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Clarification on mounted infantry

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by GamesPoet on Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:57 am

Interesting discussion gentlemen, thank you!

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:47 am

Roughage wrote:

I agree with Cyrus that if cavalry is an option, it should be a case of choosing to let your huskarls fight either mounted or dismounted. I imagine that they should not be as good at fighting mounted as they were as infantry, but that is a gut feeling not an academic interpretation. Still, assuming that the huskarls, as professional warriors, could fight either mounted or dismounted at need, then there is the potential to field as many stands of mounted huskarls as you could dismounted huskarls, on a one-for-one exchange basis. This should be subject to limits based on historical precedent where it can be determined.

That wont work. The numbers involved scale wise are different for cavalry to infantry - don't have the rules with me, but I'm pretty sure there are a lot more heavy infantry to a base than cavalry.

I'd also disagree with the idea they were trained to fight in units. Cavalry in these armies IS rare, that is unchallenged. The organisation needed to get troops to practice fighting on foot in small groups is scalable in a way that fighting in coherent groups of mounted is not - I'm not talking about weapon handling here, or even horsemanship, its more what we would call today command and control, and that can only come with practice. Given mounted units are so rare, and represent the elite troops and nobility being summoned to fight rather than a standing army that can drill. There is no peacetime way to practice to gain coherency as a unit. Further than that I'm not aware of any evidence of the ancillary support that a cavalry unit needs - permanent stabling, dedicated smiths, farriers, spare mounts etc etc. The structures necessary to support cavalry are simply not there.  

I'd take a good look at the phrase "professional warriors". (as an aside I dont think that's technically possible) that's not quite the case. These are retained warriors, not soldiers. On the whole they provide their own equipment - and I assume mounts. They don't spend their whole time training and drilling as units - in fact part of their role is to hold and manage land for the King, so they spend the vast majority of their time on other duties.

Of course there are mounted warriors, which is fine in skirmish games, but we are talking of units several hundred strong in Impetus, fighting coherently, and in that sense I don't see any.


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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Jim Webster on Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:08 am

Your quotes have come through wrong Cyrus, it's Roughage who made the comment not me

I actually sort of agree with your comments Wink
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:32 am

Sorry Jim - fixed
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Jim Webster on Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:14 am

No worries. Back to the point, if you read http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Roman-Cavalry-Karen-Dixon/dp/0415170397 it's a cracking book for showing what is involved in maintaining a cavalry force. I've also got some of the Frankish stuff showing what you have to do to produce the right number of warhorses, which I'll have to write up at some point.

I think it was http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Art-Warfare-Age-Marlborough/dp/0946771421 where it made the comment that in peace time armies cavalry formed a higher proportion than if wartime armies. Because cavalry was far more expensive to raise and took an awful lot longer to train to a reasonable standard
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Roughage on Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:13 pm

Cyrus The Adequate wrote:That wont work. The numbers involved scale wise are different for cavalry to infantry - don't have the rules with me, but I'm pretty sure there are a lot more heavy infantry to a base than cavalry.
It's how the Impetus lists are put together. E.g. Eastern Franks: CP Swabians and Bavarians (a notional 400-800 men per stand) dismount as FP Dismounted Knights (a notional 600-1200 men), thus gaining in size by 50% or so, unless you presume that the cavalry in this case comprises 600-800 men and the corresponding infantry unit is also smaller than most. It seems to be a game convention, so I followed it in my suggestion.

I'd also disagree with the idea they were trained to fight in units.
I have never intended to say that they fought in units. The word 'unit' is too loaded with anachronistic connotations. We are talking about groups of men who could fight mounted or dismounted at need or due to circumstances. There is no claim that they were highly disciplined and effective cavalry units, and I do agree that mounted warriors were not commonly used, based on the evidence currently available to me.

Given mounted units are so rare, and represent the elite troops and nobility being summoned to fight rather than a standing army that can drill. There is no peacetime way to practice to gain coherency as a unit.
I note that the Welsh army list (Vol. 15 No. 5) requires a minimum of 2 CM, so two lots of 600-800 Welshmen managed to get together to practice enough to achieve a level of command and control that you state the Vikings could not manage. I find this difficult to believe, given the Viking facility with warfare and the basic similarity between the two social structures.

Further than that I'm not aware of any evidence of the ancillary support that a cavalry unit needs - permanent stabling, dedicated smiths, farriers, spare mounts etc etc. The structures necessary to support cavalry are simply not there.
This really sounds too much like you are trying to compare a Viking warband to a Napoleonic cavalry brigade. I am not and never have claimed that the Vikings had fixed formations of cavalry in that mould with associated support structures.

Animal husbandry in Scandinavia during the Viking Age was largely of the build fences to keep the animals out sort, and you certainly do not get grain-fed warhorses in this period. Animals roamed where they would warded by a herder, and were only brought inside for protection. Small stables do exist and have been found in the archaeological record but we would not expect to find the type of stabling you specify because of the animal husbandry techniques used.

Viking armies abroad grabbed horses as fast as they could and seem to have left no trace of any of these things behind, yet the documentary sources are unequivocal about the use of horses.

Furthermore, arguing that the structures you mention cannot have existed because we have not found them is a logical fallacy. There are many reasons why they might not have been found, besides their possible non-existence. I have already pointed out the cultural differences in animal husbandry, but the vagaries of recovery of archaeological evidence can lead to failure to identify these things, later development can destroy them, archaeologists can just have looked in all the wrong places, and so on.

I'd take a good look at the phrase "professional warriors". (as an aside I dont think that's technically possible) that's not quite the case.
Huskarls were a lord's household troops and bodyguard. In return for lodging, weapons, armour and other gifts, including horses, their primary goal was to protect their lord, and to fight and die beside him if necessary. In that respect they were professional warriors. They did other jobs, but being ready to fight was the primary one and that was what they were paid and fed for. Many would be wealthy to begin with and would have a lot of the war-gear and mounts already, but it was their lord's duty to provide for them just the same.

Of course there are mounted warriors, which is fine in skirmish games, but we are talking of units several hundred strong in Impetus, fighting coherently, and in that sense I don't see any.
We don't have a sufficiently large and accurate body of evidence to state unequivocally that they did not have groups of mounted warriors on the battlefield alongside their infantry, and the evidence I have found for mounted warriors is from smaller battles, although I would hesitate to call Sulcoit a skirmish. So, we'll just have to agree to disagree at this point then.

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Wed Jun 03, 2015 5:45 pm

Sorry I can't do all the multi quote stuff - a skill set I clearly need to work at, however I will try and keep it short and to the point

Welsh - hmm - a nation with a long history of mounted warfare - I'm not aware of any similar in the Viking history

Comparison to a Napoleonic Cavalry Brigade - Ah straw man time - easy to knock down I suppose but not really relevant. The comparison I had in mind was the rather more appropriate Roman Cavalry Alae which at best is rated as 5-2 in Impetus - the same rating as was proposed for these mounted warriors. This is a pretty good comparator I would suggest, and we have acres of evidence of the type of support these units needed - literally acres of archaeological evidence from all over the empire as well as documentary evidence. The comparison with the mounted warriors is telling - a few vague references and no archaeological evidence (zero so far as I am aware) of any royal site or noble stronghold with these types of facilities or capacity. I appreciate absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but realistically there should be some basis in our army lists or we may as well play fantasy games.

Yes Viking armies grabbed horses - they're valuable and useful, no-one disputes that, but there is little or no evidence they used them as battle cavalry. To take a page from your own book the Iraqi army took a lot of vehicles out of Kuwait in the Gulf War, but they didn't fight in them did they?

So maybe the question should be - is there any evidence of massed use of cavalry by these armies - ie units of 400-800 troops who fought mounted? So far it appears not
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:00 pm

I think the evidence for Saxon cavalry is solid enough to have it as an option in the list. Lists after all represent a theoretical possibility for a particular power.

It is certainly true that Norman milites drilled at the unit level and were quite accomplished as cavalrymen.  The Impetus tradition of giving all knights of the period C class discipline is a bit of a misnomer. I think there should be option on some lists of B class impetuous knights. But I digress.

As soon as one acknowledges the presence of Saxon cavalry one needs to look for the closest approximation of what it would be. I see no reason not to look at Norman cavalry as the approximate comparison. I am only talking about the Royal Huscarls. The evidence is that they were a professional body of soldiers and not just warriors and the idea that they trained on foot and mounted seems reasonable to me.
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:35 pm

That sadly is my point - there IS no evidence for such cavalry as I would term it - there is no doubt that there are warriors that can and did fight mounted, but in the use of the term cavalry in Impetus I think there is more needed, and I cant see any reason to add them. Suggesting they are actually the same rating as Norman knights (6-4) is frankly a step beyond belief

My belief anyway - others may differ.

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:53 pm

We know more than you think Cyrus although everything comes with a degree of surmise. But then again we don't really know how the Romans managed line relief or how elephants really fought. It has always befuddled scholars, for instance, why Hannibal didn't deploy his elephants on the flanks at Zama since, in most rules, elephants rule cavalry. But he didn't and one has to give the benefit to Hannibal that if the advantage were to the flanks that is where the elephants would be.

With respect to cavalry in Anglo Saxon armies I think the current evidence is very conclusive that it existed and was used. The real question is how were they organized and how were they used. That is a real mystery but the absence of definitive evidence doesn't get use very far in table top gaming where we have to make some hard choices. I'd be happy with a couple of Saxon cavalry units at at 6/4, 6/2 or 5/2 since in most cases the player is going to go with the infantry anyway.
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Tarty on Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:48 am

I've always taken that Welsh list with a grain of salt I must say....the horses were more likely eaten than ridden Wink
A few Saxon cavalry ? why not ?... I suppose. I remember this discussion way back in the WRG 5th edition days some things don't change he he
If you take them than yes they should come out of the Huscarls  and even 4/2 is generous in my book.
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:13 am

Again - no-one is disputing the existence of mounted warriors, the question is the validity in an Impetus format of formed bodies of mounted troops 400-600 strong fighting together

Can you point to evidence of that?

Sorry GC but the suggestion these should be rated better than most ancient cavalry is ludicrous.
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Jun 04, 2015 6:24 pm

Remember in Impetus numbers fluctuate according to army size. A Viking army of 5000 is equivalent to a Roman army of 30000. So the idea that a mounted unit in Impetus always represents 400-600 men is not accurate. What Impetus does is get the right overall feel to an army.

Since we don't have a lot of detail on Saxon and Norman organization at the time of Hasting it is pretty hard to argue one way or another. We do know that Saxons in 10th-11th century used mounted troops. The question would be rating them. Personally if we agree that only household troops could be mounted then the idea of 4/2 cavalry seems to0 weak in my estimation (even ludicrous Smile)
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Roughage on Thu Jun 04, 2015 6:42 pm

Cyrus The Adequate wrote:Welsh - hmm - a nation with a long history of mounted warfare - I'm not aware of any similar in the Viking history
You stated the need for command and control, and training. The Welsh example is of a society similar to Viking Age Scandinavian society where opportunities for detailed training of large units would not be present. For a tradition of excellence as horsemen and mounted warriors see Adam of Bremen's comments on the Swedes. He was contemporary with the end of the Viking Age, and so ought to count. I have mentioned his comments before but they have not been addressed by anyone else yet.

The comparison I had in mind was the rather more appropriate Roman Cavalry Alae
Still not an appropriate comparison. They are a regular cavalry formation in a regular army from a nation with a completely different social structure. I am absolutely not talking about regular, permanent cavalry formations for Vikings, but a more ad hoc formation that was adopted by huskarls who could fight on foot or mounted as needed and when horses were available. Thus, my previous comments about stables and farriers still stand.

A better comparison than the Romans would be the cavalry fielded by Ancient Germans, Celts or any other societal group with a tribal warband structure. What did those peoples take with them on campaign? What would we expect to survive in the archaeological record? How much evidence is there of large Gallic cavalry stables, farriers, etc? Since we are dealing with Viking (and thus raiding) forces and not Scandinavian armies at home, the emphasis must be on using horses captured in the field and put to use there. What evidence can we expect from that? Would they have treated them as a disposable asset, assuming that they can acquire new ones along the way?

So maybe the question should be - is there any evidence of massed use of cavalry by these armies - ie units of 400-800 troops who fought mounted? So far it appears not
I am unaware of evidence that entirely supports or entirely refutes the presence of 'units' of mounted Vikings, as you wish them to have appeared. The evidence is equivocal and insufficiently detailed. I wonder, does Asser's use of the Latin turma to describe Viking forces count?

To produce a usable army list we must extrapolate from the available data to get the right feel, as Gaius Cassius has just posted, while I was writing, deleting and rewriting this rant. If we don't do that, we wind up in the silly position of not being permitted to field skirmishers because we have no evidence at all of units of 200 to 300 bow- or javelin-armed men acting as units. We might also argue that no huskarls could be fielded because we know the household troops to have been small in number and thus not capable of forming units of 600-1200 men. If you stick to the numbers quoted in the Impetus rulebook, you would not even be able to field a historically accurate (in terms of numbers) 500 point Viking army at all, because no historical Viking army ever had the notional 17500 minimum warriors required to do so.

Sometimes you just have to extrapolate from the available data to get the right feel and options. That includes scaling up numbers where they are known so that you can produce an army list that fits the game as well as reflecting how the army fought. We know that on occasion Vikings fought mounted so it is not unreasonable to permit some huskarls to fight mounted in the army, and we cannot state definitely that they never did that in any of the larger battles, for which we have brief notes in the annals.

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Cyrus The Adequate on Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:13 pm

So , just to be 100% clear - no evidence?

OK go ahead and make it up - you seem quite intent to do so. Have fun too, add a few MG42s, its unlikely they were used at the time, but there is no actual evidence to the contrary.

I'm impressed at the creep this thread has achieved, taking an initial query on how mounted infantry should react, you have managed between you to add a wholly fictitious cavalry arm to an army with no historical record of one, and what is more, managed to rate it as as good as or even superior to the historical Norman one, famous for its cavalry, which I would add there is copious evidence of existing both documentary and archaeologically.

Is this what you mean as "the right feel"?

Sorry to be so dismissive, but at least from my point of view I see no reason to accept your hypothesis, and many reasons to doubt it.

I've made my objections clear and I cant see any real point in continuing to repeat them.

Good luck with your endeavours
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Jun 04, 2015 10:30 pm

Your getting quite worked up mate. Not sure why.

Actually we know that MG42s were not available to troops of 9-11th century since we have concrete evidence to when it was developed. I believe in Saxon England they had horses, and that mounted troops are chronicled in a few battle reports. We also know that the communication between England and Normandy in the 10-11th century was quite strong and that Saxon England had bodies of professional troops. We also know that Saxon England was one of the wealthiest nations in Europe.

As an aside, I haven`t rated anything. All I said Cyrus was that I personally wouldn`t have a problem with 1 or 2 units of 6/4 or 5/2 cavalry in an Anglo-Saxon list.
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Tarty on Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:24 am

Yes I tend to take Gaius's line here not a real biggie Cyrus but me personally ? ....yes I agree with you.

Interestingly I had a discussion on this topic with a friend who knows quiet a lot about horses and horse breeding history. This is an area where there's actually quiet a bit of documented evidence apparently. Lack of mountable horse flesh at this time is also an issue which could contribute to the argument of not allowing them in any great number at least.
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by GamesPoet on Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:39 am

Wasn't there an MG42 in an Indiana Jones film? Wink

Not that such has much to do with the price of horses in the Viking age, but hey, figured I'd slip a little bit of backwoods humor in to the topic anyway. Laughing

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Roughage on Fri Jun 05, 2015 3:36 pm

That's a trifle disappointing, Cyrus, after all that has been written here. I was enjoying your discourse, even though I was not convinced by the model you proposed.

For the record, I think that the case for early and middle Anglo-Saxon mounted warriors is well made by the historians, and cavalry should be an option. Later Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Danish armies should have smaller numbers of mounted warriors, because warfare had changed by then, but the emphasis on mounted warfare as a warrior's skill still remains in the texts of the time.

Regarding Viking armies (again, not armies of conquest or armies in Scandinavia) I would be inclined to permit 1 or 2 stands of huskarls to fight mounted, because in at least a couple of cases Vikings definitely did fight mounted, and these mounted warriors could have formed a large enough percentage of the force to be significant when it is scaled up to full Impetus army size.

So, that's my personal take on it until I have researched the subject more fully.

Christiansen notes a 9000 strong cavalry force at Saucourt-en-Vimeu, but I cannot find reference to the use of cavalry there in Ludwigslied (possibly because my OHG is poor) or in any of the annals I can easily access. Does anyone have a source for this contention of his?


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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Roughage on Fri Jun 05, 2015 3:38 pm

GamesPoet wrote:Wasn't there an MG42 in an Indiana Jones film? Wink
I once designed an AK-47 toting Viking army with wheeled longships pulled by dinosaurs for a lost worlds game. Perhaps I should revive that for Impetus. Laughing

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by GamesPoet on Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:44 pm

Roughage wrote:
GamesPoet wrote:Wasn't there an MG42 in an Indiana Jones film? Wink
I once designed an AK-47 toting Viking army with wheeled longships pulled by dinosaurs for a lost worlds game. Perhaps I should revive that for Impetus. Laughing
Laughing

I was recalling how those MG42s were being used by German soldiers, and not dug up by I.J. himself out of some Egyptian crypt or whatever. You got me beat with the wheeled longships and ... dinosaurs! Laughing

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by Silverpaint68 on Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:41 am

In Viking list and Norse irish list, it's wrote : one or more unit of Huscarls/Nobles can be mounted for an additionnal cost of 1 point per unit"

What kind of mounted ?

Huscarl (FP) => Huscarl (CP) ?
Nobles (FL) => Nobles (CL) ?

But the M became 10, like (CM). Do they also became (CM) ?

I've seen nothing in the rulebook...

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by dadiepiombo on Mon Jul 06, 2015 1:33 pm

they can have a mount. They still are the same troop type as on foot, but you can move faster on the first activation (supposing the dismount automatically after that, just a way to reach faster the battlefield)
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Opportunity charging mounted infantry

Post by Jean le Temeraire on Sat Jul 11, 2015 2:47 am

What happens when mounted infantry are Caught by an Opportunity charge before they dismount. I would suggest that they would be disordered.

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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

Post by dadiepiombo on Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:32 am

mounts are automatically lost and no other consequences are applied.

But should they be caught by opportunity fire while mounted, then they count as a "mounted target" in the firing table.
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Re: Clarification on mounted infantry

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