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Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are
soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the ...

soldier
s or
warrior A warrior is a person specializing in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationship ...

warrior
s who fight mounted on
horseback File:10 Iceland tourism - Icelandic horses ride in Iceland, horseback riding tourists.jpg, Equestrian tour on traditional local breed, Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland Equestrianism (from Latin , , , 'horseman', 'horse'), com ...
. Cavalry were the most mobile of the
combat arms Combat arms (or fighting arms in non-American parlance) is a collective name for troops within national armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for war ...
, operating as
light cavalry Light cavalry comprises lightly armed and armor Armour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in Hist ...
in the roles of
reconnaissance In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces, terrain Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topogr ...

reconnaissance
, screening, and
skirmishing Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldier A soldier is one who fights as part of a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for ...
in many armies, or as
heavy cavalry 300px, Spanish Heavy Cavalry - Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain ">Spain.html" ;"title="Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain">Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself ...
for decisive
shock attack Shock tactics, shock tactic or shock attack is the name of an offensive maneuver Maneuver (American English), manoeuvre (British English), manoeuver, manœuver (also spelled, directly from the French language, French, as manœuvre) denotes one's t ...
s in other armies. An individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations depending on era and tactics, such as cavalryman,
horseman
horseman
, trooper,
cataphract A cataphract was a form of armored heavy cavalry 300px, Spanish Heavy Cavalry - Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain ">Spain.html" ;"title="Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain">Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry ...
,
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood ...

knight
,
hussar A hussar ( , ; hu, huszár, pl, huzar, sr, хусар, husar, hr, husar) was a member of a class of light cavalry, originating in Central Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. The title and distinctive dress of these horsemen were sub ...

hussar
,
uhlan Uhlans (; ; ; ; ) were initially Lithuanian Lithuanian may refer to: * Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') are a Balts, Baltic ethnic group. They are native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,561,300 ...
,
mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "", also as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke'', ''mameluk'', ''mameluke'', ''mamaluke'', or ''marmeluke'') is a term most commo ...

mamluk
,
cuirassier Cuirassiers (; ) were equipped with a , , and s. Cuirassiers first appeared in mid-to-late 16th century Europe as a result of armoured cavalry, such as and s, discarding their s and adopting the use of s as their primary weapon. In the later p ...

cuirassier
,
lancer A lancer was a type of cavalryman who fought with a lance. Lances were used for mounted warfare in Assyria as early as and subsequently by Persia, India, Egypt, China, Hippeus, Greece, and Roman horsemen, Rome. The weapon was widely used through ...

lancer
,
dragoon Dragoons were originally a class of mounted infantry, who used horses for mobility, but dismounted to fight on foot. From the early 17th century onward, dragoons were increasingly also employed as conventional cavalry and trained for combat wi ...

dragoon
, or
horse archer A horse archer is a cavalryman armed with a Bow (weapon), bow and able to shoot while riding from horseback. Archery has occasionally been used from the backs of other riding animals. In large open areas, it was a highly successful technique for ...
. The designation of ''cavalry'' was not usually given to any military forces that used other animals for mounts, such as
camels A camel is an even-toed ungulate in the genus ''Camelus'' that bears distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back. Camels have long been domesticated and, as livestock, they provide food (camel milk, milk and meat) and textiles (fiber ...
or
elephants Elephants are the largest existing land animals. Three living species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, ...

elephants
.
Infantry Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored warfare, armored forces. Also known as foot soldiers, infantrymen or infanteer, i ...

Infantry
who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the early 17th to the early 18th century as ''
dragoons Dragoons were originally a class of mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry who rode horses instead of marching. The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry. According to the 1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "Mounted rif ...

dragoons
'', a class of
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry at the Battle of the Somme The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the ...
which in most armies later evolved into standard cavalry while retaining their historic designation. Cavalry had the advantage of improved mobility, and a soldier fighting from horseback also had the advantages of greater height, speed, and
inertial mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value ...
over an opponent on foot. Another element of horse mounted warfare is the psychological impact a mounted soldier can inflict on an opponent. The speed, mobility, and shock value of cavalry was greatly appreciated and exploited in armed forces in the
Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from ...
and
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
; some forces were mostly cavalry, particularly in nomadic societies of Asia, notably the
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
of
Attila Attila (; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, ...

Attila
and the later Mongol armies. In Europe, cavalry became increasingly armoured (heavy), and eventually evolving into the mounted
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood ...

knight
s of the medieval period. During the 17th century, cavalry in Europe discarded most of its armor, which was ineffective against the muskets and cannons that were coming into common use, and by the mid-18th century armor had mainly fallen into obsolescence, although some regiments retained a small thickened
cuirass A cuirass (; french: cuirasse, la, coriaceus) is a piece of armour that is formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material which covers the torso. The word originates from the original material; leather, from the French ' ...
that offered protection against lances, sabres, and bayonets; including some protection against shot from a distance. In the
interwar period In the history of the 20th century, the Interwar period lasted from 11 November 1918 to 1 September 1939 (20 years, 9 months and 21 days), the end of the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as t ...
, while some cavalry still served during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
(notably in the
Red Army The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army,) frequently shortened to Red Army, was the army and air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR or RSFSR; rus, links= ...
, the
Mongolian People's Army The Mongolian People's Army (Mongolian language, Mongolian: ''Монголын Ардын Арми'' or ''Монгол Ардын Хувьсгалт Цэрэг'') or Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army was an institution of the Mongolian Peopl ...
, the
Royal Italian Army The Royal Italian Army ( it, Regio Esercito, , Royal Army) was the land force of the Kingdom of Italy, established with the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. During the 19th century Italy started to unify into one country, and in 1861 Manfre ...
, the
Romanian Army The Romanian Land Forces ( ro, Forțele Terestre Române) is the army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the ...
, the
Polish Land Forces The Land Forces () are a military branch of the Polish Armed Forces. They currently contain some 62,000 active personnel and form many components of the European Union and NATO deployments around the world. Poland's recorded military history str ...
, and light reconnaissance units within the
Waffen SS The ''Waffen-SS'' (, "Armed SS") was the combat branch of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right politica ...
) many cavalry units were converted into
motorized infantry Motorized infantry is that is transported by s or other motor vehicles. It is distinguished from , which is carried in s or s, and from , which can typically operate autonomously from supporting elements and vehicles for relatively long periods ...
and
mechanized infantry Mechanized infantry (or mechanised infantry) are infantry Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored warfare, armored forc ...
units, or reformed as tank troops. The
cavalry tank The cruiser tank (sometimes called cavalry tank or fast tank) was a British tank A tank is an armored fighting vehicle intended as a primary offensive weapon in front-line ground combat. Tank designs are a balance of heavy firepower, s ...
or cruiser tank was one designed with a speed and purpose beyond that of
infantry tank The infantry tank was a concept developed by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a syno ...
s and would subsequently develop into the
main battle tank A main battle tank (MBT), also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the armor-protected direct fire and maneuver role of many modern armies. Cold War-era development of more powerful engines, better suspension system ...
. Most cavalry units that are horse-mounted in modern armies serve in purely ceremonial roles, or as mounted infantry in difficult terrain such as mountains or heavily forested areas. Modern usage of the term generally refers to units performing the role of reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (analogous to historical light cavalry) or
main battle tank A main battle tank (MBT), also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the armor-protected direct fire and maneuver role of many modern armies. Cold War-era development of more powerful engines, better suspension system ...
units (analogous to historical heavy cavalry).


Role

Historically, cavalry was divided into
light cavalry Light cavalry comprises lightly armed and armor Armour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in Hist ...
and
heavy cavalry 300px, Spanish Heavy Cavalry - Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain ">Spain.html" ;"title="Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain">Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself ...
. The differences were their roles in combat, the size of their mounts, and how much armor was worn by the mount and
rider
rider
. Heavy cavalry, such as
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...

Byzantine
cataphract A cataphract was a form of armored heavy cavalry 300px, Spanish Heavy Cavalry - Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain ">Spain.html" ;"title="Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain">Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry ...
s and
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood ...

knight
s of the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
in Europe, were used as shock troops, charging the main body of the enemy at the height of a battle; in many cases their actions decided the outcome of the battle, hence the later term ''battle cavalry''. Light cavalry, such as
horse archers A horse archer is a cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of ...
,
hussar A hussar ( , ; hu, huszár, pl, huzar, sr, хусар, husar, hr, husar) was a member of a class of light cavalry, originating in Central Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. The title and distinctive dress of these horsemen were sub ...

hussar
s, and
Cossack The Cossacks * russian: казаки́ or * be, казакi * pl, Kozacy * cs, kozáci * sk, kozáci * hu, kozákok, cazacii * fi, Kasakat, cazacii * et, Kasakad, cazacii are a group of predominantly East Slavic languages, East Slav ...
cavalry, were assigned all the numerous roles that were ill-suited to more narrowly-focused heavy forces. This includes
scouting Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement Movement may refer to: Common uses * Movement (clockwork), the internal mechanism of a timepiece * Motion (physics), commonly referred to as movement Arts, entert ...

scouting
, deterring enemy scouts,
foraging Foraging is searching for wild food resources. It affects an animal's fitness because it plays an important role in an animal's ability to survive and reproduce. Foraging theory is a branch of behavioral ecology Behavioral ecology, also spel ...
, raiding,
skirmishing Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldier A soldier is one who fights as part of a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for ...
, pursuit of retreating enemy forces, screening of retreating friendly forces, linking separated friendly forces, and countering enemy light forces in all these same roles. Light and heavy cavalry roles continued through
early modern warfare Early modern warfare is the era of warfare following medieval warfare. It is associated with the start of the widespread use of gunpowder Gunpowder, also known as the retronym black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, ...
, but armor was reduced, with light cavalry mostly unarmored. Yet many cavalry units still retained
cuirass A cuirass (; french: cuirasse, la, coriaceus) is a piece of armour that is formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material which covers the torso. The word originates from the original material; leather, from the French ' ...
es and
helmet A helmet is a form of protective gear Personal protective equipment (PPE) is protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury or infection. The hazards addressed by p ...

helmet
s for their protective value against
sword A sword is an edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Ge ...

sword
and
bayonet A bayonet (from French ''baïonnette'') is a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final ...

bayonet
strikes, and the morale boost these provide to the wearers, despite these giving little protection from
firearm A firearm is any type of gun A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube ( gun barrel) to launch typically solid projectiles, but can also project pressurized liquid (e.g. water guns/ cannons, spray guns for painting ...
s. By this time the main difference between light and heavy cavalry was their training; the former was regarded as best suited for harassment and reconnaissance, while the latter was considered best for close-order charges. By the start of the 20th century, as total battlefield
firepower Firepower is the military capability to direct force at an enemy. (It is not to be confused with the concept of rate of fire Rate of fire is the frequency at which a specific weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device th ...
increased, all cavalry tended to become
dragoon Dragoons were originally a class of mounted infantry, who used horses for mobility, but dismounted to fight on foot. From the early 17th century onward, dragoons were increasingly also employed as conventional cavalry and trained for combat wi ...

dragoon
s in practice, riding mounted between battles, but dismounting to act as infantry during any battle, even if many retained their unit names that reflected their older cavalry roles. With the development of
armored warfare Armoured warfare or armored warfare (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United Sta ...
, the heavy cavalry role of decisive
shock troops Shock troops or assault troops are formations created to lead an attack Attack may refer to: Warfare and combat * Offensive (military) * Charge (warfare) * Attack (fencing) * Strike (attack) * Attack (computing) * Attack aircraft Books and publ ...
had been taken over by armored units employing
medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), tools used to store and deliver information or data * Medium of i ...
and
heavy tank Heavy tank is a term used to define a class of tank A tank is an armored fighting vehicle An armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) is an armed combat vehicle protected by armour, generally combining operational mobility with offensive ...
s, and later
main battle tanks A main battle tank (MBT), also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank A tank is an armored fighting vehicle intended as a primary offensive weapon in front-line ground combat. Tank designs are a balance of heavy firepowe ...
. Despite horse-born cavalry becoming obsolete, the term ''cavalry'' is still used, referring in modern times to units continuing to fulfill the traditional
light cavalry Light cavalry comprises lightly armed and armor Armour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in Hist ...
roles, employing fast
armored car Armored (or armoured) car may refer to: Wheeled armored vehicles * Armored car (military), a military wheeled armored vehicle * Armored car (valuables), an armored cargo vehicle for transporting valuables * Armored car (VIP), a civilian bullet-p ...
s.
light tank A light tank is a Tank classification, tank variant initially designed for rapid movements in and out of combat, to outmaneuver heavier tanks. It is smaller in size with thinner vehicle armour, armor and a less powerful tank gun, main gun, tailo ...
s, and
infantry fighting vehicle An infantry fighting vehicle (''IFV''), also known as a mechanized infantry combat vehicle (''MICV''), is a type of armoured fighting vehicle used to carry infantry into battle and provide direct fire , direct-fire support. The 1990 Treaty on C ...
s instead of horses, while
air cavalry For much of history, humans have used some form of cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were hi ...
employs
helicopter A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft A rotorcraft or rotary-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle or machine that is able to fly Flies are insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, ...

helicopter
s.


Early history


Origins

Before the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
, the role of cavalry on the battlefield was largely performed by light
chariot A chariot is a type of carriage A carriage is a private four-wheeled vehicle for people and is most commonly horse-drawn A horse-drawn vehicle is a mechanized piece of equipment pulled by one horse or by a team of horses. These vehicles ...

chariot
s. The chariot originated with the
Sintashta-Petrovka The Sintashta culture, also known as the Sintashta-Petrovka culture. or Sintashta-Arkaim culture,. is a Middle Bronze Age archaeological culture of the northern Eurasian steppe on the borders of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, dated to the period ...
culture in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
and spread by
nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo ...

nomad
ic or semi-nomadic
Indo-Iranians Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, were a group of Indo-European peoples who brought the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Irani ...
. The chariot was quickly adopted by settled peoples both as a military technology and an object of ceremonial status, especially by the
pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the conte ...

pharaoh
s of the
New Kingdom of Egypt New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz (South Korean band), The Boyz Albums and EPs * New (album), ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartne ...
from 1550 BC as well as the
Assyrian army The Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire ( Assyrian cuneiform: ''mat Aš-šur KI'', "Country of the city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. a ...
and
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
n royalty. The power of mobility given by mounted units was recognized early on, but was offset by the difficulty of raising large forces and by the inability of
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

horse
s (then mostly small) to carry heavy
armor Armour (British English) or armor (American English; see American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, spelling differences) is a covering to protect an object, individual, or vehicle from damage, especially direct contact weapon ...

armor
. Nonetheless, there are indications that, from the 15th century BC onwards, horseback riding was practiced amongst the military elites of the great states of the ancient Near East, most notably those in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
, the
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittite Empire
, and
Mycenaean Greece Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
. Cavalry techniques, and the rise of true cavalry, were an innovation of equestrian nomads of the Central Asian and
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subreg ...
steppe and pastoralist
tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human social group. The predominant usage of the term is in the discipline of anthropology. The definition is contested, in part due to conflicting theoretical understa ...

tribe
s such as the
Iranic The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (S ...

Iranic
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
ns and
Sarmatians The Sarmatians (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ; la, Sarmatae , ) were a large Iranian peoples, Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD. Originating in the centr ...
. The photograph above left shows Assyrian cavalry from reliefs of 865–860 BC. At this time, the men had no
spur A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boot A riding boot is a boot A boot, plural boots, is a type of specific footwear Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which typically serves the purpo ...

spur
s,
saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to Mammal#Anatomy, an animal's back by a girth (tack), girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a Back (horse), horse. However, specialized sad ...

saddle
s, saddle cloths, or
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
s. Fighting from the back of a horse was much more difficult than mere riding. The cavalry acted in pairs; the reins of the
mounted archer A horse archer is a cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of ...
were controlled by his neighbour's hand. Even at this early time, cavalry used swords, shields, spears, and bows. The sculpture implies two types of cavalry, but this might be a simplification by the artist. Later images of Assyrian cavalry show saddle cloths as primitive saddles, allowing each archer to control his own horse. As early as 490 BC a breed of large horses was bred in the Nisaean plain in Media to carry men with increasing amounts of armour (Herodotus 7,40 & 9,20), but large horses were still very exceptional at this time. By the fourth century BC the Chinese during the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
(403–221 BC) began to use cavalry against rival states,Ebrey and others, ''Pre-Modern East Asia'', pp. 29–30. and by 331 BC when
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
defeated the Persians the use of chariots in battle was obsolete in most nations; despite a few ineffective attempts to revive
scythed chariot The scythed chariot was a war chariot A chariot is a type of carriage A carriage is a private four-wheeled vehicle for people and is most commonly Horse-drawn vehicle, horse-drawn. Second-hand private carriages were common public transpo ...
s. The last recorded use of chariots as a shock force in continental Europe was during the
Battle of Telamon The Battle of Telamon was fought between the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization, run through res publica, public Representation (politics), represent ...
in 225 BC. However, chariots remained in use for ceremonial purposes such as carrying the victorious general in a
Roman triumph The Roman triumph (') was a civil ceremonyA civil, or registrar, ceremony is a non-religious legal marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, tha ...
, or for racing. Outside of mainland Europe, the southern
Britons The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed ...
met
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
with chariots in 55 and 54 BC, but by the time of the
Roman conquest of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain was a process that consisted of the conquest of territory located on the island of Great Britain, Britain by occupying Roman Empire, Roman forces. It began in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, and was largely com ...
a century later chariots were obsolete, even in Britannia. The last mention of chariot use in Britain was by the
Caledonia Caledonia () was the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...

Caledonia
ns at the
Mons Graupius The Battle of Mons Graupius was, according to Tacitus Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus ( , ; – ) was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars. He lived in ...
, in 84 AD.


Ancient Greece: city-states, Thebes, Thessaly and Macedonia

During the classical Greek period cavalry were usually limited to those citizens who could afford expensive war-horses. Three types of cavalry became common: light cavalry, whose riders, armed with
javelin A javelin is a light spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's ...

javelin
s, could harass and skirmish; heavy cavalry, whose troopers, using
lance A lance is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

lance
s, had the ability to close in on their opponents; and finally those whose equipment allowed them to fight either on horseback or foot. The role of horsemen did however remain secondary to that of the
hoplites Hoplites () ( grc, ὁπλίτης : hoplítēs) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa' ...

hoplites
or heavy infantry who comprised the main strength of the citizen levies of the various city states. Cavalry played a relatively minor role in
ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
city-states A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
, with conflicts decided by massed armored infantry. However, Thebes produced
Pelopidas:''For the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific ...
, their first great cavalry commander, whose tactics and skills were absorbed by
Phillip II of Macedon Philip II of Macedon ( grc-gre, Φίλιππος ; 382 – 21 October 336 BC) was the king (basileus) of the kingdom of Macedonia (ancient kingdom), Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was a member of the Argead dynasty of ...
when Phillip was a guest-hostage in Thebes.
Thessaly Thessaly ( el, Θεσσαλία, translit=Thessalía, ; ancient Aeolic Greek#Thessalian, Thessalian: , ) is a traditional geographic regions of Greece, geographic and modern administrative regions of Greece, administrative region of Greece, co ...

Thessaly
was widely known for producing competent cavalrymen, and later experiences in wars both with and against the
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...

Persian
s taught the
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has cer ...

Greeks
the value of cavalry in skirmishing and pursuit. The
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Athenian
author and soldier
Xenophon Xenophon of Athens (; grc, Ξενοφῶν Xenophon of Athens (; grc-gre, Ξενοφῶν, , ''Xenophōn''; – 354 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens mont ...

Xenophon
in particular advocated the creation of a small but well-trained cavalry force; to that end, he wrote several manuals on horsemanship and cavalry operations. The
Macedon Macedonia (; grc-gre, Μακεδονία), also called Macedon (), was an Classical antiquity, ancient monarchy, kingdom on the periphery of Archaic Greece, Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece. Th ...

Macedon
ian Kingdom in the north, on the other hand, developed a strong cavalry force that culminated in the ''hetairoi'' (
Companion cavalry The Companions ( el, , ''hetairoi'') were the elite cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were ...
) of Philip II of Macedon and
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
. In addition to these heavy cavalry, the Macedonian army also employed lighter horsemen called
prodromoi In ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD ...
for scouting and screening, as well as the
Macedonian pike phalanx
Macedonian pike phalanx
and various kinds of
light infantry Light infantry is a designation applied to certain types of foot soldiers (infantry) throughout history, typically having lighter equipment or Weapon, armament or a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as heavy infa ...
. There were also the ''Ippiko'' (or "Horserider"), Greek "heavy" cavalry, armed with kontos (or cavalry lance), and sword. These wore leather armour or mail plus a helmet. They were medium rather than heavy cavalry, meaning that they were better suited to be scouts, skirmishers, and pursuers rather than front line fighters. The effectiveness of this combination of cavalry and infantry helped to break enemy lines and was most dramatically demonstrated in Alexander's conquests of
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
,
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
, and northwestern India.


Roman Republic and Early Empire

The cavalry in the early
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
remained the preserve of the wealthy landed class known as the ''equites''—men who could afford the expense of maintaining a horse in addition to arms and armor heavier than those of the common Roman legion, legions. Horses were provided by the Republic and could be withdrawn if neglected or misused, together with the status of being a cavalryman. As the class grew to be more of a social elite instead of a functional property-based military grouping, the Romans began to employ Italian socii for filling the ranks of their cavalry. The weakness of Roman cavalry was demonstrated by Hannibal Barca during the Second Punic War where he used his superior mounted forces to win several battles. The most notable of these was the Battle of Cannae, where he inflicted a catastrophic defeat on the Romans. At about the same time the Romans began to recruit foreign auxiliary cavalry from among Gauls, Iberians, and Numidians, the last being highly valued as mounted skirmishers and scouts (see Numidian cavalry).
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
had a high opinion of his escort of Germanic mixed cavalry, giving rise to the ''cohors equitata, Cohortes Equitatae''. Early emperors maintained an Ala (Roman cavalry unit), ala of Batavi (Germanic tribe), Batavian cavalry as their Germanic bodyguard, personal bodyguards until the unit was dismissed by Galba after the Batavian Rebellion. For the most part, Roman cavalry during the early Republic functioned as an adjunct to the legionary infantry and formed only one-fifth of the standing force comprising a consular army. Except in times of major mobilisation about 1,800 horsemen were maintained, with three hundred attached to each legion. The relatively low ratio of horsemen to infantry does not mean that the utility of cavalry should be underestimated, as its strategic role in scouting, skirmishing, and outpost duties was crucial to the Romans' capability to conduct operations over long distances in hostile or unfamiliar territory. On some occasions Roman cavalry also proved its ability to strike a decisive tactical blow against a weakened or unprepared enemy, such as the final charge at the Battle of Aquilonia. After defeats such as the Battle of Carrhae, the Romans learned the importance of large cavalry formations from the Parthian Empire, Parthians. At the same time heavy spears and shields modelled on those favoured by the horsemen of the Greek city-states were adopted to replace the lighter weaponry of early Rome. These improvements in tactics and equipment reflected those of a thousand years earlier when the first Iranians to reach the Iranian Plateau forced the Assyrian people, Assyrians to undertake similar reform. Nonetheless, the Romans would continue to rely mainly on their heavy infantry supported by auxiliary cavalry.


Late Roman Empire and the Migration Period

In the army of the late Roman Empire, cavalry played an increasingly important role. The Spatha, the classical sword throughout most of the 1st millennium was adopted as the standard model for the Empire's cavalry forces. By the 6th century these had evolved into lengthy straight weapons influenced by Persian and other eastern patterns. The most widespread employment of heavy cavalry at this time was found in the forces of the Iranian empires, the Parthian Empire, Parthians and their Persians, Persian Sasanian Empire, Sasanian successors. Both, but especially the former, were famed for the
cataphract A cataphract was a form of armored heavy cavalry 300px, Spanish Heavy Cavalry - Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain ">Spain.html" ;"title="Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain">Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry ...
(fully armored cavalry armed with lances) even though the majority of their forces consisted of lighter
horse archer A horse archer is a cavalryman armed with a Bow (weapon), bow and able to shoot while riding from horseback. Archery has occasionally been used from the backs of other riding animals. In large open areas, it was a highly successful technique for ...
s. The West first encountered this eastern heavy cavalry during the Hellenistic period with further intensive contacts during the eight centuries of the Roman–Persian Wars. At first the Parthians' mobility greatly confounded the Romans, whose armoured close-order infantry proved unable to match the speed of the Parthians. However, later the Romans would successfully adapt such heavy armor and cavalry tactics by creating their own units of cataphracts and ''clibanarii''. The decline of the Roman infrastructure made it more difficult to field large infantry forces, and during the 4th and 5th centuries cavalry began to take a more dominant role on the European battlefield, also in part made possible by the appearance of new, larger breeds of horses. The replacement of the Roman horse tack, saddle by variants on the Scythian model, with pommel (saddle), pommel and cantle, was also a significant factor as was the adoption of
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
s and the concomitant increase in stability of the rider's seat. Armored cataphracts began to be deployed in eastern Europe and the Near East, following the precedents established by History of Iran, Persian forces, as the main striking force of the armies in contrast to the earlier roles of cavalry as scouts, raiders, and outflankers. The late-Roman cavalry tradition of organized units in a standing army differed fundamentally from the nobility of the Germanic invaders—individual warriors who could afford to provide their own horses and equipment. While there was no direct linkage with these predecessors the early medieval knight also developed as a member of a social and martial elite, able to meet the considerable expenses required by his role from grants of land and other incomes.


Asia


Central Asia

Xiongnu, Tujue, Avars (Carpathians), Avars, Kipchaks, Khitans, Mongols, Don Cossacks and the various Turkic peoples are also examples of the horse-mounted groups that managed to gain substantial successes in military conflicts with settled agrarian and urban societies, due to their strategic and tactical mobility. As European states began to assume the character of bureaucratic nation-states supporting professional standing armies, recruitment of these mounted warriors was undertaken in order to fill the strategic roles of scouts and raiders. The best known instance of the continued employment of mounted tribal auxiliaries were the Cossack cavalry regiments of the Russian Empire. In Eastern Europe, and out onto the steppes, cavalry remained important much longer and dominated the scene of warfare until the early 17th century and even beyond, as the strategic mobility of cavalry was crucial for the semi-nomadic pastoralism, pastoralist lives that many steppe cultures led. Tibetans also had a tradition of cavalry warfare, in several military engagements with the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907 AD).


Khanates of Central Asia

File:Mongol warrior of Genghis Khan.jpg, Mongol mounted archer of Genghis Khan late 12th century. File:Ryszkiewicz Tatars in the vanguard.jpg, Tatar vanguard in Eastern Europe 13th–14th centuries.


East Asia


China

Further east, the Military history of China (pre-1911), military history of China, specifically North China, northern China, held a long tradition of intense military exchange between Han Chinese infantry forces of the settled dynastic empires and the mounted nomads or "barbarians" of the north. The naval history of China was centered more to the south, where mountains, rivers, and large lakes necessitated the employment of a large and well-kept Naval warfare, navy. In 307 BC, King Wuling of Zhao, the ruler of the former Jin (Chinese state), state of Jin, ordered his commanders and troops to adopt the trousers of the
nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo ...

nomad
s as well as practice the nomads' form of mounted archery to hone their new cavalry skills. The adoption of massed cavalry in China also broke the tradition of the Chariot (Ancient China), chariot-riding Four occupations, Chinese aristocracy in battle, which had been in use since the ancient Shang Dynasty (c 1600–1050 BC).Ebrey, 29. By this time large Chinese infantry-based armies of 100,000 to 200,000 troops were now buttressed with several hundred thousand mounted cavalry in support or as an effective striking force.Ebrey, 30. The handheld pistol-and-trigger crossbow was invented in China in the fourth century BC;Ebrey, ''The Cambridge Illustrated History of China'', 41. it was written by the Song dynasty scholars Zeng Gongliang, Ding Du, and Yang Weide in their book ''Wujing Zongyao'' (1044 AD) that massed missile fire by crossbowmen was the most effective defense against enemy cavalry charges.Peers, 130. we can right anything On many occasions the Chinese studied nomadic cavalry tactics and applied the lessons in creating their own potent cavalry forces, while in others they simply recruited the tribal horsemen wholesale into their armies; and in yet other cases nomadic empires proved eager to enlist Chinese infantry and engineering, as in the case of the Mongol Empire and its sinicized part, the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368). The Chinese recognized early on during the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) that they were at a disadvantage in lacking the number of horses the northern nomadic peoples mustered in their armies. Emperor Wu of Han (r 141–87 BC) went to war with the Dayuan for this reason, since the Dayuan were hoarding a massive amount of tall, strong, Central Asian bred horses in the Hellenized–Greeks, Greek region of Fergana (established slightly earlier by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
). Although experiencing some defeats early on in the campaign, Emperor Wu's war from 104 BC to 102 BC succeeded in gathering the prized tribute of horses from Fergana. Cavalry tactics in China were enhanced by the invention of the saddle-attached
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
by at least the 4th century, as the oldest reliable depiction of a rider with paired stirrups was found in a Jin Dynasty (265–420), Jin Dynasty tomb of the year 322 AD.Dien, Albert. "THE STIRRUP AND ITS EFFECT ON CHINESE MILITARY HISTORY"
/ref> The Chinese invention of the horse collar by the 5th century was also a great improvement from the breast harness, allowing the horse to haul greater weight without heavy burden on its skeletal structure.Needham, Volume 4, Part 2, 322.Needham, Volume 4, Part 2, 305.


Korea

The horse warfare of History of Korea, Korea was first started during the ancient Korean kingdom Gojoseon. Since at least the 3rd century BC, there was influence of northern
nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo ...

nomad
ic peoples and Yemaek peoples on Korean warfare. By roughly the first century BC, the ancient kingdom of Buyeo Kingdom, Buyeo also had mounted warriors. The cavalry of Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, were called ''Gaemamusa'' (개마무사, 鎧馬武士), and were renowned as a fearsome heavy cavalry force. Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo, King Gwanggaeto the Great often led expeditions into the Baekje, Gaya confederacy, Buyeo Kingdom, Buyeo, Later Yan and against Yamato period, Japanese invaders with his cavalry. In the 12th century, Jurchen people, Jurchen tribes began to violate the Goryeo–Jurchen borders, and eventually invaded Goryeo Korea. After experiencing the invasion by the Jurchen, Korean general Yun Gwan realized that Goryeo lacked efficient cavalry units. He reorganized the Goryeo military into a professional army that would contain decent and well-trained cavalry units. In 1107, the Jurchen were ultimately defeated, and surrendered to Yun Gwan. To mark the victory, General Yun built nine fortresses to the northeast of the Goryeo–Jurchen borders (동북 9성, 東北 九城).


Japan

The History of Japan, ancient Japanese of the Kofun period also adopted Kofun period#Introduction of equine culture to Japan, cavalry and equine culture by the 5th century AD. The emergence of the samurai aristocracy led to the development of armoured horse archers, themselves to develop into charging
lancer A lancer was a type of cavalryman who fought with a lance. Lances were used for mounted warfare in Assyria as early as and subsequently by Persia, India, Egypt, China, Hippeus, Greece, and Roman horsemen, Rome. The weapon was widely used through ...

lancer
cavalry as gunpowder weapons rendered bows obsolete. Japanese cavalry was largely made up of landowners who would be upon a horse to better survey the troops they were called upon to bring to an engagement, rather than traditional mounted warfare seen in other cultures with massed cavalry units. An example is Yabusame (流鏑馬?), a type of mounted archery in traditional Japanese archery. An archer on a running horse shoots three special "turnip-headed" arrows successively at three wooden targets. This style of archery has its origins at the beginning of the Kamakura period. Minamoto no Yoritomo became alarmed at the lack of archery skills his samurai had. He organized yabusame as a form of practice. Currently, the best places to see yabusame performed are at the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū in Kamakura and Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto (during Aoi Matsuri in early May). It is also performed in Samukawa and on the beach at Zushi, as well as other locations. Kasagake or Kasakake (笠懸, かさがけ lit. "hat shooting") is a type of Japanese mounted archery. In contrast to yabusame, the types of targets are various and the archer shoots without stopping the horse. While yabusame has been played as a part of formal ceremonies, kasagake has developed as a game or practice of martial arts, focusing on technical elements of horse archery.


South Asia


Indian subcontinent

In the Indian subcontinent, cavalry played a major role from the Gupta Dynasty (320–600) period onwards. India has also the oldest evidence for the introduction of toe-
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
s. Indian literature contains numerous references to the mounted warriors of the
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
n horse nomads, notably the Sakas, Kambojas, Yona, Yavanas, The Pahlavas, Pahlavas and Paradas. Numerous Puranas, Puranic texts refer to a conflict in ancient India (16th century BC) in which the horsemen of five nations, called the "Five Hordes" (''pañca.ganan'') or Kshatriya, Kṣatriya hordes (''Kṣatriya ganah''), attacked and captured the state of Ayudhya by dethroning its Vedic period, Vedic King Bahu The Mahabharata, Ramayana, numerous Puranas and some foreign sources attest that the Kamboja cavalry frequently played role in ancient wars. V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar writes: "Both the Puranas and the epics agree that the horses of the Sindhu and Kamboja regions were of the finest breed, and that the services of the Kambojas as cavalry troopers were utilised in ancient wars". J.A.O.S. writes: "Most famous horses are said to come either from Sindhu or Kamboja; of the latter (i.e. the Kamboja), the Indian Indian epic poetry, epic Mahabharata speaks among the finest horsemen". The Mahabharata speaks of the esteemed cavalry of the Kambojas, Sakas, Yavanas and Tusharas, all of whom had participated in the Kurukshetra War and the Kambojas, Kurukshetra war under the supreme command of Kamboja Kingdom, Kamboja ruler Sudakshina Kamboja, Sudakshin Kamboj. Mahabharata and Vishnudharmottara Purana pay especial attention to the Kambojas, Yavansa, Gandharas etc. being ''ashva.yuddha.kushalah'' (expert cavalrymen). In the Mahabharata war, the Kamboja cavalry along with that of the Sakas, Yavanas is reported to have been enlisted by the Kuru (kingdom), Kuru king Duryodhana of Hastinapura. Herodotus (c 484 – c 425 BC) attests that the Gandhara, Gandarian mercenaries (i.e. ''Gandharans/Kambojans'' of Gandari Strapy of Achaemenids) from the 20th strapy of the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenids were recruited in the army of emperor Xerxes I of Persia, Xerxes I (486–465 BC), which he led against the Greeks, Hellas. Similarly, the ''men of the Mountain Land '' from north of Kabul-River equivalent to medieval Kohistan District, North West Frontier Province, Kohistan (Pakistan), figure in the army of Darius III against Alexander the Great, Alexander at Battle of Gaugamela, Arbela, providing a cavalry force and 15 elephants. This obviously refers to Kamboja cavalry south of Hindukush. The Kambojas were famous for their horses, as well as cavalrymen (''asva-yuddha-Kushalah''). On account of their supreme position in horse (Ashva) culture, they were also popularly known as Ashvakas, i.e. the "horsemen" and their land was known as "Home of Horses". They are the Assakenoi and Aspasioi of the Classical antiquity, Classical writings, and the Ashvakayanas and Ashvayanas in Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi. The Assakenoi had faced Alexander the Great, Alexander with 30,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry and 30 war elephants. Scholars have identified the Assakenoi and Aspasioi clans of Kunar Valley, Kunar and Swat, Pakistan, Swat valleys as a section of the Kambojas. These hardy tribes had offered stubborn resistance to Alexander (c 326 BC) during latter's campaign of the Kabul, Kunar and Swat valleys and had even extracted the praise of the Alexander's historians. These highlanders, designated as ''"parvatiya Ayudhajivinah"'' in Pāṇini's Astadhyayi, were rebellious, fiercely independent and freedom-loving cavalrymen who never easily yielded to any overlord. The Sanskrit drama ''Mudra-rakashas'' by ''Visakha Dutta'' and the Jainism, Jaina work ''Parishishtaparvan'' refer to Chandragupta Maurya, Chandragupta's (c 320 BC – c 298 BC) alliance with Himalayan king ''Parvataka''. The Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a formidable composite army made up of the cavalry forces of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Kiratas, Parasikas and Bahlikas as attested by Mudra-Rakashas (Mudra-Rakshasa 2). These hordes had helped Chandragupta Maurya defeat the ruler of Magadha and placed Chandragupta on the throne, thus laying the foundations of Mauryan Dynasty in Northern India. The cavalry of Hunas and the Kambojas is also attested in the Raghuvaṃśa, Raghu Vamsa epic poem of Sanskrit poet Kalidasa. Raghu of Kalidasa is believed to be Chandragupta II (''Vikaramaditya'') (375–413/15 AD), of the well-known Gupta Dynasty. As late as the mediaeval era, the Kamboja cavalry had also formed part of the Gurjara-Pratihara armed forces from the eighth to the 10th centuries AD. They had come to Bengal with the Pratiharas when the latter conquered part of the province. Ancient Kambojas organised military ''sanghas'' and shrenis (corporations) to manage their political and military affairs, as Arthashastra of Kautiliya as well as the Mahabharata record. They are described as ''Ayuddha-jivi'' or ''Shastr-opajivis'' (nations-in-arms), which also means that the Kamboja cavalry offered its military services to other nations as well. There are numerous references to Kambojas having been requisitioned as cavalry troopers in ancient wars by outside nations.


Mughal Empire

The Mughal armies (''lashkar'') were primarily a cavalry force. The elite corps were the ''ahadi'' who provided direct service to the Emperor and acted as guard cavalry. Supplementary cavalry or ''dakhilis'' were recruited, equipped and paid by the central state. This was in contrast to the ''tabinan'' horsemen who were the followers of individual noblemen. Their training and equipment varied widely but they made up the backbone of the Mughal cavalry. Finally there were tribal irregulars led by and loyal to tributary chiefs. These included Hindus, Afghans and Turks summoned for military service when their autonomous leaders were called on by the Imperial government.


European Middle Ages

As the quality and availability of heavy infantry declined in Europe with the fall of the Roman Empire,
heavy cavalry 300px, Spanish Heavy Cavalry - Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain ">Spain.html" ;"title="Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain">Royal Armoury of Madrid, Spain Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself ...
became more effective. Infantry that lack the cohesion and discipline of tight formations are more susceptible to being broken and scattered by shock combat—the main role of heavy cavalry, which rose to become the dominant force on the European battlefield. As heavy cavalry increased in importance, it became the main focus of military development. The arms and armour for heavy cavalry increased, the high-backed
saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to Mammal#Anatomy, an animal's back by a girth (tack), girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a Back (horse), horse. However, specialized sad ...

saddle
developed, and
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
s and
spur A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boot A riding boot is a boot A boot, plural boots, is a type of specific footwear Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which typically serves the purpo ...

spur
s were added, increasing the advantage of heavy cavalry even more. This shift in military importance was reflected in society as well;
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood ...

knight
s took centre stage both on and off the battlefield. These are considered the "ultimate" in heavy cavalry: well-equipped with the best weapons, state-of-the-art armour from head to foot, leading with the
lance A lance is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

lance
in battle in a full-gallop, close-formation "knightly charge" that might prove irresistible, winning the battle almost as soon as it begun. But knights remained the minority of total available combat forces; the expense of arms, armour, and horses was only affordable to a select few. While mounted men-at-arms focused on a narrow combat role of shock combat, medieval armies relied on a large variety of foot troops to fulfill all the rest (
skirmishing Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldier A soldier is one who fights as part of a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for ...
, flank guards, scouting, holding ground, etc.). Medieval chroniclers tended to pay undue attention to the knights at the expense of the common soldiers, which led early students of military history to suppose that heavy cavalry was the only force that mattered on medieval European battlefields. But well-trained and disciplined infantry could defeat knights. Massed English longbowmen triumphed over French cavalry at Battle of Crécy, Crécy, Battle of Poitiers (1356), Poitiers and Battle of Agincourt, Agincourt, while at Battle of Gisors, Gisors (1188), Battle of Bannockburn, Bannockburn (1314), and Battle of Laupen, Laupen (1339), foot-soldiers proved they could resist cavalry charges as long as they held their formation. Once the Switzerland, Swiss developed their pike squares for offensive as well as defensive use, infantry started to become the principal arm. This aggressive new doctrine gave the Swiss victory over a range of adversaries, and their enemies found that the only reliable way to defeat them was by the use of an even more comprehensive combined arms doctrine, as evidenced in the Battle of Marignano. The introduction of missile weapons that required less skill than the longbow, such as the crossbow and hand cannon, also helped remove the focus somewhat from cavalry elites to masses of cheap infantry equipped with easy-to-learn weapons. These missile weapons were very successfully used in the Hussite Wars, in combination with Wagenburg tactics. This gradual rise in the dominance of infantry led to the adoption of dismounted tactics. From the earliest times knights and mounted men-at-arms had frequently dismounted to handle enemies they could not overcome on horseback, such as in the Battle of the Dyle (891) and the Battle of Bremule (1119), but after the 1350s this trend became more marked with the dismounted men-at-arms fighting as super-heavy infantry with two-handed
sword A sword is an edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Ge ...

sword
s and poleaxes. In any case, warfare in the Middle Ages tended to be dominated by raids and sieges rather than pitched battles, and mounted men-at-arms rarely had any choice other than dismounting when faced with the prospect of assaulting a fortified position.


Greater Middle East


Arabs

The Islamic Prophet Muhammad made use of cavalry in many of his military campaigns including the Expedition of Dhu Qarad, and the Expedition of Zaid ibn Haritha (Al-Is), expedition of Zaid ibn Haritha in al-Is which took place in September, 627 AD, fifth month of 6 AH of the Islamic calendar. Early organized Arab mounted forces under the Rashidun caliphate comprised a
light cavalry Light cavalry comprises lightly armed and armor Armour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in Hist ...
armed with
lance A lance is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

lance
and
sword A sword is an edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Ge ...

sword
. Its main role was to attack the enemy flanks and rear. These relatively lightly armored horsemen formed the most effective element of the Muslim armies during the later stages of the Islamic conquest of the Levant. The best use of this lightly armed fast moving cavalry was revealed at the Battle of Yarmouk (636 AD) in which Khalid ibn Walid, knowing the skills of his horsemen, used them to turn the tables at every critical instance of the battle with their ability to engage, disengage, then turn back and attack again from the flank or rear. A strong cavalry regiment was formed by Khalid ibn Walid which included the veterans of the campaign of Iraq and Syria. Early Muslim historians have given it the name ''Mutaharrik tulai'a''( متحرك طليعة ), or the Mobile guard. This was used as an advance guard and a strong striking force to route the opposing armies with its greater mobility that give it an upper hand when maneuvering against any Byzantine army. With this mobile striking force, the conquest of Syria was made easy. The Battle of Talas in 751 AD was a conflict between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and the China, Chinese Tang dynasty over the control of
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
. Chinese infantry were routed by Arab cavalry near the bank of the River Talas. Later Mamluks were trained as cavalry soldiers. Mamluks were to follow the dictates of Furusiyya, al-furusiyya, a code of conduct that included values like courage and generosity but also doctrine of cavalry tactics, horsemanship, archery and treatment of wounds.


Maghreb

The Islamic Berber states of North Africa employed elite horse mounted cavalry armed with spears and following the model of the original Arab occupiers of the region. Horse-harness and weapons were manufactured locally and the six-monthly stipends for horsemen were double those of their infantry counterparts. During the 8th century Islamic conquest of Iberia large numbers of horses and riders were shipped from North Africa, to specialise in raiding and the provision of support for the massed Berber footmen of the main armies. Maghrebi traditions of mounted warfare eventually influenced a number of sub-Saharan African polities in the medieval era. The Eso Ikoyi, Esos of Ikoyi, military aristocrats of the Yoruba peoples, were a notable manifestation of this phenomenon.


Al-Andalus


Iran

Qizilbash, were a class of Safavid militant warriors in Iran during the 15th to 18th centuries, who often fought as elite cavalry. File:Qezelbash.JPG, Manikin of a Safavid Qizilbash, showing characteristic red cap (Sa'dabad Palace, Tehran). File:Canonnier Persan. Auguste Wahlen. Moeurs, usages et costumes de tous les peuples du monde. 1843.jpg,
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
n Zamburak.


Ottoman Empire

File:Sipahi.jpg, Ottoman Sipahi. File:Mamluke.jpg, An Ottoman Mamluk cavalryman from 1810, armed with a pistol. File:Sueleymanname Akinci-Beys.png, Akinji, Akinci of the Balkans. File:1396-Battle of Nicopolis-Hunername-2.jpg, Ottoman Ghazi (warrior), Ghazi cavalrymen during the Battle of Nicopolis.


Renaissance Europe

Ironically, the rise of infantry in the early 16th century coincided with the "golden age" of heavy cavalry; a French or Spanish army at the beginning of the century could have up to half its numbers made up of various kinds of light and heavy cavalry, whereas in earlier medieval and later 17th-century armies the proportion of cavalry was seldom more than a quarter. Knighthood largely lost its military functions and became more closely tied to social and economic prestige in an increasingly capitalistic Western society. With the rise of drilled and trained infantry, the mounted men-at-arms, now sometimes called ''gendarme (historical), gendarmes'' and often part of the standing army themselves, adopted the same role as in the Hellenistic age, that of delivering a decisive blow once the battle was already engaged, either by charging the enemy in the flank or attacking their commander-in-chief. From the 1550s onwards, the use of Gunpowder warfare, gunpowder weapons solidified infantry's dominance of the battlefield and began to allow true mass armies to develop. This is closely related to the increase in the size of armies throughout the early modern period; heavily armored cavalrymen were expensive to raise and maintain and it took years to train a skilled horseman or a horse, while arquebusiers and later musketeers could be trained and kept in the field at much lower cost, and were much easier to recruit. The Spanish tercio and later formations relegated cavalry to a supporting role. The pistol was specifically developed to try to bring cavalry back into the conflict, together with manoeuvres such as the caracole. The caracole was not particularly successful, however, and the charge (whether with lance, sword, or pistol) remained as the primary mode of employment for many types of European cavalry, although by this time it was delivered in much deeper formations and with greater discipline than before. The demi-lancers and the heavily armored sword-and-pistol reiters were among the types of cavalry whose heyday was in the 16th and 17th centuries, as for the Polish Hussars, Polish winged hussars, a heavy cavalry force that achieved great success against Swedish Empire, Swedes, Tsardom of Russia, Russians, and Ottoman Empire, Turks.


18th-century Europe and Napoleonic Wars

Cavalry retained an important role in this age of regularization and standardization across European armies. They remained the primary choice for confronting enemy cavalry. Attacking an unbroken infantry force head-on usually resulted in failure, but extended linear infantry formations were vulnerable to flank or rear attacks. Cavalry was important at Battle of Blenheim, Blenheim (1704), Battle of Rossbach, Rossbach (1757), Battle of Marengo, Marengo (1800), Battle of Eylau, Eylau and Battle of Friedland, Friedland (1807), remaining significant throughout the Napoleonic Wars. Even with the increasing prominence of infantry, cavalry still had an irreplaceable role in armies, due to their greater mobility. Their non-battle duties often included patrolling the fringes of army encampments, with standing orders to intercept suspected shirkers and deserters as well as serving as Picket (military), outpost pickets in advance of the main body. During battle, lighter cavalry such as hussars and uhlans might skirmish with other cavalry, attack light infantry, or charge and either capture enemy artillery or render them useless by plugging the touchholes with iron spikes. Heavier cavalry such as cuirassiers,
dragoons Dragoons were originally a class of mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry who rode horses instead of marching. The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry. According to the 1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "Mounted rif ...

dragoons
, and carabiniers usually charged towards infantry formations or opposing cavalry in order to rout them. Both light and heavy cavalry pursued retreating enemies, the point where most battle casualties occurred. The greatest cavalry charge of modern history was at the 1807 Battle of Eylau, when the entire 11,000-strong French cavalry reserve, led by Joachim Murat, launched a huge charge on and through the Russian infantry lines. Cavalry's dominating and menacing presence on the battlefield was countered by the use of Infantry square, infantry squares. The most notable examples are at the Battle of Quatre Bras and later at the Battle of Waterloo, the latter which the repeated Battle of Waterloo#The French cavalry attack, charges by up to 9,000 French cavalrymen ordered by Michel Ney failed to break the British-Allied army, who had formed into squares. Massed infantry, especially those formed in squares were deadly to cavalry, but offered an excellent target for artillery. Once a bombardment had disordered the infantry formation, cavalry were able to rout and pursue the scattered foot soldiers. It was not until individual firearms gained accuracy and improved rates of fire that cavalry was diminished in this role as well. Even then light cavalry remained an indispensable tool for scouting, screening the army's movements, and harassing the enemy's supply lines until military aircraft supplanted them in this role in the early stages of World War I.


19th century


Europe

By the beginning of the 19th century, European cavalry fell into four main categories: * Cuirassiers, heavy cavalry * Dragoons, originally mounted infantry, but later regarded as medium cavalry * Hussars, light cavalry * Lancers or Uhlans, light cavalry, primarily armed with
lance A lance is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

lance
s There were cavalry variations for individual nations as well: France had the ''chasseurs à cheval''; Prussia had the ''Jäger zu Pferde''; Bavaria, Saxony and Austria had the ''Chevaulegers''; and Russia had Cossacks. Britain, from the mid-18th century, had Light Dragoons as light cavalry and Dragoons, Dragoon Guards and Household Cavalry as heavy cavalry. Only after the end of the Napoleonic wars were the Household Cavalry equipped with cuirasses, and some other regiments were converted to lancers. In the United States Army prior to 1862 the cavalry were almost always dragoons. The Imperial Japanese Army had its cavalry uniformed as
hussar A hussar ( , ; hu, huszár, pl, huzar, sr, хусар, husar, hr, husar) was a member of a class of light cavalry, originating in Central Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. The title and distinctive dress of these horsemen were sub ...

hussar
s, but they fought as dragoons. In the Crimean War, the Charge of the Light Brigade and the The Thin Red Line (Battle of Balaclava), Thin Red Line at the Battle of Balaclava showed the vulnerability of cavalry, when deployed without effective support.


Franco-Prussian War

During the Franco-Prussian War, at the Battle of Mars-la-Tour in 1870, a Prussian cavalry brigade decisively smashed the centre of the French battle line, after skilfully concealing their approach. This event became known as Von Bredow's Death Ride after the brigade commander Adalbert von Bredow; it would be used in the following decades to argue that massed cavalry charges still had a place on the modern battlefield.


Imperial expansion

Cavalry found a new role in colonial campaigns (irregular military, irregular warfare), where modern weapons were lacking and the slow moving infantry-artillery train or fixed fortifications were often ineffective against indigenous insurgents (unless the latter offered a fight on an equal footing, as at Battle of Tel el-Kebir, Tel-el-Kebir, Battle of Omdurman, Omdurman, etc.). Cavalry "flying columns" proved effective, or at least cost-effective, in many campaigns—although an astute native commander (like Samori in western Africa, Imam Shamil, Shamil in the Caucasus, or any of the better Boer commanders) could turn the tables and use the greater mobility of their cavalry to offset their relative lack of firepower compared with European forces. In 1903 the British Indian Army maintained forty regiments of cavalry, numbering about 25,000 Indian sowars (cavalrymen), with British and Indian officers. Among the more famous regiments in the lineages of the modern Indian and Pakistani armies are: * Governor General's Bodyguard (now President's Bodyguard (India), President's Bodyguard) * Skinner's Horse (now India's 1st Horse (Skinner's Horse)) * Gardner's Lancers (now India's 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)) * Hodson's Horse (now India's Hodson's Horse, 3rd Horse (Hodson's)) of the Bengal Lancers fame * 6th Bengal Cavalry (later amalgamated with 7th Hariana Lancers to form 18th King Edward's Own Cavalry) now 18th Cavalry of the Indian Army * 5th Horse, Probyn's Horse (now 5th Horse, Pakistan) * Royal Deccan Horse (now India's Deccan Horse, The Deccan Horse) * Poona Horse (now India's The Poona Horse) * Scinde Horse (now India's Scinde Horse, The Scinde Horse) * Guides Cavalry, Queen's Own Guides Cavalry (now Pakistan). * 11th Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry (Frontier Force) (now 11th Cavalry (Frontier Force), Pakistan) Several of these formations are still active, though they now are armoured formations, for example the Guides Cavalry of Pakistan. The French Army maintained substantial cavalry forces in Algeria and Morocco from 1830 until the end of the Second World War. Much of the Mediterranean coastal terrain was suitable for mounted action and there was a long established culture of horsemanship amongst the Arab and Berber inhabitants. The French forces included Spahis, Chasseurs d' Afrique, French Foreign Legion, Foreign Legion cavalry and mounted Goumiers. Both Spain and Italy raised cavalry regiments from amongst the indigenous horsemen of their North African territories (see regulares, Italian Spahis and savari respectively). Imperial Germany employed mounted formations in South West Africa as part of the Schutztruppen (colonial army) garrisoning the territory.


United States

In the early American Civil War the regular United States Army mounted rifle, dragoon, and two existing cavalry regiments were reorganized and renamed cavalry regiments, of which there were six. Over a hundred other federal and state cavalry regiments were organized, but the infantry played a much larger role in many battles due to its larger numbers, lower cost per rifle fielded, and much easier recruitment. However, cavalry saw a role as part of screening forces and in foraging and scouting. The later phases of the war saw the Union Army, Federal army developing a truly effective cavalry force fighting as Reconnaissance, scouts, raiders, and, with repeating rifles, as
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry at the Battle of the Somme The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the ...
. The distinguished 1st Virginia Cavalry ranks as one of the most effectual and successful cavalry units on the Confederate side. Noted cavalry commanders included Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and John Singleton Mosby (a.k.a. "The Grey Ghost") and on the Union side, Philip Sheridan and George Armstrong Custer. Post Civil War, as the volunteer armies disbanded, the regular army cavalry regiments increased in number from six to ten, among them Custer's U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment of Battle of the Little Bighorn, Little Bighorn fame, and the African-American U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment and U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment. The black units, along with others (both cavalry and infantry), collectively became known as the Buffalo Soldiers. According to Robert M. Utley: :the frontier army was a conventional military force trying to control, by conventional military methods, a people that did not behave like conventional enemies and, indeed, quite often were not enemies at all. This is the most difficult of all military assignments, whether in Africa, Asia, or the American West. These regiments, which rarely took the field as complete organizations, served throughout the American Indian Wars through the close of the frontier in the 1890s. Volunteer cavalry regiments like the Rough Riders consisted of horsemen such as cowboys, ranchers and other outdoorsmen, that served as a cavalry in the United States Military.


First World War


Pre-war developments

At the beginning of the 20th century all armies still maintained substantial cavalry forces, although there was contention over whether their role should revert to that of mounted infantry (the historic dragoon function). Following the experience of the Second Boer War, South African War of 1899–1902 (where mounted Boer citizen commandos fighting on foot from cover proved more effective than regular cavalry) the British Army withdrew lances for all but ceremonial purposes and placed a new emphasis on training for dismounted action in 1903. An Army Order dated 1909 however instructed that the six British lancer regiments then in existence resume use of this impressive but obsolete weapon for active service. In 1882 the Imperial Russian Army converted all its line hussar and lancer regiments to dragoons, with an emphasis on mounted infantry training. In 1910 these regiments reverted to their historic roles, designations and uniforms. By 1909 official regulations dictating the role of the Imperial German cavalry had been revised to indicate an increasing realization of the realities of modern warfare. The massive cavalry charge in three waves which had previously marked the end of annual maneuvers was discontinued and a new emphasis was placed in training on scouting, raiding and pursuit; rather than main battle involvement. The perceived importance of cavalry was however still evident, with thirteen new regiments of mounted rifles (''Jager zu Pferde'') being raised shortly before the outbreak of war in 1914. In spite of significant experience in mounted warfare in Morocco during 1908–14, the French cavalry remained a highly conservative institution. The traditional tactical distinctions between heavy, medium, and light cavalry branches were retained. French cuirassiers wore breastplates and plumed helmets unchanged from the Napoleonic period, during the early months of World War I. Dragoons were similarly equipped, though they did not wear cuirasses and did carry lances. Light cavalry were described as being "a blaze of colour". French cavalry of all branches were well mounted and were trained to change position and charge at full gallop. One weakness in training was that French cavalrymen seldom dismounted on the march and their horses suffered heavily from raw backs in August 1914.


Opening stages


Europe 1914

In August 1914 all combatant armies still retained substantial numbers of cavalry and the mobile nature of the opening battles on both Eastern Front (World War I), Eastern and Western Front (World War I), Western Fronts provided a number of instances of traditional cavalry actions, though on a smaller and more scattered scale than those of previous wars. The 110 regiments of Imperial German cavalry, while as colourful and traditional as any in peacetime appearance, had adopted a practice of falling back on infantry support when any substantial opposition was encountered. These cautious tactics aroused derision amongst their more conservative French and Russian opponents but proved appropriate to the new nature of warfare. A single attempt by the German army, on 12 August 1914, to use six regiments of massed cavalry to cut off the Belgian field army from Antwerp foundered when they were driven back in disorder by rifle fire. The two German cavalry brigades involved lost 492 men and 843 horses in repeated charges against dismounted Belgian lancers and infantry. One of the last recorded charges by French cavalry took place on the night of 9/10 September 1914 when a squadron of the 16th Dragoons overran a German airfield at Soissons, while suffering heavy losses. Once the front lines stabilised on the Western Front with the start of Trench Warfare, a combination of barbed wire, uneven muddy terrain, machine guns and rapid fire rifles proved deadly to horse mounted troops and by early 1915 most cavalry units were no longer seeing front line action. On the Eastern Front a more fluid form of warfare arose from flat open terrain favorable to mounted warfare. On the outbreak of war in 1914 the bulk of the Russian cavalry was deployed at full strength in frontier garrisons and during the period that the main armies were mobilizing scouting and raiding into East Prussia and Austrian Galicia was undertaken by mounted troops trained to fight with sabre and lance in the traditional style. On 21 August 1914 the 4th Austro-Hungarian ''Kavalleriedivison'' fought a major mounted engagement at Jaroslavic with the Russian 10th Cavalry Division, in what was arguably the final historic battle to involve thousands of horsemen on both sides. While this was the last massed cavalry encounter on the Eastern Front, the absence of good roads limited the use of mechanized transport and even the technologically advanced Imperial German Army continued to deploy up to twenty-four horse-mounted divisions in the East, as late as 1917.


Europe 1915–18

For the remainder of the War on the Western Front cavalry had virtually no role to play. The British and French armies dismounted many of their cavalry regiments and used them in infantry and other roles: the Life Guards (British Army), Life Guards for example spent the last months of the War as a machine gun corps; and the Australian Light Horse served as light infantry during the Gallipoli campaign. In September 1914 cavalry comprised 9.28% of the total manpower of the British Expeditionary Force (World War I), British Expeditionary Force in France—by July 1918 this proportion had fallen to 1.65%. As early as the first winter of the war most French cavalry regiments had dismounted a squadron each, for service in the trenches. The French cavalry numbered 102,000 in May 1915 but had been reduced to 63,000 by October 1918. The German Army dismounted nearly all their cavalry in the West, maintaining only one mounted division on that front by January 1917. Italy entered the war in 1915 with thirty regiments of line cavalry, lancers and light horse. While employed effectively against their Austro-Hungarian counterparts during the initial offensives across the Isonzo River, the Italian mounted forces ceased to have a significant role as the front shifted into mountainous terrain. By 1916 most cavalry machine-gun sections and two complete cavalry divisions had been dismounted and seconded to the infantry. Some cavalry were retained as mounted troops behind the lines in anticipation of a penetration of the opposing trenches that it seemed would never come. Tanks, introduced on the Western Front by the British in September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, had the capacity to achieve such breakthroughs but did not have the reliable range to exploit them. In their first major use at the Battle of Cambrai (1917), the plan was for a cavalry division to follow behind the tanks, however they were not able to cross a canal because a tank had broken the only bridge. While no longer the main frontline of troops, cavalry was still used throughout the war in large amounts on rare occasions for offensives, such as in the Battle of Caporetto and the Battle of Moreuil Wood. It was not until the German Army had been forced to retreat in the Hundred Days Offensive of 1918, that cavalry were again able to operate in their intended role. There was a successful charge by the British 7th Dragoon Guards on the last day of the war. In the wider spaces of the Eastern Front a more fluid form of warfare continued and there was still a use for mounted troops. Some wide-ranging actions were fought, again mostly in the early months of the war.''First World War'', Willmott, H. P., Dorling Kindersley, 2003 However, even here the value of cavalry was overrated and the maintenance of large mounted formations at the front by the Military history of the Russian Empire, Russian Army put a major strain on the railway system, to little strategic advantage. In February 1917 the Russian regular cavalry (exclusive of Cossacks) was reduced by nearly a third from its peak number of 200,000, as two squadrons of each regiment were dismounted and incorporated into additional infantry battalions. Their Austro-Hungarian opponents, plagued by a shortage of trained infantry, had been obliged to progressively convert most horse cavalry regiments to dismounted rifle units starting in late 1914.


Middle East

In the Middle East, during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign mounted forces (British, Indian, Ottoman, Australian, Arab and New Zealand) retained an important strategic role both as mounted infantry and cavalry. In Egypt the
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry at the Battle of the Somme The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the ...
formations like the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and Australian Light Horse of ANZAC Mounted Division, operating as mounted infantry, drove German and Ottoman forces back from Battle of Romani, Romani to Battle of Magdhaba, Magdhaba and Battle of Rafa, Rafa and out of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in 1916. After a stalemate on the Gaza—Beersheba line between March and October 1917, Beersheba was captured by the Australian Mounted Division's 4th Light Horse Brigade. Their mounted charge succeeded after a Battle of Beersheba (1917), coordinated attack by the British Infantry and Yeomanry cavalry and the Australian and New Zealand Light Horse and Mounted Rifles brigades. A series of coordinated attacks by these Egyptian Expeditionary Force infantry and mounted troops were also successful at the Battle of Mughar Ridge, during which the British infantry divisions and the Desert Mounted Corps drove two Ottoman armies back to the Jaffa—Jerusalem line. The infantry with mainly dismounted cavalry and mounted infantry fought in the Judean Hills to eventually almost encircle Battle of Jerusalem (1917), Jerusalem which was occupied shortly after. During a pause in operations necessitated by the German spring offensive in 1918 on the Western Front joint infantry and mounted infantry attacks towards First Transjordan attack on Amman, Amman and Second Transjordan attack on Shunet Nimrin and Es Salt, Es Salt resulted in retreats back to the Jordan Valley (Middle East), Jordan Valley which continued to be occupied by mounted divisions during the summer of 1918. The Australian Mounted Division was armed with swords and in September, after the successful Battle of Megiddo (1918), breaching of the Ottoman line on the Mediterranean coast by Battle of Sharon (1918), the British Empire infantry XXI Corps was followed by cavalry attacks by the Capture of Afulah and Beisan, 4th Cavalry Division, Battle of Nazareth (1918), 5th Cavalry Division and Capture of Jenin (1918), Australian Mounted Divisions which almost encircled two Ottoman armies in the Judean Hills Battle of Samakh (1918), forcing their retreat. Meanwhile, Chaytor's Force of infantry and mounted infantry in ANZAC Mounted Division Occupation of the Jordan Valley (1918), held the Jordan Valley, covering the right flank to later advance eastwards to Third Transjordan attack, capture Es Salt and Amman and half of a third Ottoman army. A subsequent pursuit by the Charge at Irbid, 4th Cavalry Division and the Battle of Jisr Benat Yakub, Australian Mounted Division followed by the Charge at Kiswe, 5th Cavalry Division to Damascus. Armoured cars and 5th Cavalry Division lancers were continuing the pursuit of Ottoman units north of Aleppo when the Armistice of Mudros was signed by the Ottoman Empire.


Post–World War I

A combination of military conservatism in almost all armies and post-war financial constraints prevented the lessons of 1914–1918 being acted on immediately. There was a general reduction in the number of cavalry regiments in the British, French, Italian and other Western armies but it was still argued with conviction (for example in the 1922 edition of the ''Encyclopædia Britannica'') that mounted troops had a major role to play in future warfare. The 1920s saw an interim period during which cavalry remained as a proud and conspicuous element of all major armies, though much less so than prior to 1914. Cavalry was extensively used in the Russian Civil War and the Soviet-Polish War. The last major cavalry battle was the Battle of Komarów in 1920, between Poland and the Russian Bolsheviks. Colonial warfare in Morocco, Syria, the Middle East and the North-West Frontier Province (1901–1955), North West Frontier of India provided some opportunities for mounted action against enemies lacking advanced weaponry. The post-war German Army (Reichsheer) was permitted a large proportion of cavalry (18 regiments or 16.4% of total manpower) under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. The British Army mechanised all cavalry regiments between 1929 and 1941, redefining their role from horse to armoured vehicles to form the Royal Armoured Corps together with the Royal Tank Regiment. The U.S. Cavalry abandoned its sabres in 1934 and commenced the conversion of its horsed regiments to mechanized cavalry, starting with the First Regiment of Cavalry in January 1933. During the 1930s the French Army experimented with integrating mounted and mechanised cavalry units into larger formations. Dragoon regiments were converted to motorised infantry (trucks and motor cycles), and cuirassiers to armoured units; while light cavalry (Chasseurs a' Cheval, Hussars and Spahis) remained as mounted sabre squadrons. The theory was that mixed forces comprising these diverse units could utilise the strengths of each according to circumstances. In practice mounted troops proved unable to keep up with fast moving mechanised units over any distance. The thirty-nine cavalry regiments of the British Indian Army were reduced to twenty-one as the result of a series of amalgamations immediately following World War I. The new establishment remained unchanged until 1936 when three regiments were redesignated as permanent training units, each with six, still mounted, regiments linked to them. In 1938 the process of mechanization began with the conversion of a full cavalry brigade (two Indian regiments and one British) to armoured car and tank units. By the end of 1940 all of the Indian cavalry had been mechanized initially, in the majority of cases, to motorized infantry transported in 15cwt trucks. The last horsed regiment of the British Indian Army (other than the Viceregal Bodyguard and some Indian States Forces regiments) was the 19th King George's Own Lancers which had its final mounted parade at Rawalpindi on 28 October 1939. This unit still exists in the Pakistan Army as an armored regiment.


World War II

While most armies still maintained cavalry units at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, significant mounted action was largely restricted to the Polish, Balkan, and Soviet campaigns. Rather than charge their mounts into battle, cavalry units were either used as mounted infantry (using horses to move into position and then dismounting for combat) or as reconnaissance units (especially in areas not suited to tracked or wheeled vehicles).


Polish

A popular myth is that Polish cavalry armed with lances charged German tanks during the September 1939 campaign. This arose from misreporting of a single clash on 1 September near Krojanty, when two squadrons of the Polish 18th Lancers armed with sabres scattered German infantry before being caught in the open by German armoured cars. Two examples illustrate how the myth developed. First, because motorised vehicles were in short supply, the Poles used horses to pull anti-tank weapons into position. Second, there were a few incidents when Polish cavalry was trapped by German tanks, and attempted to fight free. However, this did not mean that the Polish army chose to attack tanks with horse cavalry.Davies ''God's Playground Volume II'' pp. 324–325 Later, on the Eastern Front, the
Red Army The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army,) frequently shortened to Red Army, was the army and air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR or RSFSR; rus, links= ...
did deploy cavalry units effectively against the Germans.Davies ''God's Playground Volume II'' p. 325 A more correct term would be "mounted infantry" instead of "cavalry", as horses were primarily used as a means of transportation, for which they were very suitable in view of the very poor road conditions in pre-war Poland. Another myth describes Polish cavalry as being armed with both sabres and lances; lances were used for peacetime ceremonial purposes only and the primary weapon of the Polish cavalryman in 1939 was a rifle. Individual equipment did include a sabre, probably because of well-established tradition, and in the case of a melee combat this secondary weapon would probably be more effective than a rifle and bayonet. Moreover, the Polish cavalry brigade order of battle in 1939 included, apart from the mounted soldiers themselves, light and heavy machine guns (wheeled), the Anti-tank rifle, model 35, anti-aircraft weapons, anti tank artillery such as the Bofors 37 mm, also light and scout tanks, etc. The last cavalry vs. cavalry mutual charge in Europe took place in Poland during the Battle of Krasnobród, when Polish and German cavalry units clashed with each other. The last classical cavalry charge of the war took place on March 1, 1945 during the Battle of Schoenfeld by the 1st "Warsaw" Independent Cavalry Brigade. Infantry and tanks had been employed to little effect against the German position, both of which floundered in the open wetlands only to be dominated by infantry and antitank fire from the German fortifications on the forward slope of Hill 157, overlooking the wetlands. The Germans had not taken cavalry into consideration when fortifying their position which, combined with the "Warsaw"s swift assault, overran the German anti-tank guns and consolidated into an attack into the village itself, now supported by infantry and tanks.


Greek

The Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940 saw mounted cavalry used effectively by the Greek defenders along the mountainous frontier with Albania. Three Greek cavalry regiments (two mounted and one partially mechanized) played an important role in the Italian defeat in this difficult terrain.


Soviet

The contribution of Soviet cavalry to the development of modern military operational doctrine and its importance in defeating Nazi Germany has been eclipsed by the higher profile of tanks and airplanes.John S Harrel Despite the view portrayed by German propaganda, Soviet cavalry contributed significantly to the defeat of the Axis armies. Their contributions included being the most mobile troops in the early stages, when trucks and other equipment were low in quality; as well as providing cover for retreating forces. Considering their relatively limited numbers, the Soviet cavalry played a significant role in giving Germany its first real defeats in the early stages of the war. The continuing potential of mounted troops was demonstrated during the Battle of Moscow, against Heinz Guderian, Guderian and the powerful central German 9th Army. Cavalry were amongst the first Soviet units to complete the encirclement in the Battle of Stalingrad, thus sealing the fate of the 6th Army (Wehrmacht), German 6th Army. Mounted Soviet forces also played a role in the encirclement of Berlin, with some Cossack cavalry units reaching the Reichstag building, Reichstag in April 1945. Throughout the war they performed important tasks such as the capture of bridgeheads which is considered one of the hardest jobs in battle, often doing so with inferior numbers. For instance the 8th Guards Cavalry Regiment of the 2nd Guards Cavalry Division, often fought outnumbered against the best German units. By the final stages of the war only the Soviet Union was still fielding mounted units in substantial numbers, some in combined mechanized and horse units. The advantage of this approach was that in exploitation mounted infantry could keep pace with advancing tanks. Other factors favoring the retention of mounted forces included the high quality of Russian Cossacks which made about half of all cavalry; and the relative lack of roads suitable for wheeled vehicles in many parts of the Eastern Front. Another consideration was that the logistic capacity required to support very large motorized forces exceeded that necessary for mounted troops. The main usage of the Soviet cavalry involved infiltration through front lines with subsequent deep raids, which disorganized German supply lines. Another role was the pursuit of retreating enemy forces during major frontline operations and breakthroughs.


Italian

The last mounted sabre charge by Italian cavalry occurred on August 24, 1942 at Isbuscenskij Charge, Isbuscenski (Russia), when a squadron of the Savoia Cavalry Regiment charged the 812th Siberian Infantry Regiment. The remainder of the regiment, together with the Novara Lancers made a dismounted attack in an action that ended with the retreat of the Russians after heavy losses on both sides. The final Italian cavalry action occurred on October 17, 1942 in Poloj (now Croatia) by a squadron of the Alexandria Cavalry Regiment against a large group of Yugoslav partisans.


Other Axis

Romanian, Hungarian and Italian cavalry were dispersed or disbanded following the retreat of the Axis forces from Russia. Germany still maintained some mounted (mixed with bicycles) SS and Cossack units until the last days of the War.


Finnish

Finland used mounted troops against Russian forces effectively in forested terrain during the Continuation War. The last Finnish cavalry unit was not disbanded until 1947.


United States

The U.S. Army's last horse cavalry actions were fought during World War II: a) by the 26th Cavalry Regiment (United States), 26th Cavalry Regiment—a small mounted regiment of Philippine Scouts which fought the Japanese during the retreat down the Bataan peninsula, until it was effectively destroyed by January 1942; and b) on captured German horses by the mounted reconnaissance section of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division in a spearhead pursuit of the German Army across the Po Valley in Italy in April 1945. The last horsed U.S. Cavalry (the 2nd Cavalry Division (United States), Second Cavalry Division) were dismounted in March 1944.


British Empire

All British Army cavalry regiments had been mechanised since 1 March 1942 when the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons (Yeomanry) was converted to a motorised role, following mounted service against the Vichy French in Syria the previous year. The final cavalry charge by British Empire forces occurred on 21 March 1942 when a 60 strong patrol of the Burma Frontier Force encountered Japanese infantry near Toungoo airfield in central Myanmar. The Sikh sowars of the Frontier Force cavalry, led by Captain Arthur Sandeman of The Central India Horse (21st King George V's Own Horse), charged in the old style with sabres and most were killed.


Mongolia

In the early stages of World War II, mounted units of the Mongolian People's Army were involved in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol against invading Japanese forces. Soviet forces under the command of Georgy Zhukov, together with Mongolian forces, defeated the Japanese Sixth army and effectively ended the Soviet–Japanese Border Wars. After the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact of 1941, Mongolia remained neutral throughout most of the war, but its geographical situation meant that the country served as a buffer between Japanese forces and the Soviet Union. In addition to keeping around 10% of the population under arms, Mongolia provided half a million trained horses for use by the Soviet Army. In 1945 a partially mounted Soviet-Mongolian Cavalry Mechanized Group played a supporting role on the western flank of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. The last active service seen by cavalry units of the Mongolian Army occurred in 1946–1948, during border clashes between Mongolia and the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China.


Post–World War II to the present day

While most modern "cavalry" units have some historic connection with formerly mounted troops this is not always the case. The modern Irish Defence Forces (Ireland), Defence Forces (DF) includes a "Cavalry Corps" equipped with armoured cars and FV101 Scorpion, Scorpion tracked combat reconnaissance vehicles. The DF has never included horse cavalry since its establishment in 1922 (other than a small mounted escort of Blue Hussars drawn from the Artillery Corps when required for ceremonial occasions). However, the mystique of the cavalry is such that the name has been introduced for what was always a mechanised force. Some engagements in late 20th and early 21st century guerrilla warfare, guerrilla wars involved mounted troops, particularly against partisan or guerrilla fighters in areas with poor transport infrastructure. Such units were not used as cavalry but rather as mounted infantry. Examples occurred in Afghanistan, Portuguese-speaking African countries, Portuguese Africa and Rhodesia. The French Army used existing mounted squadrons of Spahis to a limited extent for patrol work during the Algerian War (1954–62). The Swiss Armed Forces, Swiss Army maintained a mounted dragoon regiment for combat purposes until 1973. The Portuguese Army used horse mounted cavalry with some success in the Portuguese Colonial War, wars of independence in Angola and Mozambique in the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1964–79 Rhodesian Bush War the Rhodesian Army created an elite mounted infantry unit called Grey's Scouts to fight unconventional actions against the rebel forces of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. The horse mounted infantry of the Scouts were effective and reportedly feared by their opponents in the rebel African forces. In the 1978 to present War in Afghanistan (1978–present), Afghan Civil War period there have been several instances of horse mounted combat. Central and South American armies maintained mounted cavalry for longer than those of Asia, Europe, or North America. The Mexican Army included a number of horse mounted cavalry regiments as late as the mid-1990s and the Chilean Army had five such regiments in 1983 as mounted mountain troops. The Soviet Army retained horse cavalry divisions until 1955. At the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was still an independent horse mounted cavalry squadron in Kyrgyzstan.


Operational horse cavalry

Today the Indian Army's 61st Cavalry (India), 61st Cavalry is reported to be the largest existing horse-mounted cavalry unit still having operational potential. It was raised in 1951 from the amalgamated Imperial Service Troops, state cavalry squadrons of Gwalior, Jodhpur, and Mysore. While primarily utilised for ceremonial purposes, the regiment can be deployed for internal security or police roles if required. The 61st Cavalry and the President's Body Guard parade in full dress uniform in New Delhi each year in what is probably the largest assembly of traditional cavalry still to be seen in the world. Both the Indian and the Pakistani armies maintain armoured regiments with the titles of Lancers or Horse, dating back to the 19th century. As of 2007, the Chinese People's Liberation Army employed two battalions of horse-mounted border guards in Xinjiang for border patrol purposes. PLA mounted units last saw action during Sino-Vietnamese conflicts (1979–1991), border clashes with Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s, after which most cavalry units were disbanded as part of major military downsizing in the 1980s.''Global Times'' 20 November 2009 and Xinhua News Agency 22 August 2011 In the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, there were calls to rebuild the army horse inventory for disaster relief in difficult terrain. Subsequent Chinese media reports confirm that the PLA maintains operational horse cavalry at squadron strength in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia for scouting, logistical, and border security purposes. The Chilean Army still maintains a mixed armoured cavalry regiment, with elements of it acting as mounted mountain exploration troops, based in the city of Angol, being part of the III Mountain Division, and another independent exploration cavalry detachment in the town of Chaitén. The rugged mountain terrain calls for the use of Chilean horse, special horses suited for that use.


Ceremonial horse cavalry and armored cavalry retaining traditional titles

Cavalry or mounted gendarmerie units continue to be maintained for purely or primarily ceremonial purposes by the Algerian, Argentine, Bolivian, Brazilian, British, Bulgarian, Canadian, Chilean, Colombian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Indian, Italian, Jordanian, Malaysian, Moroccan, Nepalese, Nigerian, North Korean, Omani, Pakistani, Panamanian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Senegalese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Tunisian, Turkmenistan, United States, and Venezuelan armed forces. A number of armoured regiments in the British Army retain the historic designations of Hussars, Dragoons, Light Dragoons, Dragoon Guards, Lancers and Yeomanry. Only the Household Cavalry (consisting of the Life Guards (United Kingdom), Life Guards' mounted squadron, The Blues and Royals' mounted squadron, the State Trumpeters of The Household Cavalry and the Household Cavalry Mounted Band) are maintained for mounted (and dismounted) ceremonial duties in London. The French Army still has regiments with the historic designations of Cuirassiers, Hussars, Chasseurs, Dragoons and Spahis. Only the cavalry of the French Republican Guard, Republican Guard and a ceremonial ''fanfare'' detachment of trumpeters for the cavalry/armoured branch as a whole are now mounted. In the Canadian Army, a number of regular and reserve units have cavalry roots, including The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal), the Governor General's Horse Guards, Lord Strathcona's Horse, The British Columbia DragoonsRoyal Canadian Dragoons, , The Royal Canadian Dragoons, and the South Alberta Light Horse. Of these, only Lord Strathcona's Horse and the Governor General's Horse Guards maintain an official ceremonial horse-mounted cavalry troop or squadron. The modern Pakistan Armoured Corps, Pakistan army maintains about 40 armoured regiments with the historic titles of Lancers, Cavalry or Horse. Six of these date back to the 19th century, although only the President's Body Guard remains horse-mounted. In 2002 the Army of the Russian Federation reintroduced a ceremonial mounted squadron wearing historic uniforms. Both the Australian and New Zealand armies follow the British practice of maintaining traditional titles (Australian Light Horse, Light Horse or Mounted Rifles) for modern mechanised units. However, neither country retains a horse-mounted unit. Several armored warfare, armored units of the modern United States Army retain the designation of "Armoured cavalry, armored cavalry". The United States also has "Air assault, air cavalry" units equipped with
helicopter A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft A rotorcraft or rotary-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle or machine that is able to fly Flies are insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, ...

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s. The Horse Cavalry Detachment of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division (United States), 1st Cavalry Division, made up of active duty soldiers, still functions as an active unit, trained to approximate the weapons, tools, equipment and techniques used by the United States Cavalry in the 1880s.


Non-combat support roles

The First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry is a volunteer unit within the Pennsylvania Army National Guard which serves as a combat force when in federal service but acts in a mounted disaster relief role when in state service. In addition, the Parsons' Mounted Cavalry is a Reserve Officer Training Corps unit which forms part of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets, Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University. Valley Forge Military Academy and College also has a Mounted Company, known as D-Troop . Some individual U.S. states maintain cavalry units as a part of their respective state defense forces. The Maryland Defense Force includes a cavalry unit, Maryland Defense Force#Cavalry Troop A, Cavalry Troop A, which serves primarily as a ceremonial unit. The unit training includes a saber qualification course based upon the 1926 U.S. Army course. Cavalry Troop A also assists other Maryland agencies as a rural search and rescue asset. In Massachusetts, The National Lancers trace their lineage to a volunteer cavalry militia unit established in 1836 and are currently organized as an official part of the Massachusetts Organized Militia. The National Lancers maintain three units, Troops A, B, and C, which serve in a ceremonial role and assist in search and rescue missions. In July 2004, the National Lancers were ordered into active state service to guard Camp Curtis Guild during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The Governor's Horse Guard of Connecticut maintains two companies which are trained in urban crowd control. In 2020, the California State Guard stood up the 26th Mounted Operations Detachment, a search-and-rescue cavalry unit.


Social status

From the beginning of civilization to the 20th century, ownership of heavy cavalry horses has been a mark of wealth amongst settled peoples. A cavalry horse involves considerable expense in breeding, training, feeding, and equipment, and has very little productive use except as a mode of transport. For this reason, and because of their often decisive military role, the cavalry has typically been associated with high social status. This was most clearly seen in the Feudalism, feudal system, where a lord was expected to enter combat armored and on horseback and bring with him an entourage of lightly armed peasants on foot. If landlords and peasant levies came into conflict, the poorly trained footmen would be ill-equipped to defeat armored knights. In later national armies, service as an officer in the cavalry was generally a badge of high social status. For instance prior to 1914 most officers of British cavalry regiments came from a socially privileged background and the considerable expenses associated with their role generally required private means, even after it became possible for officers of the line infantry regiments to live on their pay. Options open to poorer cavalry officers in the various European armies included service with less fashionable (though often highly professional) frontier or colonial units. These included the British Indian cavalry, the Russian Cossacks or the French Chasseurs d' Afrique. During the 19th and early 20th centuries most monarchies maintained a mounted cavalry element in their Royal Guards, royal or imperial guards. These ranged from small units providing ceremonial escorts and palace guards, through to large formations intended for active service. The mounted escort of the Spanish Royal Household provided an example of the former and the twelve cavalry regiments of the Guards Corps (German Empire), Prussian Imperial Guard an example of the latter. In either case the officers of such units were likely to be drawn from the aristocracies of their respective societies.


On film

Some sense of the noise and power of a cavalry charge can be gained from the 1970 film ''Waterloo (1970 film), Waterloo'', which featured some 2,000 cavalrymen, some of them Cossacks. It included detailed displays of the horsemanship required to manage animal and weapons in large numbers at the gallop (unlike the real battle of Waterloo, where deep mud significantly slowed the horses). The Gary Cooper movie ''They Came to Cordura'' contains a scene of a cavalry regiment deploying from march to battle line formation. A smaller-scale cavalry charge can be seen in ''The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'' (2003); although the finished scene has substantial computer-generated imagery, raw footage and reactions of the riders are shown in the Extended Version DVD Appendices. Other films that show cavalry actions include: * ''The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968 film), The Charge of the Light Brigade'', about the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War * ''Forty Thousand Horsemen, 40,000 Horsemen'', about the Australian Light Horse during the Sinai and Palestine campaign of World War I * ''The Lighthorsemen (film), The Lighthorsemen'', about the Battle of Beersheba (1917), Battle of Beersheba, 1917 * ''War Horse (film), War Horse'', about the British cavalry in Europe during World War I * ''Hubal (film), Hubal'', about the last months (September 1939 – April 1940) of Poland's first World War II guerrilla, Major Henryk Dobrzański, "Hubal" * ''The Patriot (2000 film), The Patriot'' includes light cavalry usage. * ''And Quiet Flows the Don'' depicts Don Cossacks during World War I * ''Kingdom of Heaven (film), Kingdom of Heaven'' includes a cavalry charge during the Siege of Kerak


Examples


Types

* Cataphracts *
Companion cavalry The Companions ( el, , ''hetairoi'') were the elite cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were ...
*
Cossack The Cossacks * russian: казаки́ or * be, казакi * pl, Kozacy * cs, kozáci * sk, kozáci * hu, kozákok, cazacii * fi, Kasakat, cazacii * et, Kasakad, cazacii are a group of predominantly East Slavic languages, East Slav ...
s * Cuirassier * Dragoons * Hobelars (medieval light horse) * Hussars * Kalmyks * Lancers * Mamluks * Numidian cavalry * Polish cavalry * Polish Hussars, Polish winged hussars * Uhlans


Units

* 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (United States) * 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment (United States) * Australian Light Horse * Bayreuth Dragoons * The Blues and Royals {British Army)(who with The Life Guards (United Kingdom), Life Guards form the Household Cavalry) * British Columbia Dragoons (Canadian Army) * 1st Cavalry Division (United States), 1st Cavalry Division (United States) * 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (British Army) * Cavalry Corps (Ireland), Cavalry Corps (Irish Army) * Chasseurs d'Afrique (French Army) * Chinacos (Mexican irregular cavalry of the 19th century) * Grey's Scouts (Rhodesian Army 1975–80) * Garde Républicaine (French Gendarmerie) * The Governor General's Horse Guards, Governor General's Horse Guards (Canada) * Guarda Nacional Republicana (Portuguese National Guard) * Hakkapeliitta (Finnish cavalry of Thirty Years' War) * King's Royal Hussars (British Army) * Light Dragoons (British Army) * Panserbataljonen (Norwegian Army) * Queen's Own Yeomanry (a British Army Reserve Light Cavalry Regiment) * Queen's Royal Hussars (British Army) * Regulares (Spanish Morocco) * Royal Dragoon Guards (British Army) * Royal Lancers (British Army) * Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers & Greys) (British Army) * Royal Wessex Yeomanry (a British Army Reserve Armoured Regiment) * Royal Yeomanry (a British Army Reserve Light Cavalry Regiment) * Savage Division (North Caucasus) * Savari (Italian North African) * Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry (a British Army Reserve Light Cavalry Regiment) * Sipahi (Ottoman) * South Alberta Light Horse (Canadian Army) * Spahi (French North African) * Tagma (military), Tagmata (Byzantine) * United States Cavalry


Notable horse cavalrymen

* Georgios Stanotas, commander of the Hellenic Army's Cavalry Division during World War II *Didier Courrèges, major in the French Army, member of École Nationale d'Équitation's Cadre Noir, Olympian at 2004 Summer Olympics *Edwin Ramsey, Lieutenant colonel (United States), lieutenant colonel in the 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts), 26th Cavalry Regiment during World War II, recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross (United States), Distinguished Service Cross, led the last cavalry charge in American military historyEdwin Ramsey, 26th Cavalry regiment


Gallery

File:Troop B, 1st Cavalry Regiment, Washington National Guard.jpg, Washington National Guard cavalry pictured in Tacoma, Washington in 1907. File:French heavy cavalry Paris August 1914.jpg, French cuirassiers, wearing breastplates and helmets, parade through Paris on the way to battle, August 1914. File:Carga del rio Igan.jpg, Spanish light cavalry (''cazadores'') during the Rif War 1921. File:W-3 Sokół.jpg, Polish PZL W-3 Sokół of the 66 Air Cavalry Squadron, 25th Aeromobile Cavalry Brigade. File:PBG (my own photo).JPG, The mounted President's Bodyguard of the Indian Army File:Republican Guard Cavalry Regiment Bastille Day 2008.jpg, French Republican Guard – 2008 Bastille Day military parade File:Pakistan cavalry honor guard.jpeg, The President's Body Guard of the Pakistan Army, 2006. File:Horseguards - Blues and Royals - Relève à Whitehall - Londres.JPG, Troopers of the Blues and Royals on mounted duty in Whitehall, London File:Independence Day Parade - Flickr - Kerri-Jo (36).jpg, Turkmenistan ceremonial cavalry in the Independence Day parade 2011 File:A Mongolian soldier performs during the opening ceremony for exercise Khaan Quest 2013 at the Five Hills Training Area in Mongolia Aug. 3, 2013 130803-M-MG222-004.jpg, A Mongolian military horseman, 2013 File:Warsaw Cavalry parade 2.JPG, Representative Cavalry Squadron of the Polish Army on military parade in Warsaw, 2006


See also

* Cavalry tactics * Elephantry, a cavalry unit containing elephant-mounted troops * Moose cavalry, cavalry mounted on moose (European elk) * Heavy cavalry * Horses in warfare * Horses in World War I * Horses in World War II * Light cavalry * Mounted police * Royal Canadian Mounted Police—accorded the status of a regiment of Dragoons in 1921 and remained so until 1937. * Armored reconnaissance – a modern role in most militaries for 'cavalry' titled units


Notes


References

* * * * * * Lynn, John Albert, ''Giant of the Grand Siècle: The French Army, 1610–1715'', Cambridge University Press, 1997 * * * * Pargiter, Frederick Eden, Dr., Chronology based on: Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Oxford University Press, H. Milford, 1924, Reprint 1997 * *


External links


CavalryScouts.org




* [http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/cavalry/index.html Cavalry in Mass (U.S. report on Russian cavalry organization and operations in World War II)]
Society of the Military Horse

Gesellschaft der Freunde der Kavallerie (German)


* Historic films showing cavalry during World War I a
europeanfilmgateway.eu
{{DEFAULTSORT:Cavalry Cavalry, Obsolete occupations Warfare of the Middle Ages Indo-European warfare Combat occupations Civil War military equipment of the United States Warfare of the Early Modern period