An Englishman in the Russian Ranks


By John Morse
An interesting description of a cavalry v cavalry encounter on the Eastern Front:

'We proceeded in the direction of Choczi, and met the enemy about sixteen versts [verst = ~kilometre] west of that town, which is situated on the frontier line. They consisted of two regiments of cuirassiers (without their cuirasses) and two of Uhlans.

None of these regiments were of the same numerical strength as ours. I put the German force at 1,800 men, and six light guns. The Russians had 3,000, but no guns: and soon after we came into action we discovered that the enemy was covering a battalion of jagers (riflemen): so really they were much the stronger party.

The swirling melee as Cossacks from Strelets Don Cossack pack attack a line of German Jager supported by a 77mm Battery, and two squadrons of German dragoons.

The Cossacks spread themselves out like a fan, a movement which is as old as the force itself. They then rushed in on the jagers, and, though suffering severely, occupied the attention of those men, while we tackled the dragoons and guns. The latter did not do so very much execution, but the cuirassiers, big, heavy men, broke through our dragoons, who are classed as light cavalry. The Germans, however, are not good swordsmen, and while they were in some disorder, occasioned by the shock of their first charge, our hussars got amongst them and sabred them right and left in fine style.

 Don Cossacks for the Strelets 20mm figure set.

The Uhlans remained in support of the guns, another mistake of theirs: for before they could come to the rescue of the cuirassiers, our dragoons had rallied, and met them in a charge that badly routed them. They fled right off the field, leaving behind about 200 of their number killed. The Cossacks were equally successful. They nearly annihilated the jagers, and the six guns fell into our hands. The cuirassiers, too, were nearly all destroyed: for on account of their weight they could not escape from our light horsemen; the Cossacks in particular showing them no mercy.'

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