Historical Warfare

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

Re: Historical Warfare

Unread postby Cao Chao » Mon May 30, 2011 1:21 am

Same problem as Changping; the victors had larger numbers, and it wasn't even a classical formation battle. If you want to talk about the bloodiest formation battles, I'd nominate Fei River, where Jin destroyed a vastly superior Former Qin army.

I wouldn't say that the former Qin army was superior. Though they numbered about 300,000, they were nothing more than territorial levies with barely any training and a complete lack of coordination. They faced a disciplined Jin army that numbered 80,000. Using bribes and trickery, the former Qin army lost cohesion and became demoralized, wholly disintegrating. The headlong retreat by the former Qin army was a massacre.

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Battle of Boju (506 BC):
Commanding the Wu army of 30,000, Sunzi annihilated a Chu army of 200,000 commanded by Nan Wa. Using the Wu Prince Fugai, masquerading as King Helu of Wu, Sunzi lured the Chu army into an ambush. The defeat destroyed the Chu army and forced the King Zhao of Chu to seek refuge in the state of Sui. If it were not for the partying by the Wu army and the intervention by Qin (resulting from Shen Wuxu begging and crying for seven days and seven nights), Chu is likely to have been annihilated.

Battle of Weishui (204 BC):
At the head of 50,000 troops, Han Xin dealt the 200,000 Chu army commanded by Long Ju, a devastating defeat. While the Chu army crossed the river, Han Xin undammed it, resulting in the vast majority of the Chu army drowning. Long Ju and the remainder were cut off by the river and annihilated.

Battle of Vercellae (101 BC):
6 full legions and auxiliaries commanded by Gaius Marius annihilated a Germanic Cimbri army numbering 210,000 using the superior Roman cavalry commanded by Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Granted, the numbers involved also include women and children since the Cimbri were undergoing a mass-migration.

Battle of Alesia (52 BC):
The army that Julius Caesar commanded numbered about 50,000, composing of twelve understrength legions with some auxiliaries forces. His Gallic opponent consisted of two forces - besiegers and the besieged. The besieged within Alesia was led by Vercingetorix and numbered 80,000. The besiegers composed of an estimated 120,000-250,000 troops. Total numbers about 330,000 Gallic troops against Caesar's 50,000 legionaries and auxiliaries.
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Re: Historical Warfare

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Tue May 22, 2012 8:31 am

I'm trying to gain an idea of what a late Ming Dynasty army would look like. I'm writing this paper on Zheng He and I'm trying to illustrate that Ming blew a massive opportunity when they failed to colonize some of the less technologically advanced regions surrounding the Indian Ocean (we can talk about the moral implications another time :? ). Of course, the Spanish and Portuguese didn't waste such an opportunity, though they couldn't field a navy half the size of the one Zheng He sailed with.

Essentially, I'm trying to figure out if 16th century Spain and Portugal had military technology that blew their contemporaries in Ming out of the water. Zheng He's fleet was fitted with cannons as early as 1405, so what, if anything could hold Ming back from conquering places like Malacca and Mombasa other than isolationist Confucian ministers?
I don't write fanfic, but if I did it would involve Zhou Yu and Zheng He fighting to win the heart of Lai Choi San. Then I'd make them join forces to fight Ming the Merciless, who secretly works for Master Li. I'd squeeze Lu Bu in there somehow.
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Re: Historical Warfare

Unread postby Tigger of Kai » Wed May 23, 2012 5:36 am

Great topic, I don't know the subject very well but I think it's interesting how the colonial Euro powers sort of came out of nowhere. I mean they hadn't even had much success in Mediterranean, Venice and the Ottomans pretty much dominated there. I feel that the Crusades were a crucial precursor. Some people think that the Westerners' zeal declined with their continual failures at recapturing Jerusalem; I think they simply shifted their sights to other places and redoubled their efforts.
Mithril! The dwarves tell no tales. But just as it was the foundation of their wealth, so also it was their destruction. They delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled.
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Re: Historical Warfare

Unread postby Ma Cheng » Wed May 23, 2012 5:26 pm

Essentially Spain and Portugal and the rest later, did decide to go elsewhere. Spain built their empire of gold from America remember and we 'Brits' basically started off as pirates stealing off their initial success. But I think technology and shipcraft played huge roles in handing the Europeans their claim to empires.
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Re: Historical Warfare

Unread postby Tao Qian » Sat May 25, 2013 7:39 pm

Probably this book will help you:

The military revolution, by Geoffrey Parker.

http://books.google.se/books/about/The_ ... FiNRH3oWsC

The books of Wallerstein about the world system, also discuss the matter in the preface of the first book.

If you want to find how difficult would have been for a later Ming army to fight European armies/fleets, you can read the life of Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong) who defeated the Dutch in current Taiwan.

Basically, Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic ships were much better than Chinese and Turkish in the 16th century. In the 15th century China was clearly superior, but there was nothing interesting for them to conquer. Even European countries didn't occupy anything outside of America but same trade posts until the 18th century because there was no profit on it. European countries were interested in the Asian commerce, but for Asian countries this commerce was already there...

Good luck with your paper.
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Re: Historical Warfare

Unread postby Jebusrocks » Sun Aug 17, 2014 1:30 am

Tao Qian wrote:Probably this book will help you:

The military revolution, by Geoffrey Parker.

http://books.google.se/books/about/The_ ... FiNRH3oWsC

The books of Wallerstein about the world system, also discuss the matter in the preface of the first book.

If you want to find how difficult would have been for a later Ming army to fight European armies/fleets, you can read the life of Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong) who defeated the Dutch in current Taiwan.

Basically, Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic ships were much better than Chinese and Turkish in the 16th century. In the 15th century China was clearly superior, but there was nothing interesting for them to conquer. Even European countries didn't occupy anything outside of America but same trade posts until the 18th century because there was no profit on it. European countries were interested in the Asian commerce, but for Asian countries this commerce was already there...

Good luck with your paper.


I know this is late, but I thought it'd be good to point out that Geoffrey Parker's Military revolution, though a good book that you can take a lot of legitimate information out of, is considered by many military historians to be highly sensational and off-base in most of his points (Parker being a huge proponent of military determinism).

Generally when writing papers on a university level (for courses 3rd level or higher esp.) you want to rely almost exclusively on journal articles (as recent as possible) and very little on books (unless they are an anthology of studies).

Most books focus more on sensationalizing their story so as to sell better!! We spent a good two weeks in my military history seminar ripping that book to shreds.
It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat.
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