3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Aaron.K » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:12 am

Hammerhead3229 wrote:Tao is just application of the Taoteching in warfare situations. It's an interesting read, but unless you're very interested in Confucian ideals I'd skip over it.


Tao of Deception has nothing at all to do with the Taoteching. It doesn't discuss equipment as I've mentioned, but it certainly goes into unorthodox military tactics. The part about Zhuge Dan in particular is exceptionally interesting.

As for Rafe's section in GoS, it's contradictory to a lot of the writings of other people; namely Ralph Sawyer, Yang Hong, Yi Zhongtian, J. Michael Farmer, and Paul W. Kroll.

Regarding training, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the troops as being untrained rabbles. Alfred the Great trained a militia (of completely raw recruits, who would have brought their own shields and spears) that was formidable enough to withstand and defeat Guthrum and the Danes at the Battle of Eddington, in relative haste (a few days). Given that the majority of campaigns had a fairly sizable amount of time between them (sometimes years), and the fact that the entire populace was used to being mobilized at any time in order to prepare for War, I think more troops were quite well trained than people would assume. Untrained troops are useless in war.

Regarding equipment, there's not a whole lot of books out there in English. Yang Hong's is about the only one I can think of. There is one particularly invaluable book about siege warfare; "Chinese Siege Warfare: Mechanical Artillery and Siege Weapons of Antiquity, an Illustrated History" by Leong Kit Meng (who incidentally was a member at CHF who was a professional engineer). However, I've looked through more of my links and things I've written down, and I found something that is quite helpful in regards to troops. It is about the Qin dynasty and the Terracotta Warriors, but knowing that the Han military built off of what was established during the Qin (although taking into account that Chariots were falling out of use in the Three Kingdoms, and were delegated to command platforms and methods of travel for high ranking officials rather than as battlefield units), it is still quite helpful at getting a grasp.

Here's a link to the paper: http://www.academia.edu/4134686/The_Terracotta_Men_and_their_Roles. You will have to sign up on academia.edu, but accounts are free and you don't have to put in a lot of personal information if you don't want to. That site in general is excellent for finding papers about a whole range of topics. It's well worth signing up.
Last edited by Aaron.K on Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Hammerhead3229 » Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:10 am

Oh, my bad.

The book I have is Tao of War, also by Ralph Sawyer. I was getting it mixed up with Deception.

And I don't believe all armies were untrained rabbles. I think it's most easy to take a look at Wu's warlord state for a look on troop management. A general in Wu had their own troops and households. The general was responsible for arming, outfitting, and training his own men. Yeah, there were some shifts in troops sometimes between joining forces with another general, or using troops from the capital, but generally the soldiers stayed with their general. In this case, there could be units that were much better equipped and trained than some of their counterparts under different generals.

In Shu and Wei they had strong central forces, which I'm sure were very disciplined and uniform.

It also seems as most soldiers more or less made a career out of it. It's not like today where you'll typically do a couple years then cut out. There's lots of references of certain troops sticking alongside a general.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:11 am

Thanks Aaron, that link about the Terracotta Army is fantastic!
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Aaron.K » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:39 am

No problem mate. I'll let you know if I come across anything else.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Sun Fin » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:33 pm

Started reading The Essence of War , I've found it useful so far.

Also found this on Wikipedia:

The Western Han army had armour standardized to meet the need. Armour used by the Han included coats of plates; 两当铠 (liang-tang, or "double-faced" armour); and lamellar cuirases made of metal or leather that was suspended over the shoulders by cords. This armour was used by both the infantry and the cavalry. A much heavier and more expensive version, consisting of metal plates laced together, was worn by officers.

Shields were used by both infantry and cavalry. These shields were usually made of wood and often reinforced by a metal centre and rim.

Armour for horses began to appear around the end of the Han dynasty, but the earliest armour yet found dates to the year 302 AD. During the Three Kingdoms Period, fully armoured cavalry (armour covering both the rider and horse) were extensively used as shock troops. Early horse armour came in one piece, but later horse armour came in multiple pieces: chanfron (head protector); neck guards; chest guards; shoulder guards; flank pieces; and crupper. Most cavalry served as mounted archers, and sometimes removed their arm protection to use their bows or crossbows.


This sounds legit to me based off of what I've read elsewhere. It references Imperial Chinese Armies: 200 BC-589 AD v. 1 (Men-at-arms) which I found on amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Imperial-Chines ... ese+Armies

Anyone come across this book before? It's clearly not an academic book but it seems like a decent introduction with a little detail on most of the areas discussed in this thread.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Jordan » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:49 pm

Horse armor being extensively used is an overstatement. Graff notes that horse armor began to be used during the Wei and Jin in his book on Medieval Warfare. Unfortunately I do not have the book with me at the moment so I will have to wait till I get home to verify exactly what Graff says. However, I think it was only mildly in use during the Three Kingdoms period. There wasn't much heavy cavalry use and battles seemed to be dominated more by infantry, with a few exceptions.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Aaron.K » Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:21 am

Sun Fin wrote:Started reading The Essence of War , I've found it useful so far.

Also found this on Wikipedia:

The Western Han army had armour standardized to meet the need. Armour used by the Han included coats of plates; 两当铠 (liang-tang, or "double-faced" armour); and lamellar cuirases made of metal or leather that was suspended over the shoulders by cords. This armour was used by both the infantry and the cavalry. A much heavier and more expensive version, consisting of metal plates laced together, was worn by officers.

Shields were used by both infantry and cavalry. These shields were usually made of wood and often reinforced by a metal centre and rim.

Armour for horses began to appear around the end of the Han dynasty, but the earliest armour yet found dates to the year 302 AD. During the Three Kingdoms Period, fully armoured cavalry (armour covering both the rider and horse) were extensively used as shock troops. Early horse armour came in one piece, but later horse armour came in multiple pieces: chanfron (head protector); neck guards; chest guards; shoulder guards; flank pieces; and crupper. Most cavalry served as mounted archers, and sometimes removed their arm protection to use their bows or crossbows.


This sounds legit to me based off of what I've read elsewhere. It references Imperial Chinese Armies: 200 BC-589 AD v. 1 (Men-at-arms) which I found on amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Imperial-Chines ... ese+Armies

Anyone come across this book before? It's clearly not an academic book but it seems like a decent introduction with a little detail on most of the areas discussed in this thread.


I have Soldiers of the Dragon which is a compilation of Osprey Books that has Imperial Chinese Armies: 200 BC-589 AD contained within it. Horse Armour was not at all common during the Three Kingdoms period, and the only actual period source which mentions it, is Cao Cao's set of 12 pieces of horse armour which were likely nothing more than padded chest protectors for the horses. As Jordan has said, the rise in horse armour came during the Jin, and Age of Fragmentation period. Prior to that, there is almost no evidence whatsoever for cataphract styled cavalry in China during the Three Kingdoms, on any significant basis that could establish any sort of tactical advantage. If it did exist, it would have most likely only been personal possessions of officers and potentially also equipping some of their bodyguards.

Cavalry at this point in time did constitute heavy cavalry actions (heavy and light qualifiers in front of either infantry and cavalry are not for how they were equipped, but rather the actions they performed on the battlefield) as lancers, but the predominant role at this time for cavalry was as horse archers (both barbarian mercenaries, and native regulars as well).
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby yalokinh » Tue May 06, 2014 3:36 pm

Hey,
just joined, but I've been interested in the weapons and armor used during the three kingdoms and I'm trying to find out more.
Here is something I found, not sure if someone has put it up already.
Talks a little bit about Zhuge Liang's crossbow and other stuff, but generally not much is said from 1st-3rd century

http://www.grandhistorian.com/chinesesi ... 22007.html
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby capnnerefir » Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:46 pm

yalokinh wrote:Hey,
just joined, but I've been interested in the weapons and armor used during the three kingdoms and I'm trying to find out more.
Here is something I found, not sure if someone has put it up already.
Talks a little bit about Zhuge Liang's crossbow and other stuff, but generally not much is said from 1st-3rd century

http://www.grandhistorian.com/chinesesi ... 22007.html


I just stumbled onto that page yesterday. It all looks like very interesting information, as as near as I can tell it's quite reliable and well-researched, though the information about the "Zhuge Nu" is a bit more questionable. I have to question the credentials of anyone who calls Zhuge Liang "a military genius".
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Jordan » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:08 am

That seems like somewhat of a hollow gripe when the article also mentions things such as the fact that repeating crossbows had been used by earlier Chinese dynasties prior to Zhuge Liang and also mentions later uses of the Zhuge Nu as well.
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