The results of the cavalry battles of the Old World. H. 1

We previously wrote about the use of cavalry in the West European, Thessaloniki and Palestinian theaters (see the list at the end of the article) in 1914 - 1918 Now I would like to take stock, formulate the tendencies of cavalry in the 1-th quarter of the 20 century - attracting authoritative opinions of major military specialists of the era.

The battle of the First World War, a characteristic feature of which was a powerful technique, had a great influence on the infantry and artillery tactics - seriously adjusting both the forms of tactical construction of units and formations of these types of troops, and the methods of their actions in battle. With regard to cavalry, the fire fighting technique not only changed the tactical forms of cavalry, but also raised the question of the role and importance of cavalry in the conditions of modern war, both in theater and on the battlefield.

True, it should be noted that previously any serious improvements weapons cast doubt on the meaning and role of the cavalry as an independent kind of troops. Specialists, instead of understanding the essence of the emerging technical innovations, putting the latter in place, rushed to extremes - beginning to doubt the possibilities of the cavalry to act in the context of a modern war.

The range and rate of fire of the weapon, which was manifested during the Anglo-Boer War, led to the appearance of a number of articles by French General Negrie in 1902. Turning over the established views on the tasks and the importance of cavalry, General Negriye wrote almost about turning the cavalry into a riding infantry. The result of the Russo-Japanese War also played a significant role in the reevaluation of the value of cavalry that had begun. The superiority of the Russian cavalry over the Japanese did not prevent the Japanese from winning the company - this gave the cavalry opponents a reason to talk about reducing the importance of the latter in the conditions of modern war and caused controversy between representatives of military-scientific thought - both in Russia and in Europe.

So, Bonnal believed that in the coming war the army, possessing excellent cavalry, would own the theater of operations and dominate the enemy. And Kessler wrote that the fate of the army depends on the quality of the cavalry. According to Langlois, the new weapon increases the value of cavalry in such a way that states bring this branch of troops up to the standards allowed by their horse resources. This trend is found before the First World War in Germany.

Along with the aforementioned authors, the Russian authorities of those years - Brusilov, Zalessky, Matkovsky, and others - considered the problem of the role and importance of cavalry.

Summarizing the views of specialists that existed before the First World War regarding the use of cavalry in the theater of operations and the battlefield, we will see that they took into account the power of the firing equipment, noting the importance this phenomenon had to exert on the correct use of cavalry. F. Berngardi in his work "Modern War" noted that he considers obsolete the view that the main task of the cavalry is to conduct attacks, while fighting on foot is permissible only as a last resort. This view, as the specialist believed, hampered the multifunctionality of cavalry.

Naturally, with the improvement of weapons and, in particular, with the introduction of a machine gun, cavalry attacks became possible only in certain situations. But the cavalry persisted - preferring to seek decisive success with the help of cavalry attacks - and even over the enemy’s unorganized infantry (and the Russian cavalry did it well). But, in any case, practical training of cavalry lagged behind the conclusions of the theorists.

And in all the armies of key European states (France, Germany, England, Russia) the above-mentioned views of military authorities were not carried out - and tactical training and organization of cavalry were built in the spirit of carrying out horse attacks. The desire to reduce the time of the destructive impact of firearms, while the peaks and checkers rush to the last, - speed of movement - this is the technique chosen by the cavalry to compete with the infantry. But the harsh military reality made more than significant adjustments - and it is very interesting to follow the evolution of views on the role and importance of cavalry, which occurred under the influence of this experience.

The evolution of the cavalry of France.

The French army entered the war with the 10 cavalry division. 3 cavalry divisions (1-I, 3-I and 5-I) were consolidated into a cavalry corps under the command of General Sorda, and the rest were given to the armies.

From the very first days of hostilities, the power of fire technology influenced the use of cavalry. Subsequently, under the influence of the situation of the positional stage of the war, the French command radically revised its view on the ability to conduct cavalry attacks in modern conditions of battle.

Carrer in the Cavalry work — written during the war under the influence of fresh combat experience — concluded that the cavalry horse was not “the former strike factor”, but only a means of quickly moving “rifles, machine guns, grenades and cannons.” The horse attack, according to Carrera, is a victim in the name of salvation from the death of other branches of the military. Suppressed by the power of firing equipment, the author advanced the project of dismounting the Cuirassiers and most of the dragoon regiments, as well as reorganizing the remaining cavalry into 16 squadron divisions (with 32 machine guns) divisions - i.e. the role of cavalry was determined by its firepower.

Because before the war, the horse attack by the French was the main way to carry out combat missions, to the extent that already during the war, specially issued official instructions recognized foot fighting as a normal type of combat. From 1916 until the end of the war, 4 manuals were issued - and the last, from 25. 05. 1918 G., stated that speed, mobility and maneuverability - special qualities of the cavalry, while it comes to maneuvering and march. But she fights directly in battle, mainly on foot. Nevertheless, it is necessary to envisage and be ready to fight in equestrian ranks - attacking, for example, the cavalry that is looking for or accepting the attack, caught off guard on level ground by infantry and artillery in motion.

Under the influence of the evolution of views on the role of cavalry, the rearmament of the French cavalry takes place, starting with the rider’s individual equipment and ending with the equipping of cavalry units with various types of modern firearms.

By the beginning of the war, the French cavalryman was armed with a carbine without a bayonet and had 90 cartridges. The cavalry brigade, which was part of the cavalry corps, had a 1 machine-gun compartment. The cavalry division included the horse artillery group. The cavalry corps did not have any standard fire weapons - but soon the auto-machine-gun compartments (initially equipped with non-armored vehicles) were assigned to the corps. In October, 1914 appeared in each cavalry division of the cavalry corps, a light foot troop of 6 dismounted squadrons appeared (the soldiers were armed with infantry rifles) and a machine-gun company.

In 1915, cavalrymen received a rifle with a bayonet (decisive foot combat weapons - to which cavalrymen should now have to resort, not only in exceptional cases, as required by the pre-war regulations) and 200 cartridges. The machine-gun department was included in the composition of each cavalry regiment. Each cavalry division received armored squads consisting of three cannon and three machine guns. Then the cavalry received hand grenades and rifle grenades. Breastplate abolished.

In 1916, the French introduced the cavalry into the arsenal of 3 machine guns on the squadron, and then this number was doubled. The regiments are already given 2 machine-gun compartments. An armored corps is attached to the cavalcorpus. And the cavalry division now has a pedestrian regiment of dismounted cavalrymen (an analogue of an infantry regiment).

In 1918, the cavalry corps receive the 2 armor squadron. Armored cars are armed with a machine gun and 37-mm cannon. The pedestrian regiments of the 3's cavalry division, which were part of the corps, are combined into a foot cavalry division - equivalent to an infantry division.

Thus, in 1918, cavalry firepower increased significantly — the squadron already had 6 light machine guns, the regiment had 2 machine-gun compartments, and the cavalry corps had a division of 105-mm guns and a regiment of 75-mm guns.

The cavalry reorganization project, approved at the end of the war, provided that the cavalry division should include: a) 2 divisions of 75-mm guns (instead of one); b) air squadron (for individual cavalry divisions); c) a detachment of telegraphists and radio telegraphists; d) pontoon detachment. The cavalry corps included a cavalry artillery regiment of 75 mm cannons (consisting of 2 to 3 divisions (groups)), a heavy artillery regiment (105 mm division and 2 divisions of 155 mm Schneider guns), two combat engineer companies, a pontoon command, two air squadrons, aerostat, at least a walking brigade and tank company. The cavalry regiment was given 4 machine-gun squads. The detachment of scooters had 3 machine-gun compartments (instead of 2).

The evolution of cavalry went in two directions: increasing firepower and numerical reduction. Already in 1916, the French cavalry began to dismount - the process touched both divisional and army cavalry. The command of the French army followed the path of a sharp reduction in cavalry — and reduced the cavalry by almost 40%, reducing the number of divisions first to 7 and then to 6.

Captain of the 5 th Kirasirsky regiment, 1916

By the beginning of the 1918 campaign, the French cavalry had been completely reorganized. By reducing the number and increasing the firepower of the latter, the French create from their cavalry a powerful mobile fire reserve - to restore the breakthroughs of their front.

French cavalrymen, 1917

The evolution of the cavalry of Germany.

Germany, as is known, started the war, having 11 cavalry divisions on the 6 regiments each - the 1 division remained on the East, and the 10 turned on the West European theater.

The power of fire techniques and the long period of positional warfare (3 / 4 of the entire period of hostilities) in the West with all its features could not but influence the role and importance, as well as the methods of using the German cavalry.

The evolution of cavalry follows two paths: first, along the path of increasing firepower, and secondly, along the path of dismounting, reorganization and downsizing. The armament available at the beginning of the war (carbine, revolver, broadsword and pike) also changed - during the war the carbine and revolver were kept, but the broadsword was replaced with a cleaver. Subsequently, the cavalry was reinforced with light machine guns, and a 4 squadron regiment was given a machine-gun squadron. Then the cavalry divisions received a second machine-gun compartment, 2 - 3 companies of self-propelled gunners, 2 department of searchlights, 1 communications department and 1 automotive convoy.

In the winter of 1915 - 1916 in Germany, there was already a shortage of horse personnel, and serious difficulties arose in the fodder question. A long period of positional hostilities influenced, depriving the cavalry of its basic nature - mobility, which caused deep disappointment and doubt in the leading circles of the German army in the role of cavalry in the conditions of modern war. This was the main reason why the excellent troops dismount and are sent to reinforce the infantry. As a result, by October 1917, the German cavalry had only 7 cavalry divisions on the 4 regiment and 5 separate cavalry brigades on the 3 regiment. By the beginning of 1918, only 3 cavalry divisions and 5 - 7 separate cavalry brigades remained - all of which 3 cavalry divisions were stationed on the Eastern Front. The rest of the cavalry was in a hurry.

Thus, the lack of horse-drawn personnel discovered by the beginning of 1916 is an indirect cause of the reorganization of the German cavalry, whereas, undoubtedly, the main reason for the reorganization was the evolution of the views of the German command on the role of cavalry in a modern war environment. The loss of faith in the top commanders of the German army in the usefulness of cavalry as a branch of the army is the main reason for the reorganization of the latter. Reorganization, which left the German army (and at the decisive period of the war in the West) to 1918, without cavalry as an independent branch of the military.

Thus, under the influence of the situation of the positional period of the war, both the French and the Germans took the path of increasing their firepower and reducing the number of their cavalry. But it is necessary to take into account that by the time of the decisive campaign of 1918, by concentrating forces on the Western front that surpassed the Allies in the Entente 30 divisions, Germany did not have a single cavalry division on this front, while the French, by reorganizing their cavalry, created a strong mobile fire reserve - and, although they reduced the number of their cavalry divisions to 6, but together with the English cavalry divisions that arrived on the French front (5 English and Canadian) opposed the 12 cavalry divisions to the Germans (especially since the British wounded views on the value of cavalry as a means of developing operational success).

Let us now try to find out what was the main reason for the dramatic evolution of views on the role and importance of the cavalry of France and Germany during the war.

The main reason, of course, we must consider the fact that from 4 years of world war 3,5 went to a positional war - when the cavalry could not adequately show its basic quality - mobility. Therefore, impressions about the work of cavalry in the first months of hostilities and its successes gradually smoothed out - against the background of the tragedy of later events. The seeming inactivity, in which the cavalry seemed to freeze during the positional period, allowed some military thinkers to question the question of its usefulness. But we must understand that a positional war cannot be considered as a decisive form of hostilities - after all, from a military point of view, it could not lead to victory. Only a decisive offensive led to that. Positional warfare, full of suffering and heroism, was the result of a positional impasse — the powerlessness that the parties experienced who could not defeat each other decisively. But as soon as one of the parties got what it lacked for decisive actions - living force (Germans) or strong equipment (allies) - they tried to break into the operating room, and at the same time the importance of cavalry combat activity was revealed.

But if, if only in general terms, we recall the work of cavalry in the maneuverable period, how can it be considered that the cavalry showed inadequacy in solving the tasks set? Well, if at the same time there are shortcomings (even significant ones), then it is necessary to figure out - do these shortcomings refer to cavalry as a kind of troops, or were the result of improper use of cavalry?

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  1. +6
    10 July 2018 06: 19
    Interesting features of the development of German and French cavalry
  2. +7
    10 July 2018 07: 46
    Similar evolutionary paths among Germans and French
    But the French were more careful, and the Germans with a cardinal reduction in the cavalry were clearly overdoing it.
  3. 0
    10 July 2018 08: 47
    motorized infantry for the poor
  4. +7
    10 July 2018 09: 00
    An interesting and informative article. Interestingly, the positional war in the West, in essence, brought to life the giving of the entire cavalry a “dragoon” character — turning it into a mobile reserve of infantry. The author is my sincere thanks for the work done! hi
    1. 0
      10 July 2018 11: 50
      In Germany, before the war, cavalry was considered an auxiliary tool of a tactical level and was supposed to give one cavalry regiment to each infantry brigade in battle.
      Therefore, in the German army there was no division into infantry and cavalry divisions.
      1. +4
        10 July 2018 12: 01
        In Germany, at the beginning of the war there were 11 cavalry divisions. That is, the army cavalry from which the horse corps were formed.
        The rest of the cavalry was military, and it was distributed among infantry formations.
        Mixing these types of cavalry is not worth it.
  5. +3
    10 July 2018 09: 38
    Very interesting trends
    If all sides significantly strengthened cavalry in terms of fire (this is common), then the paths diverged further.
    Whereas the French brought cavalry closer to mobile infantry, while the Germans simply reduced it, the British and Russians preserved the cavalry precisely as cavalry, which solved and percussive tasks, trying to develop the successes achieved.
    Well, it bore fruit. The French cavalry, tossed to the places of the German breakthroughs of 1918, blocked their development. The Germans simply did not have a mobile tool for developing success.
    The British actively and unsuccessfully applied their cavalry corps in 1918. And our cavalry, jack of all trades, became the basis for the most powerful cavalry of the Red Army - which was very important for the Civil and Great Patriotic Wars.
  6. 0
    10 July 2018 10: 03
    With regard to the German army, talking about cavalry divisions would be wrong. In the general German army, the divisions were not divided into infantry and cavalry (with the exception of the Prussian guards cavalry division), as was customary in Russia. All cavalry regiments were divided into divisions.
    1. +4
      10 July 2018 12: 05
      With regard to the German army, talking about cavalry divisions would be wrong.

      You're wrong.
      At the beginning of the war in the German army, 11 cavalry DIVISIONS (in addition to military cavalry).
      Then its main part was on the Russian front. For example, in the fall of 1915, only the cavalry corps of O. von Garnier included 4 cavalry divisions.
      But the schedule of the German cavalry in the Baltic states in the spring and summer of 1915. Source - Pozek - the chief of staff of the corps of Richthofen.
  7. +4
    10 July 2018 12: 06

    What does the separate regiments and squadrons have to do with it? This is a military cavalry.
    DO NOT MIX, this is a mistake.
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. +1
      10 July 2018 13: 03
      On August 1, 1914, you can bring the number and commander of at least one cavalry division of the German army.
      1. +1
        10 July 2018 13: 10
        Are you familiar with such a publication?
        1. +1
          10 July 2018 13: 11
          Here it is from there
          1. +1
            10 July 2018 13: 12

            Schedules for August 1914 and a detailed reconstruction of the actions of the German Cavalry Corps
            1. +1
              10 July 2018 13: 16
              And so on as they say
              In August 1914, 10 cavalry divisions on the French front (distributed mainly in the corps), and only one on the Russian.

              Then in the summer of 1915 the situation is diametrically opposite:
              in the Baltic states there are 7,5 cavalry divisions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th and Bavarian cavalry divisions, Guards cavalry brigade) (Pozek. I brought him). The 5th Cavalry Division on the Galician Theater is part of the Marshal Group (Austro-Hungarian Army Group Pflanzer-Baltina), and the 9th Cavalry Division on the Polish Theater is part of the 9th Army (timetable in the Reichsarchive).
              1. +1
                10 July 2018 14: 19
                I am familiar with this edition. But there are no dates for the formation of cavalry divisions.
                However, if we are talking about the changes that the cavalry underwent during the First World War, then we must start, sorry, for the tautology, from the beginning.
                And at the beginning, before the mobilization, there were no cavalry divisions in the Reichsheer. In August 1914, during mobilization, cavalry brigades were withdrawn from a number of divisions, of which ten cavalry divisions were formed - Nos. 1-9 and Bavarian. That's what I meant.
                1. +1
                  10 July 2018 14: 52
                  10 German cavalry divisions have been active on the Western Front since August 4, 1914. This is in the book.
                  And in 4 days they, of course, cannot be formed from scratch.
                  But I thought it a sinful thing that you generally denied the presence of cavalry divisions and cavalry corps in the German army - assuming that the German cavalry was distributed to infantry formations on the shelves.
                  Of course, the cavalry division and the cavalry corps - the offspring of wartime (although the scheme for their formation, as well as the reserve corps, was worked out before the war - it was not without reason that the process was quick). But we are talking about the events of the WWII hi
                  1. +1
                    10 July 2018 15: 07
                    Consensus reached.

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