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Ask me about Warfare

Discussion in 'Research' started by thecoldembrace, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    My thought is that if the dogs got through the line of pikes - which they could quite easily since they're fast, agile and compact, then you'd have them inside the lines causing major havoc. I wouldn't put them in armor - it'd just slow them down. But there is a reason that dogs generally haven't been used as foot soldiers - in battle they'd have a friend or foe issue. They might know their master - but everyone else would be foe. Defending territory or pack mates is one thing. A full scale melee is something completely different. If you use them they'd have to be incredibly well trained.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    I can't really see dogs being useful against pikemen. Pikemen have the advantage of reach. I don't see them risking the spear points to get within a pikeman's reach. Furthermore even if they did they'd be countered by armor. I heard that wolves fight by having some of the pack members distract the prey and then having another wolf attack from the prey's blindside while they're distracted. Against a group of trained and armed pikemen that tactic wouldn't work, I mean, the pikemen could just put their backs to each other and act like a spiky sea urchin or something. The time it would take to raise and train war dogs compared to their potential weaknesses in battle wouldn't be a good use of an army's resources.
     
  3. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    War dogs were used effectively by various cultures across the ages. Most of the time they were limited to patrols and scouting missions, but in certain situations they were used to great effect.

    In the mid 7th century BC a war was fought between Ephesus and Magnesia, two Ionian Greek city-states. Magnesian horsemen were said to be each accompanied by their own war dog and would be released in advance of a cavalry charge against the enemy phalanx to soften it up and disrupt the densely packed formation. Because they were so low to the ground, and the hoplites fearing both the dogs and the oncoming cavalry would slip and break rank, allowing the dogs to do some rather devastating work on the soldiers just as the cavalry struck home.

    The written records all have dogs used in conjunction of attacks by other soldiers or their masters. Most dogs simply joined their master in combat as an ally to watch his back. Even if the master died the dog would almost always stay by his side fending off enemies, crows and other carrion birds until it starved to death.

    Probably their best use is against cavalry, not infantry. Their ferociousness scared the living hell out of horses, and powerful jaws were said to break the legs of horses, throwing a rider to the ground to then be set upon by a well trained dog.

    Lastly, they were used after the battle to chase down, fleeing enemy soldiers or hunt them down the next day.

    Truly the most loyal of animals.

    -Cold
     
  4. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    This is more about on the strategy level when it comes to warfare but I was inspired for a setting by a Civ V mod and I'm wondering how the geography of the setting would affect warfare. The idea is that once upon a time in the past there was one continent. I don't have a good enough head for scale to know if it'd be a pangea-style mega continent or a more modern day North American sized continent. In any case one day in the distant past WHAM! a meteor slams into it. The crater would form an inland sea sort of like the gulf of mexico and would shatter the continent like fine china, with thin channels connecting the inland sea with the outer sea. I'm worried how the inner sea and the channels would affect strategy in warfare.

    By the way, what I had in mind is something like this; http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/3281179238052529356/B67FA9A7FA51B29F446E91D64252E91A9ACA2691/ only with a larger inner sea than in that one, something that would look like it resulted from a meteor hitting it.
     
  5. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    It affects things hugely.

    (Let's start by assuming the cataclysm was prehistoric, so the region isn't ruined or even considered "cursed" in old memories.)

    Best example I can think of is the Vikings, who raided practically everywhere in Europe at least once because they could always get there by sailing up a river. If you have that many little rivers, that could be what happens-- and you might end up with the same thing that happened to Europe: a land covered with defensive castles and warriors ready for trouble.

    It's also been argued that many of the nordic peoples themselves were tribally fragmented because their land was fragmented, by all the fjords cutting the land apart. It was much harder for a leader to unite a people than for anyone with issues to hole up on their side of the "moat" and dare him to reconquer them.

    By the way, if that sounds like the rivers are both helping and hurting attackers, the difference is in sustaining the attack. It's easy to sail in and hit the weakest target you can find (hence the castles, you'd skip anyone who wasn't that weakest target) when you're just going to zip away with the loot. It's harder to keep bringing in enough troops and supplies to hold that land.
     
  6. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    One thing about rivers that holds true to civilization, is that they are excellent land and territorial markers. So first off I would say that instead of many large nations you might have clusters of many, all using the winding rivers to dictate their territories.

    Another change would be that nearly every nation or culture would not be landlocked and thus they would all have to almost even levels a river faring force of ships to a seafaring one. Trade from one culture at the end of the continent would be very easily accessible to another on the other side. Because of this, technology and ideas would spread from one area to another with rapid ease. A culture with a superior rise in technology would lose that advantage rather quickly and would have to act before others rose to challenge it with the same level.

    As to the trials and obstacles of military maneuvers in a world like this, the army would and could be easily provisioned, and moved along river routes to a battle site much faster than by traveling over roads at the speed of feet. To further this battles would have a much higher rate of happening near bodies of water, allowing full navies to be integrated into weapon system, preforming operations alongside armies that fight on land.

    Because of everyone's close proximity to these water systems, they would develop ways of conducting successful offensive and defensive campaigns. In a war, the side that controls the water system best would be able to dictate their will upon another, forcing men to have to use cross able points to invade. At these crossing points you would probably find some heavy set fortifications, keeps and bridges that control both the crossing point and that river or body of water.

    Nations would have separate fleets that would dominate in either deep bodies of water or river like conditions. The nation that would first develop a ship that could do both things would probably dominate until their secret way of shipbuilding was uncovered.

    Lastly you would see a massive rise in the need for nations and armies to have well trained and educated engineers and craftsmen, for the massive task of crossing these bodies of water and building vehicles to transverse them.

    -Cold
     
  7. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Well, I wasn't really thinking rivers, something closer to the English channel though maybe a bit thinner than that. A couple of those dividing the land into three to five (not sure on the exact number I want) subcontinents.
     
  8. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Regardless if you have a landmass with rivers or a landmass with larger channels, you have similar issues plaguing the same people, across the map. Depending on how far you are from these large channels of water things would change of course. More landlocked nations won't have to devote time and energy in developing navies and their merchant-marine.

    For those with access to the sea, they have what one of my old professor's called Beached Paranoia. Because the waves are only ruled by those with the largest navy, fastest navy and the like the game can switch extremely fast, and invasions by sea are far harder to see coming than by land. Those nations that have a well developed early warning system will fare better of course, giving them time to mobilize a defense force to greet any unwelcome guests. Think of England when they were threatened by the invasion of Spain in 1588. The British Isles as a whole had developed a well defined system of early warnings, to protect against mainland invasion forces from just about any rival power.

    Strategically, there would probably be more naval battles if the main landmass has these significant grooves that divide it. Control of the channels would determine rise and fall of nations, and those with the most control would also be richer from the trade that such a natural system brings.

    Overall, lots of things to consider... If you have something more specific I might be able to help further.

    -Cold
     
  9. TywinLannister

    TywinLannister Acolyte

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    Hey thecoldembrace. My problem is, I always hear of kings breaking their backs to raise money for their war, but I never quite know where all that money goes. I hear that knights and troops brought their own gear, so what was all the money spent on?

    Also, I love logistics, so a couple of questions :3
    1) Were smiths dragged along with the army? What about medical specialists? Where did they and all the whores, bards and merchants trailing after the army go during combat time?
    2) Was gear normally dumped off somewhere far behind the army or did the army keep it tight and close to them? Also, how were the crates and wagons to carry them in acquired?
    3) Is there a book you could recommend on the economics and logistics of war? Or a nice way to learn it? I would gladly read it/follow your learning method.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  10. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Cold can probably answer these better than me but here goes; The knights might come pre-equipped but the majority of the troops were essentially drafted men equipped with perhaps light armor and a pike or some other form of weapon. Training and equipping them costs money. There's a general maintenance cost from blades going dull, armor straps giving way, wagon wheels breaking, and so on. You also need to feed an army which costs a lot, also to answer one of your later questions buying the crates and wagons or the wood to build them costs a pretty penny.

    I think it would be a combination of bringing doctors and smiths along and teaching some of the soldiers what blacksmithing and medical skills they need. Swords still need to be sharpened, but that doesn't take a full forge or a proffesionally trained blacksmith, both of which might be in short supply while on the march. For doctors there's a similar combination of lack of proper tools and reduced need for proffesional medical skills. Even up to the civil war war time surgeons had a reputation for just chopping off damaged limbs, giving booze or tincture of opium to numb the pain then hoping for the best or a painless death. As for the camp followers to my knowledge they didn't really go anywhere. Sure, it wasn't like they were right there on the battlefield, but the idea of total warfare was a pretty recent convention so the camp follower of the losing side didn't have to worry about being raped and pillaged any more than any other town in the face of a winning army right after a battle.

    Keeping the gear with them seems like it'd make more sense. It would be easier to get at, easier to guard, and easier to destroy in case your side is losing so bad that you'd rather destroy the gear than see the enemy get it. That said though, I imagine it'd be kept at the very back of the back lines so it wouldn't get in the way in a fight. As I said before, wagons and crates were bought or made as neccesary.
     
  11. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    First of all, welcome to Mythic Scribes :D
    So as to your first question, Queshire was actually right on the money.
    An army is not all knights, they are just a relatively small core of men in historical armies. The backbone of a kingdom was professional foot soldiers, mercenaries and the main one, levies. Sellswords and knights would of course supply their own weapons, but professionals and levies had to have their weapons and armaments supplied to them, and professionals, mercenaries and levies at times had to be paid.

    Take into account food, fodder and firewood as well as other things that are easy to gloss over such as banners, tents, cookware, fresh clean water and other odds and ends. Knights supplied their arms and armor but they rarely supplied their own fodder for their horses. Other animals had to be supplied as well such as the mules, oxen, horses that hauled the baggage train and well as the siege train.

    Training levies costs money and time in and of itself. Keeping them fed and outfitted was extremely expensive.

    As for the camp followers, blacksmiths were hired or they followed voluntarily in the certainty that they would make a pretty penny repairing damaged gear, shoeing horses and mending a massive list of items that would inevitably break or wear down during a campaign.
    Camp surgeons were usually under the employ of the king, but you also have a great deal of members of the cloth that would go along with the army, especially those with medical or herbal knowledge to help combat a plague of injuries, diseases and so forth.

    For the others, and to where they went, they often kept a very respectable distance from the main encampment and in the event of a battle would withdraw even further away to avoid being caught up in any ensuing mayhem. In the event that they were caught up with by enemy troops, they were actually fair game to kill and loot, and for the women, they could be caught and raped, or killed, sometimes both. It was not a very safe place for those who were defenseless.

    Provisions were very well guarded and kept close to the camp to best prevent enemy sabotage. The army also had a very keen sense of protecting their supplies because, if they didn't they knew they would go hungry very quickly. In most sense it was kept a close, well protected rear point of the army's encampment. In times when a battle was being lost, provisions could be ordered to start getting away and in the chance that they couldn't they were often destroyed to deny them to the enemy.

    The wagons and crates, along with those who drove them were purchases and employed at the beginning of a campaign, with more often picked up along the way in times of need. Barrel makers, wood workers and carpenters made a good deal of money creating storage for armies and were always high in demand. Nothing really ever came free, regardless of oath to a king.

    As for a good book to pick up, I'll have to look for a few... I'll even see if I can find something free for you to download or something.

    -Cold
     
  12. TywinLannister

    TywinLannister Acolyte

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    Thank you so much Queshire and thecoldembrace, I appreciate it :)

    Aaaah, that's the main thing I see. Sometimes you get the impression that the king could just get whatever he wanted, lol.
     
  13. Creed

    Creed Sage

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    Hello,
    I'd like to start by saying YOU'RE ALL AWESOME. This information is invaluable and I wish I had all of this locked away in my brain.
    Could you describe the conventions of naval warfare before gunpowder was in use?
    I'd very much like to use a naval battle sequence or two in one of my books, and I'm thinking of giving them something akin to Greek fire. How would this be used?
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2014
  14. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Greek fire is one of those mysteries fromthe past about which little is known for certain. However there are depictions showing sailors basically pumping the stuff by hand through the equivalent of fire hoses. Not sure how far they could spray it like that, my best guess would be that it would only be twenty or thirty feet. But when ships had no range weapons at all (or few - the Roman scorpion a sort of large war machine / crossbow was designed to be ship mounted) but instead battled mostly by having men basically jump across with swords in hand that would be enough.

    The other option was the fire ship which may be complete fantasy, which was in essence one ship filled with Greek fire which was rammed into another.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  15. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Hello, Creed. The Greek fire question has been in question for so long. Some believe the claims to be over exaggerated while others like myself point to quite a few first hand sources that claim its truth. Regardless everyone agrees that SOMETHING was used to burn down several fleets, especially in the Byzantine period around Constantinople. The Byzantines had a penchant for murdering their Emperors, who kept the full secret of their Greek fire close to the royal family and trusted advisers. No one outside of that inner circle ever had the real picture.

    As for how they were used, the ships carrying the flame were generally smaller, quick moving vessels that could dart in and out with tighter turning so that they could do a run through and hit several enemy ships in one go. From about fifteen feet off they would hurl the liquid fire from siphons which would burst into flames on contact. The ingredients are unknown but most agree that a crude.. though possibly a refined petroleum was used, and the end result was very much akin to our modern napalm.

    As psychotick also said about the ramming, there were specialized boats that were rammed into enemy vessels and exploded on impact. They were used less frequently though.

    One of the most probable methods though was the clay pot rammer. Basically a ship would be outfitted with a ram at the bow and two clay pots were hung by cables off to the starboard and port sides were the ship would ram. When rammed into the side of an enemy vessel the force of the impact flung the pots onto the enemy ship to shatter and spread the suddenly very combustible fire over men and wood. Being nearly impossible to put out at that time, the result would almost surely destroy the enemy vessel and send the enemy into a state of pure terror... left with either drowning or burning to death.

    As for conventions of naval warfare before the rise of gunpowder, there were several different tactics used. Fleets would have smaller, quicker ships that carried crews of archers who would in effect do circles around larger ships or chase down smaller ones. Those smaller ships would rain arrows at enemy sailors, or light their arrows on fire to try and burn down sails or if possible set fire to the ship itself.

    Medium and larger vessels were outfitted with powerful rams and a contingent of soldiers to board, as well as a core of archers to do their own work. Some ships had their on-board ballistae or ship mounted catapults, these would fling stones to breech enemy hulls, kill crew or when set ablaze be burning projectiles that added fire to the mix. The most used tactic was to ram and sink the enemy ship, but if not able to, they would line up alongside and set down gangplanks and charge across for melee. The Roman's used an extremely well defined of boarding tactics and had their gangplank's lined with teeth to bite down on an enemy vessel's deck so it couldn't easily be dislodged, before having their marines storm across, basically turning the two ships into one battlefield for the Roman meat grinding infantry.

    The main thing was to either be extremely maneuverable and fast or large enough to were you could crush all resistance. Most fleets combined the two to work in tandem to envelope, slow and harass, before hammering home.

    -Cold
     
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  16. Creed

    Creed Sage

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    Thank you both so much!
    What sort of device and manpower would be needed to pump out this substance like a hose, though?
     
  17. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello Cold, thank you for all the valuable information that you are providing for us.

    I have a question: What can you tell us about the legendary Giant Bombard that the Ottoman army used at the Siege of Constantinople in 1453?

    As I understand it, the better-known Dardanelles Gun was a smaller version of the Giant Bombard. They say that the monstrous cannon from 1453 was 8.2 meters long and had to be transported by 60 oxen and 400 men... the thought that this weapon could fire a 270 kilograms stone ball to a distance of a mile is terrifying, and it's hard to imagine the fear that it caused in the inhabitants of the city.

    Do you know if the Giant Bombard was really that large and powerful?

    It would be great to feature the Giant Bombard in a Fantasy setting- I bet that if the forces of Mordor had counted with one, they would have destroyed Minas Tirith in a single day.
     
  18. Actually, from what I heard, the bombard was pretty ineffective. It took a really, really long time to reload, it overheated (so it couldn't be fired around the clock) and it didn't do that much damage to the walls. The walls weren't breached until the final assault and I think the infantry did some of the work.

    As a psychological weapon, I would rate the bombard as more valuable. Loud noises are very terrifying.
     
  19. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    It was probably a rudimentary water type pump. We don't know for sure what was actually used but it is theorized that it was something akin to a hand powered pump that could be used to irrigate farmland. It probably took several people to get the whole pump going at a constant rate to shoot out the liquid, and several more to aim it and make sure that it wasn't splashing onto their own ship which could obviously have some severe repercussions. Beyond that its all speculation since we haven't been able to reconstruct either the devices used or the combustible agent itself.

    -Cold
     
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  20. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    I spent several months in Turkey actually viewing these magnificent guns. The originals that were used against the walls of Constantinople have not been found, so what I viewed were later versions. I had always been fascinated by the stories told of how impressive the bombard was, and seeing it firsthand it definitely made the picture clear. The gun itself was actually two separate pieces that screwed together, a barrel and a powder chamber. Together the weapon weighed from 16 to 19 tons with a caliber of 63cm to 75cm. It could blast a ball of around 300kg which is around 660 pounds just over a mile to bury into a stout stone wall about 2 meters deep. It was cast of bronze and because of it's design and the powder used it had to be cooled using olive oil to avoid the barrel cracking. It took an hour to cool down enough to even begin to be reloaded and fired. On average each gun was only fired around six times a day.

    Because of their size the gun could not be elevate or aimed once it was assembled. It was basically set up, loaded and fired and the crews manning it both prayed it would hit where they wanted it to as well as hoping it wouldn't explode and kill them all... which is thought to be the thing that killed the cannon's creator Urban. Because of this inaccuracy the Turks did several things. They had smaller, more accurate guns that could be elevated and aimed to focus in on the areas were the bombard hit. The bombard broke the shell of the wall, which the Turkish gunners then took apart by using smaller cannons.

    By the end of the 53 day siege entire sections of the walls had been reduced to rubble, allowing the soldiers to storm the once impregnable city. It was extremely loud, and it instilled a massive sense of panic into the citizens and defenders of the city, as they had never seen anything like it. If there had been a way of aiming the bombard so that it struck sections of the wall over and over the city would have fallen even quicker.

    Minis Tirith was built to be both beautiful and resist a siege. However, if Mordor had been able to construct and use something like this, they probably could have done some amazing damage to the walls and city that trebuchets could not replicate. Would it have fallen in a single day? Probably not.

    As to Abbas-Al-Morim's post
    I was lucky to have actually been witness to a replica's firepower firsthand. The damage it caused to a wall we constructed, one that took us three weeks to set up for a full glimpse at its power, was tremendous. It powdered the stone, with its kinetic energy cracking the entire length of what we built... stones almost 50 feet away from the impact had felt the impact and were damaged. The following sand, and rubble in subsequent sections absorbed some of the force but were also reduced. Regardless of its accuracy, the bombard would have allowed quick destruction of the wall by lesser cannon's after it did its work... which all the accounts point to.

    It was ineffective by itself, but the Turks were smart, using it basically as a breech machine to allow the many other lesser cannons to do their work. Even though it took a long time to cool down and reload, the Turks employed a massive set of these grand bombards to fire at a near continued pace throughout the day and night. If they had rolled up to the walls with only one, it most definitely would not have done much of anything.

    I remember it took several days before the ringing in my ears to stop, even though I wore ear protection. People manning it at the siege must have been deaf at the end of the siege.

    -Cold
     
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