So – why the cavalry…
…you may ask?
Well; why not? I suppose there were three reasons, really.
No-one was writing about them. Yes, I know Allan Mallinson has written a series, but he started at Waterloo. I must confess I’ve deliberately avoided reading anything subsequent to ‘A Close Run Thing’ to be doubly sure I could never be accused of even unintentional/subconscious plagiarism. The cavalry arm was at the height of its powers during the Napoleonic wars – a huge variety of guises, ridiculously ornate uniforms, and, at least as far as the French were concerned, massive numbers. But at the same time, the end of horsemen as a crucial battlefield weapon-of-mass-destruction was in sight.
Historians have been unfair to them. If you read Peninsular War histories, particularly contemporary writings, you find the cavalry was not well thought of to say the least. All and sundry seem to follow the lead of the Duke of Wellington, who accused them of unprofessional uncontrollability – ‘galloping at everything.’ Little account is ever taken of the fact these words were a throwaway comment, later retracted, and that those who trot them out willy-nilly come, generally, from an Infantry background. No inter-service rivalry there, then!
The horse. Love him or hate him, that he shaped our civilisation is an inescapable fact. Created by God, the Koran says, from a handful of North Wind, the warhorse once bore the fate of the world on his back.
Perhaps that is why he remains the finest form of life on the planet.