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Title: Cavalry - A Popular Edition of "Cavalry in War and Peace"
Author: Bernhardi, Friedrich von
Language: English
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 _Author of "How Germany Makes War"_

 G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G.



 Copyright, 1914, by


General von Bernhardi is best known in England as a writer of the
"Jingo" School which has done so much to produce the war, but this
is only one side of his literary activity. He is also a writer of
recognised ability on the theory and practice of modern war. Sir John
French's introduction to the present work is sufficient testimony to
the value which is set upon his purely professional writings.

General von Bernhardi is a distinguished cavalry officer, and he writes
with remarkable independence on the special work of his own arm, never
hesitating to criticise the regulations of the German Army, when he
considers that they do not correspond to the actual conditions of war.
The book, though written in the first instance for cavalry officers,
will be found of interest to all who wish to understand what cavalry
is called upon to do and how it does it in the war of to-day. It
will be found to be full of useful instruction for not only officers
of the regular cavalry and the yeomanry, but also for officers and
non-commissioned officers of our cyclist battalions, whose work brings
them into such close relation with our cavalry in war and manoeuvres,
and who have to perform much the same work as that of the cavalry in
reconnaissance, screening, and outpost duties.

General von Bernhardi's work deals with cavalry in war and peace,
but much of the second part, dealing with peace duties and training,
is made up of a mass of detail on parade and riding-school work, as
carried out in the German Army. This has been omitted, but his remarks
on cavalry training at manoeuvres are included in an appendix. Sir John
French's introduction gives us the views of the greatest of our own
cavalry leaders, who is now commanding our Army in France.


All British soldiers will welcome this excellent translation by
Major Bridges of a new work by General von Bernhardi, whose intimate
knowledge of cavalry and brilliant writings have won for him such a
great European reputation.

Some prominence has lately been given in England to erroneous views
concerning the armament and tactics of cavalry. General von Bernhardi's
book contains sound doctrine on this subject, and will show to every
one who has an open mind and is capable of conviction by reasoned
argument how great is the future rôle of cavalry, and how determined
are the efforts of the great cavalry leaders of Europe to keep abreast
with the times, and to absorb, for the profit of the arm, every lesson
taught by experience, both in peace and war.

In all theories, whether expounded by so eminent an authority as
General von Bernhardi or by others who have not his claims to our
attention, there is, of course, a good deal that must remain a matter
of opinion, and a question open for free and frank discussion. But
I am convinced that some of the reactionary views recently aired in
England concerning cavalry will, if accepted and adopted, lead first
to the deterioration and then to the collapse of cavalry when next it
is called upon to fulfil its mission in war. I therefore recommend
not only cavalry officers, but officers of all arms and services, to
read and ponder this book, which provides a strengthening tonic for
weak minds which may have allowed themselves to be impressed by the
dangerous heresies to which I have alluded.

       *       *       *       *       *

Is there such a thing as the cavalry spirit, and should it be our
object to develop this spirit, if it exists, to the utmost, or to
suppress it? General von Bernhardt thinks that this spirit exists and
should be encouraged, and I agree with him. It is not only possible
but necessary to preach the Army spirit, or, in other words, the close
comradeship of all arms in battle, and at the same time to develop
the highest qualities and the special attributes of each branch. The
particular spirit which we seek to encourage is different for each
arm. Were we to seek to endow cavalry with the tenacity and stiffness
of infantry, or to take from the mounted arm the mobility and the cult
of the offensive which are the breath of its life, we should ruin not
only the cavalry, but the Army besides. Those who scoff at the spirit,
whether of cavalry, of artillery, or of infantry, are people who have
had no practical experience of the actual training of troops in peace,
or of the personal leadership in war. Such men are blind guides indeed.

Another reason why I welcome this book is because it supplies a timely
answer to schoolmen who see in our South African experiences, some
of which they distort and many of which they forget, the acme of all
military wisdom. It is always a danger when any single campaign is
picked out, at the fancy of some pedagogue, and its lessons recommended
as a panacea. It is by study and meditation of the whole of the long
history of war, and not by concentration upon single and special phases
of it, that we obtain safe guidance to the principles and practices of
an art which is as old as the world.

It is not only the campaigns which we and others have fought which
deserve reflection, but also the wars which may lie in front of us.
General von Bernhardi does not neglect the lessons of past wars, but he
gives the best of reasons for thinking that the wars in South Africa
and Manchuria have little in common with the conditions of warfare in
Europe. We notice, as we read his book, that he has constantly in his
mind the enemies whom the German Army must be prepared to meet, their
arms, their tactics, and their country, and that he urges his comrades
to keep the conditions of probable wars constantly before their eyes.

It passes comprehension that some critics in England should gravely
assure us that the war in South Africa should be our chief source of
inspiration and guidance, and that it was not abnormal. All wars are
abnormal, because there is no such thing as normal war. In applying
the lessons of South Africa to the training of cavalry, we should be
very foolish if we did not recognise at this late hour that very few of
the conditions of South Africa are likely to recur. I will name only
a few of them. The composition and tactics of the Boer forces were as
dissimilar from those of European armies as possible. Boer commandos
made no difficulty about dispersing to the four winds when pressed, and
re-uniting again some days or weeks later hundreds of miles from the
scene of their last encounter. Such tactics in Europe would lead to the
disruption and disbandment of any army that attempted them.

Secondly, the war in South Africa was one for the conquest and
annexation of immense districts, and no settlement was open to us
except the complete submission of our gallant enemy. A campaign with
such a serious object in view is the most difficult that can be
confided to an army if the enemy is brave, enterprising, well-armed,
numerous, and animated with unconquerable resolve to fight to the
bitter end. I am not sure that people in England have ever fully
grasped this distinctive feature of our war with the Dutch Republics.
Let me quote the opinion of the late Colonel Count Yorck von Wartenburg
on this subject. In his remarkable book "Napoleon as a General," Count
Yorck declares that if, in the campaign of 1870-71, the absolute
conquest and annexation of France had been desired, German procedure
would not have been either logical or successful, and that the Germans
would have failed as completely as Napoleon failed in Spain. But
Count Yorck shows that when plans have a definite and limited object
in view--namely, to obtain peace on given conditions--the situation
is altered. Count Yorck shows that the German plans in 1870-71 were
perfectly appropriate to this limited aim, and that they were therefore
successful. The very serious task which British policy imposed upon
British strategy in South Africa must never be forgotten.

Thirdly, we did not possess any means for remounting our cavalry with
trained horses, such as we are endeavouring to secure by our new system
of cavalry depôts and reserve regiments. After the capture, in rear
of the army, of the great convoy by De Wet, our horses were on short
commons, and consequently lost condition and never completely recovered

Lastly, owing to the wholesale and repeated release of prisoners who
had been captured and who subsequently appeared again in the field
against us, we were called upon to fight, not, as is stated, 86,000 or
87,000 men, but something like double that number or more, with this
additional disadvantage, that the enemy possessed on his second or
third appearance against us considerable experience of our methods, and
a certain additional seasoned fitness.

Nevertheless we are now invited to throw away our cold steel as useless
lumber owing to some alleged failures of the cavalry in South Africa.
Were we to do so, we should invert the rôle of cavalry, turn it into
a defensive arm, and make it a prey to the first foreign cavalry
that it meets, for good cavalry can always compel a dismounted force
of mounted riflemen to mount and ride away, and when such riflemen
are caught on their horses they have power neither of offence nor of
defence and are lost. If, in European warfare, such mounted riflemen
were to separate and scatter, the enemy would be well pleased, for he
could then reconnoitre and report every movement and make his plans in
all security. In South Africa the mounted riflemen were the hostile
army itself, and when they had dispersed there was nothing left to
reconnoitre; but when and where will these conditions recur?

Even in South Africa, grave though were the disadvantages under which
our cavalry laboured from short commons and overwork, the Boer mounted
riflemen acknowledged on many occasions the moral force of the cold
steel, and gave way before it. The action at Zand River in May, 1900,
was a case in point, and I only quote a personal experience because the
venerable maxim that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory has
still a good deal to be said for it. The rôle of the Cavalry Division
on the day to which I refer was to bring pressure to bear on the right
flank of the Boer army in order to enable Lord Roberts to advance
across the river and attack the main Boer forces. Having crossed the
river to the west of the Boers, we determined, with the inner or
easterly brigade, to seize an important kopje lying on the right flank
of the Boer position, and, pivoting upon this, to throw two brigades
against the right flank and rear of the enemy.

The Boers told off a strong force of picked mounted riflemen to oppose
this movement, which they expected. The kopje was seized by the inner
brigade, and the brigade next to it made some progress; but the Boer
mounted riflemen attacked the flank brigade to the extreme west, and
began to drive it back. I galloped from the kopje to the outer brigade
with the thought that either every idea which I had ever formed in
my life as to the efficacy of shock action against mounted riflemen
was utterly erroneous, or that this was the moment to show that it
was not. On reaching the outer brigade I ordered it to mount and form
for attack. All ranks were at once electrified into extraordinary
enthusiasm and energy. The Boers realised what was coming. Their fire
became wild, and the bullets began to fly over our heads. Directly the
advance began, the Boers hesitated, and many rushed to their horses.
We pressed forward with all the very moderate speed of tired horses,
whereupon the whole Boer force retired in the utmost confusion and
disorder, losing in a quarter of an hour more ground than they had won
during three or four hours of fighting. A cavalry which could perform
service like this; which held back, against great numerical odds, the
Dutch forces at Colesberg; which relieved Kimberley; which directly
made possible the victory at Paardeberg by enclosing Kronje in his
entrenchments; which captured Bloemfontein, Kroonstadt, and Barberton,
and took part successfully in all the phases of the long guerilla war
and in countless drives, can afford to regard with equanimity the
attacks of those who have never led, trained, nor understood the arm to
which I am proud to have belonged.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have already, in an introduction to another book by General von
Bernhardi, expressed my high sense of the general soundness of his
teaching. Were I to do full justice to the merits of this new work,
I should be compelled to make long extracts and to repeat matter
which every reader will perhaps do better to search for and select
for himself. But I would invite particular attention to the General's
remarks on the subjects of reconnaissance, the cavalry fight, the
combination of fire and shock, the divisional cavalry, the rôle of the
strategical cavalry, training, and organisation. The masterly summary
of the qualifications which should be possessed by squadron and patrol
leaders is, in particular, an extremely valuable contribution to the
study of a most important subject.

The General does not always agree with the Regulations of his own Army,
and he is specially in conflict with them when he recommends raids
by cavalry corps against the enemy's communications. My opinion upon
this point is that every plan should be subordinate to what I consider
a primary necessity--namely, the absolute and complete overthrow of
the hostile cavalry. So long as that cavalry remains intact with its
_morale_ unshaken, all our enterprises must of necessity be paralysed.
The successful cavalry fight confers upon the victor the command of
ground, just in the same way that successful naval action carries with
it command at sea. For effective enterprises in either sphere command
is absolutely necessary, and can only be obtained by successful battle,
whether on land or sea.

I agree generally with the German Regulations when they suggest that
raids against communications should not divert cavalry from their true
battle objective, and consequently I must venture to differ from the
author on this point, though I do not approve of all that the German
Regulations say concerning the employment of cavalry in battle. The
opinion which I hold and have often expressed is that _the true rôle
of cavalry on the battlefield is to reconnoitre, to deceive, and
finally to support_. If the enemy's cavalry has been overthrown, the
rôle of reconnaissance will have been rendered easier. In the rôles of
deception and support, such an immense and fruitful field of usefulness
and enterprise is laid open to a cavalry division which has thought out
and practised these rôles in its peace training and is accustomed to
act in large bodies dismounted, that I cannot bring myself to believe
that any equivalent for such manifest advantages can be found even in
the most successful raid against the enemy's communications by mounted

I entirely agree with General von Bernhardi's conclusion that very
important duties will fall to the lot of the divisional cavalry in war,
and that the fulfilment of these duties has become more difficult of
late years. The necessity for, and the value of, divisional cavalry are
often not properly appreciated. What the strategical cavalry is to the
Army in the greater sphere, the divisional cavalry is to the division
in the lesser.

Most cavalry soldiers of good judgment will agree with the lucid
arguments of the author on the subject of cavalry armament. It is
suggested to us, by critics of the cavalry, that the lance is an
impediment to dismounted action. If this difficulty ever existed, it
has been overcome by the method of carrying the lance which has been
adopted and practised with marked success for the past two years. It is
also objected by the same critics that a thin bamboo pole, carried by
the side of a mounted man, will hinder him in reconnaissance and reveal
his position to the enemy. The mere statement of this argument absolves
me from the duty of replying to it.

General von Bernhardi very wisely says that it is not a question
whether cavalrymen should fight mounted or dismounted, but whether
they are prepared and determined to take their share in the decision
of an encounter and to employ the whole of their strength and mobility
to this end. In our training during the last few years I have
endeavoured to impress upon all ranks that when the enemy's cavalry
is overthrown, our cavalry will find more opportunities of using
the rifle than the cold steel, and that dismounted attacks will be
more frequent than charges with the _arme blanche_. By no means do I
rule out as impossible, or even unlikely, attacks by great bodies of
mounted men against other arms on the battlefield. But I believe that
such opportunities will occur comparatively rarely, and that undue
prominence should not be accorded to them in our peace training, to the
detriment of much more solid advantages which may be gained by other

I think that every one who reads this book will understand that the
sphere of action of cavalry is steadily widening, and is, at the same
time, making increased demands as the years go on upon all ranks of
the arm. Those who wish to recall what cavalry has done in the past,
should read and reread "The Achievements of Cavalry," by Field-Marshal
Sir Evelyn Wood, one of the very few soldiers in the Army who has
taken part as a combatant in European warfare. Sir Evelyn Wood's war
record probably surpasses that of any other officer in the Army. His
knowledge of horses and his horsemanship are second to none, and
though seventy-two years of age, he is still one of the hardest and
straightest riders to hounds in England. It should be a constant
encouragement to the cavalry that such an experienced and sagacious
leader should entertain such a firm faith in the destinies of an arm
with which he is so thoroughly conversant.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few words in conclusion. We hear it said, and see it written, that
we ought not to accept any guidance from military Europe, because
our own experience of war has been so considerable that we can learn
nothing from Europe which we do not know better ourselves. The truth
is, that since the Crimean War we have had little or no experience of
the kind of effort which will be required of us when next we meet the
trained army of a European Power. In deluding ourselves with the false
notion that our campaigns of the last fifty years represent the sum of
military wisdom, we merely expose our ignorance and conceit, and do our
utmost not only to cause disaster, but to invite it.

The cavalry soldier must not be misled by these appeals of ignorance
to vanity. Let him continue to study profoundly the training, tactics,
and organisation of the best foreign cavalry. Let him reflect long
and deeply upon the opinions of such acknowledged authorities as
Field-Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood and General von Bernhardi. Let him keep
himself abreast with every change in the tendencies of cavalry abroad,
so that he may help us to assimilate the best of foreign customs to
our own. Finally, let him realise the great intellectual and physical
strain that modern war will impose upon the cavalry, and let him
preserve the _mens sana in corpore sano_, that equable balance between
study and action, which alone will enable him to rise superior to every
difficulty in the great and honourable calling to which he belongs.

 J.D.P. French.


_In placing this translation of General von Bernhardi's work at the
service of the officers of the Army, I take the opportunity of drawing
attention to the educational value of the large quantity of military
literature published abroad, particularly in France and Germany.
Translations into English of works of this kind are rare, and often
so belated as to have lost much of their value by the time they are

_Modern developments in means of communication and intercourse are
daily bringing us into closer touch with the Continent of Europe, and
there can be no doubt that the rising generation of officers would
do well to make themselves masters of the not over-difficult art of
reading French and German, that they may be able to appreciate such
works and keep themselves abreast of the times. They will find such
knowledge of the greatest service, not only in the profession of arms,
but in the course of everyday life._

_My thanks are due to Major W.H. Greenly, D.S.O. 12th Lancers, for his
kind and able assistance in correcting proofs._




 INTRODUCTION                                                   25

 TRAINING                                                       33

 A. Reconnaissance, Screening, and Raids:

 I. RECONNAISSANCE BY THE ARMY CAVALRY                          40

 1. _The Main Body of the Army Cavalry_                         40

 2. _Reconnoitring Squadrons_                                   51

 3. _Distant Patrols_                                           64

 4. _Close Reconnaissance and Reconnaissance during
 the Fight_                                                     76


 III. THE SCREEN                                                91

 IV. RAIDS                                                      97

 B. The Action of Cavalry:

 I. GENERAL                                                    104

 II. ATTACK AND DEFENCE                                        113

 MOUNTED AND DISMOUNTED                                        119

 IV. THE FIGHT OF THE INDEPENDENT CAVALRY                      137

 1. _The Battle of Encounter_                                  138

 2. _Attack of Localities_                                     155

 3. _The Defence_                                              164

 4. _Breaking off the Fight, Retreat, and Pursuit_             166

 V. THE ACTION OF CAVALRY IN BATTLE                            173

 1. _The Army Cavalry on the Flank of the Battle_              178

 2. _The Army Cavalry as a Reserve behind the
 Front_                                                        185

 3. _Pursuit and Retreat_                                      190

 4. _The Rôle of the Divisional Cavalry_                       196

 VI. DEPTH AND ÉCHELON                                         198

 VII. FORMATIONS FOR MOVEMENTS                                 208

 VIII. THE VARIOUS UNITS IN THE FIGHT                          213

 APPENDIX: Cavalry at Peace Manoeuvres                         221


The great changes which have taken place in military science since the
year 1866 have forced all arms to adopt new methods of fighting. It
was, first and foremost, the improvement in the firearm which wrought
the transformation of the battlefield and called forth an increased
demand for cover against the murderous effect of fire. The infantry
sought safety in sparser formations and in utilising the smallest
accidents of the ground for cover, while the artillery adopted armoured
shields, covered positions, and indirect methods of fire. It was only
the cavalry that could not keep pace with these developments. Forming a
conspicuous target, capable of being concealed only behind considerable
inequalities of the ground, it could indeed seldom find cover within
the range of the enemy's fire. As, at the same time, its strength in
comparison to that of the great armies of the present day has sensibly
diminished, it might be concluded that its particular value in battle
had decreased considerably in possibility and importance.

This conclusion is thoroughly justified, but not altogether in the
way that one is inclined to assume. For one reason, the cavalry is
now supplied with an excellent firearm, which its mobility enables
it to employ against the most sensitive parts of an enemy's line of
battle. For another, the composition of modern armies offers, as I
have frequently said, many new possibilities of success. Newly raised
levies, such as will often have to take their place in the great
armies of the day, cannot possess the same steadiness as standing
permanent troops. They are, according to experience, very sensitive
to moral impressions, and will often enough, when shaken in battle,
offer a tempting and suitable object of attack to the cavalry. At the
same time, the fact remains that, by reason of its relative numerical
weakness, cavalry can no longer retain its former importance in the
battle, and that the manner of its intervention in the fight must often
be of a very different nature from what it has been in the past.

On the other hand, the duty of cavalry in the sphere of reconnaissance
has increased in importance. For all strategical movements the main
body of the modern army demands considerably more time and, generally
also, comprehensive preparatory measures. If, therefore, intelligence
as to the disposition of the enemy is to be of use in operations, it
follows that it must be procured at the earliest possible moment.
Whoever gets the earliest and best information possesses nowadays a far
greater advantage than formerly, when, with the small armies of the
day, movements and combinations of force could often be successfully
carried out in the immediate presence of the enemy's army. These are
indeed still possible in occasional cases and where sufficient depth
of formation is maintained, and it is this circumstance that has made
early and full intelligence, combined with successful screening of
one's own movements, one of the most important factors of success.

There are people who, in fancy, already see cavalry replaced in this
rôle by an air fleet. Such prophets cannot, however, be treated
seriously. The air cruisers will not be designed for all the
possibilities of war. In the period of concentration and in fortress
warfare they would doubtless be able, even in their present condition,
to render excellent service. Whether they can be adapted for use in a
war of movement remains to be seen; but, even if they can in time be
of more service for war than at present appears to be the case, their
capabilities in this direction will always be limited. They can only
observe at night under favourable conditions--such things, for example,
as large detrainments of troops or bivouacs with fires burning. They
are under all circumstances dependent upon the weather. By day the air
fleet of the enemy will seek battle with them in order to hinder their
reconnaissance. Hostile artillery will be particularly dangerous to
them, and will be able, thanks to the developments in modern ordnance,
to wage successful war against them. All detachments cannot possibly be
supplied with airships, owing to the great cost and enormous apparatus
entailed, and their usefulness will therefore only be realised with the
larger formations. Finally, one or the other of the air fleets will
be driven from the field, or rather from the air, and that side which
meets with defeat will be deprived of all means of reconnoitring unless
it can rely on its cavalry. So in the most modern war the cavalry
remains the principal means of reconnaissance. Its activity may indeed
be supplemented by airships, but will never be replaced by them.[1]

These circumstances, however, necessitate a new rôle for cavalry. It
must drive the hostile cavalry from the field, a cavalry which will do
all in its power to secure its own army against intrusion. It will find
this cavalry reinforced not only by horse artillery and machine-guns,
but also by cyclist battalions, mounted and other infantry, and will
therefore have to be prepared, in order to properly carry out its
service of exploration, to fight against detachments of all arms. But
the same thing will also happen when it seeks to veil the movements
of its own army, or to undertake some enterprise against the enemy's
communications, or to defend its own against similar hostile raids.
Our cavalry thus finds itself face to face with totally new duties of
a most real kind, towards the carrying out of which it has no previous
experience to help it.

In the wars of Frederick the Great and of Napoleon, as well as in the
German war of Unification, there is a total absence of analogy from
which to draw conclusions that can be practically applied. The wars
in South Africa and Manchuria, on the other hand, reveal conditions
which have very little in common with those of a European war such as
the German cavalry will have to fight. Nowhere can the few experiences
of cavalry action gained in these wars be immediately applied, and
there are but few bases for the formation of judgment as to what
is practical and possible under modern conditions. The same may be
said to hold good of the Russo-Turkish war. The most interesting and
instructive campaigns for the service of modern cavalry appear to be
those of the American War of Secession, which are, however, almost
unknown in Germany, where there is a lack of opportunities to study

There is, therefore, for our cavalry a want of any sort of tradition
for that rôle which it will be expected to carry out in the next
war, and this want will be the more felt as it will in the future be
expected to deal with a number of technical methods of communication
which are, as a whole, still almost unknown, and as to the actual war
value of which no judgment can yet be formed. Up to now, also, cavalry
training as carried out since the war of 1870-71 has been unable to
create a sound foundation for preparation for war. Left far behind in
the march of military progress, in tactics as well as reconnaissance,
it has been led so far from the right way that it would have been
unable to stand the test of serious war. Nor have we yet fully
extricated ourselves from these trammels of the past.

For the moment, therefore, our cavalry finds itself in a state of
transition. The demands which modern war will make upon it have not yet
penetrated into its flesh and blood, that is to say, their extent and
range have not yet been clearly grasped by the arm, nor have we yet by
any means succeeded in breaking loose from the fetters of the past.
Views based on antiquated assumptions are often apt to survive and to
influence training as well as leading.

This is particularly the case as regards reconnaissance. In tactics,
too, the cut-and-dried methods of bygone days are clearly not yet
forgotten, while for enterprises against the enemy's communications
there is a want both of practical training and theoretical instruction.

This state of affairs must be regarded as a great evil, as at the
outbreak of a war there will no longer be time to collect experiences.
From the very first day onward the greatest demands will be made upon
the cavalry, not only as regards intentions, but performances. On the
achievements of the cavalry in the early days of the war will depend to
a considerable extent the success of the first great decisive encounter.

We must therefore be prepared to meet these great demands when war
breaks out. Only a clear recognition of the necessities and the
possibilities of manoeuvre and training can secure us this preparation.
There remains, then, nothing for us--with no practical war experience
to go on--but to create the groundwork of our methods of training from
theoretical and speculative reflection. With all the means of intellect
and foresight, we must endeavour to discern the probable course of the
war of the future and regulate the methods of training accordingly.

Peace exercises based upon such clearly defined principles must serve
as a further guide to what is possible and practical. They cannot,
it is true, afford realistic results, as they lack the effect of
weapons, the hostile country, the thousand causes of friction, and
the moral factors of serious war. They can, however, be regarded
as practical guides in many directions and will help us to evolve
methods unattainable by pure theory: for instance, in increasing the
capabilities of the troops, improving the practical arrangements for
communication, the transmission service, the patrol system, and the
like. Only these peace experiences must not be overrated, but subjected
to continual criticism by the light of what would be practical in war.

It thus remains our chief duty to get a clear and just idea of the
rôle that cavalry will play in a future war, in order to clear the
mind fully on this point, and so be able further to build upon the
foundations of sound reasoning.

The new Cavalry Drill Regulations,[3] in which I had the honour and
pleasure of collaborating, have undertaken the creation of these
fundamental principles of the independent rôle of cavalry. Their
teachings, however, have as yet by no means penetrated into the ranks.
The new Drill Regulations have endeavoured to give new rules for
the tactical employment of cavalry, which have not yet sufficiently
established their value, even on the manoeuvre-ground. As yet the
troops are only endeavouring to get accustomed to them.

It is also obvious that practical drill instructions, at least for
tactics, can only give general principles, and cannot be too definite,
lest they should thereby tend to limit the independence of leaders in
the thousand varied happenings of war.

It is quite another matter for him who is not called on to make
regulations, but whose task is rather to clear the understanding, to
stimulate independent thought, and to encourage the troops themselves
to form correct judgments. Thus will be moulded the efficiency which
will enable the soldier to act in the presence of the enemy according
to the Regulations, with full freedom of thought, not after the letter,
but the spirit, and even perhaps, in many cases, the intention of them.

From this point of view I have set forth my views and reflections. It
seems to me, above all things, important to discuss those points which
will be new to cavalry in a future war, and in so doing to touch on
many matters of training which long years of experience have convinced
me are practical. May I by these hints contribute towards the formation
of fresh traditions for the training of the arm that will march with
modern conditions, that will break away for good from all half-measures
and obsolete views, and thereby clear the way towards a proper conduct
of the cavalry in war, and to the winning of fresh and imperishable

Where I have occasion to touch on views formerly expressed and set
forth in my various writings, I find no reason to retract any of them.
In certain directions they have naturally developed further, and have
become more progressive under the impress of the whole of modern
development and the latest experiences of war. On the whole, however,
I adhere to my opinions, and only seek to supplement and develop them
in order to suit them still better to the practical needs of the arm. I
hope they may act as a stimulus and serve as a guide to many a comrade
in difficulties.


[Footnote 1: This was written five years ago, at a time when, though
considerable progress had been made with airship work, the aeroplane
was still in the pioneer stage of development, though Blériot had just
made his record flight across the Channel. Since then flying corps
provided with aeroplanes of improved construction have been introduced
into every great army, and the flying men have proved in actual warfare
(Tripoli, Morocco, the Balkans, France) the utility of the new means
of reconnaissance. But though aerial reconnaissance can do much more
than General von Bernhardi anticipated, it is still true that the
aviators cannot entirely supersede the cavalry. The two arms have to
work together. There are cases where the aviator can accomplish very
little. Thus, for instance, we are told that during the French advance
into the Vosges and Alsace in the present war, the wooded character
of the country led to aerial reconnaissance giving very disappointing

[Footnote 2: In England these campaigns have been very carefully
studied and our cavalry have learned the lessons they suggest.--Editor.]

[Footnote 3: "Exerzier-Reglement für die Kavallerie," part of which has
been translated and published by the General Staff, War Office. These
Regulations are frequently referred to throughout this work.--Trans.]


There can be no doubt that the value and significance of cavalry in
a future war will be chiefly demonstrated in the action of the army
cavalry.[4] The army cavalry alone, by virtue of its fighting strength,
will be able to carry out the larger services of reconnaissance,
to operate against the enemy's communications, to take part in the
tactical decision with a force commensurate with modern conditions, or
to carry out a pursuit.

Reconnaissance occupies a prominent position amongst these various
duties. There will not be a battle every day. Not in every fight
will considerations of ground and other circumstances allow of the
cavalry taking part in a great decision as a mounted arm. Not always
will an effective pursuit by the cavalry mass be possible. It must
be remembered that in order not to render itself too weak to carry
out its proper rôle cavalry must not expose itself to heavy loss in
battle without sufficient reason. Only the possibility of a very great
success can justify the risk of staking the whole cavalry force in a
decisive charge during the battle. It is true that efforts will have
to be made to drive the hostile cavalry from the field to facilitate
operations against the flank and rear of the enemy's line of battle.
But such operations will generally be limited to fire action, and in
a decisive battle the weakness of the cavalry would probably debar it
from such undertakings. Engagements, also, that are fought with a view
of opening a way for reconnaissance will not be of frequent occurrence,
and must only be expected during occasional crises. They will, however,
be of decisive value for the whole future conduct of the arm and its
operative success. The same may be said of raids against the enemy's
communications. Such undertakings may exercise the greatest influence
on the course of a campaign, but can only be undertaken under specially
favourable conditions.

On the other hand, the everyday task of the cavalry which goes
hand in hand with all these various engagements and enterprises is
_reconnaissance proper_ carried out by reconnoitring squadrons and
patrols. This is the daily bread of the cavalry, a duty that throughout
a war should never cease to be performed, even if the main body of
the cavalry has been driven from the field by the enemy. It demands,
therefore, the highest training, the wisest economy of force and
systematic arrangement, if it is not to become ineffective or useless.

In close and continual relation to the above is the further task of
safeguarding and screening the army. Reconnaissance itself provides
a measure of security, but it is always liable to miscarry, and can
never secure the army against hostile observation. Reconnaissance must
therefore be supplemented by a special system of security and screening
which, however, demands the most careful organisation, and greatly
increases the difficulty of husbanding limited forces and of keeping
the troops fit by not overworking them.

Intimately connected to the services of security and reconnaissance
is that of communication, which, owing to the great distances to be
traversed in modern war and the necessity of early transmission of
intelligence, has become, at the same time, of the highest importance
and of the greatest difficulty. Here also is a daily duty for the
cavalry in which a thorough training is necessary.

All these considerations must be kept in view in arranging the
training, and a clear conception should be formed as to what is to be
aimed at in great as well as small matters. Only thus will results be
obtained which will stand the test of war.

It is only natural that in our army the greatest stress is at present
laid on the duties of the army cavalry. These are so obviously new and
important for the arm that it is easy to understand how more time is
devoted to them in peace training, and how the task of the divisional
cavalry has come to appear of less importance. It might indeed be
contended that the training which the latter has hitherto received in
garrison and at manoeuvres would suffice for its needs.

It is my opinion, on the other hand, that such a conception is faulty.
The importance of the divisional cavalry has in no way diminished, and
one is not justified in assuming that any lesser demands will be made
upon its efficiency than on that of the larger independent formations.
The exact contrary is the case, and I consider it opportune now, when
all interest is centred in the army cavalry, to lay particular stress
on the extraordinary importance of the divisional cavalry.

As in the newest phases of military development, the general value
of cavalry, according to my opinion, particularly in the organism of
an army, has increased, so also has that of the divisional cavalry.
Higher demands are made of it, and it must therefore be capable of
greater performances.

The circumstances of modern war demand that great masses of mounted
men shall be used as army cavalry and concentrated in the decisive
direction, thus weakening a great part of the front of the army in
cavalry, in order to ensure superiority at the decisive point. It
is in accordance with the universal law of military success that
a concentration of force at the decisive point can, under most
circumstances, only be ensured by a corresponding weakening of force
in other places. The front of the army, therefore, can never be
covered throughout its whole length by the army cavalry, but at the
same time it will never be possible to entirely denude of cavalry
that front or flank in front of which no army cavalry may lie. This
would be simply impossible, for every body of troops, however disposed
upon the strategic front, requires cavalry for the service of close
reconnaissance, of security, and of screening against surprise or
against hostile observation.

Furthermore, even those bodies of troops in immediate advance of which
the great cavalry masses are on the move require their own cavalry, not
only for the purpose of ensuring and maintaining communication with the
army cavalry, but also that they may not be entirely denuded of cavalry
when, as the hostile armies approach each other, the cavalry masses
clear the front and concentrate towards a flank.

Finally, it will not always be possible to detail portions of the army
cavalry to detached forces, because it has other duties to fulfil and
other claims made upon it. Thus, for example, the army of Manteuffel
in the campaign against Bourbaki had at its disposal none other but the
divisional cavalry.[5]

The weak divisional cavalry, therefore, must be prepared to carry
out all the cavalry duties which may arise from these conditions.
Amongst them particular mention must be made of the outpost service,
which, although shared with the infantry, imposes a heavy burden on
the divisional cavalry. Any one who has once been through manoeuvres
knows how great the demands of this service are, even in peace, in the
exertions involved and the time expended. In war these exertions become
at times considerable, if less frequent, for the critical days do not
follow each other so closely as in manoeuvres.

If we consider, moreover, how every cavalry undertaking has increased
in difficulty owing to the greater size of modern battlefields and
the improvement in firearms, it will become clear that the sphere of
usefulness of the divisional cavalry, even from the purely tactical
point of view, which up to now we have alone considered, is a very
extensive and important one.

This tactical activity is closely dependent upon the whole interior
economy of the division. These few squadrons must furnish orderlies
and despatch-riders, which, in the case of the conduct of so large a
force as an infantry division, must mean a considerable drain on their
strength. They will often be deputed to collect supplies in villages
away from the roads, when the supply columns fail and the places
occupied do not afford sufficient for the troops. Although it is
possible that other troops, such as infantry in carts and bicyclists,
may be used for this service, it will never be possible to relieve
the divisional cavalry entirely of it. The relay service also makes
a greater demand on the strength than is generally supposed. In the
campaign of 1870-71 this cause contributed largely to the weakening
of the squadrons at the front. Nowadays every effort is made by means
of technical apparatus to relieve the cavalry, at least partially,
from this service. It would, however, be a mistake to assume that the
relay service of cavalry can be everywhere replaced by telegraph,
telephone, signalling, bicycles, or motor. Circumstances will occur
in war in which all these methods of transmission, which are already
in themselves partially unreliable, must fail us, especially where
they are exposed to destruction from the hand of the enemy. The proper
performance of these interior services must never, however, miscarry
throughout the whole campaign, and imposes therefore still higher and
more continuous demands on the efficiency of the troops.

As the result of these reflections we may conclude that a series of
very important duties will fall to the lot of the divisional cavalry in
war, which cannot be carried out by any other troops or in any other
manner than by the divisional cavalry. Further, that these duties
have, on the whole, increased in importance, and that their fulfilment
has become considerably more difficult by reason of the conditions of
modern war.

According to these conditions the importance of the divisional cavalry
must be judged. If the decisive rôle in war falls essentially to the
lot of the army cavalry, yet must the duties of the divisional cavalry
be regarded as just as necessary for the good of the army. Methods
of training must be adopted with these points in view, and it must be
quite clearly understood that in this direction modern conditions have
to be reckoned with which demand thorough innovations.

As to the rôle of cavalry in the fight, we may conclude from the above
that it may be sharply divided into two separate groups: firstly,
in those encounters where cavalry is acting as an independent body,
and will have to carry out reconnaissance, the service of security
and raids; and secondly, where cavalry will take part in a battle in
conjunction with the other arms. It is obvious, after what has been
said, that the first group is by far the more important, and will
require particular attention as regards training. We will endeavour in
the course of this work to prove that this is the direction where the
most friction is to be overcome, and where by far the most difficult
part of our task will lie.

The chief considerations for training are naturally evolved from the
duties to be performed in war itself. The services of reconnaissance
and security come first. The technique of these services and the
method of fighting necessary for carrying them out must be fully
mastered by the troops right down to the individual soldier. Next in
importance come undertakings against the enemy's communications, and
the participation in the battle which war will demand of our arm.
These are the matters which must be studied by those who undertake to
discuss methods of training. We must be perfectly clear in our minds
what duties in the various spheres of action will fall to the lot of
the arm as a whole, to its subdivisions, or to its single members. The
relative importance of these duties must be our guide in considering
the essentials of training.


[Footnote 4: The army cavalry corresponds with our independent

[Footnote 5: Though military readers will need no such explanation,
it may be well to explain to the general reader that the divisional
cavalry is a small mounted force attached to each infantry division.
When the author speaks of "army cavalry" he refers to the masses of
cavalry and horse artillery organised in "cavalry divisions."--Editor.]



The very essence of cavalry lies in the offensive. Mounted it is
incapable of tactical defence, but, in order to defend itself, must
surrender its real character as a mounted arm and seize the rifle on
foot. The service of reconnaissance, therefore, must necessarily be
carried out in an offensive sense.

The idea of the offensive is not, however, meant here in a narrow
sense, such as seeking a tactical battle, but rather that the
reconnoitring army cavalry must under all circumstances maintain the
initiative, use its activity against the enemy, and impose its will
upon him. It is by no means its duty under all circumstances to seek
out the enemy's cavalry in order to defeat it. By such conduct it would
allow the enemy's cavalry to dictate its movements. It must rather
subordinate all else to the particular objects of reconnaissance, and
advance in those directions which promise the best fulfilment of the
reconnaissance needs of the Army Head Quarters. Should it thus meet
with the enemy's cavalry it must naturally attack and overthrow it.
On the other hand, it can safely reckon that the more decisive the
direction in which it moves for the purposes of reconnaissance, the
more chance there will be of meeting the enemy.

1. _The Main Body of the Army Cavalry_

The same principle holds good for the strategical disposition. The
old Cavalry Drill Regulations laid down that the strength of the
cavalry division was to remain concentrated until the enemy's cavalry
had been driven from the field. This considerably over-stepped the
bounds of restriction usually imposed by regulation, and at the same
time fettered the freedom of movement of the cavalry in a way that,
under certain circumstances, might have become most harmful. The
new Regulations have left out these directions and indeed lay down
that, in the "advance to the fight," efforts must be made to reunite
columns that are advancing separated before collision with the enemy
takes place (413).[6] Here is expressed a principle which, if rightly
understood, is certainly justified, but which, on the other hand, might
give rise to misunderstandings.

It must first be pointed out that it is by no means always desirable to
unite columns that are separate before the fight. It may, for example,
very easily happen that a detachment in favourable country will be
able to occupy a superior force of the enemy, and thus, by remaining
dispersed, ensure superiority at the decisive point. If, however,
by the "concentration of columns" a natural approach is understood,
which ensures a concentric co-operation of divided groups against a
common enemy whose direction of march is more or less known, then the
principle is an excellent one. If, on the other hand, it is intended
that single columns should be so closely concentrated that the division
as a tactical whole can be thrown into the fight, it appears to me
that it goes too far, and might easily lead to harmful dogmatism.
Thus read, the regulation appears to me to be the more dangerous, as
exercises in a limited space encourage the concentrated employment
of the larger cavalry bodies in the fight, and their approach and
deployment from formations of assembly or intermediate formations, for
which brigade columns are usually chosen.

It must be remembered that it is always much more difficult and
dangerous in the presence of the enemy to separate a cavalry mass for
the fight than to concentrate it from a not too wide separation for
common action against the enemy. In the first case the danger must be
run of surrendering "the proud rights of the initiative" to the enemy,
and of being obliged to attack eccentrically; while in the second case
one is in possession of the exterior lines, and, with them, the most
favourable directions for attack.

The regulation quoted should therefore result only exceptionally
in a complete tactical concentration. The wish, however, to fight
concentrated must never lead to a concentrated advance unless
circumstances dictate such an operation as practical. Leaders of the
large reconnoitring bodies will have, rather, continually to consider
how they may best fulfil the task of the moment in the most practical
way without allowing themselves to be bound by preconceived theoretical
views. This must be their course of action, and will often enough lead
to the advance in separate columns. The breadth of reconnaissance-zones
will often demand such procedure.

Along the whole front, troops must be in a position to support the
reconnoitring bodies which have been pushed forward. This will not
always be possible from a single point on account of the distances
involved. It will at times be necessary to break through the
hostile screen when it is met by force of arms, without first being
able to judge where this can most easily or most advantageously be
accomplished. Again, complete information will not perhaps be to hand
of the presence and the direction of march of the hostile cavalry, so
that the concentration of force upon a single road will not appear
at all desirable. It must also be borne in mind that the masses of
cavalry have not only to act as fighting bodies, but at the same time
to play an important part in the system of obtaining information.
Communication must be maintained with the Head Quarters, as well as
with the reconnoitring squadrons and certain independent patrols. In
the latter case particularly, great difficulties will often arise. A
cavalry leader must continually ask himself which is the shortest and
safest means of communication with the reconnoitring organs on the one
hand and with the army following him on the other, and how it can be
maintained when hostile detachments pervade the intervening country.
All these are circumstances which would lead to the adoption of an
advance in separate columns.

The universal principle must always hold good for cavalry, that when
a decisive struggle is in prospect all possible strength must be
concentrated for it. On the other hand, it must be perfectly clearly
understood that in a future war many varied and often contradictory
demands will be made upon the arm. It will not always be possible
to meet them all from the one point of view--that of uniting all
possible strength before the commencement of a fight; the less so as
in reconnaissance the fight is only the means to an end, the knowledge
of the enemy being the essential. It remains for the genius of the
leader to make his preparations in full freedom, and to solve the
task confided to him in his own way. To hamper active operations by
regulation is always a great evil.

The danger which lies in separation of force is not so great for
cavalry as might appear at first sight, on account of the mobility and
adaptability of the arm. For, although the Regulations lay down that
on account of the rapid conduct of a cavalry fight the concentration
of separate columns upon the field of battle can but seldom be
successfully accomplished, this view can only be admitted in the case
of the mounted combat. I am of opinion that it cannot be so difficult
under ordinarily favourable circumstances to bring about such a
concentration. With reliable reconnaissance early intelligence of the
presence of the hostile cavalry should be to hand. It should then be
often still possible to concentrate the separate columns according to
circumstances, either forwards, backwards, or to a flank, and finally
to unite them for the fight with sufficient room and time, and in an
effective direction for attack. If, however, a portion of the advancing
cavalry mass should come into unforeseen collision with superior
hostile cavalry, it must fall back in a direction which will lead to
concentration of force. In order gradually to lead up to, and at the
right time to achieve, such a concentration from a divided advance,
without falling into the error of a too close tactical concentration,
presupposes that the leader is an artist in the conduct of his arm.
Such an undertaking is much easier where not only mounted combat, but
fire action is taken into consideration. In such a case that detachment
which comes first into collision with the enemy would be able to defend
itself in some strong position or behind some naturally defensible
locality until the rest of the main body came up.

Good communication between the several portions is in all such cases an
important factor. If necessary it must be effected by the help of the
guns. Generally speaking, it will facilitate and prepare communication
if the separately advancing columns are kept informed as to the rate of
march, so that each column can at any moment calculate where the others
will be in a given time if nothing unforeseen occurs. This also enables
information to be sent by the shortest route to points which can to a
certain extent be previously determined.

The arrangements for the advance form at the same time the foundation
for the action of the actual reconnoitring organs and the complete
establishment of the reconnaissance system. Directions for this will be
found in the "Field Service Manual." It is laid down that reconnoitring
squadrons will be pushed forward from the various groups of the army
cavalry, and will be allotted zones of reconnaissance in the direction
of the enemy. The reconnaissance itself will be carried out by patrols.

The breadth of these zones must continually alter according to

If it be necessary to reconnoitre on a broad front with a comparatively
weak cavalry, very wide zones will often be necessary. On the other
hand, the closer the system of reconnoitring squadrons can be
established, the more reliable the manner in which reconnaissance will
be carried out, and the easier will it be to hamper the enemy's efforts
at gaining intelligence. If the "Field Service Manual" lays down a
certain breadth as normal, this naturally only indicates that, under
ordinary circumstances, squadrons on a wider front would no longer be
in a position to carry out their duties to the full; nothing more.
The frontages laid down should never lead either to the perceptible
weakening of the fighting value of a force by sending forward too many
reconnoitring bodies, or, on the other hand, to the inability of the
reconnoitring organs to cover the space demanded by the strategical
situation. A well-considered allotment of areas is therefore of special
importance, and a matter for the higher leader to decide. For the
arrangements for reconnaissance inside the zone apportioned to him, the
squadron leader is, on the other hand, correspondingly responsible. It
is at the same time laid down that no squadron should interfere in a
neighbouring zone.

Although in these measures the principles for the reconnaissance may be
sought, it must be clearly understood _that the original allotment of
zones cannot always hold good_. This arrangement is only practicable
and suitable so long as the opposing armies are frontally approaching
each other. As soon as the directions of march form an angle with each
other the conditions alter.

When information has been obtained as to the enemy's position and that
the direction of his advance is not directly at right angles to our
front, or if the direction of march of our own army changes, it may
be necessary to make repeated changes in the zones of reconnaissance.
The manner in which this can best be done is a matter which experience
alone can show us. The change of zones will often be possible in
conjunction with the recall of detached squadrons and the sending
forward of fresh ones in a new direction, or during the relief of
reconnoitring squadrons.

When the gradual advance of the hostile army takes place and the army
cavalry endeavours to clear the front and to draw away to a flank, or
when the columns of both armies group themselves for the tactical
decision and concentrate more or less from their march formations, the
allotment of zones must utterly fail.

An allotment of zones, also, cannot always be recommended, that is
to say, not where it can be foreseen that it cannot be carried into
operation. Such a case might happen if an enemy moved across the front
on a more or less distinct flank march. The reconnoitring squadrons
would, perhaps, in such a case be better employed in keeping touch with
the various groups of the hostile army than by tying themselves down to
a systematic reconnaissance in zones.

The conditions of war are everywhere so changing and full of movement
that a single concrete scheme will never suffice, but each case must
be judged upon its own merits. The allotment into zones, therefore,
laid down in the "Field Service Manual" must be regarded as but a
foundation for the methods to be adopted, and will perhaps only attain
its full effect during the first concentration of opposing armies,
when the hostile groups deploy along a land frontier on a wide front.
During operations the original scheme must of necessity be subjected to
continual alterations and transformations.

Let us now further consider the relief of reconnoitring squadrons. It
is out of the question that such squadrons should remain continually
in touch with the enemy. Such a procedure would very soon paralyse the
strength of men and horses. The relief, however, cannot, naturally, be
arranged and carried out at any given moment. It requires preparation,
as the whole patrol system must be drawn in and replaced by a fresh
one. The relief will doubtless best take place after a great tactical
crisis. At such times the reconnoitring squadrons will partly have
been driven back on to the cavalry mass, and partly will be in
position with their patrols near them in flank and rear of the enemy,
whence they can be comparatively easily brought in. A great tactical
decision also which creates a new situation demands fresh measures for
reconnaissance and a different arrangement of the reconnoitring organs.
Whether it will then be possible to mathematically divide the ground
into sections need not here be decided.

Under certain circumstances it will be advisable to detail
reconnoitring squadrons to watch the various groups of the hostile
army. If we take the campaign of 1870 as an example of a concrete
case, the battles of Spicheren, Mars la Tour, and Gravelotte afforded
natural periods for the relief of reconnoitring squadrons and the fresh
allotment of reconnoitring zones for the First and Second Armies, and
later the battle of Sedan. For the Third Army, first of all, the battle
of Wörth. Cases may of course occur when the reconnoitring period
between the battles is too long, and a relief becomes necessary in the
interim. The case of the Third Army is a good example of this.

A reconnaissance from Wörth to Sedan could never have been carried out
by the same reconnoitring squadron. A relief was absolutely necessary.
According to my judgment, the best time for this would have been the
days during which the great wheel of the Third Army towards the north
was completed. During these days fresh reconnoitring squadrons would
have had to be thrown forward in the new line of march, while those
which had advanced in the original direction could, according to the
situation, have been gradually drawn in. Strong patrols would have been
sufficient in that direction.

In any case it is clear that the question of the relief of
reconnoitring squadrons is extremely important and cannot be solved by
routine. It is a matter for consideration whether it would not be of
advantage for the "Field Service Manual" to touch on these questions as
well as on the circumstances under which a departure from the system
of allotment of zones might be desirable. I am inclined to think this
desirable, as otherwise the extremely practical dispositions therein
laid down are apt to lead to a lifeless formalism.

The important service of transmission will naturally be deeply
influenced by all these conditions.

I have already expressed the opinion that the importance of this
service with regard to the increased extent of the reconnoitring rayons
may even lead the main body of a division, for example, to advance in
separate columns, in order to shorten the routes of information and to
afford a not too distant support for the reconnoitring organs. The Head
Quarters will often be more quickly informed if the news comes direct
from detachments themselves than if it had first to be collected at one

If it has become so necessary to accelerate the service of
communication, it is all the more so to ensure that the system of
reports should be properly ordered. In the main body of the army
cavalry it is a matter of keeping up communication on the one hand with
the army following, on the other with the advanced squadrons. In both
these respects the application of technical means of communication must
be considered before all else.

Communication to the rear is fundamentally the task of wireless
telegraphy. But the system of information to the front must be
otherwise arranged for.

Communication with the reconnoitring squadrons can practically never
be carried out by wireless telegraphy. Here efforts must be made to
work with the light-signal apparatus,[7] or to employ cyclists or relay
lines to facilitate and accelerate the service of transmission. A
combination of all these means, and the use of the cavalry telegraph,
if need be, will be found advisable. In friendly country the population
can often be used to keep up communication or to send messages.

The employment of single cyclists or motor-cars is, on the other hand,
not advisable. Without taking into account the fact that they are tied
to the roads, and, having no fighting value, will often fall an easy
prey to the enemy, technical defects occur so often in the machines
that they cannot be classed as a reliable means of communication,
particularly in hostile country. Should the distance between the
reconnoitring squadrons and the main body become very great, or if
circumstances arise which render direct communication between them
too long a matter, or if it is desired to provide several avenues
of communication, a collecting station can be formed for reports:
this will keep up connection, and must be secured by a detachment of
sufficient strength. It is erroneous to assume that such collecting
stations must always be used. They often operate very unfavourably,
especially when armies are on the move, as they are for the most part
very local, and then do more harm than good.

If there is a sufficient number of apparatus at disposal, and if the
collecting stations are sufficiently secured, an effort should be made
to establish wireless communication from them to the rear--a cipher
being of course used to prevent the enemy learning the contents of
messages. Otherwise the various means available must be suited to the
particular case, and used in combination.

The system of communications thus forms a complicated machine, formed
of technical and natural methods of transmission of great variety, that
will be difficult to maintain in an efficient state, especially when an
army is on the move.

It is obvious that these difficulties must be augmented during the
change of reconnoitring zones or the relief of reconnoitring squadrons.
It will often be worth while to establish the system of intelligence in
a new direction, while the available apparatus and telegraphs are still
in part maintained on the old lines. Only some "system of auxiliaries"
will meet these difficulties; only troops to whom this service has
been entrusted down to the smallest detail will be able to discover
these auxiliaries and properly employ them. Otherwise the service of
information must miscarry.

2. _Reconnoitring Squadrons_

From the above considerations it must be already clear that a great
measure of resourcefulness, a comprehensive grasp of the situation,
clearness of judgment, and a love of responsibility will be demanded
from the leader of a reconnoitring squadron. Even in the simple advance
in the allotted zone, clear understanding will be required as to all
the measures for the proper conduct of the troops, and well-calculated
boldness when the enemy is met with.

There will, however, be difficulties to overcome when the main body
of our own cavalry changes its direction; when the concentration for
battle begins from the line of march, the cavalry masses draw away to
a flank, unexpected measures of the enemy come to light, which had not
been counted upon when our reconnaissance was arranged; or when our
own cavalry is beaten, and touch with it is completely lost. Under
all these circumstances the allotment of zones completely loses its
value, and the whole reconnaissance must be arranged and ordered on
some other system. Squadron leaders will often in such cases act quite
independently and according to their own judgment of the situation, and
with an appreciation of the probable action of neighbouring squadrons,
without, however, losing sight of the main objective. In such cases
they will often report direct to Head Quarters, and may then have to
fall back on the main army instead of on their own division.

Every squadron commander can conclude from these reflections what an
unusually high standard of military training, power of judgment, and
initiative will be demanded of him if he is properly and successfully
to carry out these duties. I hope that all officers will be stimulated
to apply themselves to these matters, so that a future war may not find
them unprepared.

It is a matter of the greatest importance for the conduct of the
squadron in general whether it is acting in a friendly or hostile
country. While in the first case troops may ride through towns, feed
in villages, and count upon considerable support from the inhabitants,
in the service both of security and information, in the second they
must always be prepared against treachery or surprise, and behave as
if they were surrounded by a network of spies. Townships are to be
particularly avoided, and special precautions for safety must be taken,
especially while at rest.

In other respects the advance itself must in both cases be carried out
according to the same principles.

Squadrons will generally advance by successive stages, and upon those
roads which appear to them to be the most important for reconnaissance.
If they are provided with the light-signal apparatus, and can use
it for communicating to the rear, they must keep in mind during the
march itself the possibilities of being able to use it, try it on the
ground, and make a mental note of points that are specially adapted for
connection-stations. The whole plan of the day's march must then be
made with an eye to the establishment of communication by this method.
Halting-places for rest or feeding horses must be selected with regard
either to good cover or to the view which may be had from them. In
order to be independent of the hostile population, it is advisable for
the squadron to have its ration and forage wagons with it. In case of
an unsuccessful collision with the enemy these may indeed be lost. In
any other case, however, they will always be at the disposal of the
squadron. On the other hand, in hostile country, if they follow the
squadron at too great a distance, they will often fall a prey to the
enemy. Under such circumstances, if they are to be really protected, a
sufficiently strong escort must be left with them, and this will react
unfavourably upon the strength of the squadron.

The efforts of reconnoitring squadrons to diminish the distance
between themselves and the enemy as quickly as possible by undertaking
excessive marches, such as are frequently seen in peace, are
misdirected and unreal, and only tend to wear out the horses. In
peace manoeuvres, which only last two or three days, and which have
not to be sustained by a number of lame and over-tired horses, such
proceedings are indeed possible, but in war they are pernicious. A
squadron should be able to remain up to strength throughout a campaign,
and it must be remembered that horses that go lame and are left behind
will, at all events in hostile country, be lost to the reconnoitring
squadrons for good. The patrols, too, must be able to keep something
in hand. But, if the squadrons tax their capacity for marching to the
utmost, the patrols, which are required to go still farther in advance,
must be completely exhausted. If the squadrons can cover daily 25 miles
and the distant patrols 35 to 40 miles, this will, I hold, be quite
sufficient. More than this, on an average, cannot be expected of them.
This does not of course preclude special efforts to meet particular
circumstances. It will only be possible, however, to demand these
efforts when we learn how to calculate the average length of march
during which men and horses can be kept fresh and efficient.

Although the choice of lines of advance and the combined action of the
reconnoitring squadrons are often weighty factors of success, yet on
the other hand, in order to obtain early and sufficient intelligence
of the enemy, it is of the highest importance that the patrol system
should be properly ordered according to the needs and probabilities
of the situation. The "Field Service Manual" gives the necessary
principles for their action. They must, it says, be sent forward along
the roads that the enemy is most likely to use. By so doing, certain
results must, under any circumstances, be obtained. On the other hand,
it is a mistake to send forward single patrols against a wide front.
Under such circumstances a patrol is always in doubt which way to
go, will probably divide, and cannot, at all events, be everywhere.
From such procedure, which is unfortunately only too common, reliable
results cannot be expected, and it is never certain if observation
is being carried out in any given direction. Such a faulty course of
action usually originates from a certain confusion of thought on the
part of the leader as to his own intentions and his suppositions as to
the enemy. A clear appreciation of the situation ensures at the same
time a clearly defined course of action. If, however, no sort of idea
can be formed as to what the enemy is likely to do, the patrol system
must be extended, not only in those directions from which the enemy
may be expected, but in others where it is possible that he may be met
with. Any turning movement on the part of the hostile forces must, in
this manner, be continually guarded against.

The number of patrols sent out will, of course, depend on the
importance of the task. If the strength of a squadron is insufficient
to provide them, it must be supplemented by patrols detailed from other
squadrons. The relief of such patrols, also, may have to be carried out
by the same means. Cutting down the number of distant patrols is to be
avoided as far as possible. Economy of force can be better obtained by
careful husbanding of strength in the close reconnaissance and service
of security.

The strength of distant patrols should never be arbitrarily laid
down, as in this respect also the circumstances must be taken into
account. Patrols which are far distant from the road upon which the
squadron is advancing, and which can only be reached with difficulty,
require a greater degree of independence than those in the immediate
neighbourhood, which can be rapidly supported or strengthened. The
probability, also, of meeting with superior hostile force demands a
greater proportion of strength. Under certain circumstances a whole
troop may be used as an independent patrol. At the same time a wise
economy of force must be practised so that the fighting and marching
efficiency of the squadron does not suffer too much. To this end,
quite weak patrols must be made to suffice in directions of secondary
importance. A second in command must be detailed to every patrol. There
should also be a supply of trained lance-corporals ready to lead such
patrols as may be required to carry information to the rear.

The strength of patrols will depend largely on the number of messages
that they are expected to send in. As a general rule, in large
operations, not more than two messages will be required from each
patrol during the day. It is only when the opposing armies approach
each other, and the distant patrols gradually become close patrols,
that it will be necessary to report frequently on tactical events.
The distances, however, will then have so far diminished, that a
reinforcement of the patrols from the squadrons would probably be
possible if they have become over-weak through transmission duties.

Like the reconnoitring squadrons, the patrols require relief from time
to time, as the same patrol leader cannot be expected to remain in
continuous touch with the enemy.

The strength of patrols, therefore, will generally have to be
calculated according to the number of messages and the number of days
during which the same men are required to be in contact with the
enemy. It is only when a special fighting strength appears necessary
that these numbers should be exceeded. On the other hand, the patrols
in friendly country may be made weaker than when in the enemy's
territory, as, in the latter case, it will scarcely be possible to send
in messages by single orderlies.

Careful preparation must be made for the relief of patrols. Every
patrol that is sent out must know when, and approximately where, it can
rejoin the squadron. The relieving patrol should arrive on the field of
exploration before the original patrol returns. The two patrol leaders
should meet where possible. All the patrols should never be relieved
at one time, as such a procedure would tend to weaken the squadron too

The reconnoitring squadron must continually endeavour to maintain
communication with the distant patrols which send in reports to it.
As the main body must always be careful to render communication with
the reconnoitring squadron possible and to facilitate it, so is
communication with the patrols one of the most important duties of the
latter. It will often be necessary, when the distances become great
or the ground difficult, to push forward relay posts to facilitate
and accelerate the service of transmission. These posts must have a
sufficiency of force assigned to them. The squadron leader, further,
must most minutely instruct the patrols in anything that can serve to
assist the carrying out of their task, and as to all arrangements for
the transmission of reports.

A patrol's instructions must be short and clear, and must leave no room
for doubt in the patrol leader's mind as to what is expected of him.

The instructions must contain: all that is known of the enemy;
a statement of the general situation, and of the system of
reconnaissance, as far as it may concern the patrol in question; an
indication of the proposed march and the objective of the squadron;
points where messages as to the position of the squadron may be
deposited, in case it should be found necessary to depart from the
preconceived plan; exact data as to when and where the relieving patrol
will be sent and also when the patrol is to rejoin the squadron.

Although such arrangements may not always have the desired results,
as all such dispositions are liable to be disturbed by the action of
the enemy, they yet form a good groundwork on which to build further,
according to circumstances, and which can be suited to any alteration
of the situation. Such arrangements should therefore never be neglected.

In manoeuvres, the leaving of such information--for instance, under
stones--in prearranged places or localities that are easy to find,
and which must be determined by the map according to the expected
situation, will be found a valuable exercise.

Communication will, as a rule, be best secured if the reconnoitring
squadron can succeed in beating the hostile organs of reconnaissance
and security. We must not, of course, assume that a squadron that has
been thrown back and pursued for a space will be rendered incapable
of carrying out its rôle. It will still try to support its patrols
as before. If, however, such successful combats become numerous, a
superiority will at length be obtained, particularly on the main
avenues of communication, that will considerably facilitate the task of
obtaining and transmitting information.

It must therefore be the ceaseless endeavour of the cavalry to attack
the enemy wherever found. The reconnoitring squadrons in particular
must undertake the duty, not only of driving the corresponding hostile
squadrons from the field, but of endeavouring to intervene and
assist wherever the hostile reconnoitring patrols offer an obstinate
resistance. They must take every opportunity of fighting with the _arme
blanche_, or of attacking the enemy in some unfavourable situation,
perhaps by night. Dismounted action for single squadrons advancing in
hostile country is generally dangerous, and, on account of the weakness
of the force, usually leads to failure. It should never be forgotten
that for a successful action on foot great numerical superiority is

Should the reconnoitring squadron come in contact with the enemy's
cavalry in strength, it must be decided whether to fall back, or
avoid it by a détour in order to maintain under all circumstances
communication with the distant patrols. In the latter case,
communication to the rear becomes naturally considerably more
difficult, and it can only be hoped that the hostile cavalry will be
beaten by our own. Whatever decision is made will depend upon the
circumstances of the case: the terrain, the distance from our own
cavalry and from the enemy's main body, as well as on what is already
known of the enemy, and on what it is of particular importance to
learn. It will generally be most important, as well as desirable, to
maintain at all costs communication with the distant patrols, as news
must first be procured before it can be sent back, and it will be
possible under certain circumstances to communicate over the enemy's
head with the light-signal.

In order to maintain the necessary fighting strength of the squadrons
under all circumstances, as few men as possible should be detached.
This does not of course refer to the distant patrols.

The melting away of the squadron's numbers, so often seen in peace, is
generally a result of the manner in which the close reconnaissance
is conducted. The close patrols are sent out 6 or 7 miles, often
still farther, and, having general instructions to remain in touch
with the enemy, seldom rejoin the squadron. Thus they become lost
to the squadron, and as the squadron leader is not fully aware of
their position he is soon under the obligation of having to send out
a fresh patrol. This patrol is a less useful one than the first,
and if it brings in news of the enemy the latter will often arrive
simultaneously with the news. The report often enough goes first to the
enemy about whom it is being made. No reproach can be attached to any
one concerned. It lies in the nature of things and in the method of
apportioning duties.

In contradistinction to such procedure, it is, in my opinion, in most
cases quite superfluous to arrange a close reconnaissance in addition
to the distant patrols. Close patrols weaken the squadron, and can
only, it appears, rejoin it with difficulty, nor do they effect the
necessary reconnaissance. Every squadron must, on the other hand, be
continually surrounded by local patrols for its own safety, closely
connected with it, and which, being in constant communication with the
squadron, secure it immediately from surprise and, as far as their
strength allows, attack and break up hostile patrols. This measure will
not have the effect of weakening the squadron too much. These patrols
will require relief from time to time, and accompany the march of the
squadron in its rayon in such a manner that a second patrol can be sent
out before the first rejoins. They must, however, never be drawn so far
away from the squadron that they cannot secure its immediate safety and
beat off hostile patrols.

If, in exceptional circumstances, patrols are sent out in close
reconnaissance, it is desirable that they should work from one locality
to another a few miles in advance, so that it will always be possible
to get them back. Especial attention must be given to this matter when
operating in the enemy's country.

Patrols to connect with neighbouring squadrons are quite superfluous.
They have little prospect of carrying out their task in a practical
way, and must therefore be regarded as a useless expenditure of force.
The regulation of the movements of the various reconnoitring squadrons
as a whole, and the dissemination of information regarding them to each
other, is a matter for the Head Quarters of the main body.

Economy in patrols should never go so far as to allow of cyclists, or
indeed a single cyclist or motor-car, being used for reconnaissance,
as unfortunately repeatedly happens in manoeuvres. Cyclists may be
used for the purpose of maintaining communication and bringing back
reports. It will not be possible to use them singly for these duties,
especially in the enemy's country, but several will have to be sent
together. Bound as they are to the roads, they are quite unsuited to
patrol work. It is also inadmissible, at all events in hostile country,
to send bicycles or motor-cars with patrols. They only become a burden
to the patrol as soon as it wishes to leave the road. For the motor
cyclist the question of petrol is also an important one. Where will he
replenish his supply in hostile country? Certainly not in villages with
a hostile population, unless a sufficient show of force can be made.

The accommodation of reconnoitring squadrons for the night also demands
close attention. Such accommodation must be chosen from quite different
considerations, according as the squadron is operating in a friendly
or hostile country.

In any case, endeavour must be made so to dispose the squadron that the
chief avenues of communication, at least, will be under observation,
and thus closed to the enemy's despatch-riders. The horses also must
be rested, that they may be ready for the next day's work, for a tired
squadron cannot reconnoitre properly. In order that the horses may
really rest, they must be off-saddled, and, to do this, the squadron
must be secure from surprise. This will not always be possible, but
endeavours must be made towards that end. Should hostile detachments
be in the neighbourhood, which is unavoidable during critical days, it
will be necessary to be always ready for possible surprise, and to so
arrange that the squadron can speedily withdraw from its bivouac on the
approach of the enemy. The measures taken for safety must be directed
to this end. It is also sometimes desirable, in order to deceive the
enemy, to change the halting-place already occupied, after darkness
sets in. In friendly country, if an attack is expected, it is often
better to spend the night in larger villages, where the inhabitants
themselves will co-operate in the service of security. In the enemy's
country, on the other hand--where the hostility of the inhabitants
is to be reckoned with--the larger villages must always be avoided,
and accommodation must be sought in single isolated farms, which,
by their position, are in a measure secure from surprise, where the
fighting force can be kept together, where there is nothing to fear
from the inhabitants, and which can be quickly abandoned, if possible,

The service of security in such situations must be carefully organised
and must not consist merely of guarding the immediate environs. It
will rather be advisable to push forward posts on the chief lines of
approach of the enemy, which will be able to bring in timely news of
his advance. What degree of readiness for movement is maintained in
such situations the circumstances of the moment must dictate.

In this question of accommodation, attention must also be paid to
the service of communication. It must be possible from the position
selected for the night to pick up communication with our own troops and
to receive the orders and instructions which will naturally be expected
at the end of the day.

If the squadron is provided with the light-signal apparatus it should
remain in the neighbourhood of high ground, from which it is thought
possible that communication may be picked up. If instructions have been
received to establish communication by mounted orderlies or cyclists,
care must be taken that there are roads easily found, even in the dark,
by which they can reach the main body, the reporting centre, or the
relay posts, as the case may be. The squadron's own reports, too, will
often not be sent off before evening, in order that all the events of
the day may be collated. This must be done in clear, concise form,
more especially where the means of transmission is the telegraph or

The sifting and collating of information received is therefore an
important and very responsible task, requiring continual practice. The
squadron leader must be able properly to judge which of the reports
received must be sent to the army Head Quarters or to the cavalry
commander, and all superfluous matter must be eliminated. All reports
received should by no means be transmitted. This would overburden the
service of transmission to no useful purpose.

3. _Distant Patrols_

The duties of the distant patrols are just as difficult as those of the
reconnoitring squadrons, as they are continually brought face to face
with the necessity of forming independent decisions, and, in order to
act and report efficiently, require a high degree of strategic insight.
Apart from the personal capacity of the officer commanding the patrol,
a thorough training emphasising the essential points in its conduct is
necessary for the men.

I have already shown the lines on which such instruction should be
conducted. I would here, however, like to add that the patrol leader,
if he is in any doubt, can clear up the situation in his mind by
cross-questioning himself. It should never suffice to him that the
authority who set him the task veiled his responsibility by general
verbiage. The task must be definitely determined; whether negative
reports are required or not, and when and where reports are to be
sent, more especially when touch has been lost with the squadron. The
complete instructions must of course be confided to the second in
command of the patrol, and the general task to be fulfilled to each
member of it.

For the conduct of the patrol it is a matter of still greater
importance than for the squadron, which has a certain fighting
strength, whether it is acting in its own or in hostile country. It
will have the same points to consider as in the case of a squadron, but
in hostile country its conduct must be still more circumspect, while
in friendly country, where concealment is more easy, its action can be
correspondingly bolder.

If long distances are to be covered, the patrol should remain on the
road until it reaches country where an encounter with the enemy
is likely. The passage through large villages peopled by hostile
inhabitants is to be avoided.

Horses should not be fed, at least in hostile country, in the
neighbourhood of villages or on the main road, but always in a safe
place, and a proportion of them only at a time. In friendly country
they may best be fed in the larger villages, which the hostile patrols
will avoid, but should not halt on the main road.

When the locality is reached where a meeting with hostile detachments
may be expected, the patrol should advance in _bonds successifs_. It
must, unfortunately, be admitted that such methods appear to be quite
foreign to most patrol leaders; at all events, they are seldom applied
in manoeuvres. Most of them ride forward with praiseworthy speed along
the road until they collide with the enemy; then, indeed, they begin
to observe him, without asking themselves whether in war the result
of such tactics would not have already compromised their chances of
success. For if they are once discovered by the enemy they may count on
being relentlessly hunted and pursued, so that there will no longer be,
in most cases, any further possibility of deliberate observation.

Very different indeed are the circumstances when, from a well-chosen
point of view, a patrol is successful in detecting the enemy before
coming into immediate collision with him. The patrol can then order the
whole of its conduct according to its knowledge of the enemy before it
is discovered, and has a very much greater prospect of attaining good

We must lay down here, once and for all, that the distant observation
with the glass is by far the most important; it affords the best survey
over the general conditions, and a better possibility of sending back
a report safely and quickly. It is just in this method of observation
that, in consequence of our peace conditions, patrols are generally so
badly trained. Again and again they fall into the error of approaching
too close to the enemy and, in order to see as much of him as possible,
let him march past them. They are then compelled to send in their
reports from places which lie behind the belt of the hostile service of
security. The despatch-riders have then to ride from the rear through
the hostile advance-guard, outposts, and patrol system.

In peace, where there are no bullets, and prisoners may not be made,
these methods lead to the best results, and to their being employed
again and again, particularly if the superior commanders are inclined
to praise such too complete information instead of condemning it.
In truth, it is the worst system that could be conceived. Properly
speaking, such protracted observation is only possible under certain
circumstances; for instance, if the outer flank of the enemy's advance
has been turned, then perhaps there might be a chance of sending
reports round the flank of the hostile zone of security. It should,
however, be quite inadmissible for a patrol to remain in this manner
_between_ the hostile columns of the enemy's army. Unless it were
unusually lucky, it would quickly be detected and captured; more
particularly if the inhabitants were hostile. It is quite another
matter where a hostile screen has to be broken through. This can
generally only be accomplished by fighting; and it is the first duty
of the reconnoitring squadron to break through the enemy's screen.
Patrols also, which in such a case have succeeded in getting behind
the enemy's outpost-line, cannot count upon sending back messages as
they please. It will only be a question of a rapid offensive through
the screen towards the main body of the enemy. The patrols will then
be surrounded, and must at once proceed to effect their return, and
only report what they have seen when they have successfully broken back
again through the enemy's screen. Despatch-riders have, in such a case,
small prospect of getting through. The less it is possible to observe
and report, the more carefully must the points for breaking through be
chosen, and attention must therefore be paid to reaching good points of
vantage that command a view of places of probable importance.

The time chosen for observation is also of great importance. The enemy
can best be observed, and his strength and intentions appreciated, when
he is on the move. Marches are generally undertaken in the morning,
and towards the evening one may expect to find the enemy in quarters.
Under such circumstances observation is difficult. The patrol leader
must therefore arrange to reach in the morning those points from which
he expects to be able to observe the enemy on the march. He will then
be obliged in most cases to fall back before the advancing enemy, and
will endeavour to ascertain his halting-place and the approximate line
taken up by his outposts. If a distant patrol should be successful in
obtaining such information it will generally have done as much as is
expected of it. It is for the tactical close reconnaissance to send in
information as to details. From the distant reconnaissance it is only
required to form the foundations on which the Head Quarters can base
its decisions. This fact should be borne in mind while reporting on the

These duties can for the rest be only carried out under war conditions
and against an enemy who is working to the same end, if undertaken in
a regular and systematic way and with great boldness.

The patrol leader, therefore, should generally make his plan in the
evening for the following day. It will be desirable for him to study
the map very closely, and to impress on his memory the main roads and
especially points which appear to be suitable for observation. He can
thus obtain an impression of the succession of stages necessary for his
advance, and judge how he can best spare his horses without prejudicing
the success of the reconnaissance.

For a patrol to move _en masse_ without scouts, as unfortunately is
often done in peace, is altogether out of the question. In war such
conduct must often be paid for by the lives of the patrol and the
complete failure of the enterprise. A point must always be sent so far
ahead that the patrol will not come under fire at the same time with
it. It should never happen that the point collides unexpectedly with
the enemy. A rear-guard will also in most cases be found desirable.
Circumstances must determine how the flanks can best be protected.

Should the patrol be obliged to ride through country where it might
be surprised, it will be advisable first to make a halt and to send
on scouts. Manoeuvres have repeatedly proved that the point is
insufficient in such a case.

It is in most cases quite inadmissible, especially in hostile country,
to divide the patrol and to arrange a meeting-place farther to the
front. As there will usually be at most but one map available, the
detached party will find themselves in the enemy's country without
means of locating themselves, probably unable to make themselves
understood by the inhabitants, and in any case will run the danger of
being betrayed by them. It will not even be of much avail if they are
given some kind of sketch if they meet with and are chased by the enemy.

I should therefore like to utter a warning against the custom of such
division of patrols in peace which could not be carried out in the
enemy's country. In friendly country they are possible, but always
dangerous. The various detachments having insufficient fighting
strength, the possibility of sending back information will be reduced
and a junction will always be doubtful, while any collision with the
enemy may make it impossible.

There is another error into which patrols frequently fall in peace
manoeuvres, and that is, of leaving the road assigned to them for
observation without sufficient reason, and of using other roads upon
which other patrols are working. Even when a patrol has sure indication
that it will not meet with the enemy upon the road assigned to it, it
should still remain upon this road, and send back definite negative
information, even if no instructions to this effect have been received.

On collision with the enemy's patrols, action must be taken in as
offensive a spirit as possible, but after due reflection. Should a
charge promise any kind of success, the opponent must be attacked in
the most determined way. It will also often be possible to defeat an
enemy of superior numbers by a carefully laid ambush. Every success of
this kind will increase our own moral superiority, paralyse the enemy's
reconnaissance, and facilitate the transmission of information. Before
attacking, however, it should always be ascertained whether the enemy
is followed by any close support which might turn an initial success
into a worse defeat. Thus it does not, for example, promise success
to attack the point of an advancing squadron under the apprehension
that it is a single patrol. Making prisoners and carrying them off, or
sending them back under escort from the patrol, is to be deprecated.
They can generally be rendered harmless by depriving them of their
horses, arms, and boots. Good captured horses, however, should be
always used, either to replace the tired cattle of the patrol, or lead
with it in reserve.

Should the patrol meet with a superior force of cavalry, it must
endeavour to extricate itself and to get round the enemy's flank.
Under such circumstances the ability to ride quickly and safely across
country will be of great service. But it is important, as soon as the
patrol is in safety, that it should again reach the road detailed to
it, and also that the men should be instructed as to how to avoid the
enemy, when carrying messages to the rear, without losing their way.

When a patrol has been successful, by judicious riding, determined
fighting, and clever avoidance of the enemy, in obtaining information
as to the enemy, it is of the utmost importance what information is to
be sent back, and when and how it should be sent.

As I have already indicated above, the patrol must be perfectly clear
as to what facts are most important from the Head Quarters' point of
view. If the opposing armies are still so far apart that a collision
cannot be expected, only those matters that are of strategic importance
need be ascertained and transmitted: _e.g._ number of the hostile
columns, objective of the day's march, any circumstances that lend
themselves to a conclusion as to alterations in the enemy's direction
of march or the combination of his forces. In such a case there is
no need for information as to details. The closer, however, the
opposing armies approach one another, the more does information which
is of tactical significance increase in importance. It is not always
advisable to confine oneself to reporting the bare facts. It will often
be desirable to indicate also the process of reasoning by which the
reporting officer arrives at his impression, for this originates from a
number of _imponderabilia_ which cannot always be detailed in a report.
When this is done, it must be thoroughly and carefully considered how
far this personal impression is dependent upon facts, or if it does
not rather rest upon certain feelings, as to the cause of which no
clear account can be given. Should the latter be the case, the personal
point of view is best left out. Preconceived opinions originate but too
easily in war, and may lead to a biassed interpretation of reports,
and, consequently, to faulty dispositions. The facts must always be
weighed with sober impartiality. Only thus can a true and definite
appreciation be arrived at.

The same naturally holds good for those reports which are sent in from
the reconnoitring squadrons or other reporting centres. The method in
which such information is sifted for passing on brings into play, in
a certain sense, personal conceptions. It is therefore all the more
necessary to reflect seriously over their preparation.

It is imperative that any important information should reach the Head
Quarters of the army or the Great Head Quarters as early as possible,
at all events, early enough to allow of the measures rendered necessary
by the enemy's movements to be initiated and carried out. The patrol
leader must therefore consider the time requisite for a wheel or other
such movement of a modern army in order to calculate what is the latest
time, under any circumstances, that his information must be sent in.
It is obvious, and has already been demonstrated, that he should be
instructed as to the advance of his own army in order that he may be
able to appreciate these matters.

As already stated, it will, as a rule, be necessary for a distant
patrol only to send in two messages daily. The first contact with the
hostile infantry must always be reported. It will generally suffice if
the direction of march of the enemy and the march-objective reached by
him are reported. It will often be desirable to send back only a single
report, setting forth the events of the day. On the other hand, the
method of despatch of such messages must be most carefully prepared.
During the advance of the patrol the leader must call the attention
of his men, more especially from any good look-out points, to any
prominent features passed. He must make marks at difficult places, and
where the main roads have to be left, to assist them in finding their
way back.

Reports should only be sent from some point from which the
despatch-riders have, at least to a certain degree, a safe route, where
they will not have to pass through any hostile outposts, occupied
localities, or defiles. It is highly desirable to continually instruct
the patrol as to the route to the rear, and as to its conduct under
special circumstances, and to give it a sketch of the road. The latter
should contain not only names, which will not be of much use to the
patrol, but characteristic marks which may be used as points of
orientation--forked roads and the like--to assist the men in choosing
the right road. Orderlies should be told the general contents of
messages which they carry.

It is quite out of the question that in war, and especially in hostile
country, despatch-riders will be allowed to ride about free from harm,
as they are unfortunately allowed to do in peace. The endeavour to send
many, and often superfluous, messages by a few men always eventually
leads to the sending of single horsemen as despatch-riders. Such a
custom, which in war must lead to disastrous consequences, cannot be
too sharply reproved.

Single orderlies, in hostile country, cannot be sent, except where
they know the district, and where collision with the enemy's patrols
is out of the question. When long distances have to be covered, there
is also the danger that a horse may succumb, or that the inhabitants
may stop the man. The fact that, in the Franco-Prussian War, the custom
of sending single despatch-riders proved itself generally, if not
entirely, sufficient must not be regarded as of great significance,
as at that time there was no question of having to reckon with the
opposition of hostile cavalry. In a modern war it will certainly be
different, and we may be quite sure that the cavalry of each army will
strive its utmost not only to reconnoitre, but also to prevent the
enemy reconnoitring. The distances to be covered, also, will be very
different from those of 1870-71.

The single despatch-rider, therefore, especially in the case of the
distant patrol, must be replaced by a reporting patrol. This can best
be formed of three men, who can mutually support each other, and,
should they meet with the enemy, have more chance of escape than a
single horseman. For very important information, and against strong
opposition, several such patrols must be sent by different routes.
In friendly country, where the population will give all possible
support, the single despatch-rider can, for short distances, be more
often used, and the reporting patrols can be made weaker according to

These circumstances must determine, as we have seen, the strength of
patrols, and the time which they can stay out without relief.

Patrols must choose their accommodation for the night with great care.
It is obvious that for them, as for the reconnoitring squadrons, it is
of great importance whether they are in their own or hostile country.

In their own country it will often be safer to seek shelter for the
night in the larger villages, because such places will, as a rule,
be avoided by hostile troops. It is, however, not only a question
of safety, but also of keeping the road confided to them in sight
during the night, and of interrupting the transmission of the enemy's
intelligence, which will, like our own, be most active after dark.
His despatch-riders, however, will most probably endeavour to avoid
villages. For the rest, patrols in their own country can choose their
accommodation freely according to the situation, and can at least
always get under cover, even when in the neighbourhood of the enemy.

In hostile country, however, the conditions are different. Isolated
and far distant from support, the patrols run great danger, even from
the inhabitants themselves, and should never try to spend the night in
enclosed villages or farms. If they wish to get cover for the night,
they must look for single houses close to the road, and take measures
that the inhabitants do not betray them to any of the enemy's troops
or to partisans that may be in the neighbourhood. They must also be
careful to keep a good look-out and be ready to get away at a moment's
notice. They should not, however, as long as it is possible, lose
sight of the road detailed to them until absolutely forced to, but
should watch it by an advanced post in order to interrupt the enemy's
transmission service.

When in the presence of the enemy, it will be advisable not to seek
shelter, but to spend the night in woods, or at all events distant
from localities where forage or food has been requisitioned. Horses
may then be off-saddled and fed, singly or by groups, according to
circumstances. Special measures of safety are also necessary under such

It is of great importance to establish communication with the
reconnoitring squadron during the night halt and to adhere closely,
when it is at all possible, to any arrangements made with it. It may
very easily happen, as we have seen, that the task of the reconnoitring
squadron may be changed, and that it may be required to operate in
new directions. It is, therefore, important that the patrols do not
get lost to the squadron, but are in a position to receive fresh
instructions. The patrols can also utilise this opportunity for
receiving reinforcements if necessary.

The patrol may sometimes lose connection with the squadron; it will
then be generally most advisable for it to remain in observation of
that portion of the enemy which has been found upon the road allotted
to it. If this should entail a change of direction, reports should be
sent direct to that portion of the army which is assumed to be the
nearest according to the general situation. This must not, however,
be regarded as a hard-and-fast rule. It should rather be left to the
independent decision of the officer how he will act in the particular
case. Independence of judgment and of character is of the highest
importance, especially when on patrol. These qualities can, however,
only be effective if cavalry officers are instructed as to the
conditions of modern armies and are quite clear in theory as to the
duties and methods of conducting patrols. It is to be hoped that they
will in future realise the obligation of applying themselves most
seriously to this branch of their important duties, that they may be
thoroughly prepared and capable of the greatest effort when the call to
arms resounds in bloody earnest through the land.

4. _Close Reconnaissance and Reconnaissance during the Fight_

Within certain limits determined by the various crises of the fight
the reconnoitring duties of the cavalry are continuous. As the hostile
armies approach one another, distant exploration merges into close
reconnaissance, and from the latter evolves the battle reconnaissance,
when the heavily-charged thunder-clouds of war come into collision, and
the brazen dice of battle are thrown.

Within these limits the arrangements made for reconnaissance should not
require fresh dispositions, but merely supplementing as they gradually
develop from strategical into tactical measures. This is a matter for
consideration when detailing close patrols, as the tendency is to be
too prodigal of the scanty force at disposal. When the army cavalry
concentrates towards the flank of the army, the detachments of it
which have been carrying out the reconnaissance against the enemy's
front must be gradually relieved by the divisional cavalry. The army
cavalry will only be able to assist the divisional cavalry in the close
reconnaissance by the action of those portions of it which may fall
back behind the front of their own army. In such a case all should
be placed under a single command, to prevent useless expenditure of
force and contradictory orders. Whether the divisional cavalry is
to be reinforced by the army cavalry or _vice versâ_, or whether a
separate sphere of action is to be assigned to each, must depend on

It will, however, seldom happen that the army cavalry will fall back
behind the front of its own army. It will nearly always be most
advantageously placed on the flank of the army, and will therefore
only have to carry out such reconnaissance as is possible from this
position. Such reconnaissance, however, is generally the most important.

As already indicated, the reconnoitring squadrons will gradually fall
back upon the army cavalry itself, or upon the advancing columns of
the main army which will now be approaching them. The reconnoitring
squadrons on the outer flank will, however, be well advised not to join
themselves at once to the main body of the cavalry. They must rather
seek to operate against the rear of the enemy, who is already deployed,
or against his lines of advance, in order to be able to report the
presence of any approaching hostile reserves as early as possible. As
a single example of this, had the French at Mars la Tour acted in this
manner they would very soon have discovered the approach of Wedel's
Brigade and its approximate strength. They would not then have been
surprised by the attack of this brigade nor would they have mistaken
it for the advance-guard of the Third Army. One may well assume that
after dealing with Wedel's Brigade the French would, under such
circumstances, have proceeded to undertake a general offensive, and
that the fortunes of the day might have been with them.

The close reconnaissance before the decisive battle must seek, above
all things, to obtain an idea of the grouping of the hostile forces.
Herein lie the conditions of success or failure. To this end endeavours
must be made to get far round the front of the enemy and to observe as
many lines of approach as possible. Rapid and distant patrol riding and
the straining of every nerve must be demanded in such cases.

When the whole force is to be employed, the army cavalry must
endeavour to pave the way for these patrols. If it has been possible
to defeat the hostile cavalry before the decisive battle, this will
be comparatively easy. Otherwise, every means must now be employed to
bring about this decision and to carry it to a successful conclusion,
as well as to deal with other troops which may seek to cover the
enemy's flanks.

That the position of the army cavalry for such duties should not be in
rear of a flank of its own army need scarcely be emphasised. It should
rather strive with all energy to _échelon_ itself in advance of the
wing of its own army and to maintain itself on the enemy's flank. It
will thus be in a position during the period of close reconnaissance to
support its own reconnoitring organs and either to join the battle, or
operate against the flanks and rear of the enemy.[8]

As to the close reconnaissance patrols and the combat patrols, as clear
and definite orders must be given them as to the distant patrols to
operate in certain particular directions or block certain roads. The
arrangements for their return or relief must leave no room for doubt if
it is desired to be independent of the discretion of the patrol leader,
and to be convinced that the observation in all important directions is
being carried out.

It will often be necessary, especially during the period of close
reconnaissance in flank or rear of the enemy, to make the patrols
strong enough to be able to fight their own way, for it will generally
be impossible to support them from the rear. Should it be found
impossible otherwise to break through the thick screen of the hostile
service of security, whole squadrons may operate as patrols, and must
exert all their endurance and speed to attain their object.

When a decision is impending, it is of the greatest importance that the
service of transmission should be especially swift and sure, for there
will be but little time available in which to make fresh arrangements
to meet any newly ascertained movement on the part of the enemy. It
will be necessary under such circumstances to supply even patrols with
the light-signal apparatus, even though there is a danger that these
may be lost. If they are able somewhere from the rear of the hostile
army to flash back an important message _in time for it to be of use_
they will fully have answered their purpose. It will of course be
impossible under such circumstances to establish permanent stations.
Before the departure of a patrol the men must be carefully instructed
as to the point that will most probably be chosen as a receiving
centre, and must make a mental note of its position on the ground, and
also of those places from which it is hoped to send back intelligence.
They must endeavour to escape the enemy's notice and to avoid his
pursuit. When necessary, they must be prepared to fight for possession
of that point from which they expect to be able to transmit reports.
That any intelligence transmitted by signal must also be sent to the
rear by a reporting patrol, goes without saying.

In such situations the activity of the cavalry must be increased to the
utmost, and their action characterised by feverish energy. The last
drop of blood and the latest breath of man and horse must be devoted to
fulfilling the task of reconnaissance.

It is obvious that in such periods of crisis cavalry cannot go into
quarters for the night, whether in friendly or hostile country. It will
be best for them to remain concealed in woods, where they will, as a
rule, be discovered with difficulty. For the rest, the night is the
time which will generally be used for transmitting reports. In friendly
country the assistance of the inhabitants must be used for this purpose
as much as possible. The enemy must continually find himself moving in
the close meshes of a net of hostile enterprise. In hostile country it
will be necessary to requisition supplies by force, but this should
never be done in the area in which observation is required. Where
requisitions have been made in the neighbourhood of the enemy, patrols
should quickly move away, in order not to be surprised, as Count
Zeppelin was in the Schirlenhof, before the battle of Wörth.[9]

For the reconnaissance on the battlefield itself--in contradistinction
to the energetic action in the flanks and rear of the enemy--officers
provided with good glasses must be employed. The scissors telescope,
which no higher cavalry leader should be without, should also be used
for this purpose. Observation should be made, when possible, from some
secure place, and endeavours made to recognise the moment for action
and intervention in the battle. Observation carried out by patrols
from the front during the battle of the measures taken by the enemy is
unpractical and only possible in peace, and is a procedure that is the
outcome of the requirements of leaders lacking in determination, who
wish to be continually informed down to the smallest details about the
enemy, instead of trusting with self-confidence to the compelling force
of their own measures. Patrol service during the battle itself is a
matter for the infantry, and can be carried out by no other troops.


Generally speaking, the conduct of the various reconnoitring organs
of the divisional cavalry will be regulated according to the same
principles as hold good for the army cavalry. As for the latter,
so is it a matter of great importance for the divisional cavalry
whether it is acting in friendly or in hostile country. Its methods,
too, must be regulated according to its distance from the enemy. It
will also endeavour to establish a material and moral superiority
over the hostile cavalry. In its relative weakness, however, and its
distribution to the columns of the army there must lie certain factors
which will leave their stamp upon the conduct of the divisional cavalry.

First of all it is important what part the division to which the
cavalry belongs plays in the general scheme. Various cases can be
conceived which may have no inconsiderable influence on the character
of the reconnaissance which the divisional cavalry must carry out.

It may belong to a column which is advancing between others, and where
it has but a comparatively small front for reconnaissance allotted to
it. The army cavalry may be in front of it. Or it may be given the
task of carrying out the frontal reconnaissance independently. The
latter case must be considered the most usual in a great army, when
the concentration of the army cavalry in the decisive direction takes
place. Or again, it may belong to the flank column of an advancing
army, which may or may not be covered by the army cavalry. Finally, it
may be part of an independently operating, more or less detached force,
and have to perform all the cavalry duties for it. In the last case it
will generally be advisable to strengthen it, if possible, from the
army cavalry; but in any case its methods will necessarily be of a
different kind.

The most simple case is where the front upon which the divisional
cavalry finds itself is covered by the army cavalry. It is then
most important to keep up communication with, and to be continually
informed of the intentions of the army cavalry, in order that the
duties of reconnaissance may be taken over whenever the army cavalry
is compelled to clear the front by a flank movement or to uncover the
flank. The reconnoitring organs of the divisional cavalry must then
be sent forward early enough to effect a relief of the corresponding
detachments of the army cavalry, so that the service of observation of
the enemy in the first line will not be interrupted.

Where the divisional cavalry cannot rely upon the army cavalry for
assistance in reconnaissance the conditions are different.

This leads to the question of the strategical exploration. These
duties--in contradistinction to those of the army cavalry--will be
distinguished by the fact that the divisional cavalry cannot advance
as an independent unit separated from the mass of infantry, but must
remain in continual conjunction with the detachments of the other arms
to which it belongs. It is, on the one hand, too weak to be able to
operate independently, and, on the other, is bound to the column of the
other arms by ties of local service, which at any moment may make fresh
demands upon it. It will therefore not be denied that the divisional
cavalry, if it would reconnoitre, must cleave to the infantry. Its
method of procedure will rather be to advance from point to point with
those portions of its strength which can be spared from the local
service of the division. In so doing, it must arrange for support in
case of necessity during the fight from the rear, and can rest at night
covered by the infantry outposts without being compelled to march to
the rear. To take its own measures for security would make too great
demand upon its strength, and would quickly deplete it. Only when the
distance from the enemy renders an attack out of the question can the
divisional cavalry remain in advanced positions. This consideration,
also, must have its due influence on the method of advance adopted.

The advance by stages from one point of vantage to another, according
to the map, or from one defensible locality to another, will be found
advisable. The divisional cavalry, like the reconnoitring squadrons,
should always be surrounded by a close screen of local patrols, which
will ensure its immediate safety and concealment.

In this lack of freedom in the conduct of the divisional cavalry two
facts become apparent. Firstly, that only in very rare cases will the
divisional cavalry be able to clear the way for its patrols, as the
army cavalry will continually have to do. It is generally, indeed,
too weak to fight independently with any prospect of success. It is
also, as we have seen, locally dependent, and cannot advance with
full freedom even where hindrances to the reconnaissance demand its
intervention. Secondly, only in exceptional cases will it be feasible
for the divisional cavalry to immediately support its patrols by
reconnoitring squadrons.

If the army corps is marching in two columns, the cavalry of each is
obviously too weak to push forward squadrons of this kind perhaps
several days' march ahead, and, when necessary, to provide for their
relief. Somewhat different are the conditions of the advance of a
corps upon one road. If it is accompanied by columns on each side, it
will generally be possible to mass the greater part of the cavalry of
both divisions at the head of the corps, and it will then at times be
possible to push forward a reconnoitring squadron. In the case of a
flank column, however, the cavalry of the rear division will generally
be occupied with securing the flank, and will therefore not usually be
available for reinforcing the reconnoitring cavalry in front.

The divisional cavalry will thus usually be able to detail only weak
patrols for the distant reconnaissance, and these will often have to
reckon with superior hostile cavalry. At least the conditions which
obtain in the army of our probable opponents compel us to make these
presumptions. The reconnoitring patrols of the divisional cavalry must
therefore rely chiefly on cunning and speed in carrying out their
duty, and will only be able to attack under especially favourable
circumstances, where the enemy whom they meet has no support behind
him, or can be attacked with obvious advantage. It is far more
important for them than for the patrols of the army cavalry to gain
contact with the enemy unsuspected, and not to betray their presence.
They must always try first to get distant observation of the enemy, as
they will have no fighting support behind them to help them to break
through the hostile screen of patrols and win their way to the head of
the enemy's columns. Their reports, also, will have to be brought back
through the enemy's cavalry.

The distant patrols of the divisional cavalry will therefore often be
obliged, even in their advance, to avoid the main avenues of approach
of the enemy, as upon them the enemy's cavalry is certain to be met
with. They must use secondary roads, and as secretly as possible, a
matter of considerable difficulty in unknown hostile country. To avoid
possible ambush they should retire by a different road from that by
which they advanced. They will very rarely be able to get under cover
for the night, especially when in the enemy's country.

Such duties can only be successfully carried out, if at all, where
the commander has at his disposal a number of efficient officers and
under-officers, and horses trained to endurance and cross-country work.
In order to be able to carry out their task properly, the men must be
clever, determined horsemen, well trained in the use of their weapons
and resourceful. They must also be absolutely reliable men, who will
not shrink from encountering odds when necessary. In such patrols as
these the cavalry spirit must be developed to its utmost.

It is a somewhat easier matter if the divisional cavalry is not
confined to a purely frontal and limited area, but can reconnoitre
from the head of a flank column. It will then get opportunities of
obtaining observation by moving round the enemy's outer flank. It will,
however, only succeed in obtaining and transmitting intelligence by
wide détours, and the demands on the endurance of man and horse will
be great in proportion. It is obvious how necessary it will be, under
such circumstances, that the intelligence so hardly won should at least
be transmitted quickly and safely. Some detachment must therefore
be detailed to perform the duties of the reporting or communicating
station usually formed by a reconnoitring squadron. I see nothing for
it but to devote bodies of cyclists to this purpose, which can be
pushed forward as reporting centres on the main avenues, and equipped,
whenever possible, with the light-signal apparatus. A few mounted men
must be sent with them for scouting purposes. Without these, they
would be confined to the roads for the close reconnaissance of the
surrounding country, a procedure which would not suffice in the face of
a determined enemy, especially in difficult country.

Besides the distant reconnaissance, the close reconnaissance along by
far the greater part of the front of the army falls to the lot of the
divisional cavalry. As we have seen, the army cavalry will only in
exceptional cases be able to support it in this task as, on the near
approach of the enemy, it will probably have occasion to draw off to a
flank. But nowadays this close reconnaissance appears, by reason of the
increased distances and the greater range of firearms, to have become
considerably more difficult. Hostile armies move to battle nowadays on
a front of 50 to 100 miles.

That it has naturally become much more difficult under such
circumstances to estimate the enemy's strength and to obtain the
necessary knowledge of his dispositions and of the ground, no further
proof is needed. It thus becomes possible for the cavalryman in general
to get no closer to the enemy than his rifle will carry, and to be
compelled to observe him from a distance. There should be no mistake
about this.

The importance of observation has grown in proportion to its
difficulty. Troops nowadays have to be deployed for the fight at long
ranges, where it is practically out of the question that a commander
will be able to survey the enemy and the country with his own eyes,
as was formerly almost invariably the case. Should, for example, the
opponents be advancing towards each other and still 5 miles apart,
another 1-1/4 miles will bring them into effective artillery range
of each other. If they are going to wait to deploy until they reach
this point, the deployment will have to be completed under the fire of
the enemy's guns, a thing which, of all others, is to be avoided. It
therefore follows that in a battle of encounter deployment should take
place, at the latest, when still 5 miles distant from the enemy. It
is better to begin to draw the forces apart even earlier, so that the
army is already deployed when it moves into the range of the enemy's

Under these circumstances it will usually be quite impossible for the
leader to make his dispositions according to his personal observations.
He is, rather, almost entirely dependent in his appreciation of the
enemy on the reconnaissance of the cavalry, and may find himself at
a great disadvantage if this should fail or lead him to erroneous

Reports as to the character of the country, suitable positions for
artillery, decisive localities or points, thus increase greatly in
importance, and it is obviously most necessary for cavalry officers
to be able judiciously to appreciate such matters and to report them
clearly and intelligibly. The tactical conduct, and at the same
time tactical success, will often be as dependent on the tactical
reconnaissance of the divisional cavalry as the strategical measures
of the commander-in-chief are upon the results of the strategical
exploration of the army cavalry.

Tactically and strategically the service of the divisional cavalry is
of equal importance if it belongs to a force operating independently.
In such cases it will often be obliged to move with more freedom than
when employed in purely frontal reconnaissance with the main army. For
rest, also, it will not always be able to seek the protection of the
infantry, but will frequently have to be pushed out for the night on
the flanks, in order to secure the main body while at rest from these
directions, or the better to observe the enemy. It should, however,
never lose its immediate connection with its force, and will therefore
not always be in a position to measure its strength with any hostile
cavalry that may be met during the period of reconnaissance.

When the tactical decision is in prospect, or when contact has been
gained between the opposing forces, the divisional cavalry must
redouble its efforts in reconnaissance. It is then a matter for it
to reconnoitre from the flanks, and such reconnaissance can only be
successful, as in the case of the army cavalry, if those portions of
the country are occupied from which it is possible to observe the
movements and dispositions of the enemy.

It is quite wrong to hang on the flank of the infantry, as is
unfortunately often done in peace manoeuvres, and to remain wherever
possible under its protection, and to expect to force reconnaissance
merely by sending out a number of patrols.

In such a situation patrols have generally small prospect of success.
They will most frequently come in contact with the hostile screen,
which will prevent them gaining the decisive points of the terrain,
and can hinder the despatch-riders but too easily from finding their
way to the rear. It is more than questionable under such circumstances
whether it will be possible to gain any observation at all, or to send
back information in time to be of use. In these moments of crisis,
which will be of comparatively short duration, rude force can alone
avail, and recourse must be had to the sword. The artillery patrols,
too, will only find it possible to reconnoitre successfully under the
wing of a victorious cavalry. Their efforts will otherwise have little
prospect of success.

Speaking generally, the reconnaissance must remain entirely in
the hands of the cavalry leader who arranges it. Should the
commander-in-chief interfere without due cause in his dispositions, he
deprives him of responsibility and interrupts that systematic conduct
of the reconnaissance which is absolutely essential if the strength of
the divisional cavalry is to be equal to its task.

Reports, too, should, as a general rule, be sent to that unit of the
cavalry from which the patrol is found, and which forms the reporting
centre of the patrol. On the other hand, it is the duty of the cavalry
leader to remain in communication with the Supreme Command by using all
means at his disposal, even relays when necessary, so that all reports
may reach the latter by the shortest route. Only exceptionally should
patrols report direct to the Supreme Command, that is to say, when to
send their messages through their own cavalry means a useless détour or
a danger.

This particular method can, however, only be carried out in practice
if the patrol is in continual communication with the cavalry from
which it is found. This circumstance indicates also the necessity for
detachments that are not limited in their zone of operation to advance
during the fight against the enemy's flank, so that they may remain as
close as possible behind their own patrols, continually prepared to
support them and to hamper the hostile efforts at reconnaissance.

It does not appear advisable under such circumstances to unite all
the available cavalry on one wing. It is certainly obvious that its
main strength must be concentrated in what is considered the decisive
direction, in order that it may be as strong as possible on the field
of battle. This desire, however, should not go so far as to denude
one flank wholly of cavalry. This flank would then be completely
laid bare to the enemy's observation, and would itself be deprived
of the possibility of ascertaining what was going on on the enemy's
side. It is much more advisable to provide upon each flank a centre
of reconnaissance, even if such consists of quite a weak detachment
of cavalry, which will act as a reserve for patrols and a reporting
centre. The offensive cannot, of course, be undertaken on the flank
where the cavalry is weak, but reconnaissance must be carried out by
patrols of scouts, and other action limited generally to keeping the
enemy's patrols at a distance.


The idea of the screen is first touched on in the "Field Service
Manual" of 1908; it is also, however, demanded by the conditions of
modern war. For however important it may be to gain early intelligence
as to the enemy in order thereby to be able to make the necessary
dispositions, it is naturally just as important to deprive him of this
advantage. Reflection and experience have shown that although the
measures of reconnaissance considerably assist the screening if the
enemy's cavalry is defeated, they are not of themselves sufficient to
secure the army from hostile observation.

The "Field Service Manual" sums up, I think, the chief considerations
as regards screening, for the most part to the point, especially
where it deals with the defensive screen. There are no war experiences
in modern times of this matter, and, according to my opinion, peace
experiences are not comprehensive enough to allow of any appreciable
amplification of the "Field Service Manual."

At the same time I would draw attention to some of the points which
give occasion for further research and reflection.

In the first place, I think that what the "Field Service Manual" says
as to offensive screens requires some explanation. Strong cavalry will
be concentrated to keep the enemy at a distance from our own army.
_In addition to this_, strong patrols and even cyclist detachments
advance along all roads in order to throw back the hostile patrols.
These arrangements can only apply, as a rule, for portions of the _army
cavalry_. They presuppose, especially if the front of the modern army
is to be screened, a mass of cavalry which could with difficulty be
found from the divisional cavalry. By such methods, moreover, as long
as strong cyclist detachments are not available for blocking the road
communications, a cause of dissension will always arise as to how much
strength can be used for blocking the roads and how much concentrated
for battle, all the more so as the divisional cavalry can only with
difficulty be used in this kind of screen.

The latter must, as we have seen, remain more or less locally tied
to the division. The army cavalry, however, if it will undertake an
offensive screen, must advance against the enemy, seek him out, force
him back as far as possible from our own army, and endeavour to defeat
him. For this task complete freedom of movement is necessary--not only
for itself, but also for the screen of patrols that will accompany
it. The divisional cavalry will thus generally only be able to form
a second screening line behind the veil formed by the advancing army
cavalry, and will not be in a position to spare for it patrols for the
blocking of roads. Nor is it at all clear where the cyclist troops
mentioned are to come from.

I am therefore inclined to think that the procedure advocated by the
"Field Service Manual" can only be carried out in exceptional cases;
and it would perhaps be advisable to alter it somewhat.

The principal task of the offensive screen is, according to my opinion,
to defeat the hostile cavalry; and for this object all available force
must be concentrated, for one cannot be too strong upon the field of
battle. Even such cyclist detachments as are available will be best
used by bringing them up for the fight. The blocking of roads, on
the other hand, will, as a rule, be only undertaken when the enemy's
cavalry has been beaten and thrown back. The screen of patrols can then
be strengthened. But it must be quite clearly understood that troops
are not to be simply disposed in a cordon; but that a sufficiently
strong force must still remain in touch with the beaten enemy in order
to prevent him, at all events, from taking up the offensive again, and
breaking through the screen.

Until this moment of victory over the hostile cavalry the duties
of screening must be left to the reconnoitring organs and to the
divisional cavalry of the army which is following in rear of them.

According to the principles laid down in the "Field Service Manual"
it is to the divisional cavalry that the task invariably falls of
screening the movements of its division. I think that these duties
cannot always be clearly regulated according to the idea of an
offensive or defensive screen; they will more often be of a mixed
nature. As far as its strength will admit, the divisional cavalry
will endeavour to carry out the task by pushing back, by fighting,
the hostile reconnoitring patrols and detachments before these have
succeeded in gaining observation. As it is more or less locally
confined to its own front, and will certainly often have to do with an
opponent of superior strength, it will, on the other hand, frequently
be obliged to join battle for favourable localities dismounted,
supported whenever possible by machine-guns and cyclists from the
infantry. In situations where the divisional cavalry cannot undertake
an offensive fight against the superiority of the enemy, and can find
no _points d'appui_ in the terrain, it must try all the more to block
the roads with patrols which will attack all hostile patrols with the
utmost determination, and endeavour to capture their despatch-riders.
The divisional cavalry must show the greatest boldness and judgment if
it will carry out this task. The great importance of its rôle in the
army here again becomes obvious.

The army cavalry will only undertake an offensive screen when the army
is advancing, and where the country does not afford suitable localities
for the establishment of a defensive screen.

Such a screen (defensive), which can eventually be pushed forward from
one area to another, is without doubt, as is emphasised by the "Field
Service Manual," of much more use than an offensive screen.

Of great importance in a defensive screen is, first and foremost,
the nature of the obstacles on which it is based. Watercourses and
canals, which can only be crossed by bridges, form the best of these.
Extensive woods, however, lend themselves easily to the purpose. They
are doubtless, for cavalry patrols, a most unpleasant obstacle, as
view is restricted in them, and an ambush may lurk behind every tree.
In the campaign of 1870-71 the German cavalry patrols were, as far as
I could ascertain, quite unable to penetrate into the wood of Orleans
and that at Marchenoir. These woods, by their mere existence, formed an
effective screen.

To utilise woods for this purpose it will be necessary, according
to the circumstances, the depth and nature of the wood, to post the
fighting detachments of the screening line either at the exit of the
defile on the enemy's side or more towards the defender's side on
the inner edge of the wood, if they can there find a good field of
fire. In any case the opposite edge of the wood should be occupied
by observation-posts; in order, in the first case, to get knowledge
of and to neutralise any hostile patrol which may, in spite of all
difficulties, have penetrated the wood, as soon as they emerge; and,
in the second, to get early information of the entrance of hostile
detachments into the wood, and to be able to hinder, report, and
observe their further advance.

I think that penetration of such a screen is generally considered to
be easier than it really is, especially if the defending cavalry is
supported by cyclists, machine-guns, and even artillery. According
to my opinion, reconnoitring squadrons would only, under favourable
circumstances, be able to break through such a line that has been well
disposed, and, even if successful in so doing, would find it even more
difficult to return. It should never be forgotten that to overcome
well-placed posts, defending themselves with fire action, requires a
great superiority of force; that a squadron can only overcome quite
weak detachments so placed, and will, if successful, very soon find
itself confronted by a superior force of the enemy's reserves. Single
patrols of picked scouts may perhaps creep through, but their return
will be problematical unless they are strongly supported from the rear.
It will therefore generally require strong forces of the army cavalry
to break through a well-organised screening line composed of moderately
strong cavalry detachments, and to maintain the breach so made long
enough to carry out the object of the reconnaissance. The place where
the screen is broken must in all cases, even where the main body of the
victorious reconnoitring cavalry is obliged to advance farther, be so
strongly occupied that it will under all circumstances remain open for
the service of transmission and for the eventual retirement.

The greater the advantages of a defensive screen, the more must the
divisional cavalry naturally endeavour to avail itself of it, in
order to compensate in some measure for its numerical weakness. It
will always seek, even during the advance of the army, to choose such
favourable areas for an occasional halt, and to reach them by advancing
in _bonds successifs_. Such procedure will facilitate at the same time
the carrying out of its duties of screening and of warding off hostile
detachments by defensive action. In order to secure the greatest
possible effect for such action a similar procedure as regards time and
space must be arranged with the cavalry of neighbouring columns, or
ordered by superior authority.

During the night, when it is not possible to occupy advanced areas,
the divisional cavalry should try to assist the screen by being so
disposed that detached posts will lie on the main road in advance of
the infantry outposts and at crossroads and defiles, with a view to
capturing the enemy's patrols. The erection of temporary obstacles,
particularly of wire, will considerably assist this action. In
friendly country the inhabitants will be able to co-operate in this,
and, by judicious conduct and the procuring of timely and sufficient
intelligence, may be of great use to the force. In erecting such
obstacles it must always be remembered that our own advanced patrols
should be warned of them, or that by some kind of prearranged mark upon
the road they should be made aware of their presence when returning
with reports through their own line. It scarcely needs to be emphasised
that such measures should be made use of by the army cavalry as well
as by the divisional cavalry, in order to increase their own safety at


The idea of the raid has been taken from the American War of Secession.
Our new Regulations designate such undertakings as "Streifzüge"
(527),[10] and do not appear to attach overmuch importance to them.
Their use is only advocated if a superfluity of cavalry is at hand.
They should not, it is said, distract the cavalry from their own duties
or from co-operating in the battle (395).[11]

Whether one agrees with this estimation of the value of such
enterprises naturally depends upon the view taken of the co-operation
of cavalry in the battle and the general conception of the conditions
of modern war. It appears to me that the importance of such
undertakings has increased in the same measure as the value of cavalry
on the main battlefield has diminished.

The great size of modern armies renders it, generally speaking,
impossible for them to live on the country. A modern army marching once
through the richest country will nowadays almost completely exhaust its
resources, and yet the supplies carried will scarcely suffice to feed
the columns during a protracted movement. Armies are far more dependent
than formerly on the supplies from the rear--more, indeed, than in
the time of Frederick the Great. In those days, if the bread-wagons
ran short, it was possible to fill up from the country. The armies
were never so great that this became impossible. The cavalry, indeed,
devoted most of its time to foraging, and the soldier frequently bought
his supplies, all except his bread, on the spot.

Nowadays the circumstances are quite changed. It is out of the question
for the horses of the modern army to find the necessary forage in the
country itself. That the men of the great armies of the present day can
supply themselves when rations run out remains to be proved. On paper
it is indeed often possible, taking into consideration the supplies
available in peace; but these calculations cannot hold good for a real
theatre of war where concentration has claimed all available resources.

Of the straits to which a great army may be reduced when supplies
really give out, the campaign of 1812 in Russia is a good example.
There, even during the advance to Moscow, Napoleon's army practically
dissolved owing to lack of supplies. Only some 90,000 men of the mighty
host arrived in Moscow; only these perished during the retreat. How
fearfully the Napoleonic armies suffered and melted away owing to want
of supplies gives cause for reflection. In the armies of millions of
the present day such conditions become still more perilous. Matters
appertaining to ammunition are of equal importance. The modern army
carries enormous masses of artillery with it. All the guns are
designed for a vast expenditure of ammunition, and the _rafale_ from
covered positions and against covered positions will indeed make
this necessary. Modern infantry, too, is armed in a manner that will
entail a prodigious expenditure of cartridges. The replacement of this
expended ammunition is of vital importance. Railways will have to be
laid in rear of the armies to cope with these demands. Long trains
of wagons and automobiles will move to and fro behind them. On every
high-road and in every railway-station magazines will appear, and all
operations must come to a standstill and miscarry as soon as this great
organisation ceases from any cause to carry out its functions.

I hold, therefore, that such circumstances render a disturbance of the
rear communications of an army an important matter. It will often do
the opponent more damage, and contribute more to a favourable decision
of arms than the intervention of a few cavalry divisions in the
decisive battle itself.

The one does not, of course, exclude the possibility of the other.
General Stuart, in the campaign of Gettysburg, rode all round the
hostile army, broke up its communications, drew hostile troops away
from the decisive point, and was yet in his place on the wing of
the army on the day of battle. What this man performed with cavalry
and the inestimable damage he inflicted on his opponent are worth
studying. The fortune of war, which lay in might and in the nature of
things, he could not turn. Nor could he bring the advance of an army
to a standstill, because at that period and under those circumstances
it was possible for the army of the North to live, at least for a
time, upon the country. If we regard his achievement by the light
of modern conditions, we shall certainly not fall into the error of
underestimating the value of such enterprises. If we compare it with
the performances of cavalry upon the battlefield in the latest war, we
will be able to obtain a true impression of the degree of importance of
modern cavalry action.

I am inclined to think that such enterprises will be of altogether
extraordinary significance in a future war; least so, perhaps, during
the earlier battles resulting from the concentration, when it will be
difficult to get round the flanks of the enemy, but more so during
the subsequent course of operations. We have only to imagine what the
decisive consequences must have been if General von Werder, and, later,
General von Manteuffel, had been in a position to continually interrupt
the rear communications of the army of Bourbaki. In all probability
the latter must have capitulated long before it reached the Swiss
frontier, always granting that it was successful in getting so far as
the battlefield of the Lisaine. The whole crisis of this campaign,
which was very nearly ending in the defeat of the Germans, would thus
possibly have been avoided.

There are plenty of examples of this. To indicate only one from the
history of the latest war, I would call to mind the undertaking of the
Russians against the rear communications of the Japanese army.

If this undertaking had been actually directed against the only railway
at the disposal of the Japanese army, if it had been carried through by
throwing into the scale the whole fighting strength of a really mobile
and efficient cavalry, and if it had thereby succeeded in interrupting
the supplies of the Japanese army for a period, the whole course of the
campaign might have been changed. Victory in this tremendous conflict
hung continually in the balance, and it needed but little more weight
on either side to turn the scale of the fortunes of war.

The importance of such raids in modern war should not therefore, in
my opinion, be underestimated. They are capable rather of exercising
enormous influence on the course of events.

Rules, however, cannot be laid down for their conduct. The Regulations
indicate, shortly, that attention must be paid to the transport of
sufficient ammunition and supplies, and here, indeed, move in the right
direction. It is absolutely indispensable that a cavalry mass destined
to carry out such an enterprise should be independent of what it may
find in the country and be perfectly free of movement.

The supply and ammunition columns, however, which accompany it, must
also be so mobile that they are able to follow the troops closely, even
at a rapid pace, as otherwise they will run the danger of falling into
the hands of the enemy. The whole force designed for the enterprise
must be able to advance rapidly as a concrete whole, and should not be
allowed to take up too much room. Resources found upon the enemy's
lines of communication and magazines captured must be used for the
sustenance of the troops as far as possible. It will then be able
to reserve the supplies carried for critical times or for a further
turning movement. Any of the enemy's supplies which are not used must
be ruthlessly laid waste. His railways and magazines, particularly any
important engineering structures, must be thoroughly destroyed, the
necessary explosives being carried in sufficient quantities.

In contrast to Stuart's raids, however, one must count on meeting not
inconsiderable bodies of the enemy's communication troops, which will
probably be capable of rapid reinforcement. This entails corresponding
preventive measures.

Hostile cavalry sent to secure the safety of the communications will
generally have to be attacked in a determined manner. It may sometimes,
however, be more advantageous to avoid it by rapid marching. For
the rest, the factor of surprise is of decisive importance. Should
the enemy early become aware of the approach, he will generally be
in a position to bring up fresh forces, often by rail, and thereby
imperil the success of the whole undertaking. Under such circumstances
a covered approach, perhaps by night, careful screening, and the
interruption of the enemy's telegraph-lines and transmission service
are matters to which special attention must be paid. It is also a
matter of consideration in the attack on communications and railways to
destroy them at a sufficient distance above and below the objective by
means of detachments deflected for that purpose, so that the enemy may
be prevented from bringing up reinforcements. If the direction of the
attack is fixed upon and assured, and if approach and deployment have
been successfully effected unobserved, the attack must from the first
be carried through with sufficient firepower and energy to allow the
enemy no time for reflection.

It is therefore absolutely necessary that troops engaged in a raid
should be of sufficient fighting strength to be able rapidly to
break down any resistance. The scanty strength of a division of six
regiments is much too small for such an undertaking in modern war.
Stronger divisions must be formed for the purpose, and strengthened
when necessary by cyclist battalions. An enterprise of this kind also
requires thorough preparation, especially by an extensive system of
espionage which will amplify the results of the cavalry reconnaissance.
Before such a raid is undertaken all possible information must be to
hand as to the conditions in the rear of the hostile army. Mobile light
bridging equipment should accompany the expedition, with the necessary
complement of mounted engineers. During the advance the cavalry should
be surrounded by a screen of patrols, not too far distant from it, so
that the enemy will not too early become aware of the expedition, and
yet at the same time far enough to guard against surprise. After a
successful surprise the force should withdraw with the same speed in
order to escape from the enemy's counter-measures. Finally, the chief
safety of such enterprises lies in their daring.

The leader of such a raid should be minutely instructed as to the
advance and intended operations of his own army, so that he may be
able to calculate when and where the decisive collision between the
opposing armies will take place. He must regulate his own movements
accordingly. As long as the two armies are still distant from each
other he can strike the enemy's communications far to the rear,
destroying railways and magazines. The nearer, however, the opponent
approaches to his own army, the more closely must he endeavour to
hang on the rear of the hostile troops and to interrupt the supply of
the immediate necessities, that is to say, to destroy the supply and
ammunition columns of the army corps, and to capture the provision and
baggage wagons of the troops. If circumstances demand, he must be able
to appear upon the battlefield itself on the day of battle.

Keen perception and foresight, rapid decision, and relentless energy
are indispensable qualities to the leader of such a raid. The ability
to mystify and mislead the enemy will greatly facilitate the carrying
out of the enterprise. A considerable measure of cavalry ability
is, at the same time, necessary to ensure proper horse management.
A combination of all these qualities goes to form the great cavalry
leader, before whom, even in modern war, lie great prospects of
distinction, if he but understands how to break loose from the routine
and pedantry of the day.


[Footnote 6: "_When advancing in separate columns_, special measures
must be taken to insure the cohesion of the forward movement. Every
endeavour must be made to unite the columns before collision with the
enemy; for a junction on the field of battle will seldom succeed, if
only on account of the rapid course of the cavalry combat."]

[Footnote 7: The lamp used by night and day in the German Army,
combining the functions of our heliograph and lamp.]

[Footnote 8: Compare "Unser Kavallerie im nächsten Kriege" ("Cavalry in
a Future War," translated by Sydney Goldman), and paragraph 522 Cavalry
Drill Regulations.

"During a _battle_, it is the duty of the army cavalry to operate
against the enemy's flanks and rear, to attack his shaken infantry and
unprotected artillery, to protect the flanks of its own army, and to
prevent hostile reinforcements reaching the field of battle. According
to the result of the encounter, it takes up the pursuit or covers the

"For such activity, the army cavalry will find opportunities on the
_flanks of the battle field_. A position in front of the flank of the
main body will facilitate the attack and, at the same time, constitute
a threat. This position is also well adapted for clearing up the

[Footnote 9: On June 24, 1870, Captain Count Zeppelin, of the
Würtemburg General Staff, with a patrol of 3 Baden officers and 8
dragoons, crossed the Rhine at Lauterburg, with orders to ascertain
certain of the French dispositions. Reaching Selzbach, after various
encounters, and finding it occupied by French cavalry, the patrol took
refuge on the 25th in the little inn at Schirlenhof for a well-earned
rest. Here they were surprised by a squadron of French hussars, who
had received information of their presence from a boy at the inn.
The inhabitants having locked the Germans' horses into the stable,
nothing remained but to fight or surrender. The brave Germans chose the
former course. Lieutenant Winsloe here killed was the first casualty
of the war on the German side. The whole patrol was finally killed or
captured, with the exception of Count Zeppelin himself, who escaped
on one of the French hussars' horses. This officer succeeded after
a nine hours' ride in winning his way back across the frontier with
valuable information.--Trans. (Count Zeppelin is the well-known airship

[Footnote 10: "Enterprises of long duration by large bodies of cavalry
against the enemy's lines of communication separate them from their
principal duties. Such raids are to be undertaken only when cavalry
is redundant. Sufficient ammunition and supplies must be carefully
arranged for."]

[Footnote 11: "Attempts on the more distant hostile communications 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 view to victory must be the watchword of every formation,
whether great or small."]



As I have already indicated, the action of cavalry in the fight may
be divided, according to its character, into two quite distinct
groups--_i.e._ the fight of cavalry acting independently, and to
which is detailed only a small proportion of the other arms; and the
intervention of cavalry in the battle--in the great decision of the
other arms.

It has been proposed, even for the cavalry, to divide tactical
principles according to the idea of the prearranged battle and the
battle of encounter. I do not, however, think that this grouping
will meet the case. In a great battle the fighting is always of a
prearranged nature; in the fight of the independent cavalry it is
possible to distinguish between an encounter and an arranged affair. On
the other hand, the conditions of prearranged action in a battle and in
an independent conflict of the cavalry are quite different, and cannot
be examined from a single point of view.

The grouping, then, proposed by me is still that which best corresponds
to the actual circumstances. In this grouping, in the first case, the
cavalry appears as the chief arm, whose spirit and character set the
tone of the whole nature of the fight; in the second, it is merely
an auxiliary, and must conform to the law of the other arms in great
matters and small.

But the fight is deeply influenced, even in the first case, by
the co-operation of these other arms, and I believe that only in
exceptional cases will a purely cavalry combat take place, at all
events on a large scale. Where squadrons, regiments, and perhaps even
brigades unassisted by the other arms, come into collision with each
other, the charge may still often suffice for a decision. But where it
is an affair of larger masses it will never be possible to dispense
with the co-operation of firearms, and in most cases a combination of
cavalry combat, of dismounted fighting and artillery action, will ensue.

We must not conceal from ourselves the fact that in a future war it
will by no means be always a matter of choice whether we will fight
mounted or dismounted. Rather, by himself, seizing the rifle, will
the opponent be able to compel us to adopt dismounted action. On our
manoeuvre-grounds the charge on horseback is always the order of the
day, even against artillery or machine-guns. The umpires continually
allow such attacks to succeed, and the troops ride on as if nothing had
happened. Equally fearless of consequences do they expose themselves to
rifle-fire. But there are no bullets.

In real war it is different. Even then many a charge will naturally
be successful, but victory will mean such sacrifices that the troops
will often become too weak to carry out their further tactical
and strategical duties. Such losses will not be incurred without
necessity, and troops will give way, where possible, or themselves
adopt dismounted action. The last will often indeed be necessary, as
space and time will frequently be wanting for a turning movement, and
even if such a movement were undertaken it would often lead to a fresh
obligation to fight on foot in another place. This was repeatedly
proved by the events of the campaign of 1870-71. Again and again was it
necessary to detail infantry to the cavalry divisions in order to brush
aside by offensive action resistance that hindered the advance of the
cavalry, and which could not be broken down even by the horse artillery
which accompanied it.

That the English in the South African war were finally repeatedly
successful in forcing the mounted Boers back by turning movements
without actual attacks proves nothing for European conditions. The
explanation lies in the clumsiness of the Boers, who were hampered for
rapid movement by their wagons and possessed no offensive strength
of any kind, at least during the decisive portion of the campaign.
Otherwise they could easily have anticipated the efforts of the English
at a turning movement by the shortest line, or would have been able
by taking the offensive to punish the dispersion that the turning
movement entailed. We must not fall into any misconception of the
fact that turning movements always contain an element of danger and
can often bring about very unfavourable situations. They lay bare our
own communications or lead to dangerous dispersion of force. It is
necessary too, not only to _see_ behind the enemy, but also to _defeat_
him, in order to gain a _free hand_ for reconnaissance. To this end we
will have to attack, and often on foot, as we may be quite sure that
our possible opponent will use the rifle.

Circumstances have distinctly altered since 1870-71. If we had at that
time no real cavalry opponent to face, we may yet be certain next time
of having to deal with a numerous and determined cavalry who will
quite conceivably endeavour to meet us in shock action with the _arme
blanche_. There will always be dashing soldierly natures everywhere
who will make a bid for success by risking all. Whether the hostile
cavalry, once beaten, will return to the attack, is more than doubtful.
I do not think so.

It lies deeply embedded in human nature that he who feels himself the
weaker will act on the defensive. Both opponents will often endeavour
to exploit the advantages of the defensive. It frequently happens
during manoeuvres that the cavalry endeavours to seize some commanding
position, and so force the enemy to attack it under the fire of
artillery posted there. The other side, however, may make corresponding
endeavours. An indecisive artillery duel is the usual result of such
efforts. But if such action is frequent in peace, how much more
frequent will it be under the pressure of responsibility which war
brings with it, especially where one side is tactically the weaker?

It requires an enormous moral strength, personal influence over troops,
and firmness of character to be able to maintain the offensive spirit,
even after an unfavourable conflict, and continually to invoke the
ultimate decision anew. In general, it may be relied upon that defence
will be carried out according to tactical defensive principles, and
that with the firearm. There can be no doubt upon that point to those
who have studied human nature by the light of military history.

Our probable opponents, too, will certainly often advance dismounted.
At all events they are endeavouring to strengthen cavalry divisions by
cyclist battalions and infantry, and perhaps by mounted infantry, and
thereby already show a remarkable inclination to conduct the fight,
even of cavalry, with the firearm, and only to use their horses as a
means of mobility, as was the custom of the Boers in Africa.

The rôle of cavalry in the fight will then apparently consist of a
combination of the various methods of fighting. In explanation of this
view I would cite a well-known example.

The task of the German army cavalry in the battle of Mars la Tour was
to relieve the left flank of the German army by a determined attack
against the right of the French, and thus to bring the apprehended
advance of the enemy to a standstill. It did not accomplish this task,
but was satisfied with trying conclusions with the French cavalry; but
did not either win a decisive victory over the latter nor reap the
necessary tactical benefit from the action. It certainly maintained
its superiority over the enemy, but it made no attempt to interfere
decisively in the course of the battle itself. This honour was left to
the 1st Dragoons of the Guard.

But if we assume for a moment that this cavalry, after driving the
French from the field, had made an attempt to operate further against
the right flank of the French army, Cissey's Division, how would
matters have stood?

The French infantry had occupied the Gréyère Farm as a support to
their right flank. The Chasseurs d'Afrique, on the other hand, who
initiated the cavalry fight, retired after they had been beaten by the
13th Dragoons in a northerly direction, and occupied with dismounted
fire the southern edge of a small wood near Ville sur Yron, which the
French call Bois de la Grange and the German official history Bois de
Gréyère. It is bordered on the south by the plateau of Ville sur Yron.
The dismounted Chasseurs here formed an échelon behind the right flank
of the French infantry.

How should the German cavalry have acted under such circumstances in
order to gain contact with the right flank of the French infantry so
protected? The strongly occupied Gréyère Farm commanded the crossing of
the Fond de la Cuve, which stretches in a northerly direction from Mars
la Tour towards Château Moncel, while to the north the wood occupied
by the Chasseurs limited freedom of movement. What else remained but
a determined attack of both objectives and their capture, and that on
foot? Artillery alone would not have sufficed against the Gréyère Farm,
for this point would have had to be strongly occupied with riflemen,
and nowadays also with machine guns, before the crossing of the Fond de
la Cuve which the farm commanded, and which divided our cavalry from
the French infantry, could be accomplished.

We can thus see that even in the action of cavalry in battle the
combination of the several methods of fighting can scarcely, if ever,
be avoided. In flank and rear, also, the opponent will endeavour to
secure himself by occupying points of support as soon as he becomes
aware of our intention to operate in these directions. Our cavalry must
thus be continually prepared to pave the way by dismounted action for
the mounted combat.

Our new Regulations mention quite incidentally (390)[12] that cavalry
will often have to combine mounted and dismounted action, that "on
occasions" also, in combination with shock action, dismounted cavalry
must be ready to hold supporting points to cover deployment or to
co-operate in the engagement (438).[13]

I do not think that this passing mention of the importance of
combination of the two methods of fighting of the cavalry sufficiently
emphasises the matter. After due reflection over all the circumstances
appertaining to the question, I am, on the other hand, firmly convinced
that the mutual relationship between the fight on foot and on
horseback will give the modern cavalry combat its peculiar character.
This relationship will _always_ have to be reckoned with, and all
tactical considerations must be guided by it.

In my opinion all the principles of cavalry tactics should spring from
this co-operation of the several methods of fighting and not from its
attitude towards the various arms considered separately. The modern
battle suffers no division of the action of one arm, or of one manner
of fighting from another. As every kind of country has to be utilised
for the fight, so also must the most varied kind of action of the arms
be taken into account. It must, of course, be clearly established how
these can best be applied against the various adversaries--cavalry,
artillery, or infantry. Such reflections, however, can refer only
to tactical formations. On the other hand, as soon as it becomes a
question of tactical leading, such combination of all arms must, from
the first, be taken into account as war may demand.

Military history affords us vivid examples of such co-operation of
the arms in a cavalry fight, not, indeed, in a European theatre of
war, but in the Civil War in America. They are woven, above all, round
the heroic figure of General "Jeb" Stuart, and if weapons and other
circumstances of the time and place were different from those obtaining
in Europe to-day, the principle of action has still remained the same.

"Soon after the outbreak of the war Stuart distinguished himself as a
cavalry leader, and his strategical work in blindfolding the enemy and
in enlightening his own army has never been surpassed. As a cavalry
tactician he is not only the first, but hitherto the only, leader of
the arm who understood how to combine the effects of fire and shock,
how to render effective service in fighting on foot without losing the
power to strike on horseback when opportunity offered."[14]

There, indeed, was a man worthy of emulation.

We must, I think, be resolute in freeing ourselves from all
old-fashioned conceptions of those knightly cavalry combats which have
in reality become obsolete owing to the necessities of modern war. We
do not in this need to break with our ancient and honoured traditions,
for the spirit of tradition consists not in the retention of antiquated
forms, but in acting in that spirit which in the past led to such
glorious success. But this spirit points to the road of progress and
bids us not allow ourselves to be urged by events, but, hurrying before
them, to gain a start in development and therewith a decisive advantage
over our enemies. To maintain in the troops, under modern conditions,
the spirit of discipline and independence, and of the greatest effort
and self-sacrifice, _that_ is the old Prussian tradition, and not the
adherence to dead forms, which in our history has been bloodily enough

This principle has been embraced in all the other spheres of military
development; it is only the cavalry that has remained behind the times.

In order to be able to deal with the functions of the mounted arm in
accordance with the old Prussian principles, we must try to get a clear
and unprejudiced conception of the spirit of the modern cavalry combat.
We must look forward and pierce the veil of the future uninfluenced
by the ghosts of the past. The probable events and conditions of the
modern battle must be our guiding star, and when we have realised how
the spirit of cavalry may be adapted to them, how the results of
modern technical improvements in arms influence and strengthen the
action of the cavalry masses, then alone can we lay down principles for
the conduct and tactics of cavalry in the fight.


Mobility is that prominent characteristic of the cavalry on which the
justification of its existence is chiefly based. That it is able to
come into action rapidly at distant points, and to observe the enemy
while still afar off, makes it indispensable in the composition of
an army. Anything that hinders its free mobility militates against
its purpose and its characteristics. Nothing, therefore, is more
justifiable or more in accordance with its spirit than that it should
endeavour to preserve its mobility in the fight, and that mounted shock
action, therefore, should be regarded as its proper rôle in battle. In
this rôle, cavalry is able not only to force a decision quickly, but to
continue its movement mounted, even from the fight itself.

These advantages, inherent in the nature of the arm, must not be
expected in dismounted action. Such action always entails delay
and hampers the movements of the troops, not only by the method of
operation, but also by the separation of the men from their horses.
It is therefore natural that cavalry should only undertake an attack
on foot when there is no prospect of obtaining their object by shock
action, or when the latter would entail such sacrifice that it might
imperil the further successful action of the troops.

The more, however, the disadvantageous factors of dismounted action are
realised and appreciated, the more, in my opinion, will endeavours be
made to give it an offensive character, in order to remove as quickly
as possible obstacles which hinder the free movement of the cavalry.
All delay and hesitation are in opposition to the very spirit of the
arm. To preserve its peculiar element of mobility a rapid decision is
imperative in every situation.

Mounted, the cavalry knows only the charge and has no defensive power,
a circumstance which strengthens its action considerably in carrying
out its offensive principles, by relieving the leader of the onus
of choice. On foot it is a different matter. The application of the
firearm, under all tactical and topographical conditions, particularly
facilitates defence and enables it to appear, to a certain extent, the
stronger form of action. Herein lies the reason why defensive action
is continually sought. All the more, therefore, must it be kept in
view that it is the _offensive_ on foot that the cavalry will require.
To operate in combination with shock tactics to assist the offensive,
and pave the way for free movement is, however, the real object of
dismounted action.

It would perhaps have been better if the new Regulations had upheld
this principle a little more definitely. In them, however, it is the
defensive strength which cavalry has gained in dismounted action which
is chiefly emphasised (390),[15] and the attack is only dealt with as a
method of fighting from which the troops "need not shrink." Attention
is certainly drawn (455)[16] to various cases in which an attack upon
foot may be undertaken. That, however, does not alter the fundamental
utterance that the dismounted fight will chiefly be undertaken on
the defensive. This interpretation is strengthened on reading in the
directions for the action of the army cavalry during operations that
"Especial additions to the force (cyclist detachments, infantry in
wagons, etc.) are mainly intended for the duty of strengthening local
resistance, or of overcoming such resistance on the part of the enemy."
The thought involuntarily occurs to the reader that in the spirit of
the Regulations such additions to the force will be just as necessary
in face of a serious hostile resistance, in order to free the way for
the cavalry. We would, then, again find ourselves in just the same
state which the war of 1870-71 proved to be so undesirable, and the
cavalry would again find the wings of its mobility clipped.

The Regulations of course only intend to convey on this point that,
_if_ such special additions to the cavalry were forthcoming, the task
mentioned would be their principal duty. It is, however, a matter of
significance that it is here presupposed that infantry in wagons may
be detailed to accompany the strategic army cavalry. If it were but a
matter of cyclists, that would be a quite different matter. But there
cannot at present be any question of this, as there is no sufficient
number of them in the army.

If the Regulations discuss these kind of possibilities I fear that the
demand for infantry will very soon be heard from the army cavalry when
there is any question of a serious attack on foot, and herewith the
free action of the cavalry will be limited once and for all.

Military history and theoretical reflection teach us equally that
the great masses of the army cavalry must under all circumstances be
independent, at least for their offensive undertakings--that they
cannot rely, in any case for these, on the "_occasional_" support
of infantry. For they would thus find their mobility hampered, and
themselves tied to the very troops from which they expect support, and
would then be unable to carry out those important duties which fall to
their share. The army cavalry, then, can only preserve its necessary
independence if it can rely upon its own strength even in an attack on
foot. It must at any moment be prepared to throw all its force into
the conduct of a decisive attack. This is a method of fighting from
which not only should it not "shrink," but in which its dismounted
rôle essentially consists. When an attack on foot has been determined
on, it must, however, be first perfectly clear that the results will
justify the sacrifice which such an attack, under any circumstances,
must mean--that is to say, the expenditure not only in lives, but also
in time, which must both be regarded as lost in estimating the further
operative value of the force.

The new Regulations take this point of view also into consideration,
but in a manner that gives cause for serious reflection. They would
limit the time expended in an attack on foot, and during which the arm
is deprived of its free mobility, and therefore demand (456)[17] that,
if such an attack be found necessary, endeavour must be made to carry
it out _with the utmost rapidity_. Here is expressed a desire easy to
understand. But I do not think that the object will thus be attained of
limiting the time that a dismounted fight demands. To carry an attack
rapidly through under modern conditions demands the employment of
overwhelming fire power and numerical superiority.

In so far as the Regulations express the idea that an attack should
only be undertaken when this superiority is assured, there is great
justification for the definition laid down in paragraph 456. But the
cavalry must then generally confine itself to the attack of quite weak
hostile posts, for even the division contains but an insignificant
number of rifles. But such limitations, on the other hand, in no way
take into account the necessities of grave situations. The army cavalry
will often find itself in a situation where a difficult attack _must_
be carried through without any overwhelming superiority, unless it
means to renounce the accomplishment of the duties entrusted to it.

I do not think that we should interpret the wording of the Regulations
in this sense. Taken literally, great danger lies in them--the danger,
that is, of seeing in the wording of paragraph 456, a demand for the
hastening of the conduct of the attack. We should thus see ourselves
prevailed upon to carry out a necessary attack in a precipitate manner
without the necessary fire preparation in order to fulfil the demand
for haste. In peace manoeuvres such conduct is but too often seen.
In war it must inevitably lead to defeat. Under modern conditions
of weapons an attack does not allow of being accelerated by force.
It must take its own time. We must not therefore deceive ourselves
into thinking that voluntary acceleration of the offensive fight
is possible, but quite clear that every decision to attack on foot
signifies considerable loss in time as well as men.

After considering these circumstances it would almost seem advisable to
alter the wording of paragraph 456, to make it somewhat more precise,
and to eliminate the idea of acceleration of the attack. Every trooper
must be conscious that from the moment he dismounts for fire action he
is no longer a cavalryman, but a foot soldier. He must follow the laws
of fighting on foot, and can only reach his horse again by successful
action according to these laws. Then, certainly, the dismounted troops
must strive with all means in their power to reassume their mounted
rôle with the utmost celerity.

The same holds good for the defence.

Cavalry will only undertake this when absolutely obliged. It may be
that the conditions of force do not allow of the attack, or that
the maintenance of some locality is the chief object of the fight.
In the consciousness, however, that any hampering of initiative and
free movement is opposed to the spirit of cavalry action, so must the
defence--if circumstances in any way permit--be carried out with the
idea of emerging as soon as possible from the defensive rôle imposed,
to regain freedom of movement, and then to lay down the law to the
enemy. This can only be attained by conducting the defence in an
offensive spirit, that compels the opponent to a decision in accordance
with our will.

This point of view does not, according to my thinking, receive
sufficient attention in the new Regulations. Daring and initiative
carry in them the seeds of great success. The cavalry should
continually remember this, even in defence. On the other hand, however,
it must also be ready when occasion demands to defend itself with the
utmost obstinacy to the last man. The resolute defence of Sandepu
by a Japanese cavalry brigade against heavy odds gives us a good
example to follow. This action made the timely arrival of the Japanese
reinforcements possible.


In the mounted combat against cavalry, every effort must be directed
towards falling upon the enemy at full gallop in a serried mass, and
thus to overthrow him. It is not sufficient to succeed in coming to
blows with the enemy. His tactical formation must be destroyed, and
he must be rendered incapable either of evolution or battle. And this
must be done without losing cohesion or power of command. The material
damage done to the enemy is a matter for the mounted pursuit, which
need only be carried out by part of the troops, or, in default of this,
by shrapnel.

For the conduct of the purely cavalry fight we should, in my opinion,
rely upon men like Frederick the Great, Seydlitz, and the prominent
Napoleonic cavalry leaders. In the relations of cavalry to cavalry,
nothing has altered since their day, and the experiences of these men
are, in their lessons, just as applicable to-day as at the time in
which they lived. And what do they teach us?

It is the serried formation of the attack that is, above all else,
to be aimed at. Frederick the Great certainly changed his formation
from the three-rank to the two-rank line. This was owing to his desire
to render the troops more mobile, and in some way to compensate for
the numerical superiority of his opponent. The longer his experience
of war, however, the more did the king insist upon close formation
in the attack, and to the end that the attack should lead _not_ to a
mêlée, but to the breaking up of the enemy by the impact of the solid
mass. Napoleon, whose cavalry was not so proficient in the saddle,
sought to obtain this result by greater depth, while in the infrequent
cavalry fights of the present day it has become thoroughly apparent
that cohesion in the shock is the deciding factor. At Mars la Tour the
French Hussar Brigade of Montaigu was overthrown by the closely formed
13th Dragoons, after having made an easy prey of the 10th Hussars,
while the other attacks only led to long and indecisive mêlées.
Frederick the Great, in order to attain the greatest possible cohesion,
finally abolished all intervals between the tactical units and required
the knee-to-knee riding. As, however, he was perfectly well aware that,
in spite of all regulations, the ranks must open out while crossing
country, he would never allow the enemy's cavalry to be attacked
without a second line following the first, not in échelon, but directly
in rear of it, a measure which repeatedly proved itself necessary, if
not decisive. Napoleon's cavalry leaders held that a still greater
depth was necessary owing to the looser riding of the French squadrons.
As far as I know, there is no example of their attacking in large
masses without depth of formation. Peace experience teaches us, that
riding across country must loosen cohesion, while the modern firearm
obliges us to take refuge in broken country, where the closest touch
cannot always be kept, and to this end riding stirrup to stirrup has
been introduced. Is it, however, ordained that we should attack in
this formation and neglect the decisive factor of the charge in favour
of mobility, a proceeding which is almost always seen in charges at

The disadvantages of such methods are certainly not apparent in peace,
as the troops do not come into real collision, and rapidity and ability
to deploy receive therefore more attention than cohesion in the attack.
At inspections on the drill-ground such cohesion is certainly demanded,
but at manoeuvres it is generally conspicuous by its absence. In war I
am firmly convinced that such habits will be heavily punished.

I think, therefore, that we must return to the principles of Frederick
the Great, which up to now have been neglected. In approach and
deployment we must indeed ride stirrup to stirrup, and under certain
circumstances in even looser formation. But for the charge against
cavalry we need a closer formation, knee to knee as of old, which
can be effected on the move by word of command, as in France, where
the order "_Serrez les rangs!_" is still in use. Besides this, we
require always a second line in the Frederician sense, to assist,
when necessary, in maintaining cohesion, and to be ready to meet the
vicissitudes of the attack. This is a matter of experience which allows
of no misinterpretation.

Another point comes under consideration. Commanders always seem to
be particularly desirous of retaining close formation throughout the
attack, and of preventing the whole of the troops becoming involved
in a mêlée or pursuit. This originates from the necessity of having
to reckon with the enemy's reserves, which may appear suddenly on the
field at the decisive moment to extricate their beaten comrades. We
must always be in a position to meet them, and the rapid rally from the
mêlée is therefore to-day diligently practised, in the hope that the
troops may quickly be got in hand ready to be led against a fresh foe.

It is indeed astounding that we should give way to such self-deception.
Such rallies can only appear possible if we disregard all the moral
forces which the fight sets loose. Whoever has had experience of a
single charge in war knows what excitement possesses the men and what
time and trouble are required to tactically concentrate troops that
have once been launched to the attack, and render them capable of
evolution. In peace this is delightfully easy after a little practice;
in war it is an absolute impossibility.

We must therefore be perfectly clear in our minds that only those
troops which have not been engaged in the mêlée, those parts of the
first and second lines which have remained formed during the charge,
and the reserve which has been held in rear, will be available to meet
any hostile forces which may suddenly appear.

Up to now our Regulations have followed the teachings of military
history in so far as they provided for supporting squadrons behind the
front line in the attack against cavalry. The new Regulations, however,
not only retain the "stirrup feeling,"[18] even in the attack against
cavalry, but have also greatly limited the employment of supporting
squadrons, and rendered it exceptional. The Regulations practically
ignore the use of the second line in the attack against cavalry. To
preserve cohesion in the attack in spite of this, the men in the rear
rank are to advance into the front rank in order to fill the larger
gaps which may there occur (106).[19] This will lead under certain
circumstances to a loose, almost single-line attack against cavalry.
These measures give ground for some concern. They can scarcely lead to
any other end than to render steady riding to the charge impossible, to
create disorder, and to deprive the already thin line of its force of

It appears to me to be very questionable whether such directions
could be carried out at all in practice. They will most certainly not
attain the object which the Regulations apparently expect, that is to
say, of securing cohesion in the attack, and thereby a victory for
one thin attacking line. The necessity for a second line under such
circumstances appears all the more obvious. The Regulations in this
respect direct (200)[20] that, "if the situation demands it, even
single squadrons can follow in column formation," also as an exception.
This indicates a distinct divergence from the proven results of all
experience, and cannot, in my opinion, be even theoretically justified.

Such dispositions cannot therefore be regarded as _justifiable_. _I
consider it to be my unavoidable duty to express myself clearly upon
this point._ They in no wise alter the fact that to attack the enemy
successfully our cavalry must, where its comparative strength in any
way allows, be fundamentally formed in two lines, and be launched
to the charge in the closest attack formation, knee to knee. For it
was thus that the Prussian squadrons gained their laurels in all the
splendid victories of the Frederician and Napoleonic wars.

At Mars la Tour, also, the success of the cavalry fight was decided by
the 16th Dragoons, who threw themselves into the mêlée from the rear,
acting as a second line entirely in accordance with the Frederician
spirit. The 10th Hussars also attacked as a second line; and it was the
cohesion of the 13th Dragoons, as we have already seen, that allowed
them on two occasions rapidly to secure a victory.

If the conditions of the fight of cavalry against cavalry to-day have
remained practically unaltered as compared to those of the past, it is
a very different matter where the attack is against troops armed with
modern firearms, essentially infantry and artillery.

In the old days, where infantry fought in serried masses, standing up,
and were only able to cover a short distance to their front with a
comparatively slow fire, the cavalry were able, even as against their
own arm, to ride them down with shock action in close formation. They
were therefore justified in attacking infantry in the same formation
and with the same cohesion as they attacked cavalry. This has now
changed. Nowadays, when infantry can cover the ground to a distance
of 1,500 or even 2,000 yards with a hot and rapid fire, and offer in
their wide extension no sort of objective for shock action, an attack
on unshaken, steadily firing infantry, which has any sort of adequate
field of fire, is quite out of the question. Only infantry whose morale
has been shaken, or which can be surprised at quite close range, can
still be charged with a prospect of success. It is, then, no question
of attack in cohesion, but a matter of crossing as rapidly as possible
the zone swept by the enemy's fire in some formation which will allow a
portion at least of the cavalry to escape its full effect.

These conditions may be fulfilled by the formation in lines. The first
line must receive the fire, and will thereby provide cover to some
extent to the lines behind and the possibility of reaching the enemy
without suffering too severely. It will usually be no advantage to form
the first line in two ranks, as such a disposition would but increase
losses and the disorder caused by them. It will be better, generally,
that the leading line or lines should consist of one rank at quite
loose interval. This is principally on account of the ground, as the
horses, in order to rapidly cover the necessary distance, must have
room to gallop freely, and to avoid such obstacles as may lie in front
of them or may be caused by losses in the leading line.

It is obvious, in my opinion, that such attacks cannot be ridden
home according to the same principles that govern the attack against
cavalry. It is an arbitrary assumption that a line of cavalry 1,500
or 2,000 yards wide can cross country stirrup to stirrup at the
regulation pace of the charge,[21] as the Regulations demand. Not
only must the leading line ride at quite loose interval, but the main
attack must also have a looser formation than is here demanded. It is
therefore indicated that such extension should be laid down in the
Regulations. For it can in no case be avoided, but is the outcome of
the force of circumstances. In the formation in lines, however, there
is always room to open out, and troops or squadrons may be used in
single rank.

The same principles that govern the attack against infantry hold good
for that against artillery. Here also it is a matter of crossing the
zone of fire at a rapid pace in widely extended order, or drawing
the fire of the artillery by the advance of the leading line, and of
compelling it to repeatedly alter its elevation. To this end it may
perhaps at first be advisable to expose only weak portions of the
charging first line to the fire of the guns, in order to disturb it,
and to pave the way for the success of the main attack. This will have
to ride in line, or perhaps better still in squadron column, in order
to make full use of the unexposed portions of the ground. Thus in this
case, also, the leading lines in single rank extended and loose riding
in the changing formations of the main attacking line are advocated.

The new Regulations arrive partially at the conclusions inevitable from
these reflections. The attack in several lines, and the formation of a
first line in single rank for the attack against fire action have been
adopted by them (113 and 174).[22] In one point only according to my
view, they do not take sufficient account of the demands of reality,
and this is in the matter of extension. As before, the attack in close
formation against infantry which the Regulations advocate, will be
carried out and practised according to the same principles as against
cavalry. As before, infantry firing lying extended under cover,
as also artillery, are to be charged in the same method as cavalry
advancing in close formation.

I think we have proved that the attendant conditions of the two
cases differ widely. If the Regulations had but taken them into
consideration, the difference between the two methods of attack would
have thereby been made more intelligible to all officers from the first
than could be done by general instructions of this nature.

The cavalry has now a demand made upon it by Regulation which, although
it can be met on the drill-ground, will be impossible of fulfilment
in war. It will therefore be necessary to discard in war what we
have taken such pains to learn, a thing which frequently happens in
manoeuvres, and even on the exercise-ground.

In the formation for attack and the deployment, the Regulations follow
the logical sequence of their point of view that, in the attack upon
cavalry, no second line is necessary, and in this matter adhere to the
directions laid down in the old Regulations. From my point of view,
this does not seem to correspond at all with the necessities of the

In my "Reflections on the New Cavalry Drill Regulations" I laid
down "that it should always be possible for cavalry to change from
the manoeuvre column straightway into attack formation with flank
protection, without first forming line, as hitherto has been deemed
necessary." In opposition to the Regulations I still hold fast to this

We have seen that the formation in lines is the necessary one for
_all_ charges, and that an attack in _one_ line will only be possible
in exceptional cases where weakness forbids the formation of several
lines, or where the surprised and demoralised condition of the enemy
appears to render a second line superfluous.

The logical conclusions resulting from these reflections are that all
column formations employed in the approach march must keep in view
first and foremost the rapid adoption of the attack formation, and that
deployment must in principle lead to the formation in lines for attack.
The complete deployment in line of any units from the regiment upwards
can only be necessary in exceptional cases. It can be formed from the
attack formation or direct from column when specially ordered.

Taking into consideration the rapidity with which approach, deployment,
and attack will often follow each other, I would even advocate that
a trumpet-call, "_Form for attack!_" should be laid down in the
Regulations. The strength of the various lines will generally have to
be ordered according as the objective consists of cavalry or troops
using fire action. It will not always be possible to find time for
detailed arrangements, particularly during the rapid vicissitudes of a
cavalry combat. The trumpet-call would then justify itself, and the
lines would be formed by the independent action of squadron leaders,
according to the formation the troops were in and the expected breadth
of frontage of the enemy. It should be laid down as a guide that of
four squadrons one at least should form a second line, and that an
unprotected flank should, when possible, be covered by a squadron in
échelon. The squadrons nearest the enemy would form a first line, and
the remainder would act according to circumstances, and either follow
the first line, échelon themselves in rear of it, or, when necessary,
prolong it. For the deployment into one line a special call could be

For the conduct of the fight on foot the same principles hold good as
for the infantry. The duties and conditions of the fight are similar,
and demand similar general tactical directions. The arrangements for
the led horses, however, render the introduction and the conduct of the
fight considerably more difficult. There is also a certain difference
according as the opponent is infantry or cavalry.

For, in the first case, there is generally no danger of a further
turning movement, or of threats against the led horses from the flank
or rear. In the greater number of cases when arranging for the position
and safety of the led horses, only small hostile patrols need be
expected. An action may therefore generally be conducted with more
boldness under these circumstances than when opposed to cavalry which
might seriously threaten the led horses by a mounted reserve.

These circumstances must be taken into consideration when dealing with
the principles for the conduct of the led horses.

In defence, the measures required are comparatively simple. The
conformation of the ground usually chosen with a view to the
peculiarities of defensive action will often allow of the led horses
being kept close to the firing-line, where it will also be possible
to mount out of the enemy's range and to withdraw from his fire under
cover of the ground. The led horses should only be left to the rear
if the position is to be maintained until the enemy comes to close
quarters, and then should be, if possible, behind some fresh position,
where it seems likely that resistance may be renewed. In defence, the
led horses will generally be left quite immobile,[23] though this
method should not be considered imperative. For even in defence the
led horses must be sometimes kept mobile; for instance, when it is
necessary to rapidly occupy on foot some locality in the neighbourhood
of which there is no suitable position for the led horses. In such a
case they will have to be sent behind cover, which can only be done
if they are mobile. The horses will only be kept in the immediate
neighbourhood when it is intended merely to bring off a fire surprise,
and not when carrying out an attack or making an obstinate resistance

For the attack the conditions are different. The troops must then be
often completely separated from their horses. It is therefore all the
more necessary that the latter should be secured against all hostile
attack. If, for instance, hostile cavalry threatens, they must have
a special escort. The possibility of a reverse must be taken into
consideration when selecting the position for led horses, and the
retiring troops must be able not only to mount, but to withdraw under

It is of especial importance that the troops should regain their
mobility after an attack has been carried out. When the led horses
can be moved, this is an easy matter. Where, however, they are
immobile, as will generally be the case where full force has to be
put into the fight, there will be considerable loss of time unless it
be possible for the led horses to be brought up, part at a time, by
any mounted reserve that may have been left in the rear. In spite of
this disadvantage, the desire to render the led horses mobile should
not be allowed to lead to the undertaking of a dismounted action with
insufficient numbers.

This desire to regain the horses as rapidly as possible is frequently
to be observed at manoeuvres, and not only leads to dismounting and
leaving the led horses mobile, but is sometimes allowed to exercise too
much influence on the question of where the horses are to be left. In
war this consideration should never influence the conduct of the fight,
nor lead to the undertaking of a dismounted fight in a half-hearted
manner, or precipitately, and thus paralysing the energy of the attack.
It should never induce a commander to keep his horses too close to the
battlefield and thereby exposed to danger, in order that he may more
quickly regain them. If dismounted action has been determined on, the
main condition is that the attack should be successfully carried out,
and all other matters must be subordinated to this end.

The precepts of the new Regulations do not, to be sure, harmonise with
this view. According to them, even when led horses are not required
to be mobile, only three-quarters of the men dismount, and each man
will hold four horses (366).[25] The number of rifles will be greatly
diminished by these measures (by about a quarter); and it is not quite
clear, at least to me, what corresponding advantage is to be gained.
The measure is, however, so far-reaching that it merits special
criticism--the more so as the Regulations themselves lay stress upon
the rapid energetic conduct of the fight, and at the same time make
such action more difficult by weakening the numbers in the firing-line.

Will the horses thus retain a certain degree of mobility? This would be
a mischievous delusion. Even if such measures allow of short distances
being covered at a walk on the level drill-ground, such a thing is out
of the question in the field and in the proximity of a fight. How will
one man lead four horses, and at the same time carry four lances? A
practical impossibility.

The Regulations also give no clear directions as to how the lances are
to be carried during these evolutions. On the other hand, the number
of men formerly detailed fully sufficed for holding the horses when it
was not required to move them. There seems therefore to be some other
reason for this measure.

I have asked myself the question as to whether the fact that more men
are to be left with the horses than formerly will perhaps make it
possible to defend the led horses by dismounted patrols. The directions
contained in the Regulations (368)[26] that hostile patrols must be
kept at a distance by single sentries posted by the commander of the
led horses indicates that such was perhaps the intention. But it
appears to me that even _this_ object cannot be obtained in such a way.
The sentries, if they are to defend the led horses from long-range fire
in open country, must be pushed forward in considerable numbers, and
very far, almost at rifle range. With single sentries close at hand,
no proper protection is afforded, nor can posts be sent out 1,000
yards without giving them a strength which the force cannot afford.
If, however, the protection of the led horses in difficult country is
to be provided for, a few sentries will most assuredly not suffice to
prevent hostile patrols approaching unobserved.

In order to properly protect the led horses they must either be so
disposed that they are actually covered from the view and fire of the
enemy, or else secured by an escort strong enough to prevent hostile
action against them. There is no third course.

Taking these things into consideration I cannot regard the limitation
of the number of rifles in the firing-line imposed by the Regulations
as justifiable. It seems to me that here a sacrifice is made with no
corresponding advantage resulting.

This anxiety seems also to have influenced, to a certain degree, the
text of the Regulations. In paragraph 367[27] the attempt is made to
compensate in some measure for the danger created by the weakening of
the firing-line. That is to say, the squadron leader is allowed in
either method of dismounting (with half or three-quarters of the men)
to reinforce the firing-line, if the situation demands, by diminishing
the number of horse-holders. But it seems to me that this arrangement
is not quite practicable, and does not sufficiently take into account
the difficulties that will continually result therefrom in the conduct
of a real fight.

First of all, it must be regarded as extremely hazardous to leave such
measures altogether in the hands of squadron leaders. Only consider,
for example, the case of a brigade commander who dismounts half his men
in order to keep his led horses mobile, and during the attack makes the
discovery that the horses cannot follow because the squadron leaders
have reinforced the firing-line from the horse-holders! Throughout the
Regulations there are no sort of directions for limiting the initiative
of the squadron leader in such matters in the case of the larger bodies
of troops.

But if this is to be disregarded, what becomes of the whole measure? Is
it to be determined when dismounting that the number of horse-holders
is to be diminished, or are these men only to be brought up in the
course of the fight? Against the first method there is naturally
nothing to urge. But the second, also, is quite allowable according
to the letter of the Regulations. It will, however, result in grave

If in defence the led horses are close to the firing-line, such
procedure is certainly possible, but only, it seems to me, in this
one case. If fighting a defensive action where the horses must be
left far to the rear, or indeed in an attack, how and when are these
reinforcements to be brought up? It is generally in the middle of a
fight that the discovery is made that the troops are insufficient. How
is the order then to be sent to the squadron leader that the few men
who can still be spared from the led horses are now to advance? How
will these men be led to the front, perhaps 1,000 or 1,500 yards, or
still farther? How long will the squadron wait for their arrival? And
in the end will it not only be a matter of comparatively few men for
each squadron which will dribble gradually into the fight? These cannot
be regarded as reserves, but, at best, weak supports far in rear, which
can only be employed in the fight with difficulty and loss of time, if
at all.

I think, therefore, that what the Regulations prescribe in this matter
is not suitable for real war, and that it would be better from the
commencement to employ all the men that are considered necessary, and
rather to dismount as before, and leave the led horses quite immobile,
than afterwards to allow single men to dribble into the fight. As
_reserves_, formed detachments must be directed against the decisive
points, and not a few troops brought up to reinforce the whole length
of the line at the discretion of the squadron leader.


Such fights will occur during the offensive reconnaissance of the
cavalry, in screening, and in enterprises against the enemy's
communications and lines of approach. Cavalry may also be entrusted
with the task of dispersing gatherings of hostile partisans, of levying
contributions on a large scale in the enemy's country, and of carrying
out other similar undertakings. Serious encounters must often be
expected under such circumstances.

It is naturally impossible to give tactical guides and directions for
all these various cases; each problem, rather, will demand its own
solution. At the same time certain typical phenomena continually repeat
themselves in all such combats, for which general principles and rules
for guidance may be profitably set forth.

The fight will be either offensive or defensive. In the offensive it
will either be a matter, if the enemy is also pressing forward, of
the battle of encounter, or else the attack against localities or
positions. In fighting against partisans, also, it will more frequently
be a case, as it was in France, of a struggle for localities. In the
defence, on the other hand, localities, positions, or defiles will have
to be defended. Beyond these groups no real fight can be considered
with the exception of surprises, which merit separate consideration.

It is therefore, in my opinion, advisable to develop the tactical
principles according to some corresponding grouping of the material.
Only thus can clear and reasoned conclusions be arrived at. For if
we take all the various principles evolved from different tactical
situations and jumble them illogically together, or discuss them from
points of view which are not closely based on the probable happenings
of reality, we run a danger of confusing the judgment instead of
clearing it.

1. _The Battle of Encounter_

When lesser bodies of cavalry, unaccompanied by the other arms, meet
during a mutual advance, it is essentially a matter of endeavouring to
deploy more quickly than the adversary, of surprising him if possible
while still deploying, and of seizing the advantages of the terrain. It
is by good screening of the approach, superior reconnaissance, a quick
eye for the possibilities of the ground, and rapid decision that here,
as before, superiority can be maintained.

It may happen in exceptional cases, under modern conditions, that the
larger bodies of cavalry, accompanied by a proportion of other arms,
are unable at the moment of collision to employ them--_e.g._ in close
country. There may then be a purely cavalry fight on a large scale, and
action must of course be taken according to the tactical principles
involved. Early deployment, maintenance of exterior lines, rapid
decision, are, as regards the leading, the important factors of success.

It is quite another matter where co-operation of the other arms can be
seriously counted on. It is then chiefly the artillery which will set
its stamp upon the development of the fight, and it will no longer
be possible to act according to purely cavalry tactical principles.
A brigade or division, in column of route, or even in several formed
columns, if exposed to the enemy's artillery fire, will suffer such
material and moral loss that such formations, unless compelled by
circumstances, are particularly to be avoided. Whoever is obliged to
effect the deployment of his force under the enemy's guns casts from
him one of the most important elements of success.

It will therefore be necessary, when advancing against the enemy,
to adopt the approach formation, and to seek cover as soon as it is
calculated that the hostile artillery are within effective range. In
order rightly to calculate this moment the enemy's probable advance
must of course be taken into consideration, and, as this may vary
greatly according to the pace adopted, it is advisable in this respect
not to be too optimistic, but to be deployed rather too early than too

Taking into consideration the range of modern artillery, the deployment
should commence, therefore, in open country, at latest when some 6,500
yards from the enemy.[28] As this distance will diminish very quickly
when the opponents are both rapidly advancing, it will certainly be
advisable, if the knowledge of the situation in any way allows, to take
up the required breadth of front still earlier.

I would here lay down that a too rapid advance of our own troops,
unless rendered necessary by the situation, is in no way advantageous.
It is not generally a question of striking the enemy as far to the
front as possible, but of striking surely, and of having sufficient
strength in hand to annihilate him in the pursuit.

A steady and well-thought-out advance should therefore be undertaken;
for a precipitate forward movement distresses the horses quite
unnecessarily, renders an appreciation of the situation more difficult,
and generally allows of no well-considered action. There is also
another reason for avoiding a too rapid advance. This is the fact
that in such a case the most important reports generally come in when
the force is already in the immediate proximity of the enemy. This
disadvantage increases with the rapidity of the advance, as a rapidly
moving force will follow more closely on the heels of its reconnoitring
patrols. To ride slowly forward and to give the patrols time to send
back reports will generally lead to better information as to the
situation, and will allow of a better and quicker decision being made.
The enormous advantage may then be gained of being deployed earlier
than the enemy, and of gaining exterior lines[29] from the beginning.

In spite of this, most cavalry leaders, especially at manoeuvres,
regard their task as a matter of rapidly covering a certain distance,
and see in this the essence of the cavalry spirit. This is, however,
by no means so. Coolness, reflection, economy of force in approach
and deployment, but that lightning-like decision and action at the
proper moment, which can only result from a clear appreciation of the
situation, alone make the great cavalry leader. It is just because such
opposite qualities must be united in the soul of _one_ man that such
leaders are so rare and so difficult to recognise in time of peace.

When a collision with the enemy is in any way in prospect, the
commander must in principle remain, during the advance, with the
foremost detachments of the advanced guard, in order that reports may
reach him as early as possible. When in close proximity to the enemy he
will often be obliged to advance with a sufficient escort from point
to point, in order that he may be able to study the ground from good
points of view, and, where possible, himself observe the movements and
dispositions of the enemy. He will thus be in a position to make his
preliminary arrangements rapidly and effectively, to spare his troops
unnecessary marching, and to counteract any unsuitable dispositions
made by his subordinates. He must not, however, conceal from himself
that even the most effective measures of reconnaissance may fail, and
that he may be faced by the necessity of coming to a decision without
full knowledge as to the enemy.

In such cases, when it can be estimated that deploying distance from
the enemy has been arrived at, further reconnaissance should not be
waited for to assist decision; but the initiative must, under all
circumstances, be maintained. The leader, then, must act according to
his own judgment, and impose the law upon his opponent, and yet be
ready, by careful dispositions, to meet unforeseen events.

It may happen that the opponent is unexpectedly met with, and has
gained an advantage in deployment. In such a case a forward deployment
generally leads to the dribbling up of the force, hampered, as it will
be, by the proximity of the enemy. The deployment should therefore be
made either on the existing line of front or to the rear, according to
the distance from the enemy, and should be covered, where necessary, by
the dismounted action of the advanced guard and 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 the
maintenance of the initiative.

We must not, however, assume that this deployment--in a cavalry
division, for instance--requires that the various brigades shall draw
away from each other at regulation intervals, and that the division
will, in this formation, advance towards the enemy. This will generally
be impossible; first, because it is usually advisable to seek the
cover of the ground in order to be secure from possible hostile fire
surprise, even when the enemy's artillery is not yet located; secondly,
because the regulation frontage of deployment of a cavalry division
is much too narrow to allow it to gain exterior lines, or to affect a
concentric attack. The deployment must rather be carried out according
to the demands of the situation at the moment, without regard to
regulation intervals. The division commander will first of all detail a
reserve for himself. To this he will then give the orders necessary for
its conduct as well as to the advanced guard, the various groups of the
main body, and the artillery and machine-guns. The direction of march
of the various subdivisions will thus be determined according to the
ground and the intentions of the commander, and it will also usually
be necessary, in order to keep the troops well in hand, to order the
advance by stages, and to regulate the pace.

If the advance has been carried out in separate columns, the action
of the smaller columns must be regulated before the deployment of
the main column. A certain loss of time will here generally be found
inevitable. The necessary preparations must therefore be made early
enough to ensure that, if the junction of a detachment with the main
body is intended, it will be possible to carry it out before contact
with the enemy is made. It is a matter for especially careful and
well-considered action if one of the lesser columns is to intervene
from a flank direction in a fight which is already raging, an operation
which may be of the most decisive importance, but difficult to effect
in the rapid course of cavalry action. If, however, it is desired to
reap the benefits of such action, an endeavour must be made to gain
time by dismounted action for the arrival of the column which is to
strike the decisive blow. Such measures will always be risky, but may
lead to glorious results.

The orders for the concentration and for the deployment form the
framework on which the whole fight develops. They are therefore of
the highest importance. Faults committed here can seldom be rectified
later, and yet such orders will generally have to be issued before
touch with the enemy is gained, except by patrols, and at a moment
when the main features at most of the enemy's situation are known.
Particular attention must, as we have seen, be paid to his artillery.
No one will deny that herein lies the possibility of misapprehension
and failure, and that many a leader will shrink from the necessity
of such a decision. He, however, who, in spite of the uncertainty of
the situation, succeeds in making up his mind betimes has an obvious
advantage. For it is just in such a battle of encounter that success
will fall to him who knows how to avail himself with rapidity and
determination of the favourable moment, who quickly possesses himself
of important points and localities, and who anticipates the enemy, as
advocated above, in broadening the front, and thereby in deployment.

Under such circumstances the dispositions made for the advanced guard
will be of the greatest importance. Its conduct has often a deciding
influence on the issue of the whole fight.

If it be carelessly handled, this circumstance may mean the loss of the
initiative, and the commander may find himself compelled to turn his
attention to the situation forced upon him by the advanced guard, and
to conduct the fight otherwise than his own intentions and the general
situation demand. On the other hand, a too careful employment of the
advanced detachments is apt to entail loss of advantages which might be
of decisive importance. The proper conduct of such an advanced guard
demands, therefore, an unusually sure military instinct. Its commander
must always be instructed in a detailed manner as to the intentions of
the general, if he is expected to handle his detachment successfully
according to them.

It will often be advisable for the advanced guard to occupy some
point of support dismounted, in order that the deployment and the
further tactical development may be undertaken under cover of it. In
such circumstances there is no reason to shrink, when necessary, from
bringing the advanced guard back to some suitable locality, if thereby
full cover can be afforded for the rear detachments or for separated
portions of the force that may be rejoining. It will often be found
desirable also, in the critical moments of deployment, to strengthen
the resisting power of the advanced guard by machine-guns. It may,
however, on the other hand, be equally advantageous for the advanced
detachments, on collision with the enemy, to charge him recklessly in
order to reap full benefit from some favourable opportunity.

The handling of the artillery, particularly at the moment of
deployment, is of especial importance. It may be a great advantage to
bring it into action before the enemy's artillery, in order to profit
by any carelessness of the hostile troops in deployment and approach,
and to surprise their artillery when coming into position. The conduct
of the advanced guard must therefore be influenced by the fact that
a suitable position must be assured to the artillery. Its fire will
often suffice to induce the enemy to show his strength or to evacuate
localities which he has occupied.

As long as the strength of the enemy is unknown, and the possibilities
of superior force have to be reckoned with, it would be a great error
to stake the whole force as soon as contact has been gained. This is
often done on training-grounds in quite a systematic way, because there
is always a tacit understanding that the enemy is no stronger than
one's own force. In war such action might lead to the gravest disasters.

If, therefore, complete uncertainty reigns as to the enemy's strength,
it will be better at first to operate tentatively with a portion of the
force until an opinion can be arrived at as to whether the decisive
attack can be ventured on. Energetic contact with the enemy by fire
action will generally soon clear up this point.

The view that a gradual and judicious employment of force is not in
accordance with the principles of cavalry action (430)[30] can only
be justified in the case of the pure cavalry combat mounted. This,
however, in my opinion, should only be determined upon if the enemy's
strength is known, at all events to some degree. I do not share the
view of the Regulations that, if uncertainty reigns as to the strength
and intentions of the enemy, freedom of action can be preserved,
even in the mounted combat against cavalry, by the use of formations
in échelon (424).[31] This is only possible by a protracted action
in which gradual reinforcements are used, and only in such a manner
can the enemy be forced to disclose his strength and intentions. A
protracted fight, however, can only be carried out by fire action. A
mounted advance, whether made in échelon or otherwise, cannot alter
the rapid nature of a cavalry fight, and will not allow of sufficient
time being gained to form a proper appreciation of the enemy. Échelon
formations lead at best to eccentric attacks and thereby to unfavorable
tactical situations.

If the situation is to be cleared up by fighting, fire action must be
employed, and as soon as this occurs, whether on the part of the enemy
or oneself, a gradual employment of force is not only no disadvantage,
but is demanded by the circumstances. For at first the fight must
be carried out from depth; the Napoleonic "Je m'engage et puis je
vois"[32] holds good; one's own main force will only be engaged when
the strength and intentions of the enemy become in some measure known.
It will, however, be advisable in all cases to keep a strong reserve in
hand until prepared to advance to a well-considered and planned attack.

The passage of defiles, also, is scarcely likely to be undertaken in
serious war in the manner so often seen at manoeuvres. Here the chief
matter for consideration is generally to keep one side as far from
the defile as possible, in order that the passage of the other may
be possible. Such tender solicitude is scarcely to be expected of a
real enemy, and it will, I opine, scarcely occur to anybody in war to
attempt a defile without preparation, and to advance on the farther
side against an enemy whose strength, as is generally the case in
war, is unknown, thereby running the danger of being thrown back on
the defile and of suffering enormous loss. Such a danger, to which
the whole force is exposed, would certainly only be incurred when the
gravest necessity compelled. What the Regulations say in this respect
(434)[33] has, to my mind, but a limited practical significance.

Such directions would only be followed if the enemy were known to
be still far distant and approaching, where there is time and space
sufficient, and where the force is considered to be at least a match
for the enemy. Even then, preparations should be made for a possible
retirement. In all other cases, however, a defile on the far side of
which the enemy is supposed to be will only be crossed when the ground
for deployment on the far side is at least commanded with fire in such
a way that the enemy will not be able, in case a retirement becomes
necessary, to pursue right into the defile.

It will therefore generally be advisable to throw forward a few
squadrons at a rapid pace across the defile in order to occupy with
dismounted action strong points on the far side, from which the
foreground can be covered. This will secure the passage of the main
body and arrest any possible pursuit. It will often be advantageous to
provide such squadrons with machine-guns. Artillery can most suitably
come into action on the near side of the defile, so that it may be able
to cover the country on the far side with its fire.

Even if a defile occupied by the enemy has been captured by fire action
it is advisable, before the main body crosses it, to secure a few
strong points in the foreground, in order to secure the passage against
counter-attack by the enemy's reserve.

Such necessary care in the preliminaries of an action, however, must
in nowise lead commanders to allow themselves to be forced to adopt
a defensive attitude or to abstain from decisive attack. That is not
the intention. Such measures are only taken to clear up the situation,
which cannot generally be done in war without fighting, and to diminish
the risks of any further action which may ensue. If the enemy has so
far shown himself that an appreciation can to some extent be arrived
at as to its strength, if he has brought artillery into position, if
perhaps he has attacked our advanced guard, or by the action of the
latter has been forced to throw more men into the fight, if, in short,
it can be determined that an attack has prospect of success, then the
decisive offensive must be undertaken with all the force hitherto kept
back. Detachments, also, which have been dismounted can then, according
to circumstances, be withdrawn from the fire fight and otherwise used.
The attack, especially when mounted, will usually be delivered with
greatest advantage from the flank, and must, as a rule, reach well out
in order to escape as far as possible the artillery and machine-gun
fire of the enemy. Whether it be undertaken mounted or dismounted will
depend upon the attitude of the enemy and the attendant circumstances.
In either case it will be advisable to husband a reserve as long as
possible to meet the vicissitudes of the fight, or to be used for a
bold stroke, when it is seen where a decision may be arrived at.

If dismounted action must be undertaken, the principles which govern
the infantry attack hold good. The fire of the artillery and, where
possible, the machine-guns must naturally be utilised for the support
of the attacking troops. The dispositions for the action should,
however, never depend upon the possibility of finding a good artillery
position. The artillery must suit itself to the circumstances, and
come into action wherever it can best co-operate in carrying out
the commander's intentions. It can often be profitably employed
in the protection of an exposed flank. It will be of advantage to
shelter it behind some obstacle in order to save the necessity of
finding a detachment for its security. Machine-guns may sometimes be
advantageously used for the protection of the artillery. It is at the
same time advisable that a specially detailed cavalry escort should be
dismounted for this object.

A concentration of the batteries facilitates fire command and measures
for protection. A dispersion by groups allows a better effect against
the hostile artillery and usually affords a more extensive field of
fire. Machine-guns, which must generally look for positions as far
to the front as possible, or, if they are protected, to a flank, will
usually be best concentrated in a single fire position. They may,
however, be disposed by sections when occasion demands. This principle
holds good also for the artillery. Hard-and-fast rules must be avoided
if the many and varied demands of a cavalry fight are to be met. The
line of fire, however, of artillery and machine-guns should never be
allowed to limit the movements of our own cavalry.

In consequence of the peculiar nature of the cavalry fight it will
often be desirable to keep the limbers with the guns. It may also be an
advantage not to bring the first-line transport and a portion of the
wagons on to the field itself. For similar reasons the light ammunition
columns will at the commencement probably march with the baggage. Thus
too it will often be necessary for the machine-gun detachments to keep
their teams near the guns, or to shoot from the carriage and to leave
the ammunition wagons in a safe place. All these measures contain,
however, the danger that ammunition may not be at hand when wanted, or
that these indispensable supplies may fall into the hands of hostile
raiding parties. The failure of ammunition may, especially in the case
of a protracted dismounted action, be of decisive importance. Such will
be especially the case where the ground favours the use of the rifle,
or where the hostile cavalry is strengthened by cyclists or mounted
infantry and shows an eagerness (natural under such circumstances) to
take advantage of such methods of fighting.

The cavalry leader will, under these conditions, only undertake what
must be an obstinate combat when he cannot in any way avoid it, or at
least is not compelled to attack frontally. He will rather endeavour,
if the general situation allows, to separate the hostile cavalry from
the less mobile infantry by repeated turning movements and then to
attack it when isolated. If the hostile cavalry and horse artillery can
be driven from the field, the infantry detachments will form an easy
prey for the artillery or can be surrounded. Under such circumstances,
always with due regard to the general situation, the road on which
the advance is being made may for a time be abandoned and the turning
movement carried out with the whole force, if such a proceeding affords
a favourable prospect of tactical success. Such a movement threatens
the enemy's communications in the same way as it exposes our own.
Victory, however, will secure the latter again, and will be the more
decisive the farther the enemy can be driven from his natural line of

Should the cavalry meet a superior force of all arms, such as might be
pushed forward by the enemy's army, to support the offensive of his
own cavalry, or to serve as a pivot of manoeuvre for them, a decisive
battle must on no account be undertaken with it.

When the Regulations (519)[34] demand that endeavours must be made to
force back such detachments or to break through them, I think that the
tactical value of the arm is over-estimated. I cannot conceive any
real case in which cavalry can break through hostile detachments of
all arms. In my opinion the cavalry will generally have to be content
to make such detachments deploy, by means of artillery fire, and
especially by fire action from a flank, and thereby to lose time, to
deflect them from their line of march, and, by threatening their rear
and communications, prevent them from carrying out their intentions.
Bold measures are in such cases the best, and will preserve to the
cavalry the possibility of continuing the distant reconnaissance in
rear of the hostile detachment.

As to the leading, in all such battles of encounter the commander's
place, as has already been indicated, is at the head of the advanced
guard. As soon, however, as contact has been gained he must, on the
contrary, remain far enough behind the fighting-line to be able to
watch his own troops and the enemy, and to be easily found. He should
not be wandering about the battlefield, seeing everything and arranging
everything himself. Only where it appears necessary to him to make a
moral impression should he place himself at the head of an attacking
force. He might, especially, lead his last reserve into battle, and by
his personal example endeavour to inspire the troops to an impetuous
attack. Such cases, however, will be very exceptional. It will always
be most important that the supreme commander retains control over the
whole of his troops, and can receive messages and at decisive moments
issue orders and instructions to the force.

In the greater number of cases the commander will personally neither
reconnoitre the ground whither he is sending a detachment nor yet the
enemy which it shall engage. He will scarcely ever be able to give to
single small units or even to the directing brigade, if indeed he has
detailed one, the direction of attack. It will often be impossible for
changes in orders to reach troops once set in motion in time to be of
use, especially in a purely cavalry fight.

When the Regulations, in spite of this, declare it to be indispensable
that the leader _himself_ must be able to see if he takes the offensive
against cavalry (403),[35] this is, under modern conditions and large
formations, in most cases quite impracticable, even in manoeuvres. As
a rule the commander will only be able to indicate _the task_, and it
must be left to the subordinate leaders to carry it out to the best of
their ability, according to the situation as they find it on the spot.
The situation during the rapidly changing phases of the cavalry fight
will often be quite different from what was expected when the tasks
were allotted.

On the other hand, before the commencement of the engagement, all
subordinate leaders must be informed as to the situation and the
general idea of the fight, also as to what duties each one of the
larger formations is to carry out; so that all may be in a position
to act according to the views and intentions of the commander if
circumstances should be found different from what was expected. It
will in most cases be desirable to issue the order for deployment in
such a way that at least every brigade commander is informed of the
general situation, and then to give supplementary orders for the fight
which will be issued to all units. Whether in a battle of encounter
it will be always possible to detail a directing brigade I very much
doubt. One brigade will often fight on foot, the other mounted, while
the change from the advanced-guard rôle to deployment for battle
will generally render a handling of the division according to rule
practically impossible. The idea that, with an independent army cavalry
in the battle of encounter, one division can in some measure be handled
as on the drill-ground, and can be put into the fight in proper
cohesion, must be dismissed. That is an error that has grown upon the
exercise-ground, and which the conditions of modern warfare will not

The more, however, that the method of leading is compelled by the
pressure of modern development to change from tactical routine and
adopt a more or less strategic form, the more unconditionally is it
demanded of subordinate leaders that they be, even when independent,
continually conscious of the guiding tactical principles, and endeavour
to act in accordance with them.

The necessary consideration for the effect of the enemy's fire
should never lead to fainthearted dispositions or paralyse the idea
of decisive offensive action. If the result of the fight appears
doubtful, the most decisive measures must be taken with rapidity and
determination, and the last reserve thrown into the fight, regardless
of consequences, in order to wrest victory from the enemy. For daring
is in itself a mighty factor of success, and one which exercises
enormous influence on the fickle Goddess of Fortune. The calculated
boldness of all, and the greatest initiative within reasonable limits
of subordinate leaders, must give to the fight of the cavalry mass its
peculiar character.

It appears to me that this principle cannot be too greatly emphasised
when considering the cavalry tactics of the present day.

If the fight takes a favourable course, the commander will make timely
preparations for an effective pursuit, get control of any reserves
still intact, and take measures for the concentration of strong
bodies of his troops, so as to be prepared for further tactical
action. Artillery and machine-guns advance rapidly--when necessary, on
their own initiative--in order to come to effective range as soon as
possible. Should the fight take an unfavourable turn, the commander
will first make dispositions for these arms, unless they are to
remain in position and sacrifice themselves to facilitate retirement.
They will generally be sent to the rear in good time to a previously
selected position. Only then will measures be taken to extricate the
troops involved with the enemy, to concentrate them in a safe place,
and to make fresh dispositions. Should the enemy pursue with but weak
detachments, the offensive should be renewed.

2. _Attack of Localities_

The attack of an enemy who takes up a defensive attitude can obviously
only be carried out dismounted. It must be a matter, therefore, for
careful consideration whether such an operation shall be undertaken
or not. Considerable numerical superiority is necessary to ensure
success. A reserve will be needed, which can be used dismounted, to
give the final decision at the decisive point, or to meet unexpected
events. Besides this, it will be necessary in most cases to make a
detachment which shall provide for the security of the led horses, for
reconnaissance, and for operating against the enemy's flank and rear.
It is the task of such a detachment to seek out and overthrow the
enemy's mounted reserve, that it may then be able to co-operate in the
main attack. The expression "Mounted reserve," used in the Regulations
to designate this detachment, hardly corresponds with the rôle of
these troops, which will be offensive from the commencement.

Here also I find myself in disagreement with the idea of the
Regulations that the dismounted reserve can be frequently detailed from
the troops which have remained mounted (460).[36] The mounted reserve
must, as we have seen, operate offensively. The Regulations themselves
allot this task to it by laying down that it shall undertake operations
against the enemy's flank, his led horses, and his reserves (464).[37]
It is, however, not compatible with these duties that the mounted
reserve shall at the same time find a dismounted reserve, which can
only enter the fight from the rear, and until then must remain behind
the fighting-line. Different troops must be detailed from the first for
both these duties, otherwise neither of them will be properly carried

Should the cavalry commander not have at his disposal sufficient force
to meet all these demands, he will generally be better advised to
abstain from the attack, and to endeavour to carry out his mission
in some other manner. An unsuccessful enterprise not only entails
unnecessary loss, but tends to lower the moral value of the troops. It
is only when conscious of great moral and tactical superiority, or when
there is a prospect of surprising the enemy, that an attack should be
dared without the necessary numerical preponderance.

The more difficult and serious such an undertaking is, the greater
efforts must be made to gain at least a favourable base for attack,
as regards not only the direction of the attack but also any special
advantages of the ground. The mobility of the troops renders rapid
changes of direction possible, such as are unknown to the infantry.
Unlike the case of the infantry, therefore, the line of advance and of
attack need not coincide. If thorough reconnaissance of the enemy's
position, and the ground in front of it, is made in good time, it will
often be possible to change the base of attack even at the last moment
and to appear suddenly from an unexpected direction.

Therefore, even in the approach, the deployment, and the advance to
effective range, the ground should be carefully utilised in order that
cover from view and fire may be secured as long as possible. It is also
important to clear the country where the approach and deployment will
take place of the enemy's patrols, and to do everything possible to
prevent his reconnaissance.

Artillery and machine-guns must come into action in such a way that
they will be able to combine with the firing-line in concentrating an
overwhelming fire against the decisive points of attack. The guns will
generally be able to come into action under cover, and to fire indirect
against the enemy in position. They will only engage the enemy's
artillery if the latter shows itself in open or half-covered positions
with the object of turning its fire on the advancing attack. Otherwise
the fire of the artillery will be directed against the enemy's
firing-line or any mounted detachments that are visible. It is of
importance that a sufficient quantity of ammunition should be brought
up, and that it should not be wasted by random fire against invisible

The orders for the fight must be issued with great care and clearness,
for, once the battle is begun, it will not generally be possible to
make changes of disposition. The difficulty, also, of changing the
front of the fighting-line increases in proportion to the size of the
units employed. It is therefore of the highest importance not only to
determine the front of attack before the commencement of a fight, but
also to give a clear order allotting a definite task to each unit,
which should, when possible, be made known to all the troops. Only if
this is achieved will they be able to act independently according to
the spirit of the orders.

When all preparatory dispositions have been made, the attack should, if
possible, be commenced simultaneously, unless circumstances demand that
some detachments take up the fire fight before the others are ready
to co-operate. From the moment that the attack is commenced, but one
thought should inspire the troops: "_Forward against the enemy, cost
what it may_." Pressing continually to the front, each must endeavour
to surpass his neighbour. Should further advance be impossible without
reinforcements, the ground won must be maintained at all costs, even
against hostile counter-attack.

The strength of the first deployment of the firing-line must depend
on circumstances. In any case the whole breadth of that part of the
enemy's front must be simultaneously engaged which is able to direct
its fire against the attack, as otherwise the latter will be exposed
to flanking or cross-fire.

If the ground allows of a covered approach to within effective range,
a sufficiently thick firing-line should be established at once. On the
other hand, where cover is scarce, it will sometimes be advisable,
when sufficient time can be spared, to deploy at first only a loose,
irregular firing-line, which will offer a difficult target to the
enemy, or to remain at first under cover and gradually to strengthen
the firing-line in the same way until it attains the strength necessary
to commence the attack. In the further advance, supports must follow
all the firing-lines, to make good losses, keep up the ammunition
supply, and to put new moral strength into the fighting-line.

Open country in such cases demands increased depth in order to minimise
loss, while close country requires that depth should be diminished, and
it will be found advisable to act accordingly. Close formation can and
must be maintained as long as the terrain and the hostile fire admit.
It will of course be impossible to expose such formations within range
of the enemy's fire. The advance will then consist of rushes, with
pauses for breath, of distribution into small units, and the adoption
of extended order. The nearer the decision of the fight, the closer
must the supports follow, ready to co-operate.

In difficult country the order and cohesion of units must not be lost.
It is especially important for the supports as well as the firing-line
to make use of any available cover, so that units may be re-formed,
ammunition supply regulated, and that the officers may regain their
influence over the troops. This latter moral element deserves especial

When feeling its way forward the firing-line should avoid regular
formation, and its rushes should not be made in too small bodies, as
such a proceeding is apt to mask the fire of neighbouring detachments.
It will likewise generally happen that some portions of the line are
able to advance under cover of the ground more rapidly than others.
These must then ask themselves the question whether their isolated
advance might not lead to a reverse which would imperil the success
of the attack. On the other hand, the unceasing pressing forward of
all the various detachments is conditional to success. If localities
exist in the foreground which might serve as supporting points for the
further development of the attack, it should be considered whether
they should not be occupied as rapidly as possible, and, where
necessary, secured against counter-attack by being placed in a state
of hasty defence. The advance of neighbouring detachments may then be
facilitated from such points by energetic fire action. Such points
at the same time secure the possession of the ground won and, under
certain circumstances, protect those portions of the artillery and the
machine-gun detachments which may accompany the attack, according as
circumstances dictate. In any case such a measure (the co-operation of
artillery and machine-guns) brings moral support to the attacking-line,
and may at times prevent a defeat.

As soon as the firing-line has arrived within assaulting distance its
fire must be increased to the utmost. All detachments in rear press
forward regardless of loss as soon as they become aware that the
first line is preparing for the assault. At the trumpet-call "Rapid
advance"[38] the whole hurl themselves with the greatest determination
and with loud cheers upon the enemy. Any reserves which may be still
to the rear strain every nerve to reach the advanced firing-line. The
assault should, if possible, be simultaneous. But the effort to secure
this should never lead to detachments waiting for each other. Where a
possibility is offered to single portions of the force to penetrate
into the enemy's position they must advance independently, and all
other detachments must conform.

It is important that the assault should not be begun too early, but
that the firing-line should work its way forward to the closest range
before rising for the final charge. The Infantry Drill Regulations lay
down 150 paces as a guide for this distance in peace. That is a great
deal too much. I do not think that the firing-line, especially in deep
ground or uphill, can "rush" forward in full marching order 150 paces
after having already carried out a lengthy attack. These instructions
of the Infantry Drill should certainly be modified. Cavalry, however,
should not fall into this error. A premature assault may imperil the
success of the attack, because physical force may fail, and the enemy's
fire is given a chance of regaining its full strength. The fire weapon
should rather be used up to the last moment. The assault should take
place only from the closest possible distance, and this will ensure
success. For the rest, I may draw attention to the instructions laid
down in the Cavalry Drill for the dispositions for the attack and for
its conduct. On these points it coincides with my view, and it would
be superfluous here to repeat what lies therein. If I have gone into
the question of the conduct of the attack rather more closely, it
is to emphasise certain points that are not prominent enough in the
compressed instructions of the Regulations, and which do not generally
receive sufficient consideration.

As to surprise fire action, also, the Regulations contain all the
essentials (471-473).[39]

I may, however, touch here upon another matter which is connected with
dismounted action, _i.e._ the question of armament. It has often been
proposed, and from influential quarters, to replace the cavalry sword
by some kind of a bayonet. If, it is said, with a certain appearance of
justification, cavalry are to assault hostile positions on foot, they
must have some _arme blanche_ for the hand-to-hand fight, and this can
only be a bayonet. The war in Manchuria, where such mêlées repeatedly
took place, is cited as a proof of the necessity of such an armament. I
cannot ally myself with such proposals. As to the repeated hand-to-hand
fights in the Russo-Japanese war, these took place principally because
the Russians found it impossible to evacuate their entrenchments in
time, and that they took such full advantage of cover that they were in
some measure surprised by the attacker. These examples can certainly
not be adapted therefore to the dismounted action of our cavalry.
With them it will never be a question of prepared positions--which
cavalry will, as a rule, neither attack nor defend--but of actions
resulting from a battle of encounter. In such cases, however, as the
experience of military history teaches us, a hand-to-hand fight is
quite exceptional. Even the struggle for localities is fought out
almost entirely with the firearm. If the defence should consist of
dismounted cavalry and cyclists, it cannot as a rule be assumed that
such troops will allow the attack to come to close quarters. They will
more generally, as soon as the decision of the fire fight has become
clear, endeavour to reach their horses or cycles and to escape the fire
of the pursuit. As a matter of fact, therefore, dismounted cavalry
would really only use the bayonet on foot in quite exceptional cases,
and it would only be justifiable to introduce it if there were no
attendant disadvantages. Such, however, is not the case. I would regard
the abolition of the present sword as a great danger, calculated to
seriously injure the morale of the cavalry.

Our lance is an excellent weapon for the charge, but for single combat
only in cases where the men have freedom of movement. In the close
turmoil of the fight it is very difficult to handle with success;
besides which, it easily becomes unserviceable on striking an object
too heavily. Should it pierce a body at the full speed of a horse's
gallop it will generally bend on being drawn out (if indeed the rider
in his haste extricates it at all), and then becomes unserviceable. In
such a case the man needs his sword. A short bayonet can never replace
this, and a compromise between a bayonet and a sword would be of but
little service. If the sword is taken away from the cavalry soldier he
will be rendered in many cases weaponless. There can be no doubt of
this. And the consciousness of this drawback would very soon be felt
by the troops and would damp their eagerness for the fight.

The case, then, is this. When confronted by a hostile cavalry of
any activity, the mounted combat, the mêlée, at least for smaller
detachments and patrols, will be of almost daily occurrence; while, as
we have seen, the hand-to-hand fight on foot must be most 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, and
therefore hope that the arm will be spared this fate.

3. _Defence_

As regards the principles of the defence, I may draw attention to the
instructions laid down in the new Cavalry Regulations, which coincide
with my views in all essentials. There are, however, still a few points
to be raised which seem to me of importance.

First and foremost, I think that it follows, from the above arguments,
that, in the case of cavalry operating independently, engagements may
often take place which, with a generally offensive intention, must be
conducted at times in a defensive spirit and with only part of the
troops--that is to say, where it is not the intention to act on the
defensive with the whole force, but to use the defence only as a means
of resuming the general offensive later at the most advantageous time.
It will be possible, especially in the battle of encounter, to defend
favourable positions or localities with the advanced troops, either
to gain time for the arrival of the main body, or else to oblige the
enemy to weaken his reserves, against which the offensive is intended.
This combination of attack and defence will frequently occur, I am
convinced, even in the battle of encounter.

In such cases the defence must endeavour to deceive the opponent
and to provoke the attack. Efforts will be made, while putting but
few men into the fight, to give the impression of strength in the
firing-line, and yet so to dispose the troops that attack will not
appear impossible, if carried out in sufficient force. Groups of men on
a broad front, a liberal expenditure of ammunition, and sometimes the
holding back of artillery and machine-guns, are the means whereby the
enemy may be thus misled.

But, even if the defensive on a large scale is adopted because the
force is considered too weak to take the offensive in the open, the
guiding principle will still be, as I have already indicated, to obtain
a decision in the defensive fight by an offensive counter-stroke, in so
far as the force and the circumstances of the ground in any way permit.
This is a fundamental principle of the spirit of cavalry.

The force destined for the counter-attack should accordingly be
detailed from the first. Efforts must be made, by using favourable
country for the defensive front and thus being able to occupy it
weakly, to spare every available man for the counter-attack, and
to compensate for the weakness of the force in position by ample
ammunition, well-arranged cross-fire, and similar measures. The troops
designed to play the offensive rôle must first be placed in reserve,
withdrawn, as far as possible, from view and fire of the enemy. As soon
as the situation is cleared up, they will be placed in échelon behind
that flank from which the counter-stroke will take place. Whether this
will be a mounted or dismounted attack depends on the character of the
ground and similar circumstances. In any case a base for attack outside
the limits of the enemy's fire must be reached, and, where possible, by

It is therefore of the highest importance that the enemy shall be
prevented from gaining observation as to the conduct of the reserve,
in order that its presence may eventually come as a surprise to him.
Hostile patrols must be attacked with remorseless energy wherever seen,
and, if possible, put out of action. Those look-out points, on the
other hand, from which observation can be made of the enemy must be
occupied early in the fight.

The cavalry will, as a rule, only undertake a completely passive
defence, where the object of the fight is to hold the crossing over
some obstacle, to defend isolated localities, or to gain time. In such
a case the question is one of the obstinate defence of a definite
object, sometimes perhaps, also, of a retirement from one point to
another. Such an operation, however, is always difficult to carry
out on account of the led horses, and should only be attempted in
very favorable country. It demands that the fight shall be broken
off--always a difficult matter, and, to cavalry encumbered by their
led horses, one of considerable danger. The horses certainly render
it possible, by making a proper use of the ground, to withdraw more
rapidly than could infantry in the same case. On the other hand,
however, they tie the dismounted troops down to a definite direction
of retreat, and remounting, when pressed by the enemy, is always a
critical matter.

4. _Breaking off the Fight, Retreat, and Pursuit_

When it becomes apparent during the course of a fight that success
cannot ensue, the commander must decide in good time whether he
will carry the engagement through or break it off. To choose the
right moment for the latter operation is generally extraordinarily
difficult, even when it has been planned from the commencement. To
make the necessary dispositions, also, demands great tactical skill.
To continue the fight with determination, perhaps till nightfall, will
often cost no greater sacrifice than the breaking off of the engagement
and the attendant retreat.

Generally speaking, such engagements will only be those which are
fought out on foot. The more open the country, the closer the enemy,
and the greater the number of troops which have already been thrown
into the fighting-line, so much the more difficult will it usually
be to break off the fight. The circumstance also as to whether the
led horses are mobile or immobile, and their position, will naturally
influence the decision. On the other hand, it is easier to extricate
the force after some success has been gained; whether it be that a
hostile attack has been repulsed, or that our own troops have made a
successful counter-stroke. History teaches us that at such moments
there is generally a lull, during which the opponent is obliged to
bring up fresh troops or to make fresh tactical dispositions.

Even under such favourable conditions, however, it will generally be
impossible to break loose from the enemy without suffering heavy loss.

In defence, if the ground is especially favourable, it will certainly
be possible at times to extricate a force without considerable loss.
If it can rapidly withdraw from the firing-line and retire covered
from pursuing fire, the whole force may under certain circumstances
simultaneously evacuate a position, that is to say, if the enemy is
still so far distant that he is unable to employ pursuing fire until
the defender has reached a place of safety. How seldom, however,
will such be the case! Small detachments will generally have to be
sacrificed to secure the retreat of the main body. This means that
various especially strong supporting points in the position will be
occupied, and the force will withdraw under cover of them.

Military history offers us repeated examples where the attacker makes
desperate endeavours to overpower such points, and in so doing forgets
to pursue the withdrawing masses of the defender's troops. This, for
example, was the part played at the battle of Weissenburg by Geisberg
Castle and Schafbusch, and the château with its enclosed park at the
battle of Coulmiers. Under cover of these points, against which all the
efforts of the French were concentrated, the defenders were able in
both cases to withdraw so slightly molested that even touch with them
was completely lost.

The defence of such supporting points, which must be conducted with
the utmost obstinacy, frequently ends in capture, but the end gained
is worth the sacrifice. If the endeavour is made to withdraw the whole
line of defence simultaneously under circumstances where it is possible
for the attacker to bring to bear an effective pursuing fire from the
captured position, loss will generally be much greater than that which
would be deliberately incurred in arresting the pursuit.

The conditions are similar in attack. At manoeuvres certainly we see
the attacker when repulsed turn about, and, in a continuous retreat,
lay himself open to a pursuing fire, which would mean absolute
destruction. I do not think such a manoeuvre possible in reality. As
the advance has been by stages, so must be the retreat. But, whereas
in the advance it was a matter of pressing forward on a wide connected
front, in order to hold the whole of the enemy's position under fire,
and _not_ of massing together where cover could be obtained, the exact
contrary is the case in retreat, and the troops must seek any cover
that will shelter them from the fire of the pursuit. Various strong
points in the attack which have already been taken and occupied must
be obstinately held during the retirement, and from them a heavy fire
poured into the pursuit to bring it to a standstill. Care should be
taken, even during an advance, to keep such places well supplied with
ammunition, which can either be taken forward to the captured position
or be at the disposal of the retiring troops.

I do not think that it will be possible in any other manner to break
off an attack which has penetrated to within effective range of the
enemy, or to carry out a compulsory retreat without disastrous loss.

The troops must fall back, obstinately contesting the ground and
continually recommencing fire from any favourable position. The
commander must make careful preparations, even when advancing, that
a possible retreat shall not lead to disaster, but will be able to
find prepared points of support. All detachments, however, that are
outside the effective range of the enemy's fire, and still capable of
manoeuvre, especially artillery and machine-guns, must from commanding
positions bring fire to bear on those troops which are harassing the
retreat, regardless of the losses they may themselves incur. In such
a moment everything must be subordinated to delivering the retreating
masses from that destruction which the fire of the pursuit portends.
Any advance of pursuing cavalry, also, must be met by heavy fire from
such detachments, regardless of the expenditure of ammunition.

A retreat, then, requires particularly intelligent handling. The
various detachments must be provided with instructions that are clear
and definite. The commander must have his troops well in hand, must
arrange for the occupation of any positions, decide which detachments
shall cover the retreat, dispose of the artillery and machine-guns,
determine the line of retreat of the various units, with due regard to
the situation of their led horses, and arrange for the occupation of
the rallying position. He should himself only leave the field when the
force has got clear of the enemy. He must then, however, straightway
attend to the rearrangement of the tactical dispositions, and take the
other necessary measures. Any reserve still in hand must be used to
check the pursuit where possible by a vigorous offensive. It is just in
such situations that a determined counter-attack, even by a weak force,
makes the greatest impression on the enemy.

As to the further conduct of the retreat after a successful
extrication, definite instructions are naturally impossible. Everything
depends on the circumstances of the moment. The possibilities of
resuming the offensive must be borne in mind, even during a retirement.
To this end it is frequently advisable to fall back partially towards
a flank. Gneisenau, after the defeat at Ligny, directed the retreat
on Wavre, in order to be able to take up the offensive again on the
following day, and thus supplied us with a brilliant example well
worthy of imitation even where the forces engaged are but small.

If it is a matter of mounted combat, the breaking off of the actual
fight is quite impossible. Troops once engaged must carry the fight
through. Even when retreating from the mêlée, fighting cavalry has no
kind of means of extricating itself. It is then entirely dependent on
the enemy, and can only retire at the most rapid speed. Reserves alone
are able to bring the immediate pursuit to a standstill by intervening
in the running fight. Generally, however, this will only end when the
horses of the victor are quite exhausted, or when the latter feels the
necessity of getting his troops in hand and forming again for fresh
duties. The further conduct of the vanquished troops must depend on the
condition of the horses and the general situation. It is of importance
to withdraw beyond the reach of the enemy as soon as possible in order
that full freedom of action may be regained.

If the fire of the hostile artillery is to be feared, it is advisable
to retire extended without regard to tactical formations, and making
the best possible use of the ground. The troops will then only rally
again beyond the range of the enemy's fire. The same naturally holds
good for the retreat from a dismounted action after the men have

The commander will be well advised to inform his senior subordinates,
if not all the troops, before the fight begins where the troops are
to concentrate again in case of a reverse. The necessity for such
dispositions generally passes unnoticed in peace, because pursuit
is never thoroughly carried out, and the beaten troops are not so
completely broken up as has repeatedly happened in war in the past and
will happen again. We should not deceive ourselves in this matter,
as otherwise there is a danger of completely losing control over the
troops. Whoever expects to be able to rally a beaten cavalry division
after a mounted fight by blowing the divisional call lays himself open
to bitter disappointment. If the enemy is pursuing with energy, this
will only be possible in the very rarest cases.

Before the commencement of the fight, arrangements must also be made
for the rear communication, as there will otherwise be a danger of
losing transport, and thereby ability to operate. Far to the rear or
close at hand are the two only possible positions for it. In the first
case an escort whose strength will be dictated by the circumstances
will always be necessary.

It should also be remembered that wagons should be able to turn round
where they are halted. If single teams are unable to turn about on
their own ground, it will be better to park the whole of the transport
in such a way that it can easily be moved in any direction. It is
then also easier to protect it against attack. If there is no fear
of attack, the various columns may turn off the road with intervals
corresponding to their length. It appears to me to be of especial
importance to lay stress on these circumstances because in peace
exercises there is no transport, and commanders consequently get
accustomed to paying little attention to it.

As regards the pursuit, it is necessary to differentiate between a
tactical and a strategical pursuit. The latter must crown the success
of the former.

In mounted action, the beaten opponent must be kept at the point of
the sword as long as the strength of the horses hold out. Detachments
not immediately pursuing must be concentrated, and must seek to regain
their ability for manoeuvre as soon as possible.

After a dismounted action on the defensive, the pursuit will first
be taken up by rifle fire. Any mounted reserve there may be should
be launched to the charge against the retiring enemy as soon as the
pursuing fire begins to cease to be effective. A victorious attack, on
the other hand, must make every endeavour to gain the position vacated
by the enemy, and to occupy ground from whence an effective pursuing
fire is possible. The bringing up of the led horses will be of special
importance in this case. If they are immobile, a portion of the men
must be sent to the rear to bring them up, while the remainder hold
the captured position. Any mounted reserves there may be can often be
employed to bring up at least a portion of the led horses. Generally
speaking, however, all troops not already engaged must, as we have
already shown, take up the strategic pursuit as early as possible. This
will supplement and complete the results of the tactical pursuit.

Never to let the enemy rest, even when the tactical pursuit has ceased,
to prevent him regaining his cohesion, to capture prisoners, horses,
and trophies, and, above all, to increase to the utmost the moral
effects of his defeat, is the task before us. The immediate pursuit
must therefore be combined, wherever possible, with a parallel pursuit
commenced in good time. The latter must nip in the bud every attempt
on the part of the retiring enemy to take up rearguard positions,
by turning such positions and pressing forward with reckless energy
against the actual lines of retreat. It must also endeavour to
anticipate the enemy in the occupation of any defiles necessary to his
retreat. At such times there must be no thought of sparing horseflesh.
Even in this pursuit, however, the commander must give a definite
object and a rallying point for the detachments following. He will
otherwise, by reason of rapidity of the movements in progress, risk
losing control of at least part of his troops, and of allowing them to
go farther than the strategical situation demands or admits. For the
rest, I may draw attention to the new Cavalry Drill Regulations, the
compressed instructions of which contain much that is essential and
coincide generally with my views.


In the battle of all arms, cavalry must be handled according to
principles which are quite different and almost diametrically opposed
to those which characterise its independent action as army cavalry.
For, in the latter case, not only is the defeat of the enemy kept in
view, but another definite object has also to be pursued. This object
can only be attained if successful in the fight, while an unsuccessful
battle will paralyse the activity of the cavalry, and may cost the
army the loss of its organs of reconnaissance. However daring its
conduct then, it should never be engaged in hopeless enterprises, and
should only undertake a fight where success can be reckoned upon with a
certain measure of probability.

If, therefore, the strength and intentions of the enemy are not fully
known, it will be better, as we have seen, to guard against engaging
the whole force in such an uncertain enterprise. Efforts should rather
be made, as I have endeavoured to show, to clear up the situation by a
careful feeling of the enemy and a gradual engagement of force. Once
possessed of this knowledge of the situation, it will be possible
either to seek a decision or to break off the fight in time to avoid
the risk of incurring too considerable a loss.

Quite different is the case in the main battle. Here the objective is
contained in the battle itself. It is the destruction of the enemy
that is sought. It is not expected that each single detachment engaged
should be victorious, but that the net result of the battle should be a
victory. The task of the various detachments is only to engage and to
destroy so much of the enemy's force as lies within their power. This
naturally holds good for the cavalry. It is not now demanded that each
single action of the cavalry should of itself be successful, but that
the general engagement of the cavalry should have the greatest possible
effect. A considerable result may often be obtained by the attacking
cavalry drawing the enemy's fire upon itself for a time, and thus
affording the infantry the possibility of gaining ground to the front,
or of re-forming and receiving reinforcements.

To break off the main battle is generally quite out of the question.
The very fact that the battle has been begun betokens the intention
of carrying it through to a final decision, even where the enemy has
shown himself to be in superior force. The various troops which advance
to the conflict need not therefore reflect whether _they_ have any
special prospect of success, but must strive for this success with
all their power. This means for the cavalry, in by far the greater
number of cases, always at least where a charge is in prospect, _the
simultaneous engaging of its whole fighting strength_, naturally
in that tactical formation which the conditions of weapons demand.
If in its _independent_ operations cavalry must be dealt with as a
strategical body, and thus employed in the fight, it is _in the main
battle_ a purely tactical body, which must be engaged _en masse_, and
not in detail. This contrast appears, at least to me, to be an obvious
one. There is another that is equally clear.

In independent operations it is the duty of the cavalry, before all
else, to defeat the enemy's _cavalry_. Victory over the latter creates
the possibility of carrying out its proper task, that of reconnoitring
and screening, without being involved in further fighting on a large
scale. In the main battle, however, it would be taking quite a
false view of its duty if it were to restrict itself to driving the
hostile cavalry from the field. Victory over the latter has indeed
a certain value, as it paralyses its further action, but it will,
in most cases, be comparatively useless for the main issue of the
battle unless further consequences result from it. A victory over the
hostile cavalry only receives its particular importance when by it the
possibility is gained of intervening in the decisive encounter _of the
other arms_, and of acting unhindered when, in the course of events, it
becomes a matter either of pursuit or of covering a retreat.

Finally, in independent operations, even small detachments can aim at
great results, and a division of force will frequently be indicated. In
the great battle, however, any considerable effect can only be attained
by the action of the mass. The reason for this lies in the size of
modern armies.

It will be advisable to concentrate the mass of the cavalry at what
are considered the decisive points, in order to be able to engage it
simultaneously. Any frittering away of force upon the field of battle
will strike the troops with impotence. We have only to remember the
battle of Coulmiers, where the richest prospects of success confronted
a cavalry which achieved nothing, because it did not act in concert.
Where great tactical units have to be concentrated which are not under
a single command, it will be advisable that the laws of seniority be
set aside, and the command given to that leader from whom the best
performances are to be expected, even though he be not the senior.
In the cavalry, more than in any other arm, success depends upon the
leader. Nothing is more rare than a good cavalry leader, and it would
therefore be a great mistake to ignore such a one, and thus perhaps
to sacrifice the fortunes of the day to the Moloch of Seniority. We
should rather act like Frederick the Great at Rossbach, when he placed
Seydlitz at the head of his cavalry, and we must expect from Prussians
to-day the same generosity as Frederick's generals showed in willingly
serving under their junior.

The best of leaders, however, will only be capable of great
performances if he is fully acquainted with the intentions of the Head
Quarters and the idea of the battle. He must therefore be not only
closely informed before the fight, but must remain throughout its
progress in continual communication with the Head Quarters, and must
be made aware of all dispositions and at the same time must share its
observations and be in touch with its intentions. The German cavalry
would certainly have been able to fight a more successful and connected
action at Mars la Tour, as at Coulmiers, if it had been better informed
as to the general situation, and had thus been in a position to
appreciate for itself what was necessary and what was possible.

If, however, understanding between the commander-in-chief and the
leader of the cavalry is established, and if full confidence in the
judgment and energy of the latter exists, he must be allowed that
necessary freedom and independence which alone ensure successful
action. On the other hand, he should never wait for orders to
intervene, but must himself turn any favourable moments of the fight
to account by rapid and energetic independent action. Even if he is
definitely placed at the disposal of the commander, he should not
shrink at critical moments from acting on his own responsibility,
informing, of course, his superior officer of his actions. As an
example of the relations between the supreme command and the cavalry
leader I would draw attention to the conduct of King Frederick and
General von Seydlitz in the battle of Zorndorf. The King felt the
necessity of restoring the wavering fortunes of the day by launching
the cavalry to the attack, but Seydlitz independently chose the moment
for the charge; and success justified them both. When, however, in the
battle of Kunersdorf, the General was compelled to order the charge
against his better judgment, the consequences were a heavy defeat for
the cavalry.

1. _The Army Cavalry on the Flank of the Battle_

I have already repeatedly indicated that the most favourable position
for the army cavalry is to a flank and in advance of a flank of its
own army, and, where possible, of _that_ flank on which, in the battle
of offence, the decision will be sought, or, when in defence, the main
hostile attack may be expected.[40] The new Cavalry Regulations adopt
this point of view. It is therefore superfluous to comment further
on the advantages of such a position. Unless the cavalry is going to
resign all claim to offensive action, this position will compel it to
seek battle. This may also happen when the cavalry masses of _both_
sides endeavour to take up such a position, and thereby naturally come
into collision, so that a sort of battle of encounter results, but one,
however, that will bear quite a different character from the battle of
encounter in strategic operations.

There will already be a difference, in the fact that the strategic
approach and the tactical disposition in advance guard, main body,
and reserve, will be wanting. In the consciousness, moreover, that,
whatever the relative strength may be, the decisive battle has,
under any circumstances, to be sought, it must be prepared for
systematically. The cavalry will therefore have to adopt a wider
front, or even deploy while farther from the enemy, having to its
front only the necessary bodies for reconnaissance and security. The
reconnaissance must be of a double nature. Timely measures must first
be taken to ascertain whether, on the probable lines of approach
and communication of the enemy, further hostile forces, ammunition
columns, or supply trains are hurrying to the battlefield. Where
the squadrons already pushed forward have received the necessary
further instructions, this reconnaissance will often develop from
the corresponding strategic measures. It will, however, frequently
be necessary to send forward new organs of reconnaissance, even up
to the strength of squadrons, as is discussed in the chapter on
"Close Reconnaissance and Reconnaissance for the Fight." Besides this
far-reaching exploration, immediate tactical reconnaissance for the
fight must also be arranged; this will, in general, be directed against
such hostile troops as may be within tactical reach, and must at the
same time comprise reconnaissance of the ground. This service must
be carried out by contact patrols and it is obviously impossible to
separate the two duties.

The reconnoitring organs suffice in such a case for safety to the
front. To the flank, however, local flanking patrols must be pushed
out during the advance. It may at the same time be advisable, for
the protection of the main body, and as points of support for the
reconnaissance, to occupy defiles and other important places to the
flank or front by dismounted detachments up to the strength of a
squadron or more.

Screened by these various measures, the cavalry mass now advances fully
deployed for the fight. It must be écheloned so far from the flank
of the army that it cannot come under the fire of its own infantry,
and that it can, if in any way possible, turn the outer flank of
the hostile cavalry. The latter may then easily become hampered in
movement by its own troops, and will have to deploy eccentrically, a
disadvantage under any circumstances. Connection with our own army
must, naturally, not be lost, so that in case of an unfavourable issue
of the fight the cavalry may not be completely severed from it. The
tactical dispositions, which should always be of an elastic nature,
must obviate this.

That depth must be maintained in so far as it allows the necessary
frontage, is easily understood. In deploying concentrically the various
groups do not by any means need to be in touch, as during the advance
they will gradually approach each other. They can, or rather must,
be disposed at wide intervals, and it is better that these should be
too great than that the necessary depth should suffer. A reserve must
always be detailed and at the disposal of the commander, in order that
he may retain his influence over the decision and be ready to meet the
vicissitudes of the conflict.

Artillery and machine-guns will generally be able to remain effectively
in action longest on the inner flank, and in this position can also
form a connecting-link between the cavalry and the flank of the
army. Special circumstances, however, may, of course, lead to their
employment elsewhere. Their employment on the extreme outer flank,
however, so often seen in peace, is to be guarded against. From such
a position they can indeed often bring an effective flanking fire to
bear, but are, on the other hand, in great danger, especially when
opposed to a numerically superior enemy. Should the outcome of the
fight be unfavourable, they will generally not only themselves be lost,
but may often contribute to the difficulties of the beaten squadrons.
Machine-gun detachments must be pushed forward recklessly to within
effective range of the enemy, and should not shrink from the danger of
occasional capture.

Should the hostile cavalry be driven from the field, it must be pursued
with sufficient force to prevent its rallying and re-forming, and to
complete its material and moral defeat. Should it seek shelter behind
occupied points of support, farms, woods, and the like, these must be
attacked immediately by employing the greatest possible fire power. It
is a matter of absolute necessity to gain possession of such points, as
they may otherwise stand in the way of further action.

All portions of the cavalry not required for the pursuit should
endeavour quickly to regain their tactical cohesion, that they may be
ready for further effort. If localities are at hand by the occupation
of which the ground won can be secured, they must at once be garrisoned
by dismounted men. Artillery and machine-guns will, in so far as they
are not detailed for the pursuit, or as they return from it, be brought
into position with a like object in view. Every effort must be made
to utilise to the full the advantages which the different methods of
action of which the arm is capable confer, and thereby to minimise the
chances of defeat. _To reckon with the charge alone is, even on the
field of battle, out of date, and calculated to limit the effect of
cavalry action._

If a position of readiness has at first to be taken up, as will
generally be the case until it is known in what direction further
developments will take place, it must be as secure as possible from
the view and fire of the enemy, but must be one from which immediate
action can be taken. A disposition in groups of units will generally be
the most suitable formation. What else is to be done the circumstances
of the various cases must decide; the indispensable condition is that
the cavalry should never be present and inactive throughout the course
of the battle. It must in all cases prevent the enemy's patrols from
making observations as to the disposition of our own army, while, on
the other hand, its own reconnaissance should never cease.

We should, however, be quite wrong to regard such action as sufficient;
rather must our whole attention be devoted to participating in the
decisive battle, if in any way possible. With this view the cavalry
must be careful to ensure its own advance to that portion of the ground
where the decisive battle will probably take place, so that the charge
will not meet with unexpected resistance and obstacles when the moment
comes to ride it home. When this crisis of the battle approaches, the
cavalry must be ready to intervene, whether it be to complete the
defeat of the enemy and to facilitate the victory of its own infantry,
or to support the latter in difficult situations.

Deployment in masses and depth, if possible in several lines, is
indispensable for such attacks. The outer flank must be secured by
reserves against the action of freshly arriving hostile cavalry and the
covering troops of the enemy's artillery. Only when reconnaissance has
clearly shown that there are no more such hostile troops at hand can
the reserves be dispensed with.

The attack will best take place from the flank, and will then generally
find a double objective in the hostile artillery and any infantry
that may be farther to the front; but both should be dealt with
_simultaneously_. There may also be a possibility and a necessity of
attacking from the rear. Circumstances must decide this. In any case,
there should be no question of a gradual engagement of a force, but the
charge of the whole mass must, even when disposed in lines, be carried
out in a simultaneous and preconcerted manner.

The moment chosen for the attack is also of great importance. As the
crisis approaches, endeavours must be made to get as close to the enemy
as possible, in order to shorten the distance that will have to be
covered in the charge. In so doing, the protection of the ground must
be used as long as possible for cover, at least from view, without
adhering to stereotyped tactical formations.

However important and desirable it may be to contribute to the great
decision by a glorious cavalry charge, it should be borne in mind that
the possibility of this will only occur in very rare cases. The more
cultivated and agricultural the country in which the war takes place,
the rarer will be these opportunities, as the circumstances of the
ground offer so many opportunities for local defence.

If we consider the battles of the Franco-Prussian, the Russo-Turkish,
and the Manchurian wars, we must soon admit that great cavalry charges
were practicable only in very isolated cases. The peculiarities of the
ground rendered them impossible; nor can this alter in the future.
If it is to the interests of the defence to seek open country with a
good field of fire, the attacker, on the other hand, will endeavour
to choose ground for the attack which will give him cover from fire
and view. On the whole, the possible European theatres of war are
but little suitable for charges, owing to the extent to which they
have been cultivated. We must not be deceived in this matter by the
experience of our peace manoeuvres. For then suitable ground has to
be sought for the operation of the three arms, and considerations
of compensation make it necessary to choose country as free from
cultivation as possible.

War, however, knows no such considerations, and we must not blind
ourselves to the fact that the opportunity for great decisive charges
will but seldom occur. The greatest imaginable error, therefore,
which the cavalry could possibly commit would be to adopt a waiting
attitude and renounce all other kind of action, in order that the
possibility of a great charge might not slip by unutilised. Besides
the decisive attack, there is another wide field of activity indicated
by the conditions of modern war, where cavalry can operate without
being compelled to renounce co-operation in the decisive battle when
circumstances will allow.

This sphere of activity lies in rear of the hostile army. Here columns
of supply of every kind are streaming forward to the fighting-line.
Here are massed the hostile reserves, already waiting for the decisive
moment. Here stands the heavy artillery of the enemy in action, often
without an escort. And it is here that opportunities for decisive
action must be sought.

If cavalry can succeed, especially in battles of several days'
duration, in interrupting the hostile supplies from the rear, in
surprising the enemy's reserves with fire, causing him heavy loss and
compelling him to deploy against it, or if any advancing portions of
the enemy's army can be brought to a halt and prevented from reaching
the battlefield at the right time, greater results will probably be
obtained than by a doubtful charge. This is quite apart from the great
moral impression which such action must produce on leaders and troops
when the alarm suddenly re-echoes from the rear, and the shrapnel of
the cavalry carries confusion and consternation amongst the reserves
and supports of the fighting-line. The enemy's artillery, also, firing
from covered positions, and otherwise so difficult to reach, may then
fall a prey to a bold cavalry, and will offer opportunities for a
success of far-reaching importance.

Such action must, of course, be conducted with a due co-operation
between mounted and dismounted action.

Against intact hostile reserves the firearm will be principally used,
and endeavour must be made to surprise them in the formation of
assembly or on the march. Against columns of wagons, also, it will be
well to commence with fire action, by shooting down the horses of the
leading teams, and so bringing the columns to a halt. They must then,
however, be actually taken possession of and taken away or destroyed,
in so far as this cannot be done by artillery fire.

The cavalry must therefore endeavour to be ever active, and to
co-operate unceasingly by damaging the enemy and shaking his morale.
Great results can, however, only be obtained if antiquated views,
handed down from time immemorial, are discarded, and the demands of
modern war and the capabilities of modern cavalry are recognised. It
is not a question as to whether we cavalry men are to fight mounted or
dismounted; but that we must be prepared and determined to take part
in the decision, and to employ the whole of our great strength and
mobility to this end.

2. _The Army Cavalry as a Reserve behind the Front_

The same principles hold good for those portions of the army cavalry
which find themselves _behind_ the fighting-line, and not on the
exposed flank. Such a position is generally, indeed, undesirable, but
may be the outcome of circumstances.

The task before the cavalry is here naturally quite a different
one from when on the flank of the army. The necessity, or even the
possibility, will in this case scarcely ever occur of having to deal
with hostile cavalry, and of opening thereby a way for intervention in
the decisive battle. It is much more likely in this case to happen
that the cavalry will have to adopt a waiting attitude, and see
whether its engagement as a mounted arm will be necessary. During this
period of waiting, the cavalry must remain beyond the range of hostile
fire, but as near the fighting-line as intelligent use of the ground
will permit. Its position should never be chosen so far to the rear
that it cannot arrive on the spot at the right time for the attack;
for the moments which offer a favourable prospect for a charge are
often fleeting--they depend upon the tactical situation and the moral
condition of the opponent. These conditions may, however, quickly
change if, for instance, reinforcements should arrive on the field.

Thus, at Mars la Tour, when the 6th Cavalry Division advanced in order
to attack the obviously shaken and retiring 2nd Corps of the French, it
struck, according to the account of the German General Staff, not this
corps, but the intact Guard Grenadier Division of Picard, which had
already advanced in support, and the charge was frustrated.[41]

To be prepared to meet such conditions, it will generally be advisable
not only to remain as close behind the fighting-line as possible, but
to prepare for a rapid deployment to the front, so that a disposition
in groups, with the necessary deploying intervals, may be adopted
behind that part of the fighting-line where the ground is especially
adapted to a charge of large masses. If it can be seen that the crisis
of the fight is approaching, and that the intervention of the cavalry
may be necessary, the latter should advance still closer to the
fighting-line, making, of course, full use of the ground for cover,
but no longer taking heed of small losses.

The cavalry will advance to the charge in order either to complete the
defeat of an already wavering enemy, and to capture his artillery, or
to relieve its own infantry, exhausted in the fight or suffering from
want of ammunition, when other reserves have been used up, or have
not yet arrived on the spot. The attack will probably always have to
be conducted against an extended front. Flanking and surprise attacks
will rarely be possible under such circumstances. It will scarcely ever
be practicable to carry out _separate_ attacks against the hostile
infantry and artillery, as in the case of a flank attack. The charge
will rather, in by far the greater number of cases, first strike the
hostile line of infantry, and must endeavour to ride through this and
then to fall upon the enemy's artillery.

The formation for attack must be chosen to correspond with this point
of view. A considerable extension will be necessary for the first line,
so that, although the wings of the attacking-line may be exposed to
flanking fire, the main portion of the front of attack will only have
to reckon with frontal fire, and the enemy will not be in a position to
direct a concentric fire against it. The great range of modern weapons
demands a very considerable extension for this purpose if success is to
be ensured. Suitable ground, also, must be chosen for this deployment.
It will often allow, if rightly used, of one or other flank finding
cover. A previous close study of the ground over which the attack is to
be made is therefore imperative for the cavalry leader, even though it
may entail personal exposure to the enemy's fire.

Necessary, however, as this extension is, a formation in depth in
two or three lines is also imperative if decisive results are to
be gained--this is, as I have already pointed out, the formation
especially necessary against firearms. To lay down the distances which
must be taken up between the lines according as infantry or artillery
is the objective, as is done in the Regulations, will naturally be
impossible in most cases, as both arms will have to be reckoned with
simultaneously. A mean distance of about 250 paces would generally meet
the case.

It is obvious that not only the preliminary deployment, but the
formation for attack must take place beyond the effective range of the
enemy's fire, for, once inside this zone, flank movements can no longer
be carried out, and nothing else can be done but to gallop straight
to the front. As, however, our own infantry will have to be ridden
through in the charge, it is impossible in such a case to attack in
close order. The first lines should therefore be of loose single-rank
formation, with wide intervals from man to man. This is also to be
recommended on the ground that it will allow a greater breadth of
front for the same strength. Behind the leading lines squadrons
can then follow in column of troops, which can easily ride through
their own infantry, and adapt themselves to the ground, utilizing
for their advance the less exposed portions of the terrain. In such
dispositions there can naturally be no talk of regular distances, and
the circumstances of the case must decide.

If sufficient force is available, reserves must follow behind the
centre and in échelon behind the flanks. Their duty will be to to turn
against hostile cavalry and other troops which may take the advancing
mass in flank or may threaten a charge.

The batteries and machine-guns belonging to the cavalry will usually
remain at the disposal of the cavalry commander, even during the great
battle. If a charge is launched it will sometimes be advantageous
to use them for flank protection, for which purpose they may be
temporarily held back. Such cases, however, will be rare. The commander
will therefore have to consider whether it is not more advisable to let
them take part in the general engagement, even when the cavalry is not
yet called upon to intervene. For it must be clearly understood that in
this case, as in the other, where the cavalry is on the flank of the
army, there will seldom be an opportunity for the charge, for reasons
already given.

As, however, the cavalry in the former case should not remain inactive
even if there is no opportunity for the _charge_ during the decisive
battle, the same holds good where the cavalry is placed behind the
front of the army.

Having a less extensive field of action than in the case of the cavalry
on the flank, it is all the more necessary, if there is no chance of
a charge, for it to act in the manner of a reserve. The cavalry must
not shrink, when necessity demands, from employing its whole force in
the fire fight, disregarding for this purpose its purely cavalry rôle,
which may, perhaps, be resumed later. The first essential is that
victory shall be won. To this end all available forces must co-operate.
We will find a good example to follow in the battle of Fredericksburg
and the manner in which Stuart threw the whole of his cavalry into
the fight. The employment of cavalry in the War of Secession in North
America, the study of which I have urgently recommended, can here again
serve us as a guide to follow.

3. _Pursuit and Retreat_

In critical study of military history there is continual cause for
complaint that after a victorious battle no effective pursuit, with a
few brilliant exceptions, has ever taken place. These complaints are
justified. It must, however, be conceded that a failure of the pursuit
may be traced in most instances to the force of circumstances.

As the day of battle draws to a close and the decision has taken place,
the _victorious attacker_ has generally accomplished a long march to
the battlefield and carried out an exceedingly exhausting attack. The
troops have perhaps all been employed in the battle, down to the last
reserve. Ammunition, food, and water are often lacking. It is therefore
quite natural that the mere physical energy required for a pursuit
is wanting. If, on the other hand, the _defender_ is successful, it
is generally against a superior enemy, or one that is thought to be
superior. With the greatest expenditure of moral and physical force he
has held his own. In the evening of the day of battle, when the attacks
cease, he is still perhaps scarcely conscious of his victory, and still
imagines that the enemy is endeavouring to turn his flank. He awaits
renewed onslaughts, and will be fearful of imperilling his success by
leaving the positions which he has maintained with such difficulty,
in order, on his side, to take up the offensive. It is therefore but
natural that a pursuit should at first remain in abeyance. If, however,
it is not carried out at once, the favourable opportunity is generally
lost forever.

The _beaten defender_, on the other hand, has often still a surplus
of fresh troops. On the day of battle he will generally have had no
exhausting marches to undertake. The battle has not imposed nearly
such heavy physical demands upon him as upon the attacker. He has
also been able to supply himself during the fight much better than
the latter. To these factors of advantage must be added the instinct
of self-preservation of the individual, which continually induces
afresh the desire to escape from the grasp of the enemy. What can be
more natural for the beaten defender after a lost battle than to march
long distances, and thus successfully to evade pursuit, unless it be
immediately undertaken? General von Goeben gave orders on the evening
of the battle of St. Quentin that all troops must march five miles[42]
the next day. But the French had already covered a similar distance
during the night, and were no longer within reach.

The _beaten attacker_ also may, after the battle, no longer have
at his disposal sufficient physical force to carry out a further
immediate march, but, as _before_ the fight he was in superior force,
or considered himself to be so, it will not be necessary for him to
withdraw from the enemy as quickly as a beaten defender. The reason for
this lies in the difficulty which exists for the latter of taking up
the pursuit. The attacker can then utilise the time after the battle
to secure himself in the terrain and to re-form his units. He falls
back on his reserves of supply and ammunition. Unless he has suffered
a destructive defeat, the pursuer will generally find him the next
morning again in a condition to offer some resistance.

The factors of weakness, therefore, which allow but seldom of an
effective pursuit have their origin in the nature of circumstances, and
are exceedingly difficult to cope with.

Energy and activity sufficient to this end are only to be found in
moments of the greatest moral excitement, under the influence of
overpowering personalities, or under special conditions, such, for
example, as resulted after the battle of Waterloo. In the future,
however, we shall generally have to reckon that these factors of
weakness will prevail and the pursuit fail unless it is prepared with
conscious intention in good time, and initiated with energy.

Here will certainly be required careful leading, good tactical
judgment, and rapid decision.

Before all things, it is essential that any reserves still available
should be sent forward in the directions important for pursuit as soon
as it is judged that the battle is won, and that their supply should be
arranged for before the pursuit begins.

I may cite the battle of Woerth as an example. The 4th Cavalry Division
stood at the disposal of the commander. Observation troops were
sufficient in the direction of Hagenau and Zabern. This cavalry mass
was, however, only brought up late in the evening, and arrived on the
field too late to take up the immediate pursuit, although it had long
been realised that a pursuit would become necessary.

The infantry pursuit failed for different reasons. At the end of
the day, when success inclined to the Germans, a fresh Württemberg
brigade arrived upon the battlefield. Hot fighting still raged about
Fröschweiler, in which the whole of the Vth and XIth Corps were
involved. The Crown Prince, with a right appreciation of the situation,
sent forward this brigade in a parallel pursuit against the right wing
of the French in the direction of Reichshofen, where it could have
denied the exit at Zabern to the French. This brigade, however, allowed
itself to be deflected from its objective, and involved in the fighting
round Fröschweiler, the capture of which was no longer of any real
importance from the point of view of the Head Quarters.

If the affair is practically decided, as was the case at Woerth, the
reserves still in hand should no longer allow themselves to be drawn
towards the various foci of the battle, but must be sent forward by
the Commander-in-Chief with boldness and determination in the now more
decisive directions of the pursuit.

The same reasons and principles hold good for the pursuit by the

The cavalry commander must continually keep his finger on the pulse of
the battle, and not watch only that portion of the great drama which is
being played under his own eyes.

Should the scales of victory incline in favour of his own army, if
he considers that the intervention of his cavalry will no longer be
necessary to complete the victory, he will often be well advised to
renounce his share in the decisive battle, at least by a charge which
would entail heavy loss, and to husband all his force for the pursuit,
and to prepare and make dispositions for it. This consideration is
of especial importance for that portion of the army cavalry which is
concentrated on the flank, as to it must chiefly fall the task of

Great attention should be paid, even during the battle, to nursing
the horses. They should be fed, not from the small reserve of forage
carried on the saddle, but from wagons, which can be easily sent to the
flank of the army, emptied, and used later for the transport of the
wounded. It is of great importance that these measures should be taken
in good time. The forage carried will be needed during the pursuit,
for supplies for the horses cannot be reckoned upon in country where
armies have been on the move. It will even be advisable to take forage
wagons with the pursuing force itself. When the maintenance of physical
strength has thus been cared for, the next step is to push patrols and
squadrons rapidly forward to reconnoitre the outer lines of retreat
of the enemy. While these have been ascertained, the march in pursuit
must be undertaken without hesitation, and continued _even during the
night_. While daylight in any way allows, attempts will naturally be
made to attack the withdrawing enemy in flank, and to carry disorder
into his columns. As soon, however, as darkness falls and puts an
end to the fighting, the march should be continued on parallel lines
throughout the whole night, if possible in constant touch with the
enemy, in order that he may again be attacked at dawn the next morning,
or that his retreat may be barred at defiles or other favourable
places. The trophies of pursuit will rarely fall into the hands of
him who shrinks from spending the night after the battle marching, or
neglects to prepare in every way for such an operation.

Direct frontal pursuit by the cavalry will generally yield but meagre
results against the masses of the modern army and the firearm of the
present day. Only when completely demoralised troops are retreating in
the open, and cannot be reached by fire, will a charge be feasible.
Generally, however, the frontal cavalry pursuit will be soon brought
to a standstill by the hostile occupation of localities, woods and the
like. Frontal pursuit is essentially a matter for the infantry, who
must press the retreating enemy to the utmost. On the other hand, it
is of course the duty of the cavalry to maintain touch with the enemy
under all circumstances. With this object in view it must continue
the frontal pursuit, sometimes even without seeking to draw on a
fight, by day and night. When the strength of the infantry fails,
it is the imperative duty of the cavalry to continue to harass the
foe. In conjunction with the artillery it should be able to inflict
considerable losses on the opponent. In the face of modern conditions,
however, too great results must not be expected from such action.

When the army cavalry undertakes a frontal pursuit, it will be
advisable to divide it by brigades, to which must be allotted the
various roads along which the enemy is retreating. To each column must
be assigned artillery, to enable it to be continually at grips with the
enemy. Cases may also occur where, if the enemy's lines of retreat are
not too close together, it will be possible to penetrate between them,
and thus strike all the terrors of a parallel pursuit to the very heart
of his army. The results that might thus be gained will justify great

As to the covering of a retreat, I may draw attention to paragraph
518[43] of the new Regulations. All the essentials are here set forth
in compressed form. Under such circumstances the cavalry must never
renounce the offensive, as the maintenance of morale when things are
going badly is imperative. Continual efforts must be made to confront
the enemy, and to attack him whenever possible with the cold steel.
Defensive fire tactics, however, will of course be employed whenever
circumstances demand such action. Thus, when it becomes no longer
possible to show a front to the pursuing cavalry in the open, measures
must be taken to block the routes upon which his parallel pursuit is
operating by barricading roads and occupying important points and
defiles, especially during the night, and thus to secure the retreat
of the army. Detachments to which these duties are confided must be
despatched from the battlefield in good time, so that they may be able,
if possible, to arrange their defensive measures by daylight. The more
obstinately they hold well-chosen points, even at the risk of being cut
off and captured, the better will they have done their duty.

4. _The Rôle of the Divisional Cavalry_

The numerical weakness of the divisional cavalry, and the variety of
duties that fall to its lot, considerably limit the development of its
fighting power. It will scarcely ever be able to seek battle with the
enemy's cavalry in an offensive sense, nor in defence will it possess
the requisite numbers for an effective counter-stroke. It is therefore
all the more important that such isolated favourable opportunities for
the charge as some fortunate chance may place in its way should not be
allowed to slip by. Every tactical success raises the self-confidence
of the troops, and operates towards the attainment of moral superiority
over the enemy, even though he may be numerically the stronger force.

In the battle of all arms, as soon as fighting contact has been
established with the enemy, and the close and combat reconnaissance is
thus probably at an end, the divisional cavalry must endeavour to gain
touch with the army cavalry, in order to strengthen the latter for the
battle. In so doing, it must not of course lose all connection with
its own infantry division. When this cannot be done, and when no other
chance of mounted action offers, the divisional cavalry must seize the
rifle and act as an immediate support for the infantry. Opportunities
for such action will occur more especially in defence, as was proved by
the cavalry of General Stuart.

After the battle it is the duty of the divisional cavalry to advance in
frontal pursuit, even though no great results are to be expected from
such action. During a retreat after the battle it will be continually
in action as the rearmost detachment, and must endeavour to arrest the
pursuit by occupying favourable positions with fire action. Frequent
opportunities for a charge on a small scale may here occur.

Should the infantry division to which the cavalry belongs be operating
independently without army cavalry, the divisional cavalry must act in
accordance with the principles laid down for the army cavalry, as far
as they apply and in so far as its strength and other circumstances
will allow. Parallel pursuit may be possible under such conditions.

In retreat, every effort within the power of the cavalry must be made
to protect the flanks of the retiring division, and to arrest the
pursuer by sudden bursts of fire on every possible occasion.

There is for the divisional cavalry no such wide field of possibilities
as is open to the army cavalry: it will be less often mentioned in
despatches. The tasks which fall to its share, however, are certainly
immeasurably more arduous and call for greater sacrifices. It will
often be confronted by the most important and dangerous duties, for the
fulfilment of which its means are quite inadequate. Such duties can
only be carried out if the troops are capable of the greatest efforts
and determined to do great deeds, without the impulse that the prospect
of distinction promotes.


It is an astonishing fact that the échelon,[44] and especially
the rearward échelon, should have won for itself an importance in
our cavalry tactics which, in my opinion, is quite undeserved and
contradictory to the essence of cavalry action. It is the more
astounding when we consider that this principle of échelon formation is
said to be based on the tactics of Frederick the Great, which have no
connection whatever with the échelon in its present form.

Frederick the Great arranged his cavalry in two lines, and within these
lines the tactical units were on the same line of front. Detachments
destined to turn the enemy's flank were attached in column to the outer
flank of the leading line. As far as I know, a mention of échelon can
only be found in one place. In a sketch that accompanies one of the
Regulations of July 25, 1744, a squadron of the second line is shown
thrown forward at half the distance between the lines and écheloned on
the first line, with the obvious intention of securing the outer flank
of the first line against local turning movements. Out of this one
squadron the whole of our échelon system has grown. Here is the only
justification for claiming that the échelon of the second line is of
Frederician origin.

Nor, as far as I know, in the tactics of the Napoleonic cavalry is
there any trace of échelon in the modern sense. We would do well to
seek, in this period of experience in great cavalry battles instruction
for the conduct of cavalry against cavalry, and not to sacrifice its
lessons for imaginary advantages.

According to all appearances, our modern échelon is but the offspring
of peace requirements. The troops were required to be mobile and
capable of manoeuvre, and a division was required to perform the same
stereotyped evolutions as a regiment or a brigade. In the division the
échelon of brigades met this requirement admirably, favouring as it did
the change to line, a manoeuvre which, on its part, was well suited to
the necessities of drill in a limited area, and was regarded as the
_pièce de résistance_ of all cavalry divisional manoeuvres. Many a time
have I assisted at these tactical orgies!

We must not neglect the warning that, even in manoeuvres, as soon as
there is any kind of approach to service conditions, such necessity
for change of front never--literally never--occurs. Besides this,
the échelon formation has shown itself to be quite unpractical where
any real tactical deployment is required off the drill-ground. The
question, then, of the circumstances for which it is particularly
designed does not appear as yet to have been definitely asked or
answered. We have been content with general representations that
it increased the power of manoeuvre, and thus added to our beloved
stereotyped formations.

For years I have striven to clear up these views and to establish their
true worth. As long ago as 1903, in my book "Cavalry in Future Wars," I
wrote as follows: " ... It is obvious that the formations for approach
and attack prescribed by the (old) Regulations are as unpromising of
success as they well can be. While affording a possibility of quickly
presenting the same formation in any direction, a feat of no possible
advantage for war, they seriously impede any deployment to the front.
If it is required to launch the first line against the enemy's flank
because this is its shortest line, one at least of the following
brigades will be masked, and will be hampered in its movements. If,
again, it is desired to utilise one of the rear brigades for a flank
movement or any similar purpose, the first line has to be checked until
the others reach the required position, or else they will certainly
arrive too late to co-operate. Furthermore, the formations advocated
render it more difficult to derive full benefit from the configuration
of the ground."

These deductions have remained, up to now, uncontested. In spite
of this, however, the new Regulations uphold the point of view of
the old as regards échelon formation in every way, and even vest it
with increased importance by confiding to the échelon the duties of
the real second line, _i.e._ of the supporting squadrons of the old
Regulations. In the regiment, as in the brigade, depth is to consist
in échelon formation, and only exceptionally is a real second line to
be formed. The échelons are not only to protect the flank of their own
units, and turn against any portions of the enemy's line that may break
through, but are also to turn the enemy's flanks (170 and 200).[45]
In the division, also, during the advance to attack cavalry, échelon
formation will, "as a rule," be ordered. The transition formation thus
remains with us not only in name, but in fact, only with the difference
that brigades provide for their own depth and flank protection, thus,
in fact, being again in themselves écheloned (223, 424, 425).[46] Only
when a closer knowledge of the enemy is attained may the brigades come
into the same alignment from the commencement, and assume the requisite
frontage (426).[47]

In close connection with this modified transition formation, the
"change to lines" has also been retained in fact, though no longer
designated as such. That is to say, the possibility of a change of
front "to the complete flank," _i.e._ at right angles to the direction
of march, is still contemplated (220),[48] and to this end a fresh
formation of the division will generally be required, as well as a
fresh directing brigade, which takes up the new line of march, and to
which the remainder conform in the desired manner. It is apparently
a matter of indifference whether the brigades are called lines or
brigades. It is, and remains, a purely drill evolution of the division
in close formation, a complete change of front to a flank, and is
therefore something that would certainly not occur in war if any
reasonable sort of information were to hand. If it did occur, it would
presuppose the entire failure of reconnaissance and the corresponding
incapacity of the leader.

My cavalry instinct forbids me to share the tactical principles that
these views entail, and I will therefore again endeavour to make clear
that conception of the matter which I hold to be correct.

First, as regards the demands of the Regulations that échelon is to
replace depth. In my opinion, the conditions of reality have not in
this matter been taken into account. To be able to meet a hostile
squadron that has broken through the line, the écheloned squadron,
if still in column, must wheel into line, or if, as is probable,
already in line, must wheel, and then charge behind the front of its
own attacking-line. I consider this, of itself, to be impracticable
in the excitement of the fight, a manoeuvre that can only be carried
out on the drill-ground. We have only to consult any one who has had
experience of a cavalry attack to learn how difficult it is to perform
such evolutions immediately before the charge.

Then, again, what is our conception of such a hostile squadron breaking
through? It may be expected to be accompanied by a simultaneous
rearward movement of a corresponding portion of our own line, so that
no clear objective for attack from the flank would be likely to offer
itself. Such retirements of single portions of the line can only be met
and counteracted by throwing in fresh forces from the rear; such has
always been the experience in cavalry fights, as far as the teachings
of history show.

But there are other matters for consideration. How can the squadron,
écheloned, for instance, on the _outer_ flank of a brigade, intervene
when this so-called rupture of the line takes place on the _inner_
flank? In the dust and excitement of a cavalry fight, will such a
rupture, especially in undulating country, be even noticed? What if
there is a simultaneous threatening of the other flank, which the
échelon is obliged to meet? What if the échelon has advanced in an
enveloping movement? Who is then to deal with the rupture of the line?

To go on trying to prove that the duties devolving on depth and échelon
cannot be met by one and the same detachment, is like carrying coals
to Newcastle. The formation of a second line in the fight against
cavalry, regarded as exceptional by the Regulations, should be made an
_invariable rule_, from which departure is allowed only in exceptional
cases, while safety for the flanks must be arranged for _independently_
of this.

Here again we come into collision with paragraph 170 of the
Regulations, which lays down that an offensive flank attack may be
undertaken from a rearward échelon; as if such a manoeuvre could
possibly be carried out! Detachments which are to turn the enemy's
flank must, during the approach, advance into alignment with their own
line separated from its flank by the necessary interval, or else must
be _écheloned forwards_ from the commencement.

Forward échelon will generally be found to correspond with the
offensive spirit of cavalry better than the more defensive rearward
échelon. It is usually more practical and protects the flank better,
while at the same time threatening the enemy's flank and laying down
the law to him. Forward échelon is a very useful tactical cavalry
formation, and deserves more attention than the Regulations bestow
upon it.[49]

On its offensive importance I need scarcely enlarge. Troops in forward
échelon are already in a position which can only be reached after an
exhausting gallop by those in rearward échelon, the position prescribed
by the Regulations. They will be in a position to frustrate any
offensive intentions of the hostile reserves, and will obtain quicker
and surer information as to the enemy than will ever be possible at
such a time by patrols alone. That they may at times come in contact
with hostile troops in rearward échelon is obvious. If the flank of
these cannot be turned, they must be dealt with frontally. Local
dispositions and a vanguard must provide security against the action of
hostile reserves.

Even in a _defensive_ sense the forward échelon will often be more
useful than the rearward. The latter formation surrenders the
initiative to the enemy, and confines itself to _parrying_ attacks,
always a disadvantage in a cavalry fight. Forward échelon, on the
contrary, seeks to forestall the enemy in the offence. As to how it
may often be better adapted to warding off hostile attacks than the
rearward échelon I will give an example.

A body of cavalry, in the approach formation, is advancing against
the enemy, with blind ground on a flank, which would allow of the
enemy's covered approach, and which perhaps it has been impossible to
reconnoitre. Attack or fire surprise is feared from this quarter. How
will the cavalry protect itself? The modern tactician would in most
cases reply: "By an échelon to the rear." I do not think this would be
suitable. How is such a formation to give safety from fire surprise,
and to locate the enemy's advance and arrest it until the main body can
take counter-measures? The forward échelon can here alone avail. It
comes to close quarters with the enemy, attacks him before he can reach
the flank of the main body, and thus gains time for defensive measures
or retirement.

It is quite obvious that the cases for employment of the forward
échelon do not allow of being formulated. I think, however, that we
should make much more use of this formation than is at present the
fashion. Properly applied, such methods will ensure to us considerable
superiority over our opponents.

If we turn from this narrower tactical point of view to the
formations on a large scale where échelon is to be found--namely,
the divisions--here too the examination leads to no more favourable
conclusions. I ask myself, when and under what circumstances will such
a formation be advisable?

During the approach to the battle of encounter it is, as I have
endeavoured to prove, quite superfluous, and may even operate to
our disadvantage. In this case, when total uncertainty reigns as to
whether the combat will be carried out mounted or dismounted, or
both, there can be no question of any stereotyped tactical formation,
either of units as a whole or of smaller bodies within them. Here, as
we have seen, the battle will generally develop gradually, and the
fighting-line be fed from depth, until the necessary information as to
the enemy has been gained and the decisive attack can be embarked upon.
Under such circumstances the brigades advance according to the tasks
allotted them, and make their dispositions as circumstances dictate.
The depth that will be necessary can obviously not be laid down,
and can be attained by échelon neither in the division nor in its
subdivisions. If the division should advance under such circumstances
in close formation écheloned within itself, the unnecessary danger
would be run of offering an ideal target to the enemy's artillery
(which must always be taken into consideration), and at the same time
of hampering movement where circumstances demand the greatest freedom
in all directions.

If, on the other hand, the enemy's dispositions are known before a
collision occurs, the Regulations themselves (426, see p. 172) allow
that échelon formation is superfluous, and that the advance may be made
in the deployed formation desired, brigades being on the same frontage,
if the country and the character of the adversary offer the probability
of a charge.

And will it be different in the battle of all arms? In that case,
if the army cavalry advances from the wing of the army with the
intention of attacking the enemy's flank, what need will it have of
échelon formations? It is known that an attack must be made under any
circumstances. Further information as to the comparative strength of
the enemy cannot and must not be waited for. All available forces
will be engaged in order to wrest a victory, and must from the
beginning be so disposed that the enemy will be compelled as far as
possible to conform to our movements, and that we may prepare the most
favourable deployment for attack in the manner discussed above. Must
we, then, advance with the division in close formation, écheloned
within itself, in order to afford the greatest possible target for the
enemy's artillery? Are we to choose the pusillanimous formation of the
defensive échelon, that we may perhaps be obliged to approach and to
deploy under the enemy's eyes, incapable in this unwieldy formation of
turning the ground to account? I cannot think that this is practical
and believe that modern artillery fire of itself suffices to make the
écheloned division an impossibility and to banish it for ever from the

It must be added that should the unexpected appearance of the enemy
on a flank make it necessary, _rearward_ échelon is much easier to
assume from a formation of brigades on the same front than is the line
or attack formation from rearward échelon. It is only necessary for
that part of the line which is to be écheloned to halt or decrease the
pace, and the échelon is soon formed. To push forward units from depth
while on the move means, on the other hand, a considerable and indeed
unnecessary expenditure of force.


As the brigades in a modern division must, on account of the effect
of artillery fire, be disposed according to completely different
principles from those of the past, so, too, must the formations adopted
by the various groups be chosen to suit modern conditions.

Our new Regulations lay down that, if the cavalry, after its
preliminary deployment, has to cross an extensive fire-zone, the
subordinate leaders are to choose such formations for their units
as will minimise the effect of the hostile fire, and that, for this
purpose, the configuration of the ground must be turned to the best
advantage, even though it should involve temporary departure from
prescribed intervals.

I do not consider these instructions, which, in contradiction to the
general principles of the Regulations, give free play to the initiative
of all subordinate leaders, are sufficiently definite. They appear
to try to avoid giving a distinct designation to this manner of
advance. Before the publication of the Regulations it was known as
"extended formation." As such I have characterised it in my brochure,
"Reflections on the New Cavalry Regulations," published in 1908,
and it is to be regretted that this title was not maintained in the
Regulations, and with it also the real essence of the whole formation.
This would, I think, have made the matter clearer. I hold it to be of
great importance that the adoption of such formations should be ordered
by higher authority, as otherwise there must be a danger of the troops
getting out of hand.

In adopting these extensions it is not only a question of ground
actually under artillery fire, but also of areas during the crossing of
which fire may be expected, to which, of course, the troops should not
be exposed. Whether such is the case or not, the cavalry commander, who
is observing and receiving intelligence as the troops hurry forward, is
alone in a position to judge, and not each subordinate leader. For this
reason alone, unity of action is absolutely necessary. So is it also
from another point of view. I need scarcely enlarge on the picture of
what would occur if each subordinate commander, each squadron leader,
according to his individual judgment, were to suddenly regulate the
pace and formation of his own volition, while it would be a matter of
difficulty to maintain proper control of the troops if it were left to
the squadron leaders to regain alignment in their own time.

It is therefore imperative, to my mind, that such extensions should
not be left to the discretion of the squadron leader, but ordered by
superior authority. Instructions as to pace should be given at the same
time, and the area indicated where troops are to regain the formation
ordered and decrease the pace. These are points that have escaped the
notice of the Regulations. Orders must also be given as to whether
several lines will eventually be formed. These will then generally have
to follow each other at shrapnel distance. Only the choice of formation
and line of advance must be left to the subordinate leaders, as they
alone are in a position to judge of the local effect of the hostile

If such dispositions are to be made, all commanders, down to squadron
leaders, must be instructed in time, so that they may have already
adopted the necessary formation on reaching the dangerous zone. They
must at the same time be informed, in so far as can be ascertained,
from which direction artillery fire--for this alone can be in
question--is to be expected.

Should the artillery fire come from the front, column of route will
often be a suitable formation. It affords but a small frontage of
target, and facilitates use of the ground. If the artillery fire is
expected from a flank, the adoption of a single-rank line will often
commend itself. In any case, in the larger formations, distances and
intervals must be adjusted so that one and the same burst of shrapnel
will not strike two squadrons at once.

As the Regulations do not touch on these points, I do not see how a
proper understanding of them can be awakened and cultivated in the
troops, imperative though this may be.

As a rule it will be by no means sufficient to adopt formations for
minimising the effect of artillery fire only in special cases where
such fire is to be expected. The great range of modern guns, and their
capabilities of indirect fire induced by improved means of observation,
and the possibility of bringing fire to bear on large unseen targets
with the aid of the map, make it absolutely necessary, when entering
within possible effective range of artillery, to adopt formations
which will offer no favourable mark. If this tends on the one hand,
as already remarked, to a premature deployment, it forces us, on the
other, to adopt formations which can cross country easily and afford no
easy target for the artillery.

I have already shown in a former work[50] how well the double
column[51] answers this purpose, and in what a comprehensive manner the
principle of independent squadron columns allows of elaboration, to
procure for the cavalry the greatest imaginable freedom of movement.

The Regulations do not agree with these views. They hold fast to
the principle that deployment must always be in line, and not in a
succession of lines, and that before this deployment the squadron
columns hitherto employed will generally be replaced by some other

The above remain the chief formations for movement and deployment
of the cavalry. The employment of the "regimental mass and brigade
mass"[52] has been limited, but the Regulations give us nothing in
their place. Nor, on the other hand, is the flexibility of the double
column particularly emphasised; its use, indeed, is in a certain sense
limited. I see such limitation in the fact that the trumpet-call
"_Double column!_" has been abolished. As, on the other hand, the call
"_Form regimental mass!_" has been retained, it does not appear as
if the use of double column is to be further developed, or allowed to
replace the regimental and brigade mass on the field of battle.

It is further laid down that the regimental mass is to be used when
beyond the range of the enemy's fire, the brigade mass when concealed
by the ground, even on the battlefield. A deployment is even allowed
for from the brigade in mass towards the flank, and that by a wheel
of the head of the columns. This presupposes that such a column can
be used in a flank movement, which I regard as an impossibility. A
deployment from regimental mass to squadron columns is also provided
for. In view of the great effective range of the modern gun, I cannot
think that movements in such close formation right up to the moment of
deployment can go unpunished upon a modern battlefield.

All these instructions contained in the Regulations, and many others
that take effect in the same sense, cannot be regarded as practical.
They lead us to fear that the regimental and brigade masses, in
spite of all modern conditions, will retain more or less their old
importance. They will serve as a pretext for many a hidebound drill
enthusiast, of which, alas! there are still many among us. Upon the
battlefields of the future, however, we will no longer dare to appear
in such formations, but only widely deployed and in thin columns, in
such dispositions indeed as will allow of a rapid adoption of the
attack formation, such as we have discussed in detail above. I can
only hope that these views will, in the not too far distant future,
come to be more generally recognised and will find their way into the

Finally, I would once again draw attention to the idea of the
"vanguard."[53] It receives but a passing mention in the Regulations,
and no explanation of what is thereby meant. My opinion is that it
is indispensable to all flank movements, and must _continually_ be
used, especially in the offensive. It should therefore be provided
for by regulation in all deployments, and the troops should be fully
conversant with its use.

For the rest, the present Regulations, in spite of all actual progress
made, can only be designated as provisional, and give rise to the hope
that it will be found possible to re-edit them soon, above all as
regards the stereotyped parts, so that, fully prepared and up to date,
we may go forth with confidence to meet the events of any future war.


Having in the last chapter endeavoured to elaborate tactical
principles, and to give practical hints, I will now shortly deal with
the duties of the various units, and endeavour to form an impression of
the performances that may be expected of them in the fight.

When a _squadron_, acting independently in reconnaissance, as advanced
guard, flank guard, or divisional cavalry, finds itself obliged to
attack, it will, as a rule, employ its whole force simultaneously,
whether it charges in line, knee to knee, or uses a troop in single
rank as first line. If a troop has been thrown forward as advanced
guard, it must quickly clear the front, and endeavour to join the
squadron, so as to strengthen it before the collision, and not to
become prematurely involved in a disadvantageous fight.

The squadron is generally too weak to carry out an offensive fight
on foot. There is also no means of guarding the led horses but by
patrols. If they should become isolated during the attack, there will
be a danger of losing them, especially in hostile country. A squadron
must therefore only determine on a dismounted attack when such action
is absolutely unavoidable. For dispersing hostile patrols or armed
inhabitants, about a troop dismounted will generally suffice, where
there is no opportunity of surprising them in the charge, or of
enveloping them. A defensive fight on foot must not be undertaken by a
single squadron unless absolutely necessary, or which the led horses
can be disposed in a safe place in the immediate neighbourhood, where
the flanks cannot be turned, or where the arrival of reinforcements can
be relied upon.

A squadron attacking knee to knee is stronger than a numerically
superior enemy who charges in looser formation and is not armed with
the lance.

The _regiment_ of four or five squadrons is numerically too weak a body
to be able of itself to carry out the larger strategical missions. It
will therefore operate in more or less close co-operation with other
troops, and will seldom be called upon to fight independently. It may,
however, find itself for a time obliged to rely upon its own fighting
strength, whether acting as divisional cavalry, as advanced guard, or
as a detachment from a larger force of cavalry.

If a fight is in immediate prospect, column of troops must first be
formed from column of route, and a broader front, which will allow
of a rapid assumption of the attack formation, must then be adopted
according to the ground.

In the charge against cavalry the regiment should only on rare
occasions deploy all its squadrons into line, but must, whenever
practicable, detail one squadron to follow in second line, and another
in forward échelon, to protect the more exposed flank and to turn that
of the enemy.

It will also be possible for the regiment to operate dismounted against
weaker hostile detachments. If relative strength allows, at least a
squadron should be detached to guard the led horses and to carry out
reconnaissance duties. In the defence on foot, with ample ammunition
and every available rifle in the firing-line, the regiment represents a
formidable fighting force, even when obliged to detach one, or even two
squadrons, for reconnaissance and for the protection of the flanks and
the led horses.

In the fight of smaller bodies of all arms, a regiment will frequently
be able to intervene in a most effective manner by a timely charge,
from which considerable results may often be expected, especially
during pursuit of a retreating and shaken enemy. In such cases the
formation of lines for attack will frequently be superfluous, and a
broad enveloping formation may be adopted.

The _brigade_ of two regiments is numerically too weak of itself
to carry out strategical missions, and to be able to engage in the
independent actions they demand. The heavy drains on its strength which
such missions generally entail will usually weaken the fighting power
so much that the brigade will no longer be in a condition to engage an
opponent of any strength who may have to be dealt with by mounted or
dismounted action, or the two in combination.

At the same time, circumstances may lead to a brigade being _forced_
to carry out an independent rôle. It will then have to reconnoitre
with great care, so that it may only embark on a decisive encounter
with a full knowledge of the situation. Otherwise, in view of its
small offensive power, it will run a great risk of suffering defeat,
especially when dismounted.

In the defence on foot, on the other hand, a brigade may be regarded as
an important factor of strength, capable of successfully resisting an
enemy of considerable superiority, as long as its flanks are protected
and the led horses do not require too large an escort.

On approaching the enemy, the brigade must form column of troops from
column of route in good time and the regiments must be deployed on the
frontage and in the formations demanded by the situation. In such cases
a reserve must always be detailed. The allotment of different rôles in
the fight to the various regiments or groups will form the framework
for the tactical deployment. In all attacks the brigade or its
component parts must always adopt the formation in lines. Where there
is blind ground to a flank, a forward échelon must be formed which will
co-operate concentrically in the charge. In the attack on foot, too,
it will often be advantageous to échelon detachments forward under due
protection, in order to envelop the enemy's position.

In the combat of detachments of all arms, and especially in pursuit,
considerable performances must be expected of a brigade. A timely
charge or the employment of its fire power in an effective direction
may bring about a decision.

The _division_ of six regiments, under circumstances where its full
strength can be employed in the charge, represents, even against troops
using the rifle, a very considerable fighting power, which can, if
judiciously handled and launched at the right moment, have a decisive
effect, even in a battle of armies.

In independent missions it must be remembered that a complete regiment
of four squadrons with 15 files per troop will represent 400 rifles
at most. In war, however, this figure will never be reached. Wastage
on the march and the provision of the necessary detachments and
patrols, weaken squadrons very considerably. We must further remember
that in every great battle a mounted reserve will always have to be
detailed, while, in addition to this, detachments such as reconnoitring
squadrons, escorts to transport, reporting centres, and signal
stations, will generally fail to rejoin in time for the battle. Thus
the division will seldom actually be able to reckon on more than 1,000
to 1,500 rifles in the firing-line.

Even counting on the co-operation of artillery and machine-guns, which
the enemy will also have at his disposal, this represents no great
offensive strength. It is therefore necessary to be quite clear in
our minds that only weak detachments can be attacked with prospect of

A cavalry division is greatly handicapped by these circumstances
in carrying out the rôle which may be assigned to it in the course
of operations. The resistance of a body of equal strength where
circumstances demand a dismounted attack can thus never be overcome.

Mounted, however, it is quite another matter. A well-trained German
cavalry division, handled according to sound tactical principles and
schooled to charge in close formation, may attack even a stronger enemy
regardless of consequences.

Should the task at issue demand a larger force, several divisions must
be united in a _cavalry corps_. In the battle of all arms such a corps,
either by the charge or by employment of its fire power, may aim at
decisive results. For the conduct of independent strategic missions
fire power is an important factor. As in this case the number of men
detached, etc., will be divided between the divisions, a strength of
3,500 rifles can at times be reached in a corps of two divisions.

For the division, as for the corps, the framework of the tactical
deployment depends upon the commander's tactical plan, as too does
the allotment of duties in the fight to the various units, divisions,
brigades, and regiments, or to the tactical groups, advanced guard,
main body, reserve, etc., and any attempt at retaining the command in
one hand is obviously out of the question. Stress has already been
laid on the necessity for early deployment, and once this is effected,
the various subdivisions of the force must take their own independent
measures for carrying out the rôles that devolve upon them.

On the other hand, neither in the fight of the independent cavalry nor
in the great battle should a unit be allowed to become isolated in the
combat. The necessary combination must always be preserved. United
action, however, is only possible if subordinate leaders never lose
sight of the general purpose of the fight, and continually bear in mind
the necessary interchangeable relations of the various tactical methods.

In war it will seldom be possible either to undertake or to carry out
the very best course of action, but will generally be unnecessary, for
we may certainly count on numerous errors and vacillations on the part
of the enemy, especially in the case of cavalry warfare.

It is of far greater importance that any plan once undertaken should be
energetically carried through to a conclusion.

Success in war is first and foremost a matter of character and will.
The indomitable will to conquer carries with it a considerable
guarantee of success.

The determination to win, cost what it may, is therefore the first and
greatest quality required of a cavalry leader--and the offensive is the
weapon with which he can best enforce his will.


[Footnote 12: "By reason of its firearms, cavalry is capable also of
_dismounted action_. It is thus in a position--and especially so when
supported by horse artillery and machine-guns--to offer resistance to
detachments of all arms, or to cause them serious loss by unexpected
fire-action. Nor need it refrain from attack, should the situation
require it. It will often have to combine dismounted with mounted

[Footnote 13: "In combination with the cavalry combat, the _fire effect
of the carbine_ may be employed on occasions. Thus the occupation of
_points-d'appui_ by portions of the advanced guard may often provide
favourable and, at times, indispensable preliminaries to the deployment
of a division. The support of carbine fire may be possible and useful
even during contact."]

[Footnote 14: "The Crisis of the Confederacy," by Cecil Battine.]

[Footnote 15: "By reason of its firearms, cavalry is capable also of
_dismounted action_. It is thus in a position--and especially so when
supported by horse artillery and machine-guns--to offer resistance to
detachments of all arms, or to cause them serious loss by unexpected
fire-action. Nor need it shrink from attacking, should the situation
require it. It will often have to combine dismounted with mounted

[Footnote 16: "Cavalry will often be obliged to clear the way for
further activity by means of dismounted _attack_. Attempts also on the
hostile lines of communication (such as the capture of railway stations
or magazines, the destruction of important engineering works, or the
capture of isolated posts, etc.) will certainly involve such attacks.
On the battle field, however, dismounted cavalry will rarely be pushed

[Footnote 17: "Cavalry must endeavour to bring dismounted attacks to a
conclusion with the _utmost rapidity_, so that they may regain their
mobility at the earliest possible moment. It may also be of importance
to bring the encounter to a decision before the arrival of hostile

[Footnote 18: "Bügelfühling," as against "Knie an Knie" (knee to

[Footnote 19: As a rule, the squadron _attacks cavalry_ as a single
unit in line. The shock must be affected with the maximum momentum
in two well-defined, well-closed ranks. Cohesion is above all things
necessary for decisive results. Every man must realize this, must
maintain his place in the ranks, and must keep close touch with his

"The two squadron flank guides will hold the squadron in towards the
centre. Small gaps in the front rank may be filled by closing in,
larger gaps by moving up the rear rank files."]

[Footnote 20: "When attacking _cavalry_, the regiments will, as a rule,
be employed in a line formation side by side; this will prevent their
personnel from becoming mixed up. The necessary depth will be supplied
by the regiments themselves, and, in this case, it is usually in the
form of échelons. If the situation demands it, even single squadrons
can follow in column formation.

"The employment of several lines may be useful on occasions when
the situation demands rapid action from the leading regiment, and
circumstances will not permit of the rear regiments taking ground to a

[Footnote 21: The German cavalry use two paces at the gallop, 500 and
700 paces per minute, the pace being 80 cm. (32 in.), thus 14-1/2 and
20-1/2 miles per hour.--Trans.]

[Footnote 22: "A squadron must seek success against _infantry,
artillery, and machine-guns_ by means of surprise and flank attacks.
If a frontal attack is necessary, the zone of fire is best passed
by increasing the pace. The gallop will be resorted to early in the
advance, and the pace increased in the vicinity of the enemy. Breathing
spaces can be obtained under cover of the _terrain_. As, in these
cases, momentum of impact is not so important, it will be sufficient if
collision takes place at a rapid gallop.

"In order to minimize loss, it is advisable to let the advanced
portions of the squadron, or even the whole, adopt single rank
formation with wide intervals. By this means the hostile fire may
be broken up, and, on occasions, the dust raised by the troops in
open order may facilitate the attack of the portion of the squadron
remaining in close order.

"If it is a question of simultaneous attacks, either on a single enemy
from several directions, or on several distinct units of the hostile
force, action by single troops may be advisable.

"Hostile skirmishing lines will be ridden through, if there are other
detachments behind them to be attacked. Any form of attack may be
employed against shaken, yielding infantry. Skirmishing lines are best
pursued in open order, which formation permits of the most effective
employment of cavalry weapons.

"If, during an attack, a squadron breaks into a battery or machine-gun
detachment, a portion of the men will be employed against the
personnel, a portion against the limbers. Captured guns or machine-guns
should be carried off; but, if this is impossible, they will be made
unserviceable, or, at any rate, incapable of movement. Led horses
should also be made the objective in attacks on dismounted cavalry.
"The principles laid down for action against cavalry can be applied,
_mutatis mutandis_, in the matters of pursuit, _mêlée_, and rally."

"Such attacks are carried out in accordance with the principles of
para. 113.

"The strength of a regiment renders it impossible to attack the
objective in several lines. The officer commanding will give orders as
to whether the front line is to be in single rank, and as to whether
the rear lines are to be in a similar formation or in closed double

"In attacking infantry, the lines must not be at too great a distance
from one another. In attacking artillery, the distance between lines is
determined by the effective area of the burst of shrapnel (300 metres =
330 yds)."]

[Footnote 23: _i.e._ with insufficient men to lead them.--Trans.]

[Footnote 24: "Cavalry may succeed in causing hostile detachments
considerable loss, and in upsetting their dispositions, by a surprise
appearance combined with an unexpected and simultaneous opening of
fire. By means of skillful use of ground and by reason of their
mobility, they can rapidly disappear and escape hostile fire action, as
soon as they have obtained the desired results."

"As many carbines as possible must open fire simultaneously. The leader
must do his best to select such ground for the surprise as will permit
of the horses being kept under cover close at hand."

"Horse artillery and machine-guns are necessary to produce the full
effect of fire. Occasionally the co-operation of the cavalry may be
limited to protecting the artillery while taking up a position, whence
it can suddenly open a rapid fire on the enemy."]

[Footnote 25: "At the command: '_Dismount for dismounted action!_' the
squadron dismounts. If the carbines are not already slung across the
back, they will be taken from the buckets.

"When double rank has been formed, the horse holders will take charge
of the horses. The horse holder of either rank is the left flank file
of each section (excepting the left flank guide). If there is only one
man in the rear rank of the left flank section of the troop, he will
hand over his horse to his front rank horse holder; or, if the latter
is already in charge of four horses, to his neighbour. The horses in
charge of a horse holder will be linked. Officers' horses are held by

"Lances are laid on the ground--if in line, in the front of the ranks;
if in column, on the flanks--in such a manner that they cannot be
damaged by the horses.

"In the absence of a contrary order, the sergeant-major and the left
flank guides will remain with the led horses, in addition to the horse

[Footnote 26: "The led horses will remain in the original troop
formation. Their leader must keep himself informed of the course of
the encounter, he must remember to keep off hostile patrols by means
of single sentries, and he must facilitate the rapid remounting of the
dismounted men by placing the horses in orderly formation, with the
troops and ranks separated."]

[Footnote 27: "If, with due regard to the tactical situation, it
can be done without risk, the squadron leader is at liberty, when
employing _either method of dismounting_, to increase the number of his
dismounted men by decreasing the number of his horse-holders."]

[Footnote 28: If I lay down that the deployment in the case of infantry
columns marching towards each other should begin at 8,500 yards, and
in the cavalry only at 6,000 yards, the reason is that the mounted arm
effects the necessary deployment much more quickly. The depth of the
column, also, is not such a decisive factor as in the case of infantry.]

[Footnote 29: "_Exterior lines._" The author uses an expression
familiar to soldiers. In popular language the meaning is to gain a
front wide enough to deliver a converging attack, and work round upon
one or both of the enemy's flanks, from outside of them.--Editor's

[Footnote 30: "An attack in which troops are sent gradually into
action in small detachments, one after the other, is not in accordance
with the spirit of cavalry combat. A force large enough for the
attainment of the objective must, therefore, be employed from the very
commencement of the engagement. But not a man more! No squadron must be
allowed to deal a blow in the air. Conversely, it is wrong to commence
an engagement with insufficient force, and thus to leave the enemy with
initial success."]

[Footnote 31: "Collisions of cavalry partake usually of the nature of
battle of encounter. In such cases, uncertainty as to the strength and
intentions of the enemy renders necessary such échelon formations as
will preserve freedom of action."]

[Footnote 32: "I get into action and then I see."]

[Footnote 33: "If, on emerging from a defile, the enemy is not so
close as to necessitate an immediate attack with any available forces,
a _deployment at the halt_ offers certain advantages. It saves space
towards the front, and gains time--a matter of some moment in a
critical situation. On the other hand, it must be remembered that an
immediate employment and advance inspires the troops with enthusiasm.
A deployment at the halt may also take place when the intention is to
make a surprise attack from a concealed position."]

[Footnote 34: "During _operations_, the army cavalry must seek to gain
the earliest possible insight into the situation and dispositions of
the enemy. It must endeavour, not only to drive the hostile cavalry
from the field, but also to press back advanced detachments of all
arms, or to break through and push forward to the vicinity of the main
body. Cavalry screen duties, also, may provide fighting for the army

[Footnote 35: "The leader must select a station from which, while
keeping his own troops well in hand, he can obtain a good view of the
surrounding country, of the enemy, and of the progress of the battle.
He will either observe himself, or by means of officers sent out to
observing stations. These latter must maintain constant communication
with him.

"_Personal observation is always the best, and is essential in the case
of offensive action against cavalry._"]

[Footnote 36: "As a general principle, a _mounted reserve_ will be

"In special cases, the leader may detail a _dismounted reserve_, which
he can make use of at points where, during the course of the battle,
the enemy's weakness is disclosed, or which are recognized as decisive
objectives for the attack. It is often advisable only to detail such
a force, when it is required, from the troops which have remained

[Footnote 37: "_The mounted reserve_ continues the tactical
reconnaissance and undertakes the protection of the led horses. It will
also assume the offensive against a flank of the hostile position,
whenever it is possible to combine it with the above duties. When
fighting dismounted cavalry, it endeavours to drive the hostile mounted
reserve from the field, and to capture the led horses."]

[Footnote 38: "Rasch vorwärts."]

[Footnote 39: "Cavalry may succeed in causing hostile detachments
considerable loss, and in upsetting their dispositions, by a surprise
appearance combined with an unexpected and simultaneous opening of
fire. By means of skilful use of ground, and by reason of their
mobility, they can rapidly disappear and escape hostile fire action, as
soon as they have obtained the desired results."

"As many carbines as possible must open fire simultaneously. The leader
must do his best to select such ground for the surprise as will permit
of the horses being kept under cover close at hand."

"Horse artillery and machine-guns are necessary to produce the full
effect of fire. Occasionally the co-operation of the cavalry may be
limited to protecting the artillery while taking up a position, whence
it can suddenly open a rapid fire on the enemy."]

[Footnote 40: "Cavalry in Future Wars," Part I, chap. v.]

[Footnote 41: According to the French General Staff history, this
cavalry met a battalion of the 25th Regiment of the 6th Corps, as well
as the 3rd Chasseur Battalion and a battalion of the 27th Regiment
of the 2nd Corps. At all events, the attack met, not retiring, but
unshaken troops.]

[Footnote 42: Five German miles = 23 English miles.]

[Footnote 43: "Should the issue of the battle prove unfavourable, the
cavalry must strain every nerve to facilitate the _retreat_ of the
other arms. It is just in such cases that they must assume a relentless
offensive. Repeated attacks on the flanks of the pursuing troops will
produce the best results.

"Even temporary relief for the retreating infantry and a short gain
in time may avert utter defeat. The cavalry which effects this will,
though it gains no victory, retain the honours of the day."]

[Footnote 44: Échelon formations are those in which lines or bodies
of troops are placed not directly in rear of each other, but with the
second line to the right or left of the first and the next similarly
placed--"like steps of stairs"--hence the name. "Échelon" means
literally a "step" or the "rung of a ladder."--Editor's Note.]

[Footnote 45: "As a rule, a single regiment attacks in line. It may, or
may not, be in échelon. Only on exceptional occasions should one of the
squadrons follow as a second line.

"The officer commanding will bring the directing squadron into the
direction of the attack. The squadrons, each in close formation, must
be led so as to ensure combined action.

"The échelons will envelop the hostile flank or ward off the enemy's
flank attacks; they can also be used to prolong the front of the
regiment, or they can turn against portions of the enemy which have
broken through."

"When attacking _cavalry_, the regiments will, as a rule, be employed
in a line formation side by side; this will prevent their personnel
from becoming mixed up. The necessary depth will be supplied by the
regiments themselves, and, in this case, it is usually in the form of
échelons. _If the situation demands, even single squadrons can follow
in column formation._

"The employment of several lines may be useful on occasions when
the situation demands rapid action from the leading regiment, and
circumstances will not permit of the rear regiments taking ground to a

[Footnote 46: "When advancing to attack _cavalry_, the divisional
commander will, as a rule, order the brigades into _échelon formation_.
_Brigades will make independent arrangements as regards formation in
depth and for flank protection._

"As soon as the divisional commander has decided to attack, he will
arrange for the employment of the artillery and machine-guns; he will
give the brigades their attack orders; if necessary, he will give the
directing brigade the line of attack; and he will detach his reserve.

"The further execution of the attack will rest with the brigade

"Collisions of cavalry partake usually of the nature of battles of
encounter. In such cases, uncertainty as to the strength and intentions
of the enemy renders necessary such échelon formations as will preserve
freedom of action."

"_The formation of the échelon_ will vary according to the objective
and to local conditions.

"Should no certain information as to the advance and formation of the
enemy be forthcoming, a double échelon is possibly the best. But,
should a flank rest on impassable, or on very open, country, which is,
however, covered by the fire of friendly artillery, only single échelon
is necessary. Échelon to the front may be rendered necessary by the
advanced guard situation. The above cases are given merely as examples.

"As the situation is gradually cleared up, the flexibility of échelon
formations renders it easy to attain the formation in which the attack
will be delivered."]

[Footnote 47: "Should it be possible to ascertain the hostile
dispositions with approximate certainty, the cavalry leader can have
his front rank units in line from the start, and deployed on the
frontage upon which he intends to attack. The advantage thus gained, if
combined with rapidity of movement, will often render it possible to
deliver an enveloping attack during the hostile deployment."]

[Footnote 48: " ... for greater changes of front, _e.g._ to the
complete flank, it will generally be necessary to re-form the

[Footnote 49: "Échelon to the front may be rendered necessary by the
advanced guard situation."]

[Footnote 50: "Reflections on the New Cavalry Regulations."]

[Footnote 51: Two squadrons abreast in squadron-column at six paces'
interval, followed by two more at troop-frontage distance. When there
is a fifth squadron, it follows in the same formation in rear of the

[Footnote 52: "Regiments-und Brigadekolonnen."]

[Footnote 53: "Tetenschutz."]



If manoeuvres are to be of real value to the cavalry, care must be
taken to demand nothing of the troops but what would be required of
them in war. This is most apparent in outpost duty, where demands are
made on the outpost cavalry, especially in regard to reconnaissance,
that in nowise correspond to the teachings of the "Field Service
Manual"; and this is the more unfortunate, as the economy of strength
demanded in the "Manual" is absolutely necessary if the divisional
cavalry, in particular, is to be prevented from failing soon after the
commencement of a war.

The duties of outpost cavalry are limited to watching a strip of
country to the front, and possibly on the flank, of the line of
infantry outposts, and to carry messages between the different sections
of the latter.

Standing patrols are the most useful for observation work. In the
case of an enemy close at hand, they should be in touch with him, and
should, if there be no close reconnaissance patrols, watch his flanks
as well; however, with proper dispositions this should be unnecessary.
The standing patrols would, in any case, have to be in a position to
detect and report any advance on the part of the enemy's outposts and
any movement of the enemy denoting an advance or retirement. If the
enemy, however, is so far away as to be out of touch with the cavalry
cordon, reconnaissance work beyond this line should be carried out
by those portions of the divisional cavalry that are _not_ assigned
to outpost duty. If, on the other hand, the outposts on either side
are in close touch, reconnaissance to the front should be carried
out by infantry patrols. It may, however, be advisable under certain
conditions to let weak mounted patrols follow such infantry patrols to
covered positions for carrying messages, or to employ them dismounted
in the place of the infantry.

If these arrangements are not strictly adhered to, it very easily
happens, during manoeuvres, that reconnaissance work is carried out
by the reconnaissance patrols in the daytime, but at night by the
outpost cavalry. In the morning the latter is then scattered in all
directions and cannot be collected again. Such dispositions are also
entirely opposed to the teachings of the "Field Service Manual," and
are unsuited to conditions of real warfare.

In time of war the reconnaissance patrols naturally continue their work
of observation during the night, and consequently they need not be
relieved by patrols of the outpost cavalry. In peace time, on the other
hand, it is still considered remarkable if the patrols remain in touch
with the enemy at night, and those that do so have been dubbed "sticky
patrols." Those, also, which should really be in touch with the enemy
throughout the night usually get under cover, and have been known to
spend a comfortable night in excellent quarters.

In making arrangements with regard to outpost cavalry, attention should
be paid to reducing the distance which messages have to be carried.
In this respect, horses are not always sufficiently considered. When
outpost companies are pushed out far to the flank, it would usually
be well to observe the instructions of the "Field Service Manual,"
and to detail small detachments of cavalry to the companies for their
independent use, as this will prevent considerable waste of strength.
It will often be necessary, on the other hand, to protect unsupported
flanks of a line of infantry outposts by special detachments of the
divisional cavalry that do not form part of the outpost cavalry. Such
detachments would, if possible, find housing for themselves and be
self-protecting, though they might, under certain circumstances, be
given a small force of infantry for local security.

It is most important that the outpost cavalry should be concentrated
in good time in the morning before the commencement of the march or
of the engagement, and that they should retire in _formed_ order
on the divisional cavalry. This requires careful preparation and
instructions; some practical method must be found which will overcome
the difficulties that now present themselves. The various squadron
commanders must act in conjunction with the officers commanding the
outposts. All the higher officers, and those directing the manoeuvres,
must, however, always keep this matter in mind, so that the present
system, which offers such serious disadvantages, may not become so
customary as to be carried on in time of war.

Having examined the flaws still to be found in our outpost system,
and which are likely to adversely affect the arm in war, we find, on
turning to the sphere of reconnaissance, that such defects are even
more prevalent.

The arrangements that are usually made in this matter often draw on
the strength of the cavalry in a manner quite out of proportion to the
demands of actual war, and weaken the squadrons to such an extent as
almost to destroy their fighting value. The weak point is, in the main,
as follows:

It is usual for every order given by a commanding officer to direct
that a reconnaissance should be carried out, even though the previous
order may have given instructions for one in the same direction. The
cavalry obeys these orders, and sends out fresh patrols each time the
order is repeated. As the patrols are always told to keep in touch with
the enemy, and as, on account of peace conditions that obtain, nobody
thinks of relieving them, they collect in one direction, whilst the
squadron becomes weaker and weaker.

I consider that every effort should be made to combat this bad habit.
Care should be taken not to send out unnecessary patrols, and to
call in, from time to time, those that have been sent out, or where
necessary, to relieve them. I believe that this would be possible if
the following rules were observed.

If an order has been given which entails a reconnaissance in a
certain direction, it is unnecessary that this should be repeated in
a subsequent order. Other directions rather, which are indicated by
reason of the altered conditions, should be brought to notice, and
reference made to the reconnaissance already despatched. Under no
circumstances, however, should a cavalry commander be induced, on
receiving instructions to reconnoitre in a certain direction, to send
a patrol to a point where he knows his patrols to be already in touch
with the enemy. The necessary economy of strength can only be effected
by leaving the command of the patrol service _entirely in the hands
of the cavalry commander_, who must be responsible to his superior
officer for the carrying out of the reconnaissance work entrusted to
him. The superior officer should only interfere if he discovers obvious
mistakes, or if other circumstances render such a step absolutely
necessary. He must, for his part, see that orderlies and reporting
patrols that come in remain with his staff, and that they are sent back
to the squadron when opportunity offers, so as to be available for
fighting purposes. This should be made a standing order at manoeuvres.

All patrols that are sent out must receive definite orders as to how
far they are to advance in any given direction, how long they are to
reconnoitre in that direction, and when they are to return. If, at the
expiration of such a period, renewed reconnaissance is found necessary
in the same direction, relieving patrols should be despatched in
good time, _i.e._ before the first patrols have returned; and these
fresh patrols should, if possible, meet the returning ones, in order
to exchange notes regarding the enemy. For this purpose the outward
and homeward routes of the patrols should be prearranged as far as
circumstances permit.

In manoeuvres, when one officer takes over command from another, he
must inquire as to the arrangements made for reconnaissance work, and
must take measures accordingly.

When a fresh squadron is sent out on reconnaissance, due notice must be
given to the squadron to be relieved. The two officers commanding must
act in conjunction, so that the officer being relieved can draw in his
patrols and the relieving patrols of the new squadron be sent out in
good time.

It should also be remembered that, in time of war, close reconnaissance
would gradually develop from distant reconnaissance, and would not,
as a rule, require any fresh dispositions such as are usually found
necessary at manoeuvres.

During all exercises, especially when a long advance is being made and
distant patrols are not actually sent out, the commanding officers
should be furnished by the directing staff with such information as
these patrols would in all probability have obtained. They should
also be told which of the distant patrols may be assumed to be
in touch with the enemy, and which have either returned or been
captured or wiped out. The distant patrols, which are to be in touch
with the enemy, might with advantage be despatched by the directing
staff, before the manoeuvre commences, in time to procure quarters
and receive instructions as to the situation. The troops should,
of course, be informed of the despatch of these patrols, and all
further reconnaissance will be furnished by the cavalry commander.
Every cavalry detachment must also know exactly what area it is to
reconnoitre, and what reconnaissances have been, or are assumed to have
been, carried out by neighbouring detachments.

It is a mistake to indicate the direction in which a near
reconnaissance should be made, without limiting the distance of it.
It is the duty of the distant reconnaissance to locate an opponent
who is advancing from a distance. As long as the enemy is under the
observation of the distant patrols, the close reconnaissance should
not be pushed forward to meet him, but should be advanced from one
position to the next, within definite limits. When these limits have
been reached, the close patrols should be drawn in by the squadrons
furnishing them, and fresh patrols be despatched to the next position.

It would also be well if the directing staff were to lessen the work
by stopping and sending back to their units such patrols as, by reason
of their direction, cannot possibly come in contact with the enemy; or
it may even suffice, for the purposes of the manoeuvre, to assume the
despatch of patrols in such directions. They might also be given sealed
orders, only to be opened at a certain place, containing the data
necessary for negative reports and instructions regarding their return
to their unit.

I believe that if such methods were adopted, and if the patrol leaders
confined themselves to sending such reports as would be sent in real
war, which would include a clear and concise statement regarding
the configuration of the country, it would be possible to avoid the
unwarrantable weakening of the squadrons now in vogue, which does not
even produce a correspondingly efficient service of communication. It
is, however, true that the art of sending a few, but good reports,
and of sending them at the right time requires, in the leader of the
patrol, sound tactical judgment, and a training that is nowadays but
seldom obtained.

Senior officers also are often to blame for the frequency of reports.
Appointed to a command at manoeuvres, they want to know every detail
about the enemy, and the exact minute in which an advance or a movement
is made. Every little detachment must be reported, and the slightest
movement watched. The result is that they encourage patrols, not only
to send as many detailed reports as possible, but, if necessary,
to obtain the information in a manner incompatible with service
conditions. This is a deep-seated evil that is to be seen at all
manoeuvres, and one that commanders should consistently endeavour to

Such procedure reacts upon the commanding officers themselves by
exercising a harmful influence on their individual training. If
everything is known about the strength, the line of advance, and
the distance of the enemy, generalship descends to the level of the
solution of an arithmetical problem, decisions of the commanding
officers being based on complete and established data. What a
difference is there in actual warfare! But meagre information is
available regarding the enemy, and decisions must, as a rule, be based
on a certain knowledge of one's own plans and a rough idea of the
numbers, intentions, and fighting strength of the enemy. In the former
case, decisions of commanding officers are the result of calculation;
in the latter--_i.e._ in actual warfare--they are a matter for
military skill, or the intuition of genius, which is a very different
thing. These are the decisions that officers should be encouraged and
trained to make; but, unless the malpractices that have crept into the
reconnaissance work are rooted out, this valuable training for actual
warfare is likely to be lost.

But all that is only by the way. We are now discussing the cavalry and
not the generals, and I should like to point out the great importance
of training units themselves to report in a manner suited to service
conditions, _i.e._ to report only important matters, and these _at the
right time_, so that the commanding officer may receive information
regarding the enemy in time to make the necessary dispositions, while
at the same time the reconnoitring detachments need not unduly weaken
themselves by the too frequent despatch of messages. On the field of
battle reports could be carried by individual horsemen instead of
by patrols, but of these only a limited number should be drawn from
the squadron, as it is not possible to rely on their return. _They
must_ also be taught only to take reports to such places as they could
actually reach in war. At manoeuvres and other exercises they are often
to be seen riding about behind the firing-line in the most exposed
places, having apparently no idea of the dangers which they would run
in real warfare. This habit, acquired in peace, may in time of war
entail the loss of many riders, horses, and reports.

The best means of counteracting these bad habits is to tell the
despatch-riders exactly where to go, and to prevail on the officers
concerned to remain in certain fixed places, as in real warfare,
instead of moving about on the field of battle, even within the zone
of the enemy's fire. It is true that, by moving about and exposing
themselves, commanders can get a better idea of the engagement, and
can make dispositions more rapidly and better than they could from the
rear; but, at the same time, such procedure spoils their own training
by removing difficulties that would exist in time of war. Making
suitable dispositions from the rear, with hardly anything but reports
to go by, is quite a different matter from conducting the fight from
the front, where a clear view of the situation can be got.

As regards reconnaissance and screening, the principles evolved in
the chapter on these subjects hold good for the conduct of cavalry at

First of all, we must see whether the cavalry attached to the different
divisions should, according to its strength, be only classed as
divisional cavalry, or whether its total strength is such as to entitle
it to be considered as army cavalry.

Units detailed to act as divisional cavalry should not move about
independently in the manoeuvre area, as this would be in opposition
to the essence of their duties, nor should they, on the other hand,
remain tied to the infantry, as they unfortunately so often do. They
must learn to advance from point to point, to reconnoitre by areas, to
observe from a distance with glasses, to judge correctly which flank
is of most importance for reconnaissance, and, finally, to occupy
during the engagement such ground that may be valuable or essential for
successful reconnaissance. Regiments and squadrons detailed as army
cavalry should, on the other hand, act according to the principles

When army cavalry is taking part in manoeuvres, the leaders should be
recommended to include in the exercises reconnaissance and screening
problems on a large scale. This can generally be done. Then the merging
of the distant into the close and battle reconnaissance should be
practised, the gradual withdrawal of reconnoitring squadrons on the
approach of the enemy, the evacuation of the areas allotted to them,
and the independent action necessitated by the fresh conditions. This
stage is instructive, not only for the reconnoitring squadrons and
patrols, but also for the cavalry division itself. They will have to
decide on which flank of the troops in rear to concentrate, and in
this matter must act in conjunction with any divisional cavalry there
may be; at the same time, they must take into account the ground and
the general strategical situation. The final decision will, as a rule,
have to be made after duly weighing many varied and often conflicting

If a general engagement of all arms should result, it is important,
even though the ground should not be suitable for a charge, that the
best use should, in any case, be made of the fighting value of the
troops. Nothing is more incorrect and more opposed to the principles
of warfare than an attitude of inactivity in anticipation of the
possibility of an attack. If écheloned forward on the flank of the
force, the cavalry should make every endeavour to develop an attack
against the flank or rear of the enemy by fire or shock action, and to
threaten and harass his artillery. The heavy artillery of the field
army will often afford a suitable object of attack, more so, perhaps,
in manoeuvres than in actual warfare. It is undoubtedly wrong, whatever
the conditions may be, to remain inactive and watch the other arms
struggling for the palm of victory. "_Activité! activité! activité!_"
cried Napoleon to his generals, and this, too, should be our first
demand from our cavalry leaders.

It would also be a useful exercise if pursuits could occasionally
be arranged for at manoeuvres, so that the cavalry may learn how to
initiate them in good time, and to push them home with energy. The
difficulties of pursuits, and the principles to be observed in their
conduct, are dealt with elsewhere.

If the cavalry endeavours to carry out the tasks I have sketched above,
and at the same time effects the necessary economy of strength, it
will reap benefits from manoeuvres that will materially assist its
training for war, provided the antiquated ideas that still prevail are


Under this head I should like to draw attention to the importance of
frequent practice in screening. In a war of operations, which includes
the encounters resulting from strategical concentration, the functions
of screening are, in my opinion, most important. The American War of
Secession showed in a surprising manner what could be done in this
respect. Stuart's screening of the left wheel of the Confederate army,
after the battle of Chancellorsville, for instance, was a masterpiece,
and the reconnaissance carried out by Mosby's Scouts during the same
period was equally brilliant. I would recommend the study of these
features of the war, as they are remarkably suited to the present day,
in spite of the great change in conditions.

Our cavalry keep, as a rule, but little in touch with such matters.
The new "Field Service Manual" introduces the idea of offensive and
defensive screens, but the cavalry lack experience in them. Offensive
screening is usually accepted, it appears, at all events, at the
outset, as being somewhat similar to reconnaissance duties. Real
screening is but seldom practised, as operations only last a short
time, and usually end with a cavalry encounter, entailing a lapse into
the usual set piece.

With regard to these exercises, I would point out that defensive
screening, combined with natural obstacles, and possibly with the
assistance of the other arms, is much more effective than the offensive
method, and therefore deserves more attention, and, further, that there
is a considerable difference between a reconnaissance and an offensive

In a reconnaissance an advance is made in the direction which the army
commander considers to be most important, and it is left to the enemy's
cavalry to oppose this advance. In offensive screening, on the other
hand, the enemy must be found before he can be attacked and beaten.
An advance would naturally not be risked in a direction that would
avoid the enemy's cavalry, and thereby afford it the opportunity of
approach against the main army. This should be prevented at all costs.
An advance must consequently not be made until information has been
obtained from patrols or scouts regarding the position and the line
of advance of the enemy's cavalry. Then a determined attack should be
made on the cavalry, the force being concentrated as much as possible
for this purpose. It is only after this attack has been successfully
carried out that the real screening work begins.

The two main points that should be observed when carrying out such
exercises are therefore: (1) no advance should be made until the
enemy's line of advance has been discovered; and (2) the forces should
be distributed, after the defeat of the enemy, on a broad front, in
accordance with the requirements of the screening duties, while the
enemy's beaten cavalry must be carefully watched, to prevent its
further activity.

With regard to defensive screening, it is necessary above all, first,
to occupy with sufficient strength all passages over the natural
obstacle that has been selected, and to effect a tactical disposition
of the forces that will enable them to do a maximum of work with the
expenditure of a minimum of strength, making the greatest possible
use of field entrenchments; secondly, to so dispose the reserves that
they will be quickly available to strengthen any threatened point;
and lastly, to arrange a system of communication along the whole
screening-line, employing any suitable technical appliances in such
a manner that the system will continue to operate even though the
enemy's patrol should break through the line. It must be possible
also to communicate quickly and safely to the troops in rear, so that
any detachments of the enemy that might break through the line may be
intercepted. The cavalry telegraph, in fact any kind of telegraph, is
the least sure method of communication, particularly in the enemy's
country, owing to the ease with which it can be cut. There must, at any
rate, be other means of rapid communication besides the telegraph, such
as flag signals or the light-signal.

In screening work, balloons are often very useful for discovering the
direction in which the enemy is advancing; they are more suited to
stationary work, especially behind a protected area, than to active
operations. The reconnaissance and the action of the cavalry could
then be based on the information received from the balloons. It will,
unfortunately, seldom happen during such manoeuvres that a balloon is
available, but all the necessary technical appliances for communication
should certainly be at hand.

The value of all these exercises, especially in the case of
reconnaissance, is largely dependent on the manner in which the enemy
is represented. The best plan is, of course, to place real troops at
their full strength opposite to one another, but this is scarcely
practicable, on account of the expense entailed. Even the Imperial
Manoeuvres do not faithfully represent modern armies and distances,
but only reproduce portions of great operations on a reduced scale.
The fact of the matter is that it is impossible, in time of peace,
to set on foot anything approaching the number of men, or to cover
anything like the extent of country, necessary to at all correspond
with the conditions of modern warfare. The only feasible plan is to
indicate columns of the army, and even large bodies of cavalry, by
flagged troops; but it is well to place real troops at the head of
these columns, so that they may form the vanguard and may send out
the full number of patrols and outposts, at all events to the front.
The reconnoitring organs would thus, at any rate to the front, be
confronted by an enemy disposed as in real warfare. I need hardly say
that _both_ sides should send out these reconnoitring detachments, as
far as possible at full strength; no advantage can possibly be derived
from the exercises if this is not done.

It is also very important to put the divisional cavalry into the field,
where possible at full strength, as the difficulties that beset the
reconnoitring patrols will only then become apparent. This divisional
cavalry need only send out a limited number of these patrols, as they
are, as a rule, not absolutely necessary in such exercises, but the
work of _screening_ should receive careful attention. The division
should therefore be surrounded by a screen of _security patrols_,
and all points from which the enemy's patrols might observe the
columns should be occupied. If these columns are on the march, the
security patrols should advance in "bonds successifs," together with
the divisional cavalry, from one line of observation to the next,
and thus prevent any possible reconnaissance on the part of the
enemy. If the ground on the line of advance is suited to defensive
screening, this method should be adopted, and all the enemy's patrols
and despatch-riders seen should be hunted down. When the hostile
reconnoitring patrols have been driven back behind their own screens
or outposts, measures should be taken to prevent their re-issue. If
the enemy's patrols endeavour to remain for the night in the vicinity
of the troops they wish to keep under observation, they should, if
possible, be attacked and captured. When operations are being carried
on in friendly country, it will be well to ensure the co-operation of
the inhabitants in obtaining information regarding the movements of the
enemy's troops. There are always old soldiers to be found among the
civil population, who would interest themselves in the matter if called
upon by the local magistrates to assist, and who would certainly do
their utmost to help their own countrymen and to hamper the enemy. Care
should, of course, be taken not to go too far in this direction, as
unfortunate consequences might possibly result.

It will also be well to send numerous umpires with the army columns
and their vanguards, and with the divisional cavalry, and also along
the main roads, whose task it will be to conduct the manoeuvres as
nearly as possible on the lines of real warfare. Umpires should also
be attached to reconnoitring patrols and squadrons, at any rate to
those of one side, so that there may be an impartial witness of any
encounter. The appointment of these umpires would have the further
advantage of providing work at the important points for a larger number
of officers, who would thus learn more than they would do when simply
marching with their units.

When the various portions of the army are to be represented by flags,
each flag should be made to represent a company, a battery, or a
squadron, but the flags should be so disposed as to oblige patrols to
estimate the strength of the columns by their length, as in war there
would not often be time or opportunity to count the separate tactical
groups of the enemy. Too few flags should not, however, be used, but
rather as many as possible, so as to produce the effect of a continuous
column on the move, infantry and artillery being clearly indicated. The
detachments of cavalry that would in actual warfare be stationed at
different points along the column might with advantage be represented
by real cavalry, who would be able to pursue the enemy's horsemen.
Artillery patrols might also relieve the cavalry of this duty, and, in
difficult country, march on the flanks of the column, thereby making
matters more difficult for the hostile scouts. All measures of this
description would greatly assist in giving to manoeuvres the character
of real warfare, and in increasing the difficulties in the way of the
far-too-easy peace-time reconnaissance.

Umpires need not confine themselves to deciding the results of
engagements. They might very well draw the attention of patrols that
act in a manner incompatible with service conditions to the hostile
spirit of the population, or, if necessary, bring about real or assumed
attacks that would inflict such losses or damage on the patrols as they
would probably have suffered in war. They can, in short, do much to
give the manoeuvres a semblance of reality.

The rôle of umpire is also a useful training for regimental officers.
Regimental and squadron commanders cannot form a correct idea of the
possibilities and functions of their reconnoitring detachments unless
they have accompanied patrols as umpires.

It is, in my opinion, impossible to go too far in the direction of
making conditions resemble as much as possible those of actual warfare,
as one of the greatest difficulties to be faced consists in sustaining
the interest of the troops and the semblance of reality.

Goethe, in his "Wilhelm Meister," remarks how rare it is to find among
men "any kind of creative imagination." Nothing, indeed, is more
difficult than to take a keen interest in hypothetical conditions. This
truth applies particularly to soldiers, and the difficulty is one from
which most peace exercises suffer.

Some very powerful incentive is required to induce troops to really
enter into the conditions presupposed by the general idea of the
manoeuvres. They must continually imagine the existence of real
warfare, with all its exactions and influences, and they must act
consistently according to the spirit of purely imaginative conditions.
It is during the reconnoitring exercises of the cavalry that the
men's powers of imagination are most heavily taxed, and that most
mistakes and unnatural situations result in consequence. Even the
officers display a lack of imagination in their inability to conform
to service conditions, to appreciate the difficulties and dangers
of any situation, and to take them into account when making their
dispositions, and in their general conduct.

During the last decade, reconnaissance at our smaller field-training
exercises and manoeuvres has suffered greatly from red-tape methods
and the consciousness of peace conditions. I refer mainly to the
transmission service. Times without number, single horsemen arrive with
messages from points behind the enemy or his outposts, so that the
messenger must ride right through the enemy, thus entailing the certain
loss of the report. It should be unnecessary to point out that the best
messages are quite useless if they do not reach their destination.

It is a vital mistake in our army, and one to which I have frequently
drawn attention, that these single orderlies are sent with messages,
and that even for long distances. Granting that the improbable might
happen, and they were successful in finding their way without maps,
often at night and in foggy weather, through a strange country, single
horsemen would, in the enemy's country, be often captured or fall a
prey to the hostile population. In spite of all this, every one is
opposed to sending a patrol with a message, and, when it is done, the
patrol's strength is cut down most unwarrantably. I am afraid that only
bitter experience will teach us the folly of this procedure.

It also frequently happens that technical appliances for transmission
are use in a most illegitimate manner. Telegraph-lines belonging to
both sides have before now actually been laid peacefully side by side,
and had their respective termini within the cantonment area of the
opposing armies. Until quite lately, telegraphic messages were often
sent through the enemy's lines.

In these exercises both sides, as a rule, find considerable difficulty
in remembering the assumed hostility of the population, and in making
corresponding dispositions. When selecting quarters, this point is
frequently forgotten, and patrols spend the night in villages in
hostile country, and in close proximity to the enemy's cantonments,
where escape, in time of war, would be practically out of the question.
On such occasions the prospect of comfortable quarters, where the
horses can be well cared for, has probably more influence on the patrol
leader's plans than military exigencies, and the protective measures
taken would probably prove correspondingly inefficient. The exercises
should therefore be so arranged that the patrols and, if possible,
the reconnoitring squadrons of both sides, advance into the enemy's
country, thus placing themselves in difficult situations; and the
umpires should have instructions to interfere immediately if anything
were done that would entail serious consequences in war time, as the
lesson that should be learnt is how to act in the enemy's country.

Particular stress should be laid on the method of writing reports. If
instruction in this direction is to bear fruit, all the details as to
contents, time and place of despatch, and any other important points
must be thoroughly discussed. Our cavalry still suffers from bad habits
contracted during peace training. It has not learnt to reconnoitre on
a large scale, and consequently pays too much attention to details of
the drill-ground, while it is unable properly to distinguish between
strategical exploration and tactical reconnaissance. Even in larger
exercises, where stress should be laid on ascertaining merely the
strategical dispositions of the enemy, the tendency is always to report
in detail, and as often as possible, while the relative importance of
such reports is seldom assessed at its right value.

The question of economising strength is often entirely neglected,
especially in the case of reconnoitring squadrons, just as it is with
forces of all arms during manoeuvres. The force is unwarrantably
weakened by making too many detachments, and is then called upon
to perform tactical evolutions which it cannot possibly carry out
satisfactorily. The commander must learn to husband his force, even
though his sphere of reconnaissance may be large. He must arrange the
strength of his distant patrols according to the importance of the
mission upon which they are despatched, and must reduce the number of
close patrols to a minimum, while being particularly careful to draw
in his patrols at the right time. He must, on the other hand, realise
the value of fighting as a means to the attainment of his object. It
appears to me that there is some confusion of thought as to the use of
engagements, particularly in reconnaissance work.

Formerly, the idea prevailed that cunning and speed were the
important features of reconnaissance, and that the enemy's scouts
should, if possible, be avoided. Now, however, the new "Field Service
Manual" enunciates the principle that even patrols should attack the
enemy's cavalry wherever met with. It is rightly represented that by
pushing back the enemy's patrols and other reconnoitring organs his
reconnaissance is hampered, whilst our own service of transmission is
assisted, and that only by a ubiquitous offensive can an appreciable
moral superiority be attained.

I should certainly be the last to oppose the idea of bold,
self-confident, offensive tactics; but the question is whether such
tactics would always be sound policy. In reconnaissance work, the
first object of an engagement is to facilitate scouting; the second,
to inflict losses on the enemy. Although the "Field Service Manual" is
undoubtedly correct in principle, it should not be taken too literally,
especially when the attainment of the object in view--viz. to obtain
information regarding the enemy--might depend on the result of a fight.
If any doubt exists regarding the result, it may be better to abstain
from attack; while, if it is evident that a victory can only be gained
at so heavy a loss as to adversely affect further reconnaissance, an
engagement should, if possible, be avoided. Every effort should be made
to render the tactical conditions as favourable as possible. A fight
on foot is to be avoided, as entailing waste of time and considerable
loss. A defensive action dismounted should only be undertaken when
there is a defile to be held that cannot be turned. Mobility, on the
other hand, must be exploited in every possible way, in order that,
if a fight is to be brought on, it may take place under the most
favourable circumstances. In such a case, if an enemy is encountered
who is either weaker or only slightly superior in strength, and who
is known to be without support, he should always be boldly attacked.
Stratagems, or creeping up to the enemy and avoiding his outposts and
patrols, should only be resorted to when it is necessary to avoid
discovery in order to attain the object in view. During training great
stress should be laid on a proper appreciation of these principles, as
our cavalry still lacks sound traditions with regard to reconnaissance

Thus no greater error could be made during reconnaissance exercises
than to attach the most importance to encounters between the main
bodies, but this mistake is unfortunately frequently committed.
It is on the exercise grounds that these mass engagements can and
should be learnt. During reconnaissance exercises, however, the
strategical conduct of detached columns, and, above all, the handling
of reconnaissance organs, should receive most attention. These matters
would, of course, be largely influenced by the result of the main
action between the masses of the cavalry on either side, and this
should be made clear to all concerned; but the manner in which such
an engagement is actually conducted by the main bodies is of lesser
moment, and all attention should not be centred in it.

It is, however, essential that the exercises should be so planned
that the mass of cavalry does not advance in close formation in one
group, and that the reconnoitring organs are not obliged to carry on
the prescribed reconnaissances throughout the manoeuvres within the
area originally allotted to them, as would usually be the case where
the armies, or their cavalry divisions, advance directly towards one
another. This entails but a very elementary form of reconnaissance, and
is mainly of use as an exercise in co-operation between the different
units. The real difficulties only commence when, during the course of
the manoeuvres, the detached columns of the cavalry have to act in
concert; when they endeavour to co-operate after one of them has come
into collision with the enemy; when, perhaps, the areas allotted to
reconnoitring squadrons have been changed; or a success achieved by the
cavalry of one side or the other produces entirely new conditions, to
which the reconnaissance organs have to adapt themselves independently.
These are moments that call for great powers of judgment on the part of
the officers, and for skill and resourcefulness on the part of the men,
and they are consequently very valuable for instructional purposes.
The relief of the reconnaissance organs, hitherto never practised,
but highly important, also presents many difficulties of a practical
nature. An attempt should be made when arranging exercises to bring
about situations of this nature, which will be of great service to the
troops, and afford an opportunity of bringing to light cavalry talent
among the officers. Though such talent is often to be found amongst the
best horsemen or instructors, such is not always the case, and every
effort must be made to discover and foster it.

The cavalry service is no place for mediocrities, and it is important
that the directors of the exercises should be fully qualified to carry
out their task, and be free from all dependence upon Regulation or
prejudice. The personal equation plays a greater part in the cavalry
than in any other arm, yet in no other arm is it, as a rule, so
indifferently solved.

I should like, in conclusion, to draw attention to two more points.

First, I would insist on not more maps being distributed among the
troops at these exercises than would actually be available in an
enemy's country. The fact of being the whole time in one's own country,
where the inhabitants are ready to give any information required,
renders the work very much easier, and if, perhaps, in addition, every
man has a map, the difficulties that would crop up in time of war are
not adequately represented.

The second point is of equal importance, though of quite a different
nature. The movement of large bodies of cavalry in time of war entails
considerable difficulties in the way of transport, and it would be
well if these could, somehow, be made apparent during the exercises.
The expense might certainly be heavy, but would be well justified, for
it is in the cavalry, more than any other troops, that the drag of a
transport column is most felt.

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