Friday, February 12, 2010

Anachronism Alert!

Well, if you have known me or read my material for more than five minutes, you have come across my penchant for all things history, military, weaponry, and 'out of time.' By out of time I mean of course, anachronistic. Merriam-Webster lists Anachronism as: an error in chronology; especially : a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other. Which, for a turn, is actually what I mean.

Case in point; Cavalry Lancers. Now, cavalrymen had been using lances to skewer opponents for as long as folks have rode horses to war, but in an anachronistic sense, I am interested in Lancers since the coming of gunpowder weaponry.
Napoleon's Polish Lancers were feared throughout Europe.
The British used Lancers in numerous Napoleonic campaigns (with mixed success) and with more profitable results in many of their Victorian wars in Africa. I recall reading once about how the British Lancers had been a shining victory against the Boers in an otherwise 'valour-less' battle.
Now, Americans were not immune from this elan of the dashing lancer. During the U.S.-Mexican War, the Dragoons repeatedly clashed with Mexican and Californian lancers. While you would expect battle between 'modern' firearm equipped cavalry and horsemen armed with spears and lassos to be relatively one-sided, both fights I have read about were reportedly savage, with casualties approximately equal. In both instances, the U.S. troops prevailed, more through the attainment of objectives, rather than truly routing their foe.
In the later American Civil War, the 6th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, also known as Rush's Lancers, were, early in the war, equipped with cavalry lances. They were later armed with Carbines, and garnered a hard fought reputation as some of the best of the volunteer cavalry.

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