For questions related to: acts of organized violence between groups of people where the violence often has a political purpose; the impact of such violence on peoples/nations; and any other related questions.

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23
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2answers
5k views

How did Europeans first acquire gunpowder?

I know that gunpowder was first invented in China around the 10th century, and it seems that gunpowder likely made its way to Europe via the "Silk Road." However, there doesn't seem to be a ton of ...
2
votes
0answers
60 views

Was it ever claimed by a scholar that the Byzantines intentionally missed the battle of Civitate?

I have seen a claim to this effect in a popular article but it strikes me as very very odd. So - Was it ever claimed by a scholar that the Byzantines intentionally missed the battle of Civitate? ...
9
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10answers
1k views

Why were people from the Asian Steppes able to militarily dominate Europeans on a repeated basis?

From the Huns through the Mongolians, why were nomadic people from the east able to create such havoc in Europe? Was it an endless 'first mover' advantage with horse domestication? Was it a higher ...
0
votes
1answer
85 views

How did Greeks make greek fire? [closed]

How did Greeks make Greek fire? Did they put oil in the bottle because it could burn on water due to its ability of floating on it? This is an interesting topic, although how do we put the fire out? ...
10
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4answers
2k views

What is the longest effective range artillery weapon ever built?

What is the longest effective range artillery weapon ever built, regardless of wether it was actually used in combat?
4
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1answer
124 views

Were slings used as melee weapons?

Slings were a common weapon in history. Cheap to construct and with ammo plentiful, they were very cost effective to field in great numbers. What I want to know is if there is any historical ...
22
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8answers
5k views

Why was PTSD not written about as much before the 20th century?

As late as WW1 there was very little literature surrounding PTSD/'shellshock'. In fact, the term was not coined until the 1980's. Considering the fact that warfare has been a part of human life since ...
6
votes
2answers
213 views

Where did the so-called “Jap Skulls” end up?

I have read that there was a disturbingly common practice of American soldiers in the Pacific theater of WWII to take the skulls of dead Japanese soldiers as trophies to take home, give to ...
23
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8answers
2k views

Did archers synchronize fire? Why?

I noticed that in medieval movies and TV shows, when there is a big battle happening, groups of archers always synchronize their firing. I was wondering if this is something that writes made up and it ...
6
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9answers
585 views

Why didn't Germany attack US ports with U-boats during WW II?

During WW2, Germany owned ships along the eastern US coast with U-boats pretty much unopposed. So... why didn't Germany head into US ports and destroy infrastructure? Why did they keep their actions ...
3
votes
2answers
67 views

What was the purpose of a division staff in a US Navy Task Force/Fleet in WWII

Just watching Midway, upon the scene of Raymond Spruance taking command of the Midway Task Force, I remembered an old question that nagged me. Apparently, the US Navy did equip task forces and fleets ...
8
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1answer
2k views

How were dogs used in WW1

I know that dogs were used in WW1. I know that they weren’t vital, but didn’t play a reasonable role in helping the soldiers in the trenches. However, there is one thing that confuses me: How were ...
4
votes
1answer
324 views

Archers laying on their back, was it real?

I have seen a movie the Hero from 2002. I know the movie has a lot of artistic scenes, and less to do with reality. In a scene many of chinese archers laid on the ground and used a big composite ...
0
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0answers
50 views

Is the evidence for the thesis in SLA MArshall's Men Against Fire compelling?

SLA Marshall wrote that only a small percentage of infantry engaged with the enemy actually fired at their opponent. This has been denied by veterans and debated by others ever since. Is the ...
4
votes
1answer
94 views

How long did it take to repair wooden war ships after battle in the 1600's to 1800's? [closed]

How long did it take to repair wooden war ships (like the galleon) in the 1600's to 1800's? I'm interested mainly in repairs needed due to cannon fire (hull damage, mast damage, etc), or even if it ...
24
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9answers
7k 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
145 views

Was Napoleon's own strategy the cause of his downfall? [closed]

I've been reading Rothenburg's The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon and Parker's Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800, and while I realize there were a ...
8
votes
3answers
351 views

What exactly were currours, and what were they used for?

In researching this question on Medieval light cavalry, I came across this reference to "currours" in Wikipedia, with no link: Many countries developed their own styles of light cavalry, such as ...
2
votes
1answer
133 views

What are some other celebrated military failures, besides Gallipoli? [closed]

The Gallipoli campaign in WWI is a hugely important event in Australian and New Zealand history. 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the landings and there are huge commemorations planned to mark the ...
51
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3answers
8k views

When did bombs actually look like this?

I guess most are familiar with the cartoonish "bomb icon". It is used to warn of metaphorical or literal explosive danger and shows a deep black sphere with a smaller cylinder attached. That is where ...
10
votes
3answers
964 views

Comparison of naval fleet strengths during the Napoleonic wars

Do we have knowledge on the number of vessels in the armadas of the various belligerents of the Napoleonic wars? Information on the types of boats, captured vessels, and sunk vessels will also be ...
2
votes
3answers
311 views

How do modern historians evaluate Sherman's “Total War”?

A major element of Sherman's march to the sea was his army's burning southern farms and cities. The rationale for what Sherman called "Total War," approved by Grant and Lincoln, was that it would ...
37
votes
9answers
5k views

When were swords last used in European warfare?

Specifically, I'm interested in the last documented occurrence of swords (of any sort) being used as a primary weapon by infantrymen or cavalrymen in Western warfare. That is, when did any European or ...
5
votes
1answer
119 views

Did MacArthur ever consider ordering Wainwright's troops to fight an insurgency war, rather than surrendering?

The American surrender of Wainwright's and Sharp's forces in the Philippines, during World War II, was the largest surrender of troops under the US flag in the history of the country. Reports at the ...
13
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4answers
1k views

How did the Nazis plan to “defeat” America during World War II?

Yamamoto famously advised against a war with the United States, because he could tell how powerful they would be once they got going. The Nazis, however, declared war on the United States of their ...
3
votes
1answer
139 views

Sieges: Average Attacker to Defender Ratio in Middle Ages

I have read that attackers should outnumber defenders, 20 to 1 or better 50-100 to 1 in sieges in a book about conquest of İstanbul, though I can not find its reference right now. I remember that this ...
10
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2answers
452 views

When did the parole of prisoners of war become unacceptable?

Prisoners of war in earlier centuries, especially officers, could be given temporary or permanent freedom in return for various conditions: A parole. This overlaps with the modern civilian use of ...
5
votes
2answers
365 views

Why were Soviets so extremely effective snipers in WW2?

I found a top 10 sniper list from 2nd world war which contains 9 soviet soldiers, and only 1 finnish soldier. Namely: Stepan Vasilievich Petrenko Vasilij Ivanovich Golosov Fyodor Trofimovich ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Why were rockets not popular as part of artillery until 20th century?

Why were rockets not extensively used throughout the world like cannon until the 20th century? Maybe one may ask the reason for pointing out 20th century. I guess it's fair enough after thinking about ...
21
votes
2answers
674 views

Classical battle sizes vs medieval battle sizes

Why did classical battles did tend to be larger than medieval ages? One particular example I am thinking of was the battle of Stamford bridge, which had around 30,000 participants, compared to the ...
3
votes
2answers
376 views

Why did the musket become the standard infantry combat weapon in European armies around 1700?

Could it have been because of the introduction of the bayonet, particularly in "socket" form? This question goes (well) beyond a related question. Until the introduction of a bayonet, musketeers ...
6
votes
4answers
502 views

What were Britain's defensive plans for a Nazi invasion?

Despite the fact that it never ended up happening, a Nazi invasion of England was kind of a common sense inevitability for a while during the beginning of World War 2. Had the Battle of Britain gone ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

How were fortification doors protected against fire?

Ancient and medieval fortifications are often shown to have wooden gate doors in the midst of their stone walls. Now granted, these doors are often massive and incredibly thick, but it still seems ...
2
votes
1answer
224 views

Devastating air strike over Middle Eastern country during religious holiday

I'm trying to remember a historical incident I read about but have a foggy recollection of. As far as I recall, during a religious holiday, a neighboring country launched an air strike against ...
17
votes
6answers
5k views

How far could an English war bow shoot?

The range of the medieval weapon is not accurately known, with estimates from 165 to 228 m (180 to 249 yds) So says Wikipedia. I did read, however, in a semi-fictional, semi-historical work of ...
3
votes
0answers
205 views

Why sabres replaced swords after middle age [closed]

After the middle age sabres almost completely replaced swords in the europe. I don't see any reason why sabres are superior to swords used before so why that happened? By swords used before I mean ...
4
votes
2answers
162 views

Did the British Army burn any capitals other than Washington?

It has been written that the British invasion of Washington, and the burning of the Capitol, White House, and other public buildings, was in retaliation for American raids in Canada which caused the ...
6
votes
1answer
173 views

What were the Japanese defenses for an allied invasion of Kyushu?

At Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and other island bases of the Japanese forces, the Japanese created a network of deep tunnels and bunkers that made US attempts to evict Japanese forces extremely difficult, time ...
5
votes
1answer
108 views

Once formed, could a Confederate militia company find replacements to remain an effective force? How?

As I understand it, Confederate militia companies were formed of 100 men recruited at the beginning of the war often from within the same county. Disease, battle losses and desertions obviously took ...
7
votes
1answer
224 views

Battle of Xiaoting: was Shu's invasion doomed from the start?

The Battle of Xiaoting was one of the three major battles of China's Three Kingdoms period; after the kingdom of Wu invaded Jing province a few years earlier, the state of Shu amassed an army to ...
8
votes
1answer
229 views

Ancient China military sizes

When reading about warfare records in ancient China, I see a lot of references to "# of chariots" instead of "#k soldiers" or something like that. Do we know how big these armies actually were? As in, ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Why did Germany attack Neutral Belgium in the first world war?

I have a basic idea about the Schieffen plan and I know that Germany attacked Belgium in the First world war. But I am slightly confused about this topic, as despite the fact that the schieffen plan ...
5
votes
1answer
671 views

When did people first tried to limit weapons used in war? [closed]

The first example that I know is about chemical weapons after the first world war.
8
votes
2answers
315 views

Were certain soldiers considered to be neutral by both sides?

Not sure how to word this... I remember back in high school learning about World War II, and I distinctly remember that my teacher made a mention that "medics would often have to clear the ...
4
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5answers
832 views
29
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4answers
3k views

How did Genghis Khan's army feed so many horses?

The average horse eats 10-20 pounds per day, according to this pet website. Considering the fact that the horses may have to eat even more because of the hard traveling they had to endure, it's likely ...
5
votes
2answers
261 views

Was it not possible to exploit the gaps between each pre-modern melee formation?

Soldiers seem to be split into their respective companies or battalions but on the battlefield instead of presenting a complete front line they split up and leave gaps in the line between each ...
29
votes
3answers
11k views

Did World War II-era bombs actually whistle?

In WWII-era films and newsreels, aerial bombs are often shown making a whistling sound as they fall; starting high pitched, then decreasing as the bomb approaches the Earth (example here, starting at ...
13
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3answers
464 views

What was the most recent country to be conquered and dissapear

In the Old Days, one country would conquer another and add it to its empire. What was the most recent country to be conquered and cease to exist as a country?
6
votes
2answers
364 views

How did melee soldiers in the front rank of a formation fight without getting tired?

The Romans used a system of rotating out the front rank through a shield push. But how did other soldiers, for example the Greek Hoplites, fight in battles which often lasted hours without getting ...