Cavalry - Light and Armored Cavalry

Light and Armored Cavalry

See also: Heavy cavalry and light cavalry

Historically, cavalry was divided into light and armoured cavalry and horse archers. The differences were their role in combat, the size of the mount, and how much armor was worn by the mount and rider.

Early light cavalry (like the auxiliaries of the Roman army) were typically used to scout and skirmish, to cut down retreating infantry, and for defeating enemy missile troops. Armoured cavalry such as the Byzantine cataphract were used as shock troops—they would charge the main body of the enemy and, in many cases, their actions decided the outcome of the battle, hence the later term "battle cavalry".

During the Gunpowder Age, armored cavalry become obsolete. However, many units retained cuirasses and helmets for their protective value against sword and bayonet strikes and the morale boost these provide to the wearers. By this time the main difference between light and battle cavalry was their training; the former was regarded as a tool for harassment and reconnaissance, while the latter was considered best for close-order charges.

Since the development of armored warfare the distinction between light and heavy armor has persisted basically along the same lines. Armored cars and light tanks have adopted the reconnaissance role while medium and heavy tanks are regarded as the decisive shock troops.

Read more about this topic:  Cavalry

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