Questions tagged [military]

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

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12
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5answers
4k views

Does Grant's use of attrition tactic support his reputation as a general?

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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2answers
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What were the ranks in the Army of Imperial Spain?

At the time of the Latin American wars of independence, the Imperial Spanish army employed men in ranks like Capitán (captain), Sargento (sergeant) and so on, between the King and the lowliest ...
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16answers
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Why bother attacking castles at all? Why not go around?

Castles were designed to hold people, weapons, and supplies to survive a siege. They were well-defended. Taking one could easily be a long, bloody struggle. Why attack at all? Most castles I've seen ...
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10answers
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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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14answers
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What was the ratio of German to Soviet losses on Eastern front during different stages of the war?

I've read somewhere that the ratio of Soviet to German casualties on the Eastern front was 1.4 for the whole war. But what about data for different stages of the war? (this ratio wasn't constant after ...
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2answers
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Why did William Wallace lose while Robert Bruce won?

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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2answers
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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 100,...
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1answer
166 views

Can the assignment “Depot Battalion” in Hart's Annual Army List be linked to a specific regimental assignment?

In this question I asked about the meaning of the assignment "depot battalion" in Hart's Annual Army List, a book that lists the assignments of every British officer in the Victoria era, each year. ...
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2answers
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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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6answers
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Why did the Roman military start to favour swords over the spear phalanx?

Up until the rise of the Roman Republic, the Greek phalanx was considered the dominant form of military tactics. Evolution had simply favoured longer and longer spears: by the time of Alexander, ...
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9answers
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Were there any high-ranking female soldiers during the Middle ages?

There are several fictional works describing female knights in a fantasy world, but do they have any real world counterpart? For example, a knight or a high-ranking female military officer during the ...
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8answers
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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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7answers
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How Did the Mongol Empire Get So Big?

Undoubtedly, the largest empire in the existence of human history was the Mongol Empire, once a hodgepodge of warring nomadic tribes from Central Asia before banding together under the banner of ...
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3answers
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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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6answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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Why are military uniforms often flared or poofy above the knee?

I've often wondered why do various uniforms have those "poofs" on the outsides of the legs just above the knee? Was there a particular purpose to this, or a practical reason, or was it just the result ...
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8answers
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Why were troops with bayonets often effective against enemy cavalry even though the bayonet was a “secondary” weapon?

The bayonet was introduced in the late 17th century as a knife (later a short sword) attached to a musket, to enable the musketeer to protect himself when reloading their single-shot weapons. As such, ...
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3answers
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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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4answers
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When was the last cavalry charge?

When was the last instance of a unit of cavalry charging? I know that the Polish forces had units of cavalry during World War II and those were used against Nazi units but was there any later than ...
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3answers
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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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7answers
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How to explain the Khalkhin Gol outcome in view of Soviet weakness and Japanese strength at that time?

Conventional wisdom says that the USSR was very weak in 1939/40/41, in large part due to the purges of the 1930s, ideological interference in the armed forces, and lack of equipment, preparation and ...
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1answer
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What was the summer uniform of the streltsy?

The Russian streltsy (shooters) of 17th century are usually depicted in winter uniform wearing fur hats and dress. What was their summer uniform?
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1answer
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What equipment and formations did the Muslim armies employ against the Crusades?

One can easily find articles on Wikipedia about typical tactical formations of Romans, but I haven't found such information on the Muslim world, specifically during the crusades. Did the Muslim armies ...
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2answers
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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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5answers
685 views

Has an offensive ever succeeded without an advantage in artillery?

I am asking if an offensive has ever succeeded without an advantage in artillery. You can quantify this in any number of ways: Number of guns Shell tonnages Some qualitative technical advantage in ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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3answers
553 views

Under European feudalism, were the distribution of armies (vassals and fiefdoms) based on a coherent idea?

The context is High Medieval, (c. 1001—1300). The concept of feudalism is as understood in Europe. I'm not looking for an answer to cover all European empires or dynasties during this period -- which ...
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4answers
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Are there any specific events which grants a soldier permission to execute a prisoner on sight? (Like in the movie: Fury)

I recently watched the movie Fury. Although the movie is full of historical inaccuracies as usual, there are some events looked very questionable to me. In a scene, the U.S. soldiers capture a German ...
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3answers
543 views

Is there a precedent for private companies maintaining a military force? [closed]

In general we think of Corporations as not acting on nations with force, simply with legal power. (Perhaps they maintain a fleet of security guards). We generally think of Corporations as leaving the ...
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9answers
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Why did Hitler not invade Sweden?

I was looking over a map of where the Nazis invaded and they never attacked Sweden. I was wondering why since it seems like a much better strategic move than invading Russia. Why might they have ...
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7answers
13k views

Why did Europe not see Roman-era numbers of men participating in battles until the 17th century?

Typical decisive battles in Roman times involve 4+ legions - around 20,000 men + auxiliaries giving a total of about 30,000 men, on the Roman side only. Battles in even the late middle ages and early ...
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9answers
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Why did archery not make a comeback when armor was phased out in the 18th century?

Even if we account for the argument that it is much more tedious to train a man to use a bow than a musket, why then did the arbalest not make a comeback? Its effective range - reportedly at 300m, is ...
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11answers
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Why didn't Japanese infantrymen and samurai use shields?

Shields were considered useful in Europe until the development of full plate armor. Despite the fact that they never had anything comparable to plate armor, shield use was apparently abandoned by the ...
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5answers
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Why did the grip-centered viking shield fall out of use relative to the kite shields?

Did Normans have battle advantage with strapped kite shields over Saxons and Vikings with their grip-centered shield style of fighting? What often comes to my mind are battles like Hastings (1066). ...
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1answer
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How was titanium transported from Soviet Union to Area 51 for Oxcart?

Oxcart was one of its kind, a sophisticated aircraft designed during the Cold-War era. Its body was made up of titanium. Titanium was only found in substantial quantities in the then Soviet Union. The ...
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6answers
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Why command hierarchy, if the chain of command is standing next to each other?

Screenshot's from 1:08:19. I transcribe: 2: Order the 58th to withdraw. 1 to 3: Fraser, order the 58th to withdraw. 3: Yes sir. I don't understand this command hierachy: Similarly, an officer is ...
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3answers
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Have there been any notable battles fought with steel vs. bronze weapons?

In answering the question "was the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age violent?" I found out a few facts that I hadn't expected. Namely, that the early iron weapons weren't necessarily ...
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2answers
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What is the reason for: “Risk taking must focus on winning rather than preventing defeat” in US Army Operations guides?

I am posting this question in the hope that 'history' is close enough on-topic to find answer to this question: What is the intent behind the statement "Risk taking must focus on winning rather ...
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5answers
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Have revolutions been won without the military establishment?

Various historical and political theorists (for instance, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita) have asserted that the support, or, at most, the abstention of a country's military is necessary for a successful ...
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7answers
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Why did trench warfare accept deadlocks?

As someone who has never studied military history or strategy I find it very hard to understand how and why both sides got locked into relatively short lines of heavily defended trench warfare with ...
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5answers
5k views

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
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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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5answers
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Are there military commanders other than Khalid ibn al-Walid who have never been defeated?

I was reading about Khalid ibn al-Walid, a commander in the Muslim's era. What is interesting about him is that he was never been defeated in any of the hundred battles that he encountered. Are there ...
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8answers
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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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3answers
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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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9answers
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Was it ever possible to join the US military instead of going to prison for a crime?

It is pretty clear that today the US military is an all volunteer force and it is not allowed to take people who are joining to avoid going to prison. Was there ever a time when a judge could sentence ...
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By mid-1945, was Japan capable of maintaining the war even in the absence of further direct American attacks? [closed]

The USA went to a great effort to defeat Japan, but do historians regard it as necessary? For example if the USA had just kept the naval action going to the extent of cutting of all shipping to ...
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2answers
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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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3answers
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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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6answers
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How quickly could the Roman legions march? How did it compare to their cavalry?

In the history of Rome there are numerous instances of legions being marched up and down Europe, from Spain to Rome and from Rome to Syria. I'm interested to know how quickly these armies could move? ...