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Theoretical Discusions?
#16
Yes, actually Thorne credits Sabin, and Sabin credits Goldsworthy. I had tried to find Sabin's discussion, but was looking in the wrong place, and then stumbled on Thorne's a few days later. Sabin is much more systematic in his argument, and Thorne seems to be summarizing and adapting Sabin's model to the early imperial situation instead of the mid and late republican situations.
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#17
There have been some speculative discussions, for example Who would win a battle between the Saprtans from the time of Thermopylae or Roman legions of Caesar's time. But at least both armies are from the ancient period. comparing ancient armies to relatively modern armies I suspect would have many pitfalls and caveats. Different technology for one. Even something a basic as the use of stirrups vs no stirrups can make a huge difference. I would hope that if someone wanted to use a modern comparison, they would really demonstrate its application and relevance. I, too favor keeping it within bounds, and maintain a level of purity. If there are no fora for 19th Century battles, omterested parties could start one. The Napoleanic period has a lot to offer, as long as its offered elsewhere.
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#18
This issue is being discussed by the mods for the last 2 months. Some rigidity that has indeed been displayed mainly has to do with problems that came up in certain threads and has nothing to do with the overall community. I apologize if we have given the wrong idea. Changing the structure of a forum, even slightly, is not something that can be taken lightly, especially when for some reason this structure has worked for many years. Indeed, the concerns voiced by Dan Howard and Sean Manning in the thread about chariot warfare are also our concerns and here you could all voice your opinion. Truth is that broad theoretical issues are difficult to assign to any existent section, as are for example issues before and after the time period we are supposed to mainly cover. And of course the after periods could be viewed as non-ancient but the before-periods not.... However, as the forum stands, where could we possibly place such discussions if not in the OT section? Where could we place threads on the battle of Kadesh, Chinese crossbows, Assyrian warmachines so that they are not OT? I do not think that this displays rigidity on our part, there is no discussion that we denied to be made, as long as it is categorized correctly. And Rob had a point when he warned that an interesting thread about the British chariots could develop into an equally interesting discussion about chariot warfare in general. This is why a new thread opened, not rigid by its own nature. If it is the feeling of writing in the OT section that creates a problem, then we can create a new section, as long as we see that such a move is backed up by you guys.
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#19
@Sean The cavalry discussion did heat up, but I would NOT lay the cause for that at you doorstep. I believe the conduct of our new Winged Hussar afficiendo was more to blame :wink: .
Also, there is nothing wrong with challenging absolute statements, but the general picture should continue to be observed to be able to answer questions of how things would have worked overall.
The OT section is nice for starting discussions outside the scope of the forum, should a thread shift to within the scope, it can be split or moved.
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Robert P. Wimmers
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#20
Quote:Well, there are some topics which neatly fit into different categories, others not so much.
Organization of the middle Republican Roman army? Class distinctions in Gallic society? I think these fit into their categories.
Alternative theories of how armies fought? Estimates of population density? Estimates of the logistical limits to army size? I don't think these can be handled separately for Greeks, Romans, and everyone else. And although I have my doubts about the claims about the Polish winged hussars, they were relevant to understanding cavalry vs. infantry fights.

Marja, I see no problem. As long as any discussion still focuses on the Roman or Ancient original topic, you can range outside Roman history. We discussed cavalry by comparing 19th c. and modern literature about cavalry. As Macedon and others already wrote before, it's the topic that matters. I mean, it's not even inconceivable that winged hussars are mentioned in a discussion about Roman cavalry, but (as recently happened) the discussion became about hussars and no longer about the original topic.

Theoretical discussions per se are quite normal here, because lots of what we discuss is per definition (at least to some degree) only available as theory.

Looking forward to a dozen new topics by your hand. Confusedmile:
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#21
Quote:James Thorne, in "Battle, Tactics, and the Emergence of the Limites in the West," in Paul Erdkamp, A Companion to the Roman Army, argues that Roman battles were probably characterized by short clashes and longer stand-offs out of reach of the other side.

This seems less of a "what-if comparison" and more a "theory." It's actually based upon practicality and the endurance of the human animal. Recently, an actor-director filmed an ancient battle; and in the "extras" section of the DVD, he noted that-- with the weight of his armor, the weight of the sword, etc.-- an average human could not fight straight-out for more than an hour or two. Of course, he was an actor, but he was also one of the world's great atheletes.

This wasn't Tacitus speaking, but short clashes and "longer stand-offs" (and sieges) were probably the norm. But this is different than some goofy scenario like, "Who would win the Battle of Adrianople? General Custer or Brad Pitt?" Confusedilly:

But Robert just pointed out, "Theoretical discussions per se are quite normal here, because lots of what we discuss-- per definition-- is only availabe as theory." Confusedmile:
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#22
I think an exploration of the battlefield dynamics of the Roman army and its adversaries as a theoretical excercise would make an excellent topic. It could very well also include the shift in armament from the Republican to the Late Roman period, perhaps caused by a change in tactics (or those of the enemies encountered).
Salvete et Valete

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Robert P. Wimmers
Archeologie Beleven!
>http://www.ferrumantica.eu  (The NEW Fabrica of Vvlpivs!)
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#23
Robert,

I was thinking of exactly that. I think it makes sense to start off with a meta-discussion about the ways people agree and/or disagree, for example, longer or shorter battles, whether pushes are psychological [one side gaining confidence and advancing, the other losing confidence and gradually stepping back] or physical [both sides shoving the other, or cavalry colliding into infantry], and so on, with links to other threads covering particular topics.
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#24
Hi guys,

Regarding those Polish-Lithuanian hussars again. Although they had many great victories against infantry, even pikemen, it is also true that they were often becoming hopeless when facing fortifications, even simple and easy-to-construct ones (but maybe not as simple as fences - this is what they were able to overcome in several battles). I even underlined several times, that various field fortifications and anti-cavalry obstacles, even hastily improvised ones, were historically very useful against heavy cavalry. Primary sources from the Ancient era also mention such fortifications constructed in some battles. And even in battles where they are not explicitly mentioned by sources, it is possible that they were used - especially by Romans, who were very good engineers. Also difficult terrain is something which is very helpful for infantry to survive attacks by enemy heavy cavalry and in case of some types of especially difficult terrain, it is something which can even render enemy cavalry totally useless.

Here is a good example of how a numerically superior infantry-based army could win a war over a large region (Livonia) by taking advantage of terrain, field fortifications, and capturing enemy strongholds (while the enemy had not enough infantry either to defend them or to recapture all them and to hold those which luckily could be recaptured):

Prince Krzysztof Radziwiłł describing his experiences from combats in Livonia against Gustavus Adolphus in period 1621 - 1624 and comparing his style of warfare to that of his father, Charles IX:

"(...) Deceased Carolus [Charles IX], whenever hearing about the presence of our forces, was immediately blindly leaving Riga and other fortresses with his forces, in order to confront us in the open field! But the sonny boy [Gustavus Adolphus] has realized what used to be harmful for his father; he is no longer willing to cast a dice hoping for a fluke, instead he is hanging on to fortifications. We have knocked some sense into him. (...)"

"(...) All he trusts are his Laufgraben, earthworks, bulwarks and cannons. (...) As long as we have shortage of infantry and war supplies, my army is forced to live from hand to mouth. (...) Fighting against his father was different, because his father [Charles IX] was bearding the lion in his den and facing us face-to-face in the open field, while this one is not drifting away from his fortifications farther than a span. (...)"

"(...) The old conceited impetousness of Swedish commanders is over, as well as their frequent defeats caused by that impetousness. That Swedish behaviour was until recently causing us to think that wars against this enemy can be swiftly won just with use of simple drive to confront them in pitched battles. (...) This is why we were not concerned about command skills of Carolus, because as soon as he got himself informed about the presence of our army somewhere, he was immediately abandoning sieges which were already in progress, as well as all other occasions, and blindly advancing with everything towards our forces to confront them in the field. On the other hand, his heir [Gustavus], unless he can be caught and harassed somewhere in an ambush or by sheer speed of unexpected advance, is securely sticking his forces with the sea, with castles, forests, marshes, entrenchments, cum summa rei he cannot be lured out of these places. Just like in the past Carolus was impetuous and seeking for all opportunities to confront us in the open, then now Gustavus is preferring to stay within his entrenchments and industries. (...)"

"(...) Nothing is encouraging Gustavus to wage war against us more than his understanding of the fact that we are relying on pitched battles and that we have problems with improving our old ways. (...)"

"(...) Either through forests or marshes Gustavus is approaching us, floating some of his men and cannons via water, leading the other part through land, so that I'm not able to attack him on his way, nor to interrupt his advance. But he is not even convinced of the natural defensive value provided to his men by these unapproachable places, which is why wherever his men are encamping, he orders them to dig trenches around their camp. (...)"

"(...) Since only he disembarked his forces at the coast, he has never encamped in a place and has never stayed with his army in an area, which would be favourable for us to attack. Now he is standing at the Musza river, surrounded from two sides by lakes and from the remaining two sides by forests and marshes several miles long, which are hard to cross even at Winter. (...) The enemy has with them 16 of large and smaller cannons, which indicates that they trust only in the strength of their entrenchments and their cannons. (...) His father was never waging wars like he does. (...)"

"(...) This enemy is no longer fighting against us like they used to fight before. They are not even thinking about a pitched battle in the open field. Quite the contrary, trying to avoid it, they are deliberately choosing the routes of their advance through dense forests, marshes, nearly impassable rivers and swamps. Gustavus is also sticking to the Dutch way of waging wars, he is reposing all his hope in strong entrenchments and firepower, to confronting which the current army of Your Majesty is not suitable, and this due to shortage of these things, which belong to such type of warfare, that is numerical amount of people, cannons, gunpowder, ammunition, spades, mattocks, etc. So if we need to fight against him for a longer time, then let me ask Your Majesty for reinforcements, especially for sending me more of combat-ready infantry (...)"

"(...) Your Majesty should realize, that Gustavus Adolphus doesn't even want to think about a battle in a flat field. This is why all of our hope is in having a sufficient number of infantrymen and diggers. These two things I need, as well as strong artillery, and with God's help, this enemy will quickly be confounded. With help of infantry and artillery, I can force this enemy to abandon his entrenchments, in which he trusts so much. As long as I can't force them to abandon their entrenchments, they are not only rejecting a pitched battle, but would even like to dig themselves a dozen or so fathoms below the ground level if they only could. And considering that methods of warfare applied by Gustavus in Livonia are so much different than methods of warfare which used to be applied by his father, we must also abandon our methods of the past and stop hoping for the return of old days, but instead we should defeat the enemy with similar methods to ones in which he is now trusting and which seem to be hard for us. Gustavus trusts only in his entrenchments and in his firepower, we can push him back from his trenches just with our own firepower. (...)"

"(...) I have just over 2,000 combat-ready troops, while enemy forces apart from garrison troops of all castles number 15,000 (...)"

"(...) There are only two ways of defeating this enemy. One of them is a battle in an open field, to which it is impossible to lure Gustavus and my scouts aren't indicating that this may soon become possible. The other way is to assault his blokhauzes, to do which we aren't ready. Thus I'd like to ask Your Majesty to reinforce me with more men, including especially strong artillery, wagon-drivers, gunpowder, money and other war materials. Please order to send to me these things, for we are not able to achieve anything, before we manage to push the enemy back from their bulwarks located on this side of the Dvina River and very well fortified. We cannot scare the enemy out of their bulwarks with our flags, we need strength to do this. (...)"

"(...) In order to beat the enemies, who are digging in the ground like a mole, during the next Spring, and to break into their sharp teeth, we need especially a lot of infantry, but also hussars to strengthen the army and cossacks to cut off enemy supply lines. These three types of troops are necessary for us to win. (...)"

"(...) Your Majesty, I just hope that you send me some servants, and especially infantry and artillery, for which I am frequently asking. I hope you will condescend to order to help me with these reinforcements. Because as long as I don't have these things in abundance, I won't be able to fight against him within his fortifications. Even when I have managed to regain castles, I had not enough troops to establish garrisons there and not even diggers to fortify them, so I left them behind empty and they fell into enemy hands again. (...)"

Primary source of these excerpts above:

"Dyskurs księcia Imci Krzysztofa Radziwiłła o podniesieniu wojny inflantskiej z Gustawem księciem sudermańskim, na sejmie warszawskim królowi Imci i wszystkim stanom koronnym do uważenia na piśmie podany w roku 1624"
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