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Subject: Cavalry movement in strategic games rss

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Drazen Kramaric
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More often than not, cavalry units in strategic games about ACW or Napoleonic wars are given better movement rate compared to the infantry.

I wonder whether such design decision is justified in games where units are division or corps sized on a map when France is represented with five or six territories.

Was it usual for a cavalry corps to move independently from the infantry units of the similar size? In a game when a single turn can represent from a single month to say, three months, how realistic is to give cavalry better movement capabilities on the strategic level?
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jumbit
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Drax Kramer wrote:
I wonder whether such design decision is justified in games where units are division or corps sized on a map when France is represented with five or six territories.

It's chrome.
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Pete White
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pete belli wrote:

In the American Civil War cavalry screened the movements of an army so the horsemen would normally move at the same pace as the infantry... between 15 and 25 miles a day.


Really? I would have thought that is very good going for infantry, walking with a rifle and pack. For a day or two, yes, but not for much longer before exhaustion set in. Cavalry probably didn't move much faster but could keep it up for longer before they wore out.

It occurs to me that I've always known this, which means it's an assumption I can't really justify. Have I just always been wrong? This might be very enlightening.
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Edward Kendrick
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pete belli wrote:

In the American Civil War cavalry screened the movements of an army so the horsemen would normally move at the same pace as the infantry... between 15 and 25 miles a day.

A cavalry raid, on the other hand, was an independent mission. A raid might be conducted by anything from a reinforced brigade to a large force containing a couple of divisions. Typically, these raids were relatively brief events lasting a week or two.

Every carefully crafted ACW game at the strategic level (which you described) must include rules for cavalry raids and also show the cavalry units moving with the armies while performing reconaissance missions.

So... a rule in any game that shows cavalry units moving faster than infantry on a strategic scale and sweeping across the landscape like tanks in WWII are, as the previous contributor indicated, a bit of chrome... and not a truly accurate depiction of ACW cavalry doctrine.


Not sure that your last paragraph follows from the rest. Couldn't cavalry moving independently move at a different rate from cavalry moving in conjunction with infantry? Otherwise there'd be no point in having cavalry raids - you might as well have infantry raids ...
 
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David Travis
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plwhite wrote:
pete belli wrote:

In the American Civil War cavalry screened the movements of an army so the horsemen would normally move at the same pace as the infantry... between 15 and 25 miles a day.


Really? I would have thought that is very good going for infantry, walking with a rifle and pack. For a day or two, yes, but not for much longer before exhaustion set in. Cavalry probably didn't move much faster but could keep it up for longer before they wore out.

It occurs to me that I've always known this, which means it's an assumption I can't really justify. Have I just always been wrong? This might be very enlightening.


If I remember correctly, at least part of the Union army did a week of 20 mile days to get to Gettysburg (or rather to catch up to the CSA army that had already crossed into Maryland and Pennsylvania and then catch up to them around Gettysburg). I think I read that in the Killer Angels so it may not be entirely true, but he did make it sound like that was all but a forced march and not something that they did over long periods of time.
 
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Moshe Callen
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My understanding is that getting soldiers physically fit to handle that kind of marching is why the constant marching drills were needed. It's also why people with truly flat feet like myself were exempt from the army; flat feet can't take that kind of abuse and don't recover from footsoreness as fast.
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Edward Kendrick
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pete belli wrote:
Quote:
Couldn't cavalry moving independently move at a different rate from cavalry moving in conjunction with infantry?


Quite true.

However, the original article described a game with turns representing between a month and three months. The cavalry raid would actually take place within a turn, since a typical raid lasted a week or two. Now if an independent force of cavalry moved, by itself, from one army to another army across country the march speed would be faster. You're right about that, and a strategic level game would have to represent that maneuver (like the transfer of Van Dorn's cavalry from Mississippi to Tennessee in the spring of 1863) with a rule.

However, a cavalry corps (for example, two divisions with attached artillery) would not function independently like a PanzerGruppe in WWII, sweeping across the board ahead of the infantry units and smashing into the enemy main body.

In some areas small formations of Confederate cavalry (usually a brigade or two) would act as a kind of "garrison" for the local region. In this case, a cavalry unit would act independently until a Union combined arms force arrived. Then the Rebel cavalry would either withdraw or be reinforced with infantry.


I see - what you're saying is that the cavalry unit would have to remain independent of infantry or artillery elements in order to move faster, and this would be unusual throughout a turn representing a month or longer.
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Edward Kendrick
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pete belli wrote:
A marching pace of 15 miles each day was typical.



I remember reading somewhere that at the outbreak of the First World War, when the situation was fairly fluid, German cavalry units were able to cover 30 miles a day "but it was not claimed that they did this for more than two days in succession".
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Kurt Kiesel
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Interesting! I was just thinking about this topic, decided to search the Internet, and found this discussion... A couple points to add:

1) Col T.N. Dupuy, in his book "Understanding War: History and Theory of Combat (1987)," suggests "...any increase in advance rates over the past two centuries, ... has been an increase so slight as to be negligible." This, by the away, applies to "opposed" advance rates (naturally, not raw movement rates). He continues, "Differences in advance rates are indicative more of road conditions, weather, intensity of hostile opposition, and the presence of enemy fortifications than they are of whether the troops moved by foot, horse, or machine.

2) Col Dupuy also concludes: "Rates of cavalry-type units (the troops mounted on horses or fast moving armored vehicles) seem to be higher than those of infantry or combined armed forces -- but still only for short periods of time[original emphasis]."

3) Finally, Col Dupuy writes: "Small, highly mobile forces can go quite rapidly for a few days. A relatively rapid rate can be sustained even by combined arms forces for as long as two weeks. But, for periods of one to two months, or distances of 350 to 600 kilometers, the rate stabilizes at about 15 kilometers per day, and declines only slightly for longer distances and shorter periods. And note that these generalizations appear to apply equally to all five periods of the past two centuries, and to all of the means of locomotion of those forces in those periods."

It seems you grognards had the right understanding (if Col Dupuy's research was right)!
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Joe Donnelly
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I think the limiting factor is that the horses have to eat. That means you bring wagons full of fodder, moving at walking pace, or you stop for long periods to allow the animals to graze (or to forage). Either way, your overall strategic movement rate is not that fast.
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Rolland Beach
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In my reading in many periods seasoned infantry could over a time span of days to weeks walk cavalry into the ground. Cavalry was valued for its TACTICAL speed and flexibility.

Note that this is NOT including cavalry armies of the Mongol type that included multiple remounts for each fighting man.
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Dom Dal Bello
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Also, cavalry typically on a march would not ride all the time. They would often walk as much as they rode; the horse must be saved for times when it is needed (thus, "short periods of time").

The rate of march of infantry is typically gaged at 2 miles per hour (50 minutes on, 10 minute rest). A good days march was 15 miles, as Pete mentioned above ... a good day's work.

But over a game turn of several months, also noted above, the cavalry would have an effect, but differing rates likely need not be modeled.
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Caleb
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Seems to me the problem with most of these games is not the cavalry movement rate but the cavalry combat rating which is grossly exaggerated.
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