Update

The discussion on cavalry continues in the Face of Battle post. I need to really shift into writing mode for the next two weeks (and then it’s a week vacation), but I’ll try to post once a week until I can get back on a regular schedule in early March. In the next week or so I will try to put up a new post to harness the unleashed energies of this horde of charging… horses. Logistics will have to wait till March I’m afraid.

In the meantime, two points of possible interest.

First, I assume I’m not the only one to have seen the debut of the (US) History Channel’s Full Metal Jousting. In case you are interested in a competitive reality-TV series based on winning a modern jousting tournament, it may be your cup o’ tea. I’m sure we could probably bribe the network into crashing horses into one another if we came up with enough money.

Second, a blog written by a medieval reenactor (SCA) has recently written a couple of posts on knightly combat in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance period that might be of interest to the group: Will McLean’s A Commonplace Book. Perhaps in the future we should accumulate as many descriptions of early modern cavalry combat as we can – to get a better sense of what cavalry tactics did and didn’t include.

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4 responses to “Update”

  1. Mark Danley says :

    Sorry if I’m duplicating something on the cavalry discussion, but I didn’t find see the post Jamel was talking about regarding the Face of Battle and cavalry. So I’m not sure if the following thread is germane to the discussion, but I would like to raise an issue about cavalry in the eighteenth-century if it hasn’t been raised before: the strategic-level and operational-level importance of cavalry and mounted forces during the period. So often we talk about tactics, but I’ve been fascinated by the importance mounted forces had for operational-level roles in which the political dimension was also important. I’m thinking of some War of the Spanish Succession examples, but I think there would be examples from the War of American Independence too. The War of the Spanish Succession examples come from my recollection of reading Lediard. Several times in Flanders, the burghers or council of some town would send word to Allied forces nearby that they were ready to declare for King Charles, and that the garrison commander would probably go along with it when overawed, but that major French forces were *also* within striking distance and that they didn’t want to declare their allegiance to the Habsburgs before they were certain of their security. So they’d essentially say “get some forces here fast, and we’ll do it.” The task force (I know that’s not an eighteenth-century term, but it fits) that Marlborough or whoever would send was usually several thousand dragoons or horse. The point was they needed a mobile force that could lunge out quickly 50-100 miles and secure the town, but the objective was both operational *and* political, and specific to the fact that Flanders was essentially in a civil-war type situation. Sometimes it was a race to get there before the French could get word of the council’s intended defection and reinforce the garrison. It’s not unlike, operationally, when some local bevy of South Carolinians were considering changing sides in 1780-81 and they’d send word to Cornwallis that they’d rally to the King’s colors but only if he could hurry up and send some little detachment out to wherever-the-heck-they-lived to secure them. Eighteenth-century commanders needed mobile forces to do that. Cavalry is about more than its tactical role, and in many eighteenth-century conflicts the importance of mounted forces rested on their operational role and on the fact that the political and the operational-level military concerns were mixed together – at least in terms of a commander’s decision making.

    • Gavin Robinson says :

      I briefly mentioned in the cavalry thread that cavalry operations are important but under-researched. I’d like to be researching and writing about the operational level as much as the tactical level but keep getting derailed because everyone wants to talk about charges! Your points about side-changing in a civil war situation are also really interesting and not something I’d thought about before, even though I specialize in the English Civil War. There must be a lot of scope to investigate that further.

  2. Mark Danley says :

    Yes indeed, and George makes good arguments there-in; I recall at one Society for Military History meeting he presented a paper that incorporated selected arguments from his book. What I find very interesting is the nexus of those small-war operations with political considerations arising from civil-war type situations – which is exactly what both sides faced in the Spanish Netherlands, the Spanish possessions in Italy and in Spain itself of course during the War of the Spanish Succession. In such a nexus, mobile forces were very important – and not just because of what they could do tactically.

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