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During the middle ages reconnaissance played at least a minor part in a tactician's plans. As evidenced by this question Irish Hobelars would be used to scout ahead in terrain that was too difficult for heavy cavalry to traverse. But apart from this type of light cavalry I have not heard of any implementation of scout troops beyond seeing that occasional reports were returned by scouting forces.

How was reconnaissance performed during medieval marches? Did scouts ride ahead far enough to set camp and wait for their army to catch up to them, or would they perform scouting missions and return to the main force in one full outing? Similarly, what were their main tasks? Identify the opposing force, identify advantageous terrain, or perform other operations?

For the purposes of the question I'm curious about how scouting was performed during the period of the Hundred Year's war as I am interested to determine if that predates modern scouting techniques or if the it has remained relatively consistent over time.

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    At risk of being boring, can you be more specific about place and time? Practices among nomadic tribes in the post-Roman era are likely to be very different to those of highly-organised western armies in the 14th and 15th centuries, and non-western countries with established military traditions such as China will be very different again.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 18 at 11:04
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    I suppose practices in the Roman era might also differ greatly, pre and post Hannibal ;-) If I had to make a guess, pre-modern era, with formalized military academies, the importance given to reconnaissance and scouting would vary greatly from commander to commander and from start to end of war, as much as period and country. That's what you see time and again, with historical remarks such as "since General So and So did not deploy scouts so they fell into an ambush". Take the Red Army: you couldn't make any generalizations about Red Army 1944 scouting from 1939 Finnish flops. Mar 19 at 17:50

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