What brought cavalry to an end?

The irruption of machine guns and the new breech-loading artillery pieces on the battlefield brought cavalry to an end during World War I as Generals were forced to change the traditional military tactics. These automatic weapons, which were by-products of the Second Industrial Revolution, gave infantry and artillery such an impressive fire power that troops were forced to take cover. From the Napoleonic Wars to the Franco-Prussian War, cavalry had been considered an elite force that decided the course of a battle in a matter of minutes, with their powerful and massive spear-bristling charges at the flimsy infantry lines.

The Battle of the Marne, in September 1914, was the last time the British and the German armies used cavalry divisions in combat as both horses and their riders were mowed down by a dense volume of machine gun and artillery fire. With the introduction of the first tanks in the same armed conflict, such as the British Mark I and the French Renault FT-17, which replaced the horses, the traditional cavalry disappeared from the battlefield. With a high profile over the horizon, horses had become too big a target for such devastating volume of fire poured out from machine guns, which were used by the infantry.


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Thor is Carlos Benito Camacho, the manager and writer of this blog.