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Greatest mounted troops in history?

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Initial post: Aug 23, 2012 4:05:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 23, 2012 4:07:22 PM PDT
1874Sharps says:
Alexander the Great's Hetairoi ("Companion") cavalry led by Alexander led by Bucephalus
The Polish "winged" lancers and Hussars
Napoleon's French Imperial Guard
The Mamluks
The Cossacks
The Comanches
The Parthians
Attila's Huns
Wellington's Heavy Horse
Australia's Light Horse
The European heavy cavalry in 10th,11th,12th century.
The Persian cavalry
The Scythians
The Sarmatians
The Bactrian cavalry
The Thracians

or as Hedley Lamarr once put it: "I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, s#%t-kickers ...and Methodists"

I've got to go with:

3. The Comanches
2. The Huns
1. The Mongols

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2012 7:17:27 PM PDT
John M. Lane says:
I'd expand "Comanches" and include Indians of the Northern Plains, notably the Sioux and the Cheyenne.

Posted on Aug 23, 2012 7:57:57 PM PDT
L. King says:
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Not because of the battles they fought, but because of the battles that never got started. They kept the peace, and still do. And that is more significant than anything else.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2012 12:28:04 PM PDT
IGS says:
It depends on what you want them for.

Posted on Aug 24, 2012 12:55:56 PM PDT
briefcandle says:
How do you get the thracians? What did thracian cav ever do?
I'll get back to this thread on particular cavalry units, but here are some era/types you haven't considered-

Belisarius' cavalry-best recounted in r graves' 'count belisarius'
the ottoman spahis who commanded an empire for centuries with lance bow and shield
C15-16th european cavalry, particularly the Fr gensdarmerie in full plate-ultimately eclipsed by gunpowder

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2012 3:42:24 PM PDT
Being a small part Comanche I'll go along with you as long as you limit the choice to light cavalry. Honorable mention to Hedley Lamarr's force, I guess they could be named "The Gov's Own"

Posted on Aug 24, 2012 4:20:34 PM PDT
IGS says:
It's kind of a ridiculous proposition. You must specify what era, what role, and what place for it to have relevance. A Sassanid cataphract or it's Byzantine equivalent was wonderful for its era as was the heavy chivalry of the Middle Ages. And they were outclassed by the multi-dimensional Mongol cavalry which, sorry to disappoint some, would have slaughtered the Plains Indians like only so much cattle. After all they had over 1000 years more practice. And the Gobi is far less forgiving than the Great Plains. But one must remember that they also came of age in the era of the rifled musket and the repeating rifle. Thus, they were obsolete as cavalry essentially from the time they began. But, who can say, they were excellent light cavalry. But so were Polish Lancers, Mongol vanguard, chasseurs à cheval, and so many others.

It is just that cavalry captures the romantic imagination.

Posted on Aug 24, 2012 5:15:23 PM PDT
1874Sharps says:
Yes, I am the undisputed master, the Caesar, the very Czar of the ridiculous! When the initial confusion of my posts is past, it leaves a sense of bafflement that hangs in the air like a whiff of perfume from a dangerous woman. Hahahahaha!

Posted on Aug 25, 2012 8:12:37 AM PDT
IGS says:
It is a noble calling Pete

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2012 12:32:30 PM PDT
ipsofacto says:
In true self-serving manner, I vote for the Haccapelites. Gustavus Adolphus couldn't do without them.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2012 12:44:48 PM PDT
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, because they kept the peace?

Yeah, among Canadians. Big deal.

I'd have to go with the Mongols.

Posted on Aug 25, 2012 3:41:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 25, 2012 3:55:09 PM PDT
1874Sharps says:

It's 1639, less than a year after the 30 Years War, on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Chmieinicki Uprising, (Cossack Revolt).
It is in the Wilderness, (also called the Steppe, The Wild Lands, and the Dark Lands,) that huge ocean of grass higher than a man's head that existed southeast of the Polish borders, down to the Crimea, and southwest of the Russian lands.
It is a hot, dry june morning

On the one side, are the feathered Polish Lancers and Hussars, (they wore just behind them on their saddles, light structures of wood covered with feathers to prevent the devastating tactic the Tartars had of lassoing them right off their horses.They've got 500 troups on the spot but 20,000 a week away. On an other side were the Tartars in the Crimean, the ancestors of the Mongols. they've got 2000 troups on the spot, another 30000 a week away. On an other the Russian Knights. with 15,000 troups near Moscow, about 12 days away, And smack dap in the middle, the Cossacks of Bohdan Chmieinicki.600 men with more cossack clans about 3500 troops about 3 days away.
A tough bunch of boys, all.
In a battle unlike "Whisky Flats" the cossacks, poles and tartars troops all go out for icecream and meet at the same spot in the Wild Lands at the same time.
Who do you think are the greater mounted troops?

Posted on Aug 25, 2012 5:26:54 PM PDT
IGS says:

It all depends, what era, what are they being used for and who are they fighting. They are all very specialized.

Which do I find the most interesting? French Cuirassier of the Garde Impériale just flat cool terrifying shock impact.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2012 5:31:13 PM PDT
1874Sharps says:
Briefcandle and John M. Lane

I've known hundreds of Thracians. thousands of em, some of my best friends are Thracians! Whenever I meet a Thracian I say...uh, "HELLO to you Thracians! Please don't push me down with your horses!" NEVER actually fought one, though. I've got a bad heart and loose bowels and couldn't stand the strain. I DID kick some major Belisarius bootie in my time. I shaved those surrender monkeys butts and sent them on their way. "What did the Thracian Cav ever do?" What DIDN'T they do? And master horsemen, Fagettaboutit! The Thracians could take any horse and within a month, train it to sit on it's arse and eat sugar cubes.

John M. Lane

I considered taking all the plains indians and bundling them together, but they were very different from each other. The Comanche were the southern most tribe and got to horses first, stealing or buying them from the big Mexican haciendas, then becoming master breeders. Their pony herds were the largest in the West. They also copied the Spanish saddle, designed for the Spanish to use lance and sword from. They didn't take up the European's guns, (they stayed as far away from white traders as possible helping, for a time, to avoid the white diseases, and stuck with their lances and bows. Unlike what the movies portray, the Dakota and Cheyenne rarely fought from horseback, but were mounted infantry. The Commanche fought and lived off their horses. A Comanche on foot was not a pretty sight. The way we finally beat them was to kill and drive off their huge pony herds leaving them unmounted.
They could do amazing things off a horse, and their battle tactic of dancing their horses around an enemy while shooting arrows and jabbing with their lances allowed them to throughly control the greatest hunting grounds of North America, from Nebraska down to southern Texas. The drove the Apache's off the good hunting grounds and into the deserts. They and the Kiowas made sure the Dakota and Cheyenne stayed on the northern plains with it's inferior hunting grounds.

A single comanche warrior was a war party and could make all of Texas sweat. They totally baffled the Spanish in battle and our troops and Rangers, too. It wasn't till the Colt Patterson and later 6 shooters did that we had a chance against them.

I love the exchange between former Texas Rangers, Call and Gus in "Lonesome Dove":
Gus: "Did it ever accure to you that every thing we did was a mistake? We shot all the indians and hung all the good bandits and basically killed all the people that made this country interesting to begin with."
Call: "That's foolish talk. Hellfire, nobody wants them around now. Your just mad that that bartender didn't recognize you."
Gus: "The reason nobody remembers us is that we never got killed. If a thousand comanches trapped us in a canyon and whipped us out they'd be singing songs about us for a thousand years."
Call: "If a thousand comanches ever did get toghether, they'd have taken Washington D.C."

I read one history book where it was said that the reason we don't speak french is because of ther Iriquois, and the reason we don't speak spanish is because of the Comanche. There is speculation that one of the reasons that Jefferson sent the Corps of Discovery up the Missuri was to find a way past the Comanches.

IGS is right that they would have been slaughtered by the Mongols. But I have such a respect for these people who resisted to the end against such odds that I had to include them as "great."

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2012 5:41:03 PM PDT
1874Sharps says:
A good answer. Speaking of Napoleon's amazing horse (I'm rereading my Chandler and "Napoleon's Marshalls") During the battle of Eylau, can you remember the name of that horse that was considered the meanest of all of the French horses that fought it's way through a Russian grenadier charge to let Bonaparte know he had some troops trapped on a hill hidden by the snowfall. Her name was Collete or Brigitte or some fancy French gal's name, but killed a groom, wounded others and supossedly bit off a Russian's face. That happened to me once. Not as bad as when I first smoked pot. I had a bad reaction. I tried to take my pants off over my head.

Posted on Aug 25, 2012 5:59:05 PM PDT
1874Sharps says:
"It is a noble calling Pete"

IGS it''s a full time job.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2012 1:51:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2012 12:19:58 PM PDT
IGS says:

As for horse names I can remember only one ... Secretariat.

But cavalry charge at Eylau, that must have been something. Even to read the diaries and after action reports, 200 years later, it still resonates. If not the greatest charge in history, its gotta be up there and nothing else comes to my mind. Maybe the Kolkiewski charg at Klushko, but that particular charge might be unadulterated BS.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2012 1:56:38 PM PDT
Suet says:
What do you make of Ney ordering the massed French cavalry forward at Waterloo?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2012 9:27:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 28, 2012 10:19:09 AM PDT
IGS says:
The attack was a bad choice

But not as bad as choosing an extended direct assault on the Hougoumont with a substantial number of troops throughout the day. The relatively harmless number of British troops could have been easily walled off and isolated from command control using a fraction of the troops eventually used in the attempt to take the place. I always wonder about the scope of the British disaster had 10,000-12,000 more infantry been pushed forward with the Guard at the end. The 1,500 British Guards would have been hopelessly crushed at which point the British had nothing left, they were done. But then again I wasn't there. A lot had to go wrong for that battle to go against the French and it all did.

As for the cavalry charge of the French. Without the guns, it was nonsense. Had they brought even 20 horse cavalry guns forward with them, per doctrine, it would have been a disaster for the British. Nice packed squares undoubtably targeted at close range (200-300 meters) it would have been one of the ugliest bloodbaths in English history. Worse yet, there wouldn't have been a thing they could have done about it, except take it. The craziest thing about it was that that is exactly what they were supposed to do, as a matter of course. Alas, no Murat.

To me it seems that so much had to go wrong for it to play out the way it did. The absence of Davout, of Murat, of Berthier, the lack of Grouchy's reconnaissance, the errant attack at Hougoumont, the late start, perhaps sealing La Haye Saint instead of wiping out the defenders, and it just goes on and on. Truth be told, the battle was lost 2 days prior by the indecision of d'Erlon and Ney forgetting what the purpose of his mission was.

But, I wasn't there. I was not half deaf from shot ringing in my ears, I was not covered with powder and grime leading my men forward, I had not been at it for nearly 20 years, I was not exhausted from 3 solid days of fighting and exhausting motion, I was not likely at the end of my rope ... I just wasn't there and am not inclined to judge.

The British under Wellington did a magnificent job to last as long as they did and the battle was won by a 70 year old man who had been buried under a horse and trampled repeatedly by successive cavalry charges two days before and got up again to lead a shattered army and come to the aid of a friend. The battle was legendary simply because it could not be otherwise.

Posted on Aug 28, 2012 11:02:56 AM PDT
briefcandle says:
" French Cuirassier of the Garde Impériale just flat cool terrifying shock impact"

there were no cuirassiers in the Garde

Posted on Aug 28, 2012 11:18:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 28, 2012 2:13:54 PM PDT
IGS says:
No? I believe that the cuirassier of line that existed at least after 1812 (and before in one form or another) would strongly disagree [The Anatomy of Glory (Napoleon and His Guard), Lachouque, p. 512]. As would the Carabiniers-à-Cheval (which were essentially the same thing). I don't have time to really look this stuff up, but this will do for for a start. I had no idea you were so knowledgeable about the Napoleonic Wars brief. Good for you.

Posted on Aug 29, 2012 1:06:08 PM PDT
briefcandle says:
There are cuirassiers in the french line of battle, ie mounte troops who wear a cuirass, from the emergence of an army up till 1914. The current Garde Republicaine are ceremonial cuirassiers, but! Napoleon's Garde never had a any regiment/corps/troop of cuirassiers- and I don't know why, I don't even think Napoleon III had cuirassiers in his Garde.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 29, 2012 5:29:51 PM PDT
Suet says:
There are accounts of British bullets rattling off French cuirassiers at Waterloo. Were they imagining it?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 29, 2012 6:50:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 29, 2012 7:33:04 PM PDT
IGS says:

What he is saying that the Garde did not have cuirassier. I am not sure that this is correct, but the Garde did draw extensively from line cuirassier regiments. The grenadier a cheval were known for it. Lachoque is somewhat ambiguous on this point and he is THE authority on the Imperial Guard and he lists the cuirass as equipment for several garde a cheval regiments. Any way you slice it, one of the finest formations in all history. Especially before the constant and accumulating losses of 20 years of war had ground it down.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 29, 2012 8:30:35 PM PDT
At long range the ball from a Brown Bess would lose enough force to deflect from a cuirass. Those round balls lost velocity quickly, in the days of the matchlock a heavy rawhide coat was often enough protection from a musket ball at anything except close range.
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Discussion in:  History forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  34
Initial post:  Aug 23, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 21, 2012

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