Longbow vs. armor test

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Re: Longbow vs. armor test

Postby Dave Long » 25 Jan 2013 13:03

Chiron wrote:You are supplying a mass military machine, not an elite warrior culture raised to warfare since birth. Already in 1573 you see an almost complete change...
Well, we can be thankful then that horsemen have always been a bit conservative, because as late as 1733, de la Guérinière is still writing about a distinction between manège and mêlée riding.
During my last message to this thread, I had believed that Befehlstaktik was an inadvertent mistake, because manège riding survived mechanisation and military riding did not. In that world, the manège provided specific theory and instruction, and previous civilian life and cavalry service would have balanced it with the Auftragstaktik of actual practical horsemanship.[0]
However, in attempting to garner evidence to support that view, I have been forced to change it radically: Napoleonic[1] warfare was created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort, and hence napoleonic riding instruction was kneecapped, à la Procrustes, to avoid giving the troopers an inkling that they might be capable of independent action[2]; a trooper who is in a mêlée is one who is temporarily unable to take orders, and so you teach him just enough riding to dress and space a line so he won't get any funny ideas and the unit will reform as soon as practicable.
"Resolve" was a term of art in those days, apparently meaning the willingness of men to ignore what we would now call "force protection". Teach someone that a horse can turn completely around, even at speed, in 5-7 strides, and you're never sure of your troopers' resolve until 4 strides in front of the enemy position. Teach someone that directing a horse is a complex operation requiring subtle balancing of a variety of hand and leg aids, and you trivially have "resolve" as soon as you have all your sabres pointed in the correct general direction at 40+ km/h.
Not that they were wrong to do so; it was clearly effective against enemies who had better cavalry but poorer logistics, but still ... it's not what I would call riding.

[0] So then it would be completely natural that european equitation is now completely unbalanced -- it would be as if HEMA were instructed in a world where the only treatises we had were written by people who were only concerned with the proper form for conditioning and strength training exercises, and relied on external practical experience[3] for bouting.
[1] At least. I don't have an earlier bound for this yet.
[2] There may have been political and social reasons beyond the tactical. It's worth noting that napoleonic armies were certainly willing to employ people who could already ride, as long as they were mainly eastern foreigners. Wouldn't want to teach your own people that they might be capable of doing anything without the officer corps, and sure enough, when Hungary revolted in 1848, the hussars by and large (without their officers) went with the rebel side.
[3] Capt. Vladimir Littauer was responsible for much of the relative Auftrags- bias distinguishing american from continental "english" riding instruction. His departure from how he was taught may be ascribed to a mix of two reasons: economic and practical. The economic suspicion is that to earn a living teaching anything to americans, you've got to simplify it tremendously. The practical side is that the reason he needed to earn a living teaching riding to americans is because he was a white and the czar lost, so he had ample opportunity to reflect on which parts of the system he had been taught were meant for the parade ground, and which had actually been useful against the reds.
[Edit: Littauer]
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Re: Longbow vs. armor test

Postby Chiron » 25 Jan 2013 16:23

De la Gueriniere was teaching the aristocracy, who had the time to train riding to the extent needed for such movements, the point was also to demonstrate your personal skill not hold formation in order to create maximum damage. I don't have a copy of Gueriniere, would you mind telling me what he said was the difference?
The case you describe has less to do with Befehlsführung than not teaching them riding. I am sure the officers and certain regiments drawn from the higher classes were better riders, but I very much think the Auftragsführung vs. Befehlsführung has a personal cultural/psychological note that I mentioned earlier. It seems to me a mindset more than anything else, because it doesn't matter either way you ride, you have to train the aids. You can train the aids to talk with your horse or to tell it, but both of you still have to speak the same language. Even in the early 17th century you probably found noble cavalrymen that had trained since birth but the psychological change was made.
As an aside the rise in popularity of Xenophon as a riding manual coincides with this change and the rise of the riding schools. Xenophon wrote his manual in order to help Athens train a cavalry force after seeing the spanish in action (he describes the spanish doing passades after victories). His suggestion was to bring in 200 hundred mercenaries as trainer and to fight with them in order to help construct cavalry force 1000 strong. He was also facing the problem of turning recruits into born riders. He focuses on maintaining formation and similar issues. Maintaining formation is easier than teaching a horse and rider to work independently, especially when you have one skilled rider to lead the group, you're counting on herd dynamics to keep you together.

P.S. Your post didn't mention mention Littauer although the point that you trying to make with him sounds interesting.
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Re: Longbow vs. armor test

Postby Dave Long » 26 Jan 2013 02:58

Chiron wrote:I don't have a copy of Gueriniere, would you mind telling me what he said was the difference?
Google has a searchable scan of the 1736 edition. "guerre" and "combat" will give many results, some of which were already mentioned, but to summarize:
de la Guérnière, p.144 wrote:Il y a, selon l'usage ordinaire, deux sortes de manéges ; le manége de Guerre, & celui de Carriere, ou d'école. On entend par manége de guerre, l'exercice d'un Cheval sage, aisé & obéissant aux deux mains qui part de vitesse, s'arrête & tourne facilement sur les hanches ; qui est accoûtumé au feu, aux tambours, aux étendarts ; & qui n'a peur de rien. Par manége de Carriere ou d'Ecole, on doit entendre celui qui renferme tous les airs inventés par ceux qui ont excellé dans cet art, & qui sont ou doivent être en usage dans les Académies bien réglées.

"there are ... two kinds of training: combat training and square, or school, training. By combat riding we mean the exercise of a good horse, easy and obedient on either lead who takes off quickly, stops and turns easily over his hocks, who is accustomed to shooting, drums, and flags, and who isn't afraid of anything. By school training, we mean that which encompasses all the exercises which were invented by those who have excelled in this art, and which are (or should be) used in well-run academies."

Chiron wrote:The case you describe has less to do with Befehlsführung than not teaching them riding.
I think that they didn't teach them riding precisely because of Befehlsführung. The armies of the time debated whether or not it was a good idea for line infantrymen to aim their muskets, and decided that it would be ruinous to military discipline if they were allowed so much individual initiative[0]. The ideal was for there to be one will, the officer's, and the men were to obey instantly. The trooper can't obey an officer instantly unless his horse obeys him instantly. Under such a philosophy, one couldn't very well admit the possibility of teamwork with the horse without raising the unspeakable possibility of teamwork within the tactical unit. Keep that up, and sooner or later you've got a bunch of Boers instead of a disciplined[1] army.

This Befehlsreiterei had to have been a deliberate choice, and not simple ignorance, because the grand text of 70 years prior had already admitted the existence of (and even recommended) an Auftragsreiterei:
de la Guérnière, p.283 wrote:La descente de main, qui est un aide excellente pour toutes sortes d'airs, semble avoir été inventée expres pour les Chevaux de chasse, afin de leur apprendre à galoper sans bride, & sans que le Cavalier soit obligé de les soutenir à tout moment.
"The descente de main, which is an excellent aid for all kinds of exercises, seems to have been invented expressly for hunters, in order that they could run on a loose rein, without micromanagement by the rider"

Chiron wrote:it doesn't matter either way you ride, you have to train the aids. You can train the aids to talk with your horse or to tell it, but both of you still have to speak the same language.
In Befehlsbildung, the aids are The Aids, and both man and horse must learn to deal with them. In Auftragsbildung, it's usually best to use to agree on the standard aids, but it's more important that man and horse arrive at certain conventions which allow them to work well together, and the most important thing is that they trust each other enough to be able to negotiate these conventions.

It was in fact George Greenwood's 1861 "Hints on Horsemanship" which first led me to these ruminations on Befehlstaktik, for I found it odd that he would both say, in relation to green stock:
Greenwood wrote:It is a vulgar error—an abuse of terms—the mere jargon of jockeyship, to say that the horse needs suppling to perform this, or any other air of the manége, or anything else that man can make him do; He wants to know your meaning. all that he wants is to be made acquainted with the wishes of his rider, and inspired with the desire to execute them.
which, to me, is an eloquent argument for "cues" instead of "aids", and paradoxically then assume that aids are invariable, and not simply a matter of clear communication[2] with the horse:
Greenwood wrote:What can be more perfect than the seats of M. de Kraut and the Marquis de Beauvilliers, in De la Guérinière’s work, or the engraving of M. de Nestier? But I do not think that a man in such a seat would look well, or perform well, in a five-pound saddle, over the beacon course: still less that he could lay the reins on the neck of a well-bred horse, and at full speed lie along his horse’s side, and with his own body below his horse’s back, prime and load a long Persian gun, jump up and use both hands to fire to the right or left, or over his horse’s croupe; or that he could wield a long heavy lance with the power of a Cossack; or at full gallop hurl the djerrid to the rear with the force of a Persian, and again, without any diminution of speed, pick it from the ground. On the other hand, his peculiar seat renders the Eastern horseman so utterly helpless in the performances of the manége, that he is unable to make his horse rein back, or pass sideways a step. And I have seen three hundred Mussulman troops from the northern parts of Persia (each of whom would perform forty such feats as I have mentioned) take more than an hour to form a very bad parade line, in single rank. When one of them was the least too far forward, or had an interval between him and the dressing hand, however small, as he could neither make his horse rein back, nor pass sideways, he was obliged to ride out to the front, turn round to the rear, and ride into the rank afresh, and so in succession every man beyond him. Long stirrups are necessary for cavalry. This was an affair of seat; the Eastern horseman’s leg does not come low enough to give his horse what are called sides.
I have sidepassed and reined back horses in a short seat, neither of which is particularly difficult. Admittedly, it's easier and more precise with "sides", but they're not that important. What is important, as Greenwood himself states, is that the horse can figure out what you want[3] ... at which point most horses, especially if they see themselves as part of the team, are more than willing to do it.

(Littauer, I'm afraid, was merely a footnote to a footnote)

[0] maybe they had a point. just look at the yanks: they started allowing soldiers to aim their own rifles at Concord, and after a few wars the indisciplined bastards got so uppity that they were leaving grenade pins on officers' pillows...
[1] in the Old Country, I was told I could call myself a rider after simply managing to fall off 7 times. In Switzerland, one must take a course and pass a test (theoretical and practical) to get an official piece of paper stating that one is a rider. In order to make this process a bit of a sporting proposition, I taught a polo pony to jump so I could pass the practical with him. One day I was pulled aside by the instructor, who said "well, you and I both know that that horse does everything with a nice loop in his reins. But come the day of the test, please put on a noseband and pretend to keep the reins tight, so we can pass you."
[2] even sillier, he manages to say with a straight face that the canter depart for a lady's horse is to over-collect, then tap on the mane with the whip -- no need to indicate lead because of course a lady's hack will always only canter on the right; arbitrary signs and arbitrary decisions to match the arbitrary asymmetry of the sidesaddle.
[3] I've also sidepassed and reined back horses on the hand, with no sides, legs, or seat at all. I don't doubt that Col. Greenwood saw his very bad parade line; I do strongly doubt that either these Persians or their horses were particularly motivated to form it.
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Re: Longbow vs. armor test

Postby Chiron » 26 Jan 2013 13:05

Thanks for the link to the scan, what he says is interesting and affirms that a certain class were at least aware of Auftragsreiterei, when the switch to Befehlsreiterei happened is the question, I have already mentioned my views on that question.

I think that they didn't teach them riding precisely because of Befehlsführung. The armies of the time debated whether or not it was a good idea for line infantrymen to aim their muskets, and decided that it would be ruinous to military discipline if they were allowed so much individual initiative[0]. The ideal was for there to be one will, the officer's, and the men were to obey instantly. The trooper can't obey an officer instantly unless his horse obeys him instantly. Under such a philosophy, one couldn't very well admit the possibility of teamwork with the horse without raising the unspeakable possibility of teamwork within the tactical unit. Keep that up, and sooner or later you've got a bunch of Boers instead of a disciplined[1] army.

This Befehlsreiterei had to have been a deliberate choice, and not simple ignorance, because the grand text of 70 years prior had already admitted the existence of (and even recommended) an Auftragsreiterei


Yes I agree that the reason they didn't teach them is because of military Befehlsführung philosophy, we've definitely come to the same conclusion as far as the reasons for the change. The first time we see a switch back to Auftragsführung is in the franco-prussian war, you can also see the remnants in the approach taken by http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_II._Adolf_(Schweden)

Keep that up, and sooner or later you've got a bunch of Boers instead of a disciplined[1] army.


Sooner or later you've got a bunch of warriors who excel at small unit combat but are almost impossible to control en masse. The different military outlooks are interwoven with wider culture culture, it's a chicken and the egg question whether the culture changes the method of warfare or the warfare changes the culture. We are currently returning to a warrior culture after 400 years of a military culture. You can already see signs in popular culture. It'll be interesting to see how military historians change their opinions when they realize the change.
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Re: Longbow vs. armor test

Postby Dave Long » 05 Dec 2013 15:50

Just a quick note from Le Marchant (1796) which implies he would like his cavalry to be able to carry some speed:
Le Marchant (p62) wrote:"The Six Divisions of Movements Performed in Speed"

As soon as the squad is able to perform the exercise moving in circle, let them execute the same in speed upon a right line. For which purpose draw the squad up at the extremity of a range of two hundred yards; the drill officer placing himself at the intermediate distance where he will be best able to see and correct their movements.
(by "intermediate distance" I believe Le Marchant puts the officer at the 100 yard mark. I would guess Le Marchant specifies 200 yards in order to allow around 15 seconds for each exercise)
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Re: Longbow vs. armor test

Postby Thearos » 07 Apr 2014 14:28

Dave Long wrote:We also have a mention in Xenophon (cf infra)

Finally tracked down the Xenophon referenced above in Hellenica 7.1*
He's just mentioned that the greek cavalry is doing nothing...
Xenophon (CLB) wrote: But the horsemen sent by Dionysius, few though they were, scattering themselves here and there, would ride along the enemy's line, charge upon them and throw javelins at them, and when the enemy began to move forth against them, would retreat, and then turn round and throw their javelins again. And while pursuing these tactics they would dismount from their horses and rest. But if anyone charged upon them while they were dismounted, they would leap easily upon their horses and retreat. On the other hand, if any pursued them far from the Theban army, they would press upon these men when they were retiring, and by throwing javelins work havoc with them, and thus they compelled the entire army, according to their own will, either to advance or to fall back.

*
Ξενοφῶν wrote:οἱ δὲ παρὰ τοῦ Διονυσίου ἱππεῖς, ὅσοιπερ ἦσαν, οὗτοι διεσκεδασμένοι ἄλλος ἄλλῃ παραθέοντες ἠκόντιζόν τε προσελαύνοντες, καὶ ἐπεὶ ὥρμων ἐπ᾽ αὐτούς, ἀνεχώρουν, καὶ πάλιν ἀναστρέφοντες ἠκόντιζον. καὶ ταῦτα ἅμα ποιοῦντες κατέβαινον ἀπὸ τῶν ἵππων καὶ ἀνεπαύοντο. εἰ δὲ καταβεβηκόσιν ἐπελαύνοιέν τινες, εὐπετῶς ἀναπηδῶντες ἀνεχώρουν. εἰ δ᾽ αὖ τινες διώξειαν αὐτοὺς πολὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ στρατεύματος, τούτους, ὁπότε ἀποχωροῖεν, ἐπικείμενοι καὶ ἀκοντίζοντες δεινὰ εἰργάζοντο, καὶ πᾶν τὸ στράτευμα ἠνάγκαζον ἑαυτῶν ἕνεκα καὶ προϊέναι καὶ ἀναχωρεῖν.


[Edit: clarity: s/get outside/break free of/]


Not that it matters hugely, but the cavalrymen mentioned by Xenophon are probably not Spaniards: the troops sent by DIonysios I to help the Spartans include "Kelts, Iberians AND 50 horsemen". In other words, they are probably Syracusan / S. Italian cavalrymen (Syracuse had a long tradition of cavalry excellence).
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Re: Longbow vs. armor test

Postby Dave Long » 07 Apr 2014 16:34

Thanks for the precision. I doubt it matters much; we still have modern remnants (in at least Spain (vaquero), France (gardian), and Italy (buttero)) of a herding culture which used lance-like objects in their everyday mounted pastoral work (or were mercenary cavalry during their non-everyday work) and so my guess would be that you'd find this kind of activity in swampy areas —or at least open grasslands— everywhere around the mediterranean. Any idea where one might check that hypothesis? (in this case, for S. Italy/Syracuse, but in general I'm also curious about northern africa and the middle east)
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Re: Longbow vs. armor test

Postby Thearos » 07 Apr 2014 18:55

Yes, but I wonder if this is "timeless", or the result of a very specific historical development.

Sicily: it's almost certainly aristocratic cavalry-- their operations are at least mentioned in Thucydides 6 and 7.

Spain: I just don't know what the social landscape of C4th Spain is like.

Africa: in support of your hypothesis, note that Polybios and Livy describe Numidian light cavalry operating with javelins, but with harassment and fluid tactics.

Finally, there is an early description of Persian cavalry at work in Herodotus' long account of the battle of Plataia. It describes attacks by horse (archers ? Javelineers ?) "by divisions". The counter: foot archers in the Athenian contingent. I copy the passage below. Also, Plutarch's description of how Mark Antony fought off the Parthian cavalry (answer: lots of archers and slingers).

*****

Hdt 9

[9.20] Mardonius, when he saw that the Greeks would not come down into the plain, sent all his cavalry, under Masistius (or Macistius, as the Greeks call him), to attack them where they were. Now Masistius was a man of much repute among the Persians, and rode a Nisaean charger with a golden bit, and otherwise magnificently caparisoned. So the horse advanced against the Greeks, and made attacks upon them in divisions, doing them great damage at each charge, and insulting them by calling them women.

[9.21] It chanced that the Megarians were drawn up in the position most open to attack, and where the ground offered the best approach to the cavalry. Finding themselves therefore hard pressed by the assaults upon their ranks, they sent a herald to the Greek leaders, who came and said to them, "This is the message of the Megarians - We cannot, brothers-in-arms, continue to resist the Persian horse in that post which we have occupied from the first, if we are left without succours. Hitherto, although hard pressed, we have held out against them firmly and courageously. Now, however, if you do not send others to take our place, we warn you that we shall quit our post." Such were the words of the herald. Pausanias, when he heard them, inquired among his troops if there were any who would volunteer to take the post, and so relieve the Megarians. Of the rest none were willing to go, whereupon the Athenians offered themselves; and a body of picked men, three hundred in number, commanded by Olympiodorus, the son of Lampo, undertook the service.

[9.22] Selecting, to accompany them, the whole body of archers, these men relieved the Megarians, and occupied a post which all the other Greeks collected at Erythrae had shrunk from holding. After the struggle had continued for a while, it came to an end on this wise. As the barbarians continued charging in divisions, the horse of Masistius, which was in front of the others, received an arrow in his flank, the pain of which caused him to rear and throw his rider. Immediately the Athenians rushed upon Masistius as he lay, caught his horse, and when he himself made resistance, slew him. At first, however, they were not able to take his life; for his armour hindered them. He had on a breastplate formed of golden scales, with a scarlet tunic covering it. Thus the blows, all falling upon his breastplate, took no effect, till one of the soldiers, perceiving the reason, drove his weapon into his eye and so slew him. All this took place without any of the other horsemen seeing it: they had neither observed their leader fall from his horse, nor beheld him slain; for he fell as they wheeled round and prepared for another charge, so that they were quite ignorant of what had happened. When, however, they halted, and found that there was no one to marshal their line, Masistius was missed; and instantly his soldiers, understanding what must have befallen him, with loud cheers charged the enemy in one mass, hoping to recover the dead body.

[9.23] So when the Athenians saw that, instead of coming up in squadrons, the whole mass of the horse was about to charge them at once, they called out to the other troops to make haste to their aid. While the rest of the infantry, however, was moving to their assistance, the contest waxed fierce about the dead body of Masistius. The three hundred, so long as they fought by themselves, had greatly the worse of the encounter, and were forced to retire and yield up the body to the enemy; but when the other troops approached, the Persian horse could no longer hold their ground, but fled without carrying off the body, having incurred in the attempt a further loss of several of their number. They therefore retired about two furlongs, and consulted with each other what was best to be done. Being without a leader, it seemed to them the fittest course to return to Mardonius.
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