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57

There are two assumptions that need to be clarified. What is the attacker's strategic intent? What time are you talking about? If the attacker wants to possess the territory defended by the castle, then "going around" isn't an option. "Going around" only makes sense if the attacker wants to control territory beyond the castle. This also assumes that the ...


29

Armies go around castles all the time, but what usually happens is that the castle is placed under siege. This is done at least with the intention of keeping the defenders in, and hopefully taking the castle via attrition, bombardment, sapping or treachery. The need to siege the castle is important; if you ignore the castle and march on, this leaves the ...


22

There are at least two reasons. The first is that a castle is usually located on the most strategic ground in the area, a hill, river, etc. Basically, it is, or controls, the most valuable "real estate' in the region. If an attacking army controls the "rest of the region" without controlling the castle, it hasn't achieved much. The second reason is that ...


17

The infantry sets their spears, meaning bracing them against the ground, to present a barrier to the charging horsemen. The long spears, also known as pikes, when held in a tight formation provided a spiked wall that would challenge mounted opponents. Some horses would balk when encountering the pikes while others would be impaled. The goal was to unhorse ...


14

What you are referring to is commonly known as the "French Column". I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that English movies and the English version of Wikipedia are pretty dismissive of it. After all, that was the opinion of everyone's favorite English General, Wellington. And he was certainly able to back it up. The first thing you have to realize is that ...


13

Using Aubrey/Maturin, beefed up with "Naval life in the time of Aubrey and Maturin" type texts: Shock and Awe. Few men died in most naval battles in the age of sail. Morale failure was a key structure in battle. Broadsides significantly reduced the numbers of boarders in a single wave. Three fast broadsides and board was an ideal to secure a prize by ...


13

Interesting question. Firstly, it's impossible to know for certain how the traditional round shield was used, but we can make a number of assumptions based on evidence from literature (the sagas), the archaeology of construction and wounds suffered in battle and by looking at later fight books such as MS I.33, Talhoffer's duelling shields etc. Taking the ...


11

Napoleon loved forward momentum - and he got it with the heavy column. The formation forced his infantry forward, the front ranks constantly pushed to the fore by the ranks behind them, and made opponents break formation to get the hell out of the way. This worked, because Napoleon was an artilleryman - he would disrupt opposing line formations with ...


11

Spraff, you aren't considering why the castle is placed where it is. Does it control a ford or landing point? Does it guard the best passage through a hill/mountain range? The placement of the castle is why it exists in the first place; they're built at strategic locations which forces the enemy into either attacking or besieging them.


10

WWI was a pivotal time in military tactics due to the number of technological advances in warfare that had been relatively unused until that point in time. Machine guns had developed to a point that isn't much different from modern designs; field artillery had gotten a lot bigger, was capable of indirect fire, and had many different munition options; ...


10

It was more accidental than anything else, but the first "shooting" battle treated as such by history was the battle of Crecy, in 1346, during the 100 Years' War. This was waged mainly between 6,000-7,000 longbowmen on the English side, and 6,000 (Genovese) crossbowmen on the French side. The English had perhaps 3,000-6,000 non-bow infantry and cavalry, ...


7

One of the first and most obvious examples to me would be the Achaemenid Persian empire, their whole army composition was based on archery. They did use light spearmen, and the famous Anusya, but the first would only play a secondary role in the battle while the second was while an elite infantry unit also extremely skilled at archery. I can't seem to find ...


7

One theory from Delbrueck: Hannibal wanted to win the battle with his infantry, which was superior to the Romans, and distract the Roman cavalry. Therefore, he wanted the cavalry clash to happen first, the idea being that his cavalry would be routed, the Roman cavalry would pursue them and be out of the battle, and he could start the infantry battle. ...


6

The first thing to remember is that Napoleon prized speed over everything else. Most of his campaigns he faced much larger armies led by different nations and leaders. When Napoleon arrived the opposing armies would be near one another but not yet (His apposing armies were separated due to forage and supply needs, or were traveling to meet one another at a ...


6

The battle of Zama was a seesaw fight for much of the battle. The result of a Roman victory resulted largely from the "fortunes of war." The Carthaginians had more infantry, the Romans more cavalry, but the Carthaginians hoped to turn their elephants to their advantage. This didn't work, because the Roman Scipio, suspecting that the elephants could only ...


6

I would disagree with Tom Au's answer. The first examples of "modern warfare" engagements where both sides expected to prevail in battle with ranged weapons took place a few months into the US Civil War. The key is the development of the rifle versus the musket. Prior to that, firearms didn't have an effective range sufficient to counter an infantry ...


6

This is basically oblique order. The idea is to crush one flank of the enemy with the strong force, turn it 90° and defeat the enemy in detail. The remainder of your troops keep the enemy busy on the other flank. You put your heavy troops on the strong flank because they need the most strength (they need to break the line). The light troops are more ...


6

Because they're the goal Go around castles to where exactly? Military campaigns usually have some goal in mind - typical goals include (a) conquering territory; (b) robbing wealth; (c) long-term damage to an enemy. Achieving these goals requires taking the castles - in earlier times, most of important people, wealth and military force would be moved ...


5

Infantry square I believe that the most obvious tactic against cavalry is the infantry square formation, which was used by ancient Romans, and later revived during Napoleon wars. But of course the main reason for their creation was to prevent any attack from behind. Still, there was a rule regarding horses in particular, not to shot too late, as wounded ...


5

Yes. This is called "combined arms" and occurred all the time; providing you could afford the cost of horses and the delay of infantry. While the range and reach of pole-arms had some uses before the arrival of set-piece battles involving horses (a/k/a The Cavalry); pole-arms exploded in popularity once horses were common enough and cheap enough - ...


5

Because nobody said about naval battles, here's some nice (I hope) examples, sorry for citing Wikipedia only. In 1178 BC or 1175 BC during the Battle of Delta distance attack was performed by Egyptian archers. According to the Medinet Habu inscriprions, (...). Ramesses lined the shores of the Nile Delta with ranks of archers who were ready to release ...


5

Columns are an aggressive formation, that work best against "inferior" (slower-firing, -marching) opponents. That's because at the point of contact, the column is very deep, which means that it has a good chance of breaking the enemy line. It's weakness is that against a well-drilled opponent, the defender will pull back the line on either side, let the ...


4

Spears are (relatively) long ranged weapons to use against cavalry. Bows and arrows are even better (as at Crecy and Agincourt in France), but only if they can be fired at a high rate, and at long range. Most infantrymen were not skilled enough to do this, which is why they used spears. They could try to kill the horse or the rider, but usually the horse was ...


4

You have to be very careful about films about the Napoleonic Wars. First off, there aren't that many, unless you include the Richard Sharpe made for TV series and various TV miniseries, about which I will speak later. Of the actual feature films, I think War And Peace has been made twice, the only one worth watching being the Bondarchuk version. Bondarchuk ...


4

Both Union and Confederate cavalry in the civil war fought almost exclusively as dragoons, using their mounts only as transportation, except in pursuit, while scouting and while engaging against enemy cavalry. See here: When charged by Union cavalry, a Southern general said his men would respond with the cry; "Boys, here are those fools coming again ...


4

Probably not. Posey's brigade had only 1300 men. Wright was advancing into the gap left when the III corps under Sickles advanced out to the Peach Orchard and Emmitsburg Road. Odds are that Posey would have been advancing into the II, I, and XI corps units on the hill that the next day would repel Pickett's Charge. Posey would have been exposed to ...


3

There's already an answer on tactics. But there are a few quite interesting anti horse pieces of equipment that are worth mentioning. Like the Cheval de frise, an anti cavalry obstacle. Or the Caltrop: "sharp nails or spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base", designed to puncture the soft feet of cavalry ...


3

There are few things I would point out that seem to have been missed in earlier responses. The French infantry battalion was generally composed of 6 companies; four center companies and one each of grenadiers and voltigeurs. The French regiment or demi-brigade in the early period usually had three battalions, and there were two regiments per brigade, though ...


3

I'm looking at the list of battles involving war elephants The Battle of Ipsus wikip page, a conflict between some of the successor states of Alexander the great, has an interesting passage on elephant-cavalry interactions: "The ancient sources repeatedly emphasise the effect of elephants on horses, which are alarmed by the smell and noise of elephants and ...


3

In the French Army of Napoleon size was not the critical qualifier for being a grenadier - experience and bravery was. Certainly diminutive size would disqualify a soldier from being eligible for the grenadier company of his battalion (but in turn making him eligible for the voltigeur company), but average size was sufficient (and a moustache was de rigeur). ...



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