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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2011 3:51 pm    Post subject: Camelry         Reply with quote

Does anyone know of any good books on the subject of historical camel cavalry? (I am not interested in the US camel corps)

I have heard about camels beings armored/ and or spooking horses and I was wondering if those stories were true?

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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2011 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I saw a show on Discovery channel or maybe NatGeo that pitted a camel against an Arabian in a few tests. Are you interested in camelry from a certain period or just in general? I know that camel-mounted soldiers are shown in Assyrian reliefs of the 1st millenium BC. I will see what I can find out for you, I find this topic quite interesting as well. One thing for sure, camels are a lot meaner and scarier than horses, and horses can be pretty scary when you are alone out in the bush and one decides it doesn't like you!
PS spellcheck liked "camelry," so I guess that must be an accepted term.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2011 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I could not find anything about the show I saw, but a quick google search told me that camels have indeed been known to scare the crap out of both men and horses and that they did wear armor during certain periods. I have always thought that the only thing cooler to ride than an armored camel would be an armored 800lb Hogzilla.
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2011 6:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a little off topic, but I always thought armored giraffes would be cool. Imagine two archers on a giraffe with superior visuals of the battlefield. Giraffes have some serious speed, and can be very aggressive.

I have often wondered about camels in battle. Thank you for starting this thread, and I will be anticipating the information gathered here.
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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2011 10:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ya, I heard of armored camels but I can think of any camel barding, or how you would armor a camel as opposed to horse. Also I was wondering how you could use them in battle? Could you charge with them? Would the charge be effective? Were they effective anti-cavalry?
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Fri 27 May, 2011 9:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Assyrian relief aluded to above shows archers mounted on camels. While slower, they would have considerable hight advantage. The Persians mostly used camels in the same way as elephants, mostly to scare both horses and men who are not used to them.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sat 28 May, 2011 9:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Zebras rock. They have illnesses that spread like wildfire and kill off horses and there are subspecies of them that you can ride or use on a carriage. One problem with animals is directing them and keeping them responsive on a battlefield that smells awfully likme death and has some species screaming in agony.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 28 May, 2011 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hippos are huge and aggressive and would give you an amphibious force. Wink Razz

There is the small problem of getting them to not bite the rider in half or follow orders. Razz Laughing Out Loud

O.K. couldn't resist, but back on Topic camels do seem to disrupt horse cavalry as horse tend to be unmanageable when in the company of camels.

Interesting questions would be:

A) Speed compared to horses.
B) Long distance endurance.
C) Strength i.e. load they can carry ? Both for extra weight of armour and for pack camels to give you a very mobile force with logistical advantages of being able to carry extra gear, general supplies and generous supplies of expendable like arrows javelins etc ....
D) Can you armour them and would they stand for it ?

If they can't outrun horses in a sprint they would be tactically useful if they could out endure horses and run them into the ground. ?

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sun 29 May, 2011 1:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The problem with camels is managing them in battle. It seems that you have to hit them with a rod all the time. Otherwise they are fast and enduring. There are some claims that the early Muslims used camels as part of their cavalry and switched to horses on short notice. The issue with camels and horses is possibly similar to cat and dog.

Another good animal would be a rhino. They run at fires at high speed and try to extinguish them. So send some burning things to your enemy and then let the rhino-knights loose. Wink
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 29 May, 2011 9:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:


Another good animal would be a rhino. They run at fires at high speed and try to extinguish them. So send some burning things to your enemy and then let the rhino-knights loose. Wink


In some Parallel Universe or in a fantasy novel context, if one could control and train rhinos to be good reliable mounts they would be a terror if also armoured.


But camels again as pack animal might be a useful addition if one wanted a fast and very mobile force as I think they have great endurance and can carry more than horses.

It might also be possible to train one's horse to not react in a negative way to the presence of camels but an opponent's horses might still be negatively affected by the presence of camels if they where new to them ?

Anybody out there knows if horses can be trained out of having a bad reaction to camels ? If yes it should be possible to use both each to best advantage rather than having to keep each far away from each other in the field.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Sa'ar Nudel




Location: Haifa, Israel
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PostPosted: Sun 29 May, 2011 11:01 pm    Post subject: Contemporary camelry         Reply with quote

Chronology spin-off: the IDF has been using camels for long range desert patrols, on & off eversince. Check the rather unusual photo taken during the mid 1950's: the soldier on the left is armed with a Thompson SMG + a rifle (probably SMLE) in a saddle holster, while the one on the right is mounting some kind of machinegun.


 Attachment: 14.47 KB
21542.jpg


Curator of Beit Ussishkin, regional nature & history museum, Upper Galilee.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2011 3:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There was also the Gatling Model 1874 Camel Gun, but the name may well be more marketing than anything else. Google images might reveal some mounted on camels.

Some relatively modern war camel photos at http://www.camelphotos.com/war_camels.html (modern enough to be photographed).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2011 11:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean, the show I saw a while back that pitted a Camel against an Arabian showed that the Horse was considerably faster. On the other hand, the Camel can easily carry several times the weight, have several times the long distance endurance, and have no problem with armor. As to fantasy mounts, have you ever read the "Clan of the Cave Bear" series by Jean Auel? The heroin of the novels is an expert slinger who hunts (and occasionally fights) mounted on a Cave Lion!

Luke, I agree with you, nothing would be cooler than Giraffe-mounted soldiers. I do sometimes wonder why Elephants were domesticated but Giraffes, Rhinos and other large Animals were not. I still want to someday train a giant Hog to be a mount. They are certainly intelligent and trainable enough for it.
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Michael Ekelmann




Location: Seattle Metro Area, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 2:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Giraffes and rhinos are not herd or pack animals. With notable exceptions like the cat and raptors, most every animal humans have domesticated falls into the herd or pack type. We humans exploit the inborn control mechanisms to make the animals do what we want. For a fantasy army figure, barbarian rhino cavalry is hard to beat. I think Grenadier or Heartbreaker made a whole series of barbarians with rhinos, mamamoths and bears (oh my!)
“Men prefer to fight with swords, so they can see each other's eyes!" Sean Connery as Mulay Hamid El Raisuli in The Wind and the Lion
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 5:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Ekelmann wrote:
Giraffes and rhinos are not herd or pack animals. With notable exceptions like the cat and raptors, most every animal humans have domesticated falls into the herd or pack type. We humans exploit the inborn control mechanisms to make the animals do what we want. For a fantasy army figure, barbarian rhino cavalry is hard to beat. I think Grenadier or Heartbreaker made a whole series of barbarians with rhinos, mamamoths and bears (oh my!)


There are lots of photoshopped pictures of people riding hippos and rhinos, but these seem real:
http://www.blog.hippomojo.com/riding-hippos-you-know-you-want-to/
Except for th3 d0lphin
http://missionrhino.za.org/tag/rhino-poacher/
riding it like a donkey seems pretty reasonable.
Oh yes, and the rhinos and hippos are tame and like humans.
And yes, you can also ride cows, such as this girl has proven:
http://www.main-netz.de/nachrichten/regionale...94,1582596
or riding oxen is a sport in Bavaria (unlike rodeo riding in the US)
http://www.ochsenrennen.de/
And oxen are very renown for being stubborn and as bulls they aren't exactly the kind of animals that has a superior.
Maybe I should also note that you can teach solitary cats like tigers to do things on command and in a group, so I'm not really convinced you need herd-animals, although it may be easier with someone naturally accepting an alpha, even if it looks rather strange.

Yes, there seem to be tame versions of lots of animals and in Africa it's a kind of prestige thing for witch doctors to have exotic pets. That the idea of rhinos didn't catch on may have to do with economy and culture. In Subsaharan Africa they had cattle for cavalry charges, plus expensive horses imported through the slave trade and for some time were training elephants, but these beasts ate a lot and it was quite a question about feeding humans on new land or keeping these awesome giants for warfare and work. Doing work may be a major issue for taming herds big enough for a supply of war animals accostumed to human control, so elephants were used (with often severe psychological problems due to domestication), but not rhinos. The argument with the herd animals is a bit problematic because in a natural herd the stallion has none above him, a position the humans claim.
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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, Rhinos will charge literally anything, their vision is so bad that they have been known to charge butterflies.
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a copy of a British Army manual somewhere that has a chapter on camels. I *think* the book is titled something like " Animal Management 1909." It covers just about any animal that could be used in a military capacity by the British Army.priot to WW1. Primarily horse oriented, naturaly, but chapters on handling other animals. I'll dig through my library and see if I can find it again.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jun, 2011 2:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great idea, I'd also like to know how I can get hold of this book Happy
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jun, 2011 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
There are some claims that the early Muslims used camels as part of their cavalry and switched to horses on short notice.


The actual use of camels as ersatz cavalry is disputed--the discussions I remember brought up the issue that there aren't really any primary-source descriptions of Arab Conquest camels charging in a similar manner to contemporary Arab lancers' horses, so it's quite possible that camel-mounted Arab troops in this era were mounted infantry rather than cavalry-like units. What we do know is that the camel was militarily regarded as a "pauper's horse" and that as soon as larger numbers of horses became available (mostly captured from Byzantines and Sassanids and their local clients) the camels were entirely relegated to logistical and ceremonial duties.


Going back to the original topic, I don't think there's any book specifically dealing with military camelry, but there are bound to be mentions here and there about their use in books about Roman armies in the east and their Parthian enemies. Unfortunately, previous online discussions rarely get beyond a few posts, like this one on a wargaming board:

http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=108256

I think Nik (Gaukroger, a poster in the TMP thread) said something later to the effect that he wasn't sure the camels at Nisibis were cataphracts, since Herodian only said "armoured" and didn't say anything about whether the term applied only to the men or also to the camels. Too bad the only thing I can find is a translation so I don't know whether the orginal Latin supports the idea of cataphract camels in this battle or not:

http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodian/hre415.html

while we're at it, Jona Lendering (who manages the Livius site) has a nice writeup on camels in general:

http://www.livius.org/caa-can/camel/camel.html


Oops. Seems like somehow I forgot this unusually long RAT thread (by the standards of camel-related discussions):

http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat.html?func=vi...p;id=38810

where the abovementioned issue of "camel cataphracts" was brought up.
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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jun, 2011 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

But none of the above answeres their usage as cavalry?
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