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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,452

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

Posts: 29

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: 24

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: 29

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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