Home Forums Horse and Musket General Horse and Musket Crimean War 2nd rank lancers: swords or spears?

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  • #58886
    General Slade
    Participant

    Am I right in assuming that during the Crimean War cavalry generally formed in 2 ranks (a line 2-deep) and if so would the second rank of the 17th Lancers have been armed with lances or would they just have carried swords?

     

     

    #58913
    Steelonsand
    Participant

    Hi there, that’s an interesting question – having a quick flick through my copy of Mark Adkin’s “The Charge” (excellent book, BTW…) he mentions regarding the lance that “it was not uncommon for men to discard their lances just prior to hand to hand fighting and resort to their swords” – this sourced from the account of Private J W Wightman ‘one of the six hundred’ written May 1892….

    Certainly, Adkin is at pains to describe the shortcomings or at least practical difficulties in using the lance, but also makes the point that Cardigan chose specifically to align the lancers with the centre of his objective, being the best to “smash through the battery” – my take would be that all lancers, lining up in regimental formation would be equipped with their enigmatic weapon, or suffer short shrift from the RSM! – turning out without ones accoutrements would be anathema in those hide-bound times, where Cardigan could censure Captain Nolan for his alleged use of a brown bottle in the Regimental Mess, remember!

    Pictorial depictions also always have all lancers with the lance, although of course that could be Artistic License…… I think the lance as primary weapon would be carried by all troopers in the ranks, but following the shock of impact, might have been swiftly dropped and the sword brought into use…..

    #58918
    General Slade
    Participant

    Thanks Steelonsand,

    I hadn’t realised that Mark Adkin had done a book on the Charge.  I’ll have to look out for it.  I’ve already got his Waterloo book and I knew he’d done Trafalgar and Gettysburg.

    The reason I asked about the lances was because in the French army during the latter part of the Napoleonic wars the doctrine was for only the first rank to be armed with lances and the second rank just had sabres.  This wasn’t a case of them discarding the lances – the lances were never issued.  I think this is also true of the lancers of some other nations (I think when some Russian hussar regiments were armed with lances in 1812/13 they were also only given to the first rank).  However, I think that in some armies both ranks were lance-armed so I was wondering which option the British military went for.

     

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