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Old 5th November 2008, 02:51 PM   #16
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,694

Originally Posted by katana
Cool links Bill

Hi Jim ,
the Japanese horsemen often had a banner attached to their backs ....for identification purposes. They tended to be 'light' cavalry and many accounts of their battles describe that after the initial charge, fighting on horseback tended to end up in 'dog fights' ( the aerial type ...not canine ) Because of this ....rapid ID'ing of horsemen was essential to prevent 'friendly fire'.
My understanding is that the Hussars fought in similar manner ....using tactics 'learned' from their battles with 'Eastern' neighbours, many of which were traditionally excellent horseman. These tactics also did very well against 'Western' opponents...whom were unfamiliar with these strategies.

I suspect there are several reasons for the wings...they are impressive , giving more height to the rider, obscuring the view of those being 'charged' (making it difficult to estimate the number coming towards you..... making it difficult to make quick, counter/defensive decisions) and 'rapid' identification of the riders.

A nice touch is the fact the wings tended to be made from eagle feathers (an important icon of the area).

Kind Regards David

Hi David,
I wanted to thank you again for your as usual, most astute, inclusion of this example of tall, mounted objects in the form of banners, by Japanese Samurai in this discussion.
While we seem to have agreed that the use of the Polish hussar wings in battle was unlikely, I think your example of the use of these banners seems to the contrary, and these banners were indeed used.

The point of preventing 'friendly fire' is also an important topic, which evolved into the use of identifying devices, colors or items by troops in battle to accomplish this important feature. From the well discussed heraldry of medieval knights to botanicals used in India and by Scottish clans, to the ultimate development of uniforms worn by armies....including identifying insignia...which brings us back to the Polish Hussars and their more modern use of the wing...this would be interesting to review also.

Perhaps more on the Samurai banners, and of course weaponry would be another great topic here!!

All the best,
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