Cavalry (Fr. cavalerie, from cavalier, a horseman), a body of soldiers on horseback. The use of the horse for riding, and the introduction of bodies of mounted men into armies, naturally originated in those countries to which the horse is indigenous, and where the climate and gramineous productions of the soil favored the development of all its physical capabilities. While the horse in Europe and tropical Asia soon degenerated into a clumsy animal or an undersized pony, the breed of Arabia, Persia, Asia Minor, Egypt, and the north coast of Africa attained great beauty, speed, docility, and endurance. But it appears that at first it was used in harness only; at least in military history the war chariot long precedes the armed horseman. The Egyptian monuments show plenty of war chariots, but with a single exception no horsemen; and that exception appears to belong to the Roman period. Still it is certain that at least two centuries before the country was conquered by the Persians, the Egyptians had a numerous cavalry, and the commander of this arm is more than once named among the most important officials of the court.
It is very likely that the Egyptians became acquainted with cavalry during their war with the Assyrians: for on the Assyrian monuments horsemen are often delineated, and their use in war with Assyrian armies at a very early period is established beyond a doubt. With them, also, the saddle appears to have originated. In the older sculptures the soldier rides the bare back of the animal; at a later epoch we find a kind of pad or cushion introduced, and finally a high saddle similar to that now used all over the East. The Persians and Medians, at the time they appear in history, were a nation of horsemen, though they retained the Avar chariot, and even left to it its ancient precedence over the newer cavalry. The cavalry of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Persians consisted of that kind which still prevails in the East, and which up to very recent times was alone employed in northern Africa, Asia, and eastern Europe, irregular cavalry. But no sooner had the Greeks so far improved their breed of horses by crosses with the eastern horse as to fit them for cavalry purposes, than they began to organize the arm upon a new principle. They are the creators of both regular infantry and regular cavalry.
They formed the masses of fighting men into distinct bodies, armed and equipped them according to the purpose for which they were intended, and taught them to act in concert, to move in ranks and files, to keep together in a definite tactical formation, and thus to throw the weight of their concentrated and advancing mass upon a given point of the enemy's front. Thus organized, they proved everywhere superior to the undrilled, unwieldy, and uncontrolled mobs brought against them by the Asiatics. We have no instance of a combat of Grecian cavalry against Persian horsemen before the time the Persians themselves had formed bodies of a more regular kind of cavalry; but there can be no doubt that the result would have been the same as when the infantry of both nations met in battle. Cavalry, at first, was organized only by the horse-breeding countries of Greece, such as Thessaly and Boeotia; but, very soon after, the Athenians formed a body of heavy cavalry, besides mounted archers for outpost and skirmishing duty. The Spartans, too, had the elite of their youth formed into a body of horse guards; but they had no faith in cavalry, and made them dismount in battle and fight as infantry. This is the earliest mention made of mounted infantry, which forms so important an element in modern warfare.
From the Greeks of Asia Minor, as well as from the Greek mercenaries serving in their army, the Persians learned the formation of regular cavalry, and there is no doubt that a considerable portion of the Persian horse that fought against Alexander the Great were more or less trained to act in compact bodies in a regular manner. The Macedonians, however, were more than a match for them. With that people horsemanship was an accomplishment indispensable to the young nobility, and cavalry held a high rank in their army. The cavalry of Philip and Alexander consisted of the Macedonian and Thessalian nobility, with a few squadrons recruited in central Greece. It was composed of heavy horsemen (cataphracti), armed with helmet and breastplate, cuisses, and a long spear. It usually charged in a compact body, in an oblong or wedge-shaped column, sometimes also in line. The light cavalry, composed of auxiliary troops, was of a more or less irregular kind, and served like the modern Cossacks for outpost duty and skirmishing. - The battle of the Granicus (334 B. C.) oilers the first instance of an engagement in which cavalry played a decisive part. The Persian cavalry was placed at charging distance from the fords of the river.
As soon as the heads of columns of the Macedonian infantry had passed the river, and before they could deploy, the Persian horse broke in upon them and drove them headlong down into the river. This manoeuvre, repeated several times with perfect success, shows at once that the Persians had regular cavalry to oppose to the Macedonians. To surprise infantry in the very moment of its greatest weakness, that is, when passing from one tactical formation into another, requires the cavalry to be well in hand, and perfectly under the control of its commanders. Irregular levies are incapable of it. Ptolemy, who commanded the advanced guard of Alexander's army, could make no headway until the Macedonian cuirassiers passed the river, and charged the Persians in flank. A long combat ensued, but the Persian horsemen, being disposed in one line without reserves, and being at last abandoned by the Asiatic Greeks in their army, were ultimately routed. The battle of Arbela (331 13. 0.) was the most glorious for the Macedonian cavalry. Alexander in person led the Macedonian horse, which formed the extreme right of his order of battle, while the Thessalian horse formed the left.
The Persians tried to outflank him, but in the decisive moment Alexander brought fresh men from the rear so as to overlap them in their turn; they at the same time left a gap between their left and centre. Into this gap Alexander at once dashed, separated their left from the remainder of the army, rolled it up completely, and pursued it for a considerable distance. Then, on being called upon to send assistance to his own menaced left, he rallied his horse in a very short time, and passing behind the enemy's centre fell upon the rear of his right. The battle was thus gained, and Alexander from that day ranks among the first of the cavalry generals of all times. And to crown the work, his cavalry pursued the fugitive enemy with such ardor that its advanced guard stood the next day 75 miles in advance of the battle field. It is very curious to observe that the general principles of cavalry tactics were as well understood at that time as they are now. To attack infantry in the formation of the march, or during a change of formation; to attack cavalry principally on its flank; to profit by any opening in the enemy's line by dashing in and wheeling to the right and left, so as to take in flank and rear the troops placed next to such a gap; to follow up a victory by a rapid and inexorable pursuit of the broken enemy - these are among the first and most important rules that every cavalry officer has to learn.
After Alexander's death we hear no more of that splendid cavalry of Greece and Macedon. In Greece infantry again prevailed, and in Asia and Egypt the mounted service soon degenerated. - The Romans never were horsemen. What little cavalry they had with the legions was glad to fight on foot. Their horses were of an inferior breed, and the men could not ride. But on the southern side of the Mediterranean a cavalry was formed, which not only rivalled, but even outshone that of Alexander. The Carthaginian generals, llamilcar and Hannibal, had succeeded in forming, besides their Numidian irregular horsemen, a body of first-rate regular cavalry, and thus created an arm which almost everywhere insured them victory. The Berbers of north Africa are still a nation of horsemen, at least in the plains, and the splendid Barb horse which carried Hannibal's swordsmen into the deep masses of the Roman infantry, with a rapidity and vehemence unknown before, still mounts the finest regiments of the whole French cavalry, the chasseurs d'Afrique, and is by them acknowledged to be the best war horse in existence.
The Carthaginian infantry was far inferior to that of the Romans, even after it had been long trained by its two great chiefs; it would not have had the slightest chance against the Roman legions, had it not been for the assistance of that cavalry which alone made it possible for Hannibal to hold out 16 years in Italy; and when this cavalry had been worn out by the wear and tear of so many campaigns, not by the sword of the enemy, there was no longer a place in Italy for him. Hannibal's battles have that in common with those of Frederick the Great, that most of them were won by cavalry over first-rate infantry; and, indeed, at no other time has cavalry performed such glorious deeds as under those two great commanders. From what nation, and upon what tactical principles, llamilcar and Hannibal formed their regular cavalry, we are not precisely informed. But as their Numidian light horse are always clearly distinguished from the heavy or regular cavalry, we may conclude that the latter was not composed of Berber tribes. There were very likely many foreign mercenaries and some Carthaginians; the great mass, however, most probably consisted of Spaniards, as it was formed in their country, and 'as even in Cossar's time Spanish horsemen were attached to most Roman armies.
Hannibal being well acquainted with Greek civilization, and Greek mercenaries and soldiers of fortune having before his time served under the Carthaginian standards, there can scarcely be a doubt that the organization of the Grecian and Macedonian heavy cavalry served as the basis for that of the Carthaginian. The very first encounter in Italy settled the question of the superiority of the Carthaginian horse. At the Ti-cinus (218 B. C), the Roman consul Publius Sci-pio, while reconnoitering with his cavalry and light infantry, met with the Carthaginian cavalry led by Hannibal on a similar errand. Hannibal at once attacked. The Roman light infantry stood in first line, the cavalry formed the second. The Carthaginian heavy horse charged the infantry, dispersed it, and then fell at once on the Roman cavalry in front, while the JSTumidian irregulars charged their flank and rear. The battle was short. The Romans fought bravely, but they had no chance whatever. They could not ride; their own horses vanquished them; frightened by the flight of the Roman skirmishers, who were driven in upon them and sought shelter between them, they threw off many of their riders and broke up the formation. Other troopers, not trusting to their horsemanship, wisely dismounted and attempted to fight as infantry.
But already the Carthaginian cuirassiers were in the midst of them, while the inevitable Numidians galloped round the confused mass, cutting down every fugitive who detached himself from it. The loss of the Romans was considerable, and Publius Scipio himself was wounded. At the Trebia, Hannibal succeeded in enticing the Romans to cross that river, so as to fight with this barrier in their rear. No sooner was this accomplished than he advanced with all his troops against them and forced them to battle. The Romans, like the Carthaginians, had their infantry in the centre; but opposite to the wings of the Roman army, formed by cavalry, Hannibal placed his elephants, making use of his cavalry to outtlank and overlap both wings of his opponents. At the very outset of the battle, the Roman cavalry, thus turned and outnumbered, was completely defeated; but the Roman infantry drove back the Carthaginian centre and gained ground. The victorious Carthaginian horse now attacked them in front and flank; they compelled them to desist from advancing, but could not break them. Hannibal, however, knowing the solidity of the Roman legion, had sent 1,000 horsemen and 1,000 picked foot soldiers under his brother Mago by a roundabout way to their rear.
These fresh troops now fell upon them and succeeded in breaking the second line; but the first line, 10,000 men, closed up, and in a compact body forced their way through the enemy, and marched down the river toward Placentia, where they crossed it unmolested. In the battle of Canme, (216 B. C), the Romans had 80,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry; the Carthaginians, 40,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. The cavalry of Latium formed the Roman right wing, leaning on the river Aufidus; that of the allied Italians stood on the left, while the infantry formed the centre. Hannibal, too, placed his infantry in the centre, the Gallic and Spanish levies again forming the wings, while between them, a little further back, stood his African infantry, now equipped and organized on the Roman system. Of his cavalry, he placed the Numidians on the right wing, where the open plain permitted them, by their superior mobility and rapidity, to evade the charges of the Italian heavy horse opposed to them; while the whole of the heavy cavalry, under Hasdru-bal, was stationed on the left, close to the river. On the Roman left, the Xumidians gave the Italian cavalry plenty to do.
In the centre, the Roman infantry soon drove back the Gauls and Spaniards, and then formed into a wedge-shaped column in order to attack the African infantry. These, however, wheeled inward, and charging the compact infantry in line, broke its impetus; and there the battle now became a standing fight. But Hasdrubal's heavy horse had in the mean time prepared the defeat of the Romans. Having furiously charg- ed the Roman cavalry of the right wing, they dispersed them after a stout resistance, passed, like Alexander at Arbela, behind the Roman centre, fell upon the rear of the Italian cavalry, broke it completely, and, leaving it an easy prey to the Numidians, formed for a grand charge on the flanks and rear of the Roman infantry. This was decisive. The unwieldy mass, attacked on all sides, gave way, opened out, was broken, and succumbed. Never was there such complete destruction of an army. The Romans lost 70,000 men; of their cavalry, only 70 men escaped. The Carthaginians lost not quite 6,000, three eighths of whom belonged to the Gallic contingents, which had to bear the brunt of the first attack of the legions. Of Hasdrubal's 6,000 regular horse, which bad won the whole of the battle, not more than 200 men were killed and wounded.
The Roman cavalry of later times was not much better than that of the Punic wars. It was attached to the legions in small bodies, never forming an independent arm. Besides this legionary cavalry, there were in Caesar's time Spanish, Gallic, and German mercenary horsemen, all of them more or less irregular. No cavalry serving with the Romans ever performed anything worthy of mention; and so neglected and ineffective was this arm, that the Parthian irregulars of Khorasan remained extremely formidable to Roman armies. In the eastern half of the empire, however, the ancient passion for horses and horsemanship retained its sway; and Byzantium remained, up to its conquest by the Turks, the great horse mart and riding academy of Europe. Accordingly, we find that during the momentary revival of the Byzantine empire under Justinian, its cavalry was on a comparatively respectable footing; and in the battle of Capua, in A. D. 552, the eunuch Narses is reported to have defeated the Teutonic invaders of Italy principally by means of this arm. - The establishment, in all countries of western Europe, of a conquering aristocracy of Teutonic origin, led to a new era in the history of cavalry.
The nobility took everywhere to the mounted service, under the designation of men-at-arms, forming a body of horse of the heaviest description, in which not only the riders but also the horses were covered with defensive armor. The first battle at which such cavalry appeared was that of Poitiers (732), where Charles Martel beat back the torrent of Arab invasion. The Prankish knighthood, under Eudes, duke of Aquitania, broke through the Moorish ranks and took their camp. But such a body was not fit for pursuit; and the Arabs accordingly, under shelter of their indefatigable irregular horse, retired unmolested into Spain. From this battle dates a series of wars in which the massive but unwieldy regular cavalry of the West fought the agile irregulars of the East with varied success. The German knighthood measured swords, during nearly the whole of the 10th century, with the wild Hungarian horsemen, and totally defeated them by their close array at Merseburg in 933, and at the Lech in 955. The Spanish chivalry for several centuries fought the Moorish invaders of their country, and ultimately conquered them.
But when the occidental "heavies" transferred the seat of war during the crusades to the eastern homes of their enemies, they were in their turn defeated, and in most cases completely destroyed; neither they nor their horses could stand the climate, the immensely long marches, and the want of proper food and forage. These crusades were followed by a fresh irruption of eastern horsemen into Europe, that of the Mongols, who, under the leadership of the great khans, organized cavalry armies numbering according to Marco Polo as many as 300,-000 men. Having overrun Russia and the provinces of Poland, they were met at Wahl-stadt in Silesia, in 1241, by a combined Polish and German army. After a long struggle, the Asiatics defeated the worn-out steel-clad knights, but the victory was so dearly bought that it broke the power of the invaders. The Mongols advanced no further, and soon, by divisions among themselves, ceased to be dangerous, and were driven back. During the whole of the middle ages cavalry remained the chief arm of all armies; with the eastern nations the light irregular horse had always held that rank; with those of western Europe, the heavy regular cavalry formed by the knighthood was in this period the arm which decided every battle.
This preeminence of the mounted arm was not so much caused by its own excellence, for the irregulars of the East were incapable of orderly fight, and the regulars of the West were incredibly clumsy in their movements; it was principally caused by the bad quality of the infantry. Asiatics as well as Europeans held that arm in contempt; it was composed of those who could not afford to appear mounted, principally of slaves or serfs. There was no proper organization for it; without defensive armor, with a pike and sword for its sole weapons, it might now and then by its deep formation withstand the furious but disorderlv charges of eastern horsemen; but it was easily ridden over by the invulnerable men-at-arms of the West. The only exception was formed by the English infantry, which derived its strength from its formidable weapon, the longbow. The numerical proportion of the European cavalry of these times to the remainder of the army was certainly not as great as it was a few centuries later, nor even as it is now. Knights were not so exceedingly numerous, and in many large battles we find that not more than 800 or 1,000 of them were present.
But they were generally sufficient to dispose of any number of foot soldiers, as soon as they had succeeded in driving from the field the enemy's men-at-arms. The general mode of fighting of these men-at-arms was in line, in single rank, the rear rank being formed by the esquires, who usually wore a less complete and heavy suit of armor. The selines, once in the midst of the enemy, soon dissolved themselves into single combatants, and finished the battle by sheer hand-to-hand fighting. Subsequently, when firearms began to come into use, deep masses were formed, generally squares; but then the days of chivalry were numbered. During the 15th century, not only was artillery generally introduced into the field of battle, while part of the infantry, the skirmishers of those times, were armed with muskets, but a general change took place in the character of the infantry. This arm began to be formed by the enlistment of mercenaries who made war a profession. The German Landsknechte and the Swiss were such professional soldiers, and they very soon introduced more regular formations and tactical movements.
The ancient Doric and Macedonian phalanx was in a manner revived; a helmet and a breastplate somewhat protected the men against the lance and sword of the cavalry; and when, at Novara (1513), the Swiss infantry drove the French knighthood from the field, there was no further use for such valiant but unwieldy horsemen. Accordingly, after the insurrection of the Netherlands against Spain, we find a new class of cavalry, the German Reiter (reitres of the French), raised by voluntary enlistment, like the infantry, and armed with helmet and breastplate, sword and pistols. They were fully as heavy as the modern cuirassiers, yet far lighter than the knights. They soon proved their superiority over the heavy men-at-arms. These now disappear, and with them the lance; the sword and short firearms now form the general armature for cavalry. About the same time (end of the 10th century) the hybrid arm of dragoons was introduced, first in France, then in the other countries of Europe. Armed with muskets, they were intended to fight, according to circumstances, either as infantry or as cavalry. A similar corps had been formed by Alexander the Great under the name of di-machce, but it had not yet been imitated.
The dragoons of the 16th century had a longer existence, but toward the middle of the 18th century they had everywhere lost their hybrid character, except in name, and were generally used as cavalry. The most important feature in their formation was that they were the first body of regular cavalry which was completely deprived of defensive armor. The creation of real hybrid dragoons was again attempted, on a large scale, by the emperor Nicholas of Russia; but it was soon proved that before the enemy they must always be used as cavalry, and consequently Alexander II. very soon reduced them to simple cavalry, with no more pretensions to dismounted service than hussars or cuirassiers. Maurice of Orange, the great Dutch commander, formed his reiters for the first time in something like our modern tactical organization. He taught them to execute charges and evolutions in separate bodies, and in more than one line; to wheel, break off, form column and line, and change front, without disorder, and in separate squadrons and troops. Thus a cavalry fight was no longer decided by one charge of the whole mass, but by the successive charges of separate squadrons and lines supporting each other. His cavalry was formed generally five deep.
In other armies it fought in deep bodies, and where a line formation was adopted it was still from five to eight deep. The 17th century, having completely done away with the costly men-at-arms, increased the numerical strength of cavalry to an enormous extent. At no other period was there so large a proportion of that arm in every army. In the thirty years' war from two fifths to nearly one half of each army was generally composed of cavalry; in single instances there were two horsemen to one foot soldier. Gustavus Adolphus stands at the head of cavalry commanders of this period. His mounted troops consisted of cuirassiers and dragoons, the latter fighting almost always as cavalry. His cuirassiers, too, were much lighter than those of the emperor, and soon proved their incontestahle superiority. The Swedish cavalry were formed three deep; their orders were, contrary to the usage of the cuirassiers of most armies, whose chief arm was the pistol, not to lose time in firing, hut to charge the enemy sword in hand. At this period the cavalry, which during the middle ages had generally been placed in the centre, was again placed, as in antiquity, on the wings of the army, where it was formed in two lines. In England, the civil war gave rise to two distinguished cavalry leaders.
Prince Rupert, on the royalist side, had as much "dash" in him as any cavalry general, but he was almost always carried too far, lost his cavalry out of hand, and was himself so taken up with what was immediately before him, that the general always disappeared in the "bold dragoon." Cromwell, on the other hand, with quite as much dash where it was required, was a far better general; he kept his men well in hand, always held back a reserve for unforeseen events and decisive movements, knew how to manoeuvre, and thus proved generally victorious over his more inconsiderate opponent. He won the battles of Marston Moor and Naseby by his cavalry alone. - With most armies the use of the firearm still remained the chief employment of cavalry in battle, the Swedes and English alone excepted. In France, Prussia, and Austria, cavalry was drilled to use the carbine exactly as infantry used the musket. They fired on horseback, the line standing still all the while, by files, platoons, ranks, etc.; and when a movement for a charge was made, the line advanced at a trot, pulled up at a short distance from the enemy, gave a volley, drew swords, and then charged.
The effective fire of the long lines of infantry had shaken all confidence in the charge of a cavalry which was no longer protected by armor; consequently, riding was neglected, no movements could be executed at a quick pace, and even at a slow pace frequent accidents happened to both men and horses. The drill was mostly dismounted work, and their officers had no idea whatever of the way of handling cavalry in battle. The French, it is true, sometimes charged sword in hand, and Charles XIL of Sweden, true to his national tradition, always charged full speed without firing, dispersing cavalry and infantry, and sometimes even taking field works of a weak profile. Rut it was reserved for Frederick the Great and his great cavalry commander, Seyd-litz, to revolutionize the mounted service, and to raise it to the culminating point of glory. The Prussian cavalry, heavy men on clumsy horses, drilled for firing only, such as Frederick's father had left them to his son, were beaten in an instant at Mollwitz (1741). But no sooner was the first Silesian war brought to a close than Frederick entirely reorganized his cavalry.
Firing and dismounted drill were thrown into the background, and riding was attended to. " All evolutions are to be made with the greatest speed, all wheels to be done at a canter. Cavalry officers must above all things form the men into perfect riders; the cuirassiers to be as handy and expert on horseback as a hussar, and well exercised in the use of the sword." The men were to ride every day. Riding in difficult ground, across obstacles, and fencing on horseback, were the principal drills. In a charge, no firing at all was allowed until the first and second lines of the enemy were completely broken. "Every squadron, as it advances to the charge, is to attack the enemy sword in hand, and no commander shall be allowed to let his troops fire under penalty of infamous cashiering; the generals of brigades to be answerable for this. As they advance, they first fall into a quick trot, and finally into a full gallop, but well closed; and if they attack in this way, his majesty is certain that the enemy will always be broken." "Every officer of cavalry will have always present to his mind that there are but two things required to beat the enemy: 1, to charge him with the greatest possible speed and force; and, 2, to outflank him." These passages from Frederick's instructions sufficiently show the total revolution he carried out in cavalry tactics.
He was seconded admirably by Seydlitz, who always commanded his cuirassiers and dragoons, and made such troops of them that for vehemence and order of charge, quickness of evolutions, readiness for flank attacks, and rapidity in rallying and reforming after a charge, no cavalry has ever equalled the Prussian cavalry of the seven years' war. The fruits were soon visible. At Hohenfriedberg the Baireuth regiment of dragoons, 10 squadrons, rode down the whole left wing of the Austrian infantry, broke 21 battalions, took GO stand of colors. 5 guns, and 4,000 prisoners. At Zorndorf, when the Prussian infantry had been forced to retreat, Seydlitz, with SO squadrons, drove the victorious Russian cavalry from the field, and then fell upon the Russian infantry, completely defeating it with great slaughter. At Rossbach, Striegau, Kes-selsdorf, Leuthen, and in ten other battles, Frederick owed the victory to his splendid cavalry. - When the French revolutionary war broke out, the Austrians had adopted the Prussian system, but not so the French. The cavalrv of the latter nation had, indeed, been much disorganized by the revolution, and in the beginning of the war the new formations proved almost useless.
When their new infantry levies were met by the good cavalry of the English, Prussians, and Austrians, they were, during 1792 and 1793, almost uniformly beaten. The cavalry, quite unable to cope with such opponents, was always kept in reserve until a few years' campaigning had improved them. In 1796 and afterward every division of infantry had cavalry as a support; still, at Wi'irzburg, the whole of the French cavalry was defeated by 59 Austrian squadrons (1796). When Napoleon took the direction of affairs in France, he did his best to improve the French cavalry. He found about the worst material that could be met with. As a nation, the French were the worst horsemen of Europe, and their horses, good for draught, were not well adapted for the saddle. He made great improvements, and after the camp of Boulogne his cavalry, in great part mounted on German and Italian horses, was no despicable adversary. The campaigns of 1805 and 1806-7 allowed his cavalry to absorb almost all the horses of the Austrian and Prussian armies, and moreover reenforced the French army by the excellent cavalry of the confederation of the Rhine and the duchy of Warsaw. Thus were formed those enormous masses of horsemen with which Napoleon acted in 1809, 1812, and the latter part of 1813, which, though generally designated as French, were in great part composed of Germans and Poles. The cuirass, which had been entirely done away with in the French army shortly before the revolution, was restored to a portion of the heavy cavalry by Napoleon. In other respects the organization and equipment remained nearly the same, except that with his Polish auxiliaries he received some regiments of light horse, armed with the lance, the costume and equipment of which were soon imitated in other armies.
But in the tactical use of cavalry he introduced a complete change. According to the system of composing divisions and army corps of all three arms, a portion of the light cavalry was attached to each division or corps; but the mass of the arm, and especially all the heavy horse, were held together in reserve for the purpose of striking at a favorable moment a great decisive blow, or, in case of need, of covering the retreat of the army. These masses of cavalry, suddenly appearing on a given point of the battle field, have often acted decisively; still they never gained such brilliant successes as the horsemen of Frederick the Great. The cause of this is to be looked for partly in the changed tactics of infantry, which, by selecting chiefly broken ground for its operations, and always receiving cavalry in a square, made it more difficult for the latter arm to achieve such great victories as the Prussian horsemen had obtained over the long, thin infantry lines of their opponents.
But it is also certain that Napoleon's cavalry was not equal to that of Frederiek the Great, and that Napoleon's cavalry tactics were not in every instance an improvement upon those of Frederick. The indifferent riding of the French compelled them to charge at a comparatively slow pace, at a trot or a collected canter; there are but few instances where they charged at a gallop. Their great bravery and close ranks made up often enough for the curtailed impetus, but still their charge was not what would now be considered good. The old system of receiving hostile cavalry standing, carbine in hand, was in very many cases retained by the French cavalry, and in every such instance were they defeated. The last example of this happened at Danigkow, April 5, 1813, where about 1,200 French cavalry thus awaited a charge of 400 Prussians, and were completely beaten in spite of their numbers. As to Napoleon's tactics, the use of great masses of cavalry with him became such a fixed rule, that not only was the divisional cavalry weakened so as to be completely useless, but also in the employment of these masses he often neglected that successive engagement of his forces which is one of the principal points in modern tactics, and which is even more applicable to cavalry than to infantry.
He introduced the cavalry charge in column, and even formed whole cavalry corps into one monster column, in such formations that the extrication of a single squadron or regiment became an utter impossibility, and that any attempt at deploying was entirely out of the question. His cavalry generals, too, were not up to the mark, and even the most brilliant of them, Murat, would have cut but a sorry figure if opposed to a Seyd-litz. During the wars of 1813, '14, and '15, cavalry tactics had decidedly improved on the part of Napoleon's opponents. Though to a great extent following Napoleon's system of holding cavalry in reserve in large masses, and therefore very often keeping the greater portion of the cavalry entirely out of an action, still in many instances a return to the tactics of Frederick was attempted. In the Prussian army the old spirit was revived. Bllicher was the first to use his cavalry more boldly, and generally with success. The ambuscade of Iiaynau (1813), where 20 Prussian squadrons rode down 8 French battalions and took 18 guns, marks a turning point in the modern history of cavalry, and forms a favorable contrast to the tactics of Lfitzen, where the allies held 18,000 horse entirely in reserve until the battle was lost, although a more favorable cavalry ground could not be found.
The English had never adopted the system of forming large masses of cavalry, and had therefore many successes, although Napier himself admits that their cavalry was not so good at that time as that of the French. At Waterloo, where the French cuirassiers for once charged at full speed, the English cavalry was admirably handled and generally successful, except where it followed its national weakness of getting out of hand. Since the peace of 1815, Napoleon's tactics, though still preserved in the regulations of most armies, have again made room for those of Frederick. - Noticeable advancement in the proper organization and use of cavalry was made in the United States during the civil war, the men of both armies, as well as the horses of all sections, being admirably adapted to this branch of the military service. At first the confederate cavalry had the advantage both in organization and commanders, and yet took no very important part in the battles which were fought. A large number of cavalry regiments were organized by both armies, but being composed of men almost entirely ignorant of military life, they were at first used for scouts, orderlies, and outpost service, and were attached to corps, and in some cases to divisions of infantry.
Gen. Hooker, while in command of the army of the Potomac, collected the cavalry into a corps, and made an effort to use it in connection with the infantry in battle, but met with no success worthy of tecord. In the west the practice and result were similar, but attention was drawn to the cavalry by the successful march of a small brigade of horse under Col. Grierson from the neighborhood of Memphis, through Mississippi, to Port Gibson. But the first successful organization of the cavalry was made under the direction of Gen. Grant, by Gen. Sheridan, who was placed in command of all the mounted troops serving with the army of the Potomac. This organization was known as the cavalry corps of the army of the Potomac, and consisted of three divisions each about 5,000 strong, or of two or three brigades of three or four regiments each. They were mostly armed with repeating carbines and sabres, and habitually fought on foot, though they showed a partiality for charging with the sabre when opportunity offered.
Up to this period of the war (the spring of 1864) the improvements in the organization and use of cavalry kept even pace with each other in the contending armies; but Gen. Grant having detached Sheridan with his entire force after the battle of Spottsylvania Court House, the latter met and defeated the confederate cavalry at Yellow Tavern, near Richmond, killing their leader, Gen. Stewart, and ever after, till the termination of the war, retained his superiority over his opponents, increased the efficiency of his own troops, and made them an important portion of the army, taking an essential part in all the campaigns and battles. The battle of the Opequan, near Winchester, in which Sheridan defeated Early, was begun and ended by the cavalry, Wilson's division having broken through the enemy's picket line and under cover of darkness secured the position upon which the battle was mainly fought, while Merritt's division, later in the day, turned the enemy's right, and, aided by the advance of the infantry, swept the confederate infantry from the field. The part taken by the cavalry in the final battles near Petersburg, and especially at Five Forks, and in the capture of the confederate army near Appomattox Court House, was no less conspicuous and important.
The western armies had with them a large number of mounted regiments, which were organized at various times into brigades and divisions, but none of the commanding generals seemed to appreciate their value, or to know how to use them effectively. Sherman made several efforts to concentrate the mounted regiments and to give them a coherent organization, but met with nothing but disappointment, till Gen. Grant sent Gen. Wilson to take the place of chief of cavalry. Sherman gave this officer a carte blanche, and put him in command of 72 regiments (each nominally 1,200 strong), comprising all the cavalry and mounted infantry of the armies of the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee. Gen. Wilson organized these regiments, after mustering out and disbanding a number, into seven divisions, mostly of two brigades each, forming a corps designated as the cavalry corps of the military division of the Mississippi. At the time of its organization (on paper), in October, 1864, the troops constituting it were scattered from Gaylesville, Alabama, to the Big Blue river in Missouri, and were mostly dismounted.
They had worn out their horses by hard usage, and the Avar department had so little confidence in the utility of this arm of service, that it made but feeble efibrts to furnish horses for a remount, so long as they were to be used as they had been heretofore. The success of Sheridan in the army of the Potomac, however, gave renewed confidence, and the war department made extraordinary efforts to secure horses. The secretary of war authorized the cavalry to seize and impress horses wherever they could be found. Meanwhile Sherman had marched toward the sea, and Hood had invaded Tennessee, and pressed back the forces of Gen. Schofield to Franklin, where a stand was made, and a decided victory gained both by the infantry and cavalry over the corresponding arms under Hood and Chalmers. During the 15 days of the siege of Nashville Wilson increased his effective mounted force, by the impressment of horses and the use of remounts forwarded from the north, from 5,000 to 15,000. At the battle of Nashville, on the 15th and 16th of December, he had 12,000 mounted cavalry and infantry, besides 3,000 dismounted men, and a detached force of 3,000 men operating in Kentucky. During the first day's operations he turned the left wing of Hood's army, capturing 16 guns and many prisoners, and on the second day continued his operations upon the left wing and rear of the enemy, pressing them by repeated char-go of his dismounted horsemen under Hatch. Coon, and Hammond, till Hood sent word to Chalmers, "For God's sake drive the Yankee cavalry from our left and rear, or all is lost." But Chalmers failed, and by nightfall the confederate army was broken, scattered, and in full retreat.
The cavalry pursued with vigor, and, notwithstanding the swollen streams and wintry weather, did not relinquish the chase till the remnant of Hood's army had crossed the Tennessee river. Wilson's corps went into cantonments on the banks of the river, below the Muscle shoals at the head of navigation, early in January, about 7,000 effectives. During the next six weeks the number was increased to 27,000 men, 17,000 of whom were mounted and thoroughly equipped. This did not include Kilpatrick's division, then detached with Sherman. A system of drills and instruction was instituted, the single-rank formation prescribed by the new tactics was discarded, and the double-rank adopted, as being better calculated for manoeuvring so large a command in a thickly wooded country. After detaching one division of 5,000 men to join Canby in Louisiana, and leaving another in camp dismounted, 8,000 strong, Wilson marched from Eastport toward Selma on the 22d of March with nearly 15,000 men, 12,000 of whom were well mounted, and 3,000 dismounted. All of these men, except about 1,200, were armed with the Spencer magazine carbines or rifles. On the 2d day of April they arrived in front of Selma, having met and defeated a part of Forrest's cavalry the day before.
This place, although strongly fortified by a continuous line of earthworks and stockades, and defended by 32 guns and nearly 8,000 men, composed about equally of regular troops and militia, was assaulted and captured, the principal attacking force consisting of 1,550 men and officers. After bridging the Alabama river, this corps marched rapidly through Montgomery toward Macon, Georgia, capturing on the way West Point and Columbus, the former by assault during the daytime, and the latter by a night attack conducted under the immediate supervision of Generals Upton and Winslow. On April 20 it reached Macon, where it was arrested by the termination of the war. Up to this time it had subsisted upon the country, marched 525 miles in 28 days, captured 6,820 prisoners and 280 guns, and destroyed two gunboats, 99,000 stands of small arms, 235,000 bales of cotton, and all the mills, collieries, iron works, factories, railroad bridges, rolling stock, and military establishments which were found on the line of march. The lessons taught by the operations of the national cavalry during the closing events of the civil war are not new, but they seem to have been neglected by the European commanders of the present time.
They are, that cavalry should constitute a large part of the army in time of war, and be so organized, mounted, equipped, and directed as to act with vigor and celerity upon the flanks, rear, and communications of the enemy. It should be armed with magazine rifles and carbines, using cartridges with metallic cases, march with great rapidity, at the rate of 40 or 50 miles per day, and fight generally dismounted like light infantry. It should usually subsist upon the enemy's country, and on long marches, or in the presence of the enemy, have no trains except for the purpose of carrying extra ammunition. It should be kept in large bodies and be used mainly for great purposes. Properly handled and organized, it is capable of doing almost all the services of infantry, besides marching with twice or thrice their rapidity. - In modern European armies riding is better attended to than formerly, though still not at all to the extent it should be. The idea of receiving the enemy carbine in hand is scouted; Frederick's rule is evervwhere revived, that every cavalry commander who allows the enemy to charge him, instead of charging himself, deserves to be cashiered.
The gallop is again the pace of the charge; and the column attack has made way for charges in successive lines, with dispositions for flank attack, and with a possibility of manoeuvring with single detachments during the charge. Still much remains to be done before the European cavalry can claim to have caught the spirit of the American improvement in the use of this great arm. The cavalry took but a comparatively insignificant part in the last great wars between Prussia and Austria and between Prussia and France. It may be said that neither of the combatants showed any appreciation of the immense advantages to be gained by using mounted troops in masses, upon the flank and rear of the enemy. - From the history of cavalry let us now turn to its present organization and tactics. The recruiting of cavalry, as far as the men are concerned, is not different upon the whole from the way the other arms recruit themselves in each country. In some states, however, the natives of particular districts are destined to this service; thus in Russia, the Malorussians (natives of Little Russia); in Prussia, the Poles. In Austria, the heavy cavalry is recruited in Bohemia, the hussars exclusively in Hungary, and the lancers (ulans) mostly in Ga-licia. The recruiting of the horses, however, deserves especial notice.
In England, where the whole cavalry does not require in time of war above 10,000 horses, the government finds no difficulty in buying them*; but in order to insure to the service the benefit of horses not worked till nearly five years old, three-year-old colts, mostly Yorkshire bred, are bought and kept at government expense in depots till they are fit to be used. The price paid for the colts (£20 to £25), and the abundance of good horses in the country, make the British cavalry certainly the best mounted in the world. In Russia a similar abundance of horses exists, though the breed is inferior to the English. The remount officers buy the horses by wholesale in the southern and western provinces of the empire; they resell those that are unfit, and hand over to the various regiments such as are of its color (all horses being of the same color in a Russian regiment). The colonel is considered as it were proprietor of the horses; for a round sum paid to him he has to keep the regiment well mounted. The horses are expected to last eight years. Formerly they were taken from the large breeding establishments of Volhynia and the Ukraine, where they are quite wild; but breaking them for cavalry purposes was so difficult that it had to be given up.
In Austria the horses are partly bought, but the greater portion have of late been furnished by the government breeding establishments, which can part every year with above 5,000 five-year-old cavalry horses. For a case of extraordinary effort, a country so rich in horses as Austria can rely upon the markets of the interior. Prussia at the beginning of the cen-turv had to buy almost all her horses abroad, but now can mount the whole of her cavalry, line and landwehr, in the interior. For the line, the horses are bought at three years old, by remount commissaries, and sent into depots until old enough for service; 3,500 are required every year. In case of mobilization of the landwehr cavalry, all horses in the country, like the men, are liable to be taken for service; a compensation of from $40 to $70 is however paid for them. There are three times more serviceable horses in the country than can be required. France, of all European countries, is the worst off for horses. The breed, though often good and even excellent for draught, is generally unfit for the saddle. Government breeding studs (haras) have been long established, but not with the success they have had elsewhere. Though the depots and studs have been much improved, they are still insufficient to fully supply the army.
Algeria furnishes a splendid breed of cavalry horses, and the best regiments of the service, the chasseurs d'Afrique, are exclusively mounted with them, but the other regiments scarcely get any. Thus, in case of a mobilization, the French are compelled to buy abroad. - Cavalry is essentially of two kinds: heavy and light. The real distinctive character of the two is in the horses. Large and powerful horses cannot well work together with small, active, and quick ones. The former in a charge act less rapidly, but with greater weight; the latter act more by the speed and impetuosity of the attack, and are moreover far more fit for single combat and skirmishing, for which heavy or large horses are neither handy nor intelligent enough. Thus far the distinction is necessary; but fashion, fancy, and the imitation of certain national costumes, have created numerous subdivisions and varieties, to notice which in detail would be of no interest. The heavy cavalry, at least in part, is in most countries furnished with a cuirass, which, however, is far from being shot-proof. Light cavalry is partly armed with the sword and carbine, partly with the lance. The carbine is now generally rifled.
Pistols are added in most cases to the armature of the rider; the United States cavalry alone carries the revolver. The sword is either straight, or curved to a greater or less degree; the first preferable for thrusts, the second for cuts. The question as to the advantages of the lance over the sword is still under discussion. For close encounter the sword is undoubtedly preferable; and in a charge the lance, unless too long and heavy to bo easily wielded, can scarcely act at all, but in the pursuit of broken cavalry it is most effective. Of nations of horsemen, almost all trust to the sword; even the Cossack abandoned his lance when he had to fight against the expert swordsmen of Circassia. The carbine is very effective if rifled, and more so if it is a breech-loading one furnished with a magazine; the revolver in skilful hands is a formidable weapon for close encounter. - Besides the saddle, bridle, and armed rider, the cavalry horse has to carry a valise with reserve clothing, camp utensils, grooming tackle, and in a campaign also food for the rider and forage for itself.
The sum total of this burden varies in different services and classes of cavalry, between 250 and 300 lbs. for the heavy marching order, a weight which will appear enormous when compared with what private saddle horses have to carry. This overweighting of horses is the weakest point of all cavalry. Great reforms are everywhere required in this respect. The weight of the men and accoutrements can and must be reduced; but as long as the present system lasts, this drag upon the horses is always to be taken into account whenever we judge of the capabilities of exertion and endurance of cavalry. Heavy cavalry, composed of strong but, if possible, comparatively light men, on strong horses, must act principally by the force of a well closed, solid charge. This requires power, endurance, and a certain physical weight, though not as much as would render it unwieldy. There must be speed in its movements, but no more than is compatible with the highest degree of order. Once formed for the attack, it must chiefly ride straight forward; but whatever comes in its path must be swept away by its charge. The riders need not be individually as good horsemen as those of light cavalry; but they must have full command over their horses, and be accustomed to ride straight forward and in a well closed mass.
Their horses, in consequence, must be less sensible to the leg, nor should they have their haunches too much under them; they should step out well in their trot, and be accustomed to keep well together in a good, long hand gallop. Light cavalry, on the contrary, with nimbler men and quicker horses, has to act by its rapidity and ubiquity. What it lacks in weight must be made up by speed and activity. It will charge with the greatest vehemence; but when preferable, it will seemingly fly in order to fall upon the enemy's flank, by a sudden change of front. Its superior speed and fitness for single combat render it peculiarly fit for pursuit. Its chiefs require a quicker eye and a greater presence of mind than those of heavy horse. The men must be individually better horsemen; they must have their horses perfectly under control, start from a stand into a full gallop, and again stop in an instant; turn quick, and leap well; the horses should be hardy and quick, light in the mouth, and obedient to the leg, handy at turning, and especially broken for working at a canter, having their haunches well under them.
Besides rapid flank and rear attacks, ambuscades, and pursuit, the light cavalry has to do the greater part of the outpost and patrolling duty for the whole, army; aptness for single combat, the foundation of which is good horsemanship, is therefore one of its principal requirements. In line, the men ride less close together, so as to be always prepared for changes of front and other evolutions. In the United States army there are 10 regiments of cavalry, all of which are really mounted infantry, - The tactical unity in cavalry is the squadron, comprising as many men as the voice and immediate authority of one commander can control during evolutions. The strength of a squadron varies from 100 men in England to 200 men in France; those of the other armies also being within these limits. A regiment comprises 4, 6, 8,10, or 12 squadrons. The weakest regiments are the English, 400 to 480 men; the strongest the Austrian light horse, 1,600 men. Strong regiments are apt to be unwieldy; too weak ones are very soon reduced by a campaign. Thus the British light brigade at Balaklava, not two months after the opening of the campaign, numbered in five regiments of two squadrons each scarcely 700 men, or just half as many as one Russian hussar regiment on the war footing.
Peculiar formations are: with the British the troop or half squadron, and with the Aus-trians the division or double squadron, an intermediate link which alone renders it possible for one commander to control their strong regiments of horse. - Before Frederick the Great, all cavalry was formed at least three deep. He first formed his hussars, in 1743, two deep, and at the battle of Rossbach had his heavy horse formed the same way. After the seven years' war this formation was adopted by all other armies, and is the only one now in use. For purposes of evolution the squadron is divided into four divisions. Wheeling from line into open column of divisions, and back into line from column, form the chief and fundamental evolution of all cavalry manoeuvres. Most other evolutions are only adapted either for the march (the flank march by three, &c), or for extraordinary cases (the close column by divisions or squadrons). The action of European cavalry in battle is generally a hand-to-hand encounter; its fire is of subordinate importance; steel, either sword or lance, is its chief weapon; and all cavalry action is concentrated in the charge. Thus the charge is the criterion for all movements, evolutions, and positions of cavalry. Whatever obstructs the facility of charging is faulty.
The impetus of the charge is produced by concentrating the highest effort both of man and horse into its crowning moment, the moment of actual contact with the enemy. In order to effect this, it is necessary to approach the enemy with a gradually increasing velocity, so that the horses are put to their full speed at a short distance from the enemy only. The execution of such a charge is about the most difficult matter that can be asked from cavalry. It is extremely difficult to preserve perfect order and solidity in an advance at increasing pace, especially if there is much not quite level ground to go over. The difficulty and importance of riding straight forward is here shown; for unless every rider rides straight to his point, there arises a pressure in the ranks, which is soon rolled back from the centre to the flanks, and from the flanks to the centre; the horses get excited and uneasy, their unequal speed and temper come into play, and soon the whole line is straggling along in anything but a straight alignment, and with anything but that closed solidity which alone can insure success.
Then, on arriving in front of the enemy, it is evident that the horses will attempt to refuse running into the standing or moving mass opposite, and that the riders must prevent their doing so; otherwise the charge is sure to fail. The rider, therefore, must not only have the firm resolution to break into the enemy's line, but he must also be perfectly master of his horse. The regulations of different armies give various rules for the mode of advance, of the charging cavalry, but they all agree in this point, that the line, if possible, begins to move at a walk, then trot, at from 300 to 150 yards from the enemy canter, gradually increasing to a gallop, and at from 20 to 30 yards from the enemy full speed. All such regulations, however, are subject to many exceptions; the state of the ground, the weather, the condition of the horses, etc, must be taken into consideration in every practical case. If in a charge of cavalry against cavalry both parties actually meet, which is by far the most uncommon case in cavalry engagements, the swords are of little avail during the actual shock. It is the momentum of one mass which breaks and scatters the other.
The moral element, bravery, is here at once transformed into material force; the bravest squadron will ride on with the greatest self-confidence, resolution, rapidity, erisemble, and solidity. Thus it is that no cavalry can do great things unless it has plenty of "dash" about it. But as soon as the ranks of one party are broken, the swords, and with them individual horsemanship, come into play. A portion at least of the victorious troop has also to give up its tactical formation, in order to mow with the sword the harvest of victory. Thus the successful charge at once decides the contest; but unless followed up by pursuit and single combat, the victory would be comparatively fruitless. It is this immense preponderance of the party which has preserved its tactical compactness and formation, over the one which has lost it, that explains the impossibility for irregular cavalry, be it ever so good and so numerous, to defeat regular cavalry. There is no doubt that so fir as individual horsemanship and swordmanship is concerned, no regular cavalry ever approach the irregulars of the nations of horse warriors of the East: and vet the very worst of European regular cavalries has always defeated them in the field.
From the defeat of the Huns at Chalons (451) to the sepoy mutiny of 1857, there is not a single instance where the splendid but irregular horsemen of the East have broken a single regiment of regular cavalry in an actual charge. Their irregular swarms, charging without concert or compactness, cannot make any impression upon the solid, rapidly moving mass. Their superiority can only appear when the tactical formation of the regulars is broken, and the combat of man to man has its turn; but the wild racing of the irregulars toward their opponents can have no such result. It has only been when regular cavalry, in pursuit, have abandoned their line formation and engaged in single combat, that irregulars, suddenly turning round and seizing the favorable moment, have defeated them; indeed, this stratagem has made up almost the whole of the tactics of irregulars against regulars, ever since the wars of the Parthians and the Romans. Of this there is no better example than that of Napoleon's dragoons in Egypt, undoubtedly the worst regular cavalry then existing, which defeated in every instance the most splendid of irregular horsemen, the Mamelukes. Napoleon said of them, two Mamelukes were decidedly superior to three Frenchmen; 100 Frenchmen were a match for 100 Mamelukes; 300 Frenchmen generally beat 300 Mamelukes; 1,000 Frenchmen in every instance defeated 1,500 Mamelukes. However great may be the superiority in a charge of that body of cavalry which best preserves its tactical formation, it is evident that even this body must, after the successful charge, be comparatively disordered.
The success of the charge is not equally decisive on every point; many men are irretrievably engaged in single combat or pursuit; and it is comparatively but a small portion, mostly belonging to the second rank, who remain in some kind of line. This is the most dangerous moment for cavalry; a very small body of fresh troops, thrown upon it, would snatch the victory from its hands. To rally quickly after a charge is therefore the criterion of a really good cavalry, and it is in this point that not only young but also otherwise experienced and brave troops are deficient. The British cavalry, riding the most spirited horses, are especially apt to get out of hand, and have almost everywhere suffered severely for it (e. g., at Waterloo and Balaklava). The pursuit, on the rally being sounded, is generally left to some divisions or squadrons, especially or by general regulations designated for this service; while the mass of the troops re-form to be ready for all emergencies. For the disorganized state, even of the victors, after a charge, is inducement enough to always keep a reserve in hand which may be launched in case of failure in the first instance; and thus it is that the first rule in cavalry tactics has always been, never to engage more than a portion of the disposable forces at a time.
This general application of reserves will explain the variable nature of large cavalry combats, where the tide of victory ebbs and flows to and fro, either party being beaten in his turn until the last disposable reserves bring the power of their unbroken order to bear upon the disordered, surging mass, and decide the action. Another very important circumstance is the ground. No arm is so much controlled by the ground as cavalry. Heavy, deep soil will break the gallop into a slow canter; an obstacle which a single horseman would clear without looking at it, may break the order and solidity of the line; and an obstacle easy to clear for fresh horses will bring down animals that have been trotted and galloped about without food from early morning. Again, an unforeseen obstacle, by stopping the advance and entailing a change of front and formation, may bring the whole line within reach of the enemy's flank attacks. An example of how cavalry attacks should not be made was Murat's great charge at the battle of Leipsic. He formed 14,000 horsemen into one deep mass, and advanced on the Russian infantry which had just been repulsed in an attack on the village of Wachau. The French horse approached at a trot; about 600 or 800 yards from the allied infantry they broke into a canter; in the deep ground the horses soon got fatigued, and the impulse of the charge was spent by the time they reached the squares.
Only a few battalions which had suffered severely were ridden over. Passing round the other squares, the mass galloped on through the second line of infantry, without doing any harm, and finally arrived at a line of ponds and morasses which put a stop to their progress. The horses were completely blown, the men in disorder, the regiments mixed and uncontrollable; in this state two Prussian regiments and the Cossacks of the guard, in all less than 2,000 men, surprised their flanks and drove them all pell mell back again. In this instance there was neither a reserve for unseen emergencies, nor any proper regard for pace and distance; the result was defeat. - The charge may be made in various formations. Tacticians distinguish the charge en muraille, when the squadrons of the charging line have none or but very small intervals between each other; the charge with intervals, where there are from 10 to 20 yards from squadron to squadron; the charge en echelon, where the successive squadrons break off one after the other from one wing, and thus reach the enemy not simultaneously but in succession, which form may be much strengthened by a squadron in open column on the outward rear of the squadron forming the first echeIon; finally, the charge in column.
This last is essentially opposed to the whole of the former modes of charging, which are all of them but modifications of the line attack. The line was the general and fundamental form of all cavalry charges up to Napoleon. In the whole of the 18th century we find cavalry charging in column in one case only, i. e., when it had to break through a surrounding enemy. But Napoleon, whose cavalry was composed of brave men but bad riders, had to make up for the tactical imperfections of his mounted troops by some new contrivance. He began to send his cavalry to the charge in deep columns, thus forcing the front ranks to ride forward, and throwing at once a for greater number of horsemen upon the selected point of attack than could have been done by a line attack. The desire of acting with masses, during the campaigns succeeding that of 1807, became with Napoleon a sort of monomania, He invented formations of columns which were perfectly monstrous, and which, happening to be successful in 1809, were adhered to in the later campaigns, and helped to lose him many a battle. He formed columns of whole divisions either of infantry or of cavalry, by ranging deployed battalions and regiments one behind the other.
This was first tried with cavalry at Eck-rntihl, in 1809, where ten regiments of cuirassiers charged in column, and two regiments deployed in front, four similar lines following at distances of about GO yards. With infantry, columns of whole divisions, one battalion deployed behind the other, were formed at Wa-gram. Such manoeuvres might not be dangerous against the slow and methodical Austrians of the time, but in every later campaign, and with more active enemies, they ended in defeat. We have seen what a pitiable end the great charge of Murat at Wachau, in the same formation, came to. The disastrous issue of D'Erlon's great infantry attack at "Waterloo was caused by its being made with this formation. With cavalry the monster column appears especially faulty, as it absorbs the most valuable resources into one unwieldy mass, which, once launched, is irretrievably out of hand, and, whatever success it may have in front, is always at the mercy of smaller bodies well in hand that are thrown on its flanks. With the materials for one such column, a second line and one or two reserves might be prepared, the charges of which might not have such an effect at first, but would certainly by their repetition ultimately obtain greater results with smaller losses.
In most services, indeed, this charge in column has either been abandoned, or it has been retained as a mere theoretical curiosity, while for all practical purposes the formation of large bodies of cavalry is made in several lines at charging intervals, supporting and relieving each other during a prolonged engagement. Napoleon, too, was the first to form his cavalry into masses of several divisions, called corps of cavalry. As a means of simplifying the transmission of commands in a large army, such an organization of the reserve cavalry is eminently necessary; but when maintained on the field of battle, when these corps had to act in a body, it never, except in the American civil war, produced any adequate results. In the present European armies the cavalry corps is generally retained, and in the Prussian, Russian, and Austrian services there are even established normal formations and general rules for the action of such a corps on the field of battle, all of which are based on the formation of a first and second line and a reserve, together with indications for the placing of the horse artillery attached to such a body. - We have hitherto spoken of the action of cavalry so far only as it is directed against cavalry.
But one of the principal purposes for which this arm is used in battle, in fact its principal use at present, is its action against infantry. We have seen that in the 18th century infantry, in battle, scarcely ever formed square against cavalry. It received the charge in line, and if the attack was directed against a flank, a few companies wheeled back, en potence, to meet it. Frederick the Great instructed his infantry never to form square except when an isolated battalion was surprised by cavalry; and if in such a case it had formed square, " it may march straight against the enemy's horse, drive them away, and, never heeding their attacks, proceed to its destination." The thin lines of infantry in those days met the cavalry charge with full confidence in the effect of their fire, and indeed repelled it often enough; but where they once got broken, the disaster was irreparable, as at Hohenfriedberg and Zorndorf. At present, when the column has replaced the line in so many cases, the rule is that infantry always, where it is practicable, form square to receive cavalry. There are indeed many instances in modern wars where good cavalry has surprised infantry in line and had to fly from its fire; but they form the exception.
The old question, whether cavalry has a fair chance of breaking squares of infantry, has lost a good deal of its importance, owing to the improvement in firearms and to the new tendency in the use of cavalry. It appears to be generally admitted that, under ordinary circumstances, a good, intact infantry, not shattered by artillery fire, stands a very great chance against cavalry; while with young foot soldiers, who have lost the edge of their energy and steadiness by a hard day's fighting, by heavy losses and long exposure to fire, a resolute cavalry has the best of it. There are exceptions, such as the charge of the German dragoons at Garcia Hernandez in 1812, where each of three squadrons broke an intact French square; but as a rule, a cavalry commander will not find it advisable to launch his men on such infantry. At Waterloo, Ney's grand charges with the mass of the French reserve cavalry on Wellington's centre could not break the English and German squares, because these troops, sheltered a good deal behind the crest of the ridge, had suffered very little from the preceding cannonade, and were almost all as good as intact.
Such charges, therefore, are adapted for the last stage of a battle only, when the infantry has been a good deal shattered and exhausted both by actual engagement and by passivity under a concentrated artillery fire; and in such cases they act decisively, as at Borodino and Ligny, especially when supported, as in both these cases, by infantry reserves. - We cannot enter here into the various duties which cavalry may be called upon to perform on outpost, patrolling, and escorting service, etc. A few words on the general tactics of cavalry, however, may find a place. Infantry having more and more become the main stay of battles, the manoeuvres of the mounted arm are necessarilv more or less subordinate to those of the former. And as modern tactics are founded upon the admixture and mutual support of the three arms, it follows that for at least a portion of the cavalry all independent action is entirely out of the question. Thus the cavalry of an army is always divided into two distinct bodies: divisional cavalry and reserve cavalry. The first consists of horsemen attached to the various divisions and corps of infantry, and under the same commander with them.
In battle, its office is to seize any favorable moments which may offer themselves to gain an advantage, or to disengage its own infantry when attacked by superior forces. Its action is naturally limited, and its strength is not sufficient to act any way independently. The cavalry of reserve, the mass of the cavalry with the army, in European armies acts in the same subordinate position toward the whole infantry of the army as the divisional cavalry does toward the infantry division to which it belongs, but in America, as already shown, it is more independent. Accordingly, the reserve cavalry will be held in hand till a favorable moment for a great blow offers itself, either to repel a grand infantry or cavalry attack of the enemy, or to execute a charge of its own of a decisive nature. From what has been stated above, it will be evident that the proper use of the cavalry of reserve is generally during the latter stages of a great battle, or in an independent movement upon the rear or communications of the enemy. Such immense successes as Seydlitz obtained with his horse may not be expected hereafter; but still, many great battles of modern times have been very materially influenced by the part cavalry has played in them. But the great importance of cavalry lies in pursuit.
Infantry supported by artillery need not despair against cavalry so long as it preserves its order and steadiness; but once broken, no matter by what cause, it is a prey to the mounted men that are launched against it. There is no running away from the horses; even on difficult ground, good horsemen can make their way; and an energetic pursuit of a beaten armv by cavalry is always the best and the only way to secure the full fruits of the victory. Thus, whatever supremacy in battles may have been gained by infantry, cavalry still remains an indispensable arm, and will always remain so; and now, as heretofore, no army can enter the lists with a fair chance of success unless it has a cavalry that can both ride and fight.