A facet often ignored in books, movies, and shows portraying horse cavalry of any era was the downfall that, whenever fighting dismounted, you could not simply allow your precious horses to mill about or else you may never see them again.

This meant that typically as much as 25 percent of the force would have to take the other horses to the rear with the gear, leaving the dragoons now seriously understrength.

A portrait of such an evolution is Fredric Remington’s circa 1890 painting, “Dismounted: The Fourth Trooper Moving the Led Horses.”

From the Clark Museum 

Dismounted: The Fourth Trooper Moving the Led Horses, Remington


  • wouldn’t that be a wast of resources to dismount your cavalry?

    • Use of horse cavalry as dismounted infantry goes back to the days of Alexander the Great. While great masses of charging horseflesh had its heydey in the Napoleanic Wars as shock troops, by the 1860s they had largely been dismounted for combat actions that didn’t involve scouting, rear guards, raids and the like. Custer, for instance at Little Big Horn (which turned out bad for him) or Buford in the first day at Gettysburg (with different results.) Most cavalry actions in WWI and WWII (there were more than you think) were dismounted with the exception of noteworthy but isolated horse charges such as by the 26th Cavalry in the PI, the motley Gruppo Bande Amhara in the Horn of Africa, and the Italian Savoia regiment on the Eastern Front.

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