RIP Mr. Hopper.
I'm currently reading the Eric Flint and David Drake series about the General Belisarius. While the work is fiction, it is based on a real person - just in an alternate universe. I've read this series several times so it is an old friend.
Flint and Drake are masters of Historical Alternate Universes and masters of Military History. You and see that in their writing. I'm not good enough with Military History but certainly when I've looked up some of the things that they've written about, I'm able to find it when I Google or use Wikipedia.
What I like most about the books is that the characters are engaging. I like a lot of them. And the ones that you aren't supposed to like...well, I don't like them. They have made me laugh and they have made me cry. But what I like the most is that I can really, really visualize what is going on.
One of my favorites is in the first book, An Oblique Approach, Chapter 8 and it concerns horses. I'm going to pick and choose my favorite paragraphs here so what I'm quoting is over several pages:
Imagine three thousand Persian lancers, thundering up to a wretched little earthen wall, guarded by not more than a thousand terrified, pathetic, wretched infantrymen. They would sweep the enemy aside, right? Like an avalanche!
Well, not exactly. There were problems.
First, each calvary mount has been hauling a man...carrying fifty pounds of armor and twenty pounds of weapons - not to mention another hundred pounds of the horse's own armor. At a full gallop for half a mile, in the blistering heat of a Syrian summer.
So, the horses were winded, disgruntled, and thinking dark thoughts.
Two - all hearsay to the contrary - horses are not stupid. Quite a bit brighter than men, actually, when it comes to that intelligence known popularly as "horse sense." So, when a horse sees looming before it:
a) a ditch
b) a wall
c) lots of men on the wall holding long objects with sharp points.
The horse stops. Fuck the charge. If some stupid man wants to hurl himself against all that dangerous crap, let him.
...Yes, horses will charge - against infantry in the open, and against other calvary. Against anything. as long as the horse can see that it stands a chance of getting through the obstacles ahead, reasonably intact.
But no horse this side of an equine insane asylum will charge a wall too high to leap over. Especially a wall covered with nasty sharp objects.
And there's no point trying to convince the horse that the infantry manning the wall are feeble and demoralized.
Is that so. Tell you what, asshole. Climb off my back and show me. Use your own legs. Mine hurt.