What Are The Disadvantages Of Roman Cavalry

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There is a conception that Roman Republican cavalry was inferior to other cavalry and that they were just to support their far superior infantry. However, Philip Sidnell argues that this view is misguided and that the cavalry was a powerful and crucial asset to the Republican army.[20][full citation needed]
Sidnell argues that the record shows that Roman cavalry in Republican times were a strong force in which they bested higher reputed cavalry of the time. Examples include the Heraclea (280 BC), in where the Roman cavalry dismayed the enemy leader Pyrrhus by gaining the advantage in a bitterly contested melee against his Thessalian cavalry, then regarded as the finest in the world, and were only driven back when Pyrrhus deployed his elephants,
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But Sidnell argues that this is only because of a consistent numerical superiority in cavalry. Another disadvantage for the Romans in the Second Punic War was that their respective cavalry were heavily armoured shock cavalry, used to the rudimentary tactic of charging. This, however useful against infantry that has been routed or is flanked, failed against Hannibal 's nimble, Numidian light cavalry, which used a skilful, elaborate series of movements that consistently defeated the Roman cavalry. It should be noted that on occasions when they were deployed properly and led competently, such as during the skirmish before Ilipa and at the pitched battles of the Great Plains and Zama, the Italo-Roman cavalry were able to best their Carthaginian counterparts, while at Dertosa, they were able to hold their own despite being supposedly…show more content…
The cavalry of Roman armies before the Second Punic War had been exclusively Roman and confederate Italian, with each holding one wing of the battleline (the Romans usually holding the right wing). After that war, Roman/Italian cavalry was always complemented by allied native cavalry (especially Numidia), and was usually combined on just one wing. Indeed, the allied cavalry often outnumbered the combined Roman/Italian force e.g. at Zama, where the 4,000 Numidians held the right, with just 1,500 Romans/Italians on the left.[24][full citation needed] One reason was the lessons learnt in the war, namely the need to complement heavy cavalry with plenty of light, faster horse, as well as increasing the cavalry share when engaging with enemies with more powerful mounted forces. It was also inevitable that, as the Roman Republic acquired an overseas empire and the Roman army now campaigned entirely outside Italy, the best non-Italian cavalry would be enlisted in increasing numbers, including (in addition to Numidians) Gallic, Spanish and Thracian horse.[25][full citation needed] Towards the end of the republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire, the Roman cavalry itself was rendered less and less of a powerful force, with Rome meeting its cavalry needs with auxiliary, allied cavalry
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