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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2009 3:53 pm    Post subject: Lancers in the 1700s-1865?         Reply with quote

We all know that 1500s on cavalry was taking the back seat as support and in the 1700-1800s a good square would beat cavalry

I got to wondering (since muskets back then were pretty slow and whatnot) what if in the 1700s cavalry took up the lance (I know they had a few but the lances were very short and there were only a few of them) again (say 12 feet long) Would they have made a comeback as the dominant arm? Would they have been of any use? Say to smash infantry squares? How would history and military tactics at the time be affected? What tactics/equipment would the lancers use? Could they have been of use in the American Civil War? Also (This question is sort of an aside) how thick would Armour have to be to stop musket rounds? And would horse archery still be of use?
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Lukasz Papaj




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2009 12:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would advise "regional specification"; while your statement is basically true for Western Europe, cavalry was the core of fighting force in Central/East region up to early 1700's. Up to this date Hussars tended to exterminate infantry whenever used by competent commander. Same for horse archers (though in modified form of "Pancerni")
As far as I know , in the West lance dissapears from record in early XVIIc , and was reintroduced by Poles in service of Napoleon I in early XIXc to dissappear again after Polish- Bolshevik war of 1920. Contrary to some propaganda, lances were not issued for the 1939 "september campaign".
As for US, i do not recall any mention of usage of any form of lancers. (though my sources are severly lacking in "American History" area)
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2009 4:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't have any answers, but I thought you might enjoy this picture (from The Victorian Army In Photographs by David Clammer):

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2009 7:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I've read, there where one or two units of lancers in the US army at the outbreak of the civil war. These, however, quickly discareded their lances as they where found to cumbersome. By this time, revolvers and magazine carabines where the order of the day.

The napoleonic era lancers where not medevial style heavy cavalry (though the polish hussars where). They where mainly used for skirmishing and chasing down other cavalrymen rather than head on charges.
This beeing said, against a wavering or disorganized unit, even light cavalry, like (western) hussars could break an infantry regiment. For instance, the prussian (5th, at the time, later 1sth life)Black Hussars overran a french regiment at Eylau.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Lukasz Papaj




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2009 2:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed on above.

There is some semantic gap here - there is slight difference in polish language: "Husarz" means heavy cavalryman, while "Huzar" means light, Hungarian-style cavalry. Both are translated as "Hussar" in English.
It was the Hungarian style that was reintroduced in the West, and term "lancer" usually means that kind of formation.
One might add that in the timeframe of the topic there was this difference between "light" and "heavy" brigades of lancers, at least in British army, when they were (rather unsuccessfully) used in Crimean war.

One must remember that cavalry warfare is not just blind charge- one need specific training of the horses and men, usually for long time. One need terrain suitably flat to deploy large formations. Actually, closest thing we have right now to cavalry are the tank units trained in deep flanking strikes. It was not a coincidence that greatest tank battles were on the East front.

Western commanders , It seems to me, never fully grasped the idea of autonomous cavalry "armies" , popular in the East ... well, maybe excluding general Patton.

Last thing- mindset. In Poland we have term of "kawaleryjska fantazja" , that literary translates to something like "cavalryman imagination", but means combination of lack of survival instinct, fast thinking, high self respect (to point of anarchy) and homicidal attitude that is thought needed for the job. Westerners are just too rational, to focused on order to do it right, again, excluding Patton, who seems to be perfect example of that atttitude Happy

EDIT: another form of that saying is "ułańska fantazja", from light lancers of turkish origin that appeared in first half of XVIII c, which till the "partitioning" of Poland formed the core of national cavalry, and after that core of Polish regiments in service of Napoleon I, and after that in "Druga Rzeczypospolita", that is Poland from 1918-1939

Ulans in Napoleonic times (Warsaw Principality):

Ulan versus Infantryman (by Wojciech Kossak):
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Eric Meulemans
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2009 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As already pointed out by Lukasz and Elling, it is difficult to address such huge questions as a generalization, or to speak in generic terms as "lancers" - which were present in most cavalry forces up through the First World War. As the original poster inquired as to the hypothetical use of heavy lances in the medieval tradition, I think there is at least one factor that must be considered: artillery.

In considering the use of heavy cav to smash a square, it must be remembered that the battlefield is a dynamic place - it is not so simple a matter to simply say "we will run them down with a shock cavalry charge," particularly when the force in question possess artillery or (later) machine guns which will decimate you before you reach their lines. Think of the medieval heavy lance as the modern battle tank and you will see that while an infantry man or even a unit of infantry stand little chance of removing it from action, a single well placed hit from an artillery piece or anti-tank missile will do so handily. When you see this, it is clear why light cav were far more predominate in the 19th-20th C. (for scouting/recon and to give chase).

There have been instances of successful cavalry charges against artillery in the modern era, most notably perhaps at Beersheba in 1917, when the Australian 4th Light Horse over-ran the Turkish lines (literaly jumping the trenches). This was due in great part to luck - the Turks failed to recalibrate their sights as the normally dismounted riflemen charged over more than three miles of terrain and managed to stay under the guns. It could have ended quite differently but succeded perhaps because someone had the sort of kawaleryjska fantazja that Lukasz speaks of.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2009 9:47 am    Post subject: Re: Lancers in the 1700s-1865?         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
We all know that 1500s on cavalry was taking the back seat as support


This thing has been way, way overemphasized in modern literature. Major battles that involved only cavalry with no or minimal participation of infantry on either side had become few and far between, but cavalry remained an extremely potent force on both the tactical and the strategic scene. Honestly, I think even a late 16th century general would rather have taken an all-cavalry army than an army entirely without cavalry. And let's not forget that the proportion of cavalry in army compositions rose again in the 17th century; the Swedes in particular ended up having more cavalry than infantry in their most significant armies by the 1640s and kept this focus well into the 1670s or 1680s at the very least. Ask the Swedes which arm won the Battle of Lund (1676) for them. Let's not forget things like Ivry, Turnhout, or Roundway Down either.

Quote:
and in the 1700-1800s a good square would beat cavalry


A good square. Wink And it'd be a good idea to note that really good 18th-century infantry mostly practiced to repel cavalry in line, not in square.


Quote:
I got to wondering (since muskets back then were pretty slow and whatnot) what if in the 1700s cavalry took up the lance (I know they had a few but the lances were very short and there were only a few of them) again (say 12 feet long)


I think looking at things from the side of the musket's slowness to reload is probably the wrong way to go, since the first volley/salvo was the most important of all and by this point all or most of the infantry would still have had their muskets in loaded condition. Add to this the fact that 18th-century infantry was mostly supposed to repel cavalry with their fire--the threat of hand-to-hand fighting with the bayonet was a weapon of last resort (not first) when facing cavalry--and it immediately becomes obvious why the change to lance alone wouldn't have changed much in the cavalry vs. infantry equation.

This is also the reason why cavalry tactics ended up emphasizing multiphasedd attacks rather than any one kind of weapon or equipment--the difference between sword and lance didn't matter quite as much when the most important point was to force the infantry to waste their fire on your first line(s), which would eventually let the second (or third) line in without being massacred by the infantry's murderous close-range fire.


Quote:
Would they have made a comeback as the dominant arm?


Probably not.


Quote:
Would they have been of any use?


Probably yes, but only because any kind of competent cavalry was an extremely valuable and useful asset anyway.


Quote:
Say to smash infantry squares? How would history and military tactics at the time be affected?


I suppose the adoption of the lance might have been a good idea for cash-strapped military supply bureaus that couldn't supply enough pistols for their cavalry....


Quote:
Could they have been of use in the American Civil War?


Well, somebody else has spoken in more detail about the actual instances of ACW lancers. However, the mention of American cavalry and lances brought my mind to one force that wasn't strictly American (in the sense of USAnian) but participated in combat against the U.S. forces not long before the ACW, namely the various squadrons of Mexican lancers. If I remember correctly, the lance never really fell out of use in this region since its introduction in the 16th century, perhaps because it was an extremely useful weapon against unarmored Native Americans or because it could double as a cattle-herding tool. Just look up some information about presidial lancers and soldados de cuero--there's plenty of it on the Web. Even more interestingly, the lance seems to still have remained in use until the civil wars in the 1920s or so.


Quote:
Also (This question is sort of an aside) how thick would Armour have to be to stop musket rounds?


Horribly thick. This was actually tried in 16th- and 17th-century Europe; the result was armor that could not be worn for any length of time without discomfiting the wearer with its heat and weight.


Quote:
And would horse archery still be of use?


Probably not as shock cavalry, since well-coordinated musket fire would have massacred or at least held off most horse archers just like crossbow bolts did during the Crusades. But they would still have been very useful for strategic duties (especially raiding and harassment) and for cavalry vs. cavalry skirmishes--I believe Napoleonic French cavalry got a huge lot of trouble from Tartar or Cossack horse archer attacks against their cavalry screens and outposts.


Last edited by Lafayette C Curtis on Sun 12 Apr, 2009 10:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2009 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lukasz Papaj wrote:
I would advise "regional specification"; while your statement is basically true for Western Europe,


Not even there! Wink

Quote:
Up to this date Hussars tended to exterminate infantry whenever used by competent commander.


Um...I'm afraid I can't agree with that statement if it's meant to refer to the Polish husars alone. They got smacked pretty badly against infantry on many occasions, such as the first ten charges against the Russo-Swedish redoubt at Kluszyn. However, if it's meant to refer to the husars as an integral component of a combined-arms Polish-Lithuanian army, then I find it extremely easy to agree since this was exactly why the Polish army was so good during this timeframe: because it wasn't a one-trick pony, and its other arms were all too ready to pitch in whenever the husars alone wouldn't do the job, as in the eleventh charge at Kluszyn where the artillery battered the redoubts and the infantry kept the pesky Russians' heads down as the hussars finally charged unmolested and broke through the Russian defenses.
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Lukasz Papaj




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2009 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Um...I'm afraid I can't agree with that statement if it's meant to refer to the Polish husars alone. They got smacked pretty badly against infantry on many occasions, such as the first ten charges against the Russo-Swedish redoubt at Kluszyn. However, if it's meant to refer to the husars as an integral component of a combined-arms Polish-Lithuanian army, then I find it extremely easy to agree since this was exactly why the Polish army was so good during this timeframe: because it wasn't a one-trick pony, and its other arms were all too ready to pitch in whenever the husars alone wouldn't do the job,

Yes I could not agree more.

It is "our" mistake to focus on one "breakthrough" technology, when it is how all of given army strengths are used in unison that is winning the day. That is why I wrote about competent commandership - hussars were formidable weapons when used right - when artillery destroyed obstacles, pancerni and lighter units kept the enemy busy, infantry eliminated strongpoints - so to say, when the field was prepared for breakthrough charge.
When such preparation/cooperation was lacking and strategic thinking was way off - due incompetent command -even having the best units cannot change the outcome. Beginning of Cossack wars or first phase of "Deluge" is a good illustration of that.
But the XVIIth century is somewhat too early for the topic. Interesting nevertheless Happy
By the way - in Polish sources it is stated that it was the attempt of Swedish cavalry to use caracol against our cavalry that helped to win the day- rajtars were broken by the charge and driven into Russian ranks, opening them to next charge. Żołkiewski ordered multiple charges due his lack of superior numbers, sources vary but it was like, 6500 Polish versus 35 000 Russo-Swedish force. He needed to keep pushing or would be overrun. The artillery preperation and infantry charge was on Polish left flank, against Pontus de la Gardie force, where many fences in the fields made cavalry charge initially impossible.
I always wondered why Swedes, having been beaten many times by Polish heavy cavalry, never used lancers themselves . Was it the cost of such formation? Polish light cavalry was often mercenaries in the West, like (in)famous "Lisowczycy", though again, never seen depiction of them with any form of lance.
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2009 1:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually the Swedish army had included lancers until the 1560's, the problem was however that mantaining lancers, particulary heavily armored Western style lancers was highly expensive wich menat that apart from the force mantained by the King as his househodl cavalry only the nobility could provide lancers. And the Swedish nobility was increasingly reluctant to performe the armed service it was supposed to provide the Crown. Even when the men turned up they lacked the training needed of a lancer so instead they fought with pistol & sword. It is doubt full that the Swedish Crown was ever able to assemble more than 400-500 lancers from all sources. No nearly enough to defend the huge Swedish territory.

So instead the focus was on recruiting cheaper cavalry, basicly so called 'mounted arquebusiers' together with proportion of more heavily armored pistoliers. This kind of cavalry actually worked fairly well for the Swedes during the 25-years war with Russia with numerous victories in battle. The flaws only became apparent during the Livonian war which started in 1600 by which time the Swedish cavalry not only were fairly reliant on firearms but had almost stopped using body armour. All of which rendered them very vulnerable to lance charges.

Once the cavalry began to use armour, started using proper French style tactics and was given improved training and morale by the reforms and leadership by the reforms of Gustav Adolf the Great Polish & Lithuanian cavalry stopped winning easy victories. Indeed from 1625 onwards they suffered a string of defeats when facing Swedish armies.

.
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2009 11:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs-I would point out that the Russian Imperial Calvary used Cossack Lamcers untill after the Napoleonic Wars. After that as far as I can find, they were used as light calvary and/or crowd control.( It was Cossack Brutality trowards crowds in the street that caused the St Petersburg garrison to start the February Revolution, in 1917according to one of the Garrison officers that joined the Revolution)
Ja68ms
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Apr, 2009 1:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Lancers in the 1700s-1865?         Reply with quote

[quote="Lafayette C Curtis"][quote="Ben P."]


Quote:
I got to wondering (since muskets back then were pretty slow and whatnot) what if in the 1700s cavalry took up the lance (I know they had a few but the lances were very short and there were only a few of them) again (say 12 feet long)


Quote:
I think looking at things from the side of the musket's slowness to reload is probably the wrong way to go, since the first volley/salvo was the most important of all and by this point all or most of the infantry would still have had their muskets in loaded condition. Add to this the fact that 18th-century infantry was mostly supposed to repel cavalry with their fire--the threat of hand-to-hand fighting with the bayonet was a weapon of last resort (not first) when facing cavalry--and it immediately becomes obvious why the change to lance alone wouldn't have changed much in the cavalry vs. infantry equation.


IIRC the Redcoats fired off a volley and then charged with bayonets a la roman legions, and I remember one of napoleons officers being very dismissive of muskets he basically said sure they'll kill some of us but it won't stop us and when we get there their done for and I remember one test where they fired authentic muskets and only 43% fired sucessfully and that was using good measured modern powder

Quote:
This is also the reason why cavalry tactics ended up emphasizing multiphasedd attacks rather than any one kind of weapon or equipment--the difference between sword and lance didn't matter quite as much when the most important point was to force the infantry to waste their fire on your first line(s), which would eventually let the second (or third) line in without being massacred by the infantry's murderous close-range fire.


Well for one thing lancers had short lances and they were unarmoured


Quote:
Say to smash infantry squares? How would history and military tactics at the time be affected?


Quote:
I suppose the adoption of the lance might have been a good idea for cash-strapped military supply bureaus that couldn't supply enough pistols for their cavalry....


Well if the lance outreaches the bayonet and the horses and riders are armoured. . .

Quote:
Could they have been of use in the American Civil War?


Quote:
Well, somebody else has spoken in more detail about the actual instances of ACW lancers. However, the mention of American cavalry and lances brought my mind to one force that wasn't strictly American (in the sense of USAnian) but participated in combat against the U.S. forces not long before the ACW, namely the various squadrons of Mexican lancers. If I remember correctly, the lance never really fell out of use in this region since its introduction in the 16th century, perhaps because it was an extremely useful weapon against unarmored Native Americans or because it could double as a cattle-herding tool. Just look up some information about presidial lancers and soldados de cuero--there's plenty of it on the Web. Even more interestingly, the lance seems to still have remained in use until the civil wars in the 1920s or so.


I was just thinking as an anti-infantry weapon since infantry still used muskets


Quote:
Also (This question is sort of an aside) how thick would Armour have to be to stop musket rounds?


Quote:
Horribly thick. This was actually tried in 16th- and 17th-century Europe; the result was armor that could not be worn for any length of time without discomfiting the wearer with its heat and weight.


Cuirassiers are mentioned saying that their armour saved them from many a shot and sword and that's at as little as thirty paces. . . Not bad considering



Quote:
And would horse archery still be of use?


Quote:
Probably not as shock cavalry, since well-coordinated musket fire would have massacred or at least held off most horse archers just like crossbow bolts did during the Crusades. But they would still have been very useful for strategic duties (especially raiding and harassment) and for cavalry vs. cavalry skirmishes--I believe Napoleonic French cavalry got a huge lot of trouble from Tartar or Cossack horse archer attacks against their cavalry screens and outposts.


I would think that arrows would outrange the muskets and have a higher rate of fire. I never said anything about shock cavalry I completely agree with you one that one although if shock lancers had bows as well. . . Hmmmm
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Lukasz Papaj




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Apr, 2009 3:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

About infantry/artillery vs cavalry charge - there are some examples in Napoleonic wars - positive is Somosierra pass charge ; negative is say, Waterloo. One can use few lancers to "do the job" or waste thousands blindly charging on opponent
I do not know if that's accurate information, but if I recall in Waterloo battle correctly Ney ordered charge of some 9000 cavalrymen where was the place for only third of that number to use effectively; actually, I'm wondering how much of that number got proper training or were Poles Happy ... even the count of cuirassiers - twice more than light units is somewhat suspicious to me - I mean, where Napoleon raised/trained them, after loosing Great Army? would they be issued/trained in lance? had they any idea how to fight unbroken infantry? Cavalry is not just "men riding horses".

There is large difference between sabre and lance - the latter gives you reach needed to get to those pesky infantrymen in squares. Sabre is for riding down those unfortunate fleeing guys- be that infantry or protesters.

Bow in battle - I think i remember reading some British officer account of use of bows by locals in India. There are some vague reference of using such weapons in "Winter uprising" in Russian-occupied Poland in 1863, still - one should remember that learning to use bow, especially from horseback is not easy thing, especially when such art is virtually lost. Another problem is supply of proper arrows - that require industry that is focused on just supplying needed amount of single-use projectiles. Warfare from XVth century (or even before that) goes towards using as-many-as-possible cheapest troops that need minimal skills and as uniform needs as possible (giving less logistic nightmares). Germans forgot that and got overrun.

As for thickness of armour to be bulletproof -two words: Ned Kelly
I also remember some story of commander of cuirassiers from English Civil War era that ordered set of bulletproof plates, but that's again way off from given timeset.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Apr, 2009 7:53 am    Post subject: Re: Lancers in the 1700s-1865?         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
IIRC the Redcoats fired off a volley and then charged with bayonets a la roman legions,


Against infantry! What you're saying here was, in fact, the default method for repelling an infantry attack or assaulting a hostile infantry position. Against cavalry, 18th-century British infantry mostly stood in line and fired volleys at point-blank range until the doctrine changed near the end of the century to favor the square. Even then, the square was basically just a two- or three-deep line with the ends connected and beaten out into a rectangular shape, and its ideal application was not as an isolated block but rather as a checkerboard pattern of squares that would have exposed cavalry attackers to deadly crossfires in the spaces between the squares.

This is one of the things that popular histories tend to get upside down--saying that Napoleonic British infantry drove off French columns with fire and resisted cavalry with bayonets when the truth was probably closer to the opposite. It's quite instructive to look at Jomini's statements:

All are agreed that a general attack of cavalry against a line in good order cannot be attempted with much hope of success, unless it be supported by infantry and artillery. At Waterloo the French paid dearly for having violated this rule; and the cavalry of Frederick the Great fared no better at Kunnersdorf. (Note that he speaks of the line, and he probably means it literally since two paragraph later he remarks upon the square in even simpler terms: "A charge against squares of good infantry in good order cannot succeed.")

and

There is one case in which cavalry has a very decided superiority over infantry,—when rain or snow dampens the arms of the latter and they cannot fire. Augereau's corps found this out, to their sorrow, at Eylau, and so did the Austrian left at Dresden.

That's just about as clear as it gets. Another example is Minden (1759)--perhaps the best example of the ideal 18th-century methods for repelling cavalry charges with the fire of infantry arrayed in line.


Quote:
and I remember one of napoleons officers being very dismissive of muskets he basically said sure they'll kill some of us but it won't stop us and when we get there their done for


What kind of officer? I strongly suspect it's an infantry officer--or, if a cavalry officer, he was referring to a particularly low-quality body of infantry. Or just plain cavalry bravado. I think Lukasz is right in that you couldn't realistically be a good cavalryman if you couldn't think like that; in other words, if you were a cavalryman you had better have suicidal bravery if you wanted to be alive at the end of the day.


Quote:
and I remember one test where they fired authentic muskets and only 43% fired sucessfully and that was using good measured modern powder


43% of all the men in a battalion's front tank is still plenty of firepower, especially when directed by competent NCOs who knew how to keep the muzzles down. And what about other tests? I think the average reliability of flintlock muskets wasn't that low if they were competently handled. Matchlocks would have been even more reliable, if slower.


Quote:
Well for one thing lancers had short lances and they were unarmoured

(snip)

Well if the lance outreaches the bayonet and the horses and riders are armoured. . .


And how much difference would that make against muskets that would have outranged the lance by several dozen paces and been able to penetrate almost any kind of armor that the cavalrymen could have worn?


Quote:
Cuirassiers are mentioned saying that their armour saved them from many a shot and sword and that's at as little as thirty paces. . . Not bad considering


What shot? Cuirasses were often supposed to be pistol-proof, so I wouldn't be surprised if they were literally able to stop close-range shots from cavalry pistols, especially 18th- and 19th-century pistols that used slow, large-caliber bullets with less armor-penetration capability than earlier small-caliber high-velocity pistols. Indeed, this is a recurring theme in accounts of cavalry combat: cavalry units trying to stop an incoming charge with a volley of pistols or carbines only to fail and be swept away by the hard-charging attackers.

Against stronger muskets firing at close range, these cuirasses probably wouldn't have availed the wearers much. Even the shot-proof armors of late 16th- and early 17th-century cuirassiers were caliver-proof only on the breastplate, and that only by the addition of a reinforcing placard; the rest of the cuirass only needed to be pistol proof, and the rest of the armor might even be only sword- and pike-proof. This can be seen clearly in the injunction for pistol-armed cuirassiers to fire at opposing cavalrymen's visors and thighs because these parts were likely to be not pistol-proof if armored at all. Nowhere is it mentioned that any part of the armor is supposed to be musket-proof. Even when we take account of the fact that 18th-century muskets were generally not as powerful as full-sized 16th-century muskets--many of them would actually have been regarded as calivers if produced a century earlier--it should also be remembered that 18th-century cuirasses were lighter than 16th- and early 17th-century ones, being rarely more than pistol-proof.

And what about horse armor? It should be quite telling that 16th-century armies made no significant effort to arm the horses of their gendarmerie with shot-proof armor. It simply wouldn't have been practical if they didn't want their horses to die of heat exhaustion. Moreover, the more armor you put on the man (in order to protect him against gunfire), the less armor you'd be able to load on the horse; the pistol-proof cuirass and caliver-proof placard probably played quite significant part in forcing heavy horsemen to abandon horse armor.


Note that I'm not saying lance-armed, armored cavalry would have been worse than other forms of 18th-century cavalry. I'm just asserting that there is no evidence that they would have been any better against infantry than other forms of existing 18th-century cavalry, at least not beyond one initial encounter where they might have been able to rely on the shock value arising from their novelty. After that, though, the infantry would probably have figured out easily that their usual anti-cavalry methods would have worked perfectly against the armored lancers.


Last edited by Lafayette C Curtis on Sun 19 Apr, 2009 9:51 am; edited 3 times in total
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Apr, 2009 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lukasz Papaj wrote:
Bow in battle - I think i remember reading some British officer account of use of bows by locals in India.


If I remember correctly, Oakeshott mentions in Archaeology of Weapons that British soldiers in India found arrows more frightening than bullets though the latter was more deadly. On a rather more relevant note to the original discussion, wasn't Marbot--a Napoleonic officer--wounded by an arrow in Russia? I'll have to reread his autobiography again.


Quote:
As for thickness of armour to be bulletproof -two words: Ned Kelly
I also remember some story of commander of cuirassiers from English Civil War era that ordered set of bulletproof plates, but that's again way off from given timeset.


Ah. Sir Arthur Haselrig and his London Lobsters. Accounts of the battle at Roundway Down showed that his armor was pistol proof, though not necessarily (as Atkyns said) musket-proof since a musket-proof helmet would have been stiflingly heavy indeed. And they certainly didn't have horse armor!
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Apr, 2009 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What were the changes between a 16th and 18th century musket that would have made the latter less powerful? If I'm not mistaken, the latter used higher quality and more regular powder; did they adopt larger, slower rounds?

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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Apr, 2009 12:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Lancers in the 1700s-1865?         Reply with quote

[quote="Lafayette C Curtis"]
Ben P. wrote:


I remember one of napoleons officers being very dismissive of muskets he basically said sure they'll kill some of us but it won't stop us and when we get there their done for


Quote:
What kind of officer? I strongly suspect it's an infantry officer--or, if a cavalry officer, he was referring to a particularly low-quality body of infantry. Or just plain cavalry bravado. I think Lukasz is right in that you couldn't realistically be a good cavalryman if you couldn't think like that; in other words, if you were a cavalryman you had better have suicidal bravery if you wanted to be alive at the end of the day.


It was a polish lancer talking about british infantry




Quote:
Well for one thing lancers had short lances and they were unarmoured

(snip)

Well if the lance outreaches the bayonet and the horses and riders are armoured. . .


And how much difference would that make against muskets that would have outranged the lance by several dozen paces and been able to penetrate almost any kind of armor that the cavalrymen could have worn?

Cuirassier armor? and the muskets are still very slow


Quote:
Cuirassiers are mentioned saying that their armour saved them from many a shot and sword and that's at as little as thirty paces. . . Not bad considering


Quote:
What shot? Cuirasses were often supposed to be pistol-proof, so I wouldn't be surprised if they were literally able to stop close-range shots from cavalry pistols, especially 18th- and 19th-century pistols that used slow, large-caliber bullets with less armor-penetration capability than earlier small-caliber high-velocity pistols. Indeed, this is a recurring theme in accounts of cavalry combat: cavalry units trying to stop an incoming charge with a volley of pistols or carbines only to fail and be swept away by the hard-charging attackers.


Actually they were talking about muskets


Quote:
Against stronger muskets firing at close range, these cuirasses probably wouldn't have availed the wearers much. Even the shot-proof armors of late 16th- and early 17th-century cuirassiers were caliver-proof only on the breastplate, and that only by the addition of a reinforcing placard; the rest of the cuirass only needed to be pistol proof, and the rest of the armor might even be only sword- and pike-proof. This can be seen clearly in the injunction for pistol-armed cuirassiers to fire at opposing cavalrymen's visors and thighs because these parts were likely to be not pistol-proof if armored at all. Nowhere is it mentioned that any part of the armor is supposed to be musket-proof. Even when we take account of the fact that 18th-century muskets were generally not as powerful as full-sized 16th-century muskets--many of them would actually have been regarded as calivers if produced a century earlier--it should also be remembered that 18th-century cuirasses were lighter than 16th- and early 17th-century ones, being rarely more than pistol-proof.


Well then thicken it 16th century thickness


Quote:
And what about horse armor? It should be quite telling that 16th-century armies made no significant effort to arm the horses of their gendarmerie with shot-proof armor. It simply wouldn't have been practical if they didn't want their horses to die of heat exhaustion. Moreover, the more armor you put on the man (in order to protect him against gunfire), the less armor you'd be able to load on the horse; the pistol-proof cuirass and caliver-proof placard probably played quite significant part in forcing heavy horsemen to abandon horse armor.


Well expense for one thing and the weight as well as you said

But 16th century thickness isn't to bad (especially if cuirassier plate can deflect it at thirty paces) and all you would really have to do is armour the horses chest, head and neck and 16th century barding weighs 95 pounds so just relocate all that to the horses front

Quote:
Note that I'm not saying lance-armed, armored cavalry would have been worse than other forms of 18th-century cavalry. I'm just asserting that there is no evidence that they would have been any better against infantry than other forms of existing 18th-century cavalry, at least not beyond one initial encounter where they might have been able to rely on the shock value arising from their novelty. After that, though, the infantry would probably have figured out easily that their usual anti-cavalry methods would have worked perfectly against the armored lancers.


Well lancers several times beat squares and lines but they were uarmoured so thicken the armour to 16th century thickness and armour the horse
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Lukasz Papaj




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Apr, 2009 2:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would again argue that weapons are not quite as important as their tactical/strategic employment

I would again go bit off from given time, to recall Polish-Swedish war, especially the early XVII century ones- In first wars Swedes were using "countermarch" volley fire. and they were regurarly riden down by heavy cavalry. Given that situation for 200 men "banner" the casualities averaged at 1 "companion" and 3 "retinue" , which was "perfectly acceptable".
Now, enter Gustavus Adolphus - he ordered "deep volley"- that is 4-6 ranks simultanous fire - and in the Battle of Gniew (1626) Hussary paid with about 25 casualities per banner per charge, which chronicles note "stupefied the Hussars", they charged "heartless" in the next day of battle, unable to break Swedish ranks.
This changed emphasis in Polish strategy from pushing into "one deciding battle" to eastern-style harassing, also marked by fielding less costly "Pancerni", that in the time of "Second Northern War"/Deluge (1655-1661) formed half of armoured units. Nevertheless , heavy cavalry charge was still employed at least till 1683 (Battle of Vienna, Battle of Parkany), while in the 1698 campaign there is noticable regression of cavalry tactics (still that come with overall decline of Polish Army)
Till 1750 there were no more heavy units formed.

One need to look at this in the light of overall economical decline in Europe - remember that countries lost 30-50% of their population in XVII century. Also the weather was far colder (so called "little ice age", which peaked in 1680's) In Poland economy was based on export of grain via Gdansk, and that route was often blocked by wars. The noble "middle class" was greatly reduced, so were their abilities to field arms and armour.
Similar thing happen in all Europe - heavy or mercenary units are phased out in favour of conscripts - armies are larger but cheaper. Of course the centralization of goverment was important factor. What was left of wealth was greatly focused in few hands. Similar thing happened in military - with inferior troop quality the focus was on fortifications and logistics - armies were centrally controlled too. So was the supply of arms - they were centrally issued based on few "national patterns".
Also one must remember how British "New Model Army" changed military thinking.

The "Big Picture", in my opinion, was that effectiveness was often abandoned in favor of predictability and low cost in XVIII and XIX century, with just few exceptions. Wars gotten impersonal, casualities just statistics. Soldier was expected to be automatons. Deep hierarchy of commanders often cloaked personal ineffectiveness or plain stupidity.
This was somewhat changed by the WWII, still sometimes I see very similar doctrine in modern armies too (especially in Easten Block) - mass of conscrips given AK and pointed in which direction to shoot, with special troop behind that would make sure they WILL go in right direction.

Or maybe its just me, that sees those pararel lines of troops some 50 meters apart shooting volley afrer volley, that thinks "what a stupidity" Razz
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Dariusz Dario T. W




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Apr, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
They got smacked pretty badly against infantry on many occasions, such as the first ten charges against the Russo-Swedish redoubt at Kluszyn. However, if it's meant to refer to the husars as an integral component of a combined-arms Polish-Lithuanian army, then I find it extremely easy to agree since this was exactly why the Polish army was so good during this timeframe: because it wasn't a one-trick pony, and its other arms were all too ready to pitch in whenever the husars alone wouldn't do the job, as in the eleventh charge at Kluszyn where the artillery battered the redoubts and the infantry kept the pesky Russians' heads down as the hussars finally charged unmolested and broke through the Russian defenses.

actually during the battle of Klushino theere was no Swedish-Muscovite redoubt - this map gives the best impression how this battlefield looked http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...n_1610.jpg The problem that Polish army (and the winged hussars) had to do with the wooden fence smack in the middle of the field between the armies, it actually prevented the surprise that had been attempted by the early morning Polish attack. There were gaps within this fence (10-15meters) and according to numerous relations about the battle some of the Polish hussars had to use their horses' breasts to break these fences in order to get to the enemy behind them. Apparently the fences on the left wing of Muscovite side - Polish right wing - were smaller and with more gaps or were torn down early in the battle as the chroniclers did not write about them much.
The Swedish pike-and-musket infantry stood behind these fences (with their cavalry behind them) while masses (thousands) of Muscovite infantry and Muscovite cavalry stood on the Muscovite army left wing (Polish right wing). Hussars charged these western infantry regiments via the fences and at least 3 times, and then Polish haiduks with several small falkonets came and broke down the wooden fences and reduced the fighting spirit of the westerners casuing them to move toward their camp. leaving the cavalry in the field . Therefore, since on the right wing of the Muscovite army there were still Western cavalry regiments so then our Polish hussars attacked frontally the Swedish-English-Flemish reiter and arquebusier cavalry regiments in theri pursuit to destroy Muscovite army right wing. The hussars' frontal charges were not successful until the Muscovite infantry protecting their (western cavalry) left flank had been removed (see below) and then another charge was made in a form of a pincer movement - on the front and the left flank of the enemy cavalry, by some 1200-1400 hussars (1/4 of the entire Polish army on the battlefield), some with lances, the rest with tucks (pantzerstrecher, 'Turkish spear' or koncerz) and pallashe, charged these Westerners. This final hussar charge against their western opponenets overrun the Western cavalry and destroyed it fighting ability for the rest of the battle. Polish light cavalry went after them in pursuit.

On their right wing the Poles, charging 8-9 times (but whether they charged only infantry or both the infantry and cavalry is unknown from the sources)- hussar choragwie (companies), could not break the Muscovite infantry due to their numerical strength, density and amazing 'stubbornness' until several cornets of German Muscovite reiters ( units in Muscovite service since mid 1500s) attempted to charge the already tired Poles (on their tired horses). These Germans, however, were beaten back and ridding in panic back to the safety of the camp they run in to the Muscovite infantry regiments disruppting them, with our lancer Poles charging for the 10th time, hot on their backs. Thus pursuing hussars rode inside the walled (kobylice protected) Russian camp and broke the will to fight of the more numerous Russian army that broke the kobylice of the camp's rear and fled to the surrounding woods.
Finally, the previously mentioned Swedish infantry retreated from the field to their camp in search of refugium after their cavalry was defeated and took to woods and fields in a quite human desire to save their heads; and it was at this moment when the hussar rota (company) of Andrzej Firlej (with lances) attacked this camp, first they broke through the kobylice barrier surrounding the Swedish camp and then in a frontal charge broke the Swedish pikemen - incredible feat of military provess of these horsemen and their horses.

Thus these mentioned numerous charges had more to do with the strategy of hetman (marshal) Zolkiewski - and he actually wrote about this in his relation in his work titled " The Beginning and Progress of the Muscovy War."- who wanted to keep constant pressure on the very numerous and very resilient Muscovites, and to create impression that his army was more numerical than actually presented on the battlefield. This stratagem worked very well.
It was the skill, the horsemanship, bravery, and superior morale of Polish lancers, endurance and training of their horses, and finally the tactics and strategy of the Polish commander, Stanislaw Zolkiewski that carried the day into history books Wink.

Actually the most dangerous enemies of the Polish hussars as far as cavalry go (during their heyday) were the Turkish, Circassian and Tatar cavalrymen, who also fought in a similar fashion as the Poles, and used actually much better horses than any Western european army could dream of, and who were superbly skilled horsemen themselves.

Speaking about lancers in the West - let not forget about the Spanish conquistadors who fought with a lance in hand (not to mention emperor charles V who was an empitome of a knight ( famously portrayed ridding with a lance on horseback by immortal Titian); also, later on, the Spanish colonial troops or presidiales who fought for more than 2 centuries both in South and North America with lances, adarga shields, leather armor and escopetas (arquebus) - similar to the Polish winged hussars. Some of their units were even shipped to Spain to fight the invading French hordes during the 1810s( unfortunately there were Polish soldiers with lances and sharp sabres within the French forces ).

Finally, Marshal de Saxe advocated creation of the lancer regiments (after his Polish winged hussars experiences, presumably during his life in Poland) within the French armies of Louis XV, and he actually described in detail their arms and equipment, with drawings et al.

"veni, vidi, Deus vincit"
Jan Sobieski, Rex Poloniae et Dux Lithuaniae

http://dariocaballeros.blogspot.com/


Last edited by Dariusz Dario T. W on Mon 20 Apr, 2009 10:07 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Dariusz Dario T. W




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Apr, 2009 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:



Once the cavalry began to use armour, started using proper French style tactics and was given improved training and morale by the reforms and leadership by the reforms of Gustav Adolf the Great Polish & Lithuanian cavalry stopped winning easy victories. Indeed from 1625 onwards they suffered a string of defeats when facing Swedish armies.

.


hello
I beg to differ on the issue on the 'Polish & Lithuanian cavalry stopping winning easy victories' upon Gustavus Adolphus reforms ( presumably reforms of of his cavalry).
From sources it is known (and can be read via google books amongst others) that during the 1620s there wer at least 3 purely cavalry engagements between Polish-Lithuanian versusu Swedish cavalry:
1 battle of Lake Kropimojza (Kroppenhofen) in 1621
2. battle of Poswol in1625
3. battle of Trzcianna in 1629
I think the elite units of Swedish cavalry - Cuirassiers of Gustavus Adolphus; guard, participated in all three battles.. They lost all three.

"veni, vidi, Deus vincit"
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