How the Hussars Fought

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, XVII C.

By: Radoslaw Sikora

Translated by Rick Orli

(c)2000 radoslaw sikora, (c)2001 richard j. orli

Polish Language Version: http://www.jest.art.pl/taktyka.html

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tactics in: Impacts

The Lance

 

How the Hussars Fought

By: Radoslaw Sikora

"We saw it…. the hussars let loose their horses. God, what power! They ran through the smoke and the sound was like that of a thousand blacksmiths beating with a thousand hammers. We saw it…. Jezus Maria! The elite's lances bent forward like stalks of rye, driven by a great storm, bent on glory! The fire of the guns before them glitters! They rush on to the Swedes! They crash into the Swedish riters…. Overwhelm them! They crash into the second regiment - Overwhelmed! Resistance collapses, dissolves, they move forward as easily as if they were parading on a grand boulevard. They sliced without effort through the whole army already! Next target: the regiment of horse guards, where stands the Swede King Carol. And the guard already wavers!husaroim.jpg (169682 bytes)

--Description from Potop "Deluge" Henry Sienkievich.

Though arresting and colorful, little in this description is accurate about tactics.

I am both astonished and interested that the Hussars, as it happened, were consistently able to defeat much larger foes with low losses, and suffered surprisingly low losses from the fire of squares of infantry protected by pikemen. For example at Kircholm, where about 100 Poles perished and some 200 were wounded, the losses of the Swedes are estimated at from 6 to 9 thousand men.

In order to solve this riddle, several things need to be considered. First, the very limited efficiency of firearms in this time. Second, that the hussars were able to minimize the effect of fire. It is best to consider a concrete example, a typical situation from the turn of the XVI and XVII C.

A Banner with 200 hussars attacks a regiment of infantry with 600 men (400 musket and 200 pike). Infantry was prepared at this time for battle in shallower formation than common at an earlier period (at the start of the XVI C. some infantry squares were 50 columns by 50 ranks. 10 ranks were common. The shallower formation of 6 (or at most 10) ranks had the advantage of more men participating in the fight in the first ranks, plus some maneuverability benefits. Muskets were covered by at least 3 ranks of pike.

Why so many rear ranks? The number of ranks resulted from low contemporary firearm rate of fire, sometimes as low as 1 shot in 2 minutes. The number of pikes dropped, just to have the minimum necessary to hold off an attack of hostile cavalry. The proportion went from 1 to 1 to 2 to 1 and even lower. To maintain continuous fire, an infantry tactic was developed in Western Europe called 'counter-march'. kontrmar(1).jpg (41658 bytes)

The expectation was that each of the 6 or 10 ranks would step forward and deliver fire, while the remaining ranks loaded weapons. The rank that fired then fell back to the rear to reload. The only requirement is room between columns for the counter-marching. When this scheme works, the formation can deliver continuos fireistRankMusket.jpg (42612 bytes) every 20 seconds, whereas individual ranks would take an average of 2 minutes per volley.

What was the distance between columns of infantry in formation? The Foote columns were 1.5m apart. One reason was to have free space for loading weapons; the second was to be able to pass to the rear rank after firing. The pike covered the musketeer, but only when danger threatened from hostile cavalry or pikemen. So, 9 ranks with such spans between columns by a regiment of 600 occupied a front of about 100m of ground.

How did the hussar banner stand? It was prepared in this period to fight in 3 or 4 ranks (though it could be deeper). Let's accept that there were 4 ranks. The distance between horses was at least the length of a horse. (Just before impact there came a very curious moment - more about that later). This distance enabled:

  1. -About-face, so that it was possible in each moment to interrupt an advance or charge, without commotion in ranks.
  2. -Bypass of unexpected barriers on the way, even wounded bodies, and human or equine corpses.
  3. -Visibility made it easier to keep rank position.
  4. -It enabled bypassing opposing cavalry (to enter the ranks) during a charge.

This distance is a 4 meter interval (3 meter open space between riders) between horses in rank (with 200 men in 4 ranks).

In the first rank, the position of honor, were the ‘comrade’ hussars, with their retainers ‘pocztów' in column behind. Of course the front rank was exposed to infantry fire the most. The rear ranks were somewhat protected from frontal fire. How did they charge? An analysis is presented in the following figure.  (Note that the pikes are too short for scale, although the lances are correct)

pikinierzyNew.gif (26176 bytes)

 

 

 

 

 

In typical conditions the hussars charged from about 375 m. It crossed the first 75 walking (stepie), the next 150 trotting (klusem), then a canter (cwale), breaking into a gallop. The charge is completed at a canter for the final 30 meters.   Only the leading ranks galloped, the back ranks proceed only at a canter. Why did they charge this way? odleg.gif (1399 bytes)

 

 

 

 

It is necessary to save the horse’s strength, which is quickly lost at a gallop or fast canter (one says the horse is 'blown'), but sometimes must suffice for multiple charges, in withdrawal or on final pursuit of a defeated foe. Also, the breaking power of the banner's impact depended on its density of formation. At the walk, trot, and canter it is easier to maintain formation than at a gallop. Simultaneous contact of the whole front is particularly important against a hostile square of pikemen.

Sometimes the second rank moved forward to double-up with the first. What did this give? It made up for losses in the first rank but more importantly it doubled the density of the line. It gave maximum density of troopers in this moment (distance less than 1.5 meter; contemporary chronoclers say ‘knee to knee’), and that provided the greatest formation-breaking power.

In the low-density scenario, there are more than 2 or pikes per lance, but with the higher density it gets closer to 1-to-1. The width of the front of the banner fell to about 130-140m, but it was greater than the 100m width of a regiment of infantry. The wider front of the banner allowed the hussars to outflank the infantry regiment. It's known that an impact on a flank of any formation - infantry or cavalry - is more forceful than if only to the front.

Fragment of image painted in 1630 by Peter Sayersa - battle of Kircholm. Hussars attack Swedish infantry rtakt02.jpg (31878 bytes)

The assumption in the West was that it was not possible for cavalry to fall on a pike formation. Since the pike and lance were the same length, before the knight reached the pikeman, his horse was impaled on the pike. This situation looked like bad news to the contemporary western European cavalry, who wholly abandoned the lance.

As it happens, the situation was different with the hussar. The Hussar's Lance was constructed differently than medieval lances, as its center was bored out to save weight, and it was longer than its precursors - many were even 5.5m long- but were still lighter than western lances. (Examples exist to the present day). At the same time, the tendency of the pike was to become shorter in the West. So, the hussar could hit a pikemen before the pike reached his horse.

But this is not all. If it happened that hussars knocked out the first rank of pike, two ranks remain to defend the musketeers. How did the hussars overcome this? Several answers are possible. First they were put in a dense formation so that they were not greatly outnumbered by the pikemen. Some hussars had intact lances after the collision, and could continue the offensive on the other lines of pikemen. Secondly, even broken lances were 2-3 meters long, and even if its hit was not mortal, it could cause considerable mutilation and elimination of the pikeman from battle. Third, the possible breakdown of the pikes on the flanks could roll up the whole formation. The final consideration is the second blow that can be delivered by the fresh rear ranks of the hussar formation.

All these factors probably played some role but the sum effect was the breaking of the enemy formation. It should be remembered also, that even if the break did not happen in first charge, the hussar could fall away from the opponent, regroup as the second rank hit, and come back to attack again the partially disrupted formation of infantry. Even western cavalry sometimes managed this feat (though seldom), the hussars seem to have mastered it and achieved good results consistently. It should be sufficient to acquaint the reader with descriptions of battles in which hussars faced western infantry, in order to dispose of any doubt.

We have discussed how the hussars charge musketeers. The Western Art of war was disposed to favor fire battles already.

It is true that the pikes shield musketeers against cavalry attacks, which caused a change of tactics, minimizing the role of cavalry in the west. While Western cavalry was assigned to subsidiary operations, the infantry was further refined. So, comparison of the Polish art of war necessarily falls on utilization of cavalry compared to its role in Western Europe. As the range of victorious battles testifies, it definitely predominated over western tactics. What is the secret?

Translator's Introduction. This article is an important contribution to the question of how the Hussars achieved their success, and discusses some of the technical aspects of their (and their opponent's) armaments and tactics. Sikora's article, however, makes a few points with which I quibble below, and he glossed over what I think is one of the most important reasons for the hussar’s success.

First, he overrates the firepower of matchlock musketeers. The study he quotes comes up with hit-rate numbers that may seem low, but they seem outlandishly high to me.

I own a matchlock musket, and I can assure you that I can often hit a man-size target 50 meters away. Nevertheless, the amazing consistent fact about 16th and 17th C. battles is that they could not! I truly do not fully understand why, but it is a fact. The only thing I can think of is, as Napoleon said, in battle the moral is to physical as 3 is to 1.

Although it is true that the deep ranks of 6 or 10 musketeers existed largely to allow maintenance of a continuous rate of fire, I do not want the reader to be mislead. In my hands-on experience, 3 shots per minute are practical, and a reload and fire can even take under 15 seconds, taking every shortcut possible. Period documentation states that this rate was common among skirmishers, although careful loading could easily take a minute or longer.  (Watch me skirmish load a matchlock (4MB .mpg), I take 20 seconds, but I'm moving slowly)

There are many battles where 10,000 or more men on a side fired at each other at ranges of less than 100 meters for hours, where the descriptions of the battles spoke of hot fire and the advance of pike formations driving the enemy off the field in close quarters. For example, the battle of Naseby in 1645 - after two hours of a firefight that used up tons of ammunition, the total casualties on each side was only a hundred or two dead – less than 1%! Then, came the shock combat phase, and one side broke, and the losers quickly lost another few thousand men in the pursuit, whereas the winners lost very few more.

Second, Sikora does not stress the psychological difference between being attacked with a shock weapon and a fire weapon. I believe this is of critical importance in the hussars' effectiveness. Sikora addresses this issue and makes the same point in another article. But to be complete in this essay, I discuss the difference further in the following few paragraphs.

I know some genius in the west said, "hey, this harquebus (gun) has the same killing power as a lance, why not just carry it close, fire it a point blank range and kill my foe - same damage as a lance, right? and I get to stay out of danger! , Then I wheel back, reload, and do it again!" It made sense, but it ignored the reality of human psychology. A horseman with the harquebus 15 feet from you may or may not be aiming at you, and may or may not be about to kill you, but the sense of panic and doom is not nearly as great as if a lancer is bearing down on you. Somehow you know the lance is for you even if it is aimed sort of nearby… but the horse is coming right at you! You know the harquebus is not going to invade your space, but you know the lancer will… and that even if the lancer misses you now you are going to die unless you RUN. There is a huge difference between fire and shock, beyond weapon lethality. That is why, when the Swedes learned from the Poles and started charging with the saber, their cavalry became effective again.

For an in-depth discussion of the difference between shock and fire, I recommend Turney-High's Primitive War.

Third, is the underestimate of the physical effect on a pike formation of having a pikeman taken out with a lance.

To clarify the density of pike and musket formations when facing cavalry: they go into ‘close order’ – almost touching side and back, but staggered so in fact there are no columns open, or ‘very close order’ – actually touching. It is critical to present the attacker’s horses with a solid mass to discourage them from trying to run through.

A pikeman hit by a lance would be thrown back through the air like a huge projectile, knocking down several friends and creating a break in formation. (Whereas one hit by a bullet would drop or thrash around a bit) The lancer does not have to be at a canter to achieve this; he can start almost standing still and drive forward 2 meters.

Did hussars charge intact, tight enemy formations, at a canter at the moment of impact? Sikora and other authors quote contemporary sources who claim they did. The problem, as Keegan pointed out in the 1976 book ‘The Face of Battle,’ is that the horses do not allow this to happen, they will always shy away. They might approach fast, and take advantage of any openings or disorganizations, or hit at an angle as the horse veers away. Sometimes, according to a contemporary account quoted by Keegan, a horse was killed running fast straight at a formation just before it could veer, and then it’s body and the rider would smash through like giant bowling balls - very effective! But if the pike formation is intact, they will have to slow at the last moment, find a target, and hit him hard, hoping to lift him up and smash a hole in the defense with his body.

This analysis may be incorrect, and the sources Sikora cites may be correct. My main problem with that is that a canter speed is equivalent to a human’s flat-out sprinting speed, and the momentum is such that the horse would be unable to stop before impaling itself on other pikes. Although a good horse can stop abruptly, that abrupt stop will still cover 2 or 3 meters at that speed.

(See more on this in: impacts.   Sikora and I eventually agreed that the horse in fact slows just as the hit is delivered, to allow a turn-away)

The article assumes that the lance will always break on the hit… this might be probable if at a canter, but at low speed or with a lunge it could conceivably be pulled back and lunged in again.  However, the lance breaking is well documented, even that it was taken as a dishonor, to return from battle with a whole lance, because it looked like its owner was a coward.

If the Poles’ lance in fact has a reach advantage, as Sikora claims they could stand back and make short lunges over the pike heads, in a similar fashion as Diaz explains, until an opening allowed them to crash through. (Attacking with a lance (kopia) with a free-hand thrust wasn't possible, given its weight.)  I have no documentation to support my speculation .

The importance of group psychology in battle makes most technical tactical matters fade to insignificance.  More on group psycology in battles.

On the advantage cavalry has over infantry in shock combat. (Bernard Diaz writing of Mexico in the XVI C. "We decided that the horsemen, in groups of three for mutual assistance, should charge and return at a trot, and should hold their lances rather short; and that when they broke through the Tlascalans' ranks they should aim at the faces, and give repeated thrusts, so as to prevent them from seizing their lances. If, however, a lance should be seized, the horseman must use all his strength and put spurs to his horse. Then the leverage of the lance beneath his arm and the headlong rush of the horse would either tear the lance free or drag the Indian along with him.")

 

See more discussion on how the hussars handled multiple charges, and combined fire and shock, in impacts.

Let's return for an example.

What damage did the fire of infantry do to attacking hussars? Could it hold them off? As it happens, the answer is no. Numerical data illustrate this question best. Maximum gunshot range was 250-300M for muskets. For the precursor of musket, the arquebus, the maximum range was only150-200m. But fire from this distance was practically a waste of powder. Accuracy was very low in contemporary firearms. Research carried out by Scharnhorst in the XIX century (1). Found that it hit 65 of 1000 shots against cavalry from a distance of 300M.

They researched the flintlock, but it applies also to the matchlock, which differed only in the manner of firing, not construction or ballistic quality.

At 225M the ratio was1000/149. At the close range of 75m the ratio is not sensational at 1000/403 hits. Why such low accuracy?

1. No rifled weapons in that time, except for a very small number of special hunting rifles or elite rifles. The spin rifling imparts stabilizes the trajectory, and improves distance and accuracy.

2. Did not have weapon aiming aids – usually just 'leveled' in the direction of target. Anyway, the inherent inaccuracy of smoothbore bullets could not be overcome by a viewfinder mechanism.

3. The charge (gunpowder load) was measured imprecisely. This caused inconsistency in muzzle velocity and so in distance and elevation accuracy.

  1. Even weather had an influence on shot accuracy, as damp power has a slower burn rate than dry powder.
  2. Shooting at cavalry - although mounted troopers are big targets they not easy to hit because of their speed of movement.

 

 

 

 

 

1 ) Wg. Hansa Delbrucka "Geschichte der Kriegkunst Rahmen der politischen Geschichte " Berlin 1920-1923 (op.cit. Page (s) 310 ) t.IV.

 

 

(Translator's note.  Chlapowski, writing of his experience as Polish lancer in the Napoleonic wars was entirely dismissive of musketry, which should have been better then than in the 17th C.   He basically said, sure, some of our guys might get hit, but not many, and it won't stop us.  And once we are there, the infantry will be almost helpless: Dezydery Chlapowski, Memoirs of a Polish Lancer, Emperor's Press, 1992.

 

(Translator's note: Because the flash from the pan would blow into the eyes, the eye level is below to the side of the matchlock.)

There is more. It is not enough to shoot from short range, because the number of 'duds' was so high as to be paralyzing. A lower-Silesian military company carried out a trial in 1966 shooting XVII C. firearms -historic muskets. They found that it fired 43% of the loads only, using good modern powder.

It was not possible to count during intensive conduct of fire in field conditions on such "excellent" result. Hurrying caused even larger numbers of duds. The commander knew that the first volley would be the best and most accurate, so it was used with care in the knowledge that the next salvos will be weaker.

Lets return to the attacking Hussars. Drill books stated that muskets should not try to fire at ranges over 75 M. Hussars could cover this short distance so quickly, that I believe that they could not fire later and still allow time to be covered by the pikemen. How much time is required? Taking into account that formations rotated ranks for volleys every 20 seconds, It is possible to accept that the minimum time needed to fall in behind pikemen is 8-10 seconds give or take a couple of seconds. I estimate the distance between the infantry and hussars to carry this out to be about 75m.

The hussars waited for the moment when the infantry fired a volley, to charge home during the regoranization of the next firing rank. We are assuming a distance of 75M between infantry and hussars. This results in the hussars being exposed to one volley of fire only. Remember also, that the front of banner is 200m but infantry 100m, so only 1/2 of the first rank is exposed - only 25 not 50 hussars.

Let's go further. Let's define following parameter

  1. What number of riders and horses are hit.
  2. What horses will fall
  3. What hussars will perish and how many will be wounded,

In order to calculate this you have to understand the forward surface area (profile) of the rider and horse.

As it happens, the horse is 60% but the rider occupies only 40%

Let's accept that every other shot wound is mortal for rider (though not necessarily in that moment; those wounded often died later), but each bullet wounding a horse eliminated it from the battle.

In spite of (the generally low casualty rate reported in most battles), it is interesting to note that in one battle 44% of the front rank of the attacking hussars were eliminated (counting only those charging the front of infantry, not those on the wings). So frontal assaults were risky and could result in high casualties, as well as the disorganization that would make continuation of the attack impossible. The Banner scatters, breaks order, and the attack on the pike does not have a good chance of success.

It is useful to be familiar with the manner in which coordinated groups of cavalry conducted charges. All data prove that banners of cavalry were organized into several waves in a checkerboard grid, that the back wave was put in gaps between the banners of the first wave. This allowed the first wave to advance without disorganizing the whole formation. The integrity of formation was very elastic as a result and it allowed the proper cooperation of masses of troops.

It sometimes happened that the first charge did not break the enemy’s ranks. Then, the banner receded for regrouping, perhaps even picked up replacement lances and after a moment of rest, again charged. This second (and following) waves did not allow the opponent to reform its formation. Such was the way the hussars worked when determined on an all-out effort to break a position.

It is possible to ascertain, in summary, that the hussar charge was able to beat the modern western tactics of countermarching volley fire and pike screens. The hussars were able to break infantry, and after they broke and ran the real carnage would begin in the pursuit.

Infantry of the eastern type (Janasisary) was also a frequent opponent of the hussars. Although in certain periods in the XV and XVI C it was the best infantry in Europe, in the course of time its combat value decrease. The Turkish warriors, though still good, did not exceed western infantry quality.

Method of battle with Cossacks

The Zaporoskim Cossacks, nominally subjects of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, participated in numerous revolts or riots from the turn of the XVI and XVII C. Their manner of battle was based on use of their tabor (camp of armed wagons). The tabor presented a movable wall to protect from shock combat and made a good platform for the Cossacks to practice their excellent shooting ability with firearms. They emerge from the tabor for raids. The tabor was however vurnalable to gunfire. Infantry and artillery were the best tools for this situation, but often the Poles campaigned in the east with cavalry only, for mobility. So the Cavalry blockaded the tabors (making provisioning impossible) and this way, forced the defender to capitulate. The Cossacks would not try the hussars in the open field.

Since we have discussed the way in which the hussars conducted themselves against infantry. We will now consider their approach toward battle with other cavalry. The critical point here, as had already been mentioned, is that in the XVI Century Western European cavalry lost its essential ability to conduct serious shock combat.

(Translator's notes: Those guys must have been bozos. Modern reenactors with some practice consistently maintain 90% fire with matchlocks. My group has done better than 43% in an extended steady rain - just have to keep the match dry and burning under your coat, the barrel pointing down, and if a flood of water from your hat brim turns your priming powder into a sludge, you have to quickly scrape it out, and 'flash' your pan with some fresh powder to dry it. )

 

Translator note: In 1707, 2 battalions (1000 men) of Austrian infantry waited until the attacking Turks were 20 paces away before firing - they hit only 35 Turks in their triple-rank volley! The real reason for this gross failure was mental, not all the stuff mentioned. (Yes, the Austrians were clobbered on that day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Translator note: the horse is huge and his head covers a lot of the rider!)

The manner in which coordinated groups of cavalry conducted charges is discussed further in Impacts

(Translator's note. At this point Sikora indulges in a complicated mathematical argument  to calculate the hussar's theoretical vulnerability as a target. Because of my limited command of Polish, I was not able to follow his discussion of what the independent and dependent variables were, nor his calculations.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Western cavalry had become subsidiary to the infantry as a main-line battle weapon. It adapted to a new limited role of patrolling the field, scouting, cutting the lines of provision, battle with hostile cavalry, etc. It used a ‘counter-march’ fire tactic similar to that practiced by infantry – the Caracol. It relied on short firearms giving salvos of fire from individual ranks. This was a complete perversion of cavalry battle tactics. When facing real cavalry, like that fielded by the Poles, they did not have a chance. The greatest power of cavalry is conducting a charge with cold steel. The charge had been stripped of its power in western cavalry, especially the rieter cavalry.

Fragment of image battle of Kircholm, 1605. painted around 1630 by Peter Sayers.  Encounter with Swedish Cavalry

rtakt02.jpg (31878 bytes)

Over the course of time it became obvious to the West how low their cavalry tactics had fallen. This was largely due to the influence of the hussars and showy victories in battles with Swedes and Russia in the beginning of the XVII Century. Following the reforms of the Swedish King Gustav Adolf in the 1620s, other European countries followed suite in the 1630s, changing the manner of personal cavalry battle. Never however, did they equal Polish cavalry in combat capabilities in the XVII C. Different battles show it, as in 1629 Battle of Trzciana when Gustav Adolf’s reformed Swedish cavalry failed again. Though Gustav Adolf is regarded as one of greatest commanders in that warring epoch, his armies always collapsed in the face of the Polish hussar’s attack.

Let's proceed on to the east of Europe and characterize cavalry in several other nations.

Rus

Russian cavalry used cold steel in the charge, and although it fought with eagerness and passion, it used practically no formation. It hit in loose groups and became easily disorganized. Russian protective armor was weak, which caused additional losses. The hussars did not have great problems with them, even their elite units armed with the lance (‘zaczepnym’) and defensive armor.

 

Tatar

The Tatar cavalry was a very respectable opponent. In spite of lack of defensive armor, and being armed often only with a bow, it used very forceful tactics. They used elaborate maneuvers and entrapment tactics and ambushes inspired by Genghis-Khan. If forced to fall back, it would shower its pursuers with a hail of arrows. They simulated retreat, provoking pursuit, luring their opponent to their main force in an ambush. Swarms of their light horse would feint an attack on the wings while those facing the strongest power on the front escaped by disengaging, and feigning rout. Playing their game of chase could end in disaster. The Poles learned how to avoid this fate. But then, even when the Poles did not fall into their ambush the Tatar cavalry presented a big threat. They would fall in number on a group of foes and shoot him full of arrows, retreat, and then attack again causing big losses to their enemy. This was possible from two causes. Firstly, Tatars were natural horsemen, on nimble and reliable horses. They could close with an enemy, hit and run without fear of pursuit. Second, their bow shot up to 10 arrows per minute and very accurately. The unlucky recipients called this heavy shower of missiles a ‘Tatar Feast.’ And if they did not come to blows in shock combat that powerful archery would at least strip their enemy of horses and mobility.

How did the Poles do battle with them? They generally tried to take advantage of their superior firepower, which the Tatars feared. Second, they tried to maintain good order during and after charging, to make it impossible for the Tarters to exploit their disorder. Thirdly, they forestalled Tatar cavalry "obskoczenie" (‘screening’ or ‘swarming’) tactics i.e. that picked on particularly vulnerable targets on the wings and rears of formations.

In direct hand-to-hand fighting Tatars retreated from the Poles, who had better weapons and better protective armor, so Polish strategy tried to cause direct encounters. So, the Tatars made a point of presenting unusually vaporous formations and only accepted battle when had very substantial numerical superiority, or when they were forced.

In this light, how did the Hussars confront Tatar cavalry? The Hussars had many years' experiences in battles with them with generally good success. Forcing the Tartars to accept battle was the key strategic art. In encounters hussars did not use the lance, which caused a needless load in battles with this fast cavalry enemy. They tried to use firearms, each hussar carried pistols and carbines. The hussar’s excellent horses allowed pursuit despite their considerable loads.

Turk.

The Turks had the highest traditions in Cavalry, and used excellent horses what were valued highly in Poland. it was trained well and it used protective armor also (though not the whole cavalry, just some formations).

Turkish spahisi cavalry - 1595TurkSpahia.jpg (18244 bytes)

 

 

 

 

(Translator's note, the word 'Caracol' comes from the Latinate 'Snail.')

(Translator's note: Kent Aist, on reviewing this piece, commented that even though the early 17th C. was not the brighest point for cavalry in the West, armies thought enough of them to keep large numbers, almost on par with infantry, and at much greater gross expense than infantry.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Offensive weapons included the bow (luk, pro. wuk), saber, short lance , sometimes the ‘dziryt’. In a nutshell, it was superior to western European cavalry; For example Austria hired Polish Cavalry or Hungarian Cavalry for battles with Turks, and kept it own cavalry away. The hussar was generally victorious in battle, and when the lance was used it would overreach the Turk’s weapons and it was not even a fair fight. The hussars used a compact formation (though not as tight as at used on attacks on infantry), which was decisive when encountering a loose group of Turks. Hussar armor offered better protection but the individual training of the Turkish troopers was equal to that of the hussars. (translator's note: a distinction between two types of lances, perhaps one for use couched, one free-hand)

Bibliography:
"Husaria" Jerzy Cichowski, Andrzej Szulczynski

"Bitwa pod Gniewem (22.IX-29.IX-1.X 1626)" Jerzy Teodorczyk - artykul zamieszczony w "Studiach i materialach do historii wojskowosci" t.12

 

"Nowe poglady na bitwe ze Szwedami pod Gniewem w 1626 r."

Jan Seredyka - artykul zamieszczony w "Zapiskach historycznych" t.34 zeszyt 2

"Historia piechoty polskiej do roku 1864" Jan Wimmer

"Chanat Krymski" Leszek Podhorodecki

Battle of Kircholm, 1605

Battle of Kluszyn, 1610

See more on tactics in: Impacts

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