Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic Interesting anti-cavalry defence…

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  • #25457
    Cerdic
    Participant

    I came across an interesting passage today, written by a Julius Hartwich. He was an officer with the Prussian Corps that formed part of Napoleon’s army during the invasion of Russia in 1812.

    Just before the action at Ruenthal in Latvia on 29th September he says: “We were set to work, rolling the larger cannonballs out in front of the guns, in random fashion, to disrupt any cavalry charges.”

    This is a new one to me! Has anyone else heard of ‘cannonball caltrops’ before?

    #25473
    paintpig
    Participant

    It may well work, seems the inverse to digging small shallow (about 30cm inevery direction)  ditches to break up cavalry attack. Nice find.

    I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
    Slowly Over A Low Flame

    #25484
    Iain Fuller
    Participant

    I remember my dad telling me that when he was a copper he saw marbles deployed in such a manner at a demo once, he said that the horses were all over the place and many of the mounted police fell off – for some reason he thought this was hilarious, apparently he didn’t like the mounted branch too much (and having been on quite a few demo’s and to many football matches I tend to agree!).

    So, it seems like a logical tactic but the ground would have to be quite firm for it to work maybe?

    #25518
    Cerdic
    Participant

    The writer doesn’t make it clear how it was supposed to work. I would guess that, rather than rolling around, the round shape of the balls prevented the horses hoof from getting a firm footing?

    Mind you, if the ground was frozen the marbles idea would work. How cold is Latvia in September…?

    #25519
    Mike
    Keymaster

    The writer doesn’t make it clear how it was supposed to work. I would guess that, rather than rolling around, the round shape of the balls prevented the horses hoof from getting a firm footing?…

    makes sense, plus I suppose any rider would think twice about charging if he knew his horse may throw him…

    #25527
    janner
    Participant

    I can imagine that a haphazard spread of a large number of cannon balls could cause a body of horse some difficulty, much like longbowmen digging numerous small pits in front of their position at Crécy.

    http://jannersjaunt.blogspot.dk

    #25562
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    Just trying to walk a horse on ground with loose cobbl sized rocks (64-256mm) is damned difficult.  A few horses sprawling on the cannon balls would severely disrupt a stirrup to stirrup charge.

    #25567
    Patrice
    Participant

    I never thought of this, but it makes sense. Horses don’t like uneven ground, or stones etc. They can pass it at low speed but not in a charge.

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    https://www.anargader.net/

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