Questions pertaining to characteristics of armed forces' structure, manpower, equipment, or expenditures.

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Can One Use Attrition Tactics When There are No Other Clear Means to Win a War.?

In 1864, General Ulysees S. Grant began the "final campaign" against Richmond using a war of attrition. That's because of the Union's 2-to-1 numerical advantage against a qualitatively superior ...
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1answer
626 views

Were the “hussars” that Jan Sobieski used at the battle of Vienna actually elite troops?

Apparently, the decisive blow at the 1683 Battle of Vienna was struck by Jan Sobieski, with only 3,000 "hussars" (cavalry). This seems a bit hard to believe, given that the Turkish army had about ...
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5answers
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Have any armies equipped/fed their officers and enlisted men equally?

In the Soviet army during WW2 the officers had bigger food rations. They also had better boots (kirza vs. leather). The air force pilots were fed even better (but that is not very relevant). What ...
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1answer
309 views

Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?

In 1980 E.P.Thompson published an interesting paper called *Barbarian Invaders and Roman Collaborators *. Among other subjects he consdiers there the leakage from Rome to its enemies of technical ...
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6answers
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How did a besieged city/castle defend itself vs. catapulting diseased dead bodies into it?

I was a bit shocked to read that diseased dead bodies/animals where catapulted into besieged castles/towns. Biological warfare in the middle ages. But this "method" of warfare had probably a lot of ...
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3answers
585 views

Wiliam Wallace vs. Robert Bruce: Why Did One Win and One Lose?

At the battle of Falkirk in 1298, William Wallace (aka "Brave Heart") abandoned the guerrilla tactics that served him so well at Stirling Bridge, and adopted a strong, but "conventional" defensive ...
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1answer
122 views

What was the summer uniform of the streltsy?

The Russian streltsy (shooters) of 17th century are usually depicted in winter uniform wearing fur caps and dress. What was their summer uniform?
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2answers
653 views

About Naval Formations?

What are the differences between the "line ahead" and "line abreast" formations in naval warfare? Which is more likely to lead to the (advantageous) of "crossing the opponents' T" (or being crossed)?
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3answers
663 views

Was any significant percentage of Mongol army infantry?

Mongols of Khan's time are generally considered to be a cavalry army, which makes sense logistically, given the width and speed of their military maneuvers. But is there historical evidence of Khan's ...
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3answers
532 views

What is the earliest known account of the modern military salute?

The military salute, made with right hand to head of a soldier, seems to be a European tradition, however it is adopted by many armies in the world. What are origins of this gesture? I came across a ...
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8answers
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What's the advantage of the infantry column formation in the Napoleonic Wars?

In movies/books set in the Napoleonic Wars, the British are normally deployed into lines and the French into columns. The columns are usually the advancing ones, charging into the line as the line ...
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4answers
931 views

At the end of WWII, were nazis working on any other super weapon besides V-2?

At the end of WWII, were nazis working on anything else besides V-2? If so, what was it, how close was it to completion, and could it potentially turn the events around for them?
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5answers
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What incentives are in place for American soldiers to go fight in Iraq?

I am from Brazil, a country that has not fought any war since WW2. If you join the army, go fight in Iraq and then return, what will the USA pay you? Is there a health plan for life, a pension, or ...
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6answers
2k views

How severe were the casualties in ancient/medieval battles?

I've heard that in most battles prior to the introduction of gunpowder weapons, the casualties were usually very low (around 5% even in long battles) prior to the moment when someone's formation was ...
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3answers
696 views

Why was the Western Front so static in World War I?

Once the German advance was halted, neither side could seriously advance for two years. This seems like an extraordinarily long time. Why didn't anyone succeed at going around the trenches or striking ...
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2answers
345 views

Why did the Monitor and Merrimac (aka Virginia) have such radically different designs?

This is something that's always baffled me. You have one ship that appears to sit just above the water with one little canon on a turret (the Monitor) and a second that sits high and is brimming with ...
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5answers
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Why have officers in the U.S. army tended to “top out” at the level of Major?

In the U.S. army, something like 75%-80% of newly-commissioned Second Lieutenants are promoted to First Lieutenant (around age 25), perhaps 75%-80% of First Lieutenants are promoted to Captain (ages ...
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2answers
197 views

How and why did Charles XII Get to Poltava?

The decisive battle of the Great Northern War between Sweden and Russia was the battle of Poltava. That's located deep in the Ukraine, southeast of Kiev, between Cherkassy and Kharkov. That seems ...
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3answers
231 views

What Were the Types of Sieges?

As I understand it, there were two types of sieges. One was where the attacking army would "camp," surrounding the city, and let the defenders run out of food. An example was Ulysses S. Grant's siege ...
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2answers
1k views

How did Medieval Armies survive the use of mail armor in the deserts of the Middle East?

Something that has long puzzled me is the use of full mail hauberks and the like in the Crusades. How did Crusaders and their various enemies avoid cooking inside their armor? I know many of them did ...
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6answers
912 views

Why did Civil War officers tell their men to “aim low”?

I'm listening to Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears and the officers on both sides seem to always exhort their men to "aim low". For instance, General John Gibbon told his 2nd Division infantry: Do ...
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2answers
292 views

What decides who goes in the front rank in a line infantry formation?

In an infantry formation, the front ranks seems to have much higher chance of being killed because they are exposed to the enemy front. This thread explains how soldiers are arranged in Roman ...
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1answer
166 views

What kind of crew members did ancient artillery teams consist of?

According to what I understand from Pieter's answer to the question "Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?", he said that since 2,000 years ago until now, ...
9
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1answer
557 views

World War 1 Indian propaganda posters

In World War 1, because war broke out between the triple entente and the central powers (and they happened to have a lot of foreign colonies), the allies made posters to recruit soldiers from all ...
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1answer
150 views

What are the origins of sizing a squad in modern foot drill?

I recently came across this question "What decides who goes in the front rank in a line infantry formation?" and while trying to form an answer to it I realised I was making the assumption that the ...
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2answers
234 views

Did the Gallic army besieged in Alesia conduct itself well when expecting relief?

During a Gallic revolution against Rome, a Gallic army of some 80,000 men took shelter in the fortress town of Alesia, where they were besieged by some 50,000 Romans under Julius Caesar. (His army may ...
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2answers
134 views

When has a military force used their own people as human shields?

I am looking for instances/examples (and sources) throughout history of times an army used it's own people as a buffer between itself and an opposing force. While it is fairly common for an army to ...
4
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1answer
115 views

What are the modern roles of “brigadier” generals and commodores?

It has been said that the hardest jump in the military is between colonel and general. That's because a colonel is a "specialist" who commands troops of only one type (infantry, cavalry or artillery), ...
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1answer
200 views

Were sailing ships of the line understaffed with gunnery crews so that there were not enough for 2 broadsides?

Is there any data to support or refute the hypothesis that sailing ships of the line were only complemented with enough gunnery crews to simultaneously fire 1 broadside but not 2? If it matters for ...