Al Nofi's CIC
|| Issue #14, December
- Infinite Wisdom
- la Triviata
- Briefing - Horses at Waterloo
- Testimony of the Witnesses: Comments and Commentary on War -"This Frenchman Will Kill Us All!"
"Nothing brings a military establishment into such disrepute as the inability to win on the battlefield or on the high seas."
--Claude C. Sturgill
- The word for that militarily useful substance "canvas" is etymologically derived from the word "cannabis" which is the generic word for the hemp family of plants, as in Cannabis sativa.
- Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV was just 13 years old when he led an army against the Hungarians in 1063.
- The German Army began to train machine gunners for antiaircraft fire as early as 1912.
- Japanese Gen. Maresuke Nogi, who commanded the Third Army at the siege of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese war has the unusual distinction of having had three sons killed in action whilst under his command.
- The average age of the men who enlistment in the Union Army during the Civil War was 25.8, while that of their officers was 30.4
- Although British Admiral Graham Moore - brother of the famous Sir John Moore - captured an entire Spanish treasure fleet in September of 1804, he was not permitted a share in the booty, in as much as Britain and Spain were at the time not at war.
Briefing - Horses at Waterloo
When, on June 14, 1815, Napoleon began what would become known as the Waterloo Campaign, his Armee du Nord had at least 47,000 horses. There were about 25,000 in the cavalry, a further 12,000 for the artillery, and some 10,000 more for the infantry and supply columns. This amounted to about one horse for every 2.6 men in the army. Since the Anglo-Allied and Prussian armies probably had a smaller proportion of horses than Napoleon's army, because they both had much smaller artillery contingents, it is probable that the total number of horses "engaged" in the Waterloo Campaign was something around 140,000. This was a lot of horseflesh, and procuring horses for both riding and traction was a major headache in all armies. Napoleon's repeated disasters from 1812 onwards had virtually denuded France of horses by the time of his first abdication in 1814. Indeed, were it not for the fact that the year between his first abdication and his return from Elba had permitted a lot of importation of new stock, often from France's former enemies, Napoleon would not have been able to field so well balanced an army as he did for the Waterloo Campaign.
For cavalry, most armies preferred animals of about 15 hands 2 inches at the shoulder (c. 1.6 meters) and of about 450-500 kilograms, although heavier mounts (up to 550 kg) were useful for cuirassiers. In 1812-1814, Napoleon had experimented to some good effect with horses that were shorter (14 hands/1.4 meters) and lighter (c. 400 kg), due to the terrible drain on horseflesh that he suffered, but cavalrymen riding such lighter mounts were mostly suitable only for scouting and raiding, like the Cossacks on whom they were modeled. Horses for cavalry service were best procured at about five years of age, and were good for ten or twelve years of service. For hauling artillery pieces and supply wagons, big, sturdy "cold blooded" horses like Percherons were preferred. Usually, only mares or geldings were used by armies, as stallions easily became uncontrollable around mares in season.
Active service was even more punishing to horses than to men. This was partially because horses are relatively more delicate than men. For example, after a day's march (of about eight hours, broken in two segments, for a total of 16 miles), their hooves and shoes had to be carefully examined, and cleaned and repaired as necessary. In addition, their backs and throats were supposed to be examined for galls and sores, and their necks and legs carefully wiped down. If the weather was wet (as it was on the nights of June 16-17 and 17-18), every effort had to be made to provide dry footing, lest their hooves become water logged. These were all things which were likely to be difficult, if not impossible to do even during a short campaign, such as that of Waterloo, which saw the armies marching and fighting for five full days. As a result, losses of 30-40 percent during a campaign were not uncommon, and they could easily be worse, particularly if it was a protracted campaign in the winter.