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78

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 ...


74

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 ...


67

That's actually exactly what they did. In the early 17th century, Maurice of Orange reformed the Dutch army and drilled them to use volley fire. This involved the first rank (i.e. the first row of the line) firing and moving to the back of the line. For obvious reasons, this harmed the cohesion of the formation. By 1670, the French had begun firing by ranks....


44

Verse 3. After crossing a river, you should get far away from it. If the river is a barrier, you can be hemmed in against it. If your enemy is the one hemmed in, they also have a defense on at least one side, preventing you from surrounding them. Verse 4. When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march, do not advance to meet it in mid-...


44

Whenever 20th century cavalry comes up, it often gets confused with mounted infantry. So let's clear that up. Cavalry is trained to fight from horseback using pistol, sabre, carbine, lance, and the horse itself. Its primary purpose is cross open terrain quickly, crash through the enemy line, and cause disarray. If they can do this from an open flank, rather ...


42

Actually, the Romans used the same phalanx everyone else did for a very long time. Past Hannibal. The essence of winning a phalanx battle is to attack the flank of the phalanx. One may achieve that many ways, hence the many ways phalanxes were formed in particular battles - adapted to the width of the battlefield usually, though if one's enemy overdid that, ...


36

Yet another concurring (tanks were important, but not the only reason), but different, answer. Already at the end of WWI, the tactics for trench assault had improved. Instead of just swarming enemy trenches with infantry, weak points were exploited and strongholds bypassed. The role and nature of artillery support also changed. The barrages that lasted ...


36

While I like your thinking there are a few issues with such a plan: Emerging behind enemy lines means there may well have been other enemy troops (just as fresh) in the general area. With WWI technology it would be extremely difficult to reliably pick (and hit) a suitable exit point. Tunneling to the lines was comparatively much easier in terms of judging ...


35

One of the main problems with any mine, military or resource-extraction, is ventilation. It was clearly not possible to dig ventilation shafts in No-Man's-Land, so all the air for the tunnel occupants had to be provided by (man-powered) fans at the entrance; not easy, even for a party of engineers bringing up explosives. The idea of providing oxygen for ...


33

The ongoing arms race in armored warfare between defensive measures and offensive weapons generally means that a given tank is able to resist the weapons of the previous generation and, in turn, be able to defeat the armor of the previous generation. In the 1991 Gulf War, while the coalition forces had the Abrams and Challenger MBTs (which were best-of-...


32

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 probably hasn't achieved much. The second reason ...


30

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 ...


30

Although the two formations look similar, the pike square was developed in a very different tactical environment than the phalanx. The phalanx and the maniple were developed in an environment where the primary weapons were swords, spears, and occasionally slings. Cavalry was rare, and was typically light cavalry used as skirmishers or to protect an army's ...


23

According to AAR reports, the losses the Coalition took in this battle were almost all friendly fire incidents. Same AARs indicate that Coalition forces had decisive advantage in: Effective range - on average American tanks could destroy Iraqi T-72 at twice the distance of the Russian-built tanks (~2km), while virtually none of the hits scored on Americans ...


22

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 ...


21

Flamethrowers can be useful for the assault on field fortifications: Burning fuel can splash through the firing slits of a bunker and reach inside. Smoke and oxygen depletion can kill troops in bunkers even if there is no direct hit on the individual. Flamethrowers can be fired over obstacles like trench sides. Flamethrowers are less effective as a general-...


20

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, ...


20

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 ...


20

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 ...


19

That's roughly what they did. Both sides would line up their men, where the defender had the advantage: they could form two or more lines. The first line fired, then reloaded, while the second line fired, etc. The attacker can't do that. The second row would be shooting their own men in the first row. But their advantage was the bayonet. Fire one volley ...


17

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 ...


17

The reason for the re-emergence of the ram in the mid-1800s is essentially a technological one. The introduction of the nautical steam engine gave ships a reliable source of power and the ability to move in any direction, and the introduction of armor-plating gave them greater weight (and therefore momentum), structural strength and protection. During the ...


16

No, tanks are not, evolving strategy for using new technology was. A quick look at the Principles of War as espoused in many military doctrines over time and across the globe (and usually posited as timeless) shows a focus on how to achieve a goal. A few key points among these lists are maneuver and initiative. In other words, warfare is about getting ...


16

Your question is underpinned by a key misunderstanding of the course of an ancient or medieval battle: the slaughter occurs in the pursuit (or endgame if you will), not what might be termed the battle proper (or midgame). Prior to the invention of artillery, and breech-loading and automatic rifles, very little death is dealt out during the main course of ...


15

The Romans were very good in copying tactics and equipment from other peoples. They learned the Phalanx from the Etruscans. The phalanx works like a wall: difficult to get through, but also almost impossible to maneuver. When the Romans met their new enemies the Samnites, a people from the mountains, they saw that the Samnites were armed with long shields ...


14

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 ...


14

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.


14

Basic flame weapons are effective against flammable targets or in very close quarters. Normally they are not used in any situation where the defenders would have a clear view of the attackers. Flame weapons are currently popular among insurgent fighters due to their simple operation and effectiveness in ambush situations. In World War II, flame throwers ...


13

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; ...


13

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 charge....


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