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Thread: Qin Pike Square vs Macedonian Phalanx

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    Sir Charles Oman ... commented that the Spanish sword and buckler men were highly effective against pikes in the few major battles where they were used.
    The original observation was made by Machiavelli, through correspondence with participants of the Battle of Ravenna.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    The original observation was made by Machiavelli, through correspondence with participants of the Battle of Ravenna.
    It does not diminish pikemen's utility though. Would any sensible army dare not to have a pike formation?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hboGYT View Post
    It does not diminish pikemen's utility though. Would any sensible army dare not to have a pike formation?
    I am not saying that it does. However, pike formations did seem to have troubled the Romans overmuch in the Second and Third Macedonian Wars. The verdict of military history for that line-up was pretty final, IMHO.

    Late Medieval pike seemed to have been developed as a response to heavy cavalry, crossbowmen and archers, and the pike units of the Swiss, Holy Roman Empire and Spaniards possessed markedly differently set of capabilities and characteristics from pike in the classical period.
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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.
    1) The pre-Marian triplex acies Roman army was a combined arms military. The post Marian Roman army was a heavy-infantry army where the vast majority of soldiers were equipped as heavy infantry with a sword and pilum.

    2) The Romans would not have used ballistas or scorpions against Macedonian phalanxes because those were used as siege equipment, not field artillery. They were deployed for defense battles or during sieges, but generally could not be deployed fast enough for field battles.

    3) The Romans actually could not break the Macedonian phalangite phalanx head on during the Roman-Macedonian wars. The Romans took casualties and had to fall back when they fought the pike formation head on. They had to rely on falling back over rough terrain for the phalangite phalanx to become disorganized and break formation - which allowed the Romans to attack them in the gaps of their lines and flanks.

    Also, the Macedonian armies neglected proper mixed unit fighting by the time of the Roman-Macedonian wars, and overly relied on only pikemen without sufficent other infantry and cavalry to support them.

    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Shields were sceince fiction technology to Japan. They never thought of it.
    The Japanese did have hand held shields. https://www.quora.com/Why-didnt-the-...se-use-shields

    By the European high middle ages, Japanese hand held shields eventually transformed into shoulder shields. Shields in Japan were most gone/on the decline by the European Renaissance era with the rise of pike and shot warfare in Eurasia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hboGYT View Post
    I would like to know your opinion of the pros and cons of Qin pikemen, who held 7m long pikes with both hands, vs Macedonian phalagites who held a sarissa on one hand and a shield in the other. If it is relevant, the picture likely depicts a pikemen donning lamellar amour and rhino leather cap. The Phalanx needs no introduction, so I will skip that part.
    There are significant differences between the ancient Chinese pikemen and Macedonian phalangite sarissa pikemen. The ancient Chinese pikemen were far more similar to Renaissance Era Swisspikes practicing pike and shot warfare (except with pike and crossbows). The Chinese pike & halberd formations were mixed unit formations with crossbows, archers, shielded infantry, and pikemen. The crossbows practiced rotating volley fire and were protected by the pikes when in defensive formation.

    On the other hand, the Macedonian pike formations were simply used to pin the enemy in place in hammer and anvil tactics while the cavalry and other infantry (the hammer) flanked the enemy and caused them to rout. The Macedonian sarissa formations were relatively cumbersome - as they were very large formations over 10 men wide and 15-17 men deep. Sometimes they would form a long continuous line - which is a nightmare to maneuver. They also may have been weighed down by the weight of their smaller shields compared to non-shielded pikemen. We don't have evidence of Macedonian pikemen engaging in full blown pike charges, but we do know that the ancient Chinese and medieval European pike formations did engage in pike charges and were much more maneuverable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Intranetusa View Post
    They also may have been weighed down by the weight of their smaller shields compared to non-shielded pikemen.
    I would like to correct my earlier statement. Apparently there is archeological evidence that some of the Qin-Warring States-Han era pikemen may have had medium sized oval-rectangular shields that were strapped on in a similar fashion to Macedonian shields for pikemen. This may still have been lighter than the Macedonian shields... And the classic notched "kite shield" used by the Warring States to Han armies at the time had notches that allowed them to use/rest polearms on them...which may have been used in conjunction with "shorter" pikes and polearms.
    The pikemen after Alexander's days eventually had longer and longer pikes (20+ feet), which caused to become more inflexible and less manuverable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    I am not saying that it does. However, pike formations did seem to have troubled the Romans overmuch in the Second and Third Macedonian Wars. The verdict of military history for that line-up was pretty final, IMHO.
    Macedonian Pike formations beat the Roman's several times. The whole term pyrrhic victory comes from a phalanx beating a legion. However, to beat the legion, the phalanx had to fight on ground of its choosing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Intranetusa View Post
    There are significant differences between the ancient Chinese pikemen and Macedonian phalangite sarissa pikemen. The ancient Chinese pikemen were far more similar to Renaissance Era Swisspikes practicing pike and shot warfare (except with pike and crossbows). The Chinese pike & halberd formations were mixed unit formations with crossbows, archers, shielded infantry, and pikemen. The crossbows practiced rotating volley fire and were protected by the pikes when in defensive formation.

    On the other hand, the Macedonian pike formations were simply used to pin the enemy in place in hammer and anvil tactics while the cavalry and other infantry (the hammer) flanked the enemy and caused them to rout. The Macedonian sarissa formations were relatively cumbersome - as they were very large formations over 10 men wide and 15-17 men deep. Sometimes they would form a long continuous line - which is a nightmare to maneuver. They also may have been weighed down by the weight of their smaller shields compared to non-shielded pikemen. We don't have evidence of Macedonian pikemen engaging in full blown pike charges, but we do know that the ancient Chinese and medieval European pike formations did engage in pike charges and were much more maneuverable.
    The phalanx wasn't just to pin, it was to push. You have 10 men deep each guy bracing the back of the guy in front of him and that is a lot of force pushing against you. If you can't find a way to split the phalanx it will push you backwards and trying to engage in melee against guys whose weapons keep you from reaching him while being pushed backwards over your buddies is the definition of suck. Add in cavalry pushing in from the sides and compressing the battle field even more....

    Also missiles were over rated against heavy infantry. If massed Persian recurve bows and mercenary Greek slingers couldn't stop a phalanx, crossbows wont either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    The phalanx wasn't just to pin, it was to push. You have 10 men deep each guy bracing the back of the guy in front of him and that is a lot of force pushing against you. If you can't find a way to split the phalanx it will push you backwards and trying to engage in melee against guys whose weapons keep you from reaching him while being pushed backwards over your buddies is the definition of suck. Add in cavalry pushing in from the sides and compressing the battle field even more.....
    The Macedonian phalanx is capable of pushing, but it's main tactical job is to pin the enemy in place for other soldiers to flank the enemy. And even then, the pushing has to be done on flat terrain. The Macedonian phalanx, especially the ones with longer pikes used by the Successor states, was not designed to push and rout enemies by themselves.

    Macedonian pike formations that simply tried to "push" while advancing on uneven terrain or without support from other units were utterly defeated by the Roman maniples, as seen in the battle of Pydna and battle of Cynoscephalae. Their large unwieldy formations broke up and/or were surrounded and outflanked by more flexible enemy units.

    In comparison, Qin-Han era and European Renaissance era mixed unit pike formations were far more maneuverable, capable of "charging," and were more capable of being self sufficient units.

    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Also missiles were over rated against heavy infantry. If massed Persian recurve bows and mercenary Greek slingers couldn't stop a phalanx, crossbows wont either.
    Incorrect.
    First, Second, not all missile infantry and missle weapons are the same. Some are far more powerful than others. IIRC, according to Xenophno, the "famous" Cretan bows have a range of 90 meters. The Persian bows have a range of 100m.

    Persian recurve bows weren't nearly as powerful as the stronger English longbow or Mongol recurve bows, both of which can reach up to ~180s lb draw weight (with a 24+ inch draw length/power stroke). According to this link English longbow have a range of 300 meters, and composite recurve bows of comparable draw weights have a range of 400 meters. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/79170491.pdf

    For comparison, the Han Dynasty "standard" crossbow was a 390 pound draw weight recurve bow with a ~21 inch powerstroke. These were a bit more advanced yet still similar to standard Qin crossbows, and these or the even heavier versions could be drawn with the legs while lying down. Han crossbows were able to outrange the powerful recurve bows of the Xiongnu confederation.
    Energy from a bow/crossbow is mostly determined by draw weight multiplied by powerstroke/draw length. The bolts from these Han crossbows were stronger than longbows and recurve bows and roughly comparable in power to late Middle Ages/Rennisance era 1000-1100 pound windlass-cranked European crossbows with 7-8 inch power strokes.

    Second, the Persians never "massed" recurve bows or slingers anyways. The Persians only had 1,500 archers at the battle of Gaugamela. Depending on the size estimate of the Persian army (50k-120k), that is a tiny 01% to 03% of the army being archers. The Persian army at the battle of Issus was composed of almost entirely melee soldiers (primarily lighter infantry).
    Archers are expensive because archery is a skill that requires many years to master. In medieval European warfare, archers were paid more and considered higher grade soldiers than many footsoldiers. Nations couldn't mass missile units unless you make it state policy to require archery practice among the commoners (eg. like what the English did in the late Middle Ages), had a widespread archery culture (eg. Mongols/Manchus/northern Chinese), or had hundreds of thousands of state manufactured bronze-cast recurve crossbows (Qin and Han Dynasties).

    So in a Persian army at Gugamela, you'd have 1-3% of the army equipped with Persian bows. In a Qin to Han era army, you'd have something like 30-40% of the army equipped with far stronger stronger foot drawn crossbows. The two armies are not really comparable.

    Third, crossbows were used in early Renaissance Pike and Shot Warfare in combination with pikes before a transition to guns. So the Qin-Han era armies and late Middle Ages/Renaissance era European armies all used mixed unit formations of crossbows and pikemen (in more flexible formations with more maneuverable shorter pikes). This combined arms approach with more flexible pikemen was an evolution and advancement over the less flexible giant chunky pike blocks used by the Macedonians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    The phalanx wasn't just to pin, it was to push. You have 10 men deep each guy bracing the back of the guy in front of him and that is a lot of force pushing against you. If you can't find a way to split the phalanx it will push you backwards and trying to engage in melee against guys whose weapons keep you from reaching him while being pushed backwards over your buddies is the definition of suck. Add in cavalry pushing in from the sides and compressing the battle field even more.....
    The Macedonian phalanx is capable of pushing, but it's main tactical job is to pin the enemy in place for other soldiers to flank the enemy. And even then, the pushing has to be done on flat terrain. The Macedonian phalanx, especially the ones with longer pikes used by the Successor states, was not designed to push and rout enemies by themselves.

    Macedonian pike formations that simply tried to "push" while advancing on uneven terrain or without support from other units were utterly defeated by the Roman maniples, as seen in the battle of Pydna and battle of Cynoscephalae. Their large unwieldy formations broke up and/or were surrounded and outflanked by more flexible enemy units.

    In comparison, Qin-Han era and European Renaissance era mixed unit pike formations were far more maneuverable, capable of "charging," and were more capable of being self sufficient units.

    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Also missiles were over rated against heavy infantry. If massed Persian recurve bows and mercenary Greek slingers couldn't stop a phalanx, crossbows wont either.
    Incorrect.
    First, not all missile infantry and missle weapons are the same. Some are far more powerful than others. IIRC, according to Xenophno, the "famous" Cretan bows have a range of 90 meters. The Persian bows have a range of 100m.

    Persian recurve bows weren't nearly as powerful as the stronger English longbow or Mongol recurve bows, both of which can reach up to ~180s lb draw weight (with a 24+ inch draw length/power stroke). According to this link English longbow have a range of 300 meters, and composite recurve bows of comparable draw weights have a range of 400 meters. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/79170491.pdf

    For comparison, the Han Dynasty "standard" crossbow was a 390 pound draw weight recurve bow with a ~21 inch powerstroke. These were a bit more advanced yet still similar to standard Qin crossbows, and these or the even heavier versions could be drawn with the legs while lying down. Han crossbows were able to outrange the powerful recurve bows of the Xiongnu confederation.
    Energy from a bow/crossbow is mostly determined by draw weight multiplied by powerstroke/draw length. The bolts from these Han crossbows were stronger than longbows and recurve bows and roughly comparable in power to late Middle Ages/Rennisance era 1000-1100 pound windlass-cranked European crossbows with 7-8 inch power strokes.

    Second, the Persians never "massed" recurve bows or slingers anyways. The Persians only had 1,500 archers at the battle of Gaugamela. Depending on the size estimate of the Persian army (50k-120k), that is a tiny 01% to 03% of the army being archers. The Persian army at the battle of Issus was composed of almost entirely melee soldiers (primarily lighter infantry).
    Archers are expensive because archery is a skill that requires many years to master. In medieval European warfare, archers were paid more and considered higher grade soldiers than many footsoldiers. Nations couldn't mass missile units unless you make it state policy to require archery practice among the commoners (eg. like what the English did in the late Middle Ages), had a widespread archery culture (eg. Mongols/Manchus/northern Chinese), or had hundreds of thousands of state manufactured bronze-cast recurve crossbows (Qin and Han Dynasties).

    So in a Persian army at Gugamela, you'd have 1-3% of the army equipped with Persian bows. In a Qin to Han era army, you'd have something like 30-40% of the army equipped with far stronger stronger foot drawn crossbows. The two armies are not really comparable.

    Third, crossbows were used in early Renaissance Pike and Shot Warfare in combination with pikes before a transition to guns. So the Qin-Han era armies and late Middle Ages/Renaissance era European armies all used mixed unit formations of crossbows and pikemen (in more flexible formations with more maneuverable shorter pikes). This combined arms approach with more flexible pikemen was an evolution and advancement over the less flexible giant chunky pike blocks used by the Macedonians.

  11. #56
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    For comparison, the Han Dynasty "standard" crossbow was a 390 pound draw weight recurve bow with a ~21 inch powerstroke. These were a bit more advanced yet still similar to standard Qin crossbows, and these or the even heavier versions could be drawn with the legs while lying down. Han crossbows were able to outrange the powerful recurve bows of the Xiongnu confederation.
    That's interesting. What's the sources on that, and how did the Han achieve that kind of tensile strength for the draw weight?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    That's interesting. What's the sources on that, and how did the Han achieve that kind of tensile strength for the draw weight?
    1) The tensile strength was achieved in the style of a composite recurve bow - composed of horn, sinew, laminated wood, etc.

    "common to arm the Chinese crossbow with a horn and sinew composite lath in the style of a standard recurve hand-bow."

    https://books.google.com/books?id=FQBGDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT11&lpg=PT11&dq="Chinese %20crossbow"&source=bl&ots=qx2xqr9SZ4&sig=2NnR2ARJ BMtXjVew8oUEI8u7luc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiGmJWxn8 rcAhXjw1kKHRC3BqQQ6AEwAHoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q=chine se&f=false

    The Greco-Romans and medieval European siege engineers designed their torsion siege equipment around stuff such as sinew, so that stuff must have crazy high strength. Horn and lamination in the prod part


    2) It's mix of sources:

    The minimum level crossbow draw weight requirements of Han Dynasty soldiers was 76kg/168lbs. These were the types of crossbow that were drawn while standing up (the section compares it to similar European crossbows).
    "It was a requirement of Han troops to be able to span a crossbow with a draw weight of 168lb" -Osprey's Crossbow with Mike Loades
    https://books.google.com/books?id=EwBGDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq="It+was+ a+requirement+of+Han+troops+to+be+able+to+span+a+c rossbow"&source=bl&ots=Z58EyItxBE&sig=ko2xuHPEbxq_ W52oudoDP1qQQOA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi8xa6yncrcAh WiwFkKHXkABPQQ6AEwAHoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q="It%20was %20a%20requirement%20of%20Han%20troops%20to%20be%2 0able%20to%20span%20a%20crossbow"&f=false


    "The extent to which the string could be drawn back was a significant advantage in the design of the Chinese crossbow...greater distance of string travel enabled more work to be done...transfered energy to the arrow for longer...It took around 20 inches to draw a Chinese crossbow string from its resting position to hook it behind the trigger catch. By contrast, on a European crossbow the power stroke was typically only 4-5 inches."

    https://books.google.com/books?id=FQBGDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT11&lpg=PT11&dq="Chinese %20crossbow"&source=bl&ots=qx2xqr9SZ4&sig=2NnR2ARJ BMtXjVew8oUEI8u7luc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiGmJWxn8 rcAhXjw1kKHRC3BqQQ6AEwAHoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q=chine se&f=false

    Chu-yen excavated slips (armory inventory count written on bamboo/paper slips). I'm still trying to find an English translated version.

    But a person who can read traditional script translated it here:
    http://historum.com/asian-history/69...-crossbow.html

    Excerpt of the post:

    "Slip 14.026: 一今力五石廿九斤射百八十步辟木郭
    Translation: Present strength 5 stone 29 jin (341 lbs) and will penetrate a wooden wall at 180 paces (252 meters).
    Slip 515.46: 三石具弩射百廿步
    Translation: 3 stone (193.5 lbs) crossbow, fully assembled, shoots 120 paces (168 meters)
    Slip 36.10: 官第一六石具弩一今力四石【四十】二斤射白八十五步完(The words in 【】 is used to display what the word on the slip means, but the actual word cannot be typed by computer as the word is no longer in use)
    Translation: Number one 6 stone crossbow, fully assembled, present strength is 4 stone 42 chin (285 lbs), and it will shoot to the end of 185 paces (259 meters).
    Slip 510.026: 五石具弩射百廿步
    Translation: Five stone crossbow fully assembled, shoots 120 paces (168 meters)
    Slip 341.3: 具弩一今力四石射二百…(too smeared to make out)…
    Translation: Fully assembled crossbow, present strength 4 stone (258 lbs), shoots two hundred and …[text too smeared to make out] (280-418.6 meters).
    Slip 14.62A: 一今力三石廿九斤射百八十步辟木郭
    Translation: Present strength 3 stone 29 jin (212.2 lbs) and penetrates wooden wall at 252 meters."

    "In general Chu-yen slips categorize crossbow draw weight by 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10+ stone, with each stone unit being the modern equivalent of ~64.5 pounds. The majority of crossbows have a draw weight of 6 stone. From the above tests, one can extrapolate that typical Han crossbows of 6 stone would have an average range of over 300 meters, assuming that the bolt fired was no different from those fired from weaker crossbows. The following is a calculation on the percentage of crossbows for each categorical draw weight, but it is currently not verified by me as I did not count them personally(However, historian Yang Hong also states that the majority of crossbows were categorized with draw weights of 6 stone):
    1 stone: 1.37%
    2 stone: 1.37%
    3 stone: 21.92%
    4 stone: 2.74%
    5 dan: 17.81%
    6 dan: 43.84%
    7 dan: 2.74%
    8 stone: 2.74%
    10 stone and above (Great Yellow Crossbow): 5.48%"

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    Here was another section that talked about variations in draw weight. Average new recruits who ate a low protein diet probably could do up to 250lbs before physical conditioning and better nutrition through military service, whereas it is claimed that the exception folks after training/conditioning could "possibly" do up to 750lbs.

    "During the Han Dynasty (206 BC–AD 220), however, it was claimed that a few elite troops were capable of bending crossbows by the handsand-feet method, with a draw-weight in excess of 750lb (Selby 2000: 172)....Whether or not a few men possessed such Herculean might we may never know."

    -from p. 11 of the Osprey Crossbow book

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    Hm... assuming the information is correct, then either the workmanship was far superior to the rest of the world, or the combination of draw weight, length and material would make a bow arm failure pretty dangerous to the operator.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    Hm... assuming the information is correct, then either the workmanship was far superior to the rest of the world, or the combination of draw weight, length and material would make a bow arm failure pretty dangerous to the operator.
    I think besides the trigger, their workmanship wasn't that far superior, and I don't think it was that dangerous either. The only superior workmanship I can think of would maybe be the cast bronze trigger-lock mechanisms that allowed firing with delicate force, and was precisely machined to be interchangeable with hundreds of thousands of other crossbows. The stock was just a piece of shaped wood that most civilizations could produce, and the composite bow existed in different forms in other parts of the world.

    It's not that hard to make extremely powerful composite bows - the main limitation of the bow was the strength of the archer who would pull the string with one arm. Crossbows allowed people to go far beyond that limitation by using both arms, and by incorporating back and leg muscles to draw the string in certain designs, and by using mechanical devices (levers and cranks).

    High draw weight European crossbows made of wood and composite materials did exist. The steel prods were used for medieval European crossbows because it was cheaper and mass produced faster than composite laminated materials. The steel they used was actually worse at storing and transferring energy than wood and composite materials.

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