Education

William E. Titus and Horse, World War I, c. 1917


Historical Context
Until World War One, a nation’s cavalry was a vital part of it's armed forces. Prior to WWI, nations across the globe increased the strength of their cavalry. Often, the cavalry was utilized to charge the opposing side in order to make ground advancements. After the cavalry made the initial charge into new territory, foot soldiers would follow and further secure the territory.



During WWI however, new fighting techniques and advancements in military technology brought an end to the traditional use of horses and the cavalry. Trench warfare and the invention of machine guns halted the usefulness of cavalry charges. The new advances in war left the cavalry with no viable method of survival.      



Although the effectiveness of the cavalry came to an end during WWI, horses were still a valuable part of the war. Horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules were now employed to transport armaments and supplies to troops on the front. Horses and supplies followed behind the foot soldiers. Horses could traverse areas the trucks and other vehicles could not navigate. By the end of WWI, the horses’ function transitioned from the battlefield to the support line. 
Essential Question
How do animals contribute to historical events?
Check for Understanding
How did Titus contribute to World War I?
[click to enlarge]
William Titus with Horse, New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B03_F05_Titus
Document Description
William E. Titus and horse, World War I, c. 1917.
Questions
  1. How and why did the use of horses change during WWI?
  2. What was the main role of horses in war prior to WWI?
  3. What replaced cavalry charges during WWI?
Historical Challenge
What cavalry charges took place during the early years of WWI? What were the results of those charges? What other purposes could the military have used horses for during WWI?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: Since horses require care, what would the military need to provide the horses to ensure their good health? Do you think there were any veterinarians that accompanied the military?
Math: Horses can pull up to six times their weight. If a 1200lb horse and a 1350lb horse pulled one wagon, what is the maximum weight that could be pulled by the horses?
Resources
  1. Mundy, P.C.D. History of 1/1st Hants Royal Horse Artillery During the Great War 1914-1919. Naval and Military Press, February 2009. ISBN: 184574036X