Could spearmen really stop an advancing heavy cavalry charge? Posted on May 7, 2023 by PrepHole Contributor Could spearmen really stop an advancing heavy cavalry charge?
Depends, if we're talking about trained pikemen- easily. It depends on organizational ability and equipment, training, chain of command and leadership. If your spear is long enough and sturdy enough and you can brace it against the ground and you have a good tower style shield then you can weather anything that the ancient enemies of the past could throw at you.
But that's a lot of requirements and they weren't always met- so the historical record reflects the more realistic outcome which was
Also if you were to isolate it as a component and remove it from a larger force it would be entirely useless because cavalry could just choose not to engage and could instead stay away from the formation and just go light your territory on fire. Sure if you were the invading force, that's not the case and there's a lot less they can do but having you encircled allows a larger force many options to deal with you.
It must be one component out of many.
Yes, though they'd usually fail.
That or the cavalry would dismount and come kill them on foot.
>the cavalry would dismount and come kill them on foot.
based cavalry chads
No, cavalry also has spears and can just ago around you
Spearmen alone stand no chance
Yes, but that's why cavalry don't hit cohesive formations head on.
>send in foot goons
>lock up enemy foot goons
>use horse speed to go around
They did. Regularly. There are virtually no known instances of (European) heavy cavalry doing what you're describing, they'd just frontally assault targets. The infantry would invariably cohesion as the charge happened. They didn't really have the cohesion or command and control need for a lot of dynamic manuever- and a man in a full helmet simply ISN'T controllable. He can't hear much and vision is limited to things in front of him.
Plus, sending infantry in first means you can't form en haye and put lances into your target. Not doing so is a massive fucking waste.
There's actually a known instance of knights responding to Swiss infantry block bullshit by dismounting with their lances and forming their own block.
Plus one I can vaguely remember where a group of Englishmen fighting in Spain dismounted on a hill, shit on the locals, and then all died when the french arrived, ALSO dismounted (being intimately familiar with English bullshit) and slaughtered them.
>Could spearmen really stop an advancing heavy cavalry charge?
I read about this cool trick where the infantry picks a spot where they can dig a trench filled with stakes right in front of them that the enemy cavalry can't see before they're right on top of it
Yes,that is why pike and shot existed.
horses don't like charging at pointy sticks. Braveheart takes place after the invention of stirrups though, but before muskets so the armored knights could build up more speed and crush through a pike formation if they could get the horse to do it, but horses don't want to get stabbed
If your enemy is retarded like the English and they march their forces slowly across a bridge, nullifying any tactical advantage their cavalry has, and allowing your outnumbered Scots to overwhelm then and butcher almost half of their infantry in detail, it's super easy actually.
>battle of sterling bridge
>film does not show the bridge
For as otherwise decent Gibson is at filming gritty spectacular battle scenes, IDK how he came to the conclusion that Stirling Bridge would be too hard to film
Because it's much more impressive if the English were defeated in an open field than if it was a clever ambush like in real life. It wasn't a matter of cost, the Scottish forces just wouldn't have looked as badass and the English wouldn't have looked as incompetent which was the point of the whole movie.
Yeah. A head on cavalry charge relies on psychological effects, if your infantry is well disciplined and maintains formation there's not much cavalry can do, but if even 1 or 2 dudes pussy out (on account of the multiple half tons of muscle careening towards them at 30 mph) the entire formation can rapidly lose integrity and become ripe for the picking. If the formation is maintained the cavalry will most likely be forced to turn off and reposition. Obviously though battle opening, head on charges aren't cavalry's only use.
Yes but its generally only a temporary as schiltroms/phalanxs arent mobile and as the scots found at Falkirk youre insanely vulnerable to projectiles.
Depends on the spearmen. The power of cavalry was shock. They relied in the impact of their charge to punch a hole in formations of infantry leaving them demoralized and disorganized. Usually that worked since most infantry of the period were peasant levies, bur against infantry with good discipline and/or morale, such as dismounted knights like the ones fielded by the english, or the semi-professional militia of italian city-states, it was much less effective for a couple of reasons.
First: unlike a disorganized mob of levied peasants, good infantry were *compact*. Being able to fight in tight formations required skill, but the mass of the packed ranks bristling with spears made the initial impact of the charge much less effective, neutering it’s shock factor. A good comparison of the difference between charging untrained levies vs experienced spearmen in a formation would be like bowling pins vs a brick wall.
Second: they would stand their ground. Cavalry relied on quickly routing spearmen. If the spearmen were able to hold fast after the initial charge, the cavalry would be in a tough situation, since they would loose a cohesive formation during the charge, after they impacted they were very vulnerable to being mauled by spearmen, especially if they had broken into the spearman’s ranks during the charge and a potential retreat was blocked by the spearmen reforming ranks, leaving the horsemen surrounded. Believe it or not, most of the time cavalry was *more* vulnerable in close combat than infantry. How? Because of their horse. If a spearman could take out the knight’s horse, which has significantly less armour most of the time, the knight would fall. Even if the knight managed to avoid breaking something from the fall and wasn’t crushed by their mount, they were still on the ground completely disorientated with a very angry spearman standing above them.