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Title: Our Cavalry
Author: Rimington, M. F.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  =MODERN ARTILLERY IN THE FIELD.= A Description of the Artillery of
    the Field Army, and the Principles and Methods of its Employment.
    By Colonel H. A. BETHELL, R.F.A. With 14 Plates and 126
    Illustrations in the Text. 7s. 6d. net.

  =AN OUTLINE OF THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR=, 1904, 1905. By Colonel
    CHARLES ROSS, D.S.O. Volume I. Up to and including the Battle of
    Liao-Yang. With 14 Maps. 10s. 6d. net.

  =OUR CAVALRY.= By Major-General M. F. RIMINGTON, C.V.O., C.B. With
    8 Diagrams.

_In the Press._

    the Countries and the Tribes controlled by the N.W. Frontier
    Province, and of our Military Relations with them in the Past. By
    Colonel HAROLD WYLLY, C.B.


Military Text-Books






    C.V.O., C.B.




In this book no attempt has been made to produce an exhaustive treatise
on Cavalry; it has been written principally for junior officers of all

            M. F. R.




  Cavalry in past ages--Drawn from horse-lovers, success
    followed on fixed principles, these are as applicable
    to-day--Ballistics from horseback--Always a sign
    and cause of weakening--The charge of good _moral_--
    Gunpowder and other improvements notwithstanding--Good
    scouts always available--Best lessons are learnt in
    war--Expense of cavalry--Duty of cavalry leader               Page 1



  Constant changes--Cut _v._ thrust--Gerard’s experience--
    Point more deadly--The case for the lance--The
    revolver--Confidence in the arm selected is of highest
    importance--The rifle--The insistence of continental
    writers inapplicable to British cavalry                      Page 10



  Colossal bill for horse-flesh in South Africa largely due
    to national ignorance of horses--The suitable horse,
    two classes--Chest measurement test for stamina--Small
    blood horse stands work best--Arabs bred for war--
    English and Australian horses for size--Care of horse in
    war--An exception to this                                    Page 18



  The squadron attack--Cohesion--And its result in
    _moral_--Tactics--Cunning--The rally--Cromwell--
    Supports--Conclusions                                        Page 29




  I. The squadron--Forming to the front or flank--Defensive
    or offensive flank. II. The regiment, advantage of
    Echelon attack. III. The Brigade--Training of leaders--
    Co-operation of R.H.A.--Two forms of attack, when both
    forces get away from the guns--Formations for moving to
    a flank--Relative effect of artillery fire on the two
    formations--Column of masses preferred--Formation for
    the attack--Time for horse artillery to unlimber--Form
    of attack must be simple--Conclusions                        Page 37



  Not a question to be shirked--Danger of recourse to fire
    action weakening our leaders’ desire for shock action--
    An instance of fire _versus_ shock action--Rifle fire
    against charging horsemen is ineffectual--Contradictory
    memoranda on the subject--Henderson’s dictum--
    Dismounted action of cavalry--German regulations--
    Prince Kraft                                                 Page 50



  First objects in the attack--Concentric shock of fire and
    horse--Plan to get a good field of fire by alternate
    advance of two squadrons--Desiderata in artillery
    position--Broad principles--Utilization of ground--
    Deception--Get away from our artillery--An example of
    attack--The action of the artillery--_Moral_ necessary
    to leader--Unreasoning hasty advance deprecated--If
    anticipated by enemy, how we may have to act--Passage
    of defiles--Dribbling squadrons into a fight--Cure for
    dissemination                                                Page 59



  Independent cavalry, danger of their detachment at
    inopportune times--Cavalry and horse artillery at
    LOIGNY-POUPRY--Unsatisfactory direction of cavalry in
    1870-71 followed by peace belief in rifle--Fallacy of
    tendency to dismounted action shown by South African and
    Manchurian Wars--The line our training should take--
    Cavalry instructional rides--Value of initiative--
    Conclusions--Frederick the Great’s cavalry compared
    with our South African cavalry--Pursuit--Neglect of,
    a British failing--The parallel pursuit--Its value--
    Blücher at Katzbach on cavalry pursuit                       Page 69




  Dependence on forage--Principles on which cavalry is
    placed in the front--Want of direction in 1870--
    Galliffet’s influence--Service of information separated
    from that of security--The Napoleonic traditions
    revived--And generally adopted--French view--The
    cavalry of exploration--The cavalry of army corps--
    The divisional cavalry--Generalissimo’s use of his
    independent cavalry--Movement _en bondes_--The
    effect of modern rifle--Difficulties in the attack of
    protective cavalry and mixed detachments.                    Page 86


  The modern disposition is theoretical--Tendency to
    increase independent cavalry at the expense of
    protective, for sake of initial advantages--Difficulty
    of weaker cavalry rôle--Von Bernhardi on German
    cavalry strength--Improvisation of cavalry--Dilemma--
    Cyclists--Difficulty of training for non-professional
    cavalry--Danger of amateur cavalry officers--The
    ULM Campaign--Effect of first success--Boer tactics
    unsuitable to European war                                   Page 93



  Deficiency in peace training--The energy of the attack--
    An instance--Plan of the attack--In the defence--Value
    of artillery in the retreat                                 Page 101



  German tendency in 1870 to deprive cavalry of horse
    artillery--Reversed by 1907 regulations--Effect of
    modern horse artillery--Probable necessity to allocate
    horse artillery--Mukden--Arrangement of artillery
    support in attack on infantry--Sir Douglas Haig on the
    counter-attack--Principles--Conclusions                     Page 108



  Comparative efficacy in bullets--Reasons of Henderson’s
    advocacy of mounted infantry--Demand for exceptional
    arrangements--An instance of masked fire--Von
    Bernhardi’s plan--A suggested alternative                   Page 117



  Duties of the Commander--A day in the outposts--At
    night--The men--The horses--Care of men’s health--
    Wet weather--Hints for scouts--_Moral_--Sending
    out scouts at night--Sniping by nervous sentries--
    Fireflies--Ruses and duplicity--Value of a knowledge of
    strategy and tactics--To picket an enemy--Security and
    information--Instances of picketing the enemy--Practice
    in peace--Difficulty of instruction--Practice preferred
    to theory--Honest outpost work--Night work--Regiment’s
    practice of outposts                                        Page 122



  Despatch-riding, value in instruction--An instance of a
    scheme--Napoleon’s despatches--Tracking, etc.--Value
    of maintaining interest--Boy scouts--Influence of
    regimental _moral_ in detached work--Prisoners--Convoy
    duty                                                        Page 139



  Diverse views of the value of Stuart’s raid--Japanese raid
    on railway line--Vulnerability of railways--Boer and
    British Raids--Country which favours raids--Inopportune
    raids, Wheeler’s--Futile raids by De Wet and Botha--
    An exception to them--Mischenko’s raid--Rennenkampf’s
    reconnaissance--Von Pelet Narbonne--Japanese methods--
    Conclusions                                                 Page 145



  The cavalry candidate--Causes of scarcity--Work now
    and thirty years ago--Pay--Duties on joining--
    Hunting--The sense of duty--Pretence impossible in a
    regiment--The effect of a slack commanding officer--
    Counteracted by four or five good officers--Value of
    drill--Characteristic faults--The practice of possible
    situations in war--Officer without imagination is a bad
    trainer--Conclusions                                        Page 154


  TRAINING OF OFFICER (_continued_)

  Restless activity--The effect of hardship--Training--
    Preparation--Cynicism--Desirability of education
    for senior officers--A rearguard device--Study and
    discussion--A doctrine--Napoleon’s doctrine--He
    honoured bravery--_Bis dot qui cito dat_--The selfish
    officer--Comradeship--Conclusions                           Page 167



  Frederick the Great’s stern methods--How a good leader
    is trained--Description of his squadron at work--
    Compared with an indifferent leader--Five points in
    training a squadron: (i.) Efficiency for war of man and
    horse; (ii.) Avoid samples; (iii.) Use of weapons; (iv.)
    Self-reliance; (v.) The offensive spirit--The section
    system--Value of individual instruction--Dismounted
    work--Holding the balance--Problems as a means of
    training in resolution--Napoleon’s genius--The Zulu
    system--Conclusions                                         Page 177



  Value of a well-trained horse on service--Ill-tempered
    horses--The ideal of training--Seydlitz’s leap--
    The mameluke--The aids, how arrived at from nature--
    Their adaptation to our needs--Progress towards
    the campaigning horse--A Boer method--Officers
    training horses--The wrong leg leading in a race--
    The free-jumping lane--Remount competition--Noisy
    instructors--Method of teaching horses to walk quickly--
    Duty of squadron leader--His value if he has ability        Page 191



  Standard of proficiency--Riding, the old and the new
    system--Instruction in care of horse--Most difficult
    to teach or check--Result of a bad system--Napoleon’s
    cavalry in Russia--The care of horses must be the
    result of system--Long rides for recruits as a method
    of instruction--Riding to hounds--Care of horse
    now more necessary--Shooting--Is good, but fire
    discipline is essential--The personal weapon--Method
    of instruction--Mental and muscular development--The
    handy man--Influence of sports--Swimming--Pioneering--
    Cooking--Seaside work for a cavalry brigade--Squadron
    competition--Regular soldiers and colonials--The
    practical instruction--Theory--Instruction in _moral_--
    A Japanese view--Demonstration--Intercourse between
    officers and men--Grumbling                                 Page 202


     NO.                                                            PAGE
       I. Defensive and Offensive Flanks                              40

      II. The Two Forms of Attack                                     43

     III. Column of Regimental Masses compared with Column
            of Squadrons                                              45

      IV. The Formation for the Attack                                47

       V. Squadrons _en bondes_                                       60

      VI. Cavalry Brigade in Action                                   64

     VII. The Passage of a Defile                                     67

    VIII. Cavalry Attack on Dismounted Men holding a Kopje           104



    “We study the past to foresee the future.”

In these bustling days of headline-up-to-date newspapers, one shrinks
from reminding one’s readers that Xenophon gave excellent advice to
cavalry trainers and leaders--advice which a cavalryman will recognize
is quite as applicable to-day as it was in those distant ages; since
details with regard to grooming horses on hard stones, exercising
cavalry in rough ground, and so on are by no means out of date.
There is every reason to believe that Alexander, and later Rome and
Carthage at their zenith as military nations, had proportionately as
highly-trained cavalry as is possessed by any nation of to-day. Those
who have fought in rearguards and running fights realize that the
Parthian method of fighting must have required the highest training
and _moral_. The cavalry of the predominant nations were drawn from
those who kept horses for their own sport and amusement, and for the
gratification of their pride, and who felt they were better fighting
men on a horse. The descendants of the horse-lovers of those ages
are with us to-day; they are those who love danger, excitement, and
pace, and who find in the blood-horse an animal which shares their
love for these, and will generously sacrifice its life or limbs in the

Those who have never felt the sensation of a really good horse bounding
and stretching away under them, and the consequent elation, the wonder
as to “what could stop us?” cannot grasp what a cavalry soldier’s
feelings are in the “Charge.”

Following the centuries which saw the final success of the
ordered phalanx of Rome, time after time the more savage races of
horsemen--Attila with his Hunnish squadrons or Abdur-Rahman with Moslem
hordes--drive all before them, anticipating the flight of peace-loving,
easy-going farmers and traders, living on the country and carrying off
what pleases them.

Then held sway

    The good old rule ... the simple plan,
    That they should take who have the power,
        And they should keep who can.

Ages roll by, the picture changes. The days of Norman chivalry animate
and fire the imagination. The hunter warriors, knights, and squires
lead their troops in battle array, throwing them into the combat at the
decisive moment.

Broken bones incurred whilst unhorsing a friend, or a shrewd
spear-thrust when cleaving to the chine a foe, in single combat, were
adventures by no means to be declined or avoided.

Chivalry or enthusiastic religious zeal qualify the rougher side of
their devotion to arms and horsemanship.

In all ages the horse-lovers, the best-mounted nations, have carried
all before them. _Ceteris paribus_ this is true to-day. Then came the
days of “villainous saltpetre,” and many began to doubt and to number
the days of cavalry; and always after a time there rises the cavalry
leader who, emerging from the dangers of a youth spent in war and
sport, sees that pace, weight, _moral_, and the “àpropos” make up for
all the odds, if only leaders, men, and horses are trained, and their
weight and pace rightly applied.

Next in order come Gustavus Adolphus; Cromwell, our great cavalry
leader, and his Ironsides riding knee to knee, and rallying immediately
after the shock; Frederick the Great, and his captains, Ziethen and
Seydlitz, and their ordered application of masses of cavalry. Then
grand old Blücher,[1] and his antagonists of the Napoleonic era, Murat,
Lasalle, Curély.

Certain fixed principles keep cropping up which appear to have guided
these heroes in their movements and dispositions. They are:--

    A. Cohesion in the ranks, or knee-to-knee riding.
    B. The moral effect of advancing horsemen.
    C. The flank march.
    D. The “àpropos” charge ridden well home.
    E. Surprise.
    F. The immediate rally.
    G. The necessity of a reserve.
    H. Training of the individual man and horse.
    I. Care of the horse’s condition.

The more we are able to read and learn of their views of training,
leading, and applying the shock of cavalry, the more we see how little
which is new can be written on the subject.

The same view may be taken of the fire action of cavalry. The best
cavalry leaders have always recognized its great value, where not
put forward as an alternative to the “àpropos” charge, and when
not substituted by the “weakening” leader for the dangerous but
more decisive shock action--that action in which we must have “no
half measures, no irresolution.”[2] But the very fact that they may
themselves have at some time weakened to the extent of shooting at the
enemy from afar, instead of resolutely going in at the unknown, must
have made these leaders recognize that the “charge” must be kept in the
front as our ideal.

Those who cannot understand the predilection of the most advanced and
thoughtful cavalry soldiers for _l’arme blanche_ should ponder on the
success of the Zulu dynasty. Its founder insisted that his men should
be armed only with the stabbing assegai and would not allow them to
throw their assegais. He knew what shock tactics meant and the _moral_
inspired by their successful adoption.

A study of history shows the advocacy of ballistics from the horse at
a charging enemy to have been periodic during the last 2000 years in
peace time, and also that failure has invariably followed its adoption
in war. It is not now seriously considered by any nation.

Whatever the cost, whatever the method, he who tries first to “handle”
his enemy is the one with whom “_moral_,” that incalculable factor,
will rest. Hear what a great trainer of cavalry, writing probably over
fifty years ago, said:--[3]

  It cannot be too often repeated that the main thing is to carry out
  the mission _at any price_. If possible this should be done mounted
  and with the _arme blanche_, but should that not be feasible, then
  we must dismount and force a road with the carbine. I am convinced
  that cavalry would not be up to the requirements of to-day if they
  were not able under certain circumstances to fight on foot, nor
  would it be worth the sacrifice that it costs the state.

But if the croakers were alarmed at a sputtering rifle fire, what will
the faint-hearted of our time say to the new and alarming factor which
has now been introduced. Batteries of horse artillery, firing up to
sixty or more low trajectory shells per minute, must now be reckoned
with. These shells contain 236 bullets, weighing 41 to the pound.

If the de Blochs and other theorists paused and wondered what would
happen to cavalry when magazine rifles were invented, what will be
their attitude now? Let them be reassured. But the words of those who
reassure them must ring true and be purified from the dross of the
first thought, “How can we do this and save our own skins?” Let them be
born of the stern resolve, “At all costs we will kill, capture, or put
to flight our enemies.” We must evolve tactics which will enable us to
use every new factor and to deny them to the foe.[4]

Leave them to judge whether the plan of those tactics will be dashed
off by the pen of the ready-writer as a result of experiences gained
during a Whitsun-week holiday on some suburban training ground, or
whether the soldier who has felt the sharp stress of an enemy’s
victory, the heavy hand of adversity and the rough lessons of retreat,
who has seen the barometer of his men’s fate rise and fall under
cyclonic conditions, will painfully and doubtfully elaborate it.

Cromwell, Frederick, Galliffet, these with bitter experience of
the everyday imperfections of human nature, and a well-weighed
determination to insist on tactics which will override those
weaknesses, did not attempt to avoid or shirk the difficulty of losses.
A cool contempt for the contingencies is the primary qualification in
the search for successful methods in cavalry tactics, as well as in the
encounter itself.

Turning now to the detached duties of cavalry, of security and
information, no less do we see the recurrence of the same ideas. The
Curélys and de Bracks, the Mosbys, the cavalry who, “like a heavy
shower of rain, can get through anywhere,” such come right down to us
from ancient history.

The daring hearts who, trusting in a good horse and a knowledge of
woodcraft, torment the enemy, whether in camp, bivouac, on the march,
or on the line of communication, are a product of all campaigns, ready
to the hand of those who know where to find them, and how to inspire
them aright so as to get the very best out of them. And what will good
men not dare and undergo for a word of praise or encouragement from one
whose soul is in what he says?

Again and again, what is learnt in the hard school of campaigning, and
generally where that campaign has been lost, carries the best lesson.
Has any nation set itself more resolutely to correct the faults of its
cavalry[5] than the French nation after the 1870 war?

Conversely, the nation that wins, learns little or nothing; no lesson
is worse than that of easy success in small wars. Witness the Russian
successes in Central Asia for a series of years, followed by the
_débâcle_ of their cavalry action in the Manchurian War when pitted
against an enemy whose cavalry was scarcely “in being,”[6] and the
erroneous conclusions arrived at in regard to cavalry by those who
only saw the first portion of the operations in South Africa 1899-1902.

Von Moltke is credited with saying: “People say one must learn by
experience; I have always endeavoured to learn by the experience of

The real lessons learnt from war are extremely difficult to impress on
the taxpayer, who, in modern Great Britain, only reads of them in the
newspaper, and who at best does not wish to pay for one more cavalry
soldier than is absolutely necessary.

The cavalry leader must recognize that the arm is expensive, therefore
it cannot afford to be inactive; it is the hardest arm to replace,
therefore it must be used to the full.

In all ages cavalry[7] have been expensive, and one may well wonder
if the frugal mind of the taxpayer balances them against who can say
what pictures of dead and wounded, indemnity, pillage, lost trade, and
damaged prestige, or whether he looks at one side of the balance-sheet
only, and forgets that from which they may save him.

Ignoring these mundane views, it is still the duty of the cavalry
leader who has patriotism in his soul, to keep his heart young and his
muscles trained, and to leave no stone unturned in peace time in his
preparation, as a sacred duty, for war; just as in war it is his duty
to sacrifice his men, his reputation, his horses, everything, in order
to turn the tide of battle or render the victory decisive.

Let officers of cavalry remember that he who in peace time cannot
sacrifice his pleasures to his duty, will in war find it much harder to
give up his life or aggrandisement, possibly in accordance with an idea
or order with which he does not agree, or in which he sees no sense.

This is the serious side; mercifully there is a lighter side to war,
and it is well known that the hair-breadth escapes of themselves
or others, and the “hard tack” form the most amusing and abiding
recollections of a war to those who have participated in it.

    Against ill chances men are ever merry.

Withal no cavalry leader is likely to succeed unless there is something
of the gambler’s spirit in him, the gambler who can coolly and calmly
put down his everything on the cards:--

    He either fears his fate too much,
      Or his deserts are small,
    That dares not put it to the touch,
      To gain or lose it all.



    “Quot homines tot sententiae.”

  Armament also figures largely amongst conditions of success....
  There can certainly never be complete disparity between the
  armament and the _moral_ of an army, since the latter includes
  intelligence which takes care to provide good weapons. The want
  of good armament immediately reacts upon the confidence of the
  soldier. Defeat would thus appear excusable, and success cannot
  have a worse enemy than this feeling.--VON DER GOLTZ, _Nation in
  Arms_, p. 147.

The many changes through which regiments of cavalry go in this respect
are hardly credible, although in our case allowance must be made for
the many different enemies which a British cavalry regiment meets. The
lance will be adopted instead of or in addition to the sword, and six
or seven years later the sword alone, or perhaps even rifle alone, will
be carried.[8] It may be regarded as a certainty now that for some
years to come, as in the past, the Germans will arm both ranks with the
lance. One has hardly written this before one reads that the bayonet
may be substituted for the sword in the armament of German cavalry
regiments, for use in night attacks and in the attack of unturnable
small positions, or when occasion may arise.

The bayonet on trial is straight, 14 inches long, with one cutting
edge, the back being flat. All under-officers and one-tenth of the
troops will carry a bayonet furnished with a saw edge.

History repeats itself. In 1805, Napoleon organized dragoons who
carried a bayonet as well as a sword. There may have been a reason for
this, as their usual fate was to be dismounted and their horses given
to remount more highly-trained cavalry.

Von Bernhardi[9] sums up the question of this new armament of the
German cavalry as follows: “The hand-to-hand fight on foot must be
exceptional. To injure the efficiency of the troops for their daily
rôle for the sake of such isolated occurrences I hold to be a great
mistake,” etc.

When we come to the pattern of swords, the purely cutting sword has its
strenuous advocates, whilst as many more will beseech one to trust to
no personal weapon except the pointing sword. Authoritative quotations
will be given from well-known leaders advocating one or other form of

It seems to be allowed that a scimitar or tulwar pattern, with its
curved blade, is unsuitable for pointing,[10] and also that the best
patterns of rapier-pointing sword are difficult to cut with. One may
read in Sir Montague Gerard’s book how he killed several Afghans. He

  “One had but to make a feint of employing the obsolete cut No. 7,
  and up would fly their guard over the face, when dropping your
  point you went clean through your man.... The fourth man I tackled
  fired at me just as I closed, and I felt a blow on my side, but
  next moment my sword went through something hard, and the weapon
  was twisted out of my hand and hung by the sword-knot. The blade,
  which was a straight rapier, one by Wilkinson, got a slight but
  permanent wave in it, and I can only account for receiving such
  a wrench by having taken my opponent through the headpiece as he
  crouched and tried to stab the horse from below.”

  Pages 255-256: “We counted sixty odd bodies, whilst our casualties
  amounted to six men and seven horses.” And on page 257 he adds:
  “The lance giving our Sowars a preponderating advantage.”[11]

Perhaps of all those who have given their opinion on this subject,
that one to whom we would give most credence is a swordsman of the
11th Hussars of Marlborough’s time, who fought many duels and lived by
his prowess with the sword. His final dictum is: “One point with the
smallsword is as deadly as forty cuts with the broadsword.”

Verdy du Vernois[12] says: “Experience has proved that a sword-cut
seldom, but a point with the sword always, throws a man off his horse.
The latter should therefore be chiefly practised at sword drill.”

From the bolas of the South American to the tomahawk of the Red Indian
or the revolver of the cowboy every weapon has had its advocates.

Royal Artillery Mounted Rifles were seen charging on horseback with
fixed bayonets[13] a few days after joining a South African column;
thus imitating the Australian contingent in the column, who invariably
did so--and very formidable they looked.

A conclusion which experience forces upon us, as regards both the
armament and tactics of horsemen, is that when they attain a high
standard of horsemanship or when they are good horsemen from youth,
such as many Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, and Canadians
undoubtedly are, a short training will bring them almost level with
the regular cavalry and enable them to employ shock tactics. Then they
should be armed in addition to their rifle with sword or lance, as the
rifle and bayonet are not the best weapons for this purpose. As trained
cavalry thus armed they are equal in value to twice if not three times
their number of mounted rifles on the battlefield, if they have trained
troop, squadron, and regimental leaders in command of them.

The oft-advanced theory that it is not the nature of such and such a
race to use the point is quite unfounded. It has been conclusively
proved that a recruit who has been allowed only to point with a sword,
can hardly be induced to cut, even if a good opportunity offers.

The lance is undoubtedly the “queen of weapons,” but it has its
drawbacks. But first its great advantage is that it is formidable, and
so much so that lancers claim that regiments armed with the sword will
not face those armed with the lance. It is undoubtedly easier to use
against crouching men on foot. The Inniskilling Dragoons after a charge
at Zulus, who crouched down under their shields, sent for all available
tent-pegging spears.

On the other hand, the lance’s shaft is difficult to withdraw from the
body of a man, and a lancer may have to leave it there. Then he will
draw his sword. But that entails another weapon. In a close mêlée the
lance is a clumsy weapon.[14] In the mêlées which occur after a charge,
men and horses are so intermingled that even the use of the sword is
difficult. But obviously the cure for this is to teach the men to rally
instantaneously and not to indulge in mêlées. The officers of the 9th
Lancers in the Afghan War had a short spike put into the hilt of their
swords, so that a blow from the hilt in the face was decisive.

The weapon which (1) entails least weight and is easiest to carry, and
(2) is deadly, and (3) is most likely to be useful on all occasions, is
the straight sword or rapier.

But this obviously must be made of the best steel, whereas a quite
serviceable cutting sword can be made of inferior iron. That the
cutting sword has been so much used is most probably because good steel
was difficult to obtain. Napier says to arm cavalry sepoys with heavy
English swords of one weight, one length, one shape is a mistake. The
cutting sword is not a deadly weapon, often it does not penetrate
clothes or accoutrements. The mamelukes, formidable antagonists to
Napoleon’s regular cavalry in Egypt, 1798-1801, carried a cutting sword
very considerably curved back, with which weapon they are said to have
inflicted terrible wounds; in addition they carried a poniard and two
pistols in their sash and another pair of pistols in their holsters. A
syce carrying a lance for them followed on foot.

In the Peninsular War, whereas the English cavalry used the sword
almost exclusively as a cutting weapon, the French dragoons on the
contrary used only the point, which, with their straight sword, nearly
always caused a mortal wound. This made the English cavalry say that
the French fighting “was not fair.”

Some amateurs talk of the revolver as a weapon with which to arm the
ranks in place of a sword or lance. They appear to ignore the fact
that a bullet once fired off in a mêlée may hit friend or foe. Very
fine horsemen, such as Arizona cowboys, who break the insulators of
the telegraph wire as they gallop along with a weapon, which they have
been accustomed to handle from their youth up, would probably do well
in a pursuit with such a weapon, but it is not, we believe, seriously
contemplated by any nation as a weapon for use in the ranks. For
officers, scouts, farriers, trumpeters, and possibly others it is most
useful, as it takes the place of a rifle and is light.

If any particular personal weapon is carried habitually, that
weapon should be adopted; but failing that, there must be a long
apprenticeship to lance or sword. Perhaps the point to which most
attention should be given is that the man must be taught to have
implicit confidence in his weapon; this can be attained best with the
lance or with the pointing sword. A man appreciates the fact that with
either of these weapons the point goes through easily; whilst with the
cutting sword only the most expert can make any impression on, say, a
leg of mutton covered with a sack and a leather strap or two.

In the German cavalry, stress is laid on teaching the trooper that the
sight of the lance is sure to make the enemy turn and fly. In our own
cavalry greater attention is now paid to practising the man in riding
at a gallop at a rebounding dummy, offering resistance equal to the
weight of a man. Without such practice the men sprain their wrists and
lose their grip of the sword, and do not understand how simple it is to
run a man through.


Both French and German cavalry have, during the last few years, been
repeatedly urged by eminent writers on cavalry to bring themselves to
a better knowledge of the use of the rifle and fire tactics. The new
weapon issued to the German cavalry has been the signal for some of
this literature. Calling to mind that it is but a few short years since
German cavalry were armed with an out-of-date carbine, and carried
only some twenty rounds of ammunition, and further reading between
the lines of the latest addition to cavalry literature by General von
Bernhardi, these exhortations cannot be considered as uncalled for.
But to make them a text on which to lecture our regular cavalry only
exposes ignorance of their present training, and makes one wonder if
one is awaking from far back in the middle of the last century, when a
gallant lancer regiment, on being first armed with carbines, gravely
piled them on the stable-barrows and wheeled them to the manure-heap.
Our British regular cavalry are at least ten, if not fifteen, years
ahead of any continental cavalry in rifle shooting, fire discipline,
and the knowledge of when and how to resort to fire tactics.

There are probably few of the more senior who have not come to a
conclusion formed from experience that the following quotation[15] is
as suitable in many respects to cavalry as it is to infantry:--

  Volley firing, and limiting the range against infantry to 500 yards
  at most, are the surest means of providing against the want of
  ammunition at the supreme moment. And the sooner it is recognized
  that long range fire is a special weapon to be used only on special
  occasions, the better for the efficiency of our infantry in general.



    “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!”

No apology is needed for including in a Treatise on Cavalry a chapter
on the subject of the Horse. Were it demanded, it would only be
necessary to point to the unfortunate ignorance in regard to horses,
horsemanship, and horsemastership which, extending as it does through
every gradation of rank of life in the nation, caused our bill for
horses in South Africa to total twenty-two millions--that is, about
one-tenth of the whole cost of the war. In fact, it may here be
remarked that, following this assessment, it is quite probable that
the horse question should be rated as 10 per cent in the percentage of
importance of matters in preparation for war; that is, in big wars, for
our thoughts are apt to be distracted by small wars from the essentials
of great wars.

It is unfortunate that nowadays only at most 15 per cent of the men in
our cavalry have, before enlistment, had anything to do with horses.
Further, few indeed of the officers, though most of them have ridden,
and in that best of schools the hunting-field, have gained sufficient
experience in their early life, before joining a regiment, in the
stable management and training of horses, to enable them to look after
their horses well. This they will only attain to after they have had a
fairly long apprenticeship under a good squadron leader.

The essentials of campaigning horse management only come to those who
live with horses constantly, and have to get work out of them. Those
who hand over their horse to a groom after a long day’s work, and who
do not see him till they wish to ride again, cannot learn about horses.

That the ordinary hunting man in Great Britain knows very little indeed
about economizing his horse’s strength is evident from the fact that
not one in twenty is ever, after a sharp gallop, seen to dismount,
loosen his horse’s girth, and turn his head to the wind. Ten to one,
if any one does so, it is a soldier, and one who has served in South

First of all is the question, What is the most suitable animal for
cavalry work? And here the mind runs into two lines: (1) There is the
animal which will carry a moderately heavy man, whose weight is 11
stone, together with his saddle, arms, etc., which may total up to
another 6 stone. For this the beau-ideal is the Irish horse of about
15·2 hands high. But these must be well and carefully fed and watered,
and not overdone. Their recuperative power grows less also with every
inch of height. (2) The other animal which will carry a lighter
cavalryman is seen at its best in the modern type of polo pony about
15 hands high, and as nearly thoroughbred as possible. These latter are
more able to withstand hardship than class (1).

Though the limit to the height of the horse suitable for a campaign
should be 15·2 hands, it is more difficult to say how small a horse[16]
is suitable to carry a cavalryman. Chest measurement is the best known
test for stamina, and a good judge said truly that “a 13·2 hands pony
sixty-four inches round, will do double the work of a 14·2 hands pony
of equal girth.”

Whilst we do not wish for one moment to be understood to advocate
unduly small horses for cavalry, we do wish the chest measurement
standard to be adopted more widely. We cannot help advancing the theory
that the natural height of the horse appears to be not more than 14
to 15 hands at most, and all above that are in the nature of forced
exotics, obtained by selection and good food for mares and foals, and
in these stamina has not been grown in proportion; take, for instance,
the power of the heart, which has to pump blood farther to the
extremities in a big horse.

Now, though it must be allowed that a squadron mounted on 15·2 hands
horses will, in a charge, easily defeat one mounted on 14·2 hands
horses, still the difficulty of maintaining the condition of the
squadron mounted on 15·2 hands horses, the increased cost of food, the
smaller amount of wear and tear which the horse, as it increases in
height, can bear, are all factors for consideration.

It is because, unfortunately, our ideas in Great Britain are somewhat
inflated in respect to the size of the horse required to mount cavalry,
that we neglected at the beginning of the Boer War to collect every
animal of suitable age, if only 14 hands high, for the remounting of
our cavalry in South Africa, and went to other and far more unsuitable
sources for our horse-supply. Had we later, as was suggested,
commandeered all suitable animals in the Cape Colony, we should have
obtained a most useful reserve, and incidentally deprived our opponents
of a source of supply of which they took full advantage. The horse
and transport animal of the country are always the most suitable for
a campaign in that country. By the end of that war, many a cavalry
officer had gladly exchanged his 16 hands horse for a Boer or Basuto
pony of 14 to 14·2 hands high.

But this, the South African War, it should be here remarked, can only
be regarded as giving us a view of one side of a great question.
Campaigning in the fertile plains of Europe, where food and water are
generally plentiful, where stabling may often shelter the animals,
and where enormous distances, with no food beyond that carried in the
waggons, are not necessarily covered, the larger horse may do his work
well. But he must be treated with the greatest care and the weight
carried, in his case, more rigorously reduced than in that of the
smaller horse. For shock tactics he is the best animal on which to
mount our cavalry, and our ideal is shock tactics.

But let the squadron leader not forget that, when long distances are to
be traversed, a few ponies are perfectly invaluable (they can be driven
in a mob with his second line transport and are available to mount men
whose horses require a day or two’s rest, and which will, if they do
not get it, “give in” and never be any more use to them).

In peace time, in the laudable desire for good appearance, these
expedients of war are too apt to be forgotten; they only force
themselves on us when it is too late. The animals usually described
as only fit for mounted infantry are those which see the finish of a
campaign, and must be available as reserves of remounts for cavalry.

No doubt it requires experience and trained intelligence to
discriminate between the purchase of the large, fat, slow,
hairy-heeled, podgy-muscled brute that has never yet gone fast enough
to strain himself or be otherwise than perfectly sound, and the lean
son of the desert or veldt whose early toil has developed wind-galls,
splints, and so on, but whose conformation and muscular development are
as complete as will be his ability to live and carry weight, when the
other will fall down and die.

Stamina has been mentioned above; it is obviously the first essential
in a cavalry horse. Next in rank to it comes good temper, usually
accompanied by good digestion and boldness, and marked by a full kind
eye and a broad forehead.

Xenophon recommends us to test a horse’s courage by unaccustomed sounds
and sights before purchasing him as a war horse, and we recommend this
practice to cavalry officers.

The Arabs, who have bred horses with a view to war for many
generations, have handed down a great deal of old-world wisdom on the
subject of the horse suitable for war.[17] The best Arabian horses are
undoubtedly the outcome of centuries of breeding to a type, and that
the type suitable to carry a light man throughout a long campaign, to
face danger courageously, to possess fair speed, immunity from disease
and sickness, especially pulmonary complaints, and to bear the jar of
galloping on hard ground.

Our own British horses and the Australian Walers have unfortunately
been bred for size, speed, and--in the case of the former--ability to
carry a man in a burst over a big hunting country, and with, for the
last fifty years, a disregard for stamina and temper which has gone far
to remove many of them from the type of animal suitable for cavalry.

Situated as we are in regard to knowledge of horses, and hampered as
we are in our preparation for war by the difficulty of teaching the
essentials of campaigning horse management during peace time, we shall
always find that it is in the early part of a war that our cavalrymen
will fail to comprehend the necessity for nursing the strength of their
horses, for discarding all unnecessary impedimenta, and limiting the
task to what is absolutely necessary. In peace time, horses which are
in regular work are not appreciably affected by their rider sitting on
their backs for five or ten minutes at a halt instead of dismounting,
or by his not allowing the horse to pick a few mouthfuls of grass
twenty or thirty times in the day, or by his not watering him at every

In peace time the horse will get food and water on his return home; but
in war these little things in the aggregate matter greatly. They are
like the snatches of sleep which a tired man gets when he can; they
keep him going. The man can sustain himself by the hope of sleep at a
future time. The man has certain traits in his nature which carry him

It is said that Murat, in Napoleon’s Russian campaign, though he
crossed the Niemen with 43,000 horses, could only put 18,000 in the
field two months later. Murat had worn them out by keeping them
saddled up sixteen hours a day, by giving them insufficient food, and
by chasing wisps of Cossacks. _À propos_ of this, Nansouty said to
Murat: “The horses of the cuirassiers not, unfortunately, being able to
sustain themselves on their patriotism, fell down by the roadside and
died.” Tired men soon express their feelings, the horse is unable to do
so. _Verb. sap._

Intimately connected with this question is the feeding of the horses.
We know that no concentrated ration can constitute a substitute for
bulk for continued periods, but it is not generally known how many
articles of diet a horse will relish when hungry. In the Pamirs the
ponies eat the offal of game which is thrown aside, thus recalling the
story of our childhood of Black Bess, Dick Turpin’s celebrated mare,
who had a beefsteak tied round her bit on the ride to York.

Ruskin once said in a lecture to the cadets at Woolwich:

  Whilst all knowledge is often little more than a means of
  amusement, there is no science which a soldier may not at some time
  or another find bearing on the business of life and death; your
  knowledge of a wholesome herb may involve the feeding of an army,
  and acquaintance with an obscure point of geography the success of
  a campaign.

This is applicable to the cavalryman and his horses.

De Brack devotes eight pages of his valuable work, _Cavalry Outpost
Duties_, to a chapter on “Forage and Subsistence,” every word of which
should be known to any cavalry officer who may have to serve in Europe
or elsewhere.

The theory of horse management is brought now to a very high standard
by our Veterinary Department, and their publication of an excellent
book on _Animal Management_ marks a step forward which must be
appreciated by all who are in agreement with the theory expressed
earlier in this chapter, that the horse question is one-tenth in war.
It is little different from Frederick the Great’s saying that “Victory
lies in the legs.”

One word of caution is necessary for those who command cavalry in
war. They must metaphorically keep a finger on the equine pulse, and
this is, most of all, necessary when working horse artillery in heavy
ground, or horses fed on anything less than full rations, or horses
in bad weather. Wet saddle-blankets put next a horse’s back act like
a poultice. There is no alternative in wet weather in a bivouac but
to keep the blanket dry, or dry it before a start is made. Further,
since the health of their horses is vital to the efficiency of cavalry,
their leader must be willing to take risks in grazing, off-saddling,
and foraging for food. Against surprise on these occasions long range
rifles and our guns now confer on us great advantages.

In this matter of attending to the welfare of the horse, however, it
must be fully realized when it is permissible and when the horse must
be sacrificed to the exigencies of the situation.

An instructive example of what far-reaching results may come from
ill-judged watering of horses is given in the _American Civil War_,
by General Alexander. In June 1864 Grant, after his encounter at Cold
Harbour with Lee, undertook the bold step of moving south across the
James River and attacking the Confederate right flank. For three days,
though the movement was reported to Lee, he would not believe it.

On the 15th of June the Federal General Smith, with 1600 men, was
moving on Petersburg, a vital point on Lee’s right. Beauregard, the
Confederate commander, then had only about 2500 men to hold his
extended lines with; he, however, expected reinforcements by night.
Every hour’s delay of the Federal advance was therefore invaluable.
With one cavalry regiment and a battery he delayed Smith’s column for
three hours, and it was not till 5 P.M. that that General had completed
his reconnaissance of Beauregard’s position. By 6 P.M. everything
was ready for the attack; but it was then found that the Chief of
Artillery had sent all the artillery horses to water. This delayed the
attack till 7 P.M. It was partially successful, and a portion of the
Confederates’ lines were captured; but night came on, and with it the
Confederates’ reinforcements. “Petersburg was lost and won by that
hour.” That was on the 15th June 1864, and Petersburg did not fall into
Federal hands till April 1865.

The question, whether the present day greatly-extended rôle of cavalry
on the battlefield, hitherto entirely confined to theory, will answer
in practice, is a burning one for the horse-master. Without an enormous
force of cavalry will there be squadrons available for these services?

In Frederick the Great’s army the horses were a first consideration,
and he got the greatest results. In Napoleon’s campaigns there is not
much evidence of the horses being considered.

Frederick saw that the task suited the horse. Napoleon made the horse
suit the task or perish in the attempt. The latter’s lost campaigns
teach lessons about cavalry which we cavalrymen cannot afford to
ignore. Cavalry worn out in the first week of a campaign, with scores
of horses scattered along a line of communication in vain efforts to
effect some coup, entail a bitter retribution.

Campaigns of three weeks’ duration are not the rule, and every extra
exertion for which horses are called upon has its price. It is only in
the pursuit that we can afford to disregard our horses.



For the purposes of making this subject plain, the Squadron, the
tactical unit, will be first considered.

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.[19] 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. They will not, as a squadron, again face
the cavalry of the enemy whose squadron defeated them. Better, far
better draft the squadron and send the leader to another arm or work
if, unfortunately, he has survived. Why be so severe? Why treat them
thus? Because the heart, the _moral_ of the defeated squadron has lost
two-thirds, whilst the winning squadron is elated, believes in itself
and its leader, and despises the enemy. It will charge three squadrons
next time and will not turn. Still keeping before us the idea of a
wall moving at speed, let us consider what better fortune it may have;
it may catch the enemy on a half flank, or full in flank.

Place a row of books standing quite an inch or two apart from each
other, hurl a spare book at the end book, and see what happens. At
least four or five will fall down. “Ten men on the flanks and rear (of
the enemy) do more than one hundred riding in front.”

Trusting that this idea of a knee-to-knee charge, the cardinal point,
has been made clear, let us consider the other matters which a squadron
leader should keep before him when opposed to cavalry. He must utilize
surprise, what Galliffet refers to as “the horrible and unexpected”; he
should always be “the first to attack, always take the initiative, and
charge resolutely.” Again, our leader must utilize the ground: first,
its hollows and ridges must be accommodated to his tactics; secondly,
he should try to give the enemy bad ground, ground which will tire
or disintegrate them whilst he himself uses the best, since a ditch,
narrow drain, or small nullah diagonal to his front, a fallen tree, a
patch of boggy land, a few rabbit holes, some thorns or rocks may mean
two or three men and horses down or out of place.

It is certain that an enemy who sees your squadron disappear in a
hollow, as you advance towards him, will, nine times out of ten, expect
it to continue its direction towards him; here, then, a wheel to the
flank, a gallop of a hundred yards or so, followed by a change of
direction, and later a wheel into line, may give the opportunity of a

These may appear small things, but they must be second nature to a
cavalry leader as they are to some, and those the most dangerous, wild
animals; for in the skilled utilization of these small things lies his
honour and hopes of success.

Watch the cat tribe: deliberate preparations, every advantage taken
of cover in the stealthy advance, then the gathering of the limbs
under--for the rush. From a fighting point of view we want every
instinct of this kind; with the cavalry there is no place for
“Gentlemen of the Guard, fire first”--cunning, nerve, unflinching
resolution, reckless, bloody-minded intrepidity, and with all this
the power to inspire your command, even those of doubtful courage,
with the certainty of success; though they must know some cannot come
back, still they like to be deceived, to die, or to be maimed, fierce,
high-hearted, happy, and elated. The sight of the enemy’s backs makes
them all brave.

    And then we re-formed and went at them once more,
      And ere they had rightly closed up the old track,
    We broke through the lane we had opened before,
      And as we went forward e’en so we came back.



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.[20] “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.

Here let us remember that we have glorious traditions. The name of
Cromwell inspires very diverse thoughts in the British Isles. To the
Irish, battered walls; to the Scots, ruthless discipline; to the
English, a constitution upheld or a monarchy overturned. Suitable
memories of our great cavalry leader.[21] To the cavalryman what does
this man, who can still inspire such diverse thoughts in nations,

The highest attribute in a general is that he should be able to order
the elements of disorder. War is the acme of disorder. The instant
conversion of the available remnants out of disorder, chaos, a hundred
wishes, shouts and orders, broken legs, loose horses, dead or wounded,
men fierce and reckless, constitutes the triumph of discipline and the
guiding foreseeing mind.

In minutes, perhaps seconds, the enemy’s support or reserve, taking
advantage in turn of our disorder, will be upon us; we who have ceased
to be a wall, and are now scattered masonry, must be built up, so as
at any rate to _look_ formidable and to make those of the enemy, who
as individuals still bravely dispute the ground, turn and fly, and
perhaps throw into disorder the ranks of those who are coming to their
support. More than this, we must move in the direction of the enemy,
as though we still wished to fight. As wind is caught, stunned men
regain their senses, disabled horses exchanged for sound ones captured
at hazard, broken weapons replaced, the ranks refill, order at last

We have laid stress on the rally of the squadron,[22] but hardly less
important is the maxim that the victory rests with those who can last
throw a formed body into the combat. This may be the support of which
De Brack says:[23]

  Almost all the failures of charges are due to the slowness or
  ignorance of the supports. A charge badly supported, no matter
  how bravely begun, becomes only a bloody affray, whilst one well
  supported is always victorious and decisive.

Let us, then, for our guidance, and before considering larger forces,
formed of many squadrons and supplied with another element of offence
in their horse artillery, consider what conclusions are arrived at from
the fight of squadron _v._ squadron. They appear to be:--

  1. Provided that there is space to manœuvre and fight, that
  cavalry which can manœuvre with cohesion at the greatest pace will

  2. The element of surprise affects the result.

  3. The utilization of terrain is a _sine qua non_.

  4. A flank attack is the object to be aimed at.

  5. On the quickness with which the rally is carried out much

  6. A skilled direction of the support influences the action.




  “When you charge make a change of front and attack them in flank.
  This manœuvre can always be successfully practised against an
  enemy like the English, who make a vigorous and disunited charge,
  whose horses are not very manageable, and whose men, brave but
  uninstructed, begin their charge too far away from the enemy.”--DE

  “Ten men on the flank do more than 100 in front.”--VON SCHMIDT (p.


1. In the mounted attack of cavalry on cavalry that side will win
which makes use of a wall of mounted men, advancing knee to knee with
no intervals showing. Two means of quickly forming and launching this
wall are as follows: 1st. The head of the squadron column is directed
towards the enemy, and line is formed to the front. 2nd. The head is
led obliquely to the enemy’s advance, and at such a distance as will
enable the troops to wheel into line, get up pace, and attack.

2. _Forming to the Front or to the Flank._--The first plan is that
which the beginner almost invariably adopts; the enemy’s squadron has a
fatal attraction for him; he distrusts himself and imagines that there
is not time to manœuvre. This attack generally “leads to undecided
cavalry duels.”

The second plan is that which is always advocated, as, though it
demands more _sang-froid_, practice, and experience on the part of the
squadron leader. Its advantages are considerable; they are as follows:
(_a_) It gives more space and consequently more time to the leader.
(_b_) The enemy’s squadron, if already formed, will usually shoulder
towards the attacker, and thus become disintegrated. (_c_) The movement
does not entail the disorder consequent on front forming; on the
contrary, a wheel into line generally ensures well-ordered and cohesive
ranks. (_d_) The squadron is usually successful in striking the flank
of the enemy.

Von Schmidt says:

  An attack direct to the front must be an exceptional thing; to
  advance and at the same time gain ground to a flank must be the

General Sir D. Haig says:

  The efficacy of flank attack is so universally admitted as to need
  no argument to support it. A more difficult question is--how should
  we protect our own flanks from attack?

3. _Defensive and Offensive Flanks._--Usually the best protection
is afforded by either a defensive or an offensive flank; that is, a
portion of the unit, say, a troop from a squadron, a squadron from a
regiment, should drop back or be ready to drop back in echelon; or, on
the other hand, should be thrown forward. The duty of the defensive
flank is to act against an enemy overlapping or taking in flank the
unit in front. The object of the offensive flank is to threaten even
more completely than with the remaining force the flank of the enemy,
who will be tempted to edge across to meet it.

What is true for a squadron is true for a regiment, and is still
more true for a brigade, because with this comes in the question of
artillery fire.


4. Let us then picture a regiment moving in “mass” from the south to
the north of the paper, map, or ground.

Our regimental commander seeing the enemy’s mass in front and bearing
down on him, say, eight hundred yards away, gives the command, “Left
shoulders,” and moves N.E. The first effect is that the enemy have a
moving mark to hit, and to do so must “shoulder” or change direction;
while at the same time they are deploying to the front.

Both forces move three hundred yards. Then our regimental commander
gives the command, “Echelon attack to the Left.” The squadron nearest
to the enemy wheels into line and attacks; the remaining squadrons
continue their direction and wheel into line in succession and attack
as required.

The attack eventuates somewhat as in the diagram.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM I.]

5. _Advantages of the Echelon Attack._--This form of attack has the
following advantages: (_a_) The wheel into line, the least discomposing
of evolutions, takes but a few seconds to carry out, and then there
is presented a formed body to charge the enemy. (_b_) A succession of
formed bodies coming up on the unprotected flank give confidence to
the squadron, which feels it is supported by other lines near enough
to catch any outflanking enemy. (_c_) An echelon of squadrons, seen
from the enemy’s point of view at a distance of three hundred yards, is
practically indistinguishable from line. It is, moreover, easier than
in forming to the front to abolish all intervals between squadrons; a
point of the greatest importance in an attack. (_d_) To be the last to
form the attack from a compact formation is a considerable advantage.
(_e_) The leader may even be able to change the direction of his mass
so as to attack from due east to west.


6. _Training of Leaders._--Our present squadron leaders, our future
brigade and divisional leaders, must be brought up to regard this
forming to the flank as the only plan, as second nature; they must
believe that if they act otherwise they are voluntarily tying one hand
behind their back. Otherwise the maintenance of horse artillery with a
view to co-operation with cavalry is almost useless.

7. _Co-operation of R.H.A._--In the cavalry fight horse artillery is
the only factor which has assumed totally different proportions in the
last ten years (_i.e._ since Q.F. guns were introduced) to those which
formerly obtained. Von Schmidt, p. 163, writing in the middle of last
century, says:

  The co-operation of horse artillery with the shock of the cavalry
  must be a very exceptional occurrence, as when the circumstances of
  the ground are very favourable, allowing it to act and at the same
  time protecting it.

Nor does it appear that any instance of ideal co-operation between the
two arms occurred in the War of 1870. With the old guns the help which
horse artillery could give was not great; and consequently co-operation
was not practised in peace nor attempted in war.

Strange as it may appear, our cavalry officers still find it hard not
to deserve the reproach cast upon them by the Duke of Wellington, who,
writing after the battle of Salamanca, remarks: “The trick our officers
of cavalry have acquired of galloping _at_ everything; they never think
of manœuvring before an enemy.”

8. _The Two Forms of Attack._--A brigade of cavalry which moves in mass
with its guns alongside it and attacks straight to its front, masking
its guns by means of its squadrons’ extensions, voluntarily throws away
at least ¼ of its power, _i.e._ its guns. It will be beaten every time
by the brigade which sends its guns to one of the flanks and goes to
the other itself. By this last method both gun fire and charging power
are fully applied. Further, it is probable the guns will be able to
enfilade the enemy’s lines before they attack. A very short experience
of fighting a cavalry brigade shows this conclusively, and both sides
will learn to drop their guns’ trails at a favourable opportunity
and move their squadrons away from them or, _vice versa_, the guns
moving from the squadrons. The latter may be an excellent plan, and it
certainly entails less wear and tear on the squadrons. Directly the
guns come into action the horses can rest.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM II.]

The choice between the two will usually be dictated by the ground; and
in most cases there will be a combination of the two. Thus a brigade is
advancing towards a crest, the brigadier ahead. He sends his guns away
to the high ground on one flank, and his squadrons over or round the
ridge and down to the level ground on the other.

9. _When both Forces get away from their Guns._--Both sides will
usually drop the trails on the same, say, the west side, and move
eastwards, opposite to each other, to attack. If working along a ridge,
both sides will usually keep their guns on the higher ground.

Other things being equal, the squadrons which move farthest, fastest,
and in the best order will have an advantage--(1) because they will put
the enemy’s squadrons between themselves and the enemy’s gun fire; (2)
because they will compel the enemy’s squadrons to form so that they are
fired on by artillery and very probably enfiladed.

It becomes obvious, then, that if these tactics are adopted, and the
squadrons of both sides act in exactly the same way, they will meet on
perfectly level terms.

10. _Formations for moving to a Flank._--The point then to aim at is to
bring some deciding factor in the attack. In what formation is it best
to move the squadrons away to the flank?

11. _Column of Regimental Masses compared with Column of
Squadrons._--Let us compare column of regimental mass with column of
squadrons, and let the pace be a trot. Allow thirty seconds for the
shoulder of a regimental mass, five seconds for the wheel of troops. At
the end of four minutes the head of the mass will have gone 820 yards;
the head of the column 920 yards. But if there are twelve squadrons,
with a front of 64 yards, nine intervals of 8 yards, and two of 16
yards, the last squadron will have only gone 50 yards; while in the
mass the rear squadron will have gone 630 yards. It follows, then, that
the leader who adopted column of regimental masses practically has all
his squadrons within reach of his voice, and they have moved well away
from his guns.

[Illustration: _Column of Squadrons_

  1. _Stationary Target for 4 minutes._

  2. _Difficult Target thereafter._

  _Column of Masses_

  _Moving Target, able to change pace, direction or position, and to
  use ground if fired on._


12. _Relative Effect of Artillery Fire on the two Formations._--The
relative effect of the guns on the two columns may be compared. For
four minutes the column of squadrons affords, before it gets on the
move, a stationary though every moment decreasing mark. After that the
target might be taken where the column has to pass some tree or house,
and each squadron saluted in succession as it reaches this place.
Otherwise it is not a very easy mark, and certainly not such a large
mark as column of regimental masses, but the latter moves at once, is
easily hidden, and can more easily change pace and direction.

13. _Column of Masses preferred._--On the whole, the column of
squadrons formation compares unfavourably with the mass formation, not
only as a means of moving rapidly to a flank, but also for facility of
evolution when arrived there.

14. _The Formation for the Attack._--If, then, we take mass as the best
formation, in what mode shall we move our mass, and evolve our lines of
attack from it?

We will compare two methods. One, ours, being the echelon attack from
mass to a flank, and the other, the enemy’s, being an attack to the
right from quarter column. Ours only involves sufficient distance being
taken between regimental masses, and we are ready to attack at once.
Theirs involves the formation of lines of squadron columns and then
lines, and must commence at such a distance from the enemy as to allow
for the time and space used up in these two formations. For our echelon
attack little or no ground is consumed in the direction of the enemy;
and this means late formation. Consequently our mass can go on moving
away from the guns for a longer period.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM IV.]

Another great point, directly we see him begin to open to squadron
column we can give one more change to our direction, and so gain his
flank. He will either be taken at an angle, or have to shoulder his
line of squadron columns. Thus we have gained the outside; he must mask
his own guns, and must be taken in flank by ours.

15. _Time for Horse Artillery to unlimber._--It would appear as though
the leader who first dropped his guns’ trails would be likely to win;
but there is a saving clause to this. If the other side see the trails
dropped in an obviously good position, they will avoid the combat
there, or perhaps leave a section or portion of their horse artillery
to deal with these guns, and take the remainder with them to the flank.
They will avoid the cavalry combat till they are well away from the
enemy’s guns, and will then fight, when they have guns and cavalry,
against cavalry alone. This shows that in the cavalry combat it is a
very difficult matter to know just when to drop the trails, and get
away to a flank and attack. It must come as an inspiration, something
like Wellington’s move at Salamanca.

16. _Form of Attack must be simple._--To have to decide between a great
many complicated forms of attack is out of the question. The form of
attack must be simple, understood by all, and only the timing of it can
be left to the leader at the supreme moment.

17. _Conclusions._--Our conclusions, then, are:

1st. That it is always advisable to move diagonally to an attack coming
at us, even with a squadron or regiment.

2nd. That when we have to consider the combination of horse artillery
and cavalry squadrons in attack, it is still more necessary.

3rd. That the mode in which we move to a flank prior to throwing in our
squadrons must be carefully considered, and the plan adopted which
gives us most squadrons at the critical point, and the handiest and
simplest mode of evolution.

4th. That intervals between squadrons are a positive evil in an
attacking line.

5th. That in an echelon the supporting body must be near enough to give
confidence to the body in front, far enough to catch the enemy on the

6th. That no squadron must form line till it sees an enemy before it to
charge. Therefore, if, as the echelon opens out, the squadron leader
sees that he will be beyond the flank, he should not form to the flank,
but should lead round in squadron column and look for his opportunity.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Why is it,” asks Ardant du Picq, “so hard to use cavalry well?” and
replies: “Because the rôle is all movement, all _moral_; _moral_ and
movement so closely allied, that often the movement alone without a
charge, without physical action of any sort, makes an enemy retreat,
and if that is followed up, causes his total rout. The latter follows
from the rapidity of cavalry for those who know how to use it.”



A very frequent question, also quite a justifiable one and one which
cavalry soldiers must not shirk, but must on the other hand thoroughly
understand and thresh out in their own minds, both by practical
experiment and theoretical discussion,[24] is the following:--

Since cavalry are armed with an excellent magazine rifle, may they not
more easily and effectually inflict loss and defeat on the enemy’s
cavalry by that means rather than by employing shock action, with its
gambling uncertainty, its losses in men and horses, its need of intense
resolution or complete absence of _arrière pensée_ on the part of the

Those cavalry soldiers who have had experience in such affairs,
who have thought the matter out and thus obtained certain guiding
principles, will reply: “There are certainly many occasions when the
conditions of terrain or the nature of the combat favour such action.
We have only to mention a rearguard or a running fight and many
instances come to mind at once in the case of those pursued.”

Intricate ground always favours fire action, and in small affairs, as a
sequel to a dash at the flank of an enemy holding a position on a rough
and unrideable kopje, it is obviously the right course.

Of all these occasions it is our intention to take full advantage;
never to miss an opportunity. At the same time, practical experience
has convinced us that we must guard against such action being adopted
to the prejudice of shock action in cases where the latter is of
supreme value, and we must also recognize the “inherent weakness of
mounted troops who attempt to force a decision with fire action without
combining it with shock action.”

In the _Report on the Cavalry Division Training_, 1909, by General Sir
D. Haig, we find the following:--

  The principles which should determine the choice between mounted
  and dismounted action require to be more thoroughly considered.
  Small units have been seen on several occasions to dismount on open
  ground when mounted action was the only sound course to adopt.
  On the other hand, squadrons have been seen to remain mounted in
  enclosed country when under fire at close range of dismounted men.

Further, we feel that the very fact that there are many more occasions
suitable for fire action than for shock action must not make us lose
sight of this, namely, that though we may use fire action when we meet
the enemy nine times out of ten, it is on the tenth occasion, and then
because shock action takes place, that something definite, something
which affects the result of the campaign, is seen to happen. Therefore
we must not let our future leaders be brought up with distorted views.
We have to recognize that whilst recourse to shock action demands great
resolution, fire action on each successive occasion at an increased
distance is always the easy course; whilst the former decides battles
and increases our _moral_, the latter is a sign in many cases of
the leader weakening, temporizing, or waiting for orders which will
never--and _he knows it_--come.[25]

We desire to face this question squarely, and with a just appreciation
of human nature and its many weaknesses and failings. Nor do we forget
the Arab proverb that victory is gained not so much by the numbers
killed as by the numbers frightened. It is in view of this that we
adopt certain lines in our cavalry training.

It appears desirable to give an instance of a case where shock action
is decisive. Imagine two brigades of cavalry each with their H.A.
Battery meeting on an open plain. Each wishes to get forward. One, Red,
determining to use rifle action only, adopts the best formation he can
think of, a double echelon formation with his guns either on the flanks
well drawn back or in the centre. Dismounting, he prepares to attack.
Blue, leaving a fraction of his force in guns and rifles to hold Red
to his ground (and cavalry will credit how difficult it is for Red to
break off from such an attack), moves round Red’s flank, out of easy
range and at speed, and with the remainder of his brigade attacks Red’s
flank, choosing the angle at which he will “go in.”

Red has of his own accord rendered his mobile force to a great extent
immobile; he suffers accordingly. Blue, using gun fire just in advance
of his shock action, rolls Red up.

It is the fact, that the leaders of both sides instinctively feel that
they should not immobilize their commands, which will lead to “mounted
combats of cavalry forces.” Scores of actual happenings have convinced
those who have been present at them that there is nothing harder to hit
than a galloping man and horse; further, that if the mark is men and
horses approaching, the fire will be still less effectual. Whether the
men firing are under shell fire and their own horses are near them,
whether the enemy are armed with a personal weapon, especially a lance
or long rapier, each of these factors reduces the number of hits in a
way which can only have been seen to be believed.

In the case of Red, their own and the enemy’s movements are
disconcerting and inimical to accuracy of fire. In the case of Blue,
movement every moment is conferring increased advantages on him, and
not the least of these liberty of action.

Red, since he must send his horses to some distance back, takes a long
time to mount and move; and would give opportunities to Blue during his

As regards the difficulty of hitting a galloping horseman, the
following incident in South Africa may be of interest. An officer
and four good shots, with their horses close at hand, remained to
observe after the squadron had been withdrawn from a debatable kopje.
Occasionally they took long shots at the Boers, who in twos and threes
rode strung out across the front, almost out of range. Without any
warning, suddenly about seventy Boers turned and galloped straight at
the kopje. “Fire steadily till I tell you to mount,” was the order
given by the officer, who then fired at a man in the centre on a white
horse and well in advance. No Boers were seen to fall, and with 100
yards start the five raced back to their squadron. When they came to
compare notes, it was found that all had fired at the same man on
a white horse, at whom some forty rounds had been discharged. The
conclusion arrived at was that rifle fire is not effective against
galloping individual horsemen, a conclusion which was duly acted upon.

Cavalry must have space to manœuvre and fight. Without these, cavalry
lose the advantages conferred on them by mobility, and become at a
disadvantage compared with infantry.

That there are very diverse opinions on the power of rifle fire
against cavalry must be evident from the fact that instructions so
very different in their import as the following were issued in Mounted
Troops’ Manuals shortly after the war in South Africa:--

  “This Memorandum is not meant for cavalry who turn their backs,
  but for those who, when they see the enemy preparing to charge
  with sabre and lance, will coolly dismount, form up, and when he
  gets within reach, pour in such a withering fire as will in five
  minutes kill as many of the enemy as the same enemy with sword and
  lance would kill in five hours on active service.”--Preface to Lord
  Dundonald’s _Cavalry Training_, Canada, 1904.

  “If an attack of cavalry is imminent, mounted troops should, if
  time admits, gallop to cover or enclosed or broken ground and there
  repel and retaliate.”--General Hutton’s _Mounted Service Manual,
  Australian Commonwealth_.

The method is illustrated on an opposite page and shows the formation
of square, horses inside. This formation offers a splendid target to
H.A. or machine-gun fire for preparation of the attack which would
undoubtedly be made by cavalry from a direction at right angles to that

Colonel Henderson, in _Science of War_, page 160, sums up the situation
as follows:--

  It is beyond question that dealing with a dismounted force,
  whatever may be the amount of fire with which it is endowed, shock
  tactics may play an important part.

  The opportunities of effective outflanking and surprise may
  possibly be few; but the very fact that the enemy has both the
  power and the will to seek out such opportunities and to charge
  home is bound to hamper the movements and to affect the _moral_ of
  any force of horsemen which depends on fire alone.

  Such a force, even if it could hold on to its position, would be
  unable, except under favourable conditions of ground, to make any
  forward progress, for directly it mounted it would be at the mercy
  of its antagonist,[27] and it would thus be absolutely prevented
  from bursting through the hostile cavalry and from acquiring the
  information which it is its main object to obtain.

  In the valley of the Shenandoah in 1864 the Confederate squadrons
  were armed only with rifles, while the Federals under Sheridan were
  trained both to fire and charge. The result is significant. The
  southerners, though admirable horsemen, were worsted at every turn,
  and their commander had at last to report that his mounted infantry
  were absolutely useless against the Union cavalry.


Objection is often raised to cavalry practising the rôle of the
infantry attack, and generally with reason, for, where there is any
other better plan for cavalry, it is obviously wrong for them to
dismount, leave their horses far behind, and immobilize themselves in
order to carry out this form of attack. But on the other hand, and
especially in rearguard affairs, it is quite possible that a weak
rearguard or detached force well posted in a gorge or other unturnable
position will hold out till such an attack is made. Then take plenty
of cartridges, carry your swords with you,[28] and “go in.” But do
not imagine that this costly mode of attack should be adopted on all

It may be taken as a general rule that full value is not obtained
from cavalry who are far distant or long separated from their horses.
In the latest German cavalry regulations there is an important
modification. It is laid down that the decisive dismounted action
should only be attempted when the leader is convinced of possessing
numerical superiority, and very rarely over ground giving the enemy a
prepared field of fire. It is fatal, they say, to commit your forces
with numbers insufficient for success. They further say (para. 452):
“Half-hearted dismounted action contains the germs of failure”; and
evidently disapprove of the view that the extent of the rôle of
cavalry dismounted should be delimitated, as there is a tendency to do
in our army by those who expect the cavalryman to protest if they ask
him to dismount, and to argue how far he should go in attack--whereas
he must be, and will be, ready to accept any rôle which aids victory.

Prince Kraft’s contribution to the discussion which followed the war
of 1870-71 should be regarded, by the British army at any rate, as out
of date. He wrote: “A blow is given to the true spirit of cavalry if a
trooper once believes that he can fight without his horse.” This blow,
duly received by the British cavalry, has proved innocuous; they have
learnt to _reculer pour mieux sauter_, with an additional power, in the
form of the rifle, of the greatest value to them, whilst at the same
time they will retain the tradition that their




In a cavalry attack the first objects are:--

1. To give the guns a good field of fire against the enemy’s attacking
squadrons for as long as possible. This thought comes first, and the
first order is accordingly that which puts the horse artillery in

2. To keep our attacking squadrons from view of the enemy till the last

3. To make the line of direction of the cavalry attack such that it and
the line of the artillery fire meet approximately at right angles on
the mass of the enemy’s squadrons advancing to the attack, as already
explained in the chapter on flank attack.

In order to attain a good field of fire for the guns it is often worth
while to send two squadrons (not necessarily from the same regiment)
to work towards the enemy _en bondes_, as the French expression is.
For example (see Diagram V.), “A” squadron Carbineers pushes on half a
mile or so (never more than a mile) and gets into any likely artillery

[Illustration: DIAGRAM V.]

“B” squadron Dragoons pushes on past their inner flank and gets into
the next likely position half a mile farther on, and so on, each
moving as soon as, or perhaps a little before, the other dismounts and
gets ready to use rifle fire on all scouting parties, bodies of the
enemy, etc. These parties are considerably disconcerted in their work
by this mode of advance.

It is a point of honour, that these squadrons should if possible
get up in time for the general encounter (unless detained as escort
to horse artillery, a very likely contingency for one of them). But
this bounden duty to be up in the fight, if possible, is a maxim with
cavalry, against whom INACTION is the greatest reproach which can be
levelled, next to cowardice, for which it is liable, and justly so, to
be mistaken.

Having thus got a choice of artillery positions, and having determined
the position of the enemy’s cavalry, our first care is to select the
best position for the horse artillery.

(_a_) It must have a good field of fire over the ground where the
encounter is likely to take place.

(_b_) We do not want the enemy to locate it; therefore it may be
advantageous to unlimber under cover and then manhandle the guns up, or
down into action; or it may remain behind cover and come into action
when it is _à propos_. It is quite possible that in order to bring an
effective fire on the enemy’s squadrons it may have to come into action
on forward slopes.

(_c_) It is preferable for the guns to be defiladed from the enemy’s

(_d_) The teams should be near the guns but under cover.

(_e_) The escort should be under cover from view, mounted or ready to
mount, prepared to charge attacking squadrons in flank. Rifle fire
against squadrons, who have nerve enough to charge a battery of Q.F.
guns, is not likely to stop them.[30]

Whether we take all our squadrons away to a flank, whether we use one
regiment, or wing of a regiment, as a feint or bait, how far we go to a
flank, in what formation, and the hundred other possibilities, we must
leave to be settled at the time. Only the broad principles can then be
focussed, viz.:--

1. Utilize the ground, choosing cover for the squadrons and good ground
to work over.

2. Deceive and bewilder the enemy.

3. Get well away from our own artillery.


i. The regiment or squadrons A----A sent with the horse artillery (see
Diagram VI.) must not keep too near it, because the enemy’s horse
artillery may get the range. Nothing shows more decidedly ignorance of
the duties of escort to horse artillery than that the cavalry should
hug or take into custody their horse artillery.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM VI.]

ii. It must not mask its own horse artillery fire against the enemy’s
cavalry or upon his guns. The cavalry officer who masks his own guns
by his clumsiness usually deserves to be shelled by them.

iii. The O.C. of the escorting regiment or squadrons must use his own
judgment as to whether he can spare one, two, or three squadrons to
help the two attacking regiments in the combat or in the rally.

iv. He must decide whether to be outside or inside the horse artillery,
or in wings both outside and inside.

v. Often the O.C. the regiment or squadrons A----A may have to decide
if he shall show up as bait, but in doing so he must, again, never mask
the artillery. He may (in this case) move west to his left, especially
if he thinks Blue cavalry is coming on and has not seen the regiments
C----C and B----B making their flank movement. But usually the regiment
or squadrons A----A should move up in this case more to the right,
east, as this means that Blue horse artillery will come into action
facing south and consequently cannot easily change front and pelt the
regiments C----C and B----B.[31]

As our horse artillery will always if possible come into action on a
hill or on high ground there will be some hill behind which A----A is
able to manœuvre or to get cover, or to simulate (by showing up in
different places) a larger force than it actually represents.

The leading of the regiments B----B and C----C will depend on
the signals sent from the Brigadier (who rides wide on the inner
flank--eastern side in this case--and where he can see the enemy’s
advance) to the Brigade Major. These regiments B----B and C----C
should make their move if possible under cover from view, and at the
critical moment the order to attack should be conveyed to them.

As one of the objects of this manœuvre is to give our guns a good
target, the O.C. horse artillery must direct his fire on the enemy’s
squadrons, in this case, X----X and Y----Y. The enemy’s artillery, if
already in action, will sustain little harm from his fire. The result
of the encounter will depend on which side wins the shock action,
therefore every shell which falls in an enemy’s squadron is a help. The
enemy’s supporting squadrons are a special target, also the enemy’s
rallying squadrons.

Let the O.C. horse artillery remember that the sight and sound of
his bursting shells will often enlighten the Brigadier as to the
position of the enemy’s squadrons and guide him in his attack, on which
everything depends.

Before the combat, RESOLUTION, _i.e._ fixedness of purpose, the instant
adaptation of stratagem to the features of the terrain, an attack
at the psychological moment galloping knee to knee; in the combat,
constantly keeping a reserve and constantly re-forming into good order
for the next effort,--these are the secrets with which to ensure coming
successfully out of a cavalry encounter. “’Tis dogged as does it.” But
do not let the leader imagine that he will always be making an advance,
when this combat comes off.

Especially to be deprecated is the unreasoning gallop of squadrons,
so commonly seen at manœuvres in an advance towards an enemy, which
deprives them of any value from the reports of officers, patrols, etc.

If it is evident that the enemy has forestalled our manœuvre, and that
any move to the front will place our brigade in the jaws of his attack,
then, as Von Bernardi (page 147, _Cavalry in War and Peace_) says, the
“deployment should either be on existing lines or to the rear, and
should be covered by dismounted action of the advanced guard or by
artillery fire. Only thus can the lost freedom of action be regained,
as superior breadth of deployment is the first and perhaps the most
important step towards maintenance of the initiative.”

Other cases in which it may be a positive advantage to allow the enemy
some measure of initiative occur either when you are quite ignorant of
his strength, or when the ground on which your squadrons stand or in
their rear is most suitable for the combat from your point of view.

In the passage of defiles in the face of an enemy, say, in the case
of a river or swamp, the rule is for the column, as it emerges from
the far end of the defile, to move in column of troops parallel to
the river or swamp. It will thus (i.) be ready to wheel into line and
attack quickly, (ii.) there is no fear of the column being pushed back
on to succeeding troops coming through the defile, (iii.) the head of
the defile is kept clear of troops, (iv.) there is one safe flank for
your column, _i.e._ that on the side of the swamp or river, and (v.)
there is not the same danger of the enemy pounding[32] an easy mark at
the mouth of the defile with his artillery. If your own artillery can
occupy any ground on this side of the defile, from which the exit can
be seen, the accompanying diagram shows that a considerable force of
your cavalry can make the passage with comparative safety under cover
of its fire. It should always be remembered that the attack against
troops, in course of the passage of a defile, will usually take place
when only that proportion has crossed which the enemy thinks he can
beat decisively.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM VII.]

A word of warning is necessary as regards a common and most enticing
error, which is that of allowing squadron after squadron to be drawn
into a fight.

As regards the dissemination of squadrons, this would not be such a
serious matter if every detachment would return immediately its rôle
had been played; but unfortunately Providence does not appear to make
commanders of detachments like that; if it did, automatically our force
would become, say, one-quarter stronger.[33]



  “It was thought that to engage the enemy to fight was our
  business.”--CROMWELL at Preston.

  “The part played varies according to the quality of the instrument
  and the capabilities of the operator.”--CHERFILS.

In the last few years considerable prominence has been given to the
action of independent cavalry, and there is reason to believe that this
might lead to a large portion of the cavalry of an army being detached
when a general engagement was imminent. This tendency may well arise
where the general officer commanding has not a complete grasp[34]
or perhaps belief in the possibility of a rôle for cavalry on the
battlefield, nor entire reliance on them for that assistance, which, if
properly trained and directed, they are well able to give.[35]

The general officer commanding may, under the impression that the
combat can be carried through by the artillery and infantry without
much further assistance, order the cavalry commander to take the bulk
of his squadrons and make a detour, involving half the night spent in
the saddle, and thus place himself on the flank or rear of the enemy,
and there to attack or wait his opportunity in the event of the enemy’s

Acting in accordance with these orders, we may picture the cavalry
arrived at a point some twelve or fifteen miles away, where the leader
may very well find it is by no means all plain sailing. His progress
may be blocked at some bridge or defile, and, whilst he is endeavouring
to push aside the opposition, reinforcements, including artillery, come
upon the scene, and he finds that to avoid heavy loss he must draw off
the larger portion of his force in order to make a still longer detour.
This wastes several hours and results in a drawn fight, or, if he does
get nearer to his objective, he finds that, with timely warning given,
the enemy are well able to hold him off.

Meanwhile the flank left open, or practically denuded of mobile
troops, has every chance of being turned; all the tendency of modern
fighting is towards extension and dispersion, whilst the desperate
counter-attack is the theme of every writer. We can imagine no more
galling occurrence than a counter-attack,[36] thrust in on one’s own
flank (more probably than not, the very flank from which the cavalry
have been sent), and, in their absence, carried through with decisive
results. These wide turning movements, or rather action against the
flank and rear of the enemy, are in the nature of putting all one’s
eggs in one basket, and not infrequently taking it for granted that the
enemy will not stand his ground.

It has been very well said that cavalry is an arm of opportunity, and
opportunities are most likely to occur where actual fighting is going
on. Against the Boers, who had no idea of counter-attack, these turning
movements came off; against well-led troops, suitably disposed in
depth,[37] and avoiding wide dispersion, their success is very doubtful.

Napoleon said:

  Cavalry charges were good at the beginning, during the course
  of, and at the end of a battle. They should always be made, if
  possible, on the flanks of infantry, especially when this last is
  engaged in front.--Napoleon’s Maxim, No. 50.

He would no doubt go further now and speak of the intervention of
cavalry with horse artillery and machine guns as likely to turn the
scale in the crisis of battle.

But Napoleon would recognize that it is by rapidly prolonging their own
flank against being turned, or by enveloping or enfilading the enemy’s
line by participation in the counter-attack, or by work such as that
done by the German horse artillery and cavalry at Loigny-Poupry on
December 2, 1870 (late in the war when the German cavalry had learnt
their lesson), that cavalry show to advantage. There 2150 German sabres
and 24 guns, acting in combination, first dashed aside the opposition
offered by the French in villages on the left flank of their line of
battle, and then, sweeping round, proceeded to threaten and shell the
left rear of the French infantry line--good work, and showing the value
of mobile forces boldly thrown at a flank, but lacking in the final
stage in that resolute determination which gives full value to such
a movement, and this, no doubt, because they had not been trained in
peace to act together.[38]

This leads one to consider what was the training of our own cavalry
subsequent to 1870. Was it not the general tendency of our authorities
and tactical experts to discredit the action of cavalry on the
battlefield, without considering whether the armament, organization,
and previous training of the cavalry of both France and Germany were
such as to lead to success?

These points all influenced the course of the actions in the first
months of the 1870 war in the most remarkable manner. Again, was the
leading, except for a few bright exceptions, satisfactory? French
and German writers on cavalry plainly intimate that the direction of
cavalry enterprise by the higher leaders, and the action of the cavalry
leaders, were distinctly disappointing.[39]

Meantime a belief gained from the American War that dismounted tactics
were the solution to the cavalry question obsessed some, as it always
will those who lack (i.) a practical knowledge of the arm, (ii.)
imagination, (iii.) an acquaintance with military history, though the
most acute thinker of that time, Henderson, lays down very concisely
in _Science of War_, p. 60, “that mounted infantry were absolutely
worthless against cavalry.”

In peace, as the value of the bullet rose, the use of cavalry fell in
the mind of the man of theory. Probably only the few, who with an open
mind thoroughly tested the two rival lines of action in the field,
and on every kind of ground, were able to give a correct appreciation.
But these never swerved from the opinion that mounted men relying only
on the rifle were hopeless in attack or in the open against cavalry,
but were, on the other hand, of great value in defence, or in broken
ground, or in retreat, and further, that many small opportunities, far
more than for shock action, would be offered to them, which cunning and
versatility would enable them to profit by.

But all this talk had not been without its effect, and the result was
that it was not considered ridiculous that a large force of mounted men
should be frittered away in ineffective dismounted action, sitting all
day on a hill or ridge, and firing at great distances at an equally
sticky enemy. Such action is a slur on cavalry for whom “Action and
again action” is the motto.

If both cavalries work on this principle, and this was often the case
both in the early portion of the South African War[40] and in the
Manchurian campaign, certainly no important combats will take place;
but, directly one side begins to “push,” mounted combats will result,
and as each side finds that the greatest number of squadrons, _ceteris
paribus_, wins, there will be great combats of masses, and a “fight
to a finish” amongst the cavalry on the flank of the great general

As we have said, in the South African War during the first year, with
few exceptions, fire at long distances and infinitely wearisome tactics
were the rule; it was only in the last year of the war that the British
cavalry, colonials, and mounted infantry--their attack in some cases
supported by really effective and _à propos_ artillery and machine-gun
fire--began to push and gallop at the Boers at every opportunity. Then
the Boers always galloped away, but gradually they, too, learnt from us
the value of pushing, and Botha, Delarey, and others executed some good
charges with marked effect, but they never attempted, and wisely so, to
charge men armed with swords. That was too much for the cavalry soldier
to hope for.

In the Manchurian War the Japanese, with their small force of cavalry,
wisely played the defensive game; the Russians,[41] trained and
organized for twenty years on wrong principles, and led without much
attempt at reasoned dash or enterprise, seldom imposed their will on
the enemy, or made any effort to push in with their numerous squadrons
and sotnias on an open flank. If there was an exception it was when,
before the battle of Mukden, a force of Cossacks under General Liubarin
attacked the Japanese right flank in the mountains, and are stated
to have “rendered the situation critical” till driven off by mixed
forces of infantry and cavalry. This is given as one of the few cavalry
lessons of the Manchurian War. The Russian cavalry officer had not
received sufficient training in grand tactics, nor does the combined
action of their horse artillery with cavalry appear to have been in any
respect effective.

The lesson for our cavalry from these two wars appears to be, that
we should teach our officers to think about something bigger than
the tactics of a squadron or regiment, to learn _esprit d’armée_, to
remember that a few independent squadrons cut up rarely influence a
war, whereas in every big combat the result (and that result may be
affected largely by the leading of a few squadrons) is a national
matter. And there always recurs the most supreme question for the
cavalry leader of masses on the battlefield, whether, apart from the
cases in which a sacrifice is necessary, the anticipated results are
in any way proportionate with the stake. Even the riding down of an
infantry brigade will not always compensate for the expenditure of a
cavalry division.

Langlois pictures “cavalry with its light batteries in the decisive
attack moving by ways which are hidden from view and fire ... falling
on the enemy in mass and surprising him. Reconstructing his (the
enemy’s) defences, and keeping hostile troops at a distance, measures
which,” he says, “require a short dismounted fight, then part of the
cavalry advance and harass and prevent the enemy returning, whilst the
rest holds the position with fire. The infantry will follow the cavalry
as quickly as possible.”

There is no more important subject of training for the cavalry officer
than cavalry action on the battlefield of all arms. Theoretical study
is not enough, it is absolutely necessary to study in the field with
troops or flags representing troops. Since cavalry action is almost
invariably[42] on the flanks, staff rides, cavalry instructional rides,
manœuvres, and other exercises can commence by dealing with only one
flank, thus half the number of men, flags, etc., will suffice.

The director should never permit one side to know the strength in any
arm on the other side; this is desirable, if only to increase the
difficulty and value of gaining information by reconnaissance in these
exercises. For this purpose a proportion of cavalry-scouting parties
should be detailed. Too much stress can scarcely be laid on this
essential of training. Cavalry can now simulate infantry, smokeless
powder renders it impossible to judge the volume of fire, every bit
of information has to be fought for, and will cost the lives of both
horses and men. Even the boldest and most cunning scouting, without
fighting, will not lead to any certain information; it is “peacetime
talk” to imagine that it will be otherwise. Having this in view,
the director should lay the greatest stress on dash and enterprise
as opposed to stickiness and a desire to do nothing or await further
report. It is at these exercises that the director can go far to
establish a _doctrine_, that of the resolute offensive.

If officers cannot act with dash in field manœuvres, how can they be
expected to do so in war? Ground gained in peace manœuvres matters
little, but in war a position gained on the flank of an army by a
cavalry brigade may now mean the enfilading by horse artillery of
entrenched infantry for three miles in extent.

A very good plan is to take some well-known battle and lay out the
situation with flags at some portion of the day, and then work out the
cavalry action in theory and practice. This will admit of considerable
variation. To lay out fresh battlefields or inaugurate new general
ideas each time leads to waste of time in preliminary study of the
situation. There is not the slightest doubt that the want of this
very practical study has affected the leading of cavalry in the past
in a marked degree.[43] Want of determination comes from want of
knowledge of what to do in the situation. In the past, sticky leading
has been condoned because few knew any better. Long ago Lewal wrote
prophetically of the bad effect on cavalry of “being umpired out of
action at peace manœuvres, and told of smokeless powder and magazine
rifles” (Lewal, p. 62).

It is all very well to say that every hill should be regarded as being
held by the enemy till you know otherwise, but let us take care to know
one way or other without delay, and not to imagine that there is any
great value or safety in being on a hill. Hills may be well shelled by
the enemy’s horse artillery, whilst his cavalry gallop up to the dead
ground to be found in front and flank of nine hills out of ten, where,
if supported by horse artillery fire, it is better placed than the
dismounted men on the hill.

Finally our leaders, after preparing themselves, their staffs, and
subordinate leaders by constant practice, “must ever remember and
must impress on their subordinates that hesitation and delay handicap
operations far more heavily than do mere mistakes in choice of
methods.”--_German Cavalry Training_, para. 399.

That the risks which one side takes paralyses the action of the other
has been true of every battle. There is (and peace-time theorists on
the military art often neglect this fact) a first idea or instinct in
the minds of the majority of the human race, that the man or animal
dashing straight at them has some good reason to believe that he can,
and will, hurt them; this primary instinct leads them to subordinate
themselves to the initiative of the other. Watch the unreasoning
game of chase and check between a cat and a dog, and you have a
good example of much that happens, and will always happen, on a

“Initiative is the greatest virtue in a leader; to avoid dissipation of
force is a well-proved means of victory.”--_German Cavalry Training_,
para. 407.


1. There are risks of doubtful value in action directed on wide lines
against the enemy’s flank and rear.

2. The 1870 and American Wars confused the issues and led in some cases
to sticky action by cavalry on South African battlefields.

3. In Manchuria the Japanese adopted correct tactics in view of Russian
want of enterprise and their own want of cavalry. The rôle of the
weaker cavalry was exemplified in some respects.

4. Push on the part of one side will compel the other to bring up more
squadrons and lead to the fight of cavalry masses.

5. It is only by special training that cavalry leaders can learn their
duties in a general engagement.

6. Much depends on the leader’s initiative, whilst this again depends
on his knowledge gained by previous practice in similar circumstances.

There are those who ask, “But where are the Ziethen and Seydlitz
cavalry charges nowadays?” Let them call to mind, for it is
instructive to do so, the combination of circumstances, and, be it
noted, circumstances which may well rise again, which conduced to the
success of the cavalry of Frederick the Great.

I. A king general, who had a taste for and knowledge of training

II. A training of all ranks suited to the war about to be undertaken.

III. A cavalry with picked leaders quite unencumbered by officers past
or unsuited to their work.

IV. Horses well conditioned under the eye of an autocrat, who had the
common sense to demand and see that he got, not fat, but fit horses.

V. A skilled direction of the cavalry on the battlefield by a cool
and intensely determined generalissimo, such as Frederick the Great
undoubtedly was.

Now let us, on the other hand, state the case in the South African
operations of 1899-1902. (In almost the same words as regards some
paragraphs as were used in 1897.)

I. An unskilled training and inspection of cavalry in the large
proportion of cases, often conducted by officers of other arms, and
such as tended to inspire all ranks with a desire for display and fine
appearance on parade, rather than with a whole-souled yearning for
efficiency for the war in hand.

II. The training of cavalry regiments in small, flat twelve-acre
drill-fields walled in from the slums of a city, in which cavalry were
still stationed for hopelessly out-of-date political reasons. What
real cavalry training was possible along the tram lines and between
rows of suburban villas?

III. A personnel too largely drawn from towns, and ignorant of the
exigencies of campaigning horse-management.

IV. Horses, three-quarters bred, of fair pace and condition, but the
latter necessary qualification for a campaign entirely spoiled in
most cases by, say, a thirty days’ voyage, followed by a five or six
days’ railway journey, then semi-starvation at the end of a line of
communication, then some quick work followed by two or three days’
total starvation, then more work, and so on. Constantly our strategy
outran our supply arrangements and the condition of our horses.

V. An enemy fighting in their own country, and each man owning two or
three hardy, well-conditioned country-breds.

VI. Tactics of the enemy; to hold on to a position with rifle fire, and
when seriously attacked or their flanks turned to disperse at a gallop.

Tactics all very well in their way, and just as disconcerting and
annoying to our squadrons as they were to Murat’s cavalry in the
advance into Russia; but these Parthian tactics are only suited to
a limited number of strategical phases, a point difficult to bring
home to the mind of those who have not studied strategy. They were
tactics which resulted in a loss to the Boers of about 5000 men,
generally foot people, at Paardeberg and, later, another 5000 in the
Wittebergen. Meanwhile the cavalry to which they were opposed was able,
by simple turning movements, to afford the main column, a practically
uninterrupted advance from the Orange River to the Portuguese border.

It is strange, indeed, how the lesson of those operations has in many
cases been read upside down by a nation which takes no steps to study
military history, and which, consequently, forgets that the spirit of
vigorous offensive, which did and must result in occasional heavy loss,
had been sternly discountenanced by the majority of their press, after
the experiences of Black Monday. “Conduct the operations without loss,
or, better, by diplomacy--and above all with kindness,” was then the


One of the great fallacies, and one to which in England especially we
are victims, is that war can be conducted on haphazard principles by
the instinct of brave men.

Not only do these brave men “let us in,” on every possible occasion
(especially when they are so brave and foolish as to neglect proper
precautions), but they forget that the sole thing in war is to “get
there,” that is, to bring the enemy to his knees and win.

One of their failings, and it is a typical British failing, is the
neglect to pursue, or, if they pursue, they neglect to do so properly.
Again, and again, in the early part of the operations in South Africa
was this neglected. The first good instance of pursuit, conducted
on proper principles, was that carried out by General French, and
resulting in the ultimate surrender of Cronje. Why was this on the
right principle? The answer is, “Because it was conducted on the
principle of “the parallel pursuit,” and resulted in intercepting
Cronje at a crossing of the Modder River.”

It is in such matters that the professional has the advantage of the
amateur; the latter would, no doubt, see no reason why a pursuit should
do otherwise than follow in the tracks of the enemy, forgetting that
there he will find the best and freshest troops, with good supplies of
ammunition, and under the best leaders,[45] their orders may probably
be, “To stop and die.” Again, that along this line he will run his head
against positions, hastily prepared no doubt, but still positions,
which are meant to delay pursuit. The whole proceeding would be
analogous to trying to beat the enemy at chess by taking piece after
piece till only the king was left.

Compare with this the “parallel pursuit.” Sufficient troops are
pushing the enemy’s rearguard and lulling his main force to a fancied
security; then the cavalry leader moves several miles to the flank
of the direction taken by the enemy with as much speed as possible,
since there is nothing to delay him, and he goes on till there is some
obstacle, perhaps some defile, which the enemy must cross; here he
throws himself boldly in the way of the enemy, of whom those who have
led the stampede, the weakest and least courageous, will be in front.
Ten to one some of these will surrender, unable to bear up against this
fresh disaster, and may be used to assist to block the defile, and thus
affect the _moral_ of those who are following, and who are, perhaps, in
better order.

To the minds of leaders of the stamp of Napoleon’s marshals this form
of pursuit was ever present, and we come on instances of it.[46] It is
essentially a duty of cavalry and horse artillery.

That it often requires strong determination on the part of the leader
to urge tired men and horses to pursue is well known. After the
battle of Katzbach, Blücher had pressed his cavalry to pursue, but
these made a very weak attempt at pursuit, blaming the weather and
alleging extreme fatigue. Blücher summed up the situation of cavalry as

  The State can afford to lose a few hundred horses in order to make
  a victory complete, or when it is a question of the annihilation of
  the enemy’s entire army. To neglect to obtain the full results of a
  victorious battle is inevitably to oblige yourself sooner or later
  to gamble again.




It is related that its owner tried as an experiment to find out what
was the smallest amount on which a horse could work. When he had
reduced the animal to one straw per diem, the experiment ceased, as the
horse died.

The reader, constantly bearing in mind the above anecdote (since, if
great generals have overlooked in the past the moral of the tale, there
is no reason why others should not do so in future), may proceed to the
subject of this chapter, but not without the recurrent thought, that,
however dashing the conception of the use of cavalry in a campaign,
this one point must be foremost. What will the cavalry horses live
on? Horses cannot live on nothing. Few survive if put for a prolonged
period on ½-grain rations and no hay or grazing, if such is followed by

How far motor vehicles carrying supplies have changed the aspect
of affairs in regard to this question is at present a moot point.
Undoubtedly the effect of the domination of the air by man has
materially affected the question of obtaining information.

The principle, “that an army should place in its front the whole of
its available cavalry forces from the very beginning of a campaign,”
to some extent arises from the desirability of an undisturbed
concentration for one’s own army, and also the advantage of checking
that of the enemy.

Next in order will be the desire of the commander-in-chief of the
army to have definite information of the enemy’s movements whilst at
the same time his own movements are covered. This will enable him to
direct the movements of his army, whilst still at a distance from the
enemy’s advanced guards, and effect concentration for battle neither
too soon nor too late (since both of these contingencies entail grave
inconveniences), but at the right moment.

But when it comes to practical politics, it is plain, and must be
regarded as a principle, that a cavalry brigade, division or corps
cannot be relied upon to perform efficiently the duties of policeman
and detective at one and the same time. The duty of the latter would
carry the former away from his beat.

The French cavalry in 1870, though they possessed what Ardant du Picq
describes as the true “Casse cou”[47] readiness to charge (and by the
bye, that _is_ a portion of the _cavalry spirit_), almost entirely
lacked skilled direction by the higher leaders. This fault was no
doubt due, in some degree, to the three arms training each in separate
water-tight compartments, and not on a large and comprehensive scale
in peace, precisely as Langlois says of us in reference to our army’s
work in South Africa: “The English took no steps in peace to create and
strengthen any union between the arms, and evil overtook them.”

Direction by the higher leaders will always be lacking, where those
leaders, in peace time, are unable to divorce themselves from the
surroundings and prejudices of their own particular arm, whatever it
may be, and to enter whole-heartedly and unreservedly into the spirit
of the Napoleonic maxim (No. 47): “Infantry, cavalry, and artillery
_are nothing without each other_.”

Be that as it may, after the 1870-71 war the French cavalry had a
moving spirit in General Galliffet, and he was well supported by some
of the cleverest French military writers. They dissected French and
German cavalry action in 1870-71 (and that of cavalry in other wars),
laying bare the mistakes and failures of the cavalry of both armies.
They saw what was wanted, higher direction and co-ordination of the
work of cavalry, so that the two functions of cavalry, information and
security (prior to its rôle on the battlefield), might be realized to
their full extent. Their deduction from the campaigns of the Napoleonic
period was, that that great leader and organizer had discerned the
impossibility of co-ordinating these duties; that in his earlier
campaigns there were two great units of war, the cavalry of army corps
and a corps of reserve cavalry;[48] the latter was composed of numerous
light cavalry, acting about a day in front of the columns of the main
body. Again, that in 1812, corresponding with the formation of groups
of armies, the corps of cavalry was created to act independently, in
advance of the general movement of the armies, making a third great
unit. They arrived at the conclusion that war brings into play three
great units, each of which requires its special cavalry.

1. In front of armies under the generalissimo an independent cavalry,
in one or more bodies, to insure liberty of offensive action to the

2. In each army a division of cavalry to ensure to it the liberty of
defensive action by giving time to concentrate and take up favourable

3. In each army corps a regiment or half-regiment to ensure
tranquillity and freedom from surprise.

Nor did they fail to bring to notice that Napoleon’s system was to find
a cavalry leader, and let him organize his cavalry to help the plan of
campaign, and not to waste his cavalry in a sort of insurance policy.

The essence of cavalry is offence, “offensive résolue, offensive quand
même offensive à outrance, qui fut le plus souvent la seule règle de
tactique,” not defence and shepherding infantry divisions;[49] this
latter work does not demand the most highly trained cavalry.

By these steps gradually the principle, which is clearly stated in our
F.S. Regulations, was arrived at, viz.:

  The main force of cavalry will usually be organized in one
  or more cavalry divisions, and retained as the instrument of
  strategical reconnaissance under the immediate orders of the
  commander-in-chief.--Part II., British F.S.R., 1909, p. 25.

At the present date the French, German, and Austrian organization is
practically identical in this respect. All recognize that “we must
fight to reconnoitre, and fight to screen.”[50]

The rôle of cavalry, as defined at p. 182 of the French _Service de la
Cavalerie_, 1909, is as follows:

  1. _The Cavalry of Exploration_ (answering to our own independent
  cavalry), the personal agent of the generalissimo, is sent where he
  wishes, in quest of the news he desires. This news the leader of
  this cavalry must send in good time; his independence is limited to
  the means he employs to get news. The cavalry of exploration may
  also be sent on special missions against the columns or convoys
  of the enemy, and ought, _whilst observing its instructions and
  carrying out its_ important rôle, to seize any opportunity of
  destroying the enemy’s cavalry.

  Cavalry is the arm, above all, of surprise, and consequently may
  often obtain the greatest results by a sudden attack on the wings
  or rear of the adversary.

  2. _The Cavalry of the Army Corps_ (answering to our protective
  cavalry) and the divisional cavalry find out and inform their
  commander what is happening in the zone allotted to them.

  They must keep off the enemy’s cavalry, guard the columns against
  surprise, cover their deployment, and seek every opportunity of
  intervening with effect in the combat.

  3. _The Divisional Cavalry_ may, in the combat, be the only troops
  on whom the divisional general can depend for safety from surprise:
  their commander must, accordingly, not only seek opportunities to
  use the bulk of his troops opportunely in the combat, but also give
  information and guard the division against surprise on its flanks
  and rear.

What use, then, does the generalissimo make of his independent cavalry?
He sends it forward to tear the veil from his adversary’s armies;
whilst thus engaged it may, in fact almost certainly will, meet the
enemy’s independent cavalry similarly employed, when, with a view to
carrying out its orders, it will probably be compelled to fight--to
fight for information.

Let us suppose it successful and the squadrons of the enemy’s
independent cavalry dispersed, unable to face their adversary. Our
independent cavalry push on to the enemy and meet the screen of
cavalry, the service of security which covers his army. This again
they must tear aside, and lay bare the heads of the enemy’s infantry
columns. Even then their mission is not complete; they must direct
their energies against the flanks of the enemy’s columns and
demoralize them. It is plain, then, that on the successful action of
the independent cavalry great issues may depend.

With regard to the movement of these forces, whenever cavalry are
moving in the direction of an enemy (whether they are the independent
cavalry or the protective cavalry), it is obvious that they will
endeavour to pass quickly through ground which is for any reason
unfavourable to them and advantageous to the enemy for attack, whilst
they will dwell in positions which present obvious advantages to them.
The result is, that from large forces of cavalry down to the smallest
unit there is a tendency to move forward in bounds.

The protective cavalry will further be influenced by the desire to
forestall the enemy in gaining positions for the infantry columns
following them, and in taking up for the night a line of outposts on
some natural obstacle, which will give them some security whilst they
are halted.

It is quite a debatable question whether the evolution of cavalry into
three classes as at present is not largely due to the arming of cavalry
with a good rifle, and to rendering them consequently able to protect
themselves, and able to turn out small parties of the enemy who hold
defiles, railway stations, etc., against them. The new German Cavalry
Regulations, para. 391, state: “Thus cavalry, owing to its great
adaptability, is capable of independent action in practically every
eventuality of the battlefield.”

In any case horse artillery, machine guns, and the rifle have added
enormously to the defensive power of cavalry; when, therefore, the
protective cavalry are thrown back on the infantry, by the enterprise
of the enemy’s independent squadrons, the latter may lightly, and
without warning, find themselves attacking infantry in position, by
mistake for dismounted cavalry, and consequently suffer very severely.
Not only that, but the mixed detachments of all arms likely to be met
with at this juncture, possess a power and length of resistance, which
our cavalry may perhaps successfully simulate, and thus hold back and
delay the advance of the enemy’s cavalry.


  “A writer upon strategy and tactics ought to treat his subjects as
  national strategy and tactics; for only such teaching can be of
  real service to his country.”--VON DER GOLTZ, _Nation in Arms_, p.

Instead of labouring the point as to the rôle of cavalry under these
circumstances, perhaps one may be permitted to recall to the reader’s
mind that, unless we go back to Napoleonic precedent, there are no
actual experiences in modern times of the effect to be obtained by
using cavalry in the manner prescribed at present. The whole is pure
theory, but we can say from our own experience that the protective
cavalry may fail if they attempt to be strong everywhere on the old
“pepper-box” system.

The drives in South Africa, in which we were strong nowhere and
weak everywhere, proved, as indeed was expected, that a strong and
determined enemy can always break through the long weak line unless the
latter follows the line of some serious obstacle.

It is also a matter of easy demonstration and universal agreement that
the cavalry which dominates in the first great cavalry struggle has
already gained an enormous advantage for its side.

What is the logical outcome? It is, that unless (1) our cavalry force
is redundant, or (2) there are difficulties in feeding our independent
cavalry, or (3) the enemy’s cavalry is very weak, or (4) our cavalry
comprises squadrons, which we cannot, from reasons of want of training
or armament, oppose to the enemy’s cavalry, we shall see every
available squadron taken from the protective cavalry and handed over
to the independent cavalry. Intelligence comes before security.[51]
Meanwhile the protective rôle will be carried out by divisional mounted
troops, cyclists, and infantry detachments (see sec. 92, F.S.R.).

_Ceteris paribus_, the first advantage will be with the side which can
put the greatest number of squadrons into the corps of independent
cavalry, and, in view of this, a fact plainly spoken of and counted
upon in all strategical conceptions of future campaigns on the
Continent, the preponderance of well-trained squadrons is clearly the
object to be aimed at.

Generally speaking, the ideas which are promulgated as to the rôle
for the weaker cavalry, by which a cavalry, worse trained, worse
armed, and proportionately less in numbers will compensate for these
shortcomings by superior tactics, are purely Utopian. This “fond thing
vainly invented” may interest or beguile the mind of the unfortunate
tax-payer, but does not belong to the regions of plain military common
sense, which, in its preparation for war, has no place for chance work,
and must have no weak link in the chain.

Let those with whom the wish is master of the thought read General von
Bernardi’s most recent statement in _Cavalry in Peace and War_, p. 356,
where speaking of the German force of trained cavalry, enormous as it
already is, he says:

  I have repeatedly stated that I consider our cavalry to be of
  itself too weak. The more I study modern warfare, the more
  convinced do I feel that the value of the arm, when handled
  according to modern ideas, has increased.

Let us remember that cavalry cannot be improvised, and that even
squadrons of the best class of mounted rifles, formed entirely of
natural horsemen and fairly good shots, are very heavily penalized,
apart from their armament and training, unless they have professional
brigade, regimental, and squadron leaders, and know how to work with
horse artillery. They cannot be expected to face trained and properly
organized cavalry brigades on anything like equal terms. At the same
time, if reliance is placed on numbers, one is at once faced (i.) by
the forage supply and its carriage, (ii.) by the enormous item of
expense in remounting, already referred to in the chapter on “The

The outcome is that one arrives at this plain and simple
proposition.[52] Only the most highly trained cavalry soldier is worth
a horse and food for his horse when a nation is engaged against an
enemy of modern continental type. This point is undoubtedly grasped
on the Continent, where the proposal to use cyclists as a reserve of
riflemen with cavalry is generally accepted.

Every one, practically, can now ride and look after a bicycle, and
given passable roads, cyclists can travel farther and faster than
horses, and carry more days’ reserve rations. In war in a civilized and
well-roaded country they cannot fail to be a most useful adjunct to
cavalry: (1) as a reserve of rifles, (2) as despatch-riders, (3) as an
accessory in outpost and reconnoitring duty.

It is not the scheme of this book to enter into the question of
training other than regular cavalry, nor to enter into any discussion
as to the precise value in war of hastily raised mounted troops;
since in doing so one might say something which had the appearance
of discouraging the volunteer; whereas there is no question that the
spirit, which animated for instance those yeomanry and colonial troops
who came out early in the operations in South Africa, 1899-1902, is a
great national and imperial asset.

At the same time it is right to make it perfectly plain that the
non-professional cavalry soldier has an exceedingly hard task before
him, and one requiring very exceptional qualities such as are not
usually found in those who do not possess the initial asset of being
constantly in the saddle and out in the open. Even these must find
it extremely difficult to train to anything but a very mediocre
standard, unless they possess (i.) sufficient leisure to prepare
themselves amidst the surroundings of regular troops, and (ii.) the
large amount of patriotism and right feeling which induces a man
voluntarily to place himself under and endure the irksome restraints of
discipline.[53] Ten times more does this apply to the officer; purely
amateur officers are poison (the virus being in direct proportion to
their rank), and entirely out of place in war. To imagine that it is
patriotism to wait till war begins, and then aspire to lead others, is
an idea that should be crushed once for all. It is not patriotism, it
is murder.

Few amateurs would aspire to conduct the operations in a London
hospital, and the operations of war are, in their way, no less
intricate, and perhaps entail more loss of life and limb when conducted
by the unskilled. The amateur who comes out to the war, with the
courage of ignorance, and finds how helpless he is, how useless are his
best efforts, how complete the disillusionment of those under him as to
his power to keep or get them out of trouble, let alone hurt the enemy,
will, if he survives, have learnt a very useful and painful lesson, but
no nation can afford to give lessons on the field of battle.

The cavalry of an army are a part of a machine, in which reliance must
be placed, and in which every nut or screw of doubtful metal is a
danger. Cherfils rightly says: “Three-quarters of the strategy of war
lies in the method of employment of the cavalry.” Why? Because of the
supreme importance to the generalissimo of _Liberty of Manœuvre_. But
this liberty can only be gained by a thrusting forward of masses of
cavalry, _which must go on_ and get the greatest share of the terrain
intervening between the two armies. As an instance of this, in the
Ulm Campaign on the 4th October Napoleon in his orders to Murat makes
it plain that he wants him to push aside the enemy’s patrols and make
plenty of prisoners; he tells him to take _three_ divisions of cavalry
and do so, leaving _one_ division only to watch his left flank, that
on which Napoleon was making his main infantry advance. He left the
initiative to Murat.

Does any one imagine that these cavalry masses could, solely by means
of musketry fire, drive the enemy out of the positions which they will
take up, on finding a stronger force of cavalry in front of them? We
believe certain people do reckon on this, though it has never occurred
in actual combat, and (in the opinion of those who have witnessed
attempts at it) will not do so in the immediate future. Across the open
plains the weaker, worse armed and equipped cavalry will keep falling
back rapidly to the next defensive line. If this is a river or range of
hills, experience shows that the stronger cavalry will soon cross it
and move forward.

Too much emphasis can hardly be laid on the value of success in the
first great cavalry combat, in “initial ascendancy.”[54] Let those who
doubt this inquire of any who have been on stricken fields and have
learnt the great lessons only taught by defeat.

But these lessons are not to be confused with the tendency to say “A”
nation beat “B” nation, therefore “A” nation’s methods are right, and
forthwith slavishly follow their methods, even carrying this so far as
to follow the fashion of some pelisse or _pickelhaube_ as well.

Occasionally the Boers read us a lesson, and, as Kipling says, “a
jolly good lesson too”; at once there is a great rush to imitate their
methods, by those impressed by them, as though these were applicable
to every possible case. To take one case--they are certainly not
suitable for mounted troops who wish to advance. In that case we want
the resolute offensive, with a thorough understanding in all ranks that
they must be prepared to fight for information and liberty of manœuvre.
Now spectators of any large fight in South Africa cannot claim to have
seen this resolute offensive on the part of the Boers. They never
pushed us back, partly, no doubt, from difficulties of command, but
chiefly from defective armament and training, and consequent inability
to bring the combat to a hand-to-hand fight. On the other hand, they
fell back fighting whenever we attacked resolutely. Exactly what a
generalissimo could not permit his cavalry to do. Why? Because he, by
doing so, surrenders his share of liberty of manœuvre, of which there
is a limited amount between the armies, to his adversary.

Our conclusion is that _the trained cavalry masses which have a
personal weapon and good support from horse artillery will push back
any improvised or worse-armed cavalry with the utmost rapidity across
all open ground, and that the moral ascendancy thus established will
render the enemy’s defeat in rough ground an easy task_.



  “Fundamental principles of action against different arms must be
  laid down so definitely that complicated orders in each particular
  case will not be required. This is needed because the utmost
  possible independence of leaders down to the squadron commander is
  desirable. It must not degenerate into selfish wilfulness.”--VON

That modern horse artillery coupled with cavalry and machine guns has
almost unlimited opportunities can hardly be gainsaid. Only a madman or
an absolute ignoramus would willingly dispense with horse artillery.
But can it be said that, without an organization and training in
peace-time, which has afforded full opportunity of practising every
situation which we can meet, we shall get full co-operation in war?

Arms brought together almost for the first time on the battlefield
cannot have mutual confidence in one another. Yet how much depends on a
thorough understanding and good feeling between the cavalry leader and
his commander of horse artillery. If the battery commander cannot from
constant practice and usage actually foretell nine times out of ten
what the cavalry brigadier will order at a certain stage of the attack,
or if the officer commanding horse artillery of a cavalry division
does not know by intuition his divisional general’s views, farewell to
any idea of valuable combination between the two arms.

Heretofore this brotherhood of arms has not existed, nor has our
organization aimed at effecting it.

Langlois in _Lessons from Two Recent Wars_, p. 140, puts this very

  Cavalry has need of the support of the other arms in strategical

And again:

  The English took no steps in peace to create and strengthen any
  union between the arms, and evil overtook them. I cannot insist too
  much on this point, and we (the French) must profit by the lesson.

A large number of horse artillery officers never have opportunities
of working with cavalry. Our horse artillery batteries are too often
quartered where such cannot be obtained. But even at places like
Aldershot and the Curragh little can be done in this direction, the
ground is too cramped and too well known, and there was always the
necessity of a good classification at the practice camp haunting the
mind of the battery commander, and making him grudge every moment not
spent in the direction of attaining that most important item.

Unfortunately it is hard to find concrete examples of cavalry and horse
artillery action. For good horse artillery and cavalry, trained to
work in conjunction, on modern ideas, have never yet been seen on any
battlefield in the latter part of the nineteenth century. In 1870? No.
In South Africa? No. In Manchuria? A thousand times no. We have to go
back to the days of Frederick and Napoleon.

In all cases where the army is on the defensive a great and potent
factor is in the energy of the attack, or, as one might put it,
in carrying through the whole according to prearrangement and “at
one run,” so that the gun and machine-gun fire is directed at that
particular portion of the defence which can offer most opposition, and
do most damage to the attack.

Let us take an instance of a cavalry attack on dismounted men holding
an isolated kopje. Starting from 1200 yards’ distance, and suddenly
appearing over a ridge, one squadron of the attacking cavalry riding
_en fourrageur_, supported by another squadron echeloned on the first
squadron’s flank, will probably reach the dead ground, which exists
in the front of nearly every kopje, when within some 400 yards of the
enemy’s firing line; then their leader should give the order “Right
turn,” or “Left turn” (never “Right wheel” or “Left wheel” of troops,
which would obviously cause them to afford a good mark), and gallop to
one flank or the other. He should of course choose the weakest flank.
(It may assist him in his decision if he remembers that, in a force
rapidly taking up a position on a hill, the greater number of rifles
will go to the right side, as they approach it, because there the hill
will cover all but a small portion of their body and head as they
shoot; but on the left side, unless left-handed, half the body will be
shown.) See Diagram VIII.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM VIII.]

Arrived at the flank, whilst the artillery and machine guns of the
attack shell that end of the ridge to be attacked from the moment the
cavalry leader makes his right or left turn, he halts and dismounts
his men (that is, if the ground is unsuitable for mounted action), and
sweeps the hill from end to end; the artillery, etc., now firing one
hundred yards in front of his line of men. His other squadron should,
meanwhile, “go for” the led horses. What time is at the defender’s
disposal if this attack is made suddenly? Frederick the Great used to
say: “Rapidity is an element of particular importance in the tactical
offensive; therefore the sharper attacks are, the fewer men they will

Picture yourself on the ridge, where ten minutes before the enemy’s
cavalry have been reported as moving apparently away from or parallel
to the defence. Your men have resumed their avocations; if they have
been there some time, some will be cooking, others sleeping. Suddenly
some unusually alert individual shouts out, “Hallo! the enemy are
galloping straight at us.” Men scramble to the sangars, or are waked
up and hustled to their loopholes. They will not be ready to fire
under a minute; this will bring the enemy’s cavalry at a gallop over
six hundred yards nearer. For two or three hundred yards the attackers
will be exposed to magazine fire, but they are certainly not an easy
mark, and few would fall, even on a rifle range. But at this moment
during the twenty or thirty seconds which elapse before most of them
will be in dead ground, a perfect inferno of shell and, still worse,
machine-gun fire bursts on the ridge. Many men will now slightly shift
their position in order to get more cover and wait for the enemy to
come straight on, nearer, where they can see him. But the attack does
not come on; instead, it has slipped away to a flank, and the men’s
next thought will be for their led horses and so on. They are already

This is no fancy picture of artillery and machine-gun support, but a
method which was utilized a score of times in the latter part of the
operations of 1899-1902 in South Africa by both cavalry and mounted
colonials. It is one which can be made, where the artillery and machine
guns are in cool, skilled hands, with comparative safety, but it is
not one which the average cavalryman would care to make, supported by
rifle fire, unless the latter can be brought up to six hundred or seven
hundred yards’ distance, where they can distinguish friend from foe.

Whilst by the above we attempt to show that horse artillery is a most
valuable accessory to cavalry in the attack, we believe it is even
more efficacious in retreat. An artillery officer sent in advance of
the rearguard can select various positions from which horse artillery,
practically covered from view, can put a few shells into the mass of
the enemy’s troops, as they pass some defile; or it may engage the
hostile artillery in order to draw fire off the retreating cavalry, if
the former exposes itself unduly. Meantime another section or battery
is sent on, thus the action is taken up successively. In every case
the ground should be selected so that it is (i.) possible to act in
combination with the cavalry, and (ii.) withdraw without the enemy
seeing the movement. Nor must it be forgotten that the enemy may
engage in the “parallel pursuit,” consequently the wider the front
shown by the force covering the retreat the better.

Thus it may happen that, following the rule that in a retreat the most
mobile troops should be farthest out to the flanks, a cross fire may be
brought by two sections on the enemy’s pursuit. The drill regulations
of German cavalry, 1909, impress the point

  ... that, should the issue of the battle prove unfavourable, the
  cavalry must strain every nerve to facilitate the retreat of the
  other arms. It is in just such cases that they must assume a
  restless offensive. Repeated attacks on the flanks of pursuing
  troops will produce the best results.

In regard to the many other occasions on which horse artillery can
assist cavalry they say:

  The horse artillery will often by its fire cause the foe to
  disclose his strength and thus help reconnaissance. In union
  with maxims it enables the opposition of the enemy in occupied
  positions and defiles to be overcome, and thus spares the cavalry a
  dismounted attack.

  Horse artillery and machine guns enable the cavalry to hem in
  at long range the enemy’s marching columns, to cause these to
  partially deploy through flank fire to change the direction of
  their march.

Horse artillery is the one thing that prevents an enemy sitting still
and thus preventing the cavalry factor of mobility asserting itself.



  “Cavalry has more need of artillery than infantry, because it
  cannot reply to fire, but can fight only with the steel.”--NAPOLEON.

Of close co-operation by the horse artillery in the charges of cavalry
against infantry there is practically little or no trace in the
battles of 1870. The training of cavalry and horse artillery and the
organization of the cavalry division had not proceeded on these lines,
as is evident from the fact that there is no mention of it in books
such as Von Schmidt before that war, or in Prince Kraft’s _Letters on
Cavalry_ after it. The latter writer shows that the tendency was to
deprive the cavalry division of its horse artillery when a battle took
place, and put it with the corps artillery. It was claimed that by so
doing the horse artillery were practically of double use.

  The batteries remain as a rule with the corps artillery. If the
  cavalry division is sent forward, they are attached to it. If a
  battle takes place during which the cavalry division is held in
  reserve, then the horse artillery becomes again a part of the corps
  artillery and considerably augments its fire. The horse artillery
  of the Guards corps was thus employed in 1870.

  For a cavalry division which takes part in a great battle _does not
  require any horse artillery_. It is held at first in reserve.

  If it is called upon to attack it is obliged to make use of an
  opportunity of charging broken troops of the enemy. There is thus
  no need to break up its enemy with artillery fire, and there is,
  besides, no time to do so.

Compare with the above the 1907 amendments to the German _Exerzier
Reglement für die Kavallerie 1895_, No. 375:

  In a general engagement the batteries and machine guns told off to
  the cavalry _will remain with them_, because they are indispensable
  to the cavalry in the fulfilment of their special duties during,
  and particularly after, the battle.

  The cavalry leader must, however, judge whether the general
  position does not rather demand the employment of his batteries in
  co-operation with the rest of the artillery. The horse artillery
  and machine guns will be of the greatest use in a general
  engagement when the cavalry are operating against the enemy’s
  flanks and rear. Their sudden appearance from a flank or from the
  rear is certain to produce a strong moral effect on the enemy.

There could scarcely be a greater _volte face_ than is indicated by
these two extracts.

Further, what we read of the use of masses of cavalry at the present
date, in both the German and French manœuvres, leads us to the
conclusion that their cavalry and horse artillery will be kept together
in a general engagement and used for the sledge-hammer blow on both
shaken and unshaken infantry.

The reader should study some of the instances given in Colonel Maude’s
book, _Cavalry: Its Past and Future_, chaps. xi. and xii., of the
charges by cavalry on infantry in the 1870 war, and picture to himself
what would have been the results if these charges had been preluded by
even five minutes’ gun fire of one battery of modern horse artillery,
say 350 accurately placed shells, containing in all 83,600 projectiles.

A conclusion early arrived at in the consideration of the rôle of the
three arms on the modern battlefield is that no artillery and infantry
force, however strong, can afford to enter upon a battle unless their
flanks are protected by natural obstacles or by masses of cavalry. But
battles, except where we adopt the defensive, are not fought where
natural obstacles cover our flank. Therefore, we must have sufficient
cavalry if only to neutralize the enemy’s cavalry, otherwise they
will work round our flank and attack our reserves, and, if they are
accompanied by horse artillery, whilst our horse and field artillery is
already engaged in the great battle, they possess a marked advantage
over us.

The latest instance of the need of cavalry and horse artillery is
furnished by Captain Spaits, who himself went through the retreat
with the Russians after Mukden, in his book, _With Cossacks through

He “and many others who realized the panic-stricken frame of mind of
the masses of men who were pouring back without arms and without
discipline” are of opinion that a “couple of good cavalry divisions,
energetically led and provided with artillery and machine guns, could
have turned the retreat into a complete annihilation of the army.”

The above inference is obvious when one considers the impression made
on the flying troops by a few hundred indifferent horsemen.[55]

Having, it is hoped, to the reader’s satisfaction, demonstrated that
cavalry with horse artillery have a great rôle on the battlefield
against infantry, if (i.) the conditions are favourable, (ii.) the
attack is _à propos_, and (iii.) properly supported by horse artillery
and machine-gun fire, we turn to the form which the attack against
infantry should take. _Cavalry Training_ indicates that it should
be made in a succession of lines; and it may be added that it is of
the highest importance that these attacks should not be made without
sufficient preliminary reconnaissance on the part of the cavalry leader
accompanied by the commander of his artillery, and that subsequently
the action of the infantry should be decided upon in conjunction with
the infantry commander in that portion of the field.

That the infantry should not stand open-mouthed, but should press
in at the right moment, is of the highest importance. As far as the
troops are concerned, the formation is a simple one; but there are two
points which demand forethought and arrangement. The first is the best
position for the supporting fire; the second is the rallying-point. In
these circumstances it appears best to have in one’s mind an ideal, as
a guide, and endeavour in the actual fight to approximate to it--and
we may turn to the memoirs of Napoleon for the solution. He says: “A
flanking battery which strikes and rakes the enemy obliquely is capable
of deciding victory in itself.”

The ideal then appears to be: “A,” when the fire effect is delivered
at right angles to the direction of the successive lines of cavalry;
and “B,” when the rallying-point is fixed on the flank away from the
general engagement and under cover from the enemy’s fire; “C,” when we
utilize surprise. It is usually in the return from such enterprises
after rallying that nine-tenths of the loss takes place. A good
instance is that of Michel’s brigade at the battle of Woerth; see page
203, Maude’s _Cavalry: Its Past and Future_.

  Suddenly the wreck of the ten squadrons of Michel’s Brigade,
  now making the best of their way back at full speed, but still
  preserving some attempt at formation, appeared right in rear of the
  Prussians. The latter at once wheeled troops about and charged at
  full gallop from the halt. Owing to the suddenness of the attack
  there was no time to deploy, though the outer troops attempted to
  gallop up into line; but the shock was sufficient to discomfort the
  French. There was a short mêlée, and then the Prussians, promptly
  rallying, swept up the debris of the French, and brought in some
  sixty prisoners and many riderless horses. The prompt resolution to
  attack and the rapid rally both deserve very high commendation.

Many writers of recent date, and especially those who are impressed
with an exaggerated idea of the accuracy of rifle fire, those, in fact,
of the De Bloch School, are under the impression that cavalry will not
charge infantry. It is probable that, never having ridden in a force of
cavalry passing through a fire-swept zone, they are unaware how much
simpler it is than the attack on cavalry or artillery, and how much
less resolution is needed.

In the case of cavalry there is the apparently inevitable concussion
which is seen to be nearing; in the former a few men or horses drop
almost unnoticed by their comrades, but most of them “carry on” for
a long way after being hit. As the enemy are reached, the desire for
slaughter overrides all other thoughts; cavalry should then be taught
to go straight on, taking with the point what comes to them and riding
their horses at speed in the direction of the rallying-point.

An example of the “counter-attack by a cavalry division on hostile
infantry in order to gain time for reserves to come up” is given in
General Sir D. Haig’s _2nd Cavalry Staff Ride_, p. 40:

  The problem here presented is one of considerably more danger
  and difficulty than that of completing the rout of beaten troops
  and reaping the fruits of victory. The enemy’s infantry, far
  from having lost their _moral_, are pressing victoriously to
  the attack, and, though the leading echelons may have sustained
  heavy losses from the fire of the defence, there are troops in
  reserve and support which retain their cohesion and steadiness.
  The responsibility for ordering an attack of this nature ...
  rests with the commander-in-chief. Against such an objective it
  is useless to send regiments at the gallop. It is necessary to
  (1) prepare the attack, concentrate the means for it, and bring
  a converging fire of guns, machine guns, and infantry upon the
  objective; (2) make a definite plan. This must be based on what
  can be seen of the enemy and his position, the use of ground, the
  most opportune moment; (3) dispose the troops methodically by the
  execution of the plan, and assign to them, if possible, their
  objectives; (4) give the signal for the attack at the right moment.

In the _Manual of Infantry Training_, 1905, under “Formations
Applicable to Savage Warfare,” is found S. No. 118, which contains an
instruction for “Meeting an Attack by Cavalry or Swordsmen.”

  When a battalion in line is threatened by cavalry or swordsmen in
  force, it may sometimes be desirable to dress back the threatened
  flank and to dress up the unmenaced flank, the battalion commander
  giving the command, “Back, No. ----, up, No. ----.”

Such a formation if adopted in ordinary warfare against cavalry would
favour the fire of artillery and machine guns, if the latter are placed
at right angles to the attack as indicated above.

May, writing in 1896, _Guns and Cavalry_, says:

  True, there may be opportunities when cavalry and horse artillery
  moving rapidly, even during the progress of a great battle,
  may anticipate the foe at some decisive point, and may make or
  prevent a telling flank movement. But for such occasions special
  arrangements could no doubt be made as the exigencies of the
  moment might dictate, and we need not legislate for them beforehand.

It is evident from the German regulations quoted above that they have
no intention of trusting to the “Special arrangements” for “Exigencies.”

Their reasons no doubt are somewhat as follows:

1st. Horse artillery is an integral part of the cavalry.

2nd. Attacks on unshaken infantry depend upon horse artillery for such
a preparation as will speedily reduce infantry to shaken infantry.

3rd. In order to get freedom of manœuvre for our squadrons to a flank,
cavalry are bound to meet an enemy’s cavalry force, possibly belonging
to an enemy whose cavalry does not leave its horse artillery behind
with the corps artillery in a great general engagement.

On which side wins will depend the subsequent course of events on that

4th. A cavalry force of three regiments and one battery of horse
artillery is quite equal, or more than equal, to one of four regiments
without horse artillery.

Having in view the above consideration, cavalry should not be prepared
to forgo their horse artillery in a great general engagement, since
it foredooms them to the inaction of the French and German cavalry
divisions of the war of 1870, or perhaps to their comparative failure
and losses, when, unsupported by horse artillery fire, they attacked
infantry columns to cover the retreat of their own infantry.

Special arrangements of this kind are not made, and we know also, too
well, that “No man can serve two masters.”

The latest German regulations appear, therefore, to have been
formulated on sound reasoning.



Henderson in _Science of War_, written in 1893-1902, asked the
question, whether the necessary fire power should be found by the
cavalry itself or by a body of mounted riflemen attached to the brigade
or the division? and answered it by proposing trained mounted infantry.
To the view that this fire power had better be supplied by the horse
artillery he gives little or no consideration. Machine guns are also
more or less ignored, and yet these in common with horse artillery are
what the _cavalry attack_ requires most in support.

Those who have frequently had to rely on fire to cover a mounted
advance will agree that the fire of two hundred riflemen at eight
rounds a minute for five minutes is not to be compared in efficacy with
the shells of a Q.F. horse artillery battery. Their comparative value
would work out in projectiles as follows:

    Guns.    Rounds.  Bullets.  Minutes.    Bullets.
     6     ×   10   ×    236  ×    5      = 70,800.

    Rifles.  Rounds.            Minutes.    Bullets.
     200   ×    8        ...  ×    5      = 8000.

That is, the riflemen fire less than 1/8 of the number of projectiles
fired by a battery, or 1770 riflemen shoot as many projectiles as a
battery in five minutes.

It is superfluous to remark on the range attained by the Q.F. gun
compared with the rifle, but it is to the point to bring to notice that
a Q.F. battery is controlled by one individual who is furnished with
good glasses, and that the guns have telescopic sights. At a mile he
will distinguish his own side. Again the battery’s front is 100 yards
compared to the mile of front required by 1770 riflemen. The battery is
in action within one minute and thirty seconds, whereas from the time
the order is given a brigade of mounted riflemen will not be in action
under five minutes at least, and will not be shooting with any degree
of accuracy under eight minutes. Further, the fire of a big line of one
mile in length cannot be directed, whereas a battery can be switched on
and off, or so many degrees to a flank, and so on, by a simple command.

It is obvious, then, that in the attack of infantry, whether unshaken
or shaken, the extended line of charging cavalry will find their most
reliable support in horse artillery and machine-gun fire and not in the
fire of dismounted men.

Henderson would therefore appear to have written at this time under the
influence of the then accepted theory that the horse artillery would
not be available to assist cavalry in a general engagement. He was
also much impressed by the view that mounted infantry should supply
the fire power for cavalry and prevent cavalry having recourse to fire
action as much as possible; since he considered that the _élan_ of the
cavalryman would soon disappear, if once accustomed to dismount and
fire as an alternative to shock action when the latter was feasible.

To sum up, present-day opinion is not in favour of mounted infantry
being attached to cavalry brigades, but on the other hand horse
artillery and machine guns will remain with cavalry in the general
engagement, ready for any opportunity.

In order once more to emphasize the opinion that these charges of
cavalry on infantry demand exceptional arrangements on the part of the
general commanding the cavalry and his artillery commander, the case
quoted by Prince Kraft in _Letters on Cavalry_, page 64, may be cited.
Speaking of a French cavalry charge on Prussian infantry at Woerth, a
Prussian infantry officer told him that:

  At the moment our infantry were falling back down a slope from
  an attack which had failed, a hail of Chassepot and Mitrailleuse
  bullets followed them, and every one felt that he would never reach
  the cover of the wood which lay below them.

  Tired to death and resigned to their fate, the whole of the
  infantry were slowly crawling towards the wood. Suddenly the
  murderous fire ceased. Every one stopped, astonished, to see
  what had saved them from the fate which seemed certain to
  them. Then they saw the French cuirassiers who, as they pushed
  forward, _masked the fire_ of their infantry and artillery. These
  cuirassiers appeared to them like guardian angels. With the most
  perfect calm every man halted on the spot where he stood and fired
  at the cuirassiers, who were soon swept away by the rapid fire.

He adds at p. 67:

  We see, moreover, that cavalry charges, if they break out from the
  front of their own infantry and _mask the fire of the latter_,
  enable the infantry which is charged to gain time, owing to the
  cessation of this fire, to recover their formation.

The above is one more argument in favour of constantly training our
cavalry leaders till it is a second nature to apply shock at right
angles to fire effect, and on no account whatever to mask the fire of
their own artillery and infantry, and thus become the “guardian angels”
of the infantry whom they are attacking.

Von Bernardi appears to lose sight of this, when he says, p. 208,
_Cavalry in Peace and War_:

  It is obvious that not only the preliminary deployment, but the
  formation, for the attack, must take place beyond the effective
  range of the enemy’s fire ... and nothing else can be done but to
  gallop straight to the front. As, however, our infantry will have
  to be ridden through in the charge, it is impossible in such a case
  to attack in close order.

This is what we consider should be avoided in the dispositions of the
cavalry leader.

Again, p. 200, Von Bernardi says: “The attack will best take place from
the flank.” To this there is the objection that there is not likely to
be a good rallying-point in the middle of the enemy’s line.

Our conclusion is that these attacks will be least costly if they break
out from our line in valleys running at right angles to it, or round
the contour of a hill, and sweep the enemy by a charge parallel to
our front, and that the rallying-point should be outside the flank or
within our own line.

On the occasions when our infantry or dismounted riflemen made one of
their regular attacks in extended order on the positions taken up by
the Boers, there were almost invariably not only critical moments, but
also opportunities afforded by the lie of the ground which invited a
leader at the head of three or four squadrons of lancers to issue from
cover in or near the Boer lines at a gallop in open order, and to sweep
over the widely extended men. Three to four minutes at most would have
covered the time during which these lancers would have been exposed to
fire; then they could have reached a rallying-point in their own lines.

There are good grounds for the belief that such an attack is extremely
demoralizing, especially if the troops have not been accustomed in
peace-time to undergo it.



  “The most arduous, while at the same time the most important,
  duties that devolve upon soldiers in the field are those of
  outposts ... all concerned should feel that the safety of the army
  and the honour of the country depend upon their untiring vigilance
  and activity.”--LORD WOLSELEY.

The art of maintaining himself and his command in the outpost line is a
question of vigilance, imagination, and forethought on the part of the
commander, and cunning on the part of his men. Let us place ourselves
in the position of an officer commanding a hundred to two hundred men,
and detached some ten miles out to the flank and front of a force.

The commander must take it for granted that he may be attacked at
any moment, and so he must run through in his mind what he intends
to do. It is his business to look ahead and foresee dangers and
misfortunes--and by his preparations to rob them of their bad
effect.[56] If he has left his bivouac a couple of hours before dawn
and moved, carefully feeling his way, in the direction of the enemy,
and has perhaps driven in one of their outposts, he need not feel
it incumbent on him to hold the ground gained _à outrance_. He has
seen into their outpost line, gained certain information, and come
to certain conclusions; therefore when the enemy attack him, as they
certainly will do, he should have made all preparations to fall back to
the bit of good ground previously selected, where he can see and where
his movements cannot be seen. Here he can make a good show, and ten to
one they will let him stay there. But instead of staying there with 100
men all day, which would fatigue his men and horses without result, he
places some Cossack posts and a small picket or two and retires all the
rest of his men, without the enemy’s knowledge, to his bivouac, and is
at breakfast by 9 or 10 A.M., his horses watered and fed. At 4 P.M. he
canters out to his posts, spends the remaining daylight in observation
of the enemy’s movements, relief of posts, etc., and withdraws his
Cossack posts and picket at dark, leaving the picket fires well stoked
up; one or two men only are left to feed these fires at intervals
through the night. His real line of night outposts is placed on the
possible lines of advance to his bivouac. But if his bivouac can be
observed, or is likely to be reported upon to the enemy, he may change
it after dark. His men should have been practised so constantly in
alarm posts at night that they know exactly where to go, and what to do
in case of a night alarm, and how to do so in absolute silence. Only
the C.O. may make a few uncomplimentary remarks about the enemy in a
stentorian voice, and invite them to “come on,” which goes far to cool
the ardour of a night attack and hearten up his own men.

Next morning up again at two hours before dawn by the sound of a
long-drawn-out whistle, upsaddle and off again, and get into your
outpost line before dawn or, if preferred, take up a fresh line.

During the day there is plenty to do, but it is well to have an hour
or so during which the men get a sleep; though with most men, after a
time, it becomes a habit to sleep whenever they have nothing to do or
think about, and, if they go to sleep directly it is dark, and do not
sit up and talk, they get enough sleep, and are alert before dawn. All
talking should be stopped a quarter of an hour after dark in every part
of the lines.

The men soon learn the routine, and know how to take care of
themselves, sleeping, bathing, washing, and feeding when they get a
chance, and forming into small messes of four or five, who co-operate
in all their food, messing, and fuel arrangements. In a very short time
everything begins to go smoothly. The kits are packed, horses saddled,
waggons inspanned, and coffee drunk in twenty minutes to half an hour
(considerably less if there is an alarm) from the time the men are
roused, whether in the dark or not. It is only when they have attained
a fair degree of celerity that their C.O. can feel any confidence in
them in the outpost line.

The officers, except the quarter-master and adjutant, must attend every
stable hour, see the horses finished before the men leave stables, and
one officer per squadron must also go to water. One glance is enough
to tell an experienced eye if all is right with a horse or not. They
cannot speak, but they are very full of expression if anything is
wrong. The good troop and squadron leader is for ever solicitous about
his horses, and woe betide the unlucky stable-guard whom he catches
resting his back against a bale of hay when there is a horse loose.
Once it is understood that each man stands or falls in the squadron
leader’s estimation, and is noted for punishment or a light reprimand
when brought up before him, according to the care of his horse,
everything will go well. Nothing less will make some of them always
keep up to the mark.

Nor must you forget the magpie instinct in some men, which leads them
to collect all sorts of rubbish and carry it on their horses. So,
on some favourable occasion on the march, halt near a deep river or
pond, hold a kit and saddlery inspection, and hurl far into the water
all unauthorized articles. Let the leader set the example himself of
walking and leading his horse a great deal, especially down hills, when
the loaded saddle slips forward on to the shoulder-blades. This is
the merest routine, but a hundred things will occupy the C.O.’s mind.
First, forage and water in plenty for his horses. Second, food and
firing for his men. It is essential to keep the men well fed, dry,[57]
if possible, and that they should always have their coffee and tea,
and in trying times their glass of rum twice a week or so. Soap and
tobacco are the other main essentials. If you can give them half their
ration in flour and half in biscuit, it will preserve their health.
There are at least twenty reasons why, if you requisition anything, you
should never permit the slightest waste or prodigality. De Brack says
truly: “In peace wastefulness is a wrong; in war it is a crime.” Always
see a receipt is given in due form.

Detached, or in the outpost line, you are more likely to get shelter
in rainy weather for your horses and men than in a big camp. Take
advantage of this, but recollect that it entails extra vigilance as
a rule in your outposts, and that to get out of a farm and into a
fighting formation requires forethought, prearrangement, and test
practice, and usually entails the improvement of existing exits, and
the blocking of all approaches, etc.

One of the rules, in all contact with the enemy, is always to do the
opposite to what you appear to him to be about to do, _e.g._ never
go straight to the point for which you are really making. Never come
straight back to your support. Mystify him as much as you can. Never
do the same thing two days running. Always come back from a patrol by
a different way from that by which you went out. When alone go across
country rather than on the tracks. Patrols should go across open
country in the dark and be in observation and concealed before dawn.
Cunning rather than audacity is required, and should be rewarded when
it has good results.

Scouts have a hard time, and it is most important to have relays of
them and not to let them go out too many nights running. They must
also learn to put up with or remain impervious to that foolish and
abominable remark of Tommy Knowall, the young and inexperienced staff
or intelligence officer: “WE knew all that before.” If chased in by
superior numbers, double as a buck or fox does directly you are out of

If you are scouting near the enemy’s lines do not take cover on your
side of rocks, bushes, etc., but on theirs, and turn your horses and
pretend to look back at your own side. They will hesitate to fire on
you at 700 yards or upwards, as they will think you are their own
scouts riding in. But never permit a party of your own scouts to ride
in to your line without sending one of their number to gallop on and
tell you who they are. A shot “across the bows” of one of your own
parties which is coming into a line of videttes or bivouac, without
taking this precaution, will soon teach them all to do so. _À propos_
of this, “punishments should fit the crime,” they are more easily
remembered; after all, punishments are for the prevention of similar
conduct in others and not retaliatory.

A high standard of conduct, zeal, and bravery comes from the example
set in the first few encounters of coolness and light-heartedness. A
C.O. whose men were under a wearing fire was sent a message by a troop
leader, who did not quite enjoy the situation, asking, “What shall I
do?” The reply was, “Give your men the second lecture on musketry.”

No one likes to be out of the fashion, and it is desirable to lay
stress on not coming off second best to the enemy; to give him more
than you get; to make him pay for his audacity heavily, and so on.
To do so distracts the men’s minds from your own losses in dead or
wounded men, etc., of which you must make little.[58] Much mourning
for the dead makes men sorry for themselves too, and has a bad effect.
Shakespeare tells us:

    Wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss,
    But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.

    (3 _Henry VI._ v. 4.)

Deceiving the enemy by ruses, and killing or taking him prisoner, is
very desirable, and plans for doing so should be thought over and
deliberately carried out. Henderson, _Science of War_, p. 101, says:

  To sustain the _moral_ of his own men; to break down the _moral_ of
  his enemy--these are the great objects which, if he be ambitious of
  success, the leader must always keep in view.

Shaikh Sadi says:

  If thou art harsh the foe will fight shy of thee; if thou art
  lenient they will be audacious and forward.

If the force to which you belong suffers reverses early in the war,
“traitors,” “spies,” etc., are words which one may hear, and they will
be applied ungenerously, indiscriminately, and invariably wrongly. Any
talk of this sort should be sternly repressed; it is due to a craven
desire to blame others for their own cowardice, which some men, curs
and runaways themselves, are base enough to indulge in. This will
certainly not help them to be brave on future occasions, whilst it
serves to disintegrate a force. It will be found that on those men who
are practised frequently in going up to the enemy’s pickets before
dawn, and retiring gradually, there is not, even in a severe retreat,
the same bad moral effect which there is on unpractised men.

A very important point to impress on your men is the following. No
horseman should believe that he cannot escape capture, or that a
bullet will hit him. Let it be clearly understood by all that, as the
saying goes, “A horseman and a heavy shower of rain can get through
anything.” Snap-shots fired by men in haste, or when excited, never do
hit any one who is mounted and moving, especially if the firer is being
“peppered” himself. A very good reason this for arranging for covering
fire, if only by one rifle, when riding up to ground likely to be held
by the enemy’s pickets. Another point to be remembered by scouts is
that when they get into the dead ground, which is almost always to be
found in front of a hill, they should always change both their pace
and direction, and arrive at the top of the hill both sooner and at
a different point from where they might be reasonably expected to
arrive. Again, scouts in their advance should invariably look out for
an alternative line of retreat, especially if they cross an obstacle
such as a brook, ditch, or strong fence. They should not expect to see
the enemy’s picket or videttes if they deliberately dismount in view
and look for them. But if they ride back over a hill, disappear, and
then creep back at another point, they are pretty sure to see some
heads coming up.

In all the arrangements to be made for sending out scouts, never
neglect the value of darkness for getting near the enemy’s lines, or
through their line of pickets. What can be done with ease then, is
impossible in daytime for the cleverest scout in the world, and it is
foolish and unfair to scouts to ask them to do this; in fact, it is
seldom asked for except by officers unacquainted with their business.
All who have attempted to shoot big game, even in a fair moonlight,
are aware how uncertain their aim is then. Consequently, if a scout
stumbles on a sentry or picket at night, it is twenty chances to one
that he gets off without a bullet in him. This fact it is well to
remember when posting your own pickets, whom you should protect from
being rushed by wires and ropes stretched a foot from the ground, some
ten yards or so from their post, rather than trust to their rifle fire,
for the “bullet is a fool.”

As will be seen from the above, pickets, Cossack posts, and observing
parties should be in position, halted and invisible to the enemy before
dawn, and should not, as a rule, be withdrawn till dusk covers them
from the enemy’s observation. It seems puerile to urge these obviously
common-sense precautions, and they would be omitted were it not that
experience shows that they are most studiously neglected by our regular
and irregular troops till bitter experience teaches their necessity.[59]

Sniping by nervous sentries, which will always take place the first
few nights on which untrained or unseasoned troops are, or think they
are, in contact with the enemy (note the Dogger Bank episode with
Rozhestvenski’s fleet), must, and can be, at once firmly put a stop
to. To do so, give orders that the C.O., adjutant, and regimental
sergeant-major of the corps, in whose section of outposts it occurs,
are at once to go and spend a couple of hours in the outposts, and then
on their return to report whether “all is quiet in the outpost line.”

Young men, especially, are apt to get “rattled” when “on sentry go,”
and to imagine small bushes and so on are the enemy’s scouts. Even
fireflies are known to have been mistaken for the enemy’s lanterns and
subjected to a heavy fire. When the fire had ceased, and it became
evident that they _were_ fireflies and not the enemy with lanterns,
the commander of the picket was much annoyed at receiving an order to
“Push in now and kill the remainder with the bayonet.” Sentries had far
better rouse the rest of the group quietly in case of the enemy really
being on the move towards their picket, and then all may fire a volley
at “point blank” range only.

It is frequently desirable to impress the enemy with a mistaken
estimate of your strength. This might be done by sending a detachment
out some hours before dawn towards your base, then before it is light
they turn round and march in to your bivouac in full daylight and in
sight of the enemy as reinforcements.

There are obviously many plans by which an enemy can be deceived as
to the strength of your force, if you can work behind cover, by first
showing a number of men in one place and then in another. It is well
to remember that even if an enemy sees you acting with duplicity the
effect is by no means a bad one, as next time he sees you moving in
your real direction he may think the action is for his benefit, and
covers a movement from an entirely different direction.

In the outposts a knowledge of strategy and battle tactics is most
necessary, and every officer should try to make himself thoroughly
acquainted with the terrain, geography, and strategical issues of the
campaign, otherwise he may miss great chances, and his extracts from
the information, which he will get first of all, may be valueless
instead of being such as will bring him to the favourable notice of his
superiors. Nor should his superiors forget the late Admiral Makarov’s
opinion, that “a sub-lieutenant acting intelligently and sensibly was
more useful to the state than a flag officer who was carrying out to
the letter an order which he did not clearly understand.”

In regard to terrain, if, as is most probable, the map is on a very
small scale, the general direction of the watershed is one of the best
general helps in finding the way.

It is absolutely necessary for any cavalry scout moving at night to
know enough of the stars to orient himself and to guess correctly
the time. British troops serve in so many parts of the world that
no special instructions can be given, but Orion is one of the
constellations which may prove useful, and which is quite unmistakable.

To establish a system by which you “picket the enemy,” which may be
defined as placing observers round him so that he can make no movement
without your knowledge, is the acme of good work in the outpost line:
it is almost a counsel of perfection. But there are two points which
deserve consideration in this connection: the first is that the
mounted men whom you employ for this purpose must know, or have time
to learn, the country thoroughly; and the second is that, however
thoroughly you may imagine that you have picketed the enemy, he will
be able to move out of his environment at night, and if your safety
is based on knowledge of his movements he will, as likely as not,
upset your calculations. This deduction is drawn from facts. The Boers
habitually picketed our garrison towns and columns, but our columns,
taking the ordinary precautions of moving by night and off the main
tracks or roads, constantly surprised and captured their laagers of
waggons. The “desultory operations for two or three years in South
Africa,” 1899-1902, contain no unusual circumstances, we are told,
but one is tempted to consider whether the outpost system evolved out
of their own consciousness by the Boers was not better than that so
laboriously studied by us in former days at Sandhurst. Our system was
almost entirely directed towards “security,” and largely neglected
“information.” Theirs studied information of the enemy first, a desire
for security being a secondary consideration.[60]

As regards a service of information, certainly an idea of using contact
squadrons had long been known and considered by us. Had we not long
ago read the fascinating account of Curély’s adventures in De Brack,
and also the “Conduct of a Contact Squadron,” translated from the
German? But it soon became evident in South Africa that it was not
very easy to carry out; every native was of assistance to the Boers,
and afraid to serve us, even if we understood their language and could
interrogate them. In this respect the Russians in Manchuria were almost
similarly handicapped. It will usually be the same in war; one side can
go anywhere, the other finds every man’s hand against it. Under these
circumstances, to lay down one law for both sides is obviously folly.
Every report on the Peninsular War shows the extent to which the French
were handicapped by the guerrillas, and how our troops were assisted.

De Brack and many other writers make it plain that whilst from 1805 up
to, perhaps, 1812 information was easily gained by the French cavalry
for Napoleon, later a complete change came over the scene, and the
Cossacks, overrunning the country, picketed the French columns. Perhaps
the natives were weary of French exactions, but in any case the result
is said to have been that “the genius of the Emperor was paralysed by
the activity of the Cossacks.”

We have at least four or five instances where one side’s light cavalry
or guerrillas “paralysed the genius” of the other’s generals by gaining
superiority in the outposts, or, rather, anywhere outside their
opponent’s outposts: (_a_) in 1812, 1813, 1814; (_b_) in the Peninsular
War; (_c_) in the early part of the American Civil War; (_d_) in the
South African War; and (_e_) in the Manchurian War.

With these examples before us it must become a serious factor in taking
thought for a campaign, how far the cavalry will be able to effect
this. Our training must be such as to enable us to play this part,
of picketing the enemy, if possible; certainly we should do so in a
friendly country.[61] We know it is usually only done by the side
which has a knowledge of the country; but may not the almost universal
knowledge of map-reading in the cavalry and a good supply of maps
obviate this? But let us remember above all things that nothing will be
done in war which has not by constant practice become a second nature
in peace. Let us then practise not only our officers, but our men, in
picketing every large body of troops which train within fifty miles of

Often C.O.’s, shortsightedly we think, do not welcome the attention of
cavalry thus picketing them; but even if this is the case, it may still
be practised by our cavalry, but in a way which does not draw attention
to the fact--the training will be none the worse, and (though perhaps
hardly in this sense) the “offensive spirit” must be second nature to

The instruction of cavalry in outpost work is difficult, because in
the first place many parts of the duty make great demands on the
instructor’s imagination, powers of explanation, and what we may call
ability for stage management.

In teaching recruits, it is far better, instead of saying “You will
imagine the enemy are in that direction,” to say, “Those red flags
carried by horsemen, or those men in the white caps _are_ the enemy.”
Farther, the parties carrying the red flags should, in order to show
that they are enemies, take some action, such as to come within about
800 to 600 yards, and shoot with blank at the parties of recruits,
retiring when the latter return the fire, etc., etc. Beginning from
this point the recruit may be asked by the instructor how they
would suggest that the duties of a vedette, or, better, “look-out
man”[63] should be carried out, and he will then gradually impart to
them the accepted mode of outpost duty, which is, after all is said
and done, only common sense. For it is certain that, under active
service conditions, men learn very quickly by their own mother-wit in
real dangers and difficulties what precautions are necessary. These
services are consequently ill taught by theoretical instruction in the
barrack-room, and well taught if the work is done from the start in
the open, and, for choice, in unknown ground and with a represented
enemy. The ground also must be changed constantly, and this, certainly
in the United Kingdom, is difficult, and makes considerable demands
on horse-flesh and on the instructor’s time. But it is the one thing
for which horse-flesh must not be grudged, even though the work is
thankless from the point of view of immediate reward or recognition,
for it is work which presents more difficulties in regard to inspection
than any other; consequently, a careful instructor gets little or no
credit for his work till war begins. It is only then that the immense
difference between the cavalry or infantry, who are well grounded and
thoroughly honest in their outpost work and those who are not so, comes
to light in so-called “regrettable incidents.”

A cunning enemy will soon discriminate between those who do their
outpost work well and those who do it carelessly, and will attack the
latter. It may be of interest to state that a very close union soon
grows up between regiments of cavalry and infantry in a column, where
there is a mutual recognition of honest work in the outposts, whilst
there is a wholesome detestation for slack regiments. A most important
point is to train men in the duty of night outposts, whilst the
subordinate leaders should have it dinned into their minds that there
is always a definite point beyond which no one is to retire. It has
been very truly said that sentries always think of retiring on groups,
groups on pickets, pickets on supports, and supports on reserves, with
the result that the enemy is in camp before you know where you are.

The training of regiments in the duties of outpost work cannot
be carried out really satisfactorily and thoroughly unless the
regiment goes into camp for a few days. Otherwise, many of the
real difficulties, such as the cooking and supplies of food, the
off-saddling, watering, reliefs of sentries and pickets, lighting of
fires, arrangements for men to get a good sleep, are never grasped.




One often hears a party of cavalrymen employed on reconnoitring work
blamed because they continue to observe or follow up the enemy,
whom they have just discovered, without a thought of conveying the
information to those who sent them out. But this forgetfulness is not
to be wondered at when we call to mind that in the first few weeks
of the 1870 war German officers were sent on long rides of 60 or 70
miles, whilst little or no arrangement was made for the purpose of
transmitting the information, obtained at great risk and trouble. It
leads one to think that the subject of despatch-riding is one of those
points connected with war of which the knowledge lapses or rusts in
peace-time, or, like the manufacture of Waterford glass, becomes a lost

To begin with, to train men in the duties of despatch-riding with
anything like thoroughness entails a certain amount of prearrangement
for food, forage, and shelter for men and horses; for it cannot
be taught in the immediate vicinity of the town where the men are
quartered. In war it may entail cross-country work, if capture is
to be avoided; whilst the task on roads can often be carried out
much better by cyclists. It is suggested that this little-practised
art, despatch-riding, may be made to take a form which will serve an
excellent purpose in the general instruction of the cavalryman. By
it he will learn (1) to take notice of the country passed through;
(2) to see a good reason for the trouble now taken to instruct him in
map-reading; (3) to gain immensely in self-reliance; (4) to become an
expert in campaigning horse-management; (5) to gain knowledge of pace.

In regard to the last point, pace, it may be interesting to give some
particulars of a despatch-riding scheme. In this exercise a series
of despatches were sent from the east to the west of Ireland, 120
miles as the crow flies and about 135 by road, under the following
circumstances:--About eighty cavalrymen under two years’ service and
two subalterns were billeted along a certain route. The base of this
route was shifted north or south after a few days, causing the greater
part of the line to be altered. Two messages per diem were sent off at
uncertain hours of day or night, and were carried on from post to post
without intermission. The men were provided with maps at 4 miles to
the inch. Three regiments furnished the above detachment for this work
in three successive fortnights. The first regiment brought or took the
despatches through on the average in twenty-eight hours; the second
regiment in twenty-four hours; the third regiment in twenty-two hours.
The pace was not to exceed the walk and trot. The roads were in fair

When instruction in despatch-riding takes place, it is of considerable
importance to shift the line to one flank or another after a few days.
This may have to be done at any time in an unfriendly country, and,
though it makes the exercise much more difficult, is capital practice.

In several of Napoleon’s campaigns there are incidentally indications
of the extensive use then made of despatch-riders. In the course of the
Jena Campaign Murat is reproached by Napoleon, who writes to him as

  A despatch took six hours to come to hand from Kronach to
  Coburg--15 miles. This is not quick enough. You have not placed a
  service of despatch-riders as I told you to do.

In the Ulm campaign despatches were sent through at regular intervals
from Murat’s column of cavalry in the Black Forest to Napoleon many
miles away on his left, but this work was usually performed by officers
riding despatch.


Nearly all men brought up in the country have a certain instinct, and
habitually read the story of tracks on the ground wherever they go, but
the remainder require a considerable amount of training not to ride
over the most obvious tracks without any observation and deduction.
A few lessons of following tracks in the early morning after a wet
night across country and along roads will tend to establish this very
necessary habit in a cavalry soldier, and once acquired, it will last
him a lifetime.

The institution of regimental scouts has gone far to train our troops
in all these forms of useful knowledge, and where commanding officers
make a point of passing all those who are likely to come on for
promotion to N.C.O.’s, through the scouts’ course, the advance of the
regiment in a most useful, but not very showy, accomplishment has been
most marked. In all this form of instruction it is well worth while to
make the schemes interesting and even romantic, and let them run to
a conclusion which depends largely on the cunning and ability of the
officers and men engaged.

There can surely be few more marked successes in the efforts of the
nation to “return to the wild” in the body, whilst raising the mind to
the higher levels, than the institution of “Boy Scouts,” and it is one
which every genuine soldier must heartily welcome.

In all detached work where the cavalryman is engaged “on his own”
against well-armed men, far more dangerous antagonists than any wild
animals, there usually comes a time when prudence calls loudly to
the ordinary man to turn and so avoid the chance of a bullet, whilst
duty tells him that he should try and see or find out more. There
is no reward in sight, there are no onlookers to applaud, there is
none of the retriever dog’s instinct to save, which leads men to
sacrifice their life in pulling out a comrade; there may be a love
for excitement and taking chances, but it is soon dulled by frequent
experiences, or there may be the callousness resulting from daily risk.
It is at these times that the previous training and bringing up, the
tone of his corps and comrades, and the thought that he has a duty to
those comrades, may have a good deal to say to a man alone with his

The sneering, niggling cynic will calculate, “What reward is there for
this?” and go back ready to lie, whilst the honest soldier will go
forward ready to take his medicine, even if he feels the anticipatory
pain about the third button of the waistcoat. That was the right sort
of man, who, when chaffed by a comrade for his evident trepidation,
replied, “Yes, and if you were half as much afraid as I am, you would
run away.” It is the reasoned four-o’clock-in-the-morning courage,
determination, and honesty, backed by a trained knowledge of his duty,
that is needed when the cavalry soldier is on detached work.


To make prisoners is often one of the most important means of obtaining
information. Prisoners almost invariably will give information quite
willingly. Incidentally this is a point which should be known to all
cavalry officers, who should constantly warn their men: first, that
they are certain to be cleverly questioned if taken prisoner; second,
if that fails, they will probably be placed where pretended prisoners
of war can hear their conversation, and so on; third, threats and
inducements will be made use of.


This is work for which a detachment of cavalry is frequently told
off to do the advanced, flank, and rear guards. In order to save the
horses, it will be found best to divide the respective forces and
work _en bondes_, moving quickly over open ground, and getting into
successive positions where cover is available. In each of these a rest,
and possibly a mouthful of grass, will serve to keep the horses fresh.

Nothing is more annoying to a column commander, who has regard for
his horses, than to see one of his mounted men using his horse as an
easy-chair whilst delay takes place at some difficult crossing. Strict
orders are necessary in this matter. Many a time have we seen an
irascible commanding officer ride up behind one of these spectators and
jerk him violently off his horse.

It may not be out of place here to say that an escort to a convoy
should invariably be at least twice the strength of any force which is
likely to attack it. The handicap of being tied to a convoy following a
certain route and supplying detachments for advanced and flank guards
and of fighting on ground of the enemy’s choosing, etc., necessitates
this, if safety is desired. Small parties of horsemen should be sent
on, wide of and parallel to the road, to get touch of the enemy; the
principle of separating the rôle of information and security is thus
adhered to.



The very idea of a cavalry raid is attractive and carries with it a
certain romance.

It is impossible to do otherwise than admire the boldness of the
conception of Stuart’s raid in 1862, when, with 1200 men and two
guns, he rode right round the Federal lines, alarmed McClellan, and
caused him to withdraw troops to cover his line of cavalry and thus
weaken his first line. Yet even this raid, brilliant as it was and
tactically successful, is said to be strategically a mistake. For, to
quote General Alexander’s _American Civil War_, it “seriously alarmed
McClellan for his rear. But for it the probabilities are he would never
have given the subject any thought, and he certainly would not have
been prepared with a fleet of loaded transports on hand when he was,
soon after, forced to change his base to Harrison’s landing on the
James River.... On the whole, therefore, the _éclat_ of our brilliant
raid lost us much more than its results were worth. Where important
strategy is on foot, too great care can scarcely be used to avoid
making any such powerful suggestion to the enemy as resulted in this

Similarly the raid in 1863, by the same general, had disastrous results
for the Confederates. Lee was then preparing for his campaign north of
the Potomac. Stuart proposed moving with the cavalry in between the
Federal army and Washington, and rejoining the main army when north of
the Potomac. Lee, unfortunately, sanctioned it, and Stuart set out on
the 24th June, did some minor damage to the Federals, but lost Lee, not
rejoining him till late in the afternoon of the 2nd July, the second
day of the battle of Gettysburg. Had Lee had his cavalry with him, that
campaign might have had a very different ending. Therefore, in this
case, the timing of the raid was wrong, and of benefit only to the

The value of Gourko’s raid across the Balkans in July 1877, when in
eight days he carried dismay into the heart of Turkey, destroyed parts
of the railroad and telegraph on the principal lines, and gained a
great deal of information as to Turkish movements, appears to be
undoubted. His force, however, was not entirely a cavalry one.

Coming to a more recent date, in the Manchurian War, the Japanese, only
a few days before the battle of Mukden, by means of an undertaking
against the rear of the Russians, which was carried out by two Japanese
squadrons (280 men), marching as quickly as possible by night and
hiding by day, succeeded in reaching an important railway bridge 200
kilometres north of Tieh-ling and in rear of the Russians. The troops
covering the bridge were surprised at night, and their attention
was thus drawn away from the bridge, which a skilfully-led patrol
succeeded in blowing up. The railway service was interrupted for
several days. A regular panic set in among the Russian Headquarter
Staff. The immediate result was that 8000 Russian troops were diverted
for the defence of the line and were unable to take part in the
decisive battle at Mukden: an instance of most admirable timing of a

It is true that cavalry raids may disorganize the lines of
communication “which in the case of large armies,” as Bernhardi says,
“have increased in importance.” But, on the other hand, we must
remember that well-organized lines of communication are now almost
invariably railways. On these there is a most efficient engineer
service, with a breakdown train and gang of trained road-layers and
menders always ready. These are able to mend a railway in approximately
the same time that it takes to break it up. It is only badly organized
lines of communication which are really vulnerable,--though we must
not forget that the blowing up of a French bridge near the frontier in
1870, during the siege of Paris, very nearly caused the siege to be

The pages of De Brack’s _Light Cavalry Outposts_ are full of instances
of successful raids, those of which Curély was the hero being specially
attractive and effective.[64] In our own knowledge are the raids of
De Wet and others on our line of communication in South Africa, which
entailed a large number of troops being allotted to the defence of
the railway; whilst little less effective were the operations of our
columns against the Boers when, hiding by day and riding by night,
they swooped down upon the Boers and captured their herds of cattle
and horses. The Boers suffered little inconvenience from those columns
which had not recourse to methods combining speed with avoidance of
observation, and with secrecy in their preparation.

All these operations are obviously those which are favoured by
“conditions of sparsely-settled terrain and very partially-developed
telegraphic communication, and few roads and railways,” and the success
of many of the American raids forms no basis for the assumption, so
often made, that equal results would attend their employment in Europe
outside Russia.[65]

The other side of the question may be seen in some of the unsuccessful
raids entered upon by both sides in the American War, when raids became
“the fashion”--raids, which were not only unsuccessful, but which even
had the effect of depriving their own side of their cavalry at a most
important juncture, quite apart from the number of cavalry horses
rendered useless.

A typical instance of this is seen in Wheeler’s raid on the Federal
lines of communications. When beaten off at Dalton he made his way
into East Tennessee; his subsequent operations in that region had no
effect upon the fortune of the two armies battling round Atlanta.
Hood, deprived of Wheeler’s cavalry--“the eyes of his army”--found
himself in the dark as to Sherman’s movements. On the evening of the
27th he jumped hastily to the conclusion that Wheeler’s raid had been
successful, and that Sherman’s army was retiring from lack of supplies
to the other side of the Chattahoochee. For forty-eight hours he
adhered to this strange delusion, and by that time the Federals had
gained a position from which it was impossible to dislodge them.[66]

Quite without permanent result were the big raids by De Wet into the
Cape Colony and by Botha into Natal, both of which caused the loss of
many overridden horses, and had a bad moral effect on the Boers, who
were hunted from pillar to post; but the attack on our mule transport
in rear of the columns moving on Kimberley and Paardeberg was an
excellent piece of work and far-reaching in its effect.

Again, the Russian raids against the Japanese were strangely
unfortunate in their results, but it is probable that sufficient
secrecy was not observed prior to these raids moving off.

Taking Mischenko’s raid or reconnaissance into Northern Korea early in
the Russo-Japanese War as an instance, it is interesting to see the
manner, first, in which it was met by the Japanese; second, in which
it allowed itself to be distracted from the main object. This raid was
sent to find out what force of Japanese was in front of the Russians,
and, arriving at Chon Chou at 11 A.M., “tumbled upon” a town garrison,
deployed five sotnias in all, keeping one in reserve, thus voluntarily
renouncing its mobility to attack a town. The result might have been
foretold. The force was held in front by two squadrons dismounted and
attacked by one squadron mounted on the flank, meanwhile a Japanese
infantry battalion is brought up at the double. Result: retirement of
the Russians, reconnaissance practically valueless.

In the case of General Mischenko’s long ride to Yinkov with fifty-three
sotnias of Cossacks, four commandos of mounted scouts, twenty-two guns,
and four machine guns, the primary object of the raid, and a notable
one, was to interrupt the junction of the Japanese troops, freed by
the fall of Port Arthur, with those on the Shaho, a quite secondary
objective being the stores at Yinkov. 1500 pack-horses accompanied
the column. 30 kilometres were covered in two days. On the third day
the garrisons of Hai-cheng (1500) and Ta-shih-chiao, somewhat larger
(the distance between these towns being 20 miles), sufficed to turn
the leader of 9000 cavalry from his first objective, and to send him
towards Yinkov. Here he dismounted sixteen sotnias for a night attack,
but, meeting with wire entanglements and a vigorous resistance, retired.

Nothing had been effected.

Rennenkampf’s reconnaissance on the 9th May to Kuan-tien-cheng. Force
at his disposal one battalion, ten sotnias, and eight guns. We read
that, making “two very trying marches,” he reaches Kuan-tien-cheng
with six sotnias. “The remainder of the detachment had been left behind
at various points on the line of communication, partly on account of
the exhaustion of the men and horses, partly to secure its line of
retreat. As the march had been carried out without any regard to the
pace of the various arms, the detachment was completely scattered.”
A Japanese force of 400 infantry left the town, but shortly returned
reinforced by a battalion, which unexpectedly attacked and drove the
Russians away. The result of the reconnaissance was nil. And so on....
Rennenkampf was indefatigable. But the work “though so fruitless had
exhausted the sotnias, which were now considerably under strength, and
most of the horses had sore backs,” and so it will always be. Those who
have seen the state of men and horses after four, three, or even two
nights in the saddle will not need assurance on this subject.

Von Pelet Narbonne puts down the general failure of Russian raids to
the small value of the Cossacks, who were not trained in offensive
dismounted action, nor possessed with a keen desire to use the sword.
He then compares the method of the Japanese, whose tactics were more
suited in his opinion to the intricate and mountainous nature of the
country. They sent infantry with their cavalry, who carried out the
unavoidable reconnaissance combat. This method certainly economized the
cavalry, an arm in which the Japanese were very deficient. Again, the
Japanese cavalry frequently met the Russian cavalry by dismounted fire
from the mud walls of villages, and were mistaken by them for infantry.

What, then, are the general conclusions at which we arrive?--

1st. That big raids seldom have results which justify the loss and wear
and tear of the horses and men.

2nd. That a raid must not be entered upon except with a special and
adequate purpose and as a result of careful reconnaissance by spies and

3rd. That once entered upon, the leader must devote himself to carrying
out his mission and not allow himself to be turned aside on any account

4th. That a small, swift, well-hidden raid on a line of communication
made at a favourable moment may cause the detachment of a large number
of troops, whose absence will be felt in the decisive battle.

5th. That raids against which the enemy has made preparations are
purposeless, but are nevertheless often made by cavalry leaders, lest
they should incur the reproach of having done nothing.

6th. That the first raids in a war are often successful.

7th. That a friendly country favours raids, and conversely an enemy’s
country renders them difficult to the verge of impracticability.

8th. That cavalry should not be sent off on raids when required for
action on a battlefield.

9th. That a raid is like any other detachment, _i.e._ if it succeeds in
drawing away from the decisive point at the right time a stronger force
than itself, it is justified; and therefore the chief point to consider
in planning a raid is its timing.



  “However much thou art read in theory, if thou hast no practice
  thou art ignorant. He is neither a sage philosopher nor an acute
  divine, but a beast of burden with a load of books. How can that
  brainless head know or comprehend whether he carries on his back a
  library or bundle of faggots?”--SADI, _Gulistan_, p. 273.

As each year passes it appears to be more difficult to get officers
for the cavalry, consequently any attempt to state what is the best
way to train them is always subject to the proviso of the old-time
cookery-book, “First catch your hare.” We all know the type of officer
required, but we are also aware how hard it is to get him. He has been
described over and over again, and can be seen in any cavalry regiment;
a man who combines an addiction to, and some knowledge of, field
sports, involving horses, with sufficient intelligence to pass into
Sandhurst. In order to catch this hare, mess expenses in cavalry have
been reduced to a minimum. He is given chargers by Government; they are
hired by him if used for other than military purposes, but otherwise
they are not paid for. Uniform has been made less expensive. Finally,
examinations have been relaxed, though certainly an increase of pay
has not yet been tried. And still parents and guardians hesitate to
send their sons into a service which affords a better training and
discipline of mind, body, and manners for the first few years, than is
available in any other profession.

Extravagances in the old days have frightened candidates for cavalry
commissions away. The more irresponsible press write against the
Cavalry.[67] Fewer country gentlemen can afford the requisite allowance
to their sons.[68] Expenditure all round has increased, whilst incomes,
at any rate those derived from land, have shrunk. More youngsters go
abroad to the colonies. “How hardly shall the rich man enter” the
barrack gate now, when so much more work is to be done![69] All honour
to him when he does so, and sticks to his profession. Hard work,
danger, adversity are the making of a man, and those who fear or shirk
such are not likely to make good cavalry officers, or, for the matter
of that, good citizens of the Empire. A short comparison of the life
of the cavalry officer thirty to forty years ago and nowadays may
elucidate this to some extent.

Then, as a rule, throughout the winter one parade per week, a horse
parade on Saturday, took place. The officer who could afford to do so
could hunt every day in the week as long as he went round his stables
once during the day. Only the orderly officer (and often his belt was
taken by the adjutant, or riding master, or a sergeant-major in the
winter) remained in barracks. Sometimes there appeared in orders for
Saturday: “Riding School for officers not hunting.” In the summer there
were no manœuvres, and only in very exceptional cases was there brigade
training. A regimental parade under the C.O. once a week. An adjutant’s
drill (only officers junior to the adjutant being present) once a week.
All training of men, and they were of longer service then, was done
by the adjutant and regimental drill instructors; men and horses were
handed over, theoretically ready for the ranks, to the troop officer.
To sum up, then, the pay was nominal, and the enforced work was ditto.

Nowadays young officers begin work at daybreak and go on till midday,
1 o’clock, or perhaps till 3 P.M. The squadron officer is now training
a succession of men for the Reserve. There is winter training, then
squadron training, regimental, brigade, and possibly divisional
training. The men are trained to a much higher standard, and they are
trained now by the squadron officers and not by the adjutant and his

The nation, supremely ignorant in regard to the detail of military
matters, hardly appreciates the fact (i.) that nowadays a cavalry
officer does at least twice as much work as he did formerly, and (ii.)
that the cavalry officer not only devotes his life to a patriotic idea,
but must also devote a large portion of his income, at least £200 to
£300 a year, to the same purpose.[70] (iii.) The emoluments which he
derives from the public purse are, if anything, less nowadays than a
hundred years ago.

The old type of cavalry officer, who joined the service for the
amusement to be derived from it, is scarcer; but still he is to
be found, and he faces hard work cheerfully and well. Against the
discouraging influences, and the worst of these is “worry” substituted
for “work,” he has his _esprit de corps_ and a fondness for the life,
which is an open-air one, and in many respects an interesting one.

For the first few years or so of his service an excess of book
knowledge is not required, but it is desirable that the young cavalry
officer should be able to express himself clearly in words or on
paper, and this he must gain by thinking clearly. Let us consider his
duties in those first years, and then we shall see what to teach him.
The principle has always been maintained that it is right to work
him hard when he first joins, and later he can drop into the pace of
the remainder. You must teach him to ride and to train a horse. A few
officers can do this when they join, and think they are fit to pass out
of the riding school at once. But this is not the case; they have next
to learn to teach others. Again, he must learn to shoot. He must learn
to groom and shoe a horse, and to apply simple remedies. He must learn
the few main rules of tactics, reconnaissance, and scouting. He must
learn cavalry pioneering. He must learn to use his personal weapon on
foot and horseback. All these he must learn, not merely so that he is
able to do them himself, but so that he may be able to instruct and be
an example to others. He will be taught the care of his men’s health
in barracks and on service. He may even be taught book-keeping, and he
will certainly learn something of house economy on the mess committee.

But the high-spirited youngster whom we want, and who can leave the
service when he wants to, must in some respects be treated like a blood
horse, whom we feel we can guide, but cannot stop at a single stride’s
notice, as we could a temperate old horse. We must preserve his verve
and desire to take the initiative, even if it occasionally leads him to
do wrong, when we should remember the great legal maxim, “If the heart
is right,” and also our own youthful days.

The addiction to manly, and especially to rough and dangerous, field
sports must be regarded as an immense asset towards efficiency for war.
Time spent in the chase, “the image of war,” must not be regarded as
so many hours less given to his employer by the cavalry officer. We
particularly want the hunting breed of man, because he goes into danger
for the love of it.[71] He must also be able to perform any of the
diverse duties which he may be called on to carry out on service, such
as to fortify a village, construct a pontoon, court-martial a prisoner,
and so on.

It is very desirable that he should have as much as possible
practically taught to him. A knowledge of the tactics of the other
arms should be gained thus, and we are responsible for giving the
opportunities, since this will not and cannot be learnt theoretically;
_verb. sap._ Officers, _faute de mieux_, should be sent to infantry
camps and artillery practice camps, not to gun and company drill. This
attachment to other arms is carried out by some nations, and especially
France, to a far greater extent than in our service. It is invaluable
in breaking down the watertight compartment system of training, and in
establishing a closer union of arms.

The elements of strategy should also be taught. A few good lectures by
an officer who has a taste for this will teach more than a six months’
poring over books, for which during his first three years a young
officer has little time to spare. At the same time the genuine soldier
cannot but be interested in questions of strategy. A knowledge of it
gives an entirely new aspect to what might otherwise appear rather dull

Then you may say that after three years of this “our young officer is
complete and a valuable asset”?

“Far from it.”

“But what more can be asked of him? This covers the complete syllabus,
appendices, etc., etc.”

“There is one thing without which all this is as ‘that which profiteth

“And that is?”

“He must have a strong sense of DUTY, without which he is ‘as sounding
brass or a tinkling cymbal.’”

Now man is not born with a sense of duty (though the most riotous young
hound often becomes the best in the pack); it has to be taught; it
has to be learnt practically as well as theoretically; it has to be
borne in on him by precept and example as an excellent, a noble and a
desirable thing, a thing in which to glory. What is it? The abnegation
of self, the working for the good of all, _in foro conscientiae_, and,
above all, without making difficulties.

The French _Manuel du gradé de cavalerie_, p. 12, gives the following
definition: “Le dévouement, le sentiment généreux qui pousse l’homme
à faire le sacrifice de sa vie pour le salut de la patrie et de ses

He must learn that the “superiority which disciplined soldiers
show over undisciplined masses is primarily the consequence of the
confidence which each has in his comrades” (Von der Goltz, _Nation in
Arms_, p. 162).

The young officer begins by having a pride in his troop, squadron,
and regiment, by trying by his own individual exertions first to make
himself fit to lead and instruct, and next to make his own unit better
than others. If he does not set the example of being better than
others, he will not render much help to the men serving under him. They
will look to him, admiring what is good in him and despising what is
bad, summing him up, weighing him in mind, if not in words, as they see
him.[72] And the eyes of a regiment see everything. He must be a very
acute dissembler who can escape the five hundred pairs of eyes which
watch him at every turn. This alone is a good training for any man.
Very much indeed naturally depends on the influences under which an
officer falls on joining a regiment.

A strict but just commanding officer, who works, but does not worry,
the men under him, makes not only a good regiment, but a regiment
which will fight well in war, whilst a slack and indulgent commanding
officer, even if just, will soon lessen a regiment’s discipline to
an extent which will render it of little value in war. In peace, to
be sure, no one takes much notice of this fact, but in war the slack
commanding officer becomes an object of detestation to all concerned,
and he invariably “lets in” every one. He is most despised by the very
men whom he tries to save from dangers. It is a curious fact in human
nature that usually they think he is doing this because he himself is

If, however, there are altogether some four or five really good
officers of various ranks in a regiment, their influence and
peace-activity will save the regiment from much that even a slack
commanding officer can do to its detriment. All young officers fall
under their influence, and there remains a substratum of rock under the
shifting sands.

Von der Goltz says (_Nation in Arms_, p. 144): “Every regiment brings
into the field a certain character of its own.” That character depends
on its officers--often on one officer long since dead and gone. In one
regiment the shoeing was remarkably good; it transpired that a former
colonel, a martinet dead thirty years before, used to “break” the
farrier if a horse lost a shoe in the field.

With his duties and his sports, for the first two or three years in a
good regiment, the subaltern has no time to think, and if he is the
right man in the right place, enjoys himself thoroughly.

Let us now hark forrard to the full-fledged cavalry officer of three
to seven years’ service who is learning to command a squadron, and may
find himself doing so often enough. He has now time to look round,
and much depends again on the tone of the regiment and the man himself
whether he takes to his profession seriously or “soldiers” on to pass
the time pleasantly. He may aspire to be a staff officer, or a good
regimental officer, or may have no aspirations.

With the staff officer we are not concerned; what we are now
considering is, What process will render the regimental cavalry officer
of most value to the service? Constant drills and parades will not do
so; they belong to the past. To put first spit and polish and show
parades is a thing of the past in nearly all minds. But this must not
be taken to mean that drill is not necessary. Those who have led in war
drilled and undrilled men aver, with reason, that smooth, easy working
and confident leading only exist where the men have been carefully
drilled. A good deal can be done at a slow, go-as-you-please pace with
semi-drilled intelligent men, but they have no chance, especially in
cases of emergency, against men of lower intelligence, well trained by
the officer who leads them. Drill in the evolutions necessary in the
field is consequently essential to a high standard of fighting ability.
To drill well largely resolves itself into the power to observe
and correct faults in such a way that the impression remains. The
experienced drill and the coach of a racing eight know by experience
that, owing to the imperfections of man’s nature, they are bound to
meet with certain faults which will have an unsteadying and deterrent
effect on the squadron’s or boat’s progress. They address themselves
to the correction of these characteristic faults, explaining their
reasons, often affecting decorative, if forceful epithets, similes, and
expressions, just as a preacher or orator does, in order to give point
and pungency to his discourse and to make it remembered. Von Schmidt in
his _Cavalry Instructions_ usually details at the end of each paragraph
bearing on an evolution or practice their characteristic faults, and
the cause, effect, and cure of these. Primed with a knowledge of these,
and possessed of some small power of explanation, the squadron or troop
officer will soon make an astonishing difference in his command’s power
of evolution. Without them, he too often gropes in the dark.

What we would suggest, then, is to encourage this officer (i.)
constantly to practise the situations in which he and his men may find
themselves in war, and (ii.) to train and exercise his command so that
it is difficult for circumstances to arise of which they have not had
some previous experience;[73] (iii.) to practise giving short verbal
orders in the saddle in proper form (_vide_ _F.S.R._, Part I.) till
it becomes a second nature, both in himself to give orders thus, and
his command to place those orders in their mind and act upon them in a
logical sequence; (iv.) to become by practice a person of resource, and
to train his men so that they become “handy men,” _e.g._ able to get a
waggon up and down a steep slope, or improvise rafts, etc., or to place
a farm in a state of defence, and to do so quietly and in an orderly
manner; (v.) to be himself a capable master of his weapons, and able to
instruct intelligently; (vi.) to know the situations in which a battle
on a large scale may place him, and to be able to foresee what are the
probable opportunities of which he may have to take advantage, and so
to train his men that they will act with intelligence in such cases.[74]

Here we must pause whilst we make it plain that the really stupid man,
who has no imagination, makes a very bad officer for training purposes,
because in peace-time he is quite unable to picture to himself what
does happen in an action. The same unfortunate trait makes him a bad
leader in war, because he is unable to picture what the enemy will
most probably do in certain cases. In the cavalry this type of officer
has no place, even in the lower ranks, because the cavalry officer so
frequently has to act by himself, and then the fate of an army may be
dependent on what he sees, or on the information which he sifts and
sends into the chief. As an infantry officer of the same rank he is
more under the eyes of a commanding officer.

What, then, are the conclusions at which we arrive?

1. That we draw on a class who have not been used to much brain work.

2. That the young officer should be for choice country bred, fond of
sport, a “trier,” and must have some private income.

3. That now he works much harder than he used to do, at first
especially; but the work is, or ought to be, congenial work. His pay
is the same as when he did little or no work in peace-time. So he is a
practical patriot.

4. That his work consists largely of teaching others.

5. That many of the attributes which are most desirable, can be tested
by no written examination.

6. That to recognize and do his duty is one of these. As regards this,
much depends on his surroundings in the regiment which he joins.

7. That a cavalry officer as he gets up to three to seven years’
service, though he requires little book learning, requires fairly wide
practical knowledge, also considerable powers of imagination; without
these, his abilities for training his men and for leading them in war
are likely to be defective.

8. Also that the main point which he must regard in all his training is
not only, “Is this a situation in which my command may find itself in
war?” but also, “Is there any situation in war in which my command is
not practised?”



            ... “ignorance is the curse of God,
    Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”


  “War is a business and must be learned like any other

The attributes which a cavalry officer of the rank of squadron
leader and upwards may to advantage possess are so many as to defy
enumeration; some of them really possessed in perfection are so rare
and valuable that _in war_ they may even counterbalance the fact that
their owner is barely able to read or write.

It was not without reason that Napoleon said of Ney: “When a man is as
brave as he is, he is worth his weight in diamonds.”

To cavalry officers of all others are the reflections of Von der Goltz
applicable, when he says: “_Restless activity_ on the part of the
general is the first condition of connected and rapid action in war”;
and then he details the weakening of troops exposed to hardships,
“exertion, and privations of all kinds, fatiguing marches, and wet
nights in bivouac, cheerfully endured for a short time, but not
for months together. They damp martial ardour considerably. A few
privileged natures escape the effect of such conditions, but not so the
mass of men.”

To the officer it is well that it should be known that, as war goes
on, he may expect to find himself weakening, but, as with any other
disease, forewarned is forearmed.

It is a duty to his country for a cavalry officer in peace-time to
take such exercise in the available sports of hunting, pig-sticking,
polo, big-game shooting, and other exercises as will keep muscles
and lungs in condition and training, and his nerves in order. The
cavalry officer, and for that matter the general and staff officer,
who seldom gets on a horse in peace-time, will not suddenly change
his nature in war; on the contrary, the enforced exercise will knock
him up. Long days in the saddle, and nights spent on the outpost line
with an insufficiency of food, the constant strain of vigilance will
tell on most men, in fact in some degree on all men. But the officer
who knows beforehand that he may expect his initiative, firmness,
zeal, and love for action to evaporate somewhat after some months or
even weeks of campaigning will be on the look-out. He will school his
mind and countenance in cheerfulness and lightheartedness before his

    Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
      And merrily hent the stile-a;
    A merry heart goes all the day,
      Your sad tires in a mile-a.

    _Winter’s Tale_, iv. 3.

He will practise himself in firmly repressing all grumbling and
cynicism, in assiduously performing all details of duty, and in
constantly caring for the welfare of his men and horses. “Such
independent persons,” says Emil Reich, “have long since learnt to stand
adversity, to be, as the saying is, ‘good losers.’ This has given
England her peculiar tone, her stamina, her power in adversity.”[75]
With such all will go well, for war is the region of reality in which
there is no place for shams; but woe betide the regiment where the
senior officers set an example of cynicism, grumbling, neglect of duty,
want of zeal; these faults become exaggerated in their subordinates
till they result in the worst military crimes and in the disgrace of
the regiment, by a state of indiscipline and neglect of duty which only
the strongest measures can put right.[76]

Whatever the value of a senior officer of cavalry from the point of
view of courage, horsemanship, resolution, and bodily fitness for a
campaign, there are other points to which he should devote attention.
Von Bernhardi (p. 288 of _Cavalry in Future Wars_) says:

  A comprehensive military education, and at least a general grasp
  of the principles of higher strategy, are essentials for every
  reconnoitring officer.

Now a field officer of cavalry may find himself at any time thrown
on his own resources, perhaps cut off from his base, many miles from
superior authority and with several squadrons at his disposal. His
action, its direction and scope, and the information gained or missed
may have the most marked effect on the course of the operations.

Again, at any period in an engagement the moment for action may arise;
will then an officer, who is not trained in peace-time to know his
duty, and to act on his own initiative, have the nerve “to go in,”
without waiting for the order which nearly always comes too late?
Settled convictions as to his duty,[77] acquired by previous practice
and study of similar situations in peace, will nerve him to a correct
interpretation of his duty, which may or may not be to charge. He will
remember what was said of so-and-so who did or did not “go in.” He must
be able to await a favourable opportunity in cold-blooded calm; and the
time for deliberation once over, he must possess the cool daring to
throw relentlessly all his available forces into battle.[78]

About the end of the Boer War an officer was heard to say: “I only
learnt one thing at a garrison class which I attended. In a rearguard
action my instructor told me to go lightly out of two positions and
then let the enemy have it hot at the third one, when they came on with
confidence and without discretion. That tip has been more useful to me
than anything else I ever learnt, and has pulled me through again and

But besides this a great deal is now to be learnt, and many ideas
gained from the many excellent military works which are translated into
English from other languages. Thirty years ago, beyond Von Schmidt
and De Brack (certainly the best of their kind), few foreign works on
tactics and the more recent wars had been translated. Nowadays four
are translated where one was formerly. These give a better idea of the
varied rôle of cavalry on a battlefield; we get a little farther than
the drill of a squadron or regiment; we can see laid bare the faults
of our cavalry and of their direction in South Africa, or what was
noticed by various military attachés as regards the shortcomings of
cavalry in the Manchurian or other campaigns. These, read and noted in
an intelligent fashion, and more especially if later discussed amongst
the officers of a regiment in their application to the work of training
a regiment, are of great value. Perhaps their principal value is that
they enable officers to lay out plans of action for emergencies, to
get what Langlois calls a doctrine.[79] “Without a doctrine,” he says,
“text-books are of little avail. Better a doctrine without text-books
than text-books without a doctrine, for the former was the case in
Napoleon’s time.”

And what was Napoleon’s doctrine? Did not Napoleon beyond all others
study _moral_ in its application to the training of officers and men,
and to the winning of battles? We see it in his selection of his
generals. Ney began as a leader of partisan forces. Massena was the
head of a band of smugglers. Again, we may note it in the selection of
his staff officers and A.D.C.’s of whom he asked (1st): Is he lucky?
and (2nd): Is he enterprising? It is evident in his wise distribution
of rewards; “I want blood, not ink,” he remarked to a commanding
officer who had put forward his quartermaster for a decoration. To
another, of whom he had asked the character of a man who was claiming
a reward for well-known acts of bravery, when the reply was that the
man was a “drunkard and a thief,” he said, “Bah, blood washes all that
away.” We see, then, that his _doctrine_ was that the man who will shed
his blood is the rarest and most valuable asset in war; and so he,
the great leader and organizer of armies, put it before all others,
and thus he made it the “fashion.” No doubt Napoleon could have made
“ink” the fashion, had he thought it desirable to do so. Further,
he decorated men on the field of battle, bearing in mind the maxim:
“Bis dat qui cito dat.” Any senior officer may imitate this excellent
practice, by putting in his orders, regimental, brigade or otherwise,
a notice of an “Act of Courage,” etc. If this is done the same evening
it has a great effect.

That the Japanese thought of this is evidenced by the fact that
repeatedly in the orders of the day, and in the proclamations of the
army commanders and of the commander-in-chief, there were references
to the excellent information and reports which reached them from
reconnoitring detachments and patrols, and on one occasion Marshal
Oyama categorically stated that without the help which had been
afforded him by the cavalry, he would have been groping in the dark in
the measures he was undertaking.[80]

Those who neglect to think about these matters soon wear out the
patience of the bravest men.[81] De Brack writes:--

  Reward, then, above all things the courage of him who is first in
  the mêlée, who delivers his blows with coolness and certainty,
  who is last in a retreat, who rescues his officers, his comrades,
  who captures a standard, who recaptures artillery, who is never
  dismayed by bad luck, and is always ready and willing.... There
  are several kinds of courage, but it is courage of the daring and
  impetuous kind which wins battles.

Our text-books have had little to say about _moral_, and we were apt
to take it for granted that all is for the best in the best of all
possible armies, so long has the question been overlooked. But is that
wise? Should we not know why one regiment will take a loss of 50 per
cent and “go in” next day again cheerfully, while another loses 10 per
cent, and does not want any more fighting?

Is it not part of the training of the senior officers of cavalry that
they should know the nature of the infantry combat, that they should
grasp the consumption of reserves and the gradual moral degradation
of the enemy’s infantry, that they should have studied works such as
Colonel Ardant du Picq’s _Études du Combat_, which furnish the most
thorough and complete dissection of _moral_ in war?

In a note to one of his chapters on the value of discipline, Ardant
du Picq relates how in the eighteenth century four British captains
“stood off” when signalled to for help in an attack about to be made
by their admiral. The latter won his fight, but was mortally wounded.
He, however, sent for the four captains, court-martialled them and
had three hanged at the yard-arm, and the fourth cashiered before he
himself died.

Every leader should know how narrow is the path which he will tread
when in command of troops in a fight. How essential it is, then, in
cricket parlance to “give no chances.” And it is a great mistake for
young officers to be left in ignorance of the fact that a good fighting
regiment, battery or battalion, yes, and brigade or division, can only
exist where there is a high standard of _moral_ and a thorough mutual
understanding that every one will, and must, play the game, be the
risk, difficulty, or odium what it may.

Polo players will tell you that one selfish player will ruin a team.
This is ten times more true in war, where they will see the selfish
polo player skulk, run away, or let in his commanding officer and the
army in the very first fight he gets into. And cavalry officers of all
ranks must learn in peace that it is only by practising at all times
broad-minded comradeship not only in their own corps and arm, but with
the other arms, that victory in the field can be ensured. Let them read
and ponder on what a French general says of our army in South Africa:--

  Each arm acted on its own.... This comradeship can only be
  fostered by daily intercourse in peace.... In England it exists
  neither between the different arms nor between one battalion and
  another.... Good fellowship in the fight can only be produced by
  good fellowship in time of peace, and the latter results from a
  _life in common_.[82]

This ideal is apparently realized in the Japanese army, where, it is
said, “there are no regiments that have a reputation or a history which
is not that of the whole army. Just as there are no crack corps, so
there is no crack arm. The pay and standard of education and living
of cavalry officers are the same as those of other branches of the

Our conclusions then must be:--

1. That courage and activity are the most valuable attributes in the

2. That these may wane when the body is exposed to unaccustomed wear
and tear, unless this is foreseen and guarded against.

3. That habits of decision in tactical situations must be acquired by
practice in peace-time.

4. That a doctrine permeating all ranks is essential to success in war.




  “Soignez les détails, ils ne sont pas sans gloire; c’est le premier
  pas qui mène à la victoire.”--FREDERICK THE GREAT.

Pages 104 to 142, _Cavalry Training_, are devoted to the training of
the troop and squadron, and leave little to be desired as far as they
take us. But those who wish to study the matter more fully, and to
learn some of the “whys and wherefores,” should read _Instructions for
Cavalry_, by the Prussian General Von Schmidt, of whom it was said,
“No man exercised so great an influence for good on our arm since the
Great King.” His theory was that “everything that is dull, cannot be
easily understood or is uninteresting must disappear; the cavalry
soldier has less need of this than any one. With such instruction he
is quite useless, for to him more than to any one else are freshness,
life, activity, mental quickness and vivacity necessary.”[83] But
most valuable are the glimpses which the book affords us of the Great
King (Frederick) in his rôle as a trainer of cavalry. How thoroughly
he “meant business,” and how sternly any weakening, wavering, or
indiscipline was dealt with under that resolute autocrat, when not
only an army but a nation was “in the making,” may be seen from the

  It was an old and strict order of Frederick the Great that no
  cavalry officer should allow himself to be attacked at the halt;
  whoever does it should be cashiered.[84]

  In the cavalry of Frederick the Great the squadron leader was
  authorized to sabre any _éclaireur_ met riding at random across the

Elliot mentions a further inspiriting regulation:--

  If it is found that any soldier is not doing his duty, or is
  wishing to fly, the first officer or sub-officer will pass his
  sword through his body.

Frederick the Great, familiar with war, readily grasped the fact
that the military discipline necessary in order to train men in the
highest degree for the act of war must be stern and inexorable. No bank
holiday, please-do-as-you-are-told soldiering for him. He knew what he
wanted, and that time was limited.

  On Sundays after divine service the men shall mount, as His Majesty
  considers it of the highest importance for the preservation of the
  horse that he should be ridden every day. The horses will then
  always be in wind, will not be stiff in the legs, and not get too
  fat. This His Majesty has found to be the case with his own horses.
  He desires to have horses in working condition, and does not care
  so much that they should be fat as that they should be sound and
  fit to march and stand fatigue.[86]

It must not be imagined that every officer who rides at its head can
train or lead a squadron. Those who can do both in perfection are few
and far between. An apprenticeship of several years under various
good leaders, added to natural ability, good horsemanship, an eye for
country, a thorough sympathy with both his men and horses, are a few of
the talents required to make a good squadron leader. But if a regiment
is so fortunate as to possess even one good squadron leader, there will
soon be found, especially among the junior officers, many to imitate
him, and thus one good squadron leader makes many.

“A,” the good squadron leader, is easily recognized in the field;
he rides well away from his squadron, confident that they will obey
his word or signal; his squadron know his ruses and plans, and move
smoothly, ready to act at the indicated speed in any direction
signalled by him. They are led covered from view,[87] duly avoiding
or overcoming obstacles, quietly picking their way; the leader is now
far to the front, with his eye on the enemy; his second in command
passes any signals which are made. Suddenly pace is increased, and the
squadron is galloping along under the crest of the hill, the cover
which they know without an order he wishes them to utilize; then the
troops wheel into line, “direction the enemy”; a defensive flank is
dropped back, or an offensive flank pushed up; whilst the enemy’s
leader, taken by surprise, is making up his mind, A’s squadron has
drawn swords and is upon him with a mighty cheer.

“B,” the indifferent squadron leader, nervously and fretfully jobbing
his horse in the mouth, rides _near_ his squadron, at which he
constantly looks back to see if the men have not already got out of
dressing or committed some fault. Querulously addressing his second
in command or sergeant major, he asks some foolish question; already
he wants some one to lean on. His squadron moves round from behind
some cover, where he has unwisely placed it, at an uneven pace,
his ill-bitted horses tossing their heads in pain. Now he executes
some movement; but before it is completed, he has given another
order to “form squadron,” which formation he forthwith regards with
disapprobation from a flank and at some 20 yards from his squadron. He
has no eyes for the enemy; two patrols have been sent out who _ought_
to inform him. He gets the information right enough, but riding, as
he is, near his squadron, which is walking now, he has barely time to
give an order to increase the pace and then “left shoulder” towards the
enemy, who are getting to one flank, before he notices his swords are
not drawn. To get this done increases the confusion in his squadron.

But enough has been said to show the difference in cavalry leaders.
In a cavalry engagement A’s squadron will beat B’s nineteen times out
of twenty. B, poor fellow, is a danger to the State, and generally
not happy in his position. No man likes work which he performs
indifferently. Will this kind of leader ever charge unless he receives
a direct order to do so, and even then will it be well done?

Take it all round, any officer who is up to the business of efficiently
training and leading a squadron must possess qualities which would
have rendered his career a successful one in any walk of life. It is
impossible to enumerate the hundred and one cares, anxieties, and
responsibilities which beset a squadron commander. But it is a good
thing to mention what he should regard as his guiding stars. They are:--

1. Efficiency for war in men and horses.

2. Avoidance of mere samples of efficiency.

3. Constant steps taken to make the soldiers confident in their power
to use their weapons with deadly effect.

4. To make every trooper self-reliant in danger or unusual
circumstances, especially when alone.

5. To cultivate the offensive spirit and a determination to get at the
enemy somehow.

1. Efficiency for war in men and horses. Men not worked hard in
peace-time are quite useless in war, where they have the added
privation of want of food and sleep. Active service is quite unlike
peace service; in the latter a man often spends but an hour or two
in the open and most of the rest of the day in grooming and cleaning
up; these duties are, generally speaking, a pure waste of time, as
far as cavalry is concerned, in war. Too much of this barrack-square
soldiering is apt to unfit men and make them slack and tired after a
long day’s work, of which gillies, herdsmen, and keepers would think
nothing. Few officers are knowledgeable enough to be able to discern
the difference between fit, hard horses and poor horses. Looking at
the horse sideways on, the ribs may easily deceive one, but following
a horse it is much more easily seen to which category he belongs. The
poor horse is split up and hollow in the region of the muscles lying
alongside the backbone. Feeling the neck is not a safe criterion--big
neck muscles may merely mean that the horse has been fed on the ground;
the appearance of the coat is also fallacious. A sharp canter of a mile
should, however, furnish a good test, as the blowing and snorting of an
untrained squadron and a soapy lather instead of a clear watery sweat
at once tell their tale.

2. It is a common but most pernicious practice, instead of making the
effort to train all men in the squadron up to a certain standard of
knowledge and ability, to take some of the smart men and make them
into “show” teams. It is obviously flat-catching to have a prize team
of ten marksmen, whilst the rest of the squadron are indifferent
rifle shots. A man who wins prizes year after year at tournaments and
assaults-at-arms is not of value unless he teaches other men. Often
he does not do this for fear they should come on, “until at last the
old man was beaten by the boy.” The best, though perhaps not the most
showy, squadrons are those in which there is a recognized standard
of efficiency in every exercise and attainment, below which no man
is allowed to fall. The story is told of an inspector-general of
cavalry of past days, that, after the usual inspection, the commanding
officer at luncheon said to him, “I should like you to see my regiment
tent-pegging.” “Certainly,” was the reply. Arrived on the maidan, about
forty men had paraded. “But,” said the I.G.C., “you asked me to come
and see your _regiment_ tent-peg, and I wish to do so.” The regiment
was forthwith paraded, and the first squadron’s exhibition was quite
sufficient to expose the fallacy of “samples.”

3. See under heading “the personal weapon” in chapter on Training of
the Man.

4. Self-reliance may be gained by giving the individual various tasks
to carry out by himself and on his own initiative. The return for
this form of “casting the bread on the waters” is not immediate, but
directly the regiment goes on manœuvres or on service, the result
between a squadron trained on this system and one where this is not
done is most marked.

The squadron in which every man can read a map and orient himself (and
this is now not exceptional) moves with perfect confidence on the
line marked out for it, and if “held up” in front at once proceeds
to find a way round or through. Squadrons trained to this degree may
be confidently expected to give great results when employed with
independent cavalry or as contact squadrons.

From this it will be seen that the education of the modern working
classes has been exploited and improved upon to a very high degree
in the cavalry squadron and regimental school. Cavalry work, which
would have been a severe test of map-reading[88] and troop-leading to
a subaltern officer of cavalry thirty-five years ago, is now within
the powers of every sergeant and corporal, and most of the men. To
attain this has meant hard work for the regimental officer, and it is
doubtful, if the work had not been largely delegated to the section
leader, and thereby a proper chain of responsibility established,
whether such progress would have been made.

Competitions between sections and troops, the former for choice,
work great things in a squadron. If the minds of sixteen section
leaders are all at work to find out the best way to train a recruit
in various exercises, to feed a horse to the best advantage with the
forage available, to get the best shooting average, and so on, it is
obvious that the squadron leader has a good chance of disseminating his
knowledge, when found out, through his squadron, whilst an interest is
given to the work which is perfectly invaluable. Certainly men, who
have to go through four or five months’ hot weather in the plains of
India with the thermometer occasionally at 115° in the verandah, want
these mental exercises and interests just as they want games of hockey,
cricket, and football in the evening to keep them sound in wind, limb,
and mind.

In every respect competition is a healthy lever in training; only quite
recently a squadron which, _mirabile dictu_, stopped all smoking for
some weeks before shooting, were successful in winning an army rifle
competition. Above all things, it acts in putting a stop to the waste
of time which is so frequent an occurrence, where there is no spur to
prevent it. It is distressing to see a troop of men and horses standing
in line, whilst one individual goes through some exercise, or jumps
some fences; a clever squadron leader will never permit this, he will
point out to the troop or section leader that the remainder would be
much better occupied in “suppling” their horses, or making cuts and
points, till their turn arrived:[89] and that there is no reason why
they should not light a pipe meanwhile. These amenities make things go

Again, when on the march, or going to or returning from a field day,
by means of judging distance on prominent objects (to be checked
afterwards from the map), or by noticing the features of the country
and subsequently answering questions on them, or by guessing what is on
the other side of a hill, habits of observation which are invaluable
in a cavalryman may be inculcated. This last is a capital exercise,
and one which the Duke of Wellington practised. It is related that he
was posting with a friend, and they passed the time in guessing what
was behind the next hill. His friend remarked how often he was right
in his guesses. Wellington replied, “Well, it is what I have been
practising all my life.” This instruction is best delegated to section
leaders, since a squadron, or even troop, is too unwieldy for this
kind of education, which is specially one which should aim at bringing
the slower and more stupid men up to a good level. The Germans rightly
lay the greatest stress on the fact that collective perfection is only
attainable by individual excellence, and this can only be obtained by
individual instruction.

It is not in the brigade nor even in the regiment that dismounted work
can be taught, but it is there that the effects can be seen. It is
in the troop and the squadron that men should be taught to be quick,
not hurried, in getting on and off their horses, and it must be done
without the old-fashioned caution in the navy, “Five-and-twenty for the
last man up the rigging.”

A brigade is manœuvring against an enemy; a house, a garden, a clump
of trees is seen, which, if seized and held by rifle fire, will prove
a most valuable pivot of manœuvre. A squadron is ordered to seize it.
Now is the time to see whether men have been taught their work in the
squadron. Are they awkward in getting off their horses? Is there delay
in handing over the horses to the Nos. 3? Is there uncertainty what
to do with the lances? Are proper precautions taken? If the men have
been well taught, they will be ready to meet with fire the opposing
squadrons sent to seize it. And further, when the meeting between
the brigades takes place, a well-trained squadron will have had time
to mount again, and will be on the spot to throw in a flank attack,
which may decide the fight. The cavalryman must learn that never is the
difference between cavalry and infantry to be observed more than when
cavalry are acting dismounted.

A whole brigade may have to act dismounted. One not trained in the
work will leave its horses behind and become inferior infantry. If
the squadron training has been well done, they will act like a swarm
of bees, trying here, trying there, everywhere _moral_ and movement,
till the weak spot is discovered; and then the rush will be made with
an irresistible force in the firing line, and no slow pushing up of
supports and reserves.

We do not wish to see cavalry always getting off their horses and
trying everywhere to shoot their enemy out of each bit of difficult
ground, but neither do we wish to see a regiment or brigade sitting
helplessly in mass with an infantry or cavalry patrol holding a defile
in front of them, unable to turn them out because the ground prevents
them galloping at it. Von Bernhardi says:[90]

  Moreover, in the power of holding the balance correctly between
  fire and shock, and in the training of the former never to allow
  the troops to lose confidence in the latter, lies the real essence
  of the cavalry spirit. This, whether it be in the working out of
  some great strategical design, or in joining hands with the other
  arms to obtain by united fire action some common purpose, implies
  a balance of judgment and absence of prejudice of the rarest
  occurrence in normal natures.

The practical problems, which invariably follow upon contact with the
enemy, placed before his subalterns, unexpectedly for choice, by means
of flags or real troops, and their proposed solutions, actually carried
out, and then followed by a discussion, constitute the best and most
useful work done by a squadron leader. If his imagination fails him,
he must read up instances. Nor should he forget to give them problems
which are what would be called unfair in a test examination, because
the odds are too great, or the situation too difficult. He can and
should explain this later, _coram populo_, but meantime it is just such
problems which come to try the cavalry officer most highly. For if he
is doing his duty he must constantly find himself in scrapes, and what
our ancestors called “outfalls,” in which the life and liberty of his
men, and more, victory and honour, depend on his action. Often enough
a rapid dispersal with a prearranged rendezvous is the only rational
course and alternative to defeat or heavy and useless loss. Again, a
bold front shown or a feint at attack may give time to warn others or
to get to cover.

These problems come as too much of a surprise in war for the ordinary
individual, unless he has acquired character and a large degree of
confidence by frequent exercises in peace-time such as those indicated
above. But, thus equipped, and steeled, as it were, by a doctrine of
resolution, the officer or non-commissioned officer will perhaps call
to his mind some saying such as “a mounted man and a shower of rain can
get through anywhere.” In an instant he has drawn swords, indicated,
first, the line of attack, and second, the rendezvous after dispersal,
then with a cheer or view-holloa he goes at them. His bold and rapid
course of action pulls him through with little or no loss.[91] The
Japanese _Cavalry Training_, p. 57, says:--

  From commander to privates all cavalry soldiers must be accustomed
  to act on their own initiative throughout the various trainings and
  instruction, and in all cases should observe the following rule:

    Attack--but do not be attacked.

Problems can be found in the support of mounted attacks by fire,
dismounted attacks, rearguard actions, the defence or attack of
positions taken up in farms or kopjes by flankguards or rearguards,
feints made to draw the enemy or distract his attention, the
precautions necessary at a halt to water or when in bivouac, the
scouting of an enemy’s outpost line or in getting into a position
before dawn, the passage of obstacles and defiles, and so on. Always
remember to vary the ground, conceal the enemy’s numbers, and insist
on decisive action. In practice, in cavalry matters, the wrong action
taken in a resolute fashion is sometimes preferable to right action
arrived at after vast consideration.

The reflection on our British cavalry made, we believe, by a cavalry
officer, that it was well drilled but badly instructed for war in
1899, appears to be a genuine and well-founded one. How to escape it
in future must be our squadron leaders’ chief concern. Napoleon said:
“It is not my genius that suddenly reveals to me, in secret, what I
should say or do in an unforeseen circumstance. It is reflection, it is
meditation. I always work at dinner, at the theatre; at night I wake up
to work.”

Above all, let us study in our instruction how best to make _moral_ go
hand-in-hand with method; without this what army can do great things?
Have not civilization, education (conducted on our own lines), the
insidious lessening of animus all conspired against our soldier’s
_moral_ in war? How much simpler and more effective was the _modus
operandi_ of the Zulu Impis clearly enunciated in their war chant, “If
we go forward we conquer, if we go back we die”; their ruler invariably
putting to death all who returned from an unsuccessful expedition.


1. That interest must be sustained.

2. That with cavalry above all arms, there is a need for a very stern

3. That only a really good man can lead a cavalry squadron.

4. That flat-catching must be sternly discountenanced.

5. That a wise delegation of certain points of instruction and
horse-management to section leaders will have valuable results.



We have only to consider the contingencies of service in the cavalry
to come to a conclusion that the officer or man who begins a campaign
on a well-trained horse has many chances in his favour against him who
enters it riding an indifferently-trained animal; and no more striking
instance of this can be brought forward than the circumstances of the
Prince Imperial’s death in Zululand. The horse in this case was ridden
by an excellent horseman, but it was well known to be awkward to mount,
with the result that, when suddenly attacked by a rush of Zulus, the
Prince was unable to mount and get away.

But the chance in the rider’s favour[92] is not the only consideration;
the work which a well-trained, well-balanced, equably-minded horse will
do, and the accidents of all kinds, leading to disablement and time
spent in the sick lines, which it will itself avoid and also allow its
master to help it to avoid, are well exemplified in any day s hunting
in a rough country. There is the so-called unlucky horse, who never
goes out without hurting himself or his master. This unlucky horse is
associated in our minds with a narrow forehead with a bump low down on
it, a rapidly shifting ear, and a small eye showing too much white.

The really ill-tempered horse is not fit to mount a cavalryman, whose
life may depend on the behaviour of his horse; though here it must be
confessed that some horses with very bad characters have been trained
by real masters of the art to be good and reliable animals.

Not long ago the ideal laid down in training a horse for cavalry work
was to make him as “clever across country as a good hunter, active and
handy as a polo pony, and reliable as a shooting horse.” Nor is it
advisable to lower that ideal. Major Noel Birch in his excellent book,
_Modern Riding_, tells us “the ideal is an excellent one and seldom
impossible if the training is scientific.”

A lack of imagination prevents the soldier, who has not undergone the
vicissitudes of active service, from quite grasping the situations
which cavalry work may bring about for him, since, whilst acting as a
scout, any cavalry soldier may be called upon to engage in personal
combat, to swim a rapid river, again to leave his horse standing alone
in the open whilst he creeps over a ridge to reconnoitre a valley, or
to ride for his life or freedom over stiff fences or big ditches. _À
propos_ of this, a story is related of Seydlitz. He had been telling
Frederick the Great that a cavalryman should never be taken alive. One
day the King was riding with him over a bridge, and in order to try and
prove him wrong, gave an order to the advanced guard to face about and
close one end of the bridge, and to the next files coming on similarly
to close the other end. He then asked Seydlitz what he would do now.
Seydlitz put his horse at the parapet and leapt over it into the
stream. This was a high trial for the manners of the horse as well as
the determination of the man.

Undoubtedly a good swordsman on a perfectly trained horse should
account for any three men of ordinary ability mounted on average
horses. Napoleon said that “two mamelukes could make head against three
French cavalrymen, but that one thousand French cuirassiers could
easily beat fifteen hundred mamelukes.” One showed high individual
training of man and horse in single combat, and the other collective
training as a troop or squadron. Both are difficult of attainment, and
both point to considerable trouble, forethought, and knowledge on the
part of the trainer.

In the days of the professional soldier the training of the horse was
probably at a higher standard than at present, because it was made
plain to every man’s mind that a good horse meant honour, profit, and
safety to him. There was, therefore, as much competition for a horse
which was likely to train well, and for a trained horse, as there is
nowadays for a finished hunter or polo pony trained on similar lines.

In all ages there have been some men who could do wonders on horses
quite unrideable by others, but the exceptions are not to the point. We
have to consider how to train horses in a manner suitable to cavalry

In the first place, concurrently with his physical development, a point
requiring the closest attention, the squadron horse must be trained to
answer to certain conventional aids, so that any man in the squadron
who applies these will find the horse answer implicitly to them. Now,
let any one who wishes to study the aids exhaustively, and set up a
line of conduct in the training of the horse for himself, turn a fresh
young horse loose in a riding-school or enclosed manège, and keep him
on the move, with a whip, if necessary. Let him note how the horse
bears and uses his head, neck, leg, forehand, and haunches, as he bends
and turns. The most correct aids are those indications by the reins,
weight of body, legs, whip, and spur which a rider applies, so as to
produce the natural preliminary attitudes for the flexion, pace, or
movement desired.

If the observant horseman follows this line, he will find that he must
make a rule, first, not to apply unnatural aids, and secondly, not to
apply more than one aid at a time in the early stages of instruction of
either man or horse.

Now take for instance the case of a horse which turns _on his
shoulders_ at a sharp gallop; it will be noticed that he stops
immediately after turning; but if, on the other hand, he turns _on
his haunches_ at the gallop, it is with a view to going on in his
new direction at the same or a faster pace. Therefore the rider will
do well to collect his horse on the haunches as he turns at the
gallop, if that is the pace at which he wishes to continue in the new
direction. Whereas if he turns, meaning to stop, he will pull one--say
the left--rein, and (in the later stage of the training) add the aid
of the drawn-back left leg to circle the horse’s quarters round his

Such will be the outcome of his observations on the loose horse in the
manège, and following this system he will fix in his own mind, with
the assistance of the book, a list of natural aids. The fact is, that
nature has taught the horse to act in such a way as to utilize the
mechanism of his head, neck, body, limbs, and even tail to the greatest
advantage in his movements. We note these and adapt them to the aids,
which we can apply by means of our mechanical devices, such as the
reins, and by our natural devices, such as the legs and the weight of
the body.[94]

Habits of long standing have accustomed horsemen to apply, often quite
unknown to themselves, certain aids to which their horse answers. They
are often incorrect, slovenly, or not to the best advantage of horse or
man, but their owners are satisfied, and often with a very inadequate
repertoire. But when it is a question of fighting on horseback, we want
to get a lightning-like system of aids, so that we may get where the
adversary least expects us, or wishes us to be, and kill him. The man
with experience in riding, a quick eye, a blood-horse under him, which
he himself has trained, can “play with” one or two, or even three,
adversaries who have not these advantages.

Undoubtedly since 1902 steps have been made towards an improvement
in the training of the squadron horse. There are fewer “shooting
stars,” that is, horses who bolt out of the ranks, and fewer horses
who refuse to leave the ranks; the horses go better across country,
and are, generally speaking, suited for campaign riding. Under the old
Canterbury system much time was spent with a view to showing up a good
ride of _haute école_ animals, whilst the new system aims at training
a horse which will go well in the ranks, and will be generally useful
on a campaign, either in single combat or for a scout’s riding, or for
work in the ranks.

The horse is now trained a great deal in the open, whereas under the
old system it was trained almost entirely in a school or manège,
and not in the open. Whilst by no means underrating the value and
convenience of a riding-school, there is little doubt that the old
system made the horse a stupid animal and quite unable to look after
himself or his rider in a rough country.[95] Under the new system the
limited intelligence of the horse is exploited to a considerable degree.

Whilst officers of continental cavalry spend considerably more time
than English officers in the training of their remounts, this is to
some extent counterbalanced by the opportunities which the latter have
of riding to hounds over difficult country, pig-sticking, and playing
polo. For the mêlée the latter is a splendid training, whilst the two
former give an officer an eye for country, and a decision in crossing
it, unobtainable in any other fashion.

After estimating the instruction and advantages gained by cavalry
officers taking part in these and other sports, which are really a
preparation for and the “image of war,” it may be reasonably asserted
that the British Government by no means gets the worst of the

At the same time it is undoubtedly a slur on any cavalry officer that
he should be unable to train a remount. If he is not a rich man, it
is well worth his while to learn, so as to train his own polo ponies
and hunters. Many officers do so most successfully. Scores of horses,
cast as unruly animals, are, by the aid of some of our riding-school
methods, quickly brought to hand, and turn out most useful and
temperate hunters or polo ponies. A comparison of military and civilian
horsemanship is not a desirable theme, but it is surprising how many
of the horsemen of the nation, even those who ride to hounds and
between flags, are profoundly ignorant of all-round horsemanship and
horse-training. The writer recently counted only four horses, out of
some twenty running in an important race at Punchestown, a right-handed
course, which passed the stand with the right leg leading. The four who
were leading with the right leg gained at least four or five lengths at
the next fence, which is on the turn.

Very few six-year-old hunters answer to their rider’s legs, or are
really nice horses to ride. A bending lesson every day for a month in
a good military rough-rider’s hands would do them an immense amount of

One of the recent innovations which has done most to improving our
squadron horses in cross-country work is the introduction of the
free-jumping lane for remounts: thanks to which horses get used to
jumping, and regard it as fun instead of a penance accompanied by jabs
in the mouth.

Another most important factor in the training of remounts is the
system of long reining. The colonel of a regiment, in which the horses
were particularly well trained, assured me that he considered this
proficiency was due principally to long reining. His system was to take
a couple of non-commissioned officers, whom he found were getting too
fat, and let them do all the long reining. When I saw them, neither of
the long reiners were much too fat; both, from long practice, at often
as many as fifteen or twenty remounts per diem, were such adepts that,
in their hands, the remounts, as yet almost unbacked, had learnt nearly
half their lessons. The value of this system no doubt depends largely
on the operator. There may be something also in the adage, “Who drives
fat oxen should himself be fat.” The patient-minded man is an asset in
this work.

A suggestion recently made that the reins should be carried from the
bit to a pulley at the highest point of the pad, and then vertically
to another pulley on the side, and so to the operator’s hands, is full
of common-sense, as it ensures the horse holding his head right whilst
there is control of the hind quarters.[97]

A system of giving prizes for the best-trained remount encourages a
very deserving class of man in cavalry regiments, and evidences to all
that the commanding officer is taking an interest in their work; the
danger is that the men sometimes confuse circus tricks with legitimate
training for campaign riding. If the commanding officer gets on the
three or four best-trained horses before awarding the prize, and
generally keeps an eye on the progress of the remounts in training, it
will have a marked effect.

Above all, rough methods, shouting in the riding school,[98] and any
attempt to hurry training should be discouraged; a horse takes a little
time to learn in good hands, but it should be remembered that most
of the gymnastics which he has to learn involve training muscles and
sinews to an unnatural extent, and that this must be done with a weight
on the horse’s back which nature did not contemplate.

If there is one thing more important than another in the training of a
squadron horse it is that he should be taught to walk well, quickly,
and freely. By constantly placing the fastest walking horses at the
head of the rides, and teaching the men to ride with a fairly loose
rein, this is soon effected. The result in a regiment where this has
been consistently done is surprising.

Once placed in the ranks the squadron leader should not lose sight
of the horse, but watch his career. There is a key to every horse’s
mouth, so it is said; certain it is that, whilst one squadron commander
will see his horses tossing their heads, poking their noses, and
going with their jaws set against one side of the bit, without in the
least knowing what is the matter, another officer would in a short
half-hour have loosened the curb there, adjusted a nose-band or added a
martingale here, and have discovered an injured jaw in two other cases.
For the latter he would order his farrier to make a carrago nose-band,
or would improvise a string bridle with ten or twelve feet of small
cord, so that the horses could go on with their work.

Let us take an instance, then, of the actual value to the State
of these two squadron commanders. In one case the horse becomes
unmanageable from pain, develops bolting propensities, injures one or
two riders, and is perhaps cast and sold for £5 as vicious. The value
of the horse (£40 by purchase at four years’ and £60 for two years’
keep, etc.) is £100. In the other case the mouth is healed and the
animal does eight or nine years’ good service. The value to the State
of an observant, skilled horse-manager as compared with an indifferent
one is some £500 per annum. On service this value may be multiplied by
5 or 10.



  1. That soldiers should make it their function to exert themselves
       to the utmost of their loyalty and patriotism.

  2. That they should strictly observe decorum.

  3. That they should prize courage and bravery.

  4. That they should treasure faith and confidence.

  5. That they should practise frugality.

            (_Order issued by the Emperor of Japan in 1882._)

The standard of proficiency in cavalry work to which we wish to attain
is a very high one; our men must, in the first place, be taught--

  (A) To ride well.

  (B) To be able to look after their horses.

  (C) Rifle-shooting and fire discipline.

  (D) The use of at least one personal weapon, when mounted, with
        good effect.

  (E) Individuality, and to use their brains.

  (F) Bodily and muscular development.


There is no doubt that our methods of teaching riding have greatly
improved of late years.[99] The recruit is not made afraid of his
horse, and of his work in the riding-school, as he often was under the
old régime. From the day he joins, no opportunity should be lost of
teaching the recruit that amongst his first duties is to love, honour,
and have a pride in his horse. He certainly will not recognize this
duty, if, as under the old “cast-iron” system, his horse becomes the
means of applying an unpleasant discipline to him.

Further, he is now taught to ride in the open, and over a natural
country in many cases, picking his own line. In fact he is taught
campaign riding, rather than as formerly the elements of _haute école_;
the latter plan was by no means unsuitable if the man had the previous
knowledge of riding which many men, brought up in the country, joined
with forty or fifty years ago.


Of all instructions to be given to the young soldier the most difficult
is that in campaigning horse-management.

It should be explained that the care of his own horse in a campaign
is quite a different matter in the cavalry from what it is in the
artillery; in the latter the horses are always under the master’s eye
in the first place, and in the second they are kept at a uniform pace,
whereas in the cavalry men are detached here and there, and it is only
by the individual’s care of his mount that the latter can win through
a campaign. In fact the difference is as great as if, instead of
carrying on his business under one roof, Mr. Whiteley had to send out
all his young men and women in troops and sections and as individuals
to effect sales. It would certainly lead to a very great diminution of
profits, and just as in any great business the profits are effected by
small and seemingly petty economies, so in a regiment it is the small
economies of horse-flesh which mount up to a great sum in a month or
so of campaigning. It is the regiment or squadron, in which, from the
start, the man has been taught always to dismount at every opportunity,
always to off-saddle and massage his horse’s back when a spare quarter
of an hour affords him time to do so, always to give his horse a chance
to nibble the short grass, or drink a few go-downs of water, always to
report without fail a loose clinch or a swelling on the back, even if
the latter is only the size of a shilling, that will constantly show a
good return of sound horses. A bad system of horse-management will in a
week incapacitate as many horses from work as will a general engagement.

As a rule great things are expected of cavalry in the first week of
a campaign; these great things are often to be carried out _at all
costs_--all costs in this case meaning in many instances half the
horses overridden and a crop of sore backs[100] and incipient injuries
incurred which the cavalry will not get over for months after. There
is also another difficult matter to cope with in the cavalry; it is as

The ordinary soldier has no idea of the limit of his horse’s capacity
for work such as that soon gained by the hunting man or traveller on
horseback. In peace-time he will not once in one thousand times be
given a task which can possibly injure or cause him to override his
horse; further, the latter invariably gets back to his stable, gets the
best of food and a rest, or goes to the sick lines if he is evidently
out of sorts; the responsibility of overriding his horse is thus not
fixed, and the man escapes any punishment. As the man is riding a
Government horse and not his own animal, he does not suffer pecuniarily.

We believe that enough has been shown to warrant our saying that
the cavalry of an army where (1) a good system of campaigning
horse-management[101] has been instilled into the individual, and
where (2) the officers, from those who order the task to those who
superintend it, have the knowledge to do so with a sense of the horse’s
capacity as affected by work, food, and drink, weight carried, nature
of terrain, will, at the end of one month’s work, possibly have lost 15
per cent of its horses; whereas in the cavalry where these matters are
not understood, only 15 per cent of the horses will remain available.
What was the case in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia? A statement called
for by the emperor at Witebsk on the 29th July, twenty-five days after
the river Niemen had been crossed, gave the loss as follows: Murat’s
cavalry[102] reduced from 22,000 to 14,000 horses, the cavalry of army
corps by half, Latour Maubourg’s from 10,000 to 6000. Later, on the 9th
November, only 1900 horses were left to this immense force of cavalry.
The loss by fatigue in the campaign of Ulm, lasting little more than
a fortnight, was less, 46 per regiment. One campaign resulted in a
victory within eighteen days, whereas the other went on long enough to
bring the loss and criminal waste of horses home to those responsible.
In campaigns brought to a close in a few days by desperate though
successful strategy, these matters, like many matters which occur in
small campaigns against natives, never come to notice.

This subject has been gone into at some length under the training of
the man, because without his co-operation in the individual care of
his horse no cavalry general can hope to be successful. His best-laid
schemes “gang aft agley.” The cavalry soldier should feel that he will
get a horse, good, bad, or indifferent, accordingly as he shows himself
a good, bad, or indifferent horseman and horsemaster, and should
be made perfectly aware that he will be punished with the greatest
severity for every act of carelessness, neglect, or ill-treatment of
his horse. Whilst, on the other hand, a well-cared-for horse should be
a certain passport to the good graces of his leader. A squadron leader,
careless of this mode of procedure, never has good and well-cared-for
horses on service.

A very successful way of teaching the soldier to care for his horse
is to let it form part of the test before he passes from the recruit
stage to that of the trained soldier, that he should by himself ride
his horse to a place 70 to 100 miles away, report on some bridge or
other topographical feature, and return, enough money being given him
for the subsistence of himself and his horse for the necessary number
of days--the condition of the latter being carefully scrutinized on his

Other forms of long-distance rides and patrols (as distinct from
long-distance races, a cruel form of competition with which no
horse-lover can have any sympathy) are most useful, as they teach the
men how to regulate their paces, spare their horses, and judge distance
by time and pace.

Often arrangements have been made to take some N.C.O.’s out with
the regimental pack of hounds, local pack, or on a drag-hunt or
paper-chase; all these forms of instruction teach the men to ride fast
in a reasoned fashion and not in the Johnny Gilpin and “making the
running” style of the amateur horseman or horsewoman, and to think
properly of their horse, and not as the old lady, who said to the
coachman, when he had reported the brougham horse was lame, “He is a
horse and he _must go_.”

That the care of the horse is the weak link in the cavalry chain, and
the most difficult one in which to give such instruction as may render
it strong and reliable, is clear. Every day we get fewer men accustomed
before they are recruited, to work with horses, and the use of the
horse as a means of locomotion, by all ranks in Great Britain, is
quickly dying out. Strong measures are needed to counteract our daily
growing ignorance of horsemastership.[103]


The cavalry are now armed with a rifle equal to that of the infantry,
and can hold their own in rifle-shooting. The greatest interest is
taken in this exercise; tests similar in all respects to those in
vogue in the infantry are exacted before the man is entitled to get
his full rate of pay. Practically all officers and many N.C.O.’s of
cavalry now possess Hythe certificates,[104] and there is no reason
why fire discipline in the cavalry should not be equal to that in the
infantry. In many cavalry regiments it undoubtedly is so. In others
there is too much talking and the Jack ashore kind of behaviour, which
renders difficult the control of the larger parties. If the officers
recognize that good fire discipline is essential in order to kill their
enemy, they will take more trouble to instil it. As our cavalry are
undoubtedly the best shooting cavalry in the world, it is a pity to
spoil the ship for this ha’porth of tar (fire discipline).


Fencing and single stick (and other exercises such as boxing,
non-essential in themselves, but which quicken the eye and make the man
cool in combat) will do a great deal towards teaching men the use of
the sword, while a little tent-pegging and a great deal of work at the
dummies will teach the unrivalled value of the queen of weapons.

In many cavalry training-grounds can now be seen an acre of ground in
which are a score or more of self-adjusting dummies of varying heights,
and representing horse and foot; there is no better practice than to
send half-a-dozen horsemen into this tilting ground at a sharp gallop,
and let them practise for the mêlée for a minute or so.

The French cavalry lay great stress on these pointing exercises; they
do not expect to turn out many real swordsmen in a squadron, but they
want every man to be able to ride his horse at an enemy, and run him


In addition to the four headings mentioned above, there is the
preparation requisite to meet the hundred-and-one eventualities of
detached work and miscellaneous duties.

Whilst it is quite impossible to foresee or delimitate these, there
are a number of exercises and sports which tend to make a young man
(and keep an old man) not only supple in his body and sound in wind
and limb, but also alert in mind: to put it shortly, they make him
more “handy,” more able when left to himself or with a few others to
carry out his duty; they give him more confidence in himself; they
make the town-bred man approximate more to the pioneer. The ordinary
lad of eighteen brought up in a town knows nothing of the country in
which his soldiering and scouting will be done, and is not able to do
a great many things which a country-bred lad has learnt as a matter of
course. On the other hand, the town-bred lad is undoubtedly quicker at
picking up and assimilating knowledge. Both have their good qualities,
and both can be made into excellent cavalry soldiers by training in the
particular points in which they are by breeding deficient.[105]

Let us now glance at the sports which tend to make men handy and useful.

Every cavalryman should learn to swim, since, unless he can do so, he
may either not attempt to cross a swollen river, or he may get drowned
in doing so. Not only this, but he should be able to make his horse
cross a deep and rapid river whether he can swim or not himself. Some
of us still remember the disaster to a cavalry regiment when crossing a
river on the frontier.

Many sports and exercises--to be able to swim, to row a boat, and so
on--are not essentials in the training of a cavalryman, but they are
very desirable; and when an opportunity of practising them occurs,
every commanding officer should make his men take advantage of it.

Again, in the _Manual of Military Engineering_ there is a great deal
which may be said to be more suited to pioneers, and a knowledge of
which cannot be expected from every cavalry soldier. Knotting and
lashing, construction of rafts, scientific demolitions of railways
and telegraph lines come under this heading. A certain number of men
in each squadron are detailed to act as pioneers, but since in most
cavalry operations there is a very good chance of these not being
available at the critical moment, it is well that every man should be
brought up to a good standard of knowledge in all forms of pioneering,
rough field fortifications, and in tapping a wire, blowing up a
culvert, etc., etc.

Another point over which too much time must not be spent, but which is
for the benefit of the soldier, especially in his first few trying days
of active service, is a slight knowledge of cooking, and especially how
to make use of flour; otherwise you may find the men throwing away the
flour because they do not know how to cook it. The poorer classes in
Great Britain nowadays nearly all buy bread instead of making it from
flour once a week, on baking day, as in the old days.

It will obviously be for the good of a regiment or brigade of cavalry
that it should leave its barracks for a month in the summer, and go for
choice to some seaside place where there is an estuary, and practise
exhaustively the various non-essential items of instruction indicated
above. Such a change of scene is immensely appreciated by the men,
who get very tired of barrack routine, and it gives the officers
opportunities for instruction which they do not usually possess in

New ground is worked over, practice in camping duties and expedients
takes place, and, last of all, there is time and opportunity to carry
out thoroughly and practically the instruction; there is time for
the men, because they are freed from many duties which are necessary
in barracks, and for the officers, because they have the whole day
before them, and do not go on leave. If a whole cavalry brigade has
gone to such a camp of instruction, the element of competition may be
introduced in many ways, which will help to stir the most sluggish. The
desire of the distinction of being the best swimming squadron in the
brigade will make his comrades hurry up many a slow, inert lout, who
could do better if he tried, and this will, indirectly, cause him to
have more confidence later in himself.

Again, if two rival squadrons are marched down to a river, and
find, a hundred yards apart, for each squadron a similar amount of
rafting and bridging material, and instructions are given to them
to prepare means for a small column to cross the river, the interest
excited by the competition will be considerable. In a case like this
marks may be given for (1) the most thorough arrangements for the
crossing, including orders by the commanding officer; (2) the best and
most workmanlike construction of boats, rafts, etc.; (3) the speed
in carrying out the work; (4) silence; (5) tidiness, such as, for
instance, all arms, extra clothing, etc., being placed in an orderly
manner, so that they can be resumed, if necessary, after dark, or at a
moment’s notice.

In the sands, usually to be found at any seaside place, good practice
can be gained in digging hasty field fortifications without the labour
involved in doing so in the stiffer soils.

In the late South African War one might sum up the situation in a few
words: our regular soldiers had need to be more like colonials, and
our colonials more like regular soldiers. Some of our soldiers lost
their way a mile from camp; our colonials never did this, but their
views of military discipline were curiously lax. Our soldiers were the
victims of routine, and it cost them their lives often enough; our
colonials could hardly be trusted to lay sufficient stress on an order
to carry it out, but they were never at a loss for an expedient. Both
looked after their own interests at the expense of the enemy, or even
their own side.[106] Both were very brave; both fought and scouted
cunningly; but it came first and naturally to the colonial, who gave
his enemy credit for slimness, and had a more cultivated imagination
and better appreciation of the value of ground. In rearguards both
“stuck it out,” if anything, too long, rather than give the enemy an
idea that they could be hustled.

It is suggested that instruction should never stop short of the actual
and practical. Few educated people are able to understand how very
little words convey to the ordinary untrained intelligence, and for how
short a time, even if understood, theory is retained in the mind.[107]

Anything which is worth learning must be learnt as a well-known amateur
billiard player and game shot taught himself. In billiards he first
placed the balls again and again till he could make the difficult
cannon; he then went on till he could make it twenty times running.
Similarly, in regard to a difficult kind of shot, he went to a shooting
school and had clay pigeons shot out in a particular way; at length
having hit, he went on till he practically could not miss.


The theoretical instruction given by our officers to the men in
lectures benefits, we verily believe, the former quite as much as the
latter. It benefits the officer, in the first place, because it compels
him, if he is anxious to do his work well, to look up his subject
thoroughly beforehand; and in the second place, because it accustoms
him to speak in public more readily; and this may be of value not only
to him but to the army and nation later. But his instruction should
not be devoted entirely to professional subjects. It is a part of his
duty to attend to the education of his subordinates in the subject of
_moral_, and to develop by every means in his power their sentiments
of bravery, straightforwardness, confidence in their leaders, and
devotion to duty and patriotism. Without these as a foundation there
are few who will adhere to the requirements of that discipline, without
which, in the absence of religious fanaticism,[108] no difficult task
in war will be carried through. There are sound grounds for saying that
“if we examine the condition of the people we shall find that _moral_
deteriorates in inverse proportion to advance in education.”[109]
Officers who have to deal with such conditions must not only know
how to teach thoroughly, minutely, and convincingly, but must also
study all branches of their profession in such a way that by their
intellectual ability they may earnestly and loyally interpret the true
spirit that should animate a soldier.

In all the professions, trades, and handicrafts nowadays, with
increased facilities for reading and book-learning, theory is
overriding practice, apprenticeship is shortened or even dispensed
with, the boy of to-day has read about and thinks he understands what
the man of yesterday has been through and is still pondering over; and
it is chiefly because we see so much weight being laid on theory, to
the detriment of practice in the profession of arms, that we register
this protest.

That we cavalry have learnt that parrot-like instruction cannot replace
demonstration is evidenced by our _Method of Instruction in Riding in
Cavalry_; in it we find first “that the instructor, after describing
fully and clearly what he requires, should _illustrate_ it,” and
later, “these instructions _carefully illustrated_ by the instructor
and understood by the recruit,” etc., etc. At present in most cavalry
regiments each squadron has a sand table, on which models of country
are made, and map-reading is taught in a most practical manner.

The more the officers see of the men the better, and the horse gives an
invaluable mutual ground of interest. We read in _The Truth about Port

  The battle for these hills was severe, and the coolness of our men
  was remarkable. If any of them ran away, or if any panic set in, it
  was the fault of the officers, for any officer whom the men respect
  and love in peace-time can rely on their steadiness in war.

  How many Russian officers know and care for their men? For some
  reason or other they rarely mix with or among them, and know
  nothing of them or their habits, and bitter are the fruits they
  reap in war.

This is plain speaking, but it is in accordance with the dictates of
common-sense that the superior and inferior must become of one mind in
order to carry out their duties adequately.

By whatever means it may be done, it is the duty of every officer to
check cynicism and grumbling amongst his subordinates, and to develop
a high _moral_. It has been said that it is the “soldier’s privilege
to grumble.” This is an absolutely wrong view; it is, instead, his
glory not to grumble, but to face every kind of danger and trouble
unflinchingly, and to make the best of it. Small worries overcome
prepare the mind for facing great emergencies.[110]

With such a feeling throughout a regiment, what may it not do? Every
man becomes a hero and a leader. The conduct of 500 heroes may temper
the mind of an army.


  Abd-el-Kader, 23

  Abdur-Rahman, 2

  Afghan War, officers of the 9th Lancers in the, 14

  Afghans, Sir Montague Gerard and the, 11

  Aids, conventional, 194;
    natural, 195

  Alexander the Great, 1

  Alexander, General, 26, 145

  Amateur officers entirely out of place in war, 97

  American Civil War, 73, 135

  American view of British cavalry in South African operations, 8

  Arab horses, a type bred for war, 23;
    proverb, 52

  Arabs’ old-world wisdom as regards the horse, 23

  Aristocracy in the armies of the French Republic, 97

  Armament, 10

  Artillery fire, relative effect of, 46

  Artillery, horse, 26, 41

  Atlanta campaign, 149

  Attachment to other arms on the part of officers, 159

  Attila with his Hunnish squadrons, 2

  _Australian Commonwealth, Manual of_, 55

  Australians as horsemen, 13

  Ballistics from horseback, 5

  Basuto pony, 21

  Batteries of horse artillery, 5

  Bayonet of German cavalry, 10

  Bernhardi, Von, on bayonet, 11, 147;
    cavalry literature by, 17;
    _Cavalry in Future Wars_, 52, 77, 90, 94, 99, 169, 187;
    _Cavalry in War and Peace_, 62, 66, 95, 208;
    on fundamental principles of action, 101

  Birch, Major Noel, 192

  Boers, 71, 75, 82, 99, 133, 134

  Boer system of training a horse, 197

  Bloch, De, 5, 113

  Blücher, 3, 85, 128

  Bonie, Colonel, 6, 7

  Botha, General, 75

  “Boy Scouts,” 142

  Brack, De, 7, 35, 37, 126, 135, 147, 171, 173

  Brigade, the, 41-48

  British cavalry ahead of continental cavalry in fire tactics, 17;
    ignorance of horses, 18;
    inflation of idea as to size of horse required, 21;
    horse bred for size, speed, etc., 23

  Campaigning, horse-management in, 24

  Canadians as horsemen, 13

  Canterbury system of horse training, 196

  Cape Colony as a source of horse-supply, 21

  Carrago nose-band, 201

  “Casse cou,” 87

  Cavalry, expense of, 8;
    leader, 8, 73;
    brigade in action, 59;
    in the general engagement, 69;
    disposition of, in a campaign, 86;
    masses of, 99, 109;
    screen, 135;
    shooting and fire discipline of, 208

  _Cavalry Training, Manual of_, 111

  Cavalry _v._ Cavalry, 37

  “Charge,” the, 2, 4

  Cherfils, 69, 98

  Chest measurement as sign of stamina of horse, 20

  Chivalry, 2;
    Norman, 2

  Colonials in the South African War, 75

  Competition of squadrons, 212

  Convoy duty, 144

  Cooking, knowledge of, 211

  Cossacks, 75, 150;
    activity of the, 135

  Cost of horse-flesh in South African operations, 18

  Country-bred men, 210

  Cromwell, 3, 6, 34, 69

  Cronje, General, 84

  Culverwell, Professor, on teaching, 214

  Curély, 3, 7, 134

  Cyclists, 94, 96

  Cynic, 143;
    cynicism, 217

  Daumas, General, book on Arab horses by, 23

  Delarey, 75

  Denison on cavalry recruits, 208

  Despatch-riding, 139

  Detached duties of cavalry, 139

  De Wet, raids of, 147

  Direction of cavalry by higher leaders, 88

  Dismounted action of cavalry, 57;
    work, 11, 73, 186

  Disposition of cavalry in a campaign, 86

  Dissemination of squadrons, 68

  Divisional cavalry, 91

  Doctrine, Langlois’, 171;
    Napoleon’s, 172

  Dogger Bank, 131

  Dragoons of Napoleon, 11

  Drives in South Africa, 93

  Drying tent, 125

  Dundonald, Lord, Preface to his _Cavalry Training_, 55

  Duty, sense of, 160

  Echelon attack, advantages of the, 39

  Elliot, on the possibilities of cavalry, 6;
    inspiriting regulation mentioned by, 178

  _En bondes_, to work towards the enemy, 59

  Enemy, in contact with the, 122

  _Engineering, Manual of Military_, 211

  English cavalry, 59

  Europe, supply of food for horses when campaigning in, 21

  Expenses in cavalry, 154, 155

  Expensive, want of cavalry is, American view, 8

  Exploration, cavalry of, 90

  Fanaticism, religious, 215

  Field Service Regulations, 90, 94

  Fire action in tactics, 50;
    action by cavalry, German opinion on, 57;
    effect, horse artillery, compared with rifle fire, 117

  Fixed principles of the great cavalry leaders, 3

  Flags, use of, 78

  Flank, forming to the, 37

  Forage supply and its carriage, 95, 96

  Forming to the flank, 37

  Frederick the Great, 3, 6, 90;
    sayings of, 25, 105, 177;
    his horses duly considered, 27;
    on the rapid rallying of squadrons, 33;
    success of the cavalry of, 81;
    horse artillery and cavalry of, 102, 103;
    and his officer Seydlitz, 193

  Free-jumping lane, 198

  French, General Sir John, 84

  French cavalry, 7, 209;
    regulations, 90, 134, 136, 159, 171

  French dragoons in the Peninsular War, 15;
    nation and the war of 1870, 7;
    Republic, the armies of the, 97;
    _Manuel du gradé de cavalerie_, 160, 217

  Frossard, General, and the episode at Vionville, 73

  Galliffet, General, 6, 31, 88

  Gambling spirit necessary in cavalry leader, 9

  Gerard, Sir Montague, 11

  German cavalry, bayonet substituted for the sword in, 10;
    and the lance, 16;
    rifle and fire tactics, 16;
    at Loigny-Poupry, 72;
    regulations, 70, 71, 79, 80, 92, 107, 109, 115, 170;
    considered too weak, 95

  German officers in the 1870 war, 139;
    opinion on mounted infantry, 56;
    opinion on fire action by cavalry, 57

  Goltz, Von der, his _Nation in Arms_, 10, 69, 93, 97, 161, 162, 167

  Gordon, Lindsay, poem by, 32

  Gourko, General, his raid across the Balkans, 146

  Grumbling--the soldier’s privilege to grumble, 217

  Gustavus Adolphus, 3

  Haig, General Sir D., 35, 38, 51, 67, 71, 78, 113

  _Haute école_, 196, 197, 203

  Henderson, Colonel, in _Science of War_, 56, 117, 118, 128

  Hood, General, and Wheeler’s raid, 149

  Horse, the, 18;
    Arab, 23;
    in South African operations, 82;
    what will the cavalry horse live on? 86;
    despatch-riding, 139;
    loss of many overriden, 149;
    exhaustion of, 151;
    Frederick the Great and his, 178;
    efficiency for war in, 181;
    training of the, 191

  Horse artillery, 26, 41, 76, 78, 93, 101;
    batteries of, 5;
    German, 72;
    and cavalry, 101;
    co-operation of, with cavalry, 108;
    fire effect compared with rifle fire, 117

  Horse-management, good system of campaigning, 205;
    theory of, 25, 26

  Horse, training of the, 191;
    economy in, 204

  Hunting as an exercise for a cavalry officer, 159, 168, 197

  Hutton, General Sir E., 55

  Imagination, want of, 165

  Inaction, 61

  Independent cavalry, 94

  India, cavalrymen in, 184

  Infantry attack, cavalry practising the rôle of, 57

  _Infantry Training, Manual of_, 114

  Information and security, the two functions of cavalry, 87-88

  Instruction, general, 140;
    theoretical, 214

  Instructional rides, manœuvres, etc., 77

  Irish horse, beau-ideal for cavalry, 19

  Japan, Emperor of, order by, 202

  Japanese, 8, 75, 146, 149-51, 173

  Jena, campaign of, 89

  Katzbach, pursuit after battle of, 85

  Kleber, General, and cowardice, 217

  Kraft, Prince, on cavalry dismounting, 58;
    _Letters on Cavalry_, 108, 119;
    on expenses of cavalry officer, 157

  Lance, 13, 14, 16

  Lancers, 9th, in the Afghan War, 14

  Langlois, General, in _Lessons from Two Recent Wars_, 69, 71, 76,
          88, 102, 165, 171, 175

  Lasalle, 3, 131, 169

  Leading, sticky, condoned in the past, 78

  Lewal, 78

  Liberty of manœuvre, 98, 100

  Lindsay Gordon, poem by, 32

  Line of communication, raid on a, 152

  Liubavin, General, 76

  Lloyd’s Maxims, extract from, 179

  Loigny-Poupry, German cavalry at, in 1870, 72

  Lonsdale Hale, Colonel, 72

  McClellan, General, 145

  Machine guns, 103, 109

  Makarov, Admiral, 132

  Mamelukes, 15, 193

  Man, training of the, 202

  Manchuria, Russians in, 7

  Manchurian War, 75, 146

  Map-reading, 184

  Masses of cavalry, 99, 109;
    column of, 46

  Maude, Colonel, _Cavalry: Its Past and Future_, 110, 112, 148

  May, General, _Guns and Cavalry_, 114

  Mêlée, 14, 209

  Michel’s brigade at the battle of Woerth, 112

  Mischenko, General, 149, 150

  Moltke, Yon, sayings of, 8, 155

  _Moral_, 1, 5, 30, 49, 217

  Mosby, 7

  Mounted infantry, 56, 73, 75, 117, 205

  Mounted infantry horse see finish of campaign, 22

  Mukden, battle of, 110, 146

  Murat, 3, 24, 82, 98, 141, 206

  Nansouty and Murat, 24

  Napier, on sword, 14

  Napoleon and his dragoons of 1805, 11;
    the mamelukes formidable antagonists to, 15;
    light cavalry horse of, 20;
    in Russian campaign, 24;
    his lack of consideration for the horse, 27;
    maxims of, 71, 88, 122, 167;
    discerns the impossibility of co-ordinating the two functions of
          cavalry--information and security, 88;
    horse artillery and cavalry of, 102, 103;
    sayings of, 108, 112, 167, 190;
    and Lasalle, 131;
    information easily gained by the French cavalry for, 135;
    extensive use of despatch-riders in several of his campaigns, 141;
    his doctrine of _moral_, 172;
    on the mamelukes, 193;
    his loss of horse in the invasion of Russia, 206

  Napoleonic era, 3

  New Zealanders as horsemen, 13

  Ney, “the bravest of the brave,” 84
    Napoleon’s appreciation of, 167

  Night attack, a, 124

  Norman chivalry, 2

  Officer, cavalry, the training of the, 154, 167

  Officers, amateur, 97

  Officers’ want of experience in horse-flesh on joining a regiment, 18

  Paardeberg, 82, 149

  Pace, exercise in, 140

  Pamirs, horse food in the, 25

  Parthian tactics, 1, 82

  Patriotism, 6, 97

  Peace-time theorists, 79

  Pelet Narbonne, Von, 111, 151

  Peninsular War, 15, 135, 159

  “Pepper-box” system, 93

  Personal weapon, 209. _See also_ Armament

  Personnel, 82

  Petersburg, 27

  Picard, 89, 206, 214

  “Picket the enemy,” 133

  Picq, Ardant du, 29, 49, 80, 87, 174

  Pioneering, every man should possess a good knowledge of, in all its
          forms, 211

  Polo-playing as an exercise for cavalry officers, 168, 197

  Polo pony, 20, 192

  Pompom, use of the, 68

  Pony, the, as adjunct to squadrons, 20-21

  Preuil, General de, 73

  Prince Imperial, death of, in Zululand, 191

  Principles of cavalry leading, 3

  Prisoners, Spanish, 10,000 captured by the French, 85;
    the taking of, very desirable, 128;
    as a means of obtaining information, 143

  Problems, practical, and their proposed solutions, 188

  Protective cavalry, their duty to secure positions for infantry
          columns following them, 92

  Punchestown, training horses, 198

  Pursuit, 83;
    parallel, 84

  Rafts, 211

  Raids, 145

  Rally, the, 32;
    instantaneous, 14

  Rearguards, 1, 144, 189, 214

  Recruits, 136, 207

  Reich, Emil, 169

  Rennenkampf, his reconnaissance to Kuan-tien-cheng, 150

  Resolute offensive, 78

  Revolver as a weapon in place of a sword, 15

  Riding, methods of teaching, 202

  Rifle, the, 16;
    magazine, cavalry armed with, 50

  Rifle fire compared with horse artillery fire effect, 117

  Romer, General, 204

  Royal Artillery Mounted Rifles, 12

  Rozhestvenski, fleet of, 131

  Rupert, his defeat, 34

  Ruskin, sayings of, 25, 155

  Russian successes in Central Asia, 7;
    officers, 76, 217;
    campaign of 1812, 89

  Russians, 146, 149-51

  Saddles, General Romer on, 204

  St. Cyr, General, 85

  Samsonov, General, 8

  Sands, seaside, digging hasty field fortifications at, 213

  Scabbard, steel, 10

  Schmidt, Von, his _Instructions for Cavalry_, 4, 5, 29, 33, 38, 41,
          108, 164, 177, 178

  Scouts, 127, 130, 142

  Section leaders, competition of, 184-185

  Seydlitz, 3, 80, 193

  Shaikh Sadi, sayings of, 128, 154

  Shakespeare, 128, 167

  Sherman, General, 149

  Shock action, 4;
    tactics, 4, 13, 52

  Shooting of cavalry, 208

  “Show” teams, 182

  Small horse for war, 20;
    wars distract attention from essentials, 18

  South Africa, cost of horse-flesh in, 18;
    mounting of our cavalry in, 21

  South African War, 59, 74, 81, 97, 106, 134, 147, 161, 213;
    operations, 1899-1902, erroneous conclusions from, 8

  South Africans, 13

  Sowars, 12

  Spaits, Captain, 110

  Squadron, the training of a, 177;
    leader, 179-80, 200

  Squadrons, competition of, 212

  Stamina of horse essential, 22

  Sticky leading, 78;
    action, 80

  Stuart, General, 145, 146

  Swimming as an exercise for cavalrymen, 210-11

  Sword, 10-16

  Tactics of Cavalry _v._ Cavalry, 29

  Tactics, Parthian, 1, 82;
    Zulu, 4

  Tax-payer of Great Britain and lessons from war, 8

  Telissu, cavalry at battle of, 8

  Theoretical instruction, 214

  Tracking, etc., 141

  Ulm, campaign of, 98, 141;
    despatch-riding in, 141

  Union of arms, 88

  Unison of arms, 50

  Verdy du Vernois on the possibilities of cavalry, 6;
    on the sword, 12

  Veterinary Department and their book, _Animal Management_, 25

  Volley firing, 17

  Von der Goltz, 10, 69, 93, 97, 161, 162, 167

  Walers (Australian), horses, bred for size, speed, etc., 23

  Waterloo, battle of, 3

  Weaker cavalry, rôle of, 95

  Wellington, Duke of, 42, 185

  Wet saddle-blankets to be carefully avoided, 204

  Wheeler’s raid, 149

  Wolseley, Lord, 122

  Wood and Edmonds, their _Civil War in the United States_, 149

  Wrangel, in _Cavalry in the Japanese War_, 135

  Xenophon, advice _re_ stable management, 1;
    on purchasing of horse, 23;
    and Argesilaus, 208

  Yeomanry as a national and imperial asset, 97

  Yinkov, raid to, 150

  Ziethen, 3, 80

  Zulu tactics, 4

  Zulus, _modus operandi_ of the, 190


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_


[1] Blücher, two days before Waterloo and then seventy years of age,
but as hard as nails and quite indefatigable, was charging at the head
of the Treskow Brigade, when his horse fell on him and he was left at
the mercy of the French cuirassiers. Luckily he was not recognized, and
when his own side again charged, he was pulled from under his horse and
got away on that of a sergeant.

[2] Von Schmidt, p. 229.

[3] Von Schmidt, p. 188.

[4] All the principal students of war of the type of Von Hoenig,
“A. A.,” Lewal, Von Schmidt, Galliffet, Kaehler, Prince Kraft, Verdy du
Vernois, Cherfils, Meckel, Waldor de Heusch, Von Schell, and others in
a minor degree, express unlimited confidence in the possibilities of
cavalry if trained according to a sufficiently high standard.--Elliot,
_Cavalry Literature_, Preface.

To preserve the superiority of an army in war, the system of tactics
must be changed every ten years.--Colonel BONIE.

[5] Colonel Bonie, speaking of the French cavalry before the war of
1870-71, says: “In the midst of this indifference war suddenly broke
out and we were obliged to appear on the field with our old ideas and
our old mistakes.”

[6] This is written with the reservation that experience shows that
much of the best and most useful work rendered to an army by its
cavalry is never known and certainly not recorded. The effectual
manner in which General Samsonov, after the battle of Telissu, checked
pursuit, held off, and at the same time kept touch with the Japanese
for three weeks or more, is dismissed in a few lines of history.

[7] An American, writing in 1899, delivered the following prophecy:
“Cavalry may be an expensive arm to organize, equip, and subsist,
but if it comes to a matter of dollars and cents the security of the
British Army in recent reverses would have been worth a million times
what an effective cavalry screen might have cost. From the moral
effect of the recent defeats the war in South Africa is expected
to cost the British Government between 100 million and 300 million
dollars.” Later he adds: “Let not our legislators forget in the coming
reorganization of our army the importance, nay the economy in money and
lives which cannot be measured by money, of maintaining an adequate
force of cavalry. Cavalry cannot be made in a month from militia. The
transformation process is slow. Given brave and fearless men, well-bred
horses, expert marksmen, improved arms and equipments, it is not
necessarily cavalry. Training is necessary and training takes time, but
when war begins, time is the one element which is most in demand.”

[8] A cavalry reformer, writing sixty or more years ago, says: “What is
the use of trying to get the authorities to abolish the steel scabbard,
when no attention was paid to a similar request fifty years ago?”

[9] _Cavalry in War and Peace_, p. 175.

[10] Though it is said that the Afghans point very effectively by means
of an upward prod.

[11] _Leaves from the Diary of a Soldier and Sportsman_, p. 256.

[12] _Studies in Troop Leading_, p. 196, _note_.

[13] For the very good reason that they possessed nothing better for
the purpose.

[14] The disadvantages of the lance, that it is conspicuous in detached
and scouting work and is in the way to some extent on dismounted work,
are defects easily got over.

[15] _The Campaign of Fredericksburg_, p. 129.

[16] It has been remarked that in Napoleon’s army the light cavalry,
though they did more work, lost fewer horses than the heavy cavalry.
This is attributed to the horses being better bred.

[17] Most interesting deductions are to be found in General Daumas’s
book, _The Horses of the Sahara_, in which conversations with the
celebrated Chief Abd-el-Kader are related.

[18] Von Schmidt, p. 72. But by cohesion is not meant that the men
are to be jammed together, for this only produces disorder, men being
forced out of their places, the number of ranks increased.

[19] The reader who desires full information, examples, and proof of
this well-ascertained fact should consult Colonel Ardant du Picq’s
book, one of the most interesting military works ever written and one
constantly referred to by French writers on cavalry.

[20] Von Schmidt’s _Instructions for Cavalry_, p. 159. The great
Frederick attached the greatest importance to the rapid rallying of
squadrons from the most complete confusion. “It must be impressed upon
the Hussar that he must be most attentive to the sound ‘Appell,’ on
hearing which each man will join his squadron and rank with the utmost
rapidity possible,” etc. And again: _N.B._--“His Majesty will most
particularly observe that the squadrons learn to rally rapidly.” And
also p. 77: “An acknowledged authority on our army says: ‘That cavalry
remains master of the field and gains the victory which can most
quickly rally and reform.’”

[21] _Cromwell_, by Captain P. A. Charrier, p. 11: “After Rupert’s
defeat Cromwell rallied and re-formed ready for the next job at hand.
The pursuit of Rupert’s troopers was entrusted to the smallest fraction
sufficient to do the work efficiently.... After each attack he re-forms
quickly and in good order ready for the next effort ... attacks the
royal infantry.... Towards the end of the battle he is rallied and
ready to meet yet another effort; ready to meet Lucas and Goring’s

[22] “The rally after an action, mounted or dismounted, and against an
enemy mounted or dismounted, requires careful thinking out and constant
practice. During peace training, operations are rarely worked out to a
logical conclusion, and too often cease with a final charge; so that
the problem is not faced of what is to happen _after_ the enemy has
been routed, or the position captured or galloped through, or what is
to happen should the attack fail.”--General Sir D. Haig’s _Report on
the Cavalry Divisional Training_, 1909, p. 14.

[23] De Brack, Chapter on Charges, p. 252.

[24] Acrimonious discussion with officers of other branches of the
service as to their relative powers is to be deprecated as not
conducive to “the unison of arms.” Good cavalry will beat bad infantry,
and _vice versa_. An officer of artillery or infantry should believe
that he and his men cannot be ridden over so long as they keep
steady and in good heart, whilst a cavalry officer should, on the
contrary, believe that he and his men can ride over anything. These
two propositions, speaking in a logical sense, it is impossible to
bring into agreement. Officers on the staff and general officers have
by their training risen superior to the petty jealousies between the
various arms; but experience shows that this can never be the case
throughout the army.

[25] _Cavalry in Future Wars_, Von Bernardi, page 115: “It is never
permissible to wait until driven into action by superior commands, but
one must always endeavour to reap, on one’s own initiative, the utmost
possibilities the situation holds out.”

[26] Langlois, _Lessons from Two Recent Wars_, p. 97: “Let us consider
them (mounted infantry) next in the fight. They attack like infantry
and leave their horses some way behind them. How easily could these
groups of horses, held by a few men, be scattered by some squadrons of
cavalry. But the squadrons, it is said, will be checked by the fire of
dismounted men. To begin with, this will mean so many less carbines in
the firing line. But can these moderate or at most ordinary shots--for
they are not Boers--stop a resolute charge? Will it not be sufficient
in any case to dismount a few men with carbines and so contain the few
dismounted men who have to defend these herds of horses? And if needs
be, would not fire alone be good enough to disperse the troops of
riderless animals and reduce the men who are fighting some way off on
foot to infantry without valises, without food, and soon even without
cartridges?” And on page 98: “Does this mean that cavalry are never to
use their carbines? No one has, I believe, and no one ever will, uphold
such a theory. Improvements in firearms have rendered this particular
weapon more and more useful, one may even say indispensable. Its
employment has become more frequent and more justified in every phase
of the engagement.”

[27] In Germany it is held that mounted infantry cannot hold the field
against a highly trained cavalry, for sooner or later they would be
caught when in the saddle, and then before they had time to dismount
and fire it would be all over with them (Elliot, p. 31).

[28] The sword in its scabbard may be put through the shoulder cord,
and so down the back and through the belt.

[29] A lesson taught us by our South African experiences, of which
there is a danger of our losing sight, is the possible result of
bringing large bodies of troops in close formation under the effective
fire of modern guns and rifles.

[30] I altogether disagree with General von Bernardi where he says, p.
157, _Cavalry in War and Peace_: “It is at the same time advisable that
a specially detailed cavalry escort should be _dismounted_ for this

[31] This is still more applicable in the fight of the cavalry
division, since two horse artillery brigades in action occupy a front
of 475 yards, and once the guns are in position the direction in which
this front faces can only be altered to any appreciable extent by
limbering up.

[32] General Sir D. Haig’s _2nd Staff Ride_, p. 11: “With a force of
greater strength than half a squadron, defiles should never be passed
at a faster pace than the trot in order that each unit of the force
may keep well closed up and the column be not unduly lengthened. After
passing through, deployment should be made at a gallop so as to make
room for units in rear.”

[33] The use of the pompom, as a hint to a flank guard not to spend too
long in a specially attractive farmhouse, is an extremist’s view of
this question.

[34] Cf. Langlois, _Lessons from Two Recent Wars_. Speaking of the
battle of Colenso, he says: “The cavalry _received no orders_, and
did nothing. In the whole day’s fighting the cavalry brigade (six
squadrons) lost two men altogether.” May not this want of direction
have been due in some degree to the well-known prejudice of the
generalissimo against the cavalry arm?

[35] Cf. p. 206, Von der Goltz, _Nation in Arms_: “It is not sufficient
to have good cavalry, it must also be well handled by the superior
authorities. These latter are really responsible for many mistakes
unfairly laid at the door of the cavalry. Cavalry divisions must be
allowed a proper liberty of action, without entirely slipping out of
the hands of the commander-in-chief; whilst the masses of cavalry were
formerly kept back to be employed in reserves or in the pursuit, the
tendency now exists to send them forward at once, on the first day,
to a great distance in a certain direction. This, again, may produce
the inconvenience of cavalry being wanting one day when most urgently
required. The despatch of squadrons to the front, and the choice of
the direction in which they are to proceed, must also be in accordance
with a definite plan. Moreover, the commander-in-chief must not only be
clear as to his real intentions, but must also communicate them with
perfect clearness to the cavalry.”

_German Cavalry Regulations_, 1909, para. 395: “Attempts on the more
distant hostile communication may produce valuable results; but they
must not distract the cavalry from its true battle objectives. In the
event of an engagement, co-operation with a zest for victory must be
the watchword for every formation, whether great or small.” See also
section 104, para. 4, section 110, para. 4, of the British F.S.R.

[36] _German Cavalry Regulations_, 1909, para. 393: “During the battle
decisive intervention, whether to support or ward off the hostile
attack, is possible only by throwing in large masses of cavalry.”

Also see p. 33 of the _Report on 2nd Cavalry Staff Ride_, by General
Sir D. Haig, where the co-operation of a cavalry division in ground
to some extent obstructed by obstacles is described, and attention is
drawn to the historical instances of Salamanca and Austerlitz, in which
the co-operation of cavalry was a special feature.

[37] See Langlois, _Lessons from Two Recent Wars_, where the greatest
stress is laid throughout on the depth of modern dispositions of troops
on the battlefield.

[38] [This battle will be found well described by Colonel Lonsdale
Hale, vol. liv., March 1910, _Journal of R.U.S.I._]

It was afternoon on this occasion before the twenty-four guns rightly
belonging to the cavalry mass were released from employment alongside
the batteries of the general defence and allocated to work with the

[39] There are few more striking instances of this than the episode at
Vionville, where General Frossard, who had desired General de Preuil
to make a charge, replied to the latter when he pointed out that the
charge was sure to result in failure, “Attack at once, or we are all

[40] The cavalry attack _en route_ to the relief of Kimberley and
several other occasions, when General French galvanized the squadrons
into action, afford us certain proof that energetic action on the
part of one combatant compels the other to take similar action or, as
happened in these cases, decamp.

[41] “The greatest error that the Russians made before even the
outbreak of hostilities, and which continued throughout the course
of the campaign, was, notoriously, the underrating of their
opponents. It is said that the most influential authorities could
not bring themselves, and did not deem it necessary, to detail a
sufficient proportion of the good regular cavalry present in European
Russia--guards and dragoons--for the theatre of war in Asia. Only
three regiments were sent out, of which it may be added the 51st and
52nd Dragoons only reached their destination in the 17th Army Corps
area at the end of July 1904. How blameworthy the action of the army
leaders was in not devoting more attention to the employment of their
best-trained and most reliable cavalry was most conclusively proved
by both these regiments of dragoons. For they succeeded, in what the
Cossacks up till then had had extremely limited success, namely, in
thoroughly clearing up the situation as regards their opponents,...”
etc., etc.--Supplement No. 86, _Internationale Revue über die gesammten
Armeen und Flotten_.

[42] Von Bernardi, _Cavalry in Future Wars_, p. 81: “The cavalry should
be forward and sideward to the line of battle.”

[43] General Sir D. Haig’s _Report on 2nd Cavalry Staff Ride_, p.
33: “The main lessons are that the cavalry leader must be in close
communication with the commander-in-chief, that the staff and all
leaders must be carefully prepared for this kind of work, and the
troops trained to take advantage of ground.”

[44] Ardant du Picq gives an account of how two parties of infantry,
suddenly meeting each other as they advanced over a hill-crest, _both_
turned and ran away.

[45] Ney, “the bravest of the brave,” found riding alone in rear of the
retreating French army, was asked, “Where is the rearguard?” “I am the
rearguard,” was the reply.

[46] After the action at the bridge of El Rey, St. Cyr sent his cavalry
in pursuit of the Spanish forces who were making for the defiles of
Montserrat. The French cavalry, gaining ground at a gallop on the left
flank of the column of fugitives, took up a position at the entrance to
the defile, and captured the whole of the enemy’s supplies and baggage
as well as 10,000 prisoners and twenty-five guns.

[47] “Casse cou,” a rare plant, and much smothered in Great Britain
in the twenty-five years previous to the South African War with the
inevitable effect.

[48] Un corps de réserve de cavalerie qui devait, à la fois, éclairer,
couvrir et seconder l’armée.--Picard, vol. i. p. 257.

[49] In the campaign of Jena, 1806, the Prussian cavalry still
maintained the Ziethen and Seydlitz tradition; they were well horsed,
well trained, and extraordinarily exact in their evolutions; but
the squadrons were mixed up with infantry divisions by groups of
ten squadrons, and commanded by the aged lieutenants of the Great
Frederick, still living on the traditions of their youthful successes.
Direction was entirely wanting in the disposition of the cavalry,
though it is said that at no time was military literature in a more
flourishing condition than in the years following the death of
Frederick the Great, and mathematical science was especially held in

[50] Von Bernardi, _Cavalry in Future Wars_, p. 32 of Goldman’s

[51] Von Bernardi, _Cavalry in Future War_, p. 28.

[52] In a well-reasoned article on “Cavalry in the Russo-Japanese War”
in the _Internationale Revue über die gesammten Armeen und Flotten_, it
is said: “So it is seen that in this war it has been proved once again,
and that to a high degree, that nothing great can be accomplished
with improvisations of cavalry, and that cavalry, especially when
incorporated in divisions, if it wishes to be led to high aims, cannot
be stamped out of the ground immediately before great events.”

[53] Von der Goltz, _The Nation in Arms_, p. 168, says: “The armies of
the French Republic numbered many members of the highest aristocracy
in the lower ranks, and there was no lack of intelligence, but it was
an undisciplined intelligence wanting in uniform training--hence also
an absence of unity of action. This latter is guaranteed by certain
principles being engrafted into the flesh and blood of the commanders
of troops by teaching and practice. The idea of utilizing our numerical
superiority and the efficiency of our troops in a vigorous and rapid
offensive pervaded all our minds, this principle having been imbibed
with the very air of our military school. If such discipline of the
intelligence exists, the commander may, with composure, leave much to
the initiative of the individual.”

[54] Nor does the effect of the victory of masses end there. “It
intensifies and invigorates the sense of superiority in individual
combats, and is essential if the patrols are to carry out their duties
in the true cavalry spirit.”--Von Bernardi, _Cavalry in Future Wars_,
p. 31.

[55] Extract from Von Pelet Narbonne’s _Lectures on and Cavalry Lessons
from the Manchurian War_.

[56] A general-in-chief should ask himself frequently in the day,
What should I do if the enemy’s army appeared now in my front, or on
my right, or on my left? If he have any difficulty in answering these
questions, he is ill-posted and should seek to remedy it.--Napoleon’s
Maxims, No. 8.

[57] In continuous heavy rain one tent should be made into a “drying”
tent by putting a fire on a stone fireplace in it, and thus bringing
the heat up to 120°, to 130°, or more. The wettest clothes hung up in
it will dry in about twenty minutes.

[58] Blücher on one occasion shouted to a tottering regiment: “You
scoundrels, do you then want to live for ever?”

[59] Napoleon considered it necessary, in 1807, to write to Lasalle as
follows: “Be very careful to send out frequent reconnoitring parties,
but do not let them go out each day by the same way and at the same
time, and return in similar fashion, _so that what happened to you at
Wischau occurs again_”!

[60] The French cavalry regulations state that between the service of
_sûreté_ and exploration in the cases of small forces ill-provided
with cavalry, the line is not drawn so clearly as in the case of large
forces with their normal establishment of cavalry.--_Service de la
cavalerie en campagne_, p. 58.

[61] Wrangel, in _Cavalry in the Japanese War_, puts tersely the true
line to take:--“The idea of a thin cavalry screen surrounding their own
army for protection against view of the enemy is very fallacious. An
energetic enemy, full of enterprise, will easily pierce this thin web
with his scouts. Only an active screen can be of any use, which really
in practice is no longer a screen only, but is coincident with the true
offensive reconnaissance. He who advances regardlessly into the hostile
reconnaissance zone, and attacks the cavalry detachments of the enemy
with determination wherever they are found, gives the death-blow to the
information apparatus of the enemy. His patrols and detachments robbed
of these supports are soon useless. They, like their reports, only in
the fewest cases are able to reach their destination.”

[62] A regulation in the French army is as follows: “One of the most
important missions on which young officers should be sent is the
conduct of reconnaissance of discovery. Opportunity should be taken to
give them practice in this, by sending them to reconnoitre the movement
of troops of another garrison. These exercises where the officer stays
out for two or three days at the head of his troop are extremely
useful.”--_Service de la cavalerie_, p. 190.

[63] Plain English words should always be used, if possible, in

[64] Curély, in 1812, at Pultusk, with 100 men of the 20th Chasseurs,
captured from the enemy twenty pieces of artillery, and took the
general-in-chief of the Russian army a prisoner.

[65] Maude, _Cavalry: Its Past and Future_, p. 185.

[66] The Atlanta Campaign, p. 389 of Wood and Edmonds’ _Civil War in
the United States_.

[67] Undoubtedly the press wrote against the cavalry and the medical
departments far more than against other arms and departments during the
late South African War. Both have made great progress since the war.
_Sic itur ad astra!_

[68] True nobility is seen in the reply of Von Moltke, who, asked
why he was so economical, as far as his person was concerned, whilst
generous to others, replied, that it was in the hope that the officers
of the army might be persuaded to follow his example, for that he knew
how many families grudged themselves all possible luxuries to keep
their sons in their position of officers of the army. “The less a man
requires the greater he is,” he added.

[69] We like to call to mind Ruskin’s saying in _The Future of
England_: “Riches, so far from being necessary to _noblesse_, are
adverse to it. So utterly that the first character of all the nobility,
who have founded past dynasties in the world, is to be poor; poor
often by oath, always by generosity, and of every true knight in the
chivalric age the first thing that history tells you is that he never
kept treasure himself.”

[70] Prince Kraft points out how great a price a German officer pays
for the swagger of belonging to a cavalry regiment. He enlarges on the
trials to health entailed thereby, the long work in the riding school,
with the shakes and jars given to the bowels and spine, which in many
cases have sown the seeds of chronic illness, even during their first
year of service as lieutenants, owing to which some of them have been
invalided before their time. Then he goes on to point out the expenses
entailed by good chargers and their upkeep. Finally, he says that in
the German cavalry in no regiment can an officer live unless he can
afford to pay £100 a year out of his own pocket, and so he reckons that
a cavalry officer before he has twenty years’ service has expended
£2000, that is, has sacrificed that sum to the Fatherland.

[71] The French rightly lay stress on ability to cross an intricate
country. Their _Service de la cavalerie en campagne_, p. 191, says: “To
ride hard across country and particularly over a steeplechase course is
an excellent preparation for reconnaissance work. An officer accustomed
to long gallops, not only at ordinary, but also at racing pace, may
defy pursuit by one who has not had the same experience of leaping, and
especially of leaping at full speed, and of the powers of his horse.”

Our British cavalry officers had justly a great reputation for their
abilities in this respect in the Peninsular War.

[72] After a sharp fight one day in South Africa, a colonial officer
remarked to his column commander, “We did not think there would be
anything on to-day, because you were wearing your slacks and riding the
black horse!” The column commander felt, though he did not acknowledge,
the justice of the remark.

[73] In _Before Port Arthur in a Torpedo Boat_ the Japanese officer
reflects: “Is there any situation which can happen for which I and my
men have not been practised?”

[74] Cf. Langlois, _Lessons from Two Recent Wars_, p. 144: “The manner
in which troops are to be employed in the different situations which
arise must be left to the initiative of those in command in every
degree of rank.”

[75] _Germany’s Swelled Head_, p. 165.

[76] Note the strong measures which Lasalle, one of Napoleon’s best
cavalry leaders, is said to have taken at Pultusk in 1807. His brigade
was about to attack the Russian artillery, and about 2 P.M. had hardly
advanced twenty paces before the cry of “Halt!” was heard and at once
passed down the line without any one knowing where it had started.
The two regiments turned and began to retire at a gallop, though the
Russian guns had not fired a shot. Rallied after seven or eight minutes
and brought back, their brigadier-general, in a furious rage, kept
them in line until midnight under the enemy’s fire. So heavy was this
that the general had two horses killed under him. Men and horses fell
at every minute, but it is said not a man stirred, nor was a murmur

[77] On one occasion in the operations in South Africa, 1899-1902,
a troop, ordered to gallop a kopje, halted at 700 yards from it,
dismounted, and began to shoot; a troop of a rival corps was at once
sent to gallop through them and did what they had been told to do--took
the kopje; a salutary and effective lesson.

Another time a squadron attacking was held up by wire whilst under
fire, and began to come back; another squadron was led at a gallop
through them. The irresolute squadron at once turned and followed
them. The art is to loose the support at the right moment and with due

[78] _German Cavalry Regulations_, 1909, par. 398.

[79] The French _Service de la cavalerie en campagne_, 1909, at page
190, thus lays down the rôle of the commanding officer: “To direct
his officers towards a common doctrine, that of resolves which are
determined, even rash, but well considered; to develop in them
initiative and personality, and to make them not merely carriers-out
of orders, but leaders who know how to reflect, decide, and take
responsibility on themselves.”

[80] Supplement No. 86 to the _International Revue über die gesammten
Armeen und Flotten_, May 1907.

[81] Curély, the hero of countless brave deeds and daring
reconnaissances in Napoleon’s campaigns, had by 1814 got as far as
the command of a regiment, the 10th Hussars. On the 12th February at
Château-Thierry he got an opportunity, and successfully threw his
regiment at the flank of thirty squadrons of Landwehr. This gave an
opportunity to Letort with the Dragoons of the Guard to charge the
front. Napoleon in his bulletin only put: “Colonel Curély made himself
conspicuous”; but he at once promoted him to the rank of general for
this feat of arms.

[82] Langlois, _Lessons from Two Recent Wars_, p. 70.

[83] Von Schmidt, _Instructions for Cavalry_, p. 7.

[84] Von Schmidt, p. 227.

[85] _Ibid._ p. 73.

[86] _Ibid._ p. 13.

[87] Every manœuvre which is not founded upon the nature of the ground
is absurd and ridiculous.--Lloyd’s Maxims.

[88] The tests in map-reading for a field officer for tactical fitness
for command and for a cavalry trooper for service pay were at one time
almost identical.

[89] There is an additional reason for this, in that, if one horse
refuses, the next two or three who have seen him do so will probably do
the same. Horses are extremely impressionable.

[90] Von Bernhardi, _Cavalry in Future Wars_, p. 90.

[91] Taking an instance which comes to mind: a troop of cavalry on
outpost duty at Colesberg found themselves cut off at dawn by some 500
Boers; instantly they rode at the enemy, and, with small loss and doing
some execution with their lances, came out.

[92] The cavalry soldier is often required to perform independent
duties and penetrate far into the enemy’s lines under conditions
entailing danger and hardship. He should, therefore, not only be brave,
strong, and determined, but also intelligent, enthusiastic, deliberate,
and calm. He must be able to act on his own initiative in accordance
with the orders he receives and the situation of the moment. His horse
is the cavalryman’s best weapon. The soldier should prize his horse
more than his own body, and thus in an emergency he will be able to
rely without fail upon this weapon. It is only when the foregoing
qualities have been acquired by training and experience in the field
that a man can call himself a true cavalry soldier.--_Japanese, Cavalry
Drill Regulations_, 1907, 44 (trans.).

[93] For practical riding, however, turning on the forehand is not

[94] At the same time these natural movements are not all that we
demand of a horse; we must therefore add the proviso that with the
weight of a rider on the horse’s back, some of the natural turns, and
twists, and bearings can be, and need be, improved on. For instance,
by means of the bit and legs, we pull a polo pony on to his haunches,
and then turn him with the snaffle in order that on slippery ground we
may save a slip, slide, or fall, which would very probably occur if we
let him turn on the forehand in his own natural and easiest way. Nor
does every horse, as he moves along at the walk, trot, or gallop, or as
he jumps, necessarily do so in the best or safest way; he will often
slouch, as we would describe it in a man, in doing so. We then use the
aid of bit, leg, spur, or whip to make him go up to his bit, which
we know by experience is a better fashion than his natural mode of
carrying himself.

Many a slack rider has let his horse, when he was wearily plodding his
way home after a long day’s hunting, fall and break his knees; whereas,
if the animal had been well balanced by the strong pressure of the legs
and warning spurs, and light hand on the curb, of a good and alert
horseman, he would have reached home safely.

[95] The Boer system of training a horse not to fall in the antbear and
porcupine holes was to put a native on the animal and lunge it where
there were nests of these holes.

[96] The pose, however, of decrying _haute école_ methods is a totally
mistaken one. The finest all-round horsemen in the world are the
masters of _haute école_, whilst some of the worst horsemen are the
butchering hard-riders to hounds, who bunch up their reins in their
mutton fists, and hold on by them till their mount stops pulling and
going. They are little better than, though of another class to, the
viceroy who said to his A.D.C., “Don’t talk to me now; don’t you see I
am busy riding?”

[97] _Cavalry Journal_, July 1910.

[98] Experience shows that the noisiest instructors are almost
invariably the worst; they are usually trying to appeal by means of
their lungs to the rider’s ears instead of demonstrating their meaning
by an appeal to his sense of sight.

[99] The material common-sense changes made in regard to the comfort,
amusements, health, and pay of the cavalryman, in common with the other
arms, is one of the most marked advances in the army of to-day.

[100] General Romer, after the American Civil War, wrote as follows:
“Bad saddles destroy more horses than are lost in action.”

It is certain that _wet_ horse blankets put on under a saddle will
give more sore backs in one day’s march than will occur in a month of
ordinary marching.

[101] It has been said that “it is a peace theory that mounted infantry
are as good as trained cavalry; it is a war fact that their ignorance
of horse-management makes them five times as costly at the commencement
of a war.” However that may be, we know that under first-rate officers,
a proportion of whom have since joined the cavalry to its advantage,
there was exemplary horse-management in some corps of mounted infantry,
not only in the late South African War of 1899-1902 but long ago in the

[102] Picard, _Cavalry of the Revolution and Empire_, vol. ii. p. 94.

[103] “The idea of drawing cavalry recruits from the best
horse-breeding districts,” says Denison, “is not original. Zenophon
says that Argesilaus did so” (p. 41). It is certain that our best
cavalry soldiers come from Ireland now.

[104] Von Bernhardi, _Cavalry in Peace and War_, p. 273, says,
speaking of German cavalry: “In the cavalry there is a want of trained
instruction, and most regiments are even reduced to borrowing infantry
under-officers and officers to assist in their musketry training, who
are then also employed to teach the rudiments of the cavalry fight.”

[105] The Japanese realize how far strength and activity go to make up
for the unsuitability of the race for cavalry work, and from the moment
a recruit enters barracks, every effort is made to render him active
and energetic.--_Education and Training of the Japanese Divisional
Cavalry_, p. 13.

[106] Les Hussards étaient d’ailleurs les maraudeurs par excellence;
ils se sentaient encore de leur premier recrutement. On respectait ce
penchant des troupes légères pour leur donner plus de mordant dans la
poursuite à laquelle elles se trouvaient ainsi plus particulièrement
intéressées.--Picard, _La Cavalerie dans les guerres de la Revolution
et de l’Empire_, p. 201.

[107] “In teaching it is not sufficient for the teacher to express
clearly what he means--the words may be to him quite clear, but the
real question is, are they clear to the pupil, do they put his mind
into a condition in which he follows and grasps the idea that the
teacher would emphasize?”--Professor Culverwell on the Herbartian

[108] May not a trace of this religious fanaticism, however, be seen in
the letter of an Irish soldier, who wrote home during the South African
War of 1899-1902 as follows:--

“Dear mother, we are having a lovely time of it, shooting Protestants
all day long, and no one to stop us.”

[109] This view was expressed in 1907 by the commander of the 1st
Japanese cavalry regiment.

[110] General Kleber, when his men, overcome by fatigue, refused to
move a step farther, called them cowards. As they protested that they
were at any rate always brave in a fight, he replied, “Yes, you are
brave men, but you are not soldiers. To be a soldier is not to eat when
you are hungry, not to drink when you are thirsty, and to carry your
comrade when you cannot drag yourself along.”--_Manuel du gradé de

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Some illustrations were moved closer to the text that referenced them.

The spelling of non-English words was not checked.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

In the Table of Contents, one of the page numbers for Chapter IX was
missing and the other was incorrect. Both remedied here.

Page 84: Transcriber added a closing quotation mark at the end of the
paragraph ending with “a crossing of the Modder River.”

Footnote 62, originally on page 136: Transcriber added a closing
quotation mark after “troop are extremely useful.”

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