Cavalry Operations: Why horse supply matters

[posted by Gavin Robinson, 7:00 am, 13 October 2013]

[Edit May 2016: Peter Gaunt cited this blog post in his review of my book in War in History to show how my thinking had changed, which was nice.]

Over the last three posts, I’ve shown that early modern armies couldn’t move without an adequate cavalry screen, that what was adequate depended on objectives and balance of forces, and that the balance between cavalry in field armies could be affected by small-scale raids. Now I’ll bring it all together, in a post that could be titled ‘how horses won the English Civil War’. (more…)

Cavalry Tactics: Cromwell

[posted by Gavin Robinson, 8:32 am, 11 September 2012]

The anniversary of Oliver Cromwell’s death is on 3rd, 13th or 16th September, depending on how you want to define ‘anniversary’ and deal with the discrepancy between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Since Cromwell died, an awful lot of rubbish has been written about him. The fact that he became Lord Protector in the 1650s has made him a prime target for Whiggish Great Man history. Almost anything that he did in the first half of the 1640s, no matter how banal, can be turned into a sign of future greatness. In an old post I argued that Cromwell was a successful cavalry commander, but not much more so than Sir William Balfour. This post uses only contemporary eyewitness sources to show what we can and can’t know about Cromwell’s cavalry tactics in the First Civil War.

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Cavalry Tactics: Prince Rupert

[posted by Gavin Robinson, 9:55 am, 28 August 2012]

Prince Rupert of the Rhine was, and still is, a controversial figure in the English Civil War. In 1643 he burnt down Birmingham, but he also did some bad things (see what I did there?). He’s often associated with the cavalier stereotype, in both positive and negative ways. Although he became famous as a cavalry commander, he was also an administrator who helped to build a new army for the King in 1643-44, governor of Bristol when it surrendered in 1645, and later an admiral. This post investigates what we do and don’t know about Rupert’s cavalry tactics. (more…)