Your favourite Horsemen aka cavalry

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Razor, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. Razor

    Razor CIDs from Tamilnadu Senior Member

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    Horsemen aka cavalry is mostly in ceremonial duty these days but in the ancient, medieval and early modern years they played a crucial role in shaping history.

    I was watching that movie Baahubali (I got a BR rip) and it occurred to me that the kalakeyas did not have any cavalry at all (they didn't have archers either); this is quite strange I thought. When i saw the movie in the theater I was like WOWWWW but later on the wow factor fell down on the second watch.

    Anyway so I started reading about some cavalry related stuff; I couldn't find a thread on this, so started this one.

    Use this thread to read/write about cavalries and the various horsemen and their impact (areas conquered, enemies defeated, effectiveness in battle, psychological impact and so on and so forth) throughout history and discuss the ones you like best.

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    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
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  3. Razor

    Razor CIDs from Tamilnadu Senior Member

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    When we talk of cavalry first thing I think: Mongols.

    I think the steppe people of central and northern Asia have it in their blood. (Or it might be the cold; northern asia is colder than the coldest parts of Scandinavia and european russia.)

    None have conquered from the West-Asia to the East-Asia and from South-Asia to the cold Northern realms of Asia and also West into Europe.
    None have inspired such fear in the euros, as the mongols and their turkic brethren. There are even christian prayers in europe which beg their god to save them from arrows of the magyars (another turkic people and ancestors of the hungarians.)
    None have conquered russia in the winter and made the russian rulers kiss the khan's boots. Note: Khan/Khagan is a turko-mongol word meaning ruler. It was stolen later by the muslims.
    It is said that the Mongol light cavalries could eat, drink, sleep and more, on their horses.

    Other notable mentions are the Winged Hussars and the cossacks (who are essentially some "slavs" who appropriated turko-mongol/tatar horsemen lifestyle and developed on it.)

    I am still reading on the subject. :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
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  4. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    .............................................................................................
     
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  5. rohit.gr77

    rohit.gr77 Regular Member

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    How about Maratha Cavalry? During the rule of the Peshwas they conquered from Bengal to Peshawar. Cavalry was the Marathas trump card in battle.
     
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  6. Razor

    Razor CIDs from Tamilnadu Senior Member

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    Thanks.
    Please post any material available too.
     
  7. Bornubus

    Bornubus Senior Member Senior Member

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    I think Greeks/Macedonians were among the first to use the cavalry in an organized way,Alexander's conquest were largely based on his Cavalry,notably his shock cavalry which used to tear the defenses of his opponents with Brute force thus creating and great panic among the ranks,rest was left to the Infantry.

    His Companion cavalry armed with lance is now a legend,later Romans had more complex set up in cavalry which was light cavalry and Highly armored Heavy cavalry.


    Companions.jpg

    P.S - There was no use of stirrups during his time,it was introduced in 4th AD
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  8. Bornubus

    Bornubus Senior Member Senior Member

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    Companion cavalry
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "Hetairoi" redirects here. For similarly spelled words, see Hetair- (disambiguation).
    [​IMG]
    Alexander Mosaic, showing the Battle of Issus, from theHouse of the Faun, Pompeii
    The Companions (Greek: ἑταῖροι, hetairoi) were the elite cavalry of the Macedonian army from the time of king Philip II of Macedon and achieved their greatest prestige under Alexander the Great, and have been regarded as the best cavalry[1] in the ancient world and the first shock cavalry. Chosen Companions/Hetairoi formed the elite guard of the king (Somatophylakes).



    Contents
    [hide]


    Etymology[edit]
    The name of the military unit derives from the Hetairoi, those near the king. The Hetairoi (Companions) could be members of the Macedonian aristocracy or commoners of any Greek origin who enjoyed the trust and friendship of the Macedonian regent. TheHetairideia, a festival pertaining to the sacred relationship which bound the king and his companions together[2] was celebrated and even Euripides, the famed Athenian play writer, was honoured as an hetairos of the king Archelaus.[3] The Royal friends (Philoi) or the king's Companions (basilikoi hetairoi) were named for life by the king among the Macedonian aristocracy.

    Unit[edit]
    Equipment[edit]
    [​IMG]
    A heavy cavalryman of Alexander the Great's army, possibly a Thessalian, though the Companion cavalry would have been almost identical (the shape of the cloak of the latter was more rounded). He wears a cuirass (probably a linothorax) and a Boeotian helmet, and is equipped with a scabbarded xiphos straight-bladed sword. Alexander Sarcophagus.
    Companion cavalry would ride the best horses, and receive the best weaponry available. In Alexander's day, each carried a xyston, and wore a bronze muscle cuirass or linothorax, shoulder guards and Boeotian helmets, but bore no shield.[4] A kopis (curved slashing sword) or xiphos (cut and thrust sword) was also carried for close combat, should the xyston break.

    Organization[edit]
    The Companion cavalry was composed of the Hetairoi of the king, mainly upper class citizens who were able to acquire and maintain armour and horses. In the age of Philip II and Alexander they were organized into 8 territorial squadrons, termed ilai. Each ile numbered between 200 and 300 horsemen[5][6] and was commanded by two men, because as Arrian claims, Alexander "did not want anyone, not even his intimate friend, to be the centre of attention".[7] After receiving reinforcements in Susa, Alexander established two companies in each squadron.[8] They were referred to by the name of the territory they were mustered in or by the name of its captain. The Royal Ile was commanded by Alexander himself and contained twice the number of soldiers of the other units contained, c. 400.[6] These cavalry squadrons would sometimes be combined together in groups of two, three or four to form a hipparchy, which was commanded by a hipparch, though the whole Companion force was generally commanded by Alexander.[6]

    In Alexander's Balkan campaigns, we find mention of Companions from upper Macedonia, the central Macedonian plain and Amphipolis.[9][10] During the advance on Granicus, a squadron commanded by Socrates of Macedon(not to be confused with the philosopher) hailed from Apollonia on Lake Bolbe.[10] During the Battle of Issus Arrian names the ile of Anthemus (modern Galatista),[9] and another from the unidentified land of Leuge, likely Pieriaare also mentioned.[11]

    Theopompus describes the Companions, probably of around the mid 4th century BC, as being made of "no more than 800 at this time" and mustered "some from Macedonia, some from Thessaly and still others from the rest of Greece".[12] By 338 BC, Alexander is reported to have around 2600 in his Companion Cavalry.[13] As Alexander's force campaigned towards India, barbarians played an increasing role in the Companion Cavalry and the Macedonian mutiny at Opis may have been partially caused by this.[14][15] At one point there were four hipparchies made up of entirely oriental forces and one that was a mix of Macedonians and orientals.[14]

    Tactics and use[edit]
    [​IMG]
    Macedonian Companion cavalry ilein wedge formation
    The Companions probably constituted the first real shock cavalry in history, able to conduct charges against massed infantry, even if such use is scarcely described in the ancient sources. Contemporary cavalry, even when heavily armored, would most usually be equipped with javelins and would avoid melee.

    In battle, it would form part of a hammer and anvil tactic: the Companion cavalry would be used as a hammer, in conjunction with the Macedonian phalanx-based infantry, which acted as their anvil. The phalanx would pin the enemy in place, while the Companion cavalry would attack the enemy on the flank or from behind.

    In battle, Alexander the Great personally led the charge at the head of the royal squadron of the Companion cavalry, usually in a wedge formation. In a pitched battle, the Companions usually fought on the right wing of the Macedonian army, next to the shield-bearing guards, the Hypaspists, who would guard the right flank of the phalanx. Other cavalry troops would protect the flanks of the Macedonian line during battle. Under Alexander's command, the Companions' role was decisive in most of his battles in Asia.

    Legacy[edit]
    Hellenistic kingdoms[edit]
    The Companion cavalry of the Diadochoi (Alexandrian successor-states), were even more heavily equipped. Seleucid Companions were noted to have worn lighter, but not otherwise dissimilar, equipment to the cataphracts at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC, which may have included partial horse armour and leg and arm protection. Ptolemaic Companions were also equipped with a large round aspis cavalry shield unlike the Companions of Phillip and Alexander.

    ‘Companions’ was a title not used by the Seleucids in its original sense. It was replaced with different and various grades of ‘Kings Friends'. However, the title Companions was kept as a regimental one. There was only one regiment or unit that held the title of Companions in the entire Hellenistic world though; the Antigonids and Ptolemies had different names for their elite cavalry regiments.

    Eastern Roman Empire[edit]
    Main article: Hetaireia
    The Hetaireia or Hetaeria was a corps of bodyguards during the Byzantine Empire. Its name means "the Company", echoing the ancient Macedonian Companion cavalry. The imperial Hetaireia was composed chiefly of foreigners. They acted as part of the Byzantine imperial guard alongside the tagmata in the 9th–12th centuries.
     
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  9. Bornubus

    Bornubus Senior Member Senior Member

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    Royal Army - Companion Cavalry
    Greek armies had used little or no cavalry. There was not one Greek horse at the battle of Marathon in 490 BC. When present, cavalry was used in dispersed formations for skirmishing or to pursue a routing enemy phalanx, but never as the prime weapon of assault. But the Macedonian kingdom traditionally possessed a strong nobility cavalry. What Philip did was to improve this existing Companion cavalry by drilling it to ride and attack in disciplined, dense formations for a concentrated punch. It was Philip who gave cavalry its prominent role on the battlefield.

    The cavalry Companions were heavily armored horsemen armed with a thrusting spear and a sword. There were eight Companion units of 200-300 men each, one of which was the élite unit, the Royal Squadron or agema. Its task was to lead the advance on the battlefield and to protect the king when necessary. When Alexander crossed the Hellespont in 334 BC he took 1,800 Companion cavalry with him. They operated together with Alexander on the right wing during battles. Please note ancient cavalry rode without stirrups or saddles; these were not introduced before the 4th century AD.
     
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  10. Bornubus

    Bornubus Senior Member Senior Member

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    Heavy Cavalry - Thessalians
    From Thessaly came the finest horses and horsemen of Greece and Alexander employed about 1,800 of them as allied heavy cavalry, organised in eight squadrons like the Companion cavalry. Although some sources claim the Thessalians were in fact superior to the Companions, because of political considerations they were stationed on the left wing to defend the flank of the phalanx. The Thessalian élite unit was the Pharsalus Squadron which acted as general Parmenion's personal bodyguard. The Thessalian cavalry was dismissed at Ecbatana in 330 BC although maybe up to 200 of them re-enlisted as volunteers.

    Light Cavalry - Allies & Mercenaries
    Accompanying Alexander's army during the invasion of Asia were approximately 1,600 light allied cavalry, hailing from Greece, Thrace and Paeonia. These units were equipped with javelins or thrusting spears and carried little or no body armor. Their main function was to protect the heavy cavalry and the phalanx from enemy attacks. In general these units lacked the exclusive discipline and training of the Thessalians and Companions. Most outstanding of the light cavalry were the 600 Thracian prodromoi or Scouts, used for reconnaissance and preliminary attacks. As Alexander was rather deficit in light cavalry during the campaign various mercenary cavalry units were added. After the campaigns in north-eastern Persia units of Sacae, Dahae, Paropamisadae and Sogdians (and Bactrians) were included.
     
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  11. rohit.gr77

    rohit.gr77 Regular Member

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    sahyadristohindukush.blogspot.com/2013/07/maratha-cavalry.html?m=1

    A read on the structure of Maratha Cavalry.
     
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  12. Bornubus

    Bornubus Senior Member Senior Member

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    My second favorite are Mongol Horse Archers,later Turks and Mughals victories of India was largely based on their superior cavalry against Indians,Ghori had Cavalry archers against Prithviraj a great tactic to harass the enemy and diversion.


    Reasons for their success are their composite bow was excellent. It isn't as widely known just how good it was though. Some sources indicate that it could easily hit targets at 300m+ with heavy arrows used in battle. By comparison, the English longbow could "only" hit targets at around 200m+ with the heavier arrows . The English longbow famously won the battles of Crecy and Agincourt against armored French knights, and yet it was less powerful than the Mongol bow.

    Secondly, the mobility of the Mongols was unsurpassed. Single riders on the Mongol mail routes could travel 125 miles in a day [4]. While their armies could not travel that far en mass, it was common for Mongol armies to arrive before their opponents knew they were nearby.

    During battle they used the horses to bring themselves into and out of archery range while presenting minimal risk to themselves.


    There were many effective European horse units with excellent winning reputations such as the Polish Winged Hussars. The Cossacks and Napolean's Imperial Guard Horse Grenadier and Horse Chasseurs are other examples with pretty impressive reputations. Generally, these were much smaller units then the Mongol hordes (100's vs 10,000's)
     
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  13. Bornubus

    Bornubus Senior Member Senior Member

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    Indians learn this art of warfare after Turko Mongols settled and started recruited Indians from India,there are several Rajput and other families in Rajasthan who still mastered this art and taught this to their children or as cultural heritage of Rajasthan,which they still show to foreign tourists.

    Rajput Horse archer
    Rajput_horse_archery.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
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  14. Bornubus

    Bornubus Senior Member Senior Member

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    Although Aryans knows the use of Horses and chariots in warfare unlike IVC which has little evidence of horses,but armies of ancient india were aware about the role of cavalry but it remained a rather neglected dept. due to the lack of superior breeds,it was make up by importing Horses.

    Bakhtiyar Khilji invaded Bengal imposing as a Horse Trader.Porus was sitting on a war Elephant while commanding his army against Alexander.

    Govindraj of Delhi (commander of prithviraj) he and his son Chandraraj held Delhi. In the first battle he was mounted on an elephant and had his teeth knocked out by a spear. Govindraj immediately hurled back a lance at Ghori, which caused such bleeding that the sultan fainted on his horse, and was carried off to safety by a Khalji soldier along with the rest of the fleeing Turk cavalry. Govindraj was killed in the second battle while his son Chandraraj defended the fort of Delhi.

    Later Marathas light cavalry,rajputs and sikhs were excellent cavalrymen.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
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  15. Bornubus

    Bornubus Senior Member Senior Member

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    Supposedly the armor of Chetak the horse of Mahrana pratap sisodiya

    Maharana-Pratap-With-Chetak-Horse.jpg
    rana-pratap-chetak-death.jpg

    The place (samadhi) where it fell after battle of Haldi Ghati

    chetak-samadhi.jpg
     
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  16. Screambowl

    Screambowl Senior Member Senior Member

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    In Europe.. the french , specially the Napoleon

    imagephps.jpg
     
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  17. vijaytripoli

    vijaytripoli Regular Member

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    I think..you Guys forget to mentioned Mugals Cavalry..
     
  18. Razor

    Razor CIDs from Tamilnadu Senior Member

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    Cataphract

    [​IMG]
    Ancient Sassanid Cataphract re-enactment

    Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cataphract

    More : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asvārān
     
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  19. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    @Razor, this is interesting.

    Asvaran leads us to swaran, which leads us to sawari, i.e., rider.
    Asva leads us to ashwa, i.e. horse.

    Finally, Ashwakayana leads us to Afghan, and Afghanistan is the land of horse riders.

    Yes, indeed, Asvaran is an Iranian/Aryan/Persian word, and also a Persian military unit.
     
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  20. rohit.gr77

    rohit.gr77 Regular Member

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    Marathas and Sikhs had excellent Cavalry, but any reference of Rajputs having excellent Cavalry? They have never won any great battles on the basis of their Cavalry, I might be wrong, so please help me out by correcting it. Thanks in advance.
     
  21. rohit.gr77

    rohit.gr77 Regular Member

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    I would also like to add into the discussion the Elephant Cavalry, not just from India but also from all over the world like Hannibal's March towards Rome across the Alps.
     

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