a : an army component mounted on horseback
b : an army component moving in motor vehicles or helicopters and assigned to combat missions that require great mobility
: horsemen <a thousand cavalry in flight>
Examples of CAVALRY
- Cavalry is used to perform reconnaissance.
- The cavalry were brought in to support the mission.
Origin of CAVALRY
cavalry, chivalry, from cavaliere
First Known Use: 1546
cavalry noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
Military force mounted on horseback, formerly an important element in the armies of all major powers. When used in combination with other military forces, its main duties included gathering information about the enemy, screening movements of its own army, pursuing a defeated enemy, striking suddenly at detected weak points, turning exposed flanks, and exploiting a penetration or breakthrough. In the late 19th century, largely because of the introduction of repeating rifles and machine guns, cavalry lost much of its former value. By World War I, a cavalry charge against a line of entrenched troops with rapid-firing small arms was suicidal. Armoured vehicles soon replaced horses, and by the 1950s no modern army had horse-mounted units. Today's units designated cavalry employ helicopters and light armoured vehicles in ways analogous to horse cavalry.
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