Cavalry Charges part drie

April 30, 2007

OK, we have established that the cavalry was trained to advance at the trot but to end up at the gallop. Big deal. Everyone knew that this is how the Swedish cavalry was trained to attack. The only thing is Ward, from whom we took the most information, was describing the Dutch cavalry. I make this assumption based on Ward’s referencing ‘the Prince of Orange’, ‘Hollanders’, the ‘States General’ but no references to Gustav or Sweden. Also, John Cruso said, in his dedication, that his manual was based “according to the present practice of the Lovv-Country Warres.” Here is how he describes what happens after the trooper has discharged his pistols: “Having spent both his pistols, and wanting time [not having enough time] to lade again, his next refuge is his sword.” There is no indication that the trooper should file to the rear of his unit and reload. He was to fire his pistols then go in with the sword.
Read the rest of this entry »


Cavalry Charges part deux

April 20, 2007

I want to start out by helping clear up one thing for Gavin. He writes,

“Just to prove that language is gendered, every one of these four books consistently refers to the horse as “him”, even when they don’t specify a preference for stallions, geldings, or mares.”

Gavin, there was a good reason for using ‘him’ for cavalry horses. Cavalry horses were almost all male. If you included mares in your cavalry and any of them came into estrous there would not be a stallion in the whole army that would be worth a damn. Ergo, no mares.

Now let us turn our thoughts to discussing military manuals. This is the theory aspect that Gavin talks about. I’m not focusing particularly on Gavin’s approach to these types of documents. However, how he once approached these manuals is very indicative of how early modern military historians have generally thought of these documents.

“Since I was an undergraduate I’ve been aware of the potential difference between theory and practice, but I used to think that if theory didn’t agree with practice, it could simply be discounted as ‘wrong’.”

Gavin no longer approaches these texts in this manner but many military historians still do. The attitude is that these works are just theory. Their attitude is that since these men didn’t have military experience their ideas were created in a military vacuum and therefore we have little to learn from them. They fail to understand the relationship between theory and practice.
Read the rest of this entry »

Cavalry Charges

April 17, 2007

Jeremy Black has recommended we move beyond John Keegan’s horizons. However, in my estimation, there are too many errors of interpretation and too many holes in our understanding in early modern warfare to do so.

One of the purposes of this blog is to explore these errors of interpretation and the holes in our understanding. In doing so I will quote from various historians but those I challenge will not be named. If you want to know who I’m talking about send me an email and I’ll be happy to name names. However, in this blog the idea is to attack ideas not historians. I do make an exception with bloggers. There very existence imply a give and take of criticism. I do want to stress that it is ideas I wish to challenge, not the blogger.
Read the rest of this entry »