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570
CAVALRY

is undoubtedly preferable, for, with the work of the quartermaster and the adjutant to supervise, in addition, the regimental commander is economically applied to the best advantage. The essential point, however, is that the officer commanding the regiment does not interfere in details, but commands his four squadron commanders, his quartermaster, and his adjutant, and holds them absolutely responsible for results.

There is no unity of practice in the constitution of larger units. Brigades vary according to circumstances from two regiments to four, and the composition of divisions fluctuates similarly. The custom in the German cavalry has been to form brigades of two regiments and divisions of three brigades, but this practice arose primarily from the system of recruiting and has no tactical advantage. The territory assigned to each army corps provides men and horses for two regiments of cuirassiers or lancers (classed as heavy in Germany), two of dragoons, and two of hussars, and since it is clearly essential to ensure uniformity of speed and endurance within those units most likely to have to work together, it was impossible to mix the different classes. But the views now current as to the tactical employment of cavalry contemplate the employment not only of divisions but of whole cavalry corps, forty to sixty squadrons strong, and these may be called on to fulfil the most various missions. The farthest and swiftest reconnaissances are the province of light cavalry, i.e. hussars, the most obstinate attack and defence of localities the task of dragoons, and the decisive charges on the battle-field essentially the duty of the heavy cavalry. It seems probable then that the brigade will become the highest unit the composition of which is fixed in peace, and that divisions and corps will be put together by brigades of uniform composition, and assigned to the several sections of the theatre of war in which each is likely to find the most suitable field for its special character. This was the case in the Frederician and Napoleonic epochs, when efficiency and experience in the field far outweighed considerations of administration and convenience in quarters.

Hitherto, horse artillery in Europe has always formed an integral portion of the divisional organization, but the system has never worked well, and in view of the technical evolution of artillery material is no longer considered desirable. As it is always possible to assign one or more batteries to any particular brigade whose line of march will bring it across villages, defiles, &c. (where the support of its fire will be essential), and on the battle-field itself responsibility for the guns is likely to prove more of a hindrance than a help to the cavalry commander, it is probable that horse artillery will revert to the inspection of its own technical officers, and that the sole tie which will be retained between it and the cavalry will be in the batteries being informed as to the cavalry units they are likely to serve with in war, so that the officers may make themselves acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of their future commanders. The same course will be pursued with the engineers and technical troops required for the cavalry, but it seems probable that, in accordance with a suggestion made by Moltke after the 1866 campaign, the supply columns for one or more cavalry corps will be held ready in peace, and specially organized to attain the highest possible mobility which modern technical progress can ensure.

The general causes which have led to the differentiation of cavalry into the three types—hussars, dragoons and heavy—have already been dealt with. Obviously big men on little horses cannot manoeuvre side by side with light men on big horses. Also, since uniformity of excellence within the unit is the prime condition of efficiency, and the greatest personal dexterity is required for the management of sword or lance on horseback, a further sorting out became necessary, and the best light weights were put on the best light horses and called hussars, the best heavy weights on the best heavy horses and called lancers, the average of either type becoming dragoons and cuirassiers. In England, the lance not being indigenous and the conditions of foreign service making adherence to a logical system impossible, lancers are medium cavalry, but the difference of weights carried and type of horses is too small to render these distinctions of practical moment. In Germany, where every suitable horse finds its place in the ranks and men have no right of individual selection, the distinctions are still maintained, and there is a very marked difference between the weights carried and the types of men and horses in each branch, though the dead weight which it is still considered necessary to carry in cavalries likely to manoeuvre in large masses hardly varies with the weight of the man or size of the horse.

Where small units only are required to march and scout, the kit can be reduced to a minimum, everything superfluous for the moment being carried on hired transport, as in South Africa. But when 10,000 horsemen have to move by a single road all transport must be left miles to the rear, and greater mobility for the whole is attained by carrying upon the horse itself the essentials for a period of some weeks. Still, even allowing for this, it is impossible to account for the extraordinary load that is still considered necessary. In India, the British lancer, averaging 11 st. per man, could turn out in marching order at 17 st. 8 ℔ (less forage nets). In Germany, the hussar, averaging 10 st. 6 ℔, rode at 18 st., also without forage, and the cuirassier at 21 st. to 22 st. Cavalry equipment is, in fact, far too heavy, for in the interests of the budgets of the departments which supply saddlery, harness, &c., everything is made so as to last for many years. Cavalry saddles fifty years old frequently remain in good condition, but the losses in horse-flesh this excessive solidity entails are ignored. The remount accounts are kept separately, and few realize that in war it is cheaper to replace a horse than a saddle. In any case, the armament alone of the cavalry soldier makes great demands on the horses. His sword and scabbard weigh about 4 ℔, carbine or rifle 7 ℔ to 9 ℔, 120 rounds of ammunition with pouches and belts about 12 ℔, lance about 5 ℔, and two days’ forage and hay at the lowest 40 ℔, or a gross total of 70 ℔ or 5 st., which with 11 st. for the man brings the total to 16 st.; add to this the lightest possible saddle, bridle, cloak and blanket, and 17 st. 8 ℔ is approximately the irreducible minimum. It may be imagined what care and management of the horses is required to enable them under such loads to manoeuvre in masses at a trot, and gallop for distances of 5 m. and upwards without a moment for dismounting.

Reconnaissance and Scouting.—After 1870 public opinion, misled by the performances of the “ubiquitous Uhlan” and disappointed by the absence of great cavalry charges on the field of battle, came somewhat hastily to the conclusion that the day of “shock tactics” was past and the future of cavalry lay in acting as the eyes and ears of the following armies. But, as often happens, the fact was overlooked that the German cavalry screen was entirely unopposed in its reconnoitring expeditions, and it was not till long afterwards that it became apparent how very little these far-flung reconnaissances had contributed to the total success.

It has been calculated by German cavalry experts that not 1% of the reports sent in by the scouts during the advance from the Saar to the Meuse, August 1870, were of appreciable importance to the headquarters, and that before the orders based upon this evidence reached the front, events frequently anticipated them. Generally the conviction has asserted itself, that it is impossible to train the short-service soldiers of civilized nations sufficiently to render their reports worth the trouble of collating, and if a few cases of natural aptitude do exist nothing can ensure that these particular men should be sufficiently well mounted to transmit their information with sufficient celerity to be of importance. It is of little value to a commander to know that the enemy was at a given spot forty-eight hours previously, unless the sender of the report has a sufficient force at his disposal to compel the enemy to remain there; in other words, to attack and hold him. Cavalry and horse artillery alone, however, cannot economically exert this holding power, for, whatever their effect against worn-out men at the close of a great battle, against fresh infantry they are relatively powerless. Hence, it is probable that we shall see a revival of the strategic advanced guard of all arms, as in the Napoleonic days, which will not only reconnoitre, but fix the enemy until the army itself can execute the manœuvre designed to effect his destruction. The general situation of the