Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cavalry, troops designed to fight principally on horseback. Under the feudal system every holder of land was assessed at a "knight's fee," whereby he was "required to provide a charger, a coat of mail, a helmet, shield, and lance," and either he or his deputy had to serve the Crown a period of forty days in any year at his own expense. The cavalry of a mediaeval army consisted of those knights and men-at-arms, and Hobiliers, or inferior horsemen, who bore the brunt of the battle; the infantry being accessories. But the introduction of gunpowder changed the role of the mounted arm, and it became auxiliary to the infantry. The "men-at-arms" with complete armour gave way to the "spears and launces" in the reign of Mary, and when the lance fell into disuse, the cavalry were designated "Horse," and were generally cuirassed. They were armed then with swords and a pair of pistols or petronels; and as the musket improved, so another mounted "arm," the "dragoon" - destined to become true cavalry later on - was introduced. He was at first merely a mounted infantry man, armed with the infantry musket, the "Horse" then carrying a lighter carbine. Eventually the armament of both assimilated, and during the early part of the eighteenth century there was no practical difference betwreen them either in their work or equipment. In the British army the regiments of "Horse" were reduced to Dragoons in 1746; but to distinguish them from the original dragoon regiments they were given the title of "Dragoon Guards." Finally, light dragoons were generally added to the establishments of most armies, and these were eventually changed into "Lancers" and "Hussars," the former being armed with lances, the dress of the latter being changed. At present the cavalry of an army is divided into heavy regiments, such as 1st and 2nd Life Guards, the Horse Guards, and the 1st and 2nd Dragoons; medium, the Dragoon Guards; and light, as the Hussars and Lancers. With the exception of the Lancers, who carry the lance in addition, the whole of the British cavalry is armed with sword and carbine; but it is proposed to furnish the front rank of all cavalry with the lance. A cavalry regiment consists of four squadrons, each of two troops, and numbers about 400 men. The weight carried by the horse varies from eighteen to twenty-two stone.