Cavalry questions

Started by fsn, 30 August 2021, 03:58:14 PM

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fsn

2021 is Nobby's Year of Napoleonics.

This means Nobby is painting far too many horsies.

I have two questions related to the period.

Firstly, there don't seem to be many (any) pictures of piebalds or skewbalds. Are these a modern affectation, or were they just not used for military service? I know the British disliked any markings on black horses.

Secondly, in my reading I come up with the notion that many cavalry regiments did not carry standards on campaign. Is there a reason for this? Seems to me that cavalry tended to be more multi-hued than infantry, so identity confusion would be more likely. Any thoughts? 
Lord Oik of Runcorn (You may refer to me as Milord Oik)

Oik of the Year 2013, 2014
Prize for originality and 'having a go, bless him', 2015
3 votes in the 2016 Painting Competition!
2017-2019 The Wilderness years
Oik of the Year 2020
7 votes in the 2021 Painting Competition

15mm is dead. It just doesn't know it yet.

Scorpio_Rocks

My, albeit limited, understanding is that piebalds and skewbalds have a reputation for being "...great for pack horses, not for riding".

Many regiments throughout history have had a preference (usually cosmetic only) for a certain colour of mount - often resulting in the unit gaining a nickname relating to their horses (eg Black Musketeers, Scots Greys, The Queens Bays, chestnut troop, etc).

Trumpeters often (certainly in French, British and Spanish units) ride Greys. Drum horses are often "coloured" - this is where you will see skewbalds and piebalds.

Most of this is , of course, a parade-ground ideal and often based on heresay and snobbery... I think on campaign it wouldn't take long for other colours and standards to slip in especially in those units lower on the pecking order than guard, cuirassier or other elite units.
"Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake - we must not interrupt him too soon."
Horatio Nelson.

Heedless Horseman

30 August 2021, 06:49:13 PM #2 Last Edit: 30 August 2021, 07:30:59 PM by Heedless Horseman
Others will be much better able to answer than I... but, roughly, this is what I gather... mainly pertinent to British, though 'may' have applied to others.

'Out of action', many cav tried to 'uniform' horses within a troop for smart look and easy identification when reforming. Eg. Bays, Dark Bays, Chestnuts... etc.
In earlier periods, Greys were for Trumpeters... easy for CO to find for calls. This 'may' have continued for some time... but not officially.
Once on campaign, remounts of any colour became more important... though think that, if possible, they would have attempted to choose.
But anything with four legs and half alive would do. Senior Officers would have their own Stable...so their choice.

I think that there was a view that Piebald / Skewbald might have been 'weaker' in some way... but may have been an excuse for 'Smart'.They were Drum Horses! But not on campaign... Airfix Brit Hussars, apart! lol.
(As an aside... I have just never been keen on part coloured horses... don't know why. Some Females prefer the 'individuality' of distinctive markings. I cannot ascribe to the view that US 'Plains War' Indian ponies were for 'disruptive cammo'... no way! Prob, just what they had... and to make 'theft' more difficult!)
.
As for Standards... not sure. But remember Cav units smaller than Inf... and Regimental Colours / Eagles, consequently less 'safe'... a paramount concern. Much normal use of cav...especially  'lights / mediums'... was scouting / picket   so no flags.

I have never been in a 'Charge'. lol... but know that even after a 'group' gallop, there can be a bit of 'milling around' of horses and riders! Can only imagine the confusion following a cav melee, with troops spread all over, on excited or blown horse. Troop 'colour' of mounts, Greys for signals... and no 'sacred' Standards to protect... all make sense! Reforming is essential... but could take some doing!

However, Cav are Cav... and have always tended to 'Do Their Own Thing'!... orders, notwithstanding. I rather think that 'Gamers' are free to do the same! lol.

fsn

Thanks chaps.

Quote from: Heedless Horseman on 30 August 2021, 06:49:13 PM
Much normal use of cav...especially  'lights / mediums'... was scouting / picket   so no flags.

Oh yeah!  :-[

Cuirassiers seem to have been more attached to their standards.

Thank you.
Lord Oik of Runcorn (You may refer to me as Milord Oik)

Oik of the Year 2013, 2014
Prize for originality and 'having a go, bless him', 2015
3 votes in the 2016 Painting Competition!
2017-2019 The Wilderness years
Oik of the Year 2020
7 votes in the 2021 Painting Competition

15mm is dead. It just doesn't know it yet.

Lord Speedy of Leighton

I was always told piebalds were especially valued by American tribes due to their skittish nature, and hated by 'European' cavalry for the same reason. Pied us also a name for a jester, so maybe they were seen as less pure?
Stupid really. It's just a horse.
Anyway, Pinto or Painted horses are a thoroughbred American variety.
You may refer to me as: Lord Speedy of Leighton.
2016 Pendraken Painting Competion Participation Prize  (Lucky Dip Catagory) Winner

Heedless Horseman

Quote from: fsn on 30 August 2021, 07:51:01 PM
Thanks chaps.

Oh yeah!  :-[

Cuirassiers seem to have been more attached to their standards.

Thank you.

But, might 'possibly'... have, in Spain, worn Brown tunics and brown baggy pants! NOT MY Choice! lol. 'Elites' would have had 'fisrt grabs' on remounts... but anything that hadn't died and been eaten! A Wargame table is for your pleasure... so, 'Go as you Please!'

Heedless Horseman

Quote from: Lord Speedy of Leighton on 30 August 2021, 08:23:55 PM
I was always told piebalds were especially valued by American tribes due to their skittish nature, and hated by 'European' cavalry for the same reason. Pied us also a name for a jester, so maybe they were seen as less pure?
Stupid really. It's just a horse.
Anyway, Pinto or Painted horses are a thoroughbred American variety.

The Piebalds that I have 'been on', in modern UK, VERY placid! Maybe, 'Horses For Courses'... and 'Indian Ponies'... very different! 'Show' often so very important... otherwise... skin! Always useful.

Chris Pringle

Fsn, which armies are you doing? I understand that the Austrian cavalry did not carry their standards on campaign in the Hungarian War of Independence of 1848-1849. This was because they had decided not to repeat the mistake of taking them onto the battlefield during the Napoleonic Wars. Leaving them at home meant they could not be captured!

(My Austrian cuirassiers for the '48 still carry their standard with them - I just like flags.)

Westmarcher

Standards: Here's my spin on it from what I've read, what I think I've read and what I imagine (OK, maybe forget it ..   :-[ ).

[Anyway ..] Many wargamers think armies just milled about and had one big get-together to have a big fight called a 'battle' now and again, involving the whole regiment (because that's how they're based and that's how they've been painted up). No. There were lots of little actions between battles, particularly with the light cavalry and dragoons (called 'Klein Krieg' ... or similar) which involved smaller units (e.g. troops or squadrons). So you wouldn't be risking the regimental colours on a small raid, patrol, advance guard or rear guard duty.

Also, in any size of cavalry melee, a standard bearer (a great and honourable trophy to capture) must surely stick out like a sore thumb .... and easy meat, too (after all, the Ensign only has two hands; one to hold the flag and one to hold the reins - so how hard would it have been to ride up with some support to deal with his escort in a cavalry melee, cut down the standard bearer and ride away with the trophy?). So much better to leave your precious regimental colours in the church near your home barracks?
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

Lord Kermit of Birkenhead

On horse colour apart from British Rgts there would be mixed coloursin most regiments, logistics would prevent a uniform colour. Even if you get all bay for instance the individual horses would have varying white socks and blazes. Greys were considered unlucky.

Standards - its a yes and no thing. In skirmishes they would be left behind, but in a major battle they would be carried to give a rallying point in the cionfusion.
FOG IN CHANNEL - EUROPE CUT
Lord Kermit of Birkenhead
Muppet of the year 2019, 2020 and 2021

fsn

Quote from: Chris Pringle on 30 August 2021, 10:29:45 PM
Fsn, which armies are you doing?

I'm thinking of Napoleonics mostly. The trigger was around the Bavarian ChL who seemed to have given up their colours when converting from Dragoons.

Lord Oik of Runcorn (You may refer to me as Milord Oik)

Oik of the Year 2013, 2014
Prize for originality and 'having a go, bless him', 2015
3 votes in the 2016 Painting Competition!
2017-2019 The Wilderness years
Oik of the Year 2020
7 votes in the 2021 Painting Competition

15mm is dead. It just doesn't know it yet.

Big Insect

Romans recorded that Numidians (and North African Moors) used piebalds and skewbald ponies and they were very hardy, would eat anything and were ideal for skirmish/hit and run type warfare - a bit like the way that North American Plains Indians used them.
They also tended not to be very big - so not your ideal 'heavy' horse.

I'd also read somewhere that you'd tend to get Napoleonic/Victorian era regiments of horse, with horses starting off all similar colours - as they would be coming out of peace-time studs (although officers supplied their own mounts) but as the campaign worn on the colours varied as replacements were drafted in - either locally or from home.
This communication has been written by a dyslexic person. If you have any trouble with the meaning of any of the sentences or words, please do not be afraid to ask for clarification. Remember that dyslexics are often high-level conceptualisers who provide "out of the box" thinking.

fsn

Lord Oik of Runcorn (You may refer to me as Milord Oik)

Oik of the Year 2013, 2014
Prize for originality and 'having a go, bless him', 2015
3 votes in the 2016 Painting Competition!
2017-2019 The Wilderness years
Oik of the Year 2020
7 votes in the 2021 Painting Competition

15mm is dead. It just doesn't know it yet.

Techno II

Nah.... I really think that's a CGI'd faked photo, Nobby.
The 'mane' especially....it's not even remotely the right colour....

The 'feathers' and the tail might be real.

Cheers - Phil. :)
I really shouldn't press buttons...before I know what will happen.<br />Probably STILL the most picked on member of the forum since the year dot.

steve_holmes_11

Quote from: Westmarcher on 30 August 2021, 11:06:39 PM
Standards: Here's my spin on it from what I've read, what I think I've read and what I imagine (OK, maybe forget it ..   :-[ ).

[Anyway ..] Many wargamers think armies just milled about and had one big get-together to have a big fight called a 'battle' now and again, involving the whole regiment (because that's how they're based and that's how they've been painted up). No. There were lots of little actions between battles, particularly with the light cavalry and dragoons (called 'Klein Krieg' ... or similar) which involved smaller units (e.g. troops or squadrons). So you wouldn't be risking the regimental colours on a small raid, patrol, advance guard or rear guard duty.

Also, in any size of cavalry melee, a standard bearer (a great and honourable trophy to capture) must surely stick out like a sore thumb .... and easy meat, too (after all, the Ensign only has two hands; one to hold the flag and one to hold the reins - so how hard would it have been to ride up with some support to deal with his escort in a cavalry melee, cut down the standard bearer and ride away with the trophy?). So much better to leave your precious regimental colours in the church near your home barracks?

My knowledge of Napoleonic cavalry drill is extremely slim.
However what I have read (Ospreys and Haythornwaite) all describe cavalry manoeuvring as regiments, but attacking with squadrons in various formations (line column echelon ....).
I know I've been frustrated in the past by the sheer size of some of the Eastern light cavalry regiments.

Retuning to Westmarcher's point about vulnerability of the standard.
I can see how a horseman has a harder time guarding his standard than an infantryman (who often enjoyed a well equipped and experienced colour guard).

Let me propose that the Ensign would remain with the reserve squadrons when part of a regiment charged.
Here it could serve its battlefield purpose, a visual rally point for the fellows who got stuck in and need to regroup.
It could either sit back where the charge began (Rally back in many rule sets), or rush forward to the occupied ground if teh unit decided to rally in a forward position.

Most accounts of charges from riders who were there describe maintaining formation on officers who rode ahead of the line.
This suggests there was little need for the colours up front during the charge.

Perhaps somebody with a greater depth of knowledge can confirm.