Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cavalry vs Cavalry

Cavalry Technology!


Thanks to Bob Mugford, editor of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI-Vancouver) Newsletter for the following item. My Random House Dictionary notes a cuirassier is "a cavalry soldier wearing a cuirasse"; a cuirasse being armour consisting of a breastplate and backplate. So far as I know the German cavalry encountered by the British in the early days of WW I weren't encumbered by the cuirasse.

When the British cavalry had to face cuirassiers for the first time, wearing their body armour, much discussion was had as to how to defeat them.  The answers for the heavy cavalry with a straight sword and light cavalry with a curved one was necessarily different.

The light cavalry answer was to slice at the arms, preferably the bridle holding arm, causing the cuirassier to lose control of his horse.

The heavy cavalry opted for a straight jab at the throat (this might miss and strike the face - Kennedy records stabbing one through the mouth). This would certainly do the trick. But if in too close to stab at him it was recommended that you punched the cuirassier in the face with the hand guard, this would cause the cuirassier to lose balance and topple from the horse. A cuirassier on the ground was useless, finding it impossible to remount in their breastplates.

Finally both recommended that if the cuirassier had passed then a back swipe at the back of the neck would decapitate the cuirassier. Many claim that numbers of cuirassiers fell to this stroke.



Lamont said...

Cuirasse or no cuirasse, war is awful! This cold matter-of-fact description by Mugford is a shocking reminder.

Robert Mackay said...

I agree. Not much difference to the people involved whether it's a stab or a slash or attack by sword, bayonet, depth charge, or a guided missile. Worth noting that the actual item dates from the middle ages, and was quoted by Mr. Mugford in his newsletter.

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