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Thread: Qin Pike Square vs Macedonian Phalanx

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    That is where you are wrong. The Romans were an excellent combined arms military. The Macedonians would have been meat when meeting Roman ballista and a shiled wall is the perfect answer against a spear wall.
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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Shields were sceince fiction technology to Japan. They never thought of it.
    Sort of a tangent here, but speaking of things that were never thought of, that people had no concept of... there are theories that the myth of the centaur was the result of first contact between sedentary agriculturists encountering horsemen from the Eurasian Steppe for the first time.

    The sedentary agriculturists simply couldn't conceive of the idea of a man riding a horse, so instead of correctly perceiving one animal (a man) riding and controlling another animal (a horse), they honestly, but mistakenly perceived this combination to be an entirely different type of animal that they had never seen before, which they decided to term a 'centaur', a strange hybrid of man and horse.

    Even long after the sedentary agriculturists began owning horses of their own, they believed the tales of their forebears, that centaurs were, in fact, a real thing that actually existed. I suppose they'd see a mysterious horseman in the fog, or at night, and even thousands of years later, it was: existence confirmed, centaurs are real, and I'm going to go tell everyone I know, about the centaur I saw.

    While I'm on the mythical horse creature subject, I suppose unicorns are simply a warhorse that was fitted with a spear on its face to stab enemy soldiers with. Or rhinoceroses, as related by a several thousand mile game of telephone across the centuries.

    Just posting this as an anecdote of what the human mind perceives/understands when it encounters something it has no concept of.

    I would guess that the first men in armor that were seen by people who didn't know what armor was, they were perceived as lobstermen or crocodilemen. Going further, I reckon the belief in the existence of werewolves and werebears comes from first sightings of men wearing wolf and bear pelts, by people who had never seen someone wear a wolf or bear pelt. I also suppose the vampire myth arose from rabid humans going insane from the rabies virus, biting and infecting other people, who then became infected, went insane, and went on to bite and infect other people.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 24 Apr 18, at 18:32.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hboGYT View Post
    Japanese pike formations as depicted in this video. https://youtu.be/dgao7T4Gkkw?t=23m12s
    You do know that Akira Kurosawa was aiming more for colour and story telling than historic accuracy. Kagemusha was also filmed in Alberta, Canada. If you don't see a Japanese face, it's a Canadian running his ass off. I strongly doubt Canadian dirt workers know the first thing about Japanese warfare.

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    Senior Contributor Triple C's Avatar
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    Another thing about really long pikes is that, in addition to striking first, they put several layers of spearheads against the enemy.
    Questions: How does the equation change when the Qin/Macedonians both bring in their other arms, such as Qin crossbowmen, companion cavalry, etc?
    About Romans and Macedonians--the latter were slaughtered by the manipular Legion. It was not even close.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Just posting this as an anecdote of what the human mind perceives/understands when it encounters something it has no concept of.
    We actually have evidence of this.

    Native South Americans viewed the Spaniards as Gods who could move entire islands (sailing ships) across oceans and command creatures with 2 heads and 4 legs (horse and rider).

    Native North Americans saw a big canoe and a hornless moose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    Another thing about really long pikes is that, in addition to striking first, they put several layers of spearheads against the enemy.
    Questions: How does the equation change when the Qin/Macedonians both bring in their other arms, such as Qin crossbowmen, companion cavalry, etc?
    Both ran into trouble with horse archers. The Macedonians were lucky in that horses were still expensive enough not to make it the main arm of the armies they faced. The Qin? Not so lucky.

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    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    a shield wall is the perfect answer against a spear wall.
    Not sure this is true. From my reading of the battles where the Romans encountered the phalanx formations the Romans did NOT like facing the pike wall, which could and did force them into retreat when met head on (have to find the battle I am thinking of).

    What won the day for the Romans was the flexibility of their formations, not their shields. As soon as phalanx hit rough ground gaps in the ranks could and would open up in the line and this is what cost them the battle on the day in question. A maniple was able to exploit a gap and get in between and behind the pike wall.

    What really did it in for the phalanx was the over reliance of later generals on it and it alone to win battles, something Alexander and his father never did. In fact their phalanx line was never intended to win the battle. It's purpose was simply to fix the enemy battle line in place. Alexander succeeded because he used combined arms warfare so well.

    Macedon and others forgot this key fact - until they encountered the Romans. Later on the Seleucid's, after several defeats at Roman hands tried to reintroduce 'legionnaire' style soldiers to support their pike line but it was to little to late. I suspect part of the reason the Successor States became so dependent on the pike was cost. A pike is realtivly cheap to make and the basics of the phalanx formation are easy to learn - at least compared to Roman tactics and formations. So the average pikeman was simply cheaper.

    Everyone rates the Legions equipment so highly in part I think because after the demise of the Successor States the Romans never really faced a well organized combined arms opponent, instead facing mainly massed infantry charges where their organization and shield walls were highly effective.

    Also if you win wars with a particular set of equipment the tendency is to keep it. Look how the Romans reorganized and reequipped after facing armies who defeated them like Carthage. I suspect that since they never suffered a decisive defeat at the hands of a pike equipped army they tended to discount the pikes utility as part of a combined armed force and hence stuck with what they had - after all it worked. Especially since once they had defeated the only then existent pike armies they only faced lightly equipped and poorly organized 'barbarians' for an extended period of time.

    Go forward a few centuries and the lightly armed barbarian hordes were now often as well equipped if not as well organized as the Romans with leaders who had served in the Roman Army or fought beside them as auxiliaries and who were therefore familiar with their tactics and training.What happens? Lo! the Romans start to suffer defeats again (a simplification I know but at least partly true.)

    Given it was reinvented on several occasions I don't think the flaw was in phalanx itself or the pike but rather in their application. In fact I think the Romans, towards the end at least may have done better if they had still utilized the phalanx as apart of a combined arm force - at least against enemies like the Goths etc.
    Last edited by Monash; 25 Apr 18, at 08:51.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    Not sure this is true. From my reading of the battles where the Romans encountered the phalanx formations the Romans did NOT like facing the pike wall, which could and did force them into retreat when met head on (have to find the battle I am thinking of).
    Well, of course, the Romans were going to be pushed back. After all, the pikeman have the reach but the point was that the phalanx was not going to shatter the Roman lines.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    We actually have evidence of this.

    Native South Americans viewed the Spaniards as Gods who could move entire islands (sailing ships) across oceans and command creatures with 2 heads and 4 legs (horse and rider).

    Native North Americans saw a big canoe and a hornless moose.
    I reckon that one day a long, long time ago, some nearsighted person, from some distance, saw an eagle that was standing on the back of a lion. Or it was simply a case of forced perspective, and the eagle and lion were merged from what they could see.

    Because their vision wasn't so good, they thought "hmm, that's a strange animal. I'll call it a griffin."

    Other nearsighted people over the millennia, every so often, also happened to see the same thing, and the existence of griffins thus became a confirmed reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke
    I also suppose the vampire myth arose from rabid humans going insane from the rabies virus, biting and infecting other people, who then became infected, went insane, and went on to bite and infect other people.
    I reckon this is also where the myth regarding zombies originated. Rabid humans who are no longer in possession of their higher human faculties, reduced to an animalistic state, going around and biting/turning people into what they've become - rabid humans.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 25 Apr 18, at 14:13.
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  10. #25
    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Well, of course, the Romans were going to be pushed back. After all, the pikeman have the reach but the point was that the phalanx was not going to shatter the Roman lines.
    That was sort of my point to. The Romans won on the day because they didn't depend on 'lines' while the phalanx absolutely did. Their formations were more flexible than the phalanx and this counted when fighting on broken or uneven ground. Facing the phalanx on flat terrain, battle line to battle line the Romans were at a disadvantage and had to give ground in the face of a determined advance. However their training, tactics and equipment meant that in any other circumstance the advantage lay the other way.

    Solution, don't fight a phalanx based army on purely flat terrain but if you must, have a supply of well trained cavalry or light troops for flanking attacks and look for some small feature in that terrain that will break the line - then exploit that break. Given the fact most battles aren't fought on the geographical equivalent of billiard table a well lead Roman Army would win 9 times out of 10.
    Last edited by Monash; 25 Apr 18, at 08:48.
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    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    I reckon that one day a long, long time ago, some nearsighted person, from some distance, saw a bird that was standing on the back of a lion. Because their vision wasn't so good, they thought "hmm, that's a strange animal. I'll call it a griffin."

    Other nearsighted people over the millennia, every so often, also happened to see birds standing on the back of lions, and the existence of griffins became a confirmed reality.
    Or people just go got hammered during celebrations at the local temple and had a dream they passed on.
    If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

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    Senior Contributor Triple C's Avatar
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    All of the battles against Macedon in which Rome emerged victorious had the legions fallback on initial contact followed by counterattack into the pikes. Polybius wrote about this; the pike formations cannot handle passing so much as rolling hills without losing order. Against other types of heavy infantry this might not have been a deadly flaw, but absolutely so when it's the legions they're facing.

    Another issue Polybius brought up is that legionnaires can be effective marauders and foragers in small groups. Pikemen, split into the same small groups, could not handle themselves if they ran into a small legion task force.

    Finally I think the sources would show the legions marched a lot better.
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    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    All of the battles against Macedon in which Rome emerged victorious had the legions fallback on initial contact followed by counterattack into the pikes. Polybius wrote about this; the pike formations cannot handle passing so much as rolling hills without losing order. Against other types of heavy infantry this might not have been a deadly flaw, but absolutely so when it's the legions they're facing.
    As I recall from my readings those counter attacks were directed at breaks/disruptions in the pike line, head on attacks into un-disrupted pikes tended to be costly failures.
    Last edited by Monash; 25 Apr 18, at 08:52.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    All of the battles against Macedon in which Rome emerged victorious had the legions fallback on initial contact followed by counterattack into the pikes. Polybius wrote about this; the pike formations cannot handle passing so much as rolling hills without losing order. Against other types of heavy infantry this might not have been a deadly flaw, but absolutely so when it's the legions they're facing.

    Another issue Polybius brought up is that legionnaires can be effective marauders and foragers in small groups. Pikemen, split into the same small groups, could not handle themselves if they ran into a small legion task force.

    Finally I think the sources would show the legions marched a lot better.
    So basically the Macedonians had not been drilled enough to maintain formation over rough terrain?

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    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hboGYT View Post
    So basically the Macedonians had not been drilled enough to maintain formation over rough terrain?
    It's not a matter of drill but of physics, it's next to impossible for densely packed group of men wielding 17ft pikes to stay in formation, shoulder to shoulder when entering a thicket of scrub, crossing a ditch or climbing a boulder strewn rise. Elite troops will do it better than average troops but it only takes one part of the line to disrupt to cause a man killing gap. And that gap doesn't have to be very wide.

    Remember if your entire front line is a phalanx then the entire front line has to move in unison, it cant afford to have one part fall behind or get ahead. Especially if, like later users you didn't have strong supporting foot to move forward and temporarily plug the gap while also keeping hostile infantry away from their flanks.
    Last edited by Monash; 25 Apr 18, at 08:59.
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