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Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

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PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep, 2016 10:58 pm    Post subject: Cavalry harquebuses and carbines of the 16th-17th century         Reply with quote



It seems like most books about the period only touch on carbines briefly: they had all the problems of muskets but worse, only effective within 10 feet, couldn't actually be aimed or reloaded on horseback, etc. But it appears that they quickly became extremely popular among both cavalry and civilians anyways.

So how effective were these weapons really? Were they any use outside of massed combat in small skirmishes or raids, or was the sword supposed to be the primary weapon there too?
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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2016 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If a book claims that 16th & 17th Century wheellock arquebus & carbines were ineffective beyond 10 feet and/or could not be aimed nor reloaded on horse back then that is a pretty strong evidence that the author has not done much research on the subject. (Beyond possibly copying another modern day secondary source.)

If you look at the primary sources written down by the men who actually trained and fought alongside/against mounted arquebusiers you'll find a rather diffrent story. With the right training reloading on horseback could be done as fairly routine task even in battle. Proper training was the key which is why cavalry manuals such as Wallhausen's Kriegskunst zu Pferd which your image comes from included section on how to train troopers to reload properly.

Aiming was certainly not impossible either, both the training and testing (at musters) of mounted arquebusiers stressed marksmanship. To pass muster in 1645 Swiss mounted arquebusiers had to hit the mark at 50 paces with their arquebus/carbine then go into the trott to hit the target at 6 paces with the 1st pistol, wheeling aroung the horse was spured into gallop and the target was to be hit with the 2nd pistol at a range of 3 paces. Wendelin Schildknecht who had fought both against and with the Swedish army in the 1620's to 1640's would have the mounted arquebusiers fire at the enemy from a range of 30 paces, closer than the Swiss but still well beyond 10 feet.

Wheellock arquebus and and carbines were first and foremost weapons used in the "small war" that is the raids, skirmishes, convoys and reconaissance that made up the bulk of the combat experience of the cavalry. in the late 16th Century Sir Roger Williams thought mounted arquebusiers better than light lancers as they did not only did service on horseback but could dismount and fight effectivly on foot when the terrain required it.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Sep, 2016 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:
If a book claims that 16th & 17th Century wheellock arquebus & carbines were ineffective beyond 10 feet and/or could not be aimed nor reloaded on horse back then that is a pretty strong evidence that the author has not done much research on the subject. (Beyond possibly copying another modern day secondary source.)

If you look at the primary sources written down by the men who actually trained and fought alongside/against mounted arquebusiers you'll find a rather diffrent story. With the right training reloading on horseback could be done as fairly routine task even in battle. Proper training was the key which is why cavalry manuals such as Wallhausen's Kriegskunst zu Pferd which your image comes from included section on how to train troopers to reload properly.

Aiming was certainly not impossible either, both the training and testing (at musters) of mounted arquebusiers stressed marksmanship. To pass muster in 1645 Swiss mounted arquebusiers had to hit the mark at 50 paces with their arquebus/carbine then go into the trott to hit the target at 6 paces with the 1st pistol, wheeling aroung the horse was spured into gallop and the target was to be hit with the 2nd pistol at a range of 3 paces. Wendelin Schildknecht who had fought both against and with the Swedish army in the 1620's to 1640's would have the mounted arquebusiers fire at the enemy from a range of 30 paces, closer than the Swiss but still well beyond 10 feet.

Wheellock arquebus and and carbines were first and foremost weapons used in the "small war" that is the raids, skirmishes, convoys and reconaissance that made up the bulk of the combat experience of the cavalry. in the late 16th Century Sir Roger Williams thought mounted arquebusiers better than light lancers as they did not only did service on horseback but could dismount and fight effectivly on foot when the terrain required it.


roughly speaking how many of these wheellock carbine like weapons were there, like do we have numbers from any particular campaign / army/ numbers of battallions that used it?
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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2016 3:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The numbers varied greatly depending on which year and which army you look at, for example in the 1557 St. Quentin campaign Imperial-Spanish army fielded some 5400 mounted arquebusiers while the French had at most a couple of hundred wheellock arquebus among their German Reiters. (The bulk of the French light cavalry was made up of Chevaux-legers, light lancers also armed with a pistol.)

A couple of examples from the 80-years war in the Netherlands and the Spanish army of Flanders:
Quote:
"In 1567, before the beginning of the march to the Flanders, the Duke of Alba had also 5 companies of Jinetes, 3 companies of Italian horses, 2 companies of light cavalry from Albania and 2 companies of Spanish harquebusiers on horses, in total some 1 200 horsemen.
In 1573 a document (see Quatrefage 1983) from the Duke of Alba shows that the Spanish had, in the Army of Flanders:
3300 heavy horsemen subdivided in 1 cornete (a company) of 300 horses and 15 ordinance bands (an average of 200 horsemen per ordinance band), 980 light horsemen divided in 14 companies (an average of 70 men per company) and 5 compagnies of harquebusiers on horse (500 men). So we have in total 4780 cavalrymen subdivided in 35 companies or ordinance bands.
In the battlefield the cavalry was organised in squadron of 2 or 4 companies (100 - 300 horsemen). At the battle of Mook in 1574 the Spanish deployed their cavalry as follow: 3 small detachments of harquebusiers on horse (170 in total in 4 companies) in first line, behind them 3 squadrons of Celadas (ie lancer) with respectively 170 (3 companies), 115 (2 companies) and 110 horsemen (2 companies) and a squadron of 200 German horsemen Reiters . In total the Spanish cavalry had 11 companies numbering in total only 595 men (an average of 54 men per company)."

http://tercio1617.0catch.com/organisationUK.html#cavalry

By the time of the 30-Years War the armies are fielding mounted arquebusiers by the thousand, in 1622 Protestant Warlord Christian of Brunswick raised over 8000 mounted arquebusiers while the army of Christian IV of Denmark mustered a total of 4000 mounted arquebusiers in early 1626. The initial field army led by Wallenstein in 1626 had some 2500 mounted arquebusiers and Wallenstein's recruiters were busy rasing additional regiments.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2016 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great info Daniel, thanks. I have experience of doing similar in the regency period, it takes training and a clear head but you can do what Daniel says. Not done it live however.

Any military activity that has such a long period of use cannot have been ineffective ...

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