in pursuit, while scouting and while engaging against enemy cavalry. See here: When charged by Union cavalry, a Southern general said his men would respond with the cry; "Boys, here are those fools coming again ...


4

Spears are (relatively) long ranged weapons to use against cavalry. Bows and arrows are even better (as at Crecy and Agincourt in France), but only if they can be fired at a high rate, and at long range. Most infantrymen were not skilled enough to do this, which is why they used spears. They could try to kill the horse or the rider, but usually the horse was ...


4

After doing a bit of research, I found nothing on the tactic of linking horses. I've read a bit of Chinese military history, and I mean no offense, but most of the stuff are lies. For example, 诸葛亮 supposedly created an perpetual motion ox to carry grain. This is impossible. Another example is 赵云 killed 100 people to save 刘备's son. A third example is that ...


3

Hussars in the Napoleonic era were a reconisence and harassment force. As a general rule, they were not used as the hammer in engagements. Though they and uhlans, a polish form of lancers are light cavalry, the lancers were used as shock troops as seen in the Battle of Somosierra rather than as harassment forces. The use of a dragoon changed through the ...


3

I'm looking at the list of battles involving war elephants The Battle of Ipsus wikip page, a conflict between some of the successor states of Alexander the great, has an interesting passage on elephant-cavalry interactions: "The ancient sources repeatedly emphasise the effect of elephants on horses, which are alarmed by the smell and noise of elephants and ...


3

Just to add a note about cannons: fragmentation is a very common source of injury -- be it wood splinters, bone, rocks, or shrapnel from the shell -- link, graphic images of wounds. This could have impacted the desire to wear armour. However, wikipedia and Body Armor: Cuirass and Helmet seem to indicate that fragmentation/shrapnel was not a factor at all ...


3

There's already an answer on tactics. But there are a few quite interesting anti horse pieces of equipment that are worth mentioning. Like the Cheval de frise, an anti cavalry obstacle. Or the Caltrop: "sharp nails or spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base", designed to puncture the soft feet of cavalry ...


3

At the risk of flogging a dead horse here, I think we need to mention another aspect - the attitudes of the top commanders. The most glaring example I have in mind is Haig who famously told young officers (the remark may be apocryphal but certainly reflective of his recorded opinions) in July 1914: I hope none of you gentlemen is so foolish as to think ...


3

In the The Scottish Middle March, 1573-1625: Power, Kinship, Allegiance, Anna Groundwater calls currours "forest rangers", but doesn't actually describe their role. I think the better description would be couriers or messengers, a description that's supported from the following passage from William Caxton's The Game and Playe of Chesse (1474): The ...


2

If you are looking for Napoleon's Dragoon's. Horses and Weapons The dragoons were armed with straight sabers and muskets. Their muskets were longer and had longer range of fire than light cavalry's carbines. While a light cavalryman's eqipment included a carbine sling as a means of keeping his weapon readily available for use, the greater length of ...


1

I think there were two reasons at play: Musketeers were "formation troops", i.e., they were used to fighting in a close formation, standing next to each other and acting in sync. This means that when they affixed bayonets and pointed them at the cavalry, the horses were facing tightly knit line of steel and could not carry their riders close enough for ...



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