How terrifying is it for well-armored elite cavalry to charge at infantry?Not just as shieldwalls or blocks of spears, but even disorganized infantry?

May 2019
158
Salt Lake City, Utah
#31
The infantry square before repeating firearms could be effective if time and experienced soldiers made it possible to form one.

Disorganized infantry, even with fire arms, were normally effective prey for elite cavalry formations.
 
Jul 2017
2,283
Australia
#32
Disorganised infantry are effective prey for any relatively competent cavalry formation.

Anyway, as terrifying as it was for infantry to be charged, horses refuse to run into a solid mass of people. Hence at Waterloo we have accounts of horses refusing to come close to the formed squares, despite the constant urging of their mounts. The troopers would simply charge as far as they could, then wheel to the side.
 
Likes: JakeStarkey

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,087
Netherlands
#33
Disorganised infantry are effective prey for any relatively competent cavalry formation.

Anyway, as terrifying as it was for infantry to be charged, horses refuse to run into a solid mass of people. Hence at Waterloo we have accounts of horses refusing to come close to the formed squares, despite the constant urging of their mounts. The troopers would simply charge as far as they could, then wheel to the side.
Yes and no. A lot would depend on the land of the battlefield. Here in the Netherlands a medieval army would often lose to a ragtag army of peasants. Trust me those guys weren't trained, but usually were smart enough to choose a swampy area to defend. This usually slowed the charge down so much, so that their spears or farming equipment was enough to defend. Battle of the Gulden Spurs is a well known example (usually the armies were much smaller here), where the infantry of the Flemings stayed behind wet ground.
You can see similar examples later on with the Jacquerie where their commander was smart enough to choose the proper ground to defend (though he was stupid enough to trust Charles the Bad's word and went to him to negotiate)

I am no expert on Waterloo (like at all), but it may well be that they were slower in the charge than in the training, due to wet ground.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,050
#35
Afaik French Napoleonic cav would rarely "charge home" at full tilt. Often they cantered to attack, to keep formation.
Lacelles and others preferred to charge at the trot. maintaining a tight formation, cohesion. From my reading canter was not used, Trot/Gallop. A lot of French cavalry charged at the trot.
 
Likes: Niobe
Jun 2012
7,258
Malaysia
#39
Lacelles and others preferred to charge at the trot. maintaining a tight formation, cohesion. From my reading canter was not used, Trot/Gallop. A lot of French cavalry charged at the trot.
So, you are more or less saying that, it was either the slow trot or the fast gallop, but not the middle-speed canter in between.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,050
#40
So, you are more or less saying that, it was either the slow trot or the fast gallop, but not the middle-speed canter in between.
Yup. There wewre two schools of thought eitehr you went in as fast as possibel intimnidating the opposing cavalry or you went in as tight as possible where your superioir cohension and formantion would be decisisove.

In Napoleonic cavalry encounters generally things we decided by one or the other formation giving way at te first rush.