Historical Warfare

Discuss historical events and information concerning any culture, time, or location in our world (or even the frontier beyond).

Historical Warfare

Unread postby Shi Jing Xu » Sat Dec 07, 2002 10:22 pm

I thought it would be interesting to talk about the tactics and strategies of warfare throughout history. Usually this topic comes up in many discussions throughout the World History Deliberation Forum anyway, so why not put it all together? Personally, I know very little about tactics and strategies in history besides that of the Romans and Greeks (mostly Sparta). So, anyone want to contribute any other types of strategies and tactics?
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Unread postby DianWei » Sun Dec 08, 2002 3:48 am

well... i kinda liked the civil war tactics used by the North in the american civil war... when they created a diversion at virginia, and then cut the south in half at the missisipi river via a two pronged attack going simultaneously through the northern mississippi river and the Gulf of Mexico... im not sure what kinda topic this is supposed to be... but i just thought that was a great tactic...
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Unread postby James » Sun Dec 08, 2002 10:35 am

A good argument can be created regarding the possibility that Sparta was so successful because they used their allies in battle to fight the main body, while they themselves focused on the reinforcements and allies. When the Spartan Machine started to fail, it was because their enemy had reversed this and had chosen to confront their army directly. What is your view on this? :)

In all honesty I highly doubt I know as much about this as you, but this seems to be one of the major views behind many programs I see on the History Channel. :lol:
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Unread postby Shi Jing Xu » Sun Dec 08, 2002 2:58 pm

Zhuge Kongming wrote:A good argument can be created regarding the possibility that Sparta was so successful because they used their allies in battle to fight the main body, while they themselves focused on the reinforcements and allies. When the Spartan Machine started to fail, it was because their enemy had reversed this and had chosen to confront their army directly. What is your view on this?


Hmm...I guess I've forgotten alot about Sparta (The part about using their allies to fight the main body), but anyway...I agree with you. Sparta was a war machine. They had gone on never defeated until the Sacred Band was created in Thebes. I mean....they held off thousands of Persians w/ 300 men for 3 days!!! How could that not account them as one of the greatest militaries in the world? But, this comes from their vigourous training as children to adult hood....very strict. Their main focus in life was state before self--die for your country. Well, if they're gonna die, why not do in style? Before battles, they would bathe and comb their hair: an excellent wamm up :lol:
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Unread postby Jiang Zhi » Tue Dec 10, 2002 1:34 am

Yeah, I agree, Sparta's got one of the greatest military forces in all of history. It's a war machine. Even when the babies are born, they're chosen. It's survival of the fittest out there. They were forced to steal, lie and cheat without being caught. In the barracks when they were young, they were fed a minimum and when the young Spartans went to bed, they'd go out and steal for food.

My gr 11 history teacher also said something about they go out in the middle of the nigth to meet girls too. Something like that.

Wars, you can't forget the British Royal Navy. They were the largest and the most powerful at the time until 1812 when American privateers started blowing up their ships. Because the Americans weren't press-ganged but were volunteers, they had a better morale. Also, they had sights for their cannons allowing them to fire more accurately. As well, an American ship carried more guns than its rating so in an even match, the Americans always came out victorious.

The British however countered that near the end of the war with superior training and more strict captains. Also, when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, the British were able to send out their regulars full force to defeat the still small American privateers.

Naval battles are like what I like studying most in military history ^_^
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Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Tue Dec 10, 2002 4:51 am

Zhuge Kongming wrote:A good argument can be created regarding the possibility that Sparta was so successful because they used their allies in battle to fight the main body, while they themselves focused on the reinforcements and allies. When the Spartan Machine started to fail, it was because their enemy had reversed this and had chosen to confront their army directly. What is your view on this? :)

Yes, the Thebans certainly knew how to handle the Spartans in the end! :wink:
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Unread postby James » Tue Dec 10, 2002 5:15 am

Tianshan Tzu wrote:Yes, the Thebans certainly knew how to handle the Spartans in the end! :wink:

I should have also mentioned another major reason for their downfall. Toward the end they were involved in many battles with little chance to survive in peace. Their culture did not produce warriors anywhere near as fast as they were being killed on the battlefield, so this only added to their problems.
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Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Tue Dec 10, 2002 8:08 pm

DianWei wrote:well... i kinda liked the civil war tactics used by the North in the american civil war... when they created a diversion at virginia, and then cut the south in half at the missisipi river via a two pronged attack going simultaneously through the northern mississippi river and the Gulf of Mexico... im not sure what kinda topic this is supposed to be... but i just thought that was a great tactic...

I recently read Noe's Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle, an excellent narrative that is accompanied by detailed maps and the orders of battle. Perryville--talk about your "fog of war and its effect on reliable information and the execution of effective tactics!
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Unread postby rcsha » Wed Dec 11, 2002 6:01 am

I'm not totaly sure what you are asking with this question, but this is what I thought you meant: How did people fight in ancient times?

Well, that depends on who you are looking at. For instance the English during the 15th and 16th century fought differently than the Japanese of the same era. And they also fought differently than the Chinese of the second century. I'll propose a common difference in tactics:

England 1500-1600:
England had recently developed guns, which were being used in moderation at first. But eventually as the commanders grew old and new ones replaced them guns were more embraced.
The average major battle contained 10-20 thousand troops. So the English had most of their troops well armored and quite oftenly on horseback. They also realy fought for more than a few miles distance, especially with their heavy armor on.
They used chains linked together as an inner form of armore with plates of iron or steel as their outer armor. They also put armor on their horses.

China During the 3K Era:
Crossbows were used widely, but regular long bows were still a primary long-range weapon. All forms of commanders used archers to aid their troops. The average major battle could contained several hundreds of thousands of troops, spanning miles with the army itself sometimes. Engagements could end dekamiles from where they began if it was a god battle. Or a bad one depending on what side you were rooting for.
Iron was the primary element used for making weapons and armor, and usually the soldiers were given light suits of armor. Usually covering the chest and back, the forearms, and the shins. Quite oftenly made of leather too, only the veteran troops, special forces, or high ranking soldiers were given a large amount of iron on their armor.

So you see, each force would use different tactics, depending on who they were, where they were, and when they were (fighting).
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Unread postby Shi Jing Xu » Thu Dec 12, 2002 10:51 pm

Zhuge Kongming wrote:
Tianshan Tzu wrote:Yes, the Thebans certainly knew how to handle the Spartans in the end! :wink:

I should have also mentioned another major reason for their downfall. Toward the end they were involved in many battles with little chance to survive in peace. Their culture did not produce warriors anywhere near as fast as they were being killed on the battlefield, so this only added to their problems.


They also started to fail because the world was changing, and they couldn't. The different City States (Athens, Argos, Thebes, Corinth, etc.) all were developing better tactics and what now. Think about it: The Peloponnesian War was during the 5th Centrury A.D.- Rome was already a Republic if I'm correct.
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