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bilised and embarked, and now there are only five regiments left in the country besides the Household Cavalry. All the regiments that were nominally fit for service of course were sent to Africa at the first call to arms. They, at any rate, had lately enjoyed some opportunities of practising the soldier's trade, and many of the men and horses that embarked had worked together for a considerable time; but even these corps had to be made up to a really effective condition by large drafts of reserve and reserve horses. The horses were well enough, untrained to cavalry work but easily to be taught all that was necessary, for active service is a hard teacher. But the men, though magnificent in physique and superexcellent in spirit, were of necessity very rusty in their military knowledge, and had to be re-educated in many details in front of the enemy-a very practical school, no doubt, but one whose employment involves not inconsiderable risks. But if the regiments nominally fit for service had to be thus supplemented at the last moment, what was the condition of the regiments of the second line when they were mobilised? Officers and non-commissioned officers had for years had little opportunity of practising even the simplest regimental manœuvres, and, it may be said, almost none of practising the all-important detached duties of cavalry. The regiments had been subjected to such a constant drain of men and horses that they had no reliable nucleus
of trained soldiers and trained troopers with which to leaven the mass of reserve horses and men that joined them. When they were ordered to prepare for service, they found themselves to be in no sense homogeneous bodies, accustomed to work as military units, and having a present and practical familiarity with their duties. They were most excellent material; but two or three months of hard instructional work would have been none too much in order to make them really efficient. It will probably never be necessary in the future to urge that every regiment of cavalry quartered in our islands should be maintained on a service footing. A fair proportion should be in such a condition, ready to go anywhere and do anything without calling on any reserves; while each one of the remainder should, even if it is relatively weak, always have such strength that it can practise every detail of instruction, and furnish a solid nucleus round which reserves can be easily grouped. The regiments in the first line should always be actually ready for war, and those in the second line should be in the condition of the first brigade that sailed for South Africa.
A glance has been given at some of the conditions in which English cavalry found itself last year, and the results which inevitably followed them. Let us see what we have actually learned from the present campaign,-whether we are to conclude that those people were
right who prophesied that the days of cavalry were past, or whether the mounted soldier has altogether justified his existence, and the cavalry arm of the service may look forward to as useful and glorious a future as either the infantry or artillery. Well, from the very beginning of the campaign the best proof of the value of cavalry has been the universal demand for its services. Nelson's cry was, "Frigates! frigates! Give me frigates!" and in the same tone every commander in the field has said, "Cavalry! cavalry! Give me cavalry!" And some of the officers who have been most insistent in giving voice to this want are among those who not so very long ago pooh-poohed cavalry, and considered that everything could be done without its assistance. The stern realities of war have forced them to modify their opinions. And what a different complexion many events would have worn if a cavalry brigade had been in the field to support the action of our dauntless infantry! Thus Elandslaagte, the most decisive victory of the war, owed its completeness to the use of cavalry at the proper time and in the proper manner. The English troops, too, were commanded by a cavalry general, so that much of the glory which was gained fell to the credit of the mounted service. In many other less important encounters, and in patrolling and scouting, wherever a British force has taken up its ground, our cavalry regiments have shown how essential was their presence,
and how much it is in their power to accomplish when they are in good condition and well led. As a climax, the mighty sweeping movement on Kimberley reminds one of what General Foy termed "les vastes ouragans de la cavalerie," a power in war which so few men are born to control. Apparently in General French the English army can pride itself on possessing at least one such exceptional leader.
It was lately believed by many military theorists, and some among them were generals of high authority and position, that cavalry was gradually being elbowed out of its place in modern armies by mounted infantry. It seemed to them that mounted infantry could do everything that was formerly included in the special rôle of cavalry, besides retaining its own value as infantry. Now no one can question the extreme value of mounted infantry. The Boers have impressed it upon us by many sharp practical lessons. But if we have learned its value, we have also learned its limitations. As long as it can cling to a broken country, full of natural positions which can be held one after another, or any one of which may be rapidly and strongly occupied according to the direction of an attack, it may laugh at the efforts of cavalry, and may give to artillery and infantry many serious problems and much hard work; but if it can be outflanked, if its rear can be threatened, or if it can be caught in the open country, its special strength at at once collapses, and it becomes feeble
"The first principle-one that has always been asserting itself whatever the form of attack-is that mounted infantry theoretically are, and must eventually become, actually an infantry command. To attach them to cavalry is to mistake the raison d'être of the force. The horse, which the trooper is taught to regard almost as part of himself, is a mere means of locomotion in the case of the mounted infantry, and any tendency to regard it as influencing the conception of the force is to mistake its usefulness altogether, and would probably result in turning a good foot-soldier into a bad trooper.
"When attached to cavalry there is a danger that mounted infantry will be used for scouting purposes, reconnaissances, and vedettes, all of which lie properly within the duties of cavalry."
The fact seems to be that, while we should have a large and highly organised force of mounted infantry (and for home defence no troops could be more admirable and formidable than our present yeomanry regiments, if they would altogether adopt this new form of service), nothing can do away with the necessity of cavalry, and a very numerous force of cavalry. The only connection between mounted infantry and cavalry that should exist would be that if an infantry commander was ordered to support a cavalry movement, he would be able to do so with
Have we seen anything in believe that the shock-power our present war to make us of cavalry can never in the future be employed against artillery and infantry? The fire of field - pieces, machineguns, and rifles is no doubt blasting in its effect when everything is in favour of the men who use them; but over and over again, though the Boers are no mean marksmen, we have seen our infantry advance against strongly held positions, sometimes to succeed in taking them, sometimes, alas! to retire, though it has been whispered that on several occasions when retirements were made a little more persistence would have resulted in success. Rifles are not always held straight. 'Maga' lately explained very clearly how the fire of artillery may often be discounted,' and machineguns have their limitations. If infantry, toiling slowly up precipitous hills, have been able to make good their purpose without suffering a greater
166 'Shot, Shell, and Bullets," Blackwood's Magazine,' February 1900.
prepare to receive cavalry" will not be obeyed in the future with the same nonchalance and confidence as heretofore. A very stiff and steady formation will certainly be required, if cavalry suddenly appears within charging distance.
loss than was often incurred ceived a severe shock, which in old-time battles, shall not turned it aside and most likely swiftly moving cavalry be able, incapacitated it altogether; but when the fitting opportunity a 303, a Mauser, or a Lebel presents itself, to strike a blow bullet may hit a horse, and very much as it did a hundred even inflict a fatal wound, withyears ago? Against infantry out producing any immediate and artillery in a strong posi- effect upon the animal. Magation, or against unbroken zines might be discharged into infantry anywhere, it has an attacking squadron with a never been supposed, in the very small influence in checking range of tactics since the days the energy of its immediate of Frederick the Great, that rush. Infantry-men know this cavalry could ever reasonably perfectly well, and it may posadvance for attack; and if we sibly happen that the order say that they cannot do so in modern war, we only repeat the teaching of old, old combats. When Frederick ordered his squadrons to charge at Kunersdorf, did they not fall back broken and unsuccessful time after time from the Russian position? At Waterloo four grand attacks of the best disciplined and highest spirited cavalry in the world were successively rolled back from the British front. Why then should the power of horsemen be impeached because they can do no more to-day? It may be that our form of attack must be changed. Cavalry may have to move in looser order and spread over a wider distance when there is a possibility of encountering fire; but this has been often before suggested, and is a detail into which we cannot now enter.
There is a very important point in connection with our cavalry in South Africa which is almost unknown to the general public, and the weight of which has not apparently been sufficiently considered even by the military authorities. Unfortunately, for reasons which cannot now be entered upon, there was great delay in despatching the first regiments from England. When they arrived at the Cape, there was urgent need of their services, and they were hurried into the field without delay. Now, it is well known that, after a voyage of three weeks, horses are very far from fit to undertake hard work. From long standing in cramped stalls their legs have generally become filled, and, having necessarily been fed at sea principally on soft food and with a very reduced quantity of corn, they have
for a time lost power and hard condition. After landing they should certainly have comparative rest and gentle exercise until they have got rid of their stiffness and have recovered their strength, and this will require, at the least, a fortnight.
In commencing life in Africa also, horses require a few days in order to become accustomed to the change in their grain diet, to eat mealies (Indian corn) instead of oats. This very necessary period of repose on landing could not be conceded to the horses of the regiments which were the first to arrive, and it is believed that the horses of the regiments which came later, and even the remounts, have had no better fortune. All have been sent to the front, to undertake very hard work and to submit to much exposure, while they were still stiff, soft, and out of condition, and while they still looked upon their rations of Indian corn with doubt and distaste. Small wonder if the poor brutes became rapidly knocked up, and when the time came for some special extra exertion, were hardly able to put one foot before another. And when a horse once thoroughly loses condition on service, and especially in Africa, it is a very long rest that is required to restore him to health and vigour, indeed it is very doubtful whether he will ever be himself again in anything like a reasonable time. It is not only that he has lost flesh and muscle; but he inevitably gets a frightful sore back, his eyelids become torn and ulcerated and are a playground for
countless flies, and small unhealthy swellings appear on his body. It is more than probable that the hurry with which our cavalry horses were sent to the front and put to the severest trials, before they had recovered from the effects of their long voyage, quickly produced this state of things in too many instances, and reduced our regiments to a state of practical inefficiency. It may well be a matter of consideration in the future whether, at any apparent military sacrifice, horses should not always, after long days in a transport, be thoroughly restored to condition before they are put in line of battle, instead of at once absolutely expending them beyond hope of recovery. In any case, when next we have to move troops over seas, the mounted branches of the service should be among the first to be despatched, so that their horses, on landing, may be put into really hard condition before they are called upon for great exertion.
A very serious form of inconvenience has been felt by some of our regiments in South Africa, probably indeed to a greater or less extent by all, and it seems to be one which might possibly be in some degree provided for in the future. When the tall, big-framed horses that were sent from England fell victims to the accidents of war or to exhaustion and disease, their places were taken by such remounts as could be furnished. These animals were perhaps hardy and serviceable, and, faute de mieux, they were