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The Cavalry, in spite of their unsuitable armament, continued to conform to the new type—no other course was possible—but as a body they conformed reluctantly and with a lack of imaginative zeal, thereby gravely imperilling their chance of guiding and inspiring progressive mounted action. In common with all other corps they improved greatly as time went on, and always, as befitted their standing in the professional army, set a good example of the prime soldierly virtues. Their staff work, too, was a model to the rest of the army. But when we consider the unique initial advantage they possessed in building on a broad and solid foundation of drill, discipline, and esprit de corps, we are bound to admit that the results are disappointing.

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“Well, I’m going in here.” The man glanced across his shoulder at the house. “If it’s water you want or anything like that, or if you’d care to use the phone——” She threw up her hands in an abandonment to merriment “Tom! He hates it Poor Tom! Haven’t I told you he drizzles?” 27Recall the first two conditions, which may be regarded as counterparts of one another—density of formation, both in the attacking and defending force. The reader will easily understand why the latter condition is so necessary. To propel a massed body of horsemen against an extended line of riflemen is a wasteful expenditure of effort. There will be no shock worth the name, while the mass in motion is almost as vulnerable a target to rifles as though the defence too were massed; fire is convergent instead of direct, that is all. But supposing the horsemen follow suit, and charge in loose, extended order? So they may, but in that case also they will not produce shock, which is the indispensable condition for the successful use of the steel weapon. Here is the heart of the whole matter. Though there is, of course, no fixed moment when shock may be said to disappear, it is plain that with every additional yard of extension, either in the attacking or defending line, or both, shock, which means the violent physical impact of a united body, must diminish. It is equally plain that in proportion to this diminution of shock the chances of the steel weapon rapidly dwindle and the retaliatory power of the rifleman rapidly increases. He is now an individual pitted against a rival individual who has lost the collective power due to mass, while he retains the vulnerability due to large surface presented by his horse. On these terms the rifleman has an immense advantage. He has room to move in, a longer range for his far more deadly weapon, and breathing-time. Let the student beware, then, when he finds it laid down in the textbook that Cavalry, when attacking Infantry, are to charge in “extended order” with the steel weapon.[12] No thoroughly logical upholder of shock—no German, for example—would be guilty of such a solecism. Bernhardi recommends, at the utmost, a “loosening of the files” from the jammed, knee-to-knee 28rigidity of the charge, as it is to be employed against horsemen. “Only closed lines on a broad front can be relied upon for success.”[13] Our idea of extension could only come from confusion of thought in a period of transition. The reader must watch this point most carefully when we come to illustrations from the South African War. Is there, then, no opportunity for horsemen to charge in extended order? Of course there is; but not for horsemen using the steel. I shall come to the other type in a moment. Artillery with Mounted Troops.—I pointed out in Chapter VII. the disadvantages of allowing mounted troops of any class, acting independently, to rely too much on the support of Artillery. Guns weaken surprise, which is the soul of mounted effort. This truth came out with increasing clearness during the guerilla war. The Boers, having exhausted all their ammunition and resources for repair and upkeep, learnt, perforce, to do without guns altogether, with immense advantage to their tactics. When they obtained them by capture, they soon abandoned them. We ourselves, in offence, obtained little, if any, value from guns, and were apt to 237lose in vigour by the ever-present temptation of shelling before attacking. In defence they were often useful, but often, magnificently efficient as the gunners were, a source of tactical embarrassment. How vulnerable guns are to the assaults of bold mounted riflemen the record of losses in South Africa shows with painful clearness. The truth is, that the conditions created by the smokeless magazine rifle are highly unfavourable to the use of artillery in exclusively mounted warfare. When both sides are mounted, and acting freely, the game should be “loose” and “fast,” to borrow football metaphors. The battery has no target worth speaking of, and is itself a very substantial and a highly sensitive target, whose mobility is liable to be destroyed in a few moments by rifle-fire. The team is the vital point, and the team alone, in the vulnerable surface it presents, is six times more extensive than a single troop-horse, and twenty times more extensive than a rifleman skirmishing on foot. Not he that repeateth the name, "To Messrs Teitz; Lying lazily in his steamer-chair, with the sun-dazzled vacancy of ocean before him, the bigness of life came acutely home to him. Looking back over his few years, he saw that the supreme need for great living is charity—to be content to love, as Madame Josephine would put it. He saw something else: that life has amazing recuperative powers and that no single defeat is overwhelming. Disappointment only becomes overwhelming when it is used for bitterness, as it was used by Hal.

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