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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In eastern Europe horses were extensively used by everyone for transport, but the USSR after disbanding 19 cavalry divisions reversed the policy. The German invasion, however, demonstrated that the Soviets had written off its cavalry too soon. Surprisingly, cavalry units turned out to be the most resistant of Soviet units during the catastrophic 1941. Not dependent on roads and fuel supplies, maneuverable and rapid cavalry could covertly push through impenetrable forests and take the enemy by surprise, organizing counterattacks or covering retreating Soviet troops.
Realizing its effectiveness, the Red Army command ordered dozens of new cavalry divisions to be established. During the Battle of Moscow in 1941-42, already one quarter of all troops defending the Soviet capital were cavalrymen.

In most cases, an open cavalry attack during WWII would have meant certain suicide. That’s why the cavalrymen fought as infantry, using horses as a transport means and keeping them in a safe place when the fighting began.
However, if the demoralized enemy infantry was retreating in disorder, a cavalry attack was more than welcome. Cavalrymen could effectively finish off the opponent, cutting it with their sharp sabres, known as shashkas.


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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Hoof beats for many millennia coming out of the distance followed by a dust cloud was the most feared sight and sound to be heard for any village from Poland all of the way into western China. Horse mounted raiders have terrorized settlements ever since the first Indo-Europeans discovered and developed horse riding.




The Don Cossacks were Russia's most famous horsemen.
 

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and open horseman attack against men with repeating arms is as close to suicide as you can get.
True, yet this is exactly what one of the Italians units did on the Eastern Front in 1942 against heavily fortified Soviets and actually routed them. The Italian cavalry Regiment "Savoia Cavalleria" charged against fortified Soviet 812th Siberian Infantry Regiment (304th Rifle Division). I believe this was the last successful cavalry charge of WWII.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
True, yet this is exactly what one of the Italians units did on the Eastern Front in 1942 against heavily fortified Soviets and actually routed them. The Italian cavalry Regiment "Savoia Cavalleria" charged against fortified Soviet 812th Siberian Infantry Regiment (304th Rifle Division). I believe this was the last successful cavalry charge of WWII.
Thanks, Most interesting. German sources often mocked their Italians allies and the same for the Spanish Blue legions. wiki
The Charge of the "Savoia Cavalleria" at Izbushensky was a clash between the Italian cavalry Regiment "Savoia Cavalleria" (3rd) and the Soviet 812th Siberian Infantry Regiment (304th Rifle Division), that took place on August 24, 1942, near the hamlet (khutor) of Izbushensky (Избушенский), close to the junction of the Don and Khopyor rivers. Though a minor skirmish on the Eastern Front, the Izbushensky charge had great propaganda resonance in Italy, and it is still remembered as the last significant cavalry charge in history.
 

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As an aside...

"....On March 20, 1942 Captain Arthur Sandeman of the Central India Horse (21st King George V's Own Horse) was on secondment to the Burma Frontier Force. He led a 60-man mounted patrol in a cavalry charge against Japanese infantry near Toungoo airfield in central Burma. Most of the patrol (including Sandeman) were killed in what was probably the last Major cavalry charge by a force under the command of the British crown....."

 

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Cavalry units were used by the Sovs to chase down and kill retreating 5th Wiking Waffen-SS troops during the withdrawal from Cherkassy.
 
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also at gettysburg, custer with 300 men on foot with spencer repeating rifles ruined the rebel cavalry that were to flank the federal cannons that delt death to the men in picketts charge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Using cavalry as highly mobile infantry became the norm in the Civil War. Gettysburg started when Heth's division ran into Buford's troopers who were screening for the infantry.
That role eventually came to be called dragoons.
Dragoons were originally a class of mounted infantry, who used horses for mobility, but dismounted to fight on foot. From the early 17th century onward, dragoons were increasingly also employed as conventional cavalry and trained for combat with swords and firearms from horseback.[1] While their use goes back to the late 16th century, dragoon regiments were established in most European armies during the 17th and early 18th centuries; they provided greater mobility than regular infantry but were far less expensive than cavalry.

The name reputedly derives from a type of firearm, called a dragon, which was a handgun version of a blunderbuss, carried by dragoons of the French Army.[2][3]
 

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One interesting logistical problem regarding horses. I read that in the Little Bighorn Campaign because the cavalry's horses were grain fed in garrison they had to carry large amounts of forage for them while the Indians horses were grass fed and could be turned out on the plains to eat.
In the English Civil Wars Cromwell made his name as a cavalry commander. The strict drill and discipline of his Ironsides meant than they could be quickly regrouped and redeployed, that turned the tide in several critical battles-Marston Moor and Naseby, e.g.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
One interesting logistical problem regarding horses. I read that in the Little Bighorn Campaign because the cavalry's horses were grain fed in garrison they had to carry large amounts of forage for them while the Indians horses were grass fed and could be turned out on the plains to eat.
In the English Civil Wars Cromwell made his name as a cavalry commander. The strict drill and discipline of his Ironsides meant than they could be quickly regrouped and redeployed, that turned the tide in several critical battles-Marston Moor and Naseby, e.g.
I am definitely not a horse person, but Mongol ponies probably also got along well with grass too. I suspect that the cossack horses also got along natural fodder. In general equines are not supposed to be as efficient for digestion of as grass as are ruminants, but obviously they manage to do it.
 

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Cavalry charges against foot troops went out with the adoption of the pike and then the bayonet. The movie Cromwell has some good battle scenes of the Royalist horse trying to fight pikemen.
 

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When cavalry fought dismounted a 4th man was designated as the horse holder. I read in the Civil War it was usually the oldest man, that reduced the numbers engaging the enemy by 25% but for those Yankee troopers with their Spencer carbines...a book I am reading on the 7th said they counted off by fours, the saddles had an attachment that linked the horses together.
 
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