Light cavalry

Polish-Lithuanian light cavalry during the Battle of Orsha in 1514, by Hans Krell
The famous Charge of the Light Brigade, in the Battle of Balaclava in 1854 (painted by William Simpson in 1855)
Mongol soldier on horseback, preparing a mounted archery shot
French 4th Hussar at the Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807. "Vive l'Empereur!" by Édouard Detaille, 1891.
Polish cavalry at the Battle of Somosierra in Spain, 1808

Light cavalry comprises lightly armed and armored cavalry troops mounted on fast horses, as opposed to heavy cavalry, where the mounted riders (and sometimes the warhorses) were heavily armored.

- Light cavalry
Polish-Lithuanian light cavalry during the Battle of Orsha in 1514, by Hans Krell

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Sheathed French sabres of the sailors of the Guard, First French Empire

Sabre

Sheathed French sabres of the sailors of the Guard, First French Empire
A szabla used by Polish Hussars, 1614
The Sword Dance (1890) by Paja Jovanović
A British Hussar general with a scabbarded kilij of Turkish manufacture (1812)
The briquet, typical infantry sabre of the Napoleonic Wars
French Navy sabre of the 19th century, boarding sabre
Lieutenant Colonel Teófilo Marxuach's M1902 officer's sabre and scabbard at the National Historic Trust site at Castillo San Cristóbal in San Juan, Puerto Rico

A sabre (French: [ˈsabʁ], sometimes spelt saber in American English) is a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the early modern and Napoleonic periods.

Scotland Forever! [crop] depicting the cavalry charge of the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo.

Horses in warfare

The first evidence of horses in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons.

The first evidence of horses in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons.

Scotland Forever! [crop] depicting the cavalry charge of the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo.
A soldier in World War I with his mule.
Chariots and archers were weapons of war in Ancient Egypt.
Haniwa horse statuette, complete with saddle and stirrups, 6th century, Kofun period
The "War Panel" of the Standard of Ur
A Qin dynasty sculpture of a chariot with horses and rider from the Terracotta Army unearthed near the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shihuangdi, Xi'an, China, 3rd century BC
Depiction of a Sasanian Persian Cataphract from Taq-e Bostan
Life-size model depicting c. 1850 horse artillery team with a light artillery piece
A horserider of probable Xiongnu origin: the rider wears a hairbun characteristic of the oriental steppes, and his horse has characteristically Xiongnu horse trappings. 2nd–1st century BC. Excavated in Saksanokhur (near Farkhor), Tajikistan. National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.
Manuscript illustration of the Mahabharata War, depicting warriors fighting on horse chariots
Yabusame archers, Edo period
Spanish and Moorish light cavalry (jinetes) skirmish at the 1431 Battle of La Higueruela
A re-imagination of Louis III and Carloman's 879 victory over the Vikings; Jean Fouquet, Grandes Chroniques de France
Jousting is a sport that evolved out of heavy cavalry practice.
Chasseurs of the Guard (light cavalry) to the left and cuirassier (Heavy cavalry) to the right, at the battle of Friedland.
"Napoleon I with his Generals" by Ludwig Elsholtz. This painting shows light cavalry horses which come into use as officer's mounts in 18th- and 19th-century Europe.
Kanem-Bu warriors armed with spears. The Earth and Its Inhabitants, 1892.
Native Americans quickly adopted the horse and were highly effective light cavalry. Comanche-Osage fight. George Catlin, 1834
Confederate general Robert E. Lee and Traveller. Cavalry played a significant role in the American Civil War.
Australian Imperial Force light horsemen, 1914
Polish Cavalry during a Polish Army manoeuvre in late 1930s.
A memorial to the horses that served in the Second Boer War.
U.S. Special Operations Forces, members of Task Force Dagger, and Afghanistan Commander Abdul Rashid Dostum on horseback in the Dari-a-Souf Valley, Afghanistan, in October 2001.
US Air Force Special Operations Command Combat Controller Bart Decker rides a horse in Afghanistan in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Mounted police in Poznań, Poland
Horse Cavalry Detachment of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division demonstrating a mock cavalry charge at Fort Bliss, Texas

Muslim warriors relied upon light cavalry in their campaigns throughout Northern Africa, Asia, and Europe beginning in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Europeans used several types of war horses in the Middle Ages, and the best-known heavy cavalry warrior of the period was the armoured knight.

Roman auxiliary infantry crossing a river, probably the Danube, on a pontoon bridge during the emperor Trajan's Dacian Wars (AD 101–106). They can be distinguished by the oval shield (clipeus) they were equipped with, in contrast to the rectangular scutum carried by legionaries. Panel from Trajan's Column, Rome

Auxilia

Roman auxiliary infantry crossing a river, probably the Danube, on a pontoon bridge during the emperor Trajan's Dacian Wars (AD 101–106). They can be distinguished by the oval shield (clipeus) they were equipped with, in contrast to the rectangular scutum carried by legionaries. Panel from Trajan's Column, Rome
Etruscan funerary urn crowned with the sculpture of a woman and a front-panel relief showing two warriors fighting, polychrome terracotta, c. 150 BC
Slingers from the cast of Trajan's Column in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2nd century AD
The cavalry Witcham Gravel helmet from Cambridgeshire (England), 1st century AD
Rhine frontier of the Roman empire, 70 AD, showing the location of the Batavi in the Rhine delta region. Roman territory is shaded dark. Their homeland was called the Insula Batavorum by the Romans and corresponded roughly with modern Gelderland province, Neth. Their chief town was Noviomagus (Nijmegen, Neth.), a strategic prominence in an otherwise flat and waterlogged land that became the site of a Roman legionary fortress (housing the legion X Gemina) after the Batavi revolt ended in 70 AD. The name is of Celtic origin, meaning "new market", suggesting that the Germanic Batavi either displaced or subjugated an indigenous Gallic tribe
Tombstone of the Flavian-era eques alaris (ala cavalryman) Titus Flavius Bassus, son of Mucala. A Dansala, (i.e. member of the Thracian Dentheletae tribe), he belonged to the Ala Noricorum (originally raised from the Taurisci tribe of Noricum). He died at age 46 after 26 years' service, not having advanced beyond the lowest rank. Bassus' adopted Roman names, Titus Flavius, indicate that he had gained Roman citizenship, doubtless by serving the required 25 years in the auxilia. The names adopted would normally be those of the emperor ruling at the time of the citizenship award. In this case, they could refer to any of the 3 emperors of the Flavian dynasty (ruled 69–96), Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian, all of whom carried the same names. The arrangement of the scene, a rider spearing a man (the motif of the Thracian Hero), indicates that Bassus was a Thracian, as does his father's name. Date: late 1st century. Römisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne, Germany
Roman cavalry spatha, a longer sword (median blade length: 780 mm [30.7 in]), designed to give the rider a longer reach than the gladius
Roman cavalry from a mosaic of the Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily, 4th century AD
Routed Sarmatian cataphracts (right) flee for their lives from Roman alares (auxiliary cavalrymen), during the Dacian Wars (AD 101–106). Note full-body scalar armour, also armoured caparison for horses (including eye-guards). The Sarmatians' lances (as well as the Romans') have disappeared due to stone erosion, but a sword is still visible, as is a bow carried by one man. It was apparently in the period following this conflict (perhaps as a result of the lessons learnt from it) that the Romans first established their own regular units of cataphracts, and deployed them in the Danubian region. They were most likely equipped as the Sarmatians. Panel from Trajan's Column, Rome
Roman archers (top left) in action. Note conical helmets, indicating Syrian unit, and recurved bows. Trajan's Column, Rome
Roman slingers (funditores) in action in the Dacian Wars. Detail from Trajan's Column, Rome
Balearic slinger
Tombstone of Marius son of Ructicnus. The inscription states that he was a miles (ranker) of the Alpine infantry regiment Cohors I Montanorum, who died in his 25th year of service (i.e. in the final year of the minimum term for an auxiliary and just before qualifying for Roman citizenship). His heir, who erected the stone, is named Montanus, the same ethnic name as the regiment's, meaning a native of the eastern Alps, most likely the origin of the deceased. Note (top corners) the Alpine edelweiss flowers, called stella Alpina ("Alpine star") in Latin. These were either a regimental symbol, or a national symbol of the Montani. The crescent moon-and-star motif between the flowers may be either a regimental emblem or a religious symbol. Date: 1st century, probably ante 68. From Carinthia, Austria
Tombstone of Titus Calidius Severus, a Roman cavalryman. The career summary in the inscription shows that Severus joined the auxiliary regiment cohors I Alpinorum, rising from eques (common cavalryman) through optio to decurion. He then switched to a legion (presumably after gaining Roman citizenship after 25 of his 34 years of service) and became a centurion in Legio XV Apollinaris (it appears that legion cavalrymen used infantry ranks). He died at age 58, probably a few years after his discharge. Note the portrayal of his chain-mail armour, centurion's transverse-crested helmet and his horse, led by his equerry, probably a slave. This soldier's long career shows that many auxiliaries served longer than the minimum 25 years, and sometimes joined legions. Erected by his brother, Quintus. Dates from ante 117, when XV Apollinaris was transferred from Carnuntum (Austria) to the East
Roman Empire during Hadrian's reign (AD 125)

The Auxilia (, lit. "auxiliaries") were introduced as non-citizen troops attached to the citizen legions by Augustus after his reorganisation of the Imperial Roman army from 30 BC. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions and, in addition, provided almost all of the Roman army's cavalry (especially light cavalry and archers) and more specialised troops.

Hungarian general in 19th-century hussar style gala uniform; with characteristic tight dolman jacket, loose-hanging pelisse over-jacket, and busby

Hussar

Hungarian general in 19th-century hussar style gala uniform; with characteristic tight dolman jacket, loose-hanging pelisse over-jacket, and busby
Hungarian hussar in the 16th century. Woodcut by Jost Amman
Polish Winged Hussar, painting by Aleksander Orłowski
Hussar of the Magdeburg Hussar Commando (1763, drawing from Richard Knötel, Uniformenkunde, 1893)
Hessian hussars in America
Portrait of Russian hussar Evgraf Davydov by Kiprensky (1810s)
Prussian Hussar in 1744
French 4th Hussar at the Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807. "Vive l'Empereur!" by Édouard Detaille, 1891
French 9th Hussar by Victor Huen
Cornet Henry John Wilkin, a British Hussar from the Crimean War
Chilean founding father Manuel Rodríguez, wearing the Húsares de la Muerte uniform
Confederate hussar from the 1st Virginia
Swedish hussar regiments 1895–1910
An officer of the British 11th Hussars (PAO) in the full dress of 1856, including dolman, pelisse, busby and sabretache
Hussars of the King's German Legion in 1813, all armed with the 1796 sabre
Hungarian hussars in battle during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848
Gendarmes of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1900
A Danish Guard Hussar in mounted parade uniform, including the red pelisse, sabretache and shabraque
An ERC 90 Sagaie of the 1st Parachute Hussar Regiment of the French Army in Côte d'Ivoire in 2003
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Alfonso XIII of Spain wearing a Regiment no. 4 "Pavia Húsares (Hussars) uniform, 1912
Winston Churchill as Cornet of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars, aged 21 (1895)

A hussar (, ; huszár, husarz, husar / хусар) was a member of a class of light cavalry, originating in Central Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Polish uhlans from the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw 1807–1815 January Suchodolski painting

Uhlan

Polish uhlans from the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw 1807–1815 January Suchodolski painting
Uhlan of the 'Volontaires de Saxe' in 1745
Uhlan of the Natzmer-Uhlanen (1740–1742)
Polish uhlans of the Kościuszko Uprising in 1794 – Walery Eljasz Radzikowski
Polish chevaulegers of the Imperial Guard in the Battle of Peterswalde – Juliusz Kossak
Charge of the Poznań Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Rajgród during the November uprising of 1831
Prussian Guard Uhlans about 1912
Prussian uhlans in pre-1914 uniform
Charge of the Austrian 13th Galician Uhlan Regiment during the Battle of Custoza (1866)
Tatar uhlans from Grodno area – soldiers of Polish Army in 1919
Polish uhlans during the Polish-Soviet War 1919–21, painted by Czesław Wasilewski, 1920s or 1930s
Volunteers recreating the 15th Poznań Uhlans Regiment in 1939 uniforms
Lithuanian Army's uhlan officers in 1925

Uhlans (ułan; ulonas; Ulan; hulan) were initially Lithuanian, later also Polish light cavalry units primarily armed with a lance.

Chasseurs à pied bugler, illustration by Édouard Detaille in L'Armee Française (1885)

Chasseur

Chasseurs à pied bugler, illustration by Édouard Detaille in L'Armee Française (1885)
The Charging Chasseur by Théodore Géricault, depicting an officer of the Chasseurs à Cheval de la Garde Impériale
Chasseur d'Afrique in 1914
World War I memorial to the chasseurs à pied in Charleroi
Chasseurs à cheval in Paris, 1906

Chasseur, a French term for "hunter", is the designation given to certain regiments of French and Belgian light infantry (chasseurs à pied) or light cavalry (chasseurs à cheval) to denote troops trained for rapid action.

French 4th Hussars at the Battle of Friedland, 1807

Cavalry

Historically, cavalry (from the French word cavalerie, itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback.

Historically, cavalry (from the French word cavalerie, itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback.

French 4th Hussars at the Battle of Friedland, 1807
A trumpeter of the Representative Cavalry Squadron in the Polish Army
A Polish winged hussar
Assyrian cavalry
Parthian horseman, now on display at the Palazzo Madama, Turin
Warrior's departure; an Athenian amphora dated 550–540 BC
Tombstone of a Roman auxiliary trooper from Cologne, Germany. Second half of the first century AD
Reenactor as a Roman auxiliary cavalryman
Chinese caltrop jar
Mongols at war 14th century
A bas-relief of a soldier and horse with saddle and stirrups, from the tomb of Chinese Emperor Taizong of Tang (r 626–649), c 650
The Qianlong Emperor in ceremonial armor on horseback, painted by Giuseppe Castiglione, dated 1739 or 1758
A mounted samurai with bow and arrows, wearing a horned helmet. Circa 1878
In the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani, Japanese cavalry moving down a mountain-side
Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra
Coin of Chandragupta II or Vikramaditya, one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta empire during times referred to as the Golden Age of India
Rajput warrior on horseback
Akbar leads the Mughal Army during a campaign
Horse-mounted Normans charging in the Bayeux Tapestry, 11th century
A 13th-century depiction of a riding horse. Note resemblance to the modern Paso Fino
A Hussite war wagon: it enabled peasants to defeat knights
Arab camelry
A Moroccan with his Arabian horse along the Barbary coast
Kanem-Bu warriors armed with spears in the retinue of a mounted war chief. The Earth and Its Inhabitants, 1892
Knighted cavalry and noblemen, painting by Jan van Eyck (c. 1390–1441)
Husarz (Polish Hussar) by Józef Brandt
Cavalry charge at Eylau, painted by Jean-Antoine-Siméon Fort
British infantry formed into anti-cavalry squares at the Battle of Quatre Bras
The charge of the Venezuelan First Division's cavalry at the Battle of Carabobo
"The Thin Red Line" at the Battle of Balaclava, where the 93rd Regiment held off Russian Cavalry
Monument to the Spanish Regiment of light cavalry of Alcántara
The charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman
19th Lancers near Mametz during the Battle of the Somme, 15 July 1916
Algerian spahis of the French Army 1886
Union Cavalry capture Confederate guns at Culpepper
Italian cavalry officers practice their horsemanship in 1904 outside Rome
Austro-Hungarian cavalry, 1898
German cavalryman in September 1914, German South-West Africa
Dead German cavalry horses after the Battle of Halen - where the Belgian cavalry, fighting dismounted, decimated their still mounted German counterparts
A British cavalry trooper in marching order (1914–1918)
German dragoons, armed with lances, after the capture of Warsaw, August 1915
Lithuanian lancers training in the 1930s
Turkish cavalry during mopping‐up operation 1922
Polish uhlan with wz. 35 anti-tank rifle. Military instruction published in Warsaw in 1938
A German cavalry patrol in May 1940, during the Battle of France
Mongolian cavalry in the Khalkhin Gol (1939)
U.S. Special Forces and Combat Controllers on horseback with the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan, which frequently used horses as military transport
Italian Army regiment “Lancieri di Montebello” (8th) on public duties in Rome 2019
Horse-mounted color guard from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow
A cavalryman of Hakkapeliitta, the Finnish cavalry of Thirty Years' War, featured on a 1940 Finnish stamp
Mongol mounted archer of Genghis Khan late 12th century.
Tatar vanguard in Eastern Europe 13th–14th centuries.
Manikin of a Safavid Qizilbash, showing characteristic red cap (Sa'dabad Palace, Tehran).
Persian Zamburak.
Ottoman Sipahi.
An Ottoman Mamluk cavalryman from 1810, armed with a pistol.
Akinci of the Balkans.
Ottoman Ghazi cavalrymen during the Battle of Nicopolis.<ref>{{cite web|last=Lokman |url=http://warfare.atwebpages.com/Ottoman/Ottoman.htm |title=Battle of Nicopolis (1396) |year=1588 |work=Hünernâme |url-status=dead |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20130529094441/http://warfare.atwebpages.com/Ottoman/Ottoman.htm |archive-date=2013-05-29 }}</ref>
Washington National Guard cavalry pictured in Tacoma, Washington in 1907.
French cuirassiers, wearing breastplates and helmets, parade through Paris on the way to battle, August 1914.
Spanish light cavalry (cazadores) during the Rif War 1921.
Polish PZL W-3 Sokół of the 66 Air Cavalry Squadron, 25th Aeromobile Cavalry Brigade.
The mounted President's Bodyguard of the Indian Army
French Republican Guard – 2008 Bastille Day military parade
The President's Body Guard of the Pakistan Army, 2006.
Troopers of the Blues and Royals on mounted duty in Whitehall, London
Turkmenistan ceremonial cavalry in the Independence Day parade 2011
A Mongolian military horseman, 2013
Representative Cavalry Squadron of the Polish Army on military parade in Warsaw, 2006

Cavalry were the most mobile of the combat arms, operating as light cavalry in the roles of reconnaissance, screening, and skirmishing in many armies, or as heavy cavalry for decisive shock attacks in other armies.

Imperial flag (basilikon phlamoulon) of the Palaiologan era (14th century)

Byzantine army

The primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy.

The primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy.

Imperial flag (basilikon phlamoulon) of the Palaiologan era (14th century)
Emperor Constantine I.
A 10th-12th century ivory relief of a Byzantine swordsman wearing scale armor and round shield- Berlin Bode museum.
Emperor John II Komnenos became renowned for his superb generalship and conducted many successful sieges. Under his leadership, the Byzantine army reconquered substantial territories from the Turks.
A map of the Byzantine Empire under Manuel Komnenos, c. 1180.
Map of the Byzantine Empire in c. 1270. After the damage caused by the collapse of the theme system, the mismanagement of the Angeloi and the catastrophe of the Fourth Crusade, for which the Angeloi were largely to blame, it proved impossible to restore the empire to the position it had held under Manuel Komnenos.
The deployment of the armies in the Battle of Dara (530), in which Byzantium employed various foreign mercenary soldiers, including the Huns.
A siege by Byzantine forces, Skylitzes chronicle 11th century
Coin of emperor Basil II, founder of the Varangian Guard.
Byzantine fresco of Joshua from the Hosios Loukas monastery, 12th to 13th century. A good view of the construction of the lamellar klivanion cuirass. Unusually, the Biblical figure is shown wearing headgear; the helmet and its attached neck and throat defences appear to be cloth-covered. Joshua is shown wearing a straight spathion sword.
A Byzantine fresco of Saint Mercurius with a sword and helmet, dated 1295, from Ohrid, North Macedonia
This image by Gustave Doré shows the Turkish ambush at the battle of Myriokephalon (1176)

Later reforms reflected some Germanic and Asian influences – rival forces frequently became sources of mercenary units e.g.; Huns, Cumans, Alans and (following the Battle of Manzikert) Turks, meeting the Empire's demand for light cavalry mercenaries.

Polish Lancer (left) and Austrian Cuirassier (right) in a mêlée

Lancer

Type of cavalryman who fought with a lance.

Type of cavalryman who fought with a lance.

Polish Lancer (left) and Austrian Cuirassier (right) in a mêlée
Charge of the Polish uhlans at the city of Poznań during the November Uprising 1831
The charge of the British 16th Lancers at Aliwal on 28 January 1846, during the Anglo-Sikh war
Imperial French lancer from 1812
Lancers of the Spanish Royal Guard
German dragoons armed with lances take down a border marker from 1914
Coat of arms of the Cavalry Group "Lancers of Bourbon" (11th Cavalry Regiment "Spain")
British lancers taking part in a homecoming parade in 2008
Italian regiment "Lancieri di Montebello" on public duties in Rome in 2019

The weapon was widely used throughout Eurasia during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by heavy cavalry, before being adopted later on by light cavalry.

Austrian pandur, c. 1760, using a tree for cover while skirmishing

Skirmisher

Austrian pandur, c. 1760, using a tree for cover while skirmishing
As with most other modern foot soldiers, the US 6th Marine Regiment, on patrol near Marjah, 2010, routinely uses skirmish formation.
An Agrianian peltast holding three javelins, one in his throwing hand and two in his pelte hand as additional ammunition
Slinger from the Balearic islands, famous for the skill of its slingers
Austrian Jäger around 1800, showing the relatively drab uniforms of soldiers specializing in skirmishing in Napoleonic times, as an aid in using cover
Modern reconnaissance vehicles can perform skirmishing duties, as is shown here by members of the British 4 Mechanised Brigade, Brigade Reconnaissance Force mounted on Jackals, on a training exercise in Jordan, in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan in 2009

Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldiers deployed as a vanguard, flank guard or rearguard to screen a tactical position or a larger body of friendly troops from enemy advances.