View Full Version : Musket instead of Bow and Arrow, why?


jay dogg
12-21-04, 01:45 AM
This is my first time here so I thought I'd start off with a question that's been bothering me for some time. Why were muskets used instead of Bow and Arrows during the Revolutionary War and any other wars during that time period. Muskets were very inaccurate and were only shot within 50 yards of the enemy ("shoot when you see the whites of their eyes"). Wouldn't a long bow be much more effective? or at closer range, wouldn't a regular bow and arrow be much faster than a reloading a musket?

So is there a specific reason or advantage for using muskets instead of long bows and regular ones?

Communist Hamster
12-21-04, 05:02 AM
Maybe the commanders were wowed by the bang and the smoke. They had never seen anything like it before.

vslayer
12-21-04, 06:42 AM
it was the start of the american love of guns, i mean, without those muskets, the yanks might not have the same gun totin' trigger happy society that it loves so much

Thersites
12-21-04, 06:50 AM
Firearms had several advantages over bows and arrows. Probably the main one was that an archer had to begin learning as a child, was too old when still quite young and had to spend most of their time training and practising. If you wanted arquebusiers, just haul in a few civilians and give them a few weeks' training. it's worth noting that crossbows- which were similarly low-skilled weapons- were replaced by firearms before composite bows or longbows. Similarly with the weapons: with an industrial base firearms could be made quickly and comparatively cheaply whereas composite bows could take a year or more to make.

Spyke
12-21-04, 09:14 AM
Not to mention with troops advancing 'in line' towards the enemy line, massed shoulder to shoulder, if you aimed in the general direction you should hit somebody. And a hit from a miniball form a musket, especially the British Brown Bess, could do extensive damage to the body. The weapons of the Revolutionary War weren't yet able to be mass-produced, but by the time of the Napoleonic Wars, a French gunsmith, Honore Blanc, was producing 10,000 guns a year with interchangeable parts for the French army.

marv
12-21-04, 09:16 AM
Thersites is correct. It takes many years to train an archer with the equipment then available to even equal the "accuracy" of the musket. The musketeer could be trained in a few weeks with emphasis mostly on the speed of re-loading and not the aiming.

Tactics were still reminicent of the English long bowman armies, though; volley shots rather than aimed shots. In the American Revolution, aimed shots were limited to militia armed with their own personal 'Pennsylvania' (later called 'Kentucky') rifles which had rifled barrels instead of military issue smoothbores.

vslayer
12-21-04, 09:49 AM
but i can hit a target the size of a head from 100m no problems using a 50lb pistol crossbow, i have to factor in wind and everything aswell, i have had no training. its pretty straight forward to just grab a crossbow and shoot away, once you know the range of your bow ond the weight of your arrows then fire away

guthrie
12-21-04, 12:42 PM
I generally agree with the above statements, but disagree with marv talking about "taking years to "equal" the accuracy of guns. Anyone with some coordination and a few months of practise could hit a target from a reasonable distance. The trick is the 17 arrows a minute over 300 yards business, thats when it takes skill and practise. Crossbows are quite easy to use, but have a slow rate of fire. They were banned once or twice in Medieval Europe partly because they made it easy to kill knights, which obviously wasnt the point of warfare at that time, (well, it was sometimes, but anyway) and one suggestion as to why China never really developed a knightly class was the early development of the crossbow, something like 1500 years ago.

Thersites
12-21-04, 01:06 PM
Vslayer: you forget; you are using a modern composite bow made with modern synthetic materials in conditions you choose. Even so, you may have hit a target the size of a head at a hundred metres once or twice: if you can do it regularly in windy conditions you are a phenomenal shot. I used to be an excellent pistol shot and it'd be good shooting to do that with a target pistol on a range. A fifty pound-pull crossbow would not have been much use in mediaeval times: it wouldn't have enough force to penetrate armour.
There's a lot of debate about the actual accuracy of archers: given that there were a lot of them shooting at a lot of people closely packed together they didn't need to be pinpoint perfect.

Guthrie: You're right about someone with a crossbow learning to hit a target from a reasonable distance quite quickly, but the bows which were decisive in battles were composite bows and the longbow and the only people who could fire those at all, let alone accurately, had to begin learning as children. When the wreck of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's warship, was brought up the archaeologists could tell the archers by the deformities of their bodies.
I don't know about the Chinese, but the Romans had crossbows too, but they were very heavy weapons used in sieges- given the weight of pull they were probably accurate enough to use as sniper weapons. Where did you find out about the Chinese? Certainly the history of China, being repeatedly invaded by horse-riding nomads, makes it even odder that they didn't develop effective cavalry: is central Chinese territory- the traditional heartlands of China- unsuitable for horse breeding perhaps?

Roman
12-21-04, 02:16 PM
China developed cavalry, but not the equestrian feudal system that Europe had.


As to muskets vs. bows, I too have also wondered this. I wonder what led early armies to make the switch from bow to ball, seeing as how the most trained soldiers in the world could only fire 4 rounds a minute.

When you think about it, guns would be a hassle. The powder must be kept dry, the powder is dangerous to store and transport, powder would be more difficult to procure than wood, muskets would be harder and more complicated to make (as well as more expensive), and muskets always had the chance of blowing up and killing the user.

However, guns antiquated metal body armor. If you get hit by a musket at close range, even if you've got plate mail on, you're going down. Musket balls have greater momentum, and hence a greater potential for damage, than arrows.

Muskets were also compact and easy to use, and could be whipped out quick. It'd take years of training to have someone shoot a bow from a horse, but training a dragoon wouldn't be nearly as costly.

guthrie
12-21-04, 04:33 PM
Guthrie: You're right about someone with a crossbow learning to hit a target from a reasonable distance quite quickly, but the bows which were decisive in battles were composite bows and the longbow and the only people who could fire those at all, let alone accurately, had to begin learning as children. When the wreck of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's warship, was brought up the archaeologists could tell the archers by the deformities of their bodies.
I don't know about the Chinese, but the Romans had crossbows too, but they were very heavy weapons used in sieges- given the weight of pull they were probably accurate enough to use as sniper weapons. Where did you find out about the Chinese? Certainly the history of China, being repeatedly invaded by horse-riding nomads, makes it even odder that they didn't develop effective cavalry: is central Chinese territory- the traditional heartlands of China- unsuitable for horse breeding perhaps?
I am not totally sold on composite bows and longbows being the only bows decisvie in battle. Why else were the so popular, even if the genoese/ milanese (I forget which) crossbowmen the french hired not much use in the hundred years war. At various times, crossbows could certainly pierce most armour, just as much as longbows could (though it also depended on which head was being used, range, angle, etc.) But at other times they had arrow proof armour.
I read about the CHinese in at least 2 different books, the idea being that the use of the crossbow gave an advantage to peasants and masses greater than that of having a knight on a horse, and since horses were a bit smaller, they had poorer armour, and probably the entire imperial ethos, it just wasnt worth develioping a heavy cavalry of knights, which were a pretty local western invention anyway, that necessitated the use of stirrups (which were 7th century AD I think) and a lot of land ot support the knights and the horses. Knights were expensive.


As for muskets versus bows, the actual composition of armies changed over time. During the 1460's to 1480's war of the roses, armies were over half archers, the rest were billmen, pole axe armed knights in armour, etc. Meanwhile on the continent, halberds and pikes were developing, and these were good against cavalry. Over the medieval period, teh main arm of battle changed from being a heavily armed knight with a few supporters tagging along, into masses of men armed with pole weapons, against which men on horses have little chance. However, if you then match up cavalry, pikes and archers, you have a robust and flexible force that is very capable.

Anyway, where I was going was to say that it was masses that counted. Even in the 17th century english civil war, the main mass of the army was pikemen. They also had musket men, one of whose purposes was to drive off cavalry, who were usually reduced to firing their pistols into the ranks of pikemen.

Anyway, the resons for the decline in longbow are complex, but essentially revolve around the expense of the bows, arrows and trained men, and the evolution of the gun as an effective weapon.

As for the MAry Rose skeletons, they had I think incredibly well developed left shoulders and arms. They also worked out that some of the bows went up to about 185 pounds pull! Which doenst mean much to most people, but I've used 40 pound pull bows quite a bit, and tried 80 pounds, and could hardly bend it. No wonder they were deformed.

Thersites
12-22-04, 09:31 AM
I'd be interested in the books, Guthrie. I'd always understood that stirrups were invented by nomads, so I'd have thought the Chinese would have got them- like Europeans- from the invaders.



As for muskets versus bows, the actual composition of armies changed over time. During the 1460's to 1480's war of the roses, armies were over half archers, the rest were billmen, pole axe armed knights in armour, etc. Meanwhile on the continent, halberds and pikes were developing, and these were good against cavalry. Over the medieval period, teh main arm of battle changed from being a heavily armed knight with a few supporters tagging along, into masses of men armed with pole weapons, against which men on horses have little chance. However, if you then match up cavalry, pikes and archers, you have a robust and flexible force that is very capable. Like the old "paper, scissors, stone" routine. The Scots also used billmen against cavalry, but at Halidon Hill and Flodden they were destroyed by archers. It's worth remembering that the archers had to be protected from cavalry by dismounted men at arms, so they weren't absolutely lethal at long range. In the early sixteenth century the Spanish [re]introduced swordsmen: they could deal with the halberdiers, who could keep off cavalry at close range, protecting the arqubusiers, who could deal with cavalry at longer [not much] range, while the cavalry could destroy the swordsmen...


Anyway, where I was going was to say that it was masses that counted. Even in the 17th century english civil war, the main mass of the army was pikemen. They also had musket men, one of whose purposes was to drive off cavalry, who were usually reduced to firing their pistols into the ranks of pikemen. Not necessarily "reduced". Marlborough used columns of cavalry riding up to the line of infantry, wheeling, riding back and reloading and firing again and again: it meant that higher rates of fire could be concentrated on a vulnerable point. At a guess the introduction of effective bayonets- which meant a higher proportion of firearms than pikes in infantry units- altered this. aslo the cavalry, as an aristocratic- or would-be aristocratic- arm, probably preferred to gallop off madly in all directions and do a bit of looting.


As for the MAry Rose skeletons, they had I think incredibly well developed left shoulders and arms. They also worked out that some of the bows went up to about 185 pounds pull! Which doenst mean much to most people, but I've used 40 pound pull bows quite a bit, and tried 80 pounds, and could hardly bend it. No wonder they were deformed.They also couldn't do much else than fire bows.


Roman: bowstrings were as vulnerable to wet as gunpowder and you need particular wood- well-matured yew- for long bows; for composite bows you need quite a few other things, including animal horns that were big enough, glue and over a year for the glue to dry under steady stress. Before corned powder was invented there was the problem that the ingredients in gunpowder separated by weight in the barrel so that it was useless unless very carefully looked after.
One reason for the introduction of arquebusses was probably the fact that armies had a load of gunpowder anyway for cannon, which were much more effective than trebuchets and such as siege weapons. Probably smaller handguns were used similarly, then were used in battle because they were available and then theywere used because they'd already been used. Much more things happen by chance than by planning, i suspect.

guthrie
12-22-04, 12:49 PM
I'd be interested in the books, Guthrie. I'd always understood that stirrups were invented by nomads, so I'd have thought the Chinese would have got them- like Europeans- from the invaders.
So do I, but the problem I am now having is that looking in my most easily accessible wee book on china, I cant find any mention of crossbows, and since my lirbary is somewhat disorganised, I cant find any other references to the Chinese crossbow/ knights thing, so it may be more what antiquarians with little weapons knowledge think.




The Scots also used billmen against cavalry, but at Halidon Hill and Flodden they were destroyed by archers. It's worth remembering that the archers had to be protected from cavalry by dismounted men at arms, so they weren't absolutely lethal at long range.
If you'll excuse me for getting pernickety, the Scots used spears, of roughly 9 foot long. Held packed together into round multi ranked formations called schiltrons, they are pretty much impenetrable. So as you say, the english used archers from long range. Bastards. The Bill was used to great effect by the english in 1513 at Flodden, according to what I have on the battle what really lost it for teh SCots was that the english were using bills, but were expereinced and knew how to use them. The scots were using a job lot of French pikes, the continental wonder weapon, only the Scots hadnt trained with them and didnt know how to use them properly (ie pack yourselves together very tightly with multiple points all facing your enemy, and trot at them. BEcause the pike is something like 15 to 18 foot long, they all die before you do.) the english broke ino the pikes and killed everyone.
As for archers, they did have to be protected it was true, if youll remember, crecy and agincourt I think they also had spikes in the ground. But arrows were effective against cavalry, enough so that a combination of pole arms and archers was the majority of an army during the wars of the roses period. Richard the 3rd at bosworth tried to charge Henry Tudor, and failed, mainly because Tudor had french troops who knew how to recieve a cavalry charge, and thus he couldnt get through.




In the early sixteenth century the Spanish [re]introduced swordsmen: they could deal with the halberdiers, who could keep off cavalry at close range, protecting the arqubusiers, who could deal with cavalry at longer [not much] range, while the cavalry could destroy the swordsmen...
And so on. Thats what makes war so complex. Then theres Landsknechts, which I dont know much about, but they often had huge 2 handers, the aim being to charge the enemy pikes and get your timing right to scoop the points of the pikes away and crash into the mob. ONce your past the point your all right.




Not necessarily "reduced". Marlborough used columns of cavalry riding up to the line of infantry, wheeling, riding back and reloading and firing again and again: it meant that higher rates of fire could be concentrated on a vulnerable point. At a guess the introduction of effective bayonets- which meant a higher proportion of firearms than pikes in infantry units- altered this. aslo the cavalry, as an aristocratic- or would-be aristocratic- arm, probably preferred to gallop off madly in all directions and do a bit of looting.
They also couldn't do much else than fire bows.
It might also be worth thinking about the increased efficacy of firearms in general. If your guns are capable of putting cavalry down, why bother with pikes? The bayonet means that your men can defend at close range, or at least it did once they developed the ring kind rather than the plug kind.

Beryl
12-23-04, 11:01 PM
As has been stated, muskets were used because it takes less time to teach someone to shoot one and because it takes less strength to pull a trigger than to draw a bow. Bows are more accurate if you know how to aim, many have longer ranges than a musket, and longbows are quicker to "re-load" - crossbows, however, take quite a while, and still take more training than a musket. Bernard Cornwell once mentioned the longbow/Revolutionary War thing in a historical note for one of his Grail Quest books, and he said that had the Americans been using longbows they would have won a lot quicker... that may be true, but only if the Americans had an army that was able to use them properly. A better question than how quickly the Americans could have won is, would the British have won if THEY were using longbows and the Americans still used muskets?

vslayer
12-24-04, 03:10 AM
hand weapons are bad, they should have used those long barrelled things instead, sure slower firing, but you can take their entire army before they get close enough to shoot back.
im much better with a rifle than a pistol, i can only get 6-8/10 into a target at 50m, while i can get 8-10/10 with a rifle at 200m

guthrie
12-24-04, 12:30 PM
Erm, what are you talking about Vslayer? Do you mean that the use of muskets etc should have continued longer than it did, or that the historical musket design was a bad design? Perhaps you could design a more suitable one?

vslayer
12-27-04, 06:42 AM
i mean that everyone is pormoting muskets for their ease of use, sure they are easy, butthey are too inaccurate, an army of rookie crossbowmen would cut down an army using muskets

guthrie
12-27-04, 01:00 PM
Maybe........
Warfare is intimately linked to the economic, social and technological aspects of a society. Possibly a bunch armed with crossbows would achieve such a victory. But as for muskets, it depends also on when you are talking about. I think a Napoleonic wars army would be more successful against the crossbows due to improvements in muskets. But then you'll also remember that no army was made up solely of ranged weaponry. No army was made up solely of firearms until into the 18th century. The mix of troops makes an army multifunctional, able to deal with a variety of grounds, opposing forces and situations. Moreover, you are likely overestimating the power of the crossbow. As Thersites has pointed out above, there are other factors in the use of crossbows. One for example is that they did take a little bit of time to load, same as muskets.
Actually, one of the simplest points it that if crossbows were so good, why werent entire armies armed with them? Just saying an army of rookie crossbowmen would beat an army of musketeers misses a few things out.

wesmorris
12-27-04, 01:07 PM
Size and availability of ammunition is probably a key factor. Arrows are a much larger pain in the ass to make than a lump of metal.

guthrie
12-27-04, 02:37 PM
But making good gunpowder and keping it dry and in the proper consistencys as Therisites says is also quite hard.
Let alone that until quite late on there werent really standard sizes of shot and barrel, that was one reason they used wadding, because the shot and barrels tended to be slightly different in size, and they would also expand a bit in heavy use.

wesmorris
12-27-04, 03:04 PM
True, but logistically speaking it seems like the unit volume is so much smaller for a similar result.

Seems to me the point about expertise rings most true. Less training time, similar firepower, that's an advantage. Packing more ammo into a smaller space also helps.

guthrie
12-27-04, 03:13 PM
Indeed. But as you are probablty aware, training covers more than just how to load, aim and fire. following orders, marching about, formations to take, etc. Quality of leadership also counts.
And it still comes down to economics in anotehr way. I was reading "de Pyrotechnia" and "De re Mettalica", 16th century mettalurgy and "chemistry" books, and what they had for getting saltpetre were often wee farms, turning calcium nitrate from decayed earth, manure etc, into potassium nitrate. It is of course quite expensive to set one up and it takes a wee while to work.

Hey Thersites, what are your era's of interest in warfare?

path
12-27-04, 03:36 PM
I forget the exact details but I remember reading some years ago that some divers found the wreck of an english warship from the late 16th, early 17th century that had longbows in the ships stores. This long after bows were supposedly replaced with muskets. So it could be that bows were still being used long after conventional wisdom claims they were. Also the armor of the 15th century knight was proof against longbows but not muskets and crossbows.

guthrie
12-27-04, 04:46 PM
That is likely one of the reasons plate was introduced, that it is more arrow proof than anything else, though they did make metal piercing heads to help get through it.

As for bows being replaced by muskets, it did take a long time, the point is as much that despite their utility bows did get replaced. You cannot draw a line in teh sand and say that bows were not used after this date. The last time a bow was used in battle in Europe that I have heard of was in WW2, in the Channel islands.

As for 15th century armour, I am not sure how gun proof it was. By the 16th century they were having to add special breastplates to make them musket proof, but guns had been evolving for 80 years by then.

vslayer
12-28-04, 02:51 AM
another advantage to a crossobow is that firing it wolud nto give away your position, meaning you could take cover in bushes instead of the conventional open field stance

oscarmitre
12-28-04, 04:49 AM
I think it was cheaper in the long run. The objective of both these weapons is long distance damage. I concede that archers did more damage at a greater distance than the early arquebusiers but I think because of the lead time to develop their skills they would have cost more as well. I think it would have been quicker to train, equip and pay an arquebusier than it would have been an archer and with the development of better armour against arrows it may well have been sound economics to dump archers and go for the musketeers.

guthrie
12-28-04, 05:35 AM
UUmmm, all sorts of bows are great for sniping, true, but 5,000 archers is impossible to hide properly.

And Oscarmitre neatly summed up what we've been saying for the past 2 pages.

oscarmitre
12-28-04, 06:57 AM
I should have read everything then, sorry I read the first page and then scanned.

guthrie
12-28-04, 12:33 PM
Hey, its a ncie way to end the thread, unless someone else pops up saying "bows are best" or something.

vslayer
12-30-04, 05:30 AM
bows are the best, and hiding 5000bowmen wolud be considerbaly easier than hiding 5000 musketeers

Thersites
12-30-04, 06:13 AM
bows are the best, As they were replaced they obviously weren't, whatever the reasons.
and hiding 5000bowmen wolud be considerbaly easier than hiding 5000 musketeersWhy?They had to stand up to reload.


Other points:
Guthrie One of the perks of running a pub in the sixteenth century was selling off the soil from the latrine. The urine from drunks supplied much better saltpetre.
It's been suggested that one reason the xtians began to be more successful against the /turks is that the transfer of the skills used in bell casting to cannon-founding gave the Europeans an increasing technological edge: being able to shout loudly from a tower had no spill-over effect.
Cavalry used armour for much longer: the French cuirassiers at Waterloo had musket-proof breastplates. As their horses were shot down instead, it didn't do them much good though.

spuriousmonkey
12-30-04, 07:20 AM
Did anyone mention the fear factor.

Guns make lots of noise. That was new on the battlefield and terrorizing.

edit: here is a story on the decline of the longbow - http://huntingsociety.org/LongbowDecline.html

another article on longbows. There is a short paragraph on the decline of longbows at the end. Not a satisfactory one though. Interestingly "the Saracens Using highly flexed composite bows, and shooting from horseback, encountered during the Crusades were able to trounce the English archer army. The Saracen archers were far to quick and mobile for the English archer army."

http://www.thebeckoning.com/medieval/longbow/the-longbow.html

And in Japan:

The popularity of the arquebus grew as the size of the armies did. One reason was that it was simple to learn. It took years to become skilled in the use of bow, but in a short time a peasant could be taught to fire an arquebus "with all the accuracy which the weapon was capable of."

http://www.brookhursthobbies.com/Killer%20Katanas/Sampaper.htm

vslayer
12-30-04, 08:01 AM
but in the midst of that noise you can steak across the enemy line to get some easy kills with a sword or knife

spuriousmonkey
12-30-04, 08:40 AM
The whole discussion reminded me of the PC game medieval total war. I have played this strategic game to death. You command armes consisting of any unit imaginable, cavalry, archers, pikemen, spearmen etc. You also have musket units in the later periods.

In its predecessor, Shogun total war, musket units were frikking deadly units. Obviously they were carved to bits if you just had them standing there. What you needed was the proper formation, with the proper auxilliry units to protect them and they would utterly destroy any army that just had archers.

They made the musket units less effective in Medieval total war. I imagine it is because they were too superior if they had real life qualities like they were in the first game Shogun total war.

So I propose that musket units were just more effective than archer units if they were used in a certain strategic manner. Tactics had to be changed to adapt to the strengths of the musket, or arquebus.

vslayer
12-30-04, 08:45 AM
ugh, i played total war for about 3 days, then i got bored to death with how mindlessly boring it is

spuriousmonkey
12-30-04, 08:48 AM
People are all different. Some people like boring stuff.

vslayer
12-30-04, 08:58 AM
slayer sees you are referring to yourself in the 3rd person

vslayer
12-30-04, 08:59 AM
bcak on topic: if one man with a bow alone in a battle came across 5 men armed with muskets, who do you think would win?

spuriousmonkey
12-30-04, 09:06 AM
Wars are not fought with just archers and musketeers. And also not with a few individuals. Also experience and motivation play a major part in the outcome of a battle, together with position and luck. So we (haha) are not going to answer your question directly.

But I have slaughtered thousands of men (including archers) with a single army consisting of muskets and auxillery units in the game. I imagine something similar might be possible in real life.

But I was also fucked when it rained.

vslayer
12-30-04, 09:17 AM
think about it, you sneak up a tree, then you can shoot half of them in the head before they even realise what is happening, then their lousy lead pellets wolud probably not reach halfway up a tree anyway

spuriousmonkey
12-30-04, 09:21 AM
Maybe during guerilla warfare but not on the battlefield.

vslayer
01-02-05, 07:29 AM
who cares about a battlefield, many of the major battles of WW1 and WW2 could have been avoided by using a small guerilla squad, i saw a movie about this sort of thing once(thin red line?), a 5 man squad left 2 hours before their unit was set to deploy, and destroyed an entire artillery division, in the same battle the day before hundreds died trying to use mass force

spuriousmonkey
01-02-05, 08:40 AM
Can you occupy a foreign territory with guerilla squads?

Thersites
01-02-05, 01:09 PM
i saw a movie
Presumably you think Rambo is realistic.

guthrie
01-02-05, 03:09 PM
but in the midst of that noise you can steak across the enemy line to get some easy kills with a sword or knife
No. If you were in the UK, I would invite you to visit some period reenactments. Anyone trying to do that would find themselves facing several blokes armed with weapons, who would then kill you. Bear in mind that the powder used until they invnted smokeless powder (I think it was guncotton) left a huge cloud of white choking smoke drifting across the battlefield. In a castle in scotland is an interesting defensive feature, a covered, half barrel shaped construction in the moat of the castle, with shot holes in the side, so that anyone trying to get into the moat could bemown down by defenders within it. The problem is that in use it would quickly fill up with smoke, thus rendering the defenders helpless.

guthrie
01-02-05, 03:12 PM
who cares about a battlefield, many of the major battles of WW1 and WW2 could have been avoided by using a small guerilla squad, i saw a movie about this sort of thing once(thin red line?), a 5 man squad left 2 hours before their unit was set to deploy, and destroyed an entire artillery division, in the same battle the day before hundreds died trying to use mass force
Uumm, not quite. They did use small guerrilla squads for wire cutting, scouting etc, but even in wars based more upon mobility eg WW2, or the Boer war, small scouting parties didnt win battles or wars, and I would like to see a 5 man squad destroy an artillery division. do you know how many men and guns are in a division? Mind you, perhaps you should also read up on the german squads who caused havoc during the battle of the Bulge in winter 1944. They were successful for a bit, but such groups need special training, equipment and information, and thus are expensive, elite and inflexible.

patcho
01-02-05, 07:06 PM
vslayer is hilarious, he musta seen rambo 3, cause in that, Rambo took out a whole soviet battalion, not quite a divison :) but close enough.

On a side note, I heard somewhere that bows lasted only so many shots (obviously, but i remember it being quite low, for an english longbow anyway), anyone know how many?

vslayer
01-02-05, 08:38 PM
it sure wasnt rambo, rambo is total bullshit, i think the movie was called thin red line, and im not sure if it was an entire division, but the took out about 5 artillery and flamed most of the men there. it rendered the artillery useless meaning that the battalion trying to take that position next morning encountered minimal enemy contact.(btw, only 1 of those 5 survived)

no you cannot occupy a country with guerilla squads, but the main battle occur in trying to take over the country not sitting on your ass in a guard tower

you dont need a lot of special training, those 5 guys that broke thru US "heavy security" in the saudi american consulate needed only a car and a few guns

oand the bow are pretty long lasting, i imagine you are talking about the strings, they stretch after a few uses, but are easily replaced

guthrie
01-03-05, 12:18 PM
As a medieval re-enactor (Cue arguments from authority) I have no idea exactly how long a longbow lasted before it became useless. They do show a slow but gradual weakening of force, due to the realigning of the structure of the bow when its strung. That is one reason you shouldnt leave a bow strung, since it will lose its strength faster.

As for the taking out a division of artillery, 5 guns sounds like a company or suchlike, which as you all know is a lot less than a division. Then to do that you need to have a rough idea where the artillery is, and men who are willing to go on a virtual suicide mission, which despite the attempts by various armies over the past century is a very small percentage of the army. Of course, the other thing about the story is that you never have artillery without troops to cover it and armoured cars and stuff.Destroying the artillery may make the position untenable, which would mean the rest would be pulled back, but there is a reason such tactics have been sparingly employed during most wars in the 20th century, which I have outlined above.

Either way, guerrila tactis are useful in a defensive war, not an offensive one, when mobility and firepower are the primary things that matter. this can clearly be seen in just about every war from WW2 onwards. In taking territory, mobility matters. In defending it, guerrila tactics are very useful, assuming you are willing to take the casualties.
Furthermore, it is tricky to draw comparisons between the attacks on the US consulate, since they involved martyrs. Martyrdom is a concept alien to most of the past few hundred years of state on state warfare in "the west". Anyone involved in this kind of thing knows that suicidal attackers are nearly unstoppable.

Suffice to say your apparent infatuation with guerrilla squads is narrow minded.

vslayer
01-04-05, 06:02 AM
why wolud only a small percentage of them be willing to go on a 99% suicide mission, after the previous battle seeing many of their comrades get blow to shit and accomplishing no ground, why wolud they not, they know they are going to die soon regardless of how it is done, and they know that a small squad has a better chance than a large one because of stealth. they are going to die anyway, so why not make it safe for your friends by doing so??

spuriousmonkey
01-04-05, 06:25 AM
Casualty rates are not always that high during battle. Even during D-day high casualties only occurred amongst the troops during the first landing waves. The chances of survival are therefore much better during normal warfare for the average private.

In my opinion.

vslayer
01-04-05, 06:38 AM
but who is the average private? the guys in the first wave would have been shitting themselves praying for a quick and painless death, im sure many of them would gladly have risked a suicide mission with a small group under the cover of night

w_ashley
01-04-05, 08:16 AM
it seems that it fell out of use.



As stated above the longbow required years of mastery especially as far as the elite malformed bowmen go. The number of longbowmen declined. Law that once stated fathers had to buy their kids between 7 and 14. The environment seemed to change somewhat both politically and technologically. In 1588 firearms were used during the Spanish Armada War.

1595 in Buckinghamshire they converted some archers into calivermen and musketeers. Soon after there was an order for all archers to be converted.
i.e. privy coucil discontinued their use in english forces...
The english were also seemingly becoming more paranoid. Firearms might proove easier to control as far as production and monitoring goes. Guns were kept in locked magazines.

mid 17th century all guns in England were state property and could be seized at any time. Gunsmiths had to provide the name and ammount for all guns sold.


Fast forward 50 or so years in the "NEWWORLD"
Virginia All guns belonged to the colony's arsenal.
1658 everyone had to have a firearm in their house by 1673 citizens that were too poor to purchase a firearm had one purchased for them by the government
In Massachusetts the legislature ordered that indentured servants also had to own firearms with a 6 shilling fine if not armed.

Virginia even required men to carry their guns with them to church.

By the revolution most had never fired a gun often family guns no longer worked. They didn't know enough or have much practicle experience with them..


Trapping was more common for hunting and protection. Only 7% of homes were said to have working firearms.

Ben Franklin secured from the french 25000 Charleville muskets.

Militiamen who did not train as longbowmen like 1 or 2+ centuries earlier may have were said to be pretty poor soildiers. The continental army however if competeing again the british required topline arms.

Although indians and such may have been using bows it seems that bow use among colonist would be much rarer. I dont have information on early bow use after jamestown.

It just wasn't IN.my geuss is....

it has me wonder how effective it would have been against the redcoats

guthrie
01-04-05, 09:43 AM
why wolud only a small percentage of them be willing to go on a 99% suicide mission, after the previous battle seeing many of their comrades get blow to shit and accomplishing no ground, why wolud they not, they know they are going to die soon regardless of how it is done, and they know that a small squad has a better chance than a large one because of stealth. they are going to die anyway, so why not make it safe for your friends by doing so??
Perhaps you can tell us after you've been in the same situation. The nearest you can get short of going into Iraq is probably to read the diaries, letters and recollections of soldiers from WW1, 2, the Korean and the Vietnam war. I would heartily reccomend that you do so.

spuriousmonkey
01-04-05, 10:00 AM
but who is the average private? the guys in the first wave would have been shitting themselves praying for a quick and painless death, im sure many of them would gladly have risked a suicide mission with a small group under the cover of night

The hierarchy in the army means that the private wishes of the individual soldier means nothing. Moreover, if you talk about these kind of mission under cover of the night we are talking about special forces, which need special training and are highly selective about who they train. That is because not everybody seems to be suited for this kind of work.
Also these special missions do tend to fail also.

Roman
01-05-05, 01:01 AM
Guerillas are excellent to use against occupying forces. Vietnam is the perfect example. It's very costly for foreign powers to occupy territories– look at the budgets for 'Nam and Iraq II.

As for offensive guerillas, shocktroops have proven very effective in pitched battles, like WWI.
The Germans would begin a heavy artillery barrage on enemy lines during the evening and continue into the night. Then elite, lightly armed soldiers carrying explosives would cross-no-man's land, going through the weakest pts in the forward trenches to the auxilary trenches and plant explosives. Then these shocktroops would double back, hitting the weakest points on the enemy's front line, putting explosives down foxholes and the like on their merry way..

In the ensuing chaos, the Germans would send in the infantry and break the line.

Thersites
01-05-05, 12:44 PM
Guerillas are excellent to use against occupying forces. Vietnam is the perfect example. It's very costly for foreign powers to occupy territories– look at the budgets for 'Nam and Iraq II. Only against enemies with a certain squeamishness. The Ussr dealt with postWWII guerrillas in the Ukraine and the Baltic States, but at the cost of killing or deporting perhaps a third of the population.


As for offensive guerillas, shocktroops have proven very effective in pitched battles, like WWI.
...In the ensuing chaos, the Germans would send in the infantry and break the line.
The problem here is that they didn't break the line. How far did the removal of the best troops from ordinary units and the high death rate among shock troops lower the quality of the ordinary units? Bill Slim certainly thought that it was better not to create elite units and that normal units, properly trained could do the same job.

The last death in war by a longbow was probably in May 1940. Captain "Mad Jack" Churchill of the Manchester Regiment shot a German soldier.

Kunax
01-05-05, 12:57 PM
OOC: spurious Rome TotalWar has been out for some time now.

spuriousmonkey
01-06-05, 02:41 AM
I know, but I don't have a computer right now.

RonVolk
01-11-05, 12:59 PM
I'd Estimate a bow might be more more effective in Modern mans hands then in medievel mans hands due to the difference in nutrition. A medievel soldier aproaching the battlefield would probably be half starved eating something like hardtack or other grain product depending on the amount of soldiers on the battlefield he might have access to some raided vegtables, fruit, or meat. Not to mention the chances of a medievel soldier suffering a bout of dysintery or cholera would probably weaken even more his ability to use a bow. Hand the same man a weapon he just has to dump powder in and pull a trigger he'd be more effective, not to mention you could continue to ignore the conditions he spent his life in till your intellectuals realized it was the bad smells that spread diseases.

RonVolk
01-11-05, 01:00 PM
I'd Estimate a bow might be more more effective in Modern mans hands then in medievel mans hands due to the difference in nutrition. A medievel soldier aproaching the battlefield would probably be half starved eating something like hardtack or other grain product depending on the amount of soldiers on the battlefield he might have access to some raided vegtables, fruit, or meat. Not to mention the chances of a medievel soldier suffering a bout of dysintery or cholera would probably weaken even more his ability to use a bow. Hand the same man a weapon he just has to dump powder in and pull a trigger he'd be more effective, not to mention you could continue to ignore the conditions he spent his life in till your intellectuals realized it was the bad smells that spread diseases.

Addicted Archer
01-11-05, 01:23 PM
Firearms had several advantages over bows and arrows. Probably the main one was that an archer had to begin learning as a child, was too old when still quite young and had to spend most of their time training and practising. If you wanted arquebusiers, just haul in a few civilians and give them a few weeks' training. it's worth noting that crossbows- which were similarly low-skilled weapons- were replaced by firearms before composite bows or longbows. Similarly with the weapons: with an industrial base firearms could be made quickly and comparatively cheaply whereas composite bows could take a year or more to make.

i agree. the musket was an easy weapon to use, and many of the yankee soldiers were farmers and peasants. they would have ahd to start at childhood to learn the ways of the bow. i know, because i've been doing archery for 3 years, and i have to say, it is a lot of hard work. it all just basically comes down to time and money.

Roman
01-11-05, 05:25 PM
Only against enemies with a certain squeamishness. The Ussr dealt with postWWII guerrillas in the Ukraine and the Baltic States, but at the cost of killing or deporting perhaps a third of the population.
This is true, but people get fed up with evil empires.


The problem here is that they didn't break the line.
Without the shocktroops, the line would have never been broken.


How far did the removal of the best troops from ordinary units and the high death rate among shock troops lower the quality of the ordinary units?
You mustn't know too much about WWI history to make these claims :)

WWI was a paradigm shift in warfare, where new technologies far surpaced old tactics. For instance, rifles held far more bullets than muskets, and had a range of a mile or more. The Germans implemented the first chain-fed machine guns. Artillery & ballistics had gone a long way since cannon balls.

It was quickly discovered that if a defending army dug trenches, they were practically invulnerable to attack. With snipers, artillery and grunts with rifles for defense, and no armor to take the trench, it was extremely costly to directly assault the trench.
The only thing for the opposing army to do would be dig their own trench.
Of course, the generals and whoever wanted to gain territory, so they'd blow their whistle, and then all the grunts, with their CO behind them, would jump up and over the trench wall, to get gun downed by snipers, machineguns, and artillery.
The Brits wen 'up and over' at the First Battle of Yrpes until more than 50,000 British troops were dead.


Bill Slim certainly thought that it was better not to create elite units and that normal units, properly trained could do the same job.
I don't know who your Bill Slim is, but perhaps he should propose his idea to the Pentagon? I mean, why do we need artillery, airplanes, or tanks or any specialized group of soldiers?

In a perfect militarized world, everyone and everything would be top notch and thoroughly trained. Unfortunately, their are only so many available resources to train troop with, so training small elite groups to match up with grunt offensives is far cheaper than training everyone as elite.

spuriousmonkey
01-12-05, 12:20 AM
You mustn't know too much about WWI history to make these claims :)




The paratroopers divisions of Goring were the elite shock troops during WW2. They suffered heavy casualties in previously succesful campaigns. Goring still claimed that they were ubermenschen thought when the Russians were approaching berlin and claimed that 2 of its battalions could repel an entire Russian army. The truth was that the paratroopers had been seriously depleted by previous actions. Now the battalions were just filled up with ground personel and such. They justhad the equipment and looked the part. When the Russians started their offensive, they were the first to crack.

The same is true for all the other divisions that had been fighting at the Ostfront. They were all seriously depleted and their ranks if possible filled up with anything that was available. This seriously depleted the combat effectiveness.

Depleting all divisions of the best troops on a large scale seems hardly a sound idea. You will get a few smaller groups of excellent troops, but leave your main forces weak. Those are the forces that will have to endure counterattacks. Those are the troops that have to protect your ass.

bakersayshi
01-12-05, 06:52 AM
Wasn't one of the big deals about musket balls that when they struck their target, they flattened and increased in size, often shattering bones? I think that muskets, although innacurate were much more powerful than bows of any sort.

Thersites
01-12-05, 07:27 AM
This is true, but people get fed up with evil empires. Only the survivors. The USSR collapsed for reasons that had nothing to do with the Baltic states or the Ukraine and the guerrillas there.



Without the shocktroops, the line would have never been broken. It was never broken except by technological innovations such as tanks. It was the German line that was broken.




WWI was a paradigm shift in warfare, where new technologies far surpaced old tactics. For instance, rifles held far more bullets than muskets, and had a range of a mile or more. The Germans implemented the first chain-fed machine guns. Artillery & ballistics had gone a long way since cannon balls. This had happened over the previous century. The US civil war, the Franco-Prussian war, the Boer war, the Russo-Japanese war all showed the effects of these military innovations.
The biggest change in WWI was the development of "the nation in arms" to its apogee: an entire economy dedicated to war, to manufacturing weapons to supply the armed forces to use on the enemy.


It was quickly discovered that if a defending army dug trenches, they were practically invulnerable to attack. With snipers, artillery and grunts with rifles for defense, and no armor to take the trench, it was extremely costly to directly assault the trench.
The only thing for the opposing army to do would be dig their own trench.
Of course, the generals and whoever wanted to gain territory, so they'd blow their whistle, and then all the grunts, with their CO behind them, would jump up and over the trench wall, to get gun downed by snipers, machineguns, and artillery. Again, the wars I cited above showed that. The big difference in WWI was that armies and states could fight under these conditions for far longer than anyone had imagined. The reason for the British and French making most of the assults after 1914 was that a tenth of France and almost all of Belgium was occupied by the Germans- the status quo suited the Germans. It was effectively what the germans would have demanded at peace.The Germans attacked in March 1918 partly because they had extra troops from the eastern front partly because the British naval blockade was having a cumulative effect which would soon destroy German ability to fight.

The Brits wen 'up and over' at the First Battle of Yrpes until more than 50,000 British troops were dead.Fair description. Wrong battle First Ypres was a very costly German attack in November 1914.



I don't know who your Bill Slim is, but perhaps he should propose his idea to the Pentagon? I mean, why do we need artillery, airplanes, or tanks or any specialized group of soldiers? Field Marshall Lord Slim. He defeated the Japaese in Burma in WWII. He didn't approve of elite units. He had no objection to specialists such as artillery etc. Standard army regiments were trained and successfully used as chindits- long-range penetration commandos- without creating elite units for that job.


In a perfect militarized world, everyone and everything would be top notch and thoroughly trained. Unfortunately, their are only so many available resources to train troop with, so training small elite groups to match up with grunt offensives is far cheaper than training everyone as elite.The problem is that withdrawing the most able or dedicated troops from them often lowers the quality of ordinary units. The best men act as a leaven, setting an example to the others and raising other troops' self-imposed and self-expected standards.

Xylene
01-30-05, 12:30 AM
Bow and arrows would still be the preferred weapon if you want silent killing, as in bush-fighting or geurilla attacks where they strike and disappear. :)

charlesesl
02-15-05, 02:34 AM
Speaking of bows, I thought I might bring this up.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repeating_crossbow

This repeating crossbow called Chu-ko-nu is pretty much the machine gun of crossbows.

Thersites
02-15-05, 01:35 PM
Speaking of bows, I thought I might bring this up.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repeating_crossbow

This repeating crossbow called Chu-ko-nu is pretty much the machine gun of crossbows.
In the eighteenth century Austrian troops were armed with a repeating air rifle with a rate of fire comparable with a bolt-action magazine rifle, about twenty rounds a minute.

guthrie
02-15-05, 03:22 PM
Hey, I dont remember reading about that. Was it any good?
Do you recall there was a prototype machine gun made in I think the 16th or 17th century, that could fire round of square shot? The square stuff was for use against the Turks, allegedly it was more dangerous.

Thersites
02-17-05, 08:36 AM
Hey, I dont remember reading about that. Was it any good? They had replaceable reservoirs which leaked or exploded, but even so, you'd think that rate of fire would outweigh the disadvantages.

Do you recall there was a prototype machine gun made in I think the 16th or 17th century, that could fire round of square shot? The square stuff was for use against the Turks, allegedly it was more dangerous.The Puckle gun: i think it had a very complicated process: loading powder, inserting ball, adding primer... all done mechanically. It wasn't until metal all-in cartridges you could get effective automatic weapons.

guthrie
02-17-05, 12:46 PM
That sounds like it. I've got a mention of it somewhere amongst all the other books.

Thersites
02-19-05, 03:17 AM
The Puckle gun sounds like an early kind of revolver: There were nine prepared charges in a cylinder put onto the gun. You might have one or two men firing it, but you'd need a lot of people making up the cylinders.
Looking up the air rifle, it's even more puzzling that it wasn't used more widely and for longer. Besides rapid fire and better accuracy the other advantages were:
no fouling of the barrel- that was one of the biggest problems with early fire-arms, especially rifles.
no dependence on the weather. Early firearms often misfired in dry weather and were useless in the rain. It would be much easier to carry spare air reservoirs and pumps than to transport powder and keep it dry and stop it exploding. The US explorers Merriweather and Lewis took an air rifle to hunt with.
no smoke clouds: one reason why rifles weren't widely used- as well as the above- I think, was that early gunpowder gave off enormopus clouds of smoke. rifles were used by skirmishers, not in the line. On a battlefield it was impossible to see anyone until pretty nearly point-blank range. That's one of the reasons for withholding fire so long. Oddly enough, this might work both ways: people armed with air guns would be visible when their opponents were covered in smoke. Going back to the original subject: perhaps this was one reason for the decline of archery- the smoke of battle meant that archers couldn't see the opposing army to aim at them effectively.

vslayer
02-19-05, 04:44 AM
if the enemy was making such big clouds of smoke then why even bother with bullets and arrows, they could shove some explosives on a catapult, or arm their men with swords and hide until the enemy had advanced enough to flank them, half of the enemy force iwll be dead by the time they look behind them

Thersites
02-19-05, 12:18 PM
if the enemy was making such big clouds of smoke then why even bother with bullets and arrows, they could shove some explosives on a catapult, That wouldn't do much good- you couldn't see where you were firing with the catapult anyway.
or arm their men with swords and hide until the enemy had advanced enough to flank them, half of the enemy force iwll be dead by the time they look behind themWhere would they hide? Swordsmwn weren't much use against cavalry. Certainly most of the soldiers in French columns never had a chance to fire and Kutuzof didn't allow most of his troops to load as it discouraged them from using bayonets.

vslayer
02-20-05, 02:41 AM
just hide in bushes etc

Thersites
02-20-05, 05:25 AM
just hide in bushes etc
So, you wander around with a bush to hide in when you need it...

guthrie
02-20-05, 03:40 PM
PLus, catapults are hard to make and transport. there is a reason they were never used on the battlefield that I have heard of. Cannon werent really used on the battlefield until the latter half of the 15th century, when they were small enough and could be fired 2 or 3 times a minute with pre-prepared charges.