Topic: AIF - Lighthorse
The Australian Light Horse
Notes on Cavalry Principles
Spanish Cavalry Training. Vol. IV, 1910
The big news in the study of Light Horse methods and theory in 1910 was the new edition of Volume IV, Spanish Cavalry Training called Reglamento provisional para la Instruction tactics de las Tropas de Caballeria. It was published by the Spanish General Staff, Madrid, 1910. The nub of its message was quickly adapted for Australian conditions. The salient points were then made available to the Light Horse.
This summary was published in the Military Journal, April, 1911, p. 97
Volume IV of the Spanish Cavalry Training deals with " Combats and Manoeuvres"; it superseded the 1901 edition.
The strategic handling of cavalry does not come within the scope of the book, which deals exclusively with the tactical handling of the arm.
The dominant feature is insistence on the value of the spirit of the offensive as exemplified in phrases such as "inaction is the only unpardonable sin." About 20 pages out of 131 are devoted to dismounted action, it being stated that mounted action is the rule, dismounted action the exception.
The following are some of the points dealt with:-
Cavalry v. Cavalry.
The approach march is to be conducted in successive "bounds" covered by protective bodies, composed of sections or squadrons. The actual conduct of the fight must depend on the attendant circumstances, but the following principles should be adhered to:-
(a) A definite plan of attack should be formed best suited to the ground, the forces available and the enemy's dispositions.
(b) The force should be divided into different groups of combat, each with a distinct mission.
(c) Unanimity of action must exist between the various groups. It may be necessary to keep connexion between them for this purpose, but such connexion is not to interfere with the carrying out of the mission assigned to each group.
(d) The troops should be disposed in depth.
Cavalry v. Infantry.
The elements of a successful attack on infantry are as follows:
(2) The enemy's physical exhaustion;
(3) Weakness of the enemy's fighting power owing to a weak firing line, shortage of ammunition, change of position, &c.
It would be most foolish to launch cavalry against unshaken infantry without fire preparation. But cavalry, with its attendant horse artillery and machine guns, now possesses such increased fire power that it is by no means impossible that it may defeat hostile infantry without assistance.
This increased fire power must not, however, be abused; it has not altered the fundamental principle of cavalry employment which is offensive action. Fire should be used to develop that principle, not as a substitute for it.
In the attack the employment of dismounted cavalry is not altogether dissimilar to that of infantry. They should advance in skirmishing order and will occupy successive fire positions. The method of advance should usually be by section rushes. Supports should not usually be employed, but a mounted reserve should be kept in hand to be used either mounted or dismounted, as circumstances may direct.
In the defence the firing line should usually occupy the crept line, unless there is much dead ground, when it should be advanced along the forward slope.
The efficiency of cavalry action depends on the position of the cavalry during the different phases of action. During the preliminary reconnaissance cavalry take a leading part in the reconnaissance work, after which they should be withdrawn to the line of the reserve. During the decisive attack cavalry must be energetically employed in co-operating with the other army to force a decision.
Australian Light Horse Militia
Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: The Australian Light Horse, Notes on Cavalry Principles, Spanish Cavalry Training. Vol. IV, 1910