Posts Tagged ‘Mahdi’

Wie die Kürassiere bei Waterloo

31. Mai 2008

Die letzte Kavallerieattacke in einer Schlacht der Briten

On the instant all the sixteen troops swung
round and locked up into a long galloping line,
and the 21st Lancers were committed to their first 
charge in war.
Two hundred and fifty yards away the dark-blue men
were firing madly in a thin film of light-blue smoke.
Their bullets struck the hard gravel into the air,
and the troopers, to shield their faces from the
stinging dust, bowed their helmets forward, 
like the Cuirassiers at Waterloo.
The pace was fast and the distance short.
Yet, before it was half
covered, the whole aspect of the affair changed.
A deep crease in the ground – a dry watercourse,
a khor – appeared where all had seemed smooth,
level plain; and from it there sprang, with the
suddenness of a pantomime effect and a
high-pitched yell, a dense white mass of men
nearly as long as our front and about twelve deep.
A score of horsemen and a dozen bright flags rose
as if by magic from the earth. Eager warriors
sprang forward to anticipate the shock. The rest
stood firm to meet it.

Durch diese Linie hindurch

The Lancers acknowledged the apparition only by
an increase of pace.
Each man wanted sufficient momentum to drive
through such a solid line.
The flank troops, seeing that they overlapped,
curved inwards like the horns of a moon.
But the whole event was a matter of seconds.
The riflemen, firing bravely to the last, were
swept head over heels into the khor, and jumping
down with them, at full gallop and in the closest
order, the British squadrons struck the fierce
brigade with one loud furious shout. The collision
was prodigious. Nearly thirty Lancers, men and horses,
and at least two hundred Arabs were overthrown.

Wundersame zehn Sekunden

The shock was stunning to both sides, and for perhaps 
ten wonderful seconds no man heeded his enemy.
Terrified horses wedged in the crowd, bruised and shaken
men, sprawling in heaps, struggled, dazed and stupid,
to their feet, panted, and looked about them.
Several fallen Lancers had even time to re-mount.
Meanwhile the impetus of the cavalry carried them on.
As a rider tears through a bullfinch, the officers forced
their way through the press; and as an iron rake might be
drawn through a heap of shingle, so the regiment followed.
They shattered the Dervish array, and, their pace reduced
to a walk, scrambled out of the khor on the further side,
leaving a score of troopers behind them, and dragging on
with the charge more than a thousand Arabs. Then, and not
till then, the killing began; and thereafter each man saw
the world along his lance, under his guard, or through the
back-sight of his pistol; and each had his own strange
tale to tell.
Stubborn and unshaken infantry hardly ever meet stubborn
and unshaken cavalry. Either the infantry run away and are
cut down in flight, or they keep their heads and destroy
nearly all the horsemen by their musketry.
On this occasion two living walls had actually crashed
The Dervishes fought manfully. They tried to hamstring
the horses, They fired their rifles, pressing the muzzles
into the very bodies of their opponents. They cut reins
and stirrup-leathers. They flung their throwing-spears
with great dexterity. They tried every device of cool,
determined men practised in war and familiar with cavalry;
and, besides, they swung sharp, heavy swords which bit deep.
The hand-to-hand fighting on the further side of the khor
lasted for perhaps one minute.

Pferde fassen wieder Tritt

Then the horses got into their stride again, the pace
increased, and the Lancers drew out from among their
Within two minutes of the collisionevery living man was
clear of the Dervish mass. All who had fallen werecut
at with swords till they stopped quivering, but no
artistic mutilations were attempted.

(Winston Churchill:The River WarGutenberg)