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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Sat 03 Aug, 2019 6:37 pm    Post subject: how did unit vs unit cavalry clashes play out in battles         Reply with quote

ok, so theres something puzzling me,
while its easy to figure out how rossfechten works i.e mounted combat, being a spread out fight with the cavarymen wheeling about and jockying for position much like a airplane dogfight, things get sticky when iot comes to units of cavalry facing off on the battlefield

in most rough descriptions of battles, the cavalry on the wings meet, they fight, and then one side loses and runs whle the other side either chases them for prisoners etc, or tunrns around and goes on to help win the battle at large.

but thats never quite clear is how those unit vs unit engagements play out

i have 2 ides in my head currently that may also actually be differing stages of the same engagement

1, cavalry units meet head on, doesnt matter what period,swords or lances are employed, the point is that two roughly regimented units or horseman in some sort of ordered formation with more than just oone or two loosely spaced lines

2a cavalry push past eachg other and, due to conjestion of the rows behind gettng log jammed the cavalry battle devolves into essentially a infantry engagement with horses with the survivors of the initial shock clash hacking and stabbing atw whoever is within striking range while standing mostly in place

2b the cavalry break off reform and go for another shock impact, and maybe even a third if theres no clear winner
2c, after the initial shock is ended, everyone who can backs up, and the troops lose a great deal of their previos formation cohesion as the cavalry battle turns into essentiallly a whirling dogfight spread out over a much larger area



it also occurs to me that possibly, 1, 2a and 2c can be stages 1,2 and 3 of a engement

(this excludes cavalry with a lot of bows or firearms as thats a completely different dynamic id imagine with mores skirmish elements)
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2019 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is one of those difficult to answer questions. I've discussed it in various places over time and you can get close but the critical detail has never been there. My own area of study is primarily the Middle Ages, where cavalry dreamed of getting stuck into other cavalry. Yet how did they do it?

We do know that medieval cavalry could approach each other opened out or closed up. Long and thin versus thick at tight, as a poem about the Battle of Woeringen describes it. Long and thin offers space to intermingle. Thick and tight is for smashing through the enemy. It is easy to see how two opened out formations interact and how a tight one tackles an opened one (it breaks through, leaving a disorderly mess, while staying cohesive itself). But what happens when two tight formations face off?

Anthony Clipsom
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Michael Zimmermann





Joined: 19 Dec 2018

Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2019 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are, of course, from the end of the 15th century the various versions of the ordonnance of Charles of Burgundy. Apart from regulating equipment, chain of command, marching order and lodgings, he orders his conducteurs to excercise the troops under their command: first in small groups and separated by arms, then in larger formations and with combined arms.

I have linked to an edition below, so you can read what he had in mind for his men-at-arms. The pertinent section begins on p. 77, last paragraph Ordonne en oultre mondit seigneur...

https://archive.org/details/p1monumentahabsb01chmeuoft/page/77

- Michael
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2019 9:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Zimmermann wrote:
There are, of course, from the end of the 15th century the various versions of the ordonnance of Charles of Burgundy. Apart from regulating equipment, chain of command, marching order and lodgings, he orders his conducteurs to excercise the troops under their command: first in small groups and separated by arms, then in larger formations and with combined arms.

I have linked to an edition below, so you can read what he had in mind for his men-at-arms. The pertinent section begins on p. 77, last paragraph Ordonne en oultre mondit seigneur...

https://archive.org/details/p1monumentahabsb01chmeuoft/page/77


For those who find English easier than French, the key sentence translates

"“Furthermore, my lord (the duke) ordains that, in order that the said troops may be better trained and exercised in the use of arms and better practised and instructed when something happens, when they are in garrison, or have the time and leisure to do this, the captains of the squadrons and the chambres are from time to time to take some of their men-at-arms out into the fields, sometimes partly, sometimes fully armed, to practice charging with the lance, keeping in close formation while charging, (how) to charge briskly, to defend their ensigns, to withdraw on command, and to rally, each helping the other, when so ordered, and how to withstand a charge."

As this is, I believe, the first setting out of battle drills for Western chivalry, it is an interesting question how practiced companies of men-at-arms were in these things in earlier years.

Anthony Clipsom
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Mike Janis




Location: Atlanta GA
Joined: 26 Feb 2007

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Fri 09 Aug, 2019 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I read, can't remember where: The side with greatest morale stayed cohesive. The other side began to lose men as they closed - dropped back, slowed down or just left. At impact the cohesive side drove though the enemy and then hit them from all sides before trying to slaughter the fleeing losers.
MikeJ
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,484

PostPosted: Sun 22 Dec, 2019 10:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
This is one of those difficult to answer questions. I've discussed it in various places over time and you can get close but the critical detail has never been there. My own area of study is primarily the Middle Ages, where cavalry dreamed of getting stuck into other cavalry. Yet how did they do it?

We do know that medieval cavalry could approach each other opened out or closed up. Long and thin versus thick at tight, as a poem about the Battle of Woeringen describes it. Long and thin offers space to intermingle. Thick and tight is for smashing through the enemy. It is easy to see how two opened out formations interact and how a tight one tackles an opened one (it breaks through, leaving a disorderly mess, while staying cohesive itself). But what happens when two tight formations face off?
well i wasnt just talking about medieval cavalry, cavalry have clashed since the dawn of time up until the end of the 19th century. surely we have accounts from the age of musketry?
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Michael Long





Joined: 10 Apr 2018

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Mon 23 Dec, 2019 1:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:
This is one of those difficult to answer questions. I've discussed it in various places over time and you can get close but the critical detail has never been there. My own area of study is primarily the Middle Ages, where cavalry dreamed of getting stuck into other cavalry. Yet how did they do it?

We do know that medieval cavalry could approach each other opened out or closed up. Long and thin versus thick at tight, as a poem about the Battle of Woeringen describes it. Long and thin offers space to intermingle. Thick and tight is for smashing through the enemy. It is easy to see how two opened out formations interact and how a tight one tackles an opened one (it breaks through, leaving a disorderly mess, while staying cohesive itself). But what happens when two tight formations face off?
well i wasnt just talking about medieval cavalry, cavalry have clashed since the dawn of time up until the end of the 19th century. surely we have accounts from the age of musketry?


Folks on the Horsy HEMA Facebook groups have cited contemporary opinions from the gunpowder era that horses will invariably figure out a way to run past each other, rather than collide head-on. One imagines that collisions were possible, but not the rule. And probably the riders would be at risk of broken knees and ankles in the press. Anyways, the image of formations passing through one another makes sense when you remember that the typical cavalry formation is just two ranks deep. Any deeper than that, and you usually opt for a more maneuverable wedge.

I suppose it also depends if your goal is to kill everyone on impact (in which case you need maximum frontage to bring lances to bear), or just break the enemy formation into parts and then mop them up in the ensuing melee. That's what a wedge is for.
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Sioux City, IA
Joined: 14 Mar 2015

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PostPosted: Mon 23 Dec, 2019 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Anyways, the image of formations passing through one another makes sense when you remember that the typical cavalry formation is just two ranks deep. Any deeper than that, and you usually opt for a more maneuverable wedge.

I suppose it also depends if your goal is to kill everyone on impact (in which case you need maximum frontage to bring lances to bear), or just break the enemy formation into parts and then mop them up in the ensuing melee. That's what a wedge is for.


I thought cavalry charge at the French manner would be played en masse, at least, that was an explanation I heard for why the Byzantine Military Manuals preferred French cavalry rather than German one; this also might explain why King Juan of Castile put more confidence on his French mercenary knights rather than his own Castilian ones, ultimately rendering the later jealous. This painting is often associated with the French Gendarmes (though it shows a battle of Charlemagne against the Avars). The massed formation can be seen:



But regarding the question of cavalry against cavalry, I would say it wouldn't be advised to put the same cavalry against the other, since the casualities would be too high in both sides and wouldn't produce really an outcome.

I remember reading that in the Italian Wars, captain Gonzalo de Cordoba would use the jinetes to harass the enemy but they would generally flee when the gendarmes were sent to attack them; I guess they would be faster than the gendarmes, so retreating wouldn't be troublesome.

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,484

PostPosted: Tue 24 Dec, 2019 3:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Long wrote:
William P wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:
This is one of those difficult to answer questions. I've discussed it in various places over time and you can get close but the critical detail has never been there. My own area of study is primarily the Middle Ages, where cavalry dreamed of getting stuck into other cavalry. Yet how did they do it?

We do know that medieval cavalry could approach each other opened out or closed up. Long and thin versus thick at tight, as a poem about the Battle of Woeringen describes it. Long and thin offers space to intermingle. Thick and tight is for smashing through the enemy. It is easy to see how two opened out formations interact and how a tight one tackles an opened one (it breaks through, leaving a disorderly mess, while staying cohesive itself). But what happens when two tight formations face off?
well i wasnt just talking about medieval cavalry, cavalry have clashed since the dawn of time up until the end of the 19th century. surely we have accounts from the age of musketry?


Folks on the Horsy HEMA Facebook groups have cited contemporary opinions from the gunpowder era that horses will invariably figure out a way to run past each other, rather than collide head-on. One imagines that collisions were possible, but not the rule. And probably the riders would be at risk of broken knees and ankles in the press. Anyways, the image of formations passing through one another makes sense when you remember that the typical cavalry formation is just two ranks deep. Any deeper than that, and you usually opt for a more maneuverable wedge.

I suppose it also depends if your goal is to kill everyone on impact (in which case you need maximum frontage to bring lances to bear), or just break the enemy formation into parts and then mop them up in the ensuing melee. That's what a wedge is for.


could you either direct me to some of those groups or help elaborate on whats happening at the point of contact and how the cavalry engagment plays out?
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Michael Long





Joined: 10 Apr 2018

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue 24 Dec, 2019 5:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
Michael Long wrote:
William P wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:
This is one of those difficult to answer questions. I've discussed it in various places over time and you can get close but the critical detail has never been there. My own area of study is primarily the Middle Ages, where cavalry dreamed of getting stuck into other cavalry. Yet how did they do it?

We do know that medieval cavalry could approach each other opened out or closed up. Long and thin versus thick at tight, as a poem about the Battle of Woeringen describes it. Long and thin offers space to intermingle. Thick and tight is for smashing through the enemy. It is easy to see how two opened out formations interact and how a tight one tackles an opened one (it breaks through, leaving a disorderly mess, while staying cohesive itself). But what happens when two tight formations face off?
well i wasnt just talking about medieval cavalry, cavalry have clashed since the dawn of time up until the end of the 19th century. surely we have accounts from the age of musketry?


Folks on the Horsy HEMA Facebook groups have cited contemporary opinions from the gunpowder era that horses will invariably figure out a way to run past each other, rather than collide head-on. One imagines that collisions were possible, but not the rule. And probably the riders would be at risk of broken knees and ankles in the press. Anyways, the image of formations passing through one another makes sense when you remember that the typical cavalry formation is just two ranks deep. Any deeper than that, and you usually opt for a more maneuverable wedge.

I suppose it also depends if your goal is to kill everyone on impact (in which case you need maximum frontage to bring lances to bear), or just break the enemy formation into parts and then mop them up in the ensuing melee. That's what a wedge is for.


could you either direct me to some of those groups or help elaborate on whats happening at the point of contact and how the cavalry engagment plays out?


https://www.facebook.com/groups/159375070887341/

I think you can just ask to join here.

To my enormous dismay, all the most active discussion on these topics has moved to Facebook (the worst format for online conversations ever devised by man, with surveillance to boot) and away from forums.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,484

PostPosted: Wed 25 Dec, 2019 2:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Long wrote:
William P wrote:
Michael Long wrote:
William P wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:
This is one of those difficult to answer questions. I've discussed it in various places over time and you can get close but the critical detail has never been there. My own area of study is primarily the Middle Ages, where cavalry dreamed of getting stuck into other cavalry. Yet how did they do it?

We do know that medieval cavalry could approach each other opened out or closed up. Long and thin versus thick at tight, as a poem about the Battle of Woeringen describes it. Long and thin offers space to intermingle. Thick and tight is for smashing through the enemy. It is easy to see how two opened out formations interact and how a tight one tackles an opened one (it breaks through, leaving a disorderly mess, while staying cohesive itself). But what happens when two tight formations face off?
well i wasnt just talking about medieval cavalry, cavalry have clashed since the dawn of time up until the end of the 19th century. surely we have accounts from the age of musketry?


Folks on the Horsy HEMA Facebook groups have cited contemporary opinions from the gunpowder era that horses will invariably figure out a way to run past each other, rather than collide head-on. One imagines that collisions were possible, but not the rule. And probably the riders would be at risk of broken knees and ankles in the press. Anyways, the image of formations passing through one another makes sense when you remember that the typical cavalry formation is just two ranks deep. Any deeper than that, and you usually opt for a more maneuverable wedge.

I suppose it also depends if your goal is to kill everyone on impact (in which case you need maximum frontage to bring lances to bear), or just break the enemy formation into parts and then mop them up in the ensuing melee. That's what a wedge is for.


could you either direct me to some of those groups or help elaborate on whats happening at the point of contact and how the cavalry engagment plays out?


https://www.facebook.com/groups/159375070887341/

I think you can just ask to join here.

To my enormous dismay, all the most active discussion on these topics has moved to Facebook (the worst format for online conversations ever devised by man, with surveillance to boot) and away from forums.


i use facebook a great deal so this is good for me in a sense.
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Thu 26 Dec, 2019 6:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
well i wasnt just talking about medieval cavalry, cavalry have clashed since the dawn of time up until the end of the 19th century. surely we have accounts from the age of musketry?



There are numerous accounts and even manuals of cavalry tactics from the "age of musketry". Take for example these examples from Nolan's cavalry : Its history and tactics

The first object is to break through and disorder the enemy's array, then make use of the sword to complete his discomfiture. Powerful horses urged to their utmost speed, their heads kept straight and well together, will seldom fail to attain the first object in view ; sharp swords, individual prowess and skill do the rest. p.285

Cavalry seldom meet each other in a charge executed at speed ; the one party generally turns before joining issue with the enemy, and this often happens when their line is still unbroken and no obstacles of any sort intervene. The fact is, every cavalry soldier approaching another at speed must feel that if they come in contact at that pace they both go down,and probably break every limb in their bodies….
Cavalry soldiers, unless they feel confident in their riding, can trust to their horse, and know that their weapons are formidable, will not readily plunge into the midst of the enemy's ranks p.234

Anthony Clipsom
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
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PostPosted: Mon 03 Feb, 2020 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are two more quotes on later cavalry combat which seem pertinent, this time from Our Cavalry, by Major General M. F. Rimington, 1912

Let us picture, then, a squadron led at a trot with absolute cohesion (that is, every man’s knees close against those of the next man,18 but not so as to prevent the pace being increased to such a gallop as is compatible with that of the slower horses in the squadron). This squadron being led till they are within 50 to 100 yards of their opponents, and then at a command breaking into the full pace of the charge with a crashing, ear-splitting yell rather than a cheer, will, it is universally allowed, go through, break up, and cause to turn an opposing squadron which has any intervals in its ranks. In the latter, men and horses can, since there is room, turn or pull round; and they will do so. Your men and horses cannot turn; there is no room. Weapons in this case may be ignored, the horses’ weight and momentum is the weapon. Horse and man total upwards of a thousand pounds in weight, they represent 9 feet in height by 3 feet in width. The front extends for, say, 70 or 80 yards. The pace is 10 yards per second. It is a rushing wall, there is nowhere any gap.

The opposing squadron has started out with equally gallant intentions, but before they reached the charging point, or even later, something has occurred to prevent them appearing like a wall; more often than not their direction has been changed, and, whilst shouldering, these on the hand turned to may be closed up well enough, but those on the outer flank have not had time to gain the direction; pace may not have been uniform; a direction may not have been given by the leader; or his order may have been mistaken. No matter what it is: fifty things may happen. It is just enough to prevent that squadron being the more compact, well-built wall of the two. And what follows? They are defeated and disgraced.

<->

An endeavour has been made, then, to show that the success of the charge lies: first, in the ordered momentum of the unit; second, in the suitable application of this by the leader. Disciplined experience turns the scale. First, the impact, lessened in degree as one side turns sooner or later. Then the mêlée. These beaten back, the others victorious; these looking for safety, the others for victims. Now, at this moment the wild man’s first instinct is to pursue “all out,” without a reserve, to kill, perhaps, a weaker instinct, to capture, or to plunder. A new element of disorder follows on this mad desire to cast prudence to the winds and pursue, l’épée dans les reins.

Once more the governing mind of the leader must assert itself, his foresight and knowledge must reign supreme and repress the natural instinct of the many; he by voice and example must rally his squadron. Failing this, or a portion of his squadron held in reserve, his horsemen are a prey to the first formed body which attacks them, though of inferior strength. “That side which is able to throw in the last-formed body will win.” So excited is his command and so irregular their course of action, that he will have great difficulty in getting them to obey him. Cavalry Training, p. 128, realizes this:

As the pursuers will be in disorder and consequently at the mercy of any fresh body of the enemy’s cavalry, the necessity of organizing a support without delay is imperative.

Anthony Clipsom
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