Napoleonic Wars Forum

The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Breaking infantry Squares

For all discussions relating to military weapons and tactics of the Napoleonic period.

Breaking infantry Squares

Postby Wym » April 11th, 2013, 5:42 pm

Do any of you know of any actual incidents where Cavalry actually managed to break Infantry squares? the obvious one for me was the Battle of Eylau
As Marbot describes, "the terrible weight of this mass broke the Russian centre, upon which it charged with the sabre, and threw it into complete disorder." Because of the poor visibility, many Russian regiments were ridden down before they could form square; however, "in other cases, squares were broken up." The charge broke both Russian lines reaching the Russian reserve.

Are there many others?
Wym
New Member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: April 11th, 2013, 2:18 pm

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby Yanitch » April 11th, 2013, 6:13 pm

Didn't the KGL cavalry break some French squares at Garcia Hernandez?
Yanitch
New Member
 
Posts: 14
Joined: April 2nd, 2013, 8:12 pm

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby Student of 1812 » April 11th, 2013, 7:16 pm

Garcia Hermandez and Salamanca. Former well sourced, latter less so? I have learned the term 'rallying square' from uncle Arthur and think this is an important distinction.
Make much of your horses!
User avatar
Student of 1812
Participating Member
 
Posts: 120
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 9:31 am
Location: Berkshire, England

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » April 11th, 2013, 7:44 pm

Wym wrote:Do any of you know of any actual incidents where Cavalry actually managed to break Infantry squares?

A warm welcome to the forum Toni.

Cavalry broke an infantry square at the Battle of Garcia Hernandez. Click on http://www.nick-lipscombe.net/papers.html and scroll down to Scissors, Paper, Rock for an account of that action.

Sarah
Friends of the British Cemetery, Elvas
User avatar
FBC-Elvas, Portugal
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 2301
Joined: June 18th, 2011, 2:47 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby Wym » April 11th, 2013, 7:53 pm

Yep I've read about Garcia Hermandez in a sharpe book? I've tried to find more accounts of breaking Square but there is very little info out there
Wym
New Member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: April 11th, 2013, 2:18 pm

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby Josh&Historyland » April 11th, 2013, 9:41 pm

Apparently the 20th broke a rallying square at Vimeiro in 1808, but this is rather unsupported by allot of evidence. See the thread on Cavalry charges in the peninsula for more info on both this and Garcia Hernandez. I think that at Salamanca the French deployed from column to square a few times they where unable to see the British due to the nature of the ground, and where so shaken when they saw thenehavies come over the hill that they broke before impact.

Josh.
Adventures In Historyland, Keeping History Real. http://adventuresinhistoryland.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Josh&Historyland
Senior Veteran Member
 
Posts: 1878
Joined: March 2nd, 2013, 1:14 pm

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby unclearthur » April 11th, 2013, 9:50 pm

Wym wrote:Yep I've read about Garcia Hermandez in a sharpe book? I've tried to find more accounts of breaking Square but there is very little info out there


Hey!! You're right - Garcia Hernandez featured in Sharpe's Sword :D As others mentioned, the 1st and 2nd KGL Dragoons broke two French infantry squares.

But they almost didn't ;)
User avatar
unclearthur
Veteran Member
 
Posts: 705
Joined: February 11th, 2012, 3:42 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby Yanitch » April 11th, 2013, 10:42 pm

Excuse my ignorance, but what is a rallying square?
Yanitch
New Member
 
Posts: 14
Joined: April 2nd, 2013, 8:12 pm

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby Wym » April 12th, 2013, 8:36 am

Yanitch wrote:Excuse my ignorance, but what is a rallying square?


The term given to a British Anti Cav square rectangular in shape 4 companies per long side 2 companies per short side(so not a square lol) though even single companies if threatened did form the rally square in miniature
Wym
New Member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: April 11th, 2013, 2:18 pm

Re: Breaking infantry Squares

Postby Student of 1812 » April 12th, 2013, 8:40 am

I have no particular knowledge of 'squares' but my interpretation would involve making a distinction between something that is planned and something that is hasty. So, if one has a planned defence one forms square (or digs trenches/ builds a sangar in more modern warfare). The square gives defence in depth and best to form quickly when suffering a surprise attack than get picked-off one by one if facing the weight of a concentrated attack.A single French poilu on the run would be mincemeat to a mounted cavalryman once he'd discharged his weapon so more effective to form a rallying square with your mates. I imagine it all goes back to the old Roman concept of the testudo?
(Of course, the tactic of the WW2 MN convoys that had insuffiencient armed escorts was to scatter; but that they had a big ocean to try and lose the German submarine packs. )

'Squaring' has been used in different contexts. Cornford in Microcosmorgraphia Academica (1908) relates it to the forming of (political) caucuses in academia.
Make much of your horses!
User avatar
Student of 1812
Participating Member
 
Posts: 120
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 9:31 am
Location: Berkshire, England

Next

Return to Weapons & Tactics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron