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THOUGIITS ON C.IVALRY.*
“ A brigade of cavalry may consist of any number of reginents not exceeding four.” Supposing one to be composed of four and a reserve not required, two lines being formed for the purpose of attack or for manæuvring, each line will consist of two regiments.
The brigadier cominanding appoints the senior officer of each line to command it, we will suppose that the right squadron of the left regiment is the one of direction (and is the brigade base), all the squadron leaders of that regiment will conform to the base given by that squadron. But the regiment on the right will give its own base which would be, in the case we have taken, the left squadron of the right regiment.
Now where is the post of the officer commanding the brigade ? It is natural to suppose before an advance is made, he would point out to the officer commanding the first line the object or point upon which he is to lead, and how the advance is to be conducted. That leader in his turn would instruct the officer commanding the left regiment, who would give the point to the squadron leader of the right squadron of that regiment (which is the brigade base) upon which he is to lead, and I think the latter officer's post should be near the leader of the squadron of direction so that he can superintend the advance, and at the same time be always at hand to meet the officer commanding the line or to receive his orders, and the leader of the line would I presume be as near the centre as possible, and that would be the right flank of the right squadron of the left regiment. It is laid down that at an inspection of a division in line of contiguous columns, or in one or inore lines the leader should be froin eighty to one hundred yards in front of the centre, and the brigadiers from forty to fifty yards in advance of the centre of their brigades. These posts might be well kept during an advance in line at a field day or inspection, but would be impracticable in the actual advance against the enemy, or you would have the spectacle of a few officers at a distance of from about one hundred yards in advance of their own line endeavouring to pierce the enemy's.
It can hardly be expected that the divisional and brigade commanders with their staff can be required to break through the enemy, even at fifty yards in advance of the first line. Although silence gives consent, and an absence of direction would give ample margin for the leader to place himself where he mighi consider best, a few gineral directions might be useful and welcome.
Having thought a good deal on this subject, I can see no better place for the Brigadier-General or officer con mandmg the
* See U. S. Magazine for September, 1870.
brigade, than between his two lines, from whence he can see, direct, and superintend both. If the first line be advancing to th- charge he night even accompany it part of the way to see that it was being well directed and delivered, but he should with his staff allow the line to pass by, withdrawing to a squadron interval to witness the effect of the charge, be is then in a position slould it have been unsuccessful or only partly successful, to direct the retiring of the first line and to order or even lead op his second line, which might prove a success. Thus I believe he would be much more useful to his krigade than if he were invariably to be in advance of the first line. In the case of a division in two lines, the brigadiers would be with the brigade and the divisional leader would occupy the position between the two lines.
It is also recommended that cavalry officers should study the movements of horse artillery, I would suggest rather that the officers of horse artillery should make themselves acquainted with the principles of cavalry movements. A troop or squadron detached to escort horse artillery can always and very easily adapt itself to the movements of the guns, but when one or more batteries of horse artillery are attached to a brigade or division of cavalry it is incumbent upon the artillery to conform to those of the cavalry, which is the attacking or protecting arm, as the case may be, the horse artillery being the auxiliary.
Whether brigades of cavalry should be heavy or light entirely, or that each brigade should consist of an equal number of heavy and light regiments is a question well worthy of consideration.
But in the case of a division it should be, I think, unquestionably composed of both, (if heavy cavalry be retained), and I should prefer the brigades to be distinct. This would apply to European service. But for India, the great field for English cavalry, nothing but liglit cavalry should be used, and if our light cavalry were composed of Lancer and Hussar regiments in equal numbers, each brigade might be composed of a regiment of each, provided there were a sufficient force of cavalry in the country to permit of two regiments being at the same or neighbouring stations,
Military equitation may be considered as the foundation of the cavalry (the very keystone of the institution.) We are told it may be divided into three parts; the instruction of the recruit upon a trained horse, the training of the horse, and the practice of the recruit and remount (young) horse in the elementary part of field exercise. But it is more than this, it is a system that teaches both the inexperienced and those who mav have been accustomed to riding, to all sit and ride in the same way, and to break their horses so that they can make the greatest use of them. It is a system that makes man and horse one unit, that enables one man to move thousands of these units as one; for as divisions are composed of brigades, brigades of regiments, regiments of squadrons, so are these last of so many units, each unit being being a man and horse, made a unit by military equitation. It is the system that has alone enabled the cavalry of civilized nations to become superior to the hordes of irregular horsemen, of what are termed semi-barbarous peoples. Let it not be supposed that the military saddle makes the chief difference between what are called the cavalry and the hunting seat; a dragoon might be recognised by his seat, wliether he be in a hunting saddle or riding bare-backed, the fact of any one riding on a cavalry saddle would no more give hiin of necessity a cavalry seat than putting on a uniform would make an undrilled man look like a soldier. After all, what is the hunting seat? In the field, where every one rides as he likes, but not all equally at their ease, you may see every description of seat—that taught by military equitation is the true seat and can be modified to suit the exigencies of every sort of riding and every sort of horse. It is the exact and true position given to the leg and thigh that makes one of the great differences in the style, and that will show the educated horseman from any other.
I once asked, when a mere lad, an old cavalry officer, then a riding-master and a very good drill, which he really did consider to be the better, short or long stirrups ? and I instanced one or two cavalry officers, acknowledged horseinen who rode with rather shorter stirrups than is sanctioned by regulation. His reply was characteristic, if not very edifying. “There is a right length for your stirrup to be, if they are longer you will ride too long, if they are shorter you will ride too short.” Of course the instructions laid down for equitation may not be perfect, as we are learning every day, and fresh hints may be thrown out by different people well qualified to do so ; but the system cannot be a bad one that can not only bring into one uniform style of seat and position some 400 or 500 men, às in the case of a single regiment taken froin the average run of men, and many of whom may never have been across a horse before but enables each one of these to break his horse and bring him into perfect control. Some men are much more difficult to teach than others, so are some horses ; but sull the system does to all intenis and purposes reduce the man and his horse to one unit. One of the chief points in training the remount horse is to secure his balance that he may always be between the hand and legs of the rider. This is difficult of attainment at times, owing to want of symmetry, some horses may go altogether too much on their forehand, and from want of power in the loins and hind quarters may not be able to bring back their weight very readily to the centre. The carriage aimed to be attained is that of the Arabian.
It was quite a coinmon saying in India that the Arabian required no training to make him a charger, and this is very true; this is partly owing to his great intelligence and fine temper, and also
to the perfection of his form and great power. With a skilful rider he would at once perform all that might be required of him.
The Arabjan possessing by nature that carriage which equitation alone can give in a modified degree to the horses of Europe, and which is found to be essential to render them useful as troop horses or to become parts of the units of which cavalry is formed.
Events in tie present war show that cavalry are as valuable and efficacious as ever, or even more so ; that lines are opposed to each other that positions are storied and either carried or maintained at the point of the bayonet, and that raw and hastily levied troops cannot take their place in line with the regular and better drilled battalions, nor supply their place, and ought to prove that the days of cavalry are not past, nor the era of mounted marksmen cominenced, that the sabre and lance are not obsolete, that the horse is the offensive weapon and not a secondary consideration, or only a conveyance for the marksman.
That in spite of arms of precision, batiles are neither fought nor decided from a distance, but won by a charge, or fougbt out hand to hand.
The description of Cæsar when fighting on the same soil, almost on the same ground 2000 years ago against the Germans, who had crossed the Rhine, under Ariovistus, might almost if not altogether describe some of the contests of the present war. The missiles of the contending armies being of no use, owing to the expedition of the troops and the iin petuosity of the attack, he says, “ Rejectis pilis cominùs gladiis pugnatum est.”
That mere efficiency at target practice will not supply the want of good discipline and steady drill in the line of battle when the attacking enemy is within fifty yards of you, the prize shot is 10 better than another, nor is he more valuable if he should be one of those advancing to or making the attack.
Equitation has enabled Prussia to bring into the field a thoroughly efficient body of cavalry, raised froin a country of not natural horsemen. And we learn that those cavalry horses bred from Arabians, or horses of Arabian blood, prove themselves more useful and far more enduring than the large horses of Pomerania and Schleswig. Quickness and nobility being ibe very essentials of cavalry, let us assist the horse by reinoving his baggage, and let me repeat my firm conviction that to put a rifle into the hands of a dragoon is a snare and a delusion, and can only tend to demoralize the cavalry force. .
It was the use of fire-arins that prevented the superb horsemen of Abd-el-Kader in Africa from being successful against their European enemies, rendering themselves worthless as mounted infantry, and indifferent as cavalry, yet, before success could crown the efforts of the French, the horse of Europe had to be abandoned, and their cavalry inounted upon the best Arabs they could get; and although these were burdened by twenty-five stone,
a weight equal to that carried by the horses of our Life-Guards, a French general thus testifies to their excellence and capabilitis, “Now a horse that, in a country often rough and difficult, marches, gallops, ascends, and descends, endures unparelleled privations, and goes through a campaign with spirit, is he or is he not a war horse?”
Having shown the superiority of horses of Arabian blood for cavalry purposes over the horses of Europe in the French campaign in Africa, and in the present war in Europe how even horses partially of Arabian blood excel the larger and heavier horses on which some of the Prussian cavalry are still mounted, I would ask if horses so bred would not be equally adapted to English Cavalry ? Then with such an improved class of hors", freed from baggage, with a country of “good-natureil horsemen” from which to draw our dragoons, with the total abolition of the carbine, the greatest attention being paid to the tactics of cavalry in a higher and more enlarged sense than the drill of a single regiment, namely the working of brigades and divisions, studying how to develop the resources of cavalry, then we may fairly hope and expect to have the finest cavalry in the world.
THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF MODERN
Under this title we have a luminous and well-arranged digest of the facts of Artilleristic Science, corrected to the date of publication (January 1871), from the pen of the Woolwich Professor of Artillery, Lieutenant Colonel C. H. Owen, R.A.
We are told in the preface that the work is to some extent a reprint of the author's “ Lectures on Artillery ;' but, unlike the latter, which was written in connexion with Boxer's “ Treatise on Artillery," it is complete in itself. The treatment of the subject is in most respects different from that followed in any of the works on artillery published in this country or abroad.
“ The attempt has been made, it is hoped with success,” the author writes, “ to lay a solid foundation in each branch, and to provide by ample references to the best books, the means of pur. suing either of them by further study. Whenever possible, mere opinions have been avoided as unsuitable to a work dealing with the results of practice and the principles to be derived therefrom." Part the first gives a general description of the construction and
* Modern Artillery, by Lieutenant-Colonel Owen, R.A. London, Murray,