Tuesday, November 13, 2012

La Noue: Lancers vs. Reiters 1587

Whereupon I will say that although the squadrons of spears  do give a gallant charge, yet it can work no great effect, for at the outset it killeth none, yea it is a miracle if any be slain with the spear. Only it may wound some horses, and as for the shock it is many time of small force, where the perfect Reiter do never discharge their pistols but in joining and striking at hand, they wound, aiming always either at the face or at the thigh. The second rank also shooteth off so the forefront of the men-at-arms squadron is at the first meeting half overthrown and maimed. Although the first rank may with their spears do some hurt, especially to the horses, yet the other ranks following cannot do so,  at the least  the second and third, but are driven to cast away their spears and to help themselves with their swords. Herein we are to consider two things which experience hath confirmed. The one that the Reiter is never so dangerous as when they be mingled with the enemy, for then be they all fire. The other, that two squadrons meeting, they have scarce discharged the second pistol but either the one or the other turneth away. For they contesteth no longer as the Romans did against other nations, who oftentimes kept the field fighting two hours face to face before either party turned back. By all the afore-said reasons, I am driven to avow that a squadron of pistols doing their duties shall break a squadron of spears.

La Noue, François de, Edward Aggas, Thomas Orwin, and Thomas Cadman. 1587. The politicke and militarie discourses of the Lord de la Novve. Whereunto are adioyned certaine obseruations of the same author, of things happened during the three late ciuill warres of France. London: Printed for T. C[adman] and E.A[ggas] by T. Orwin. 

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