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Ask me about Warfare

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

  1. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Hello, Bortasz, thank you for this question.
    So you have the Roman Legion in it's prime, awesome.
    Throughout the history of the Roman Empire, the legion always struggled greatly in three scenarios.

    1.) Legionaries are molded to fight a specific way, that is to say as a cohesive unit with room to maneuver. When this is not achieved we can see time and time again the slaughter that occurs. In the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 C.E. against the Germanic tribes and the Battle of Adrianople in 378 against the Goths are two moments where the ability to maneuver was taken away. The legion was flanked and pressed together, unable to pivot to meet new challenges.

    2.) In moments when the legion is denied the ability to fight as a whole cohesive unit, i.e. using guerrilla tactics, forcing the legionaries to range out from their more expansive units where they are forced to fight one on one the losses will be significantly higher and statistically the chance of defeat will be immensely high. To go along with this to deny the Roman legion the ability to fight a pitched infantry battle will deny them their greatest strength. If you can keep them at a distance and whittle away at them with hit and run tactics or shower them with arrows you can effectively nullify their military strength.

    3.) The final scenario was proven time and time again as a heavy weakness of the Roman war machine, the heavy cavalryman. From Hannibal at Cannae, the Parthians at Carrhae, to Attila and his Huns. Rome severely lacked the ability to field and deal with large amounts of enemy cavalry, especially heavy lanced cavalry employed by Parthia.

    So there are several ways to limit or nullify the use of gunpowder. One initial way is to simply limit the ability to gather the resources necessary to produce gunpowder. However, this would only limit it, my solution: he needs to be an expert to produce actual guns. A random joe smoe will not know how to produce a gun that can work well with black powder. Casting barrels is an art form that even the best in the early days failed at, resulting in a lot of documented moments of disaster, often involving the death of the gunsmith during trials.

    Rome did not have anything that we could really consider equivalent to modern special forces. Almost any type of soldier could be picked out for special assignment, but in terms of what we deal with nowadays they really didn't have anything "special."

    Someone might throw the Batavi at you, saying they were Rome's Navy SEALS, but they were extremely limited, and only operated in very, very, very specific times in Roman history. They were specialists in two things, swimming across rivers that others thought impassible to strike against an enemy on the other side, and training their mounts to swim the same waters, giving them an edge with sudden cavalry attacks. Other than them, theres not much else.

    I hope this information helps out.



    -Cold
     
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  2. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

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    To sum up.

    1. Take away there manoeuvrability. With means they were not able to put shield wall in my way.

    2. Guerilla tactics. Hit, run. Repeat.

    3. Heavy Cavalry with lances.

    Tree the worst think that can happen to Roman Legionaire.

    Having knowledge of gunpowder will allow only produce gunpowder but Guns that shot them is something different.

    There were no Spec-Ops unites in Ancient Rome.

    Got it. Thank you for help.

    Another Question:
    Do you know when something like special - forces show up in the history?
    I know Polish Lisowczycy
    Lisowczycy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    But I'm curious does something other unites exist in the Pass.

    And one more time Thank you.
     
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Specialist troops have always existed, Mountain Troops, Scouts, Assault Troops, Reconnaissance Cavalry, even Riflemen and Grenadiers in their beginnings...
    And every/most armies seems to have had its elite units, even if only if this elite status was in the eyes of those in the unit... [UK Guard regiments are standard cavalry regiments in the British Army but they are only 4 [5?] that get to officially guard the Queen...]
    But as we would understand them Special Forces are a fairly recent invention, in the last hundred years or so.
    I've always thought that what we now consider Special Forces begin about WW2 with the likes of the SAS and Commando Forces or maybe the Zulu and Boer Wars where irregular Scout Forces were used widely.
    A case could be made for Native American cavalry as being unconventional troops as compared to their western derived and trained opponents.
    Ninjas should be in that list and possibly Assassins...
    I do not doubt that others will have different opinions...
     
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  4. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    A frontier post would be nothing without the work of scouts and spies. The function of such a place, besides being the first line of defense guarding against incursions is to sniff out plots across the border. Information is funneled from frontier posts as they are often also trade hubs between peoples, and sent to the capital to be evaluated. Traders and merchants like to talk, and conversation can and will often give information of the state beyond the border, feelings, comings of war and the like.

    Patrols are the flex of the military to project itself into the sight of all those along and across the border. A frontier post without patrols will succumb rather quickly to attacks, and not achieve what it was built for. Patrols can also investigate the rumors brought in by traders, and launch raids to keep enemies on their toes.


    -Cold
     
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  5. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

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    Here's a quick question. What are the main aspects of chariot-based warfare? I'm thinking of the Ancient Near East here.
     
  6. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Hello again, Gurkhal! Awesome question that I am often asked, though for the first time on here.

    So we have three main tactics to use the chariot, The Frontal Charge, The "Caracole," and what is called the Parthian Shot.

    The frontal charge is what we think of a chariot doing mostly, with images of the scythed wheels cutting legs out from beneath lines of unlucky infantrymen.

    [​IMG]

    The Standard of Ur

    With the war standard of Ur we can clearly see down at the bottom the frontal charge. The tactic would be last minute, after having the charioteers loose all their missiles at the enemy ranks before rolling toward them with allied infantry either alongside or right behind. The rear of the chariot had to be protected especially. The charioteers would take up axes and maces and use the momentum of the chariot to break up enemy formations. Only foolish commanders ever sent in their chariots alone, and were rewarded with their chariots being slaughtered after the initial plunge had been absorbed.

    The Caracole or the Cantabrian Circle was a method of pure harassment. This tactic is to line up the chariots one after another and ride almost single file in a large circle just out of range of the enemy infantry. Missiles would be loosed to disrupt and kill as many enemy as possible, doing this until they ran out of munitions. They would then return to their lines to rearm before going out again.

    The Parthian Shot was similar to the Caracole and Cantabrian Circle, yet it was used in conjunction with infantry right before the main lines hit. This method most required light chariots and their speed to move at an enemy line then turn about and fire while riding away. This tactic was used to open slight breaks in enemy lines right before the infantry hacked into it.

    During the fury of battle chariots who hadn't been thrown at the enemy line in a frontal charge would circle around, picking off enemy troops when and where they could. They were best used as a mobile firing platform, harassing the enemy troops and picking off targets of value.

    Also they could be used as a "taxi" like service to transport elite troops to the battlefield quickly, especially in a time when riding horses didn't really exist.

    -Cold
     
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  7. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

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    Thanks thecoldembrace!

    As it is I am torn between Medieval Europe and ancient Near East inspired settings and that's the reason for me asking question of rather different periods.
     
  8. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    What was the historical utility of the testudo ("turtle shell") technique most famously used by the Romans? That's the one where they covered their entire formation with shields. Here's a photo for illustration:

    [​IMG]

    I ask because of a story I recently outlined in the MS Brainstorming section. I have the protagonists' forces inventing this technique and using it against an onslaught of Latin tribesmen, with the core idea being that the Romans had picked it up from enemies sometime in their prehistory. Would testudo work against an onslaught of barbarian raiders?
     
  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    From what I've read it was a defensive formation used for approaching fortifications or instances when under heavy aerial attack...
    I think I have also read that neither commanders nor the soldiers liked the formation because the soldiers couldn't see out of it very well; it was difficult to make all the soldiers manoeuvre in unison, it was very slow [sacrificing speed and manoeuvre for security...] and because of the close quarters it gave you almost no way to fight back.
    If my opponent was more manoeuvrable and lightly armoured than I was [and I'm assuming that "Barbarian Raiders" are going to be lightly armoured and highly mobile] I might be forced in to the Testudo as a last resort to resist a massed assault but it isn't the formation I choose to start the combat.
    If for no other reason than it leaves the soldiers' feet and lower legs exposed and anyone at ground level and attaching them will just aim there...
     
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  10. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

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    Tolittle information. What you mean by Onslaught?

    If I remember corecly it was use to get close to enemy walls mostly. But is perfect to protect you from range weapons.
     
  11. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    This is a good question, Jabrosky. Popular media has constantly portrayed the testudo formation wrong. They almost always employ it IN melee combat on a battlefield. From Gladiator to the Legend of Hercules, it has given people the wrong idea. The strength of this formation lies in assaulting fortified positions. On open ground, or against a prepared battle-line this formation fails, proven several times disastrously in history.

    Formed up in this formation, men move VERY slowly. Commanders cannot call for quick march, as it would expose the soldiers within. Soldiers approaching an enemy line cannot use their pilums, losing a significant weapon to help break up enemy formations. It requires a lot of training and cannot be enacted on the fly by men who are not very familiar with the formation. Working and walking in complete unison.

    Against cavalry this formation also proves disastrous, as the momentum of a single horse and rider can scatter several men because they are so bunched. In the press of melee this formation also hinders the ability of soldiers to fight effectively in their standard way.

    I am not sure how your barbarians are operating, but on an open field, they will have an advantage against this formation.


    -Cold
     
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  12. WPT

    WPT Acolyte

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    Not sure, but the testudo could give protection against volleys of arrows, javelins, and stones - if the stones aren't too big.
     
  13. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Yes, that is what it is good for, but on an open battlefield and engaged in melee, the formation hampers more than helps. Against an initial volley before melee this can be beneficial, but the Romans would rather use what is called a "shield-screen" in open battle situations to ward off missiles, as it didn't require the soldiers to become so tightly packed.

    The timing of the testudo was crucial, hold it for too long and your men did not have time enough to break formation to ready for an enemy charge.

    -Cold
     
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  14. WPT

    WPT Acolyte

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    Testudos

    You're right about the problems on an open battlefield. I have read a couple of stories where soldiers employed the testudo in a town in riot situations. I can see that it would certainly help fend off things thrown from all directions and enable a unit to force their way into a crowd and help break it up, as in the stories. I have no idea if that scenario is at all authentic, though. Can you shed any light on that use?
     
  15. WPT

    WPT Acolyte

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    Not-so-quick addition to Cold's quick answer

    There is some more on how the Ancient Egyptians used chariots at this web page:

    Search Results

    There are two links, one to a relatively short video segment, another to an entire show (52 minutes) about the reconstruction of Egyptian war chariots and their uses in battle. I found the show very interesting.
     
  16. I'm doing this Extended Project thing at my Sixth form, and, because I'm a massive history geek, i'm doing it on the Roman army. I've actually found a load of quotes from Greek historians, saying how the testudo is strong enough be formed in ravines and act as impromptu bridges, as well as chariots being driven over them. Just saying. They're tough as hell.
     
  17. Xitra_Blud

    Xitra_Blud Sage

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    During he 11th century, how did wars typically play out? My war is set up in a fictional kingdom, but I think I want it to be a lot like 11th century England.

    What all do you know about retreating? I have a seen where the my protagonist's soldiers retreat from battle but they return for battle another time. I'm assuming they would come back with more soldiers. How would this play out? How would they acquire more soldiers? Also, how long would it take for them to return for battle?

    Another question, what would be a great battle ground? And when they return to battle again, would it take place in the same spot?
     
  18. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    Is there a turning point where a failure in logistics turns into a failed campaign?

    As the title shows, my question is about logistics.
    In a nutshell, the military strategy that I want to develop in my fantasy story is one where pressure on logistics and the assassanition or otherwise eliminating of key supporters and personnel forces nations to scale down their wars up until the point that war returns to a level where combat is restricted to decisive battles between professional forces.

    That's a sentence if I've ever seen one.

    That aside, attacks on logistics have always been key to warfare but it is unclear how serious they need to be to break the spirit of an army. The U-boat offensive in WW2 came very near to breaking the UK, but it failed, only just. Why? Where's the turning point for an army to either experience mutiny, disease or massive desertion?

    Achieving an interruption through regular warfare and manoeuvering is lauded as good strategy, but when the results are achieved through irregular warfare, responses can be quite different. Retaliation by killing civilians etc. Mao said that irregular warfare can never be sufficient to overcome a regular army, is that really the case? What if two parties were involved in a 'regular' war and a third party messed with both their logistics? Or this third party could leak information about either party at crucial times, thereby trying to keep the odds equal and the losses for both sides maximal.

    Let me sum it up in less words than I did in the above: what's your opinion about conditioning a world against large scale war? Will it work? Will it backfire? I'm looking at a timeframe of decades, even centuries. It's a naive idea, but it's one that I want to write.
     
  19. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    I might be a little confused here. Are you asking of a way to remove wars altogether, or simply lower the size of the average war?
     
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