Review: A History of Cavalry From The Earliest Times

A History of Cavalry From The Earliest Times

Now long since in the public domain (the first edition was in 1877 and later ones were published to 1913), George Denison’s A History of Cavalry From the Earliest Times was a look back at thousands of years of mounted operations. It’s an interesting time capsule. The aim was a sincere chronicle of cavalry and a look forward into an age of increased firepower. It’s a successful one given the limitations of the time.

The biggest problem, besides a 19th Century perspective on the world, is that Denison only had famous text sources to work with. Still, you can’t blame someone for being a product of their time or not having resources that only emerged later on. And he gets both important analyses essentially right. The first is how the role of mobile forces hasn’t really changed for thousands of years. Even if they swapped their horses for motorized vehicles. The second is how firepower and lethality was increasing, with him citing vastly higher casualties in recent (as of publication) battles compared to earlier ones with muzzleloaders.

Of course, the flame of cavalry would be briefly extinguished when offense against it rose massively by 1914 while defense did not. But another vehicle would soon pick up the torch. In any event, this is a good piece of classical military history.

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