Cavalry Operations: Why horse supply matters

[posted by Gavin Robinson, 7:00 am, 13 October 2013]

[Edit May 2016: Peter Gaunt cited this blog post in his review of my book in War in History to show how my thinking had changed, which was nice.]

Over the last three posts, I’ve shown that early modern armies couldn’t move without an adequate cavalry screen, that what was adequate depended on objectives and balance of forces, and that the balance between cavalry in field armies could be affected by small-scale raids. Now I’ll bring it all together, in a post that could be titled ‘how horses won the English Civil War’. (more…)

Cavalry Tactics: The Caracole?

[posted by Gavin Robinson, 7:01 am, 21 August 2012]

The caracole is part of a familiar story of early-modern cavalry tactics. It traditionally refers to ranks of cavalry advancing, firing their pistols at the enemy, then going back to reload while subsequent ranks fire and fall back in the same way. This was said to have been swept away (literally and metaphorically) by Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, in the 1630s. In England it supposedly hung on until the 1640s, when Prince Rupert brought the new Swedish tactics over and then Oliver Cromwell adapted them to be more disciplined. But is any of this actually true? This post takes a long (you have been warned) look at how early-modern cavalry used firearms.