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The cavalry was organized in regiments of cuirassiers, dragoons, lancers, hussars and mounted rifles, the regiments having four service and one depot squadrons. Troopers were armed with lance, sword and carbine (for which in 1908 the substitution of a short rifle with bayonet was suggested). In peace time the highest permanent organization was the brigade of two regiments or eight squadrons, but in war and at manoeuvres divisions of three brigades, with horse artillery attached, were formed.

There were ninety-three regiments of cavalry - cuirassiers, lancers, dragoons and hussars. Uhlans and cuirassiers were the heaviest German cavalry. Ever since the Franco-German war there has been the fashion to talk of all the German cavalry men as Uhlans, the name properly belongs only to the lancer regiments. Lances were first introduced into the modern European armies in imitation of Napoleon's regiments of Polish lancers, and the name "Uhlan" for a lancer has come into use in Germany from a Polish word itself derived from the Turkish.

The matter of distinguishing the various bodies of German cavalry was not generally understood outside of Germany. Foreign newspapers had called then all "Uhlans," probably finding that an odd and mouth-filling word apparently synonymous with cavalry. In reality there was little or no distinction between dragoons, hussars, cuirassiers, and Uhlans. All of them were armed precisely alike, with lance, carbine, and sabre, and all performed alike the mounted and dismounted functions of the cavalry arm. During peace times they were distinguished by their garrison uniform. But in France and Belgium during the Great War every cavalry regiment wore the same war gray. The cuirassiers discarded the conspicuous shining breastplate which gave them their name; the hussars scrapped their handsome but useless cloaks and facings.

The various branches of the service were distinguished during the War only by the trimmings of their uniforms - shoulder straps, buttons, etc. - undiscernible at a few yards - and by their headgear. Uhlans wore a sort of flat mortarboard top to their helmets, dragoons and cuirassiers had a spike on theirs, but in the latter regiments the steel came down on the backs of the necks, as was the case also with French cuirassiers. Hussars, lightest of all in men and mounts, wore a straight up and down beaver cap with a pompon in it. All the helmets were covered with gray cloth, to that the steel protects but did not glitter in the son.

All the heavy cavalry regiments in the German army had the front rank armed with a lance - a weapon with a long shaft formed of a light steel tube, and carrying in peace time a small pennon of the colors of whatever State the regiment may belong to. The other cavalry weapons are the sword, and a Mauser carbine. And a considerable amount of time is given to dismounted drill and practice of the carbine fighting in open order. To every regiment a group of cyclists was attached for orderly and messenger duties.

There were five squadrons in a cavalry regiment. In war time one of these squadrons is left behind at the depot to train reservists and recruits and supply drafts to make up for losses. The other four squadrons take the field. In each squadron there are four troops, each of one officer and forty men. The war strength is about 670 officers and men. In peace time there are generally four regiments of cavalry in each army corps district. On mobilisation one of these is attached to the army coips, and the three others go to join one of the cavalry divisions.

The horses for the cavalry are in times of peace entirely obtained by off-hand purchasing from dealers. In Prussia the horses were bought at three years old by commissions composed of officers, and under orders of the remounting department of the War Ministry ; for the purpose of further development, they are turned over to remounting depots. After remaining there for a year, they were sent to the regiments, where they were carefully trained, and, as a rule, were not put into active service until they are six years old. A similar system prevailed in Bavaria, while in Saxony the horses were turned over to the regiments as soon as purchased. Germany was fortunate in possessing an abundance of excellent horses, which, after careful training, answered every requirement of the service.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:54:35 ZULU