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History => Ancient and Medieval History => Topic started by: Andreas Johansson on August 28, 2019, 10:21:27 AM

Title: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on August 28, 2019, 10:21:27 AM
Inspired partly by my old Taxonomy of Cavalry (http://soa.org.uk/sm/index.php?topic=2461.0) thread and more immediately by Anthony's comment (http://soa.org.uk/sm/index.php?topic=4051.msg52229#msg52229) in the terrain thread, I thought maybe it's time to have a discussion on the proper classification of ancient and medieval infantry.

Now there are two classes I imagine everyone accepts:
heavy infantry fighting in formation
light infantry skirmishing in loose swarms

Now, obviously, these can be subdivided, e.g. you can have foot skirmishers with bow, sling, javelin, or other missile weapons, and similarly heavy foot can be swordsmen, pikemen, etc. Whether we distinguish these is mostly a matter of taste - how detailed do we want our rules, and how confident are we that we can meaningfully represent differences (do we actually know that vikings with Danish axes were 67% more deadly but also 25% more vulnerable than ones with sword and shield?).

More interestingly, do we need further categories that don't fit into those two? Do we need a class of medium infantry who are intermediate between the two? The Hellenistic tacticians apparently thought so - Asclepiodotos divides infantry into hoplites (heaviess), peltasts, and psiloi (lights).

Also, what of massed archers and other shooters? Are they a type of heavy foot that simply happen to shoot (as e.g. Lost Battles has it), are they medium infantry (as e.g. ADLG would have it), or do they need to be treated as their of sort of thing (as e.g. DBX has it)?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 28, 2019, 10:31:48 AM
I'll pitch in with a couple of questions.

Did Ascelepiodotus define what is different between peltasts and the other two?

Are the forces of "barbarians" fundamentally different to the Greeks and Romans?  Do they fit into the three classes or were they considered different?  Were barbarians organised in some great unified way that was different to civilised nations but similar to one another?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 28, 2019, 11:00:12 AM
"The infantry is divided into the corps of hoplites, the corps of peltasts, and the corps of so-called psiloi. Now the corps of hoplites, since it fights at close quarters, uses very heavy equipment - for the men are protected by shields (aspisi) of the largest size, cuirasses and greaves - and long spears (dorasi) of the type which will here be called 'Macedonian'. The corps of psiloi on the contrary uses the lightest equipment because it shoots froma distance, and is provided with neither greaves nor cuirasses, but with javelins and slings, and in general with those missiles which we call 'long distance missiles'. The corps of peltasts stands in a sense between these two, for the pelte is a kind of small light shield (aspidiske) and their spears (dorata) are much shorter than those of the hoplites." Asclepiodotus 1.2

Comments - Asclepiodotus loves categorising things into threes, which makes him slightly suspect in this case. He doesn't describe the psiloi and peltasts being in more open order (necessarily) - he calculates them covering the same extent in width as the main phalanx, but, being half their number, with half the depth. He rather forgets about peltasts in the rest of the manual.

I think HI, MI and LI are sensible categorisations - HI for all those like hoplites who only fight in close order hand to hand (where 'close order' is not necessarily defined). LI for those who fight at a distance (and maybe in 'open order'). MI for those who might do a bit of both or might be in open order or might be more likely to venture onto terrain etc, but still have close combat capability. But I also think some historical types could fit in two categories depending on circumstances and objective.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 28, 2019, 11:25:34 AM
I'd also add that I don't think that formation/order/interval is the defining feature. This was the old WRG way (right down to, IIRC, putting LHI and LMI onto 4.5 foot frontage) and I think is a red herring - I prefer the modern classification by function. Order and intervals were likely to be variable or not strictly defined.

So far as barbarians go, simple answer is nobody knows, but I suspect the main difference is just that lack of formal drill would mean lack of defined regular intervals, but not that it would mean a more open order, necessarily. Gauls and Germans would probably fight in just as close order as Romans and hoplites, if the occasion demanded it, so can be classified as HI. Macedonian phalangites could fight in a closer order than others, but I don't think anything would be gained by adding an extra class (EHI? Based on formation not armour). I'm for abstracting all this stuff - battlefield function is all that matters.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Duncan Head on August 28, 2019, 11:31:21 AM
Do we need a class of medium infantry who are intermediate between the two?

One of my favourite passages:
Quote from: Agathias III.7-9
The Dilimnites (Dailami) are among the largest of the nations on the far side of the Tigris whose territory borders on Persia. They are warlike in the extreme and, unlike most of the Persians, do not fight principally with the bow and the sling. The carry spears and pikes (sarissai and xysta) and wear a sword slung across one shoulder. To the left arm they tie a very small dirk and they hold out shields and bucklers to protect themselves with. One could hardly describe them simply as light armed troops, nor for that matter as the type of heavy infantry that fight exclusively at close quarters. For they both discharge missiles at a distance when the occasion arises and engage in hand to hand fighting, and are expert at charging an enemy phalanx and breaking its close-knit ranks with the weight of their charge. They can reform their own ranks with ease and adapt themselves to any contingency. Even steep hills they run up without difficulty thus seizing in advance all points of vantage, and when they are put to flight they escape with lightning rapidity whereas when they are the attackers they press the pursuit with perfect timing and co-ordination. Well-versed as they are in practically every type of warfare they inflict considerable harm to their enemies.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on August 28, 2019, 12:12:16 PM
I think HI, MI and LI are sensible categorisations - HI for all those like hoplites who only fight in close order hand to hand (where 'close order' is not necessarily defined). LI for those who fight at a distance (and maybe in 'open order'). MI for those who might do a bit of both or might be in open order or might be more likely to venture onto terrain etc, but still have close combat capability.
This would seem to imply that legionaries are MI, because they chuck javelins in addition to fighting hand-to-hand. Intended? Or does the definition of HI need to be loosened a little - your next post said that Romans are HI, and if any Romans are I imagine it's the legionaries. :)

You also seem to be saying that even massed archers should be LI, unless willing to fight in close combat (so I guess Immortals and HYW longbowmen would be MI?). Do I understand you correctly?

I agree, BTW, that there's, based on what we know, no need to treat "barbarians" different than Asclepiodotus' Macedonians in this regard.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 28, 2019, 12:13:29 PM
Do we need a class of medium infantry who are intermediate between the two?

One of my favourite passages:
Quote from: Agathias III.7-9
The Dilimnites (Dailami) are among the largest of the nations on the far side of the Tigris whose territory borders on Persia. They are warlike in the extreme and, unlike most of the Persians, do not fight principally with the bow and the sling. The carry spears and pikes (sarissai and xysta) and wear a sword slung across one shoulder. To the left arm they tie a very small dirk and they hold out shields and bucklers to protect themselves with. One could hardly describe them simply as light armed troops, nor for that matter as the type of heavy infantry that fight exclusively at close quarters. For they both discharge missiles at a distance when the occasion arises and engage in hand to hand fighting, and are expert at charging an enemy phalanx and breaking its close-knit ranks with the weight of their charge. They can reform their own ranks with ease and adapt themselves to any contingency. Even steep hills they run up without difficulty thus seizing in advance all points of vantage, and when they are put to flight they escape with lightning rapidity whereas when they are the attackers they press the pursuit with perfect timing and co-ordination. Well-versed as they are in practically every type of warfare they inflict considerable harm to their enemies.

Notice that this is a troop type that can fight effectively as skirmisher or heavy foot, but it is not a halfway house between the two (can outskirmish psiloi but can't out-melee HI).

We may tend to equate heavy infantry with heavy equipment, forgetting that the Roman hastatus/princeps had only a simple helmet, shield, sword, pilum and maybe a breastplate. But he could fight much more heavily equipped HI on equal or even superior terms (I rate him better than a hoplite and inferior only to a phalangite).

Peltasts seem to be exclusively skirmishers except when confronting cavalry (Cunaxa). I don't know of any case where peltasts fought HI frontally in melee combat.

So strictly-speaking the welterweight MI is something of a myth.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 28, 2019, 12:26:35 PM
I'd also add that I don't think that formation/order/interval is the defining feature. This was the old WRG way (right down to, IIRC, putting LHI and LMI onto 4.5 foot frontage) and I think is a red herring - I prefer the modern classification by function. Order and intervals were likely to be variable or not strictly defined.

What is interesting is that of the three orders in the manuals, only intermediate and close order are used in combat, even by skirmishers. No troop type (except perhaps slingers) needs that much lateral space to fight, certainly not melee types. Skirmishers fighting ahead of HI may have been in open order but that would have been to facilitate their rapid retirement through the open order files of the HI:

There should be intervals within the ranks, so that, when the light-armed troops have discharged their weapons while the enemy is still advancing, before the two armies come to close quarters, they may about-face, pass in good order through the centre of the phalanx, and come without confusion to the rear. For it is not safe for them to go around the whole army, encircling the flanks—since the enemy would quickly anticipate them in this manoeuvre, coming to close quarters and intercepting them on the way—nor is it safe for them to force their way through the closed ranks, where they would fall over the weapons and cause confusion in the lines, one man stumbling against another. - Onasander, Strategikos: 19.1

There's one other sort of order: a halfway house between the hellenistic intermediate and close order, used by Indian infantry:

The infantry should be arrayed such that the space between any two men is a sama [about 28cm, in between intermediate and close order]; cavalry with three samas; chariots with four samas - Arthaśāstra: 10.5
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 28, 2019, 12:46:17 PM
Andreas:
Quote
This would seem to imply that legionaries are MI, because they chuck javelins in addition to fighting hand-to-hand. Intended? Or does the definition of HI need to be loosened a little - your next post said that Romans are HI, and if any Romans are I imagine it's the legionaries. :)

You also seem to be saying that even massed archers should be LI, unless willing to fight in close combat (so I guess Immortals and HYW longbowmen would be MI?). Do I understand you correctly?

I think that the legionaries as described by Polybius are a perfect example of MI, so yes - I'd categorise Republican legionaries as MI. But also that legionaries perhaps always and at any rate increasingly in the later Republic could also fight as HI - they are one of the examples I mentioned of fitting into two categories. Another example would be Hellenistic peltasts. I've no idea how to represent this in game terms.

Massed archers as LI or MI - I guess so, unless a defining feature of LI is 'evade' ability (could massed archers do this? Would they try?) Maybe in this case HI/MI/LI categories aren't useful, and weapon type is more important (so archers are archers, however closely together they stood), combined with some measure of speed/manoeuvrability. So Immortals and longbowmen might be MI (bow). I don't have any answers to all this BTW, I'm just ruminating.

Justin - be careful when talking about peltasts to be clear what you mean - Classical peltasts or Hellenistic peltasts? Different beasts. The manuals don't specify which order is used (or not used) in combat, and the amount of space needed to fight is open to debate - a debate which has as much appeal as Hypaspist armament or o-you-know-what, so let's not, and just avoid dogmatic statements.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Duncan Head on August 28, 2019, 01:23:37 PM
Notice that this is a troop type that can fight effectively as skirmisher or heavy foot, but it is not a halfway house between the two (can outskirmish psiloi but can't out-melee HI).

I'm not sure what you are saying here - that the Dailami can't outfight HI, or that the "mythical halfway house" can't outfight HI?

Quote
Peltasts seem to be exclusively skirmishers except when confronting cavalry (Cunaxa). I don't know of any case where peltasts fought HI frontally in melee combat.

This is roughly what I said in my "Myths of wargaming" talk to the SoA Conference, and in Slingshot, about 1990  :)

Quote
So strictly-speaking the welterweight MI is something of a myth.


I am uncertain how you are defining this myth.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 28, 2019, 02:40:18 PM
I think so far we have established that the ancients didn't see things in clear-cut binary terms.  There seem to have been three infantry types (H/M/I).  H and I seem clearly delineated but what amout M?  But there also is a question of troops that could be in two categories at various times.  How well could these men transform during battle or were they stuck as one of their options for the whole battle? 
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 28, 2019, 03:41:50 PM
Justin - be careful when talking about peltasts to be clear what you mean - Classical peltasts or Hellenistic peltasts? Different beasts. The manuals don't specify which order is used (or not used) in combat, and the amount of space needed to fight is open to debate - a debate which has as much appeal as Hypaspist armament or o-you-know-what, so let's not, and just avoid dogmatic statements.

Sorry, I had in mind the Hellenistic peltasts, not the Iphicratean ones (are there any others?)

Re spacing I had Asklepiodotus in mind:

The interval of four cubits seems to be the natural one and has, therefore, no special name; the one of two cubits and especially that of one cubit are forced formations. I have stated that of these two spacings the one of two cubits is called 'compact spacing' and the one of a single cubit 'with locked shields.' The former is used when we are marching the phalanx upon the enemy, the latter when the enemy is marching upon us. - Tactics: 4.3

So intermediate (or compact) and compact (or locked shields) spacings are used when engaging enemy. Open order is not used in combat. Asklepiodotus affirms that a phalanx of skirmisher foot has as many files as heavy infantry but half the number of men per file. The skirmishers hence fought with the same file spacing as the HI, at least for intermediate order:

Now these light infantry will also have 1024 files, if they are to stand behind the phalanx of the hoplites and extend the same distance, without, however, a depth of sixteen men―for they are only one half as strong―but obviously of eight men. - Tactics: 6.2

If that applies to psiloi then a fortiori it applies to peltasts.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 28, 2019, 03:45:41 PM
Notice that this is a troop type that can fight effectively as skirmisher or heavy foot, but it is not a halfway house between the two (can outskirmish psiloi but can't out-melee HI).

I'm not sure what you are saying here - that the Dailami can't outfight HI, or that the "mythical halfway house" can't outfight HI?

The latter.

Quote
Peltasts seem to be exclusively skirmishers except when confronting cavalry (Cunaxa). I don't know of any case where peltasts fought HI frontally in melee combat.

This is roughly what I said in my "Myths of wargaming" talk to the SoA Conference, and in Slingshot, about 1990  :)

Come to my arms!

Quote
So strictly-speaking the welterweight MI is something of a myth.


I am uncertain how you are defining this myth.

I suppose in the sense that rulesets make the MI less effective against HI though capable of going toe to toe with them, and more effective against LI. He should either be effective against both (your example) or something that doesn't fight HI in melee but can chase away LI. In DBM/A terms give them a 2 vs foot and a 3 vs mounted and psiloi and give them the same combat outcomes as psiloi except they are not quick killed by mounted in good going.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on August 28, 2019, 03:56:17 PM

I'm not sure what you are saying here - that the Dailami can't outfight HI, or that the "mythical halfway house" can't outfight HI?
I think he's saying that the Dailami aren't intermediate between HI and LI, but troops that can switch between being HI and LI.

As for handling such "swing-role" troops (cf also Rich's comments about legionaries above) in a set of wargames rules, I think there's four basic approaches you could take:

1) Chose at listmaking or deployment time. Effectively, the general issues a day order that today we skirmish.
2) Treat it however your rules handle formation changes, dismounting or the like; you expend a PIP, pass an order check, or whatever to have your unit/stand/etc change classification.
3) Let the player chose which option they count as for each combat, move, etc.
4) Create a troop type that combines the attributes of both. Frex, Daylami might count as HI in the open and as LI on steep hills.

I don't like (3) because it would slow down the game with lots of decisions dubiously related to what a real general would be thinking about, but the rest seem fine in principle; it'd be a question of how much complexity you want and just how flexible you think they should be.

(I guess there's also option (5); damn the complexity and just have them be whatever you think they most commonly behaved like.)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 28, 2019, 04:08:23 PM
Quote
(I guess there's also option (5); damn the complexity and just have them be whatever you think they most commonly behaved like.)

Or (6) : Produce complex set of standing orders which determine how they will respond to different situations :)

It comes down very much to how much flexibility and control was there?  Were junior officers calling the plays given local circumstances or was it fixed by order of the Big Guy? 
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Duncan Head on August 28, 2019, 04:11:10 PM
Quote
I am uncertain how you are defining this myth.

I suppose in the sense that rulesets make the MI less effective against HI though capable of going toe to toe with them, and more effective against LI. He should either be effective against both (your example) or something that doesn't fight HI in melee but can chase away LI.

OK, I see. But the original WRG LMI were not simply "more effective against LI", surely; they could outfight (but not necessarily out-skirmish) LI, and out-skirmish (but not outfight) HI - more or less your second version above.

The DBx rules elide skirmishing and close combat together, and I think that's what's made Auxilia an LI-killer who will lose in melee to HI (in the open, of course, and with due modifications for grading).

But then people have been talking about Warband as a type of MI as well, and their capabilities in DBx are very different.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 28, 2019, 04:13:23 PM
Surely it should be (assuming we buy the intermediate MI):

HI - Melee - Good : Ranged - Bad
MI - Melee - Fair : Ranged - Fair
LI - Melee - Bad  : Ranged - Good

(both in terms of games and history).

Plus -
HI - Slow, bad on terrain
MI - Medium, fair on terrain
LI - Fast, good on terrain

Peltasts - Classical peltasts are lightly armed javelin chuckers, LI by any normal definition. Hellenistic (and perhaps Iphicratean) peltasts are by Asclepiodotus' definition 'intermediate' types, the MI of the above (and in reality represented more by thureophoroi). In practice, Hellenistic Peltasts (capital P) are pike-phalangites with smaller shields who might also have used lighter spears for cross-country work.

I think your (Justin's) reading of Asclepiodotus re intervals is forced, but even letting it stand, A is talking about Hellenistic pike phalangites, so you can't just apply that to ancient infantry en masse, Romans and all. I agree that A implies that psiloi used the same intervals as phalangites (it's what I said below) but I don't think anyone would argue that psiloi ever used one cubit intervals.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 28, 2019, 04:16:59 PM
I think so far we have established that the ancients didn't see things in clear-cut binary terms.  There seem to have been three infantry types (H/M/I).  H and I seem clearly delineated but what amout M?  But there also is a question of troops that could be in two categories at various times.  How well could these men transform during battle or were they stuck as one of their options for the whole battle?

I've wondered whether such types should be classified before a battle one way or the other and be stuck that way for the duration. Which would work OK for some but not so much for others eg Roman legionaries, who should (arguably) have some ability to change roles in the course of a battle.

All these categorisations are attempts to simplify and standardise what are really a complex set of characteristics, and arguably representing all the characteristics independently (as some rules do) is more accurate and flexible.

My thoughts rules-wise are that the core features of a combat unit are:

Morale
Speed
Manoeuvrability
Melee attack
Ranged attack (and range)
Defence

Obviously these are interconnected in various ways. Maybe better to rate units accordingly and forget about trying to force every square peg into one of three round holes. Downside being eg Phalangites (HI, Pike) is neater and more intuitive than Phalangites (Mo:4 Sp:2 Ma:2 Me:5 Ra:0 De:3) or whatever. And there are still some (eg Antigonid Peltasts) whose abilities vary according to how they are equipped and used at any particular time.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 28, 2019, 05:03:36 PM
Maybe there's a simpler way of dealing with the classifications. For infantry there is ranged combat and melee. Ranged combat may have been variable in intensity but there had to be a certain equality in melee - if you can't go hand to hand against an HI adversary with a decent chance of beating him then you don't engage him in the first place. That gives you three types:

1. Pure melee infantry. Includes the standard warband classification. Also Auxilia types like Spanish Scutarii. They are prepared to fight other heavy infantry types like Romans and Carthaginians.

2. Pure missile infantry. The LI or psiloi of rulesets. They will not engage in melee combat with HI. In DBA/M this is replicated by them being easily beaten but not destroyed by HI in good going, fleeing instead.

3. Mixed types. Peltasts, massed archers and the like. This subdivides into can/can't melee with HI. Peltasts can skirmish with LI on equal terms and LI will fare against them in melee as badly as against HI, i.e. they won't melee with them if they can help it.  Peltasts, like LI, will not melee with HI. They can however melee with cavalry. Massed archers must have some sort of melee ability as they can't evade. Achaemenid archers have pavises and spears, longbowmen have some body armor and swords. And so on.

In rulesets then make anything that doesn't shoot but can melee against foot HI, but grade them: Scutarii inferior to Hastati and so on. The non-melee shooters are skirmisher foot. Mixed types are generally inferior in melee against HI but drive LI away (all else being equal LI should never win a frontal melee fight against mixed types or HI, ever). Mixed types can stand up against cavalry, at least the non-lance-armed types.

And goodbye MI.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 28, 2019, 05:08:32 PM
Quote
And goodbye MI.

Haven't you just renamed MI as 'Mixed types'?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 28, 2019, 05:09:32 PM
Quote
And goodbye MI.

Haven't you just renamed MI as 'Mixed types'?

Are they that in WRG? I'm familiar only with DBx and FoG.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 28, 2019, 05:31:46 PM
Quote
And goodbye MI.

Haven't you just renamed MI as 'Mixed types'?

Are they that in WRG? I'm familiar only with DBx and FoG.

Richard's MI are an attempt to classify afresh.  Actual WRG MI were close combat infantry with no armour or non-metallic armour IIRC.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Tim on August 28, 2019, 07:48:58 PM
Surely it should be (assuming we buy the intermediate MI):

HI - Melee - Good : Ranged - Bad
MI - Melee - Fair : Ranged - Fair
LI - Melee - Bad  : Ranged - Good

(both in terms of games and history).

Plus -
HI - Slow, bad on terrain
MI - Medium, fair on terrain
LI - Fast, good on terrain

Peltasts - Classical peltasts are lightly armed javelin chuckers, LI by any normal definition. Hellenistic (and perhaps Iphicratean) peltasts are by Asclepiodotus' definition 'intermediate' types, the MI of the above (and in reality represented more by thureophoroi). In practice, Hellenistic Peltasts (capital P) are pike-phalangites with smaller shields who might also have used lighter spears for cross-country work.

...

Works for me. I suspect that there MIGHT be a 4th type that covers the cases you listed as well as others such a post Punic Wars Roman legions (and I include Auxillia in this), plus what we know of Germanic and Celtic tribes; here the formation is slightly looser than your HI type but where the missile capability is really part of Melee to all intents and purposes. I would not be willing to fight to the death for the difference but what I read of the accounts suggests it is likely. However I strongly suspect that leadership, motivation and training might make more difference than the type of HI. (This is a risky proposition as it does rely upon assuming 15th-17th century practice accurately reflects the behaviours the theorists had picked up from the ancient texts).
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on August 28, 2019, 08:22:17 PM
Richard's MI are an attempt to classify afresh.  Actual WRG MI were close combat infantry with no armour or non-metallic armour IIRC.

Correct.  In WRG, HI are close formation infantry with armour (and EHI are close formation infantry with additional armour) whereas MI are close formation infantry with minimal or no armour, or at least substantively less body protection than HI.

Richard's proposed 'MI'/Justin's 'Mixed Infantry' equate on the surface to WRG's LMI ('loose medium infantry') and the slightly less athletic LHI ('loose heavy infantry'); these are troops who are assumed to use looser formation (Phil Barker subsequently revised this, giving regular LMI/LHI the same frontage as their MI/HI compatriots) and could cope better with challenging terrain.  Irregular LMI/LHI still operate on a wider individual frontage, either because it is still believed they did or as a means of emphasising their less effective discipline.

WRG's LI are the archetypal loose or dispersed formation skirmishing light infantry we all know and love.

One challenge with Richard's proposed H/M/L system (which seems to work nicely for classical armies) might arise when representing close formation archers on the Egyptian model (which was acquired by many Biblical period armies).  These share the shooting characteristics of 'L' with the terrain handling characteristics of either 'M' or 'H'.  Massed mediaeval missile troops might similarly cross categories.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on August 29, 2019, 04:03:47 PM
1. Pure melee infantry. Includes the standard warband classification. Also Auxilia types like Spanish Scutarii. They are prepared to fight other heavy infantry types like Romans and Carthaginians.

Nitpick, but surely neither Gaulish warbands nor scutarii nor legionaries were pure close combat types - they all threw javelins also.

A couple of years ago I was toying with a set of homemade rules that would have both infantry and cavalry divided into heavies, who only fight hand-to-hand, lights, who only shoot if they can help it, and mediums, who did both, but I ended up concluding it didn't make sense, in part because the MI class would include a lot of types who might be described as "HI, except they chuck javelins". Legionaries, frex, are functionally speaking surely the opposite numbers of the phalangites of a Hellenistic army, not of the peltasts. And if MI get divided into ones who can melee HI at something like parity and those who can't, why do I pretend to have a tripartite division?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 29, 2019, 04:57:13 PM
Quote
Nitpick, but surely neither Gaulish warbands nor scutarii nor legionaries were pure close combat types - they all threw javelins also.

I think we hit on a difficulty we have explored extensively before.  We could say they a close combat types because the javelin is part of their close combat technique (chuck and charge) but would it be true?   For these, I would be drawn to the idea of being able to deploy them as "Heavy" or "Medium" but either do away with the mid battle switch or reserve it for the regulars.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 29, 2019, 05:05:25 PM
Well yes that is the argument against such categorisation; on the other hand things have to be rated and categorised somehow, so however you do it there will be wrong shaped pegs in wrong shaped holes.

However, to come to the defence of MI again - I'm not sure that legionaries are the opposite numbers of phalangites - I think they are fundamentally different. I think part of the problem with the way people interpret legion v. phalanx is that they think of phalangites as close order heavy infantry with pikes, and legionaries as close order heavy infantry with javelins and swords. Then they are at a bit of  aloss to explain the success of one over the other, other than by rating swords as more effective in combat than pikes (which is odd, when you come to think about it), or by penalising phalangites heavily for stepping off the billiard table, or turning or moving or having backs and sides (which is fair enough but doesn't address the whys).

I think (or I think I think, sometimes I'm not so sure) that the picture of legions as a sword-armed phalanx, going toe to toe with phalangites and beating them (if the ground is bumpy) is all wrong. Legionaries were something fundamentally different, a sort of heavy skirmisher, and they had a fundamentally different doctrine and tactical usage than the phalanx, viz that two thirds of their strength was held in reserve, and they engaged in small bodies able to operate independently, not in continuous solid blocks. Now any wargame rules are going to struggle with modelling those sorts of differences (most don't try) and abstracting them into some overall combat factor may be fair enough, but I think that approaching this bottom up - what weapons do they carry, what armour, so how do we rate them in combat - is going about it the wrong way. Equip a phalanx with swords and you wouldn't have a legion. If legions are able to melee a pike phalanx at something like parity then your rules are broken (unless they are abstracting the real differences).

Now I've wandered off MI a bit (slow day at work) but I think that categorising legionaries as MI might be the starting point for modelling them more accurately. This makes them equivalent to Hellenistic peltasts, which is as it should be (not to Classical peltasts, who are LI). The Romans found a way, by their use of reserves and mobile independent bodies, to turn heavy skirmishers or MI into their main battle winning infantry.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Mark G on August 29, 2019, 05:33:26 PM
By which logic, Richard, I think you move to seeing armour and weapons as secondary characteristics to the basic density of formation.

There are close formed, loose formed, and skirmishing.
Use that to determine movement and other such stuff, and leave weaponsxand armour and wild charges (no need for a separate war and) for factors in combat.

And enables formation changes to happen (like ancient Germans forming shield wall after a charge fails)

This is also, I am reliably informed, pretty close to the views of at least one well known gamer and ancient historian who writes rules.

It also allows dismounted knights in full armour to be treated with the space needed to wield their arms, a pet hate of many medieval gamers being their  rigid treatment in most rules because they are rated as heavy and therefore close formed and therefore slow.

And so on.

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 29, 2019, 05:52:40 PM
Quote
It also allows dismounted knights in full armour to be treated with the space needed to wield their arms, a pet hate of many medieval gamers being their  rigid treatment in most rules because they are rated as heavy and therefore close formed and therefore slow.

Doesn't this go back to an arms & armour classification, rather than a formation one?  How dismounted men-at-arms used their weapons under a formation based system described above should be a melee factor.  I'd be interested in the evidence for fast moving loose order men-at-arms, though, as the evidence I've seen places them in the close formed and slow category.

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on August 29, 2019, 05:59:17 PM
This is roughly what I said in my "Myths of wargaming" talk to the SoA Conference, and in Slingshot, about 1990  :)

I dug out the Ss article (it's in #138, July 1988) and must say I quite enjoyed it, particularly the remarks on Hellenistic kings being typical wargamers!

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 29, 2019, 06:41:49 PM
1. Pure melee infantry. Includes the standard warband classification. Also Auxilia types like Spanish Scutarii. They are prepared to fight other heavy infantry types like Romans and Carthaginians.

Nitpick, but surely neither Gaulish warbands nor scutarii nor legionaries were pure close combat types - they all threw javelins also.

A couple of years ago I was toying with a set of homemade rules that would have both infantry and cavalry divided into heavies, who only fight hand-to-hand, lights, who only shoot if they can help it, and mediums, who did both, but I ended up concluding it didn't make sense, in part because the MI class would include a lot of types who might be described as "HI, except they chuck javelins". Legionaries, frex, are functionally speaking surely the opposite numbers of the phalangites of a Hellenistic army, not of the peltasts. And if MI get divided into ones who can melee HI at something like parity and those who can't, why do I pretend to have a tripartite division?

It seems to be a sliding scale between Can Only Melee and Can Only shoot, with the inbetweeners (which include legionaries, warband, archers, peltasts, etc.) weighted towards More Effective as Shooters or More Effective as Melee troops. Legionaries are rated as more effective melee troops since their javelin/pila volley was of brief duration and designed as a prelude to a charge into melee where the fight was decided. Massed archers are more effective shooters since it is their shooting that does most of the work of demoralising the enemy. If they are willing to melee it is only as a last resort.

Those capable of melee however must be able to take on pure melee troops at an approximate equality (i.e. they won't necessarily lose even if the odds are against them). Which means IMHO that melee capable troops were all pretty much formed up in the same density so one man fights one man and not two - with the exception of a close-order pike phalanx which, in consequence, could frontally beat anything except another close-order pike phalanx.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on August 29, 2019, 06:44:58 PM
However, to come to the defence of MI again - I'm not sure that legionaries are the opposite numbers of phalangites - I think they are fundamentally different

Would you extend this difference to other conventionally-considered-HI who threw stuff, like, say, vikings, early hoplites, and the byzantine infantry of the Strategicon?

Or, I guess, Galatians. They too would seem to be a lot who found a way to beat Hellenistic armies with sword-and-javelin infantry.

I'm not sure, BTW, that "the success of legion over phalanx" is something that particularly needs to be explained. Which Roman-Hellenistic clashes were actually decided by hot legion-on-phalanx action?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Jim Webster on August 29, 2019, 08:17:09 PM
This is roughly what I said in my "Myths of wargaming" talk to the SoA Conference, and in Slingshot, about 1990  :)

I dug out the Ss article (it's in #138, July 1988) and must say I quite enjoyed it, particularly the remarks on Hellenistic kings being typical wargamers!

Pyrrhus was a typical wargamer, pile everything into the battle, forget about the campaign  ::)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on August 29, 2019, 09:25:21 PM
Which Roman-Hellenistic clashes were actually decided by hot legion-on-phalanx action?

None, as far as I can determine.  Beneventum - elephants on phalanx (blue on blue).  Cynoscephalae - elephants on phalanx.  Magnesia - elephants on phalanx (another blue-on-blue).  Pydna - elephants on 'peltasts' (hypaspists), which by then were definitely part of the phalanx.

As late as Orchomenus (86 BC) even Sulla's best and finest legionaries were stuck against a humble slave phalanx until the latter were shredded by missiles.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on August 29, 2019, 09:38:03 PM
Mardonius' last words were:  "...but Arimnestos is HI..."
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: gavindbm on August 29, 2019, 11:05:10 PM
Discussing LI v MI v HI seems to ignore the potentially important question of their interaction with cavalry (& chariots)...and particularly cohesion in the face of a cavalry/chariot charge.  The way this interaction is envisaged to happen seems, to me, to be behind why in many rules a lot of Biblical infantry, hillmen and Aztecs are treated as an intermediate type which is less effective in close combat against mounted troops (particularly charging mounted).
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 30, 2019, 09:32:23 AM
Mark:
Quote
By which logic, Richard, I think you move to seeing armour and weapons as secondary characteristics to the basic density of formation.

Maybe - I have a feeling that wargamers obsess about intervals just as they do about weapons (perhaps because they are quantifiable, and wargamers, generally speaking, are men, and men love numbers). I suspect that formation density, weapons and armour, and overall tactics, doctrine and fighting style all combine into a whole that isn't defined by any one of its parts. To model this in game terms, quite broad categories might work, with modifiers to model the specific differences.

Quote
There are close formed, loose formed, and skirmishing.

Well yes, though not necessarily defined by their file intervals. But yes, there are close order toe to toe hand to hand fighters, there are throw stuff and run skirmishers, and there are or appear to be intermediate jacks of all trades. MI.

Andreas:
Quote
Would you extend this difference to other conventionally-considered-HI who threw stuff, like, say, vikings, early hoplites, and the byzantine infantry of the Strategicon?

Dunno about the non-Classical/Hellenistic examples - not my period... Early hoplites - well that all comes down to origin of the phalanx arguments and that's a knotty enough historical problem without trying to turn it into a gaming problem :). If early hoplites were van Wees style (open order, javelin chuckers, with intermixed LI) then yes, they sound like MI.

Quote
Or, I guess, Galatians. They too would seem to be a lot who found a way to beat Hellenistic armies with sword-and-javelin infantry.

Yes, Galatians sound like MI. Greek armies appear to have abandoned hoplite (HI) fighting to some extent in the 3rd C and adopted peltophoros or thureophoros equipment, presumably as a response to the Celts/Galatians - which to me means they became MI. When these armies continued to prove inferior to the ultra-HI of the Macedonians, the Greeks (at least, the Achaeans and Spartans) adopted Macedonian equipment, formation and doctrine (late 3rd C).

Quote
I'm not sure, BTW, that "the success of legion over phalanx" is something that particularly needs to be explained. Which Roman-Hellenistic clashes were actually decided by hot legion-on-phalanx action?

Well - maybe the need is to explain the success of legion-based armies over phalanx-based armies. True that there was on the whole a shortage of hot legion-on-phalanx action - which proves the point, the legions tried not to fight the phalanx frontally and if they did, they lost, being MI...

Patrick:
Quote
Beneventum - elephants on phalanx (blue on blue).  Cynoscephalae - elephants on phalanx.  Magnesia - elephants on phalanx (another blue-on-blue).  Pydna - elephants on 'peltasts' (hypaspists), which by then were definitely part of the phalanx. As late as Orchomenus (86 BC) even Sulla's best and finest legionaries were stuck against a humble slave phalanx until the latter were shredded by missiles.

Pyrrhus - too much of a mess to include...
Cynoscephalae - formed phalanx pushes back legions. Unformed phalanx broken by elephants and legions. Formed phalanx attacked in the rear by Roman reserves
Magnesia - phalanx surrounded after defeat or off field pursuit of flanking forces, ground down by missiles (and own elephants)
Pydna - formed phalanx pushes back legions. Gaps develop due to rapid and uneven advance, flexible legion exploits.
Chaeronea - formed (slave) phalanx ground down by missiles.

I think all these are better explained as missile-capable MI v. HI than as sword-armed HI v. HI.

Gavin:
Quote
Discussing LI v MI v HI seems to ignore the potentially important question of their interaction with cavalry

Yes good point. I think Romans are generally weaker against cavalry, which is well modelled if they are MI (hence, an ala and maybe a legion defeated by Antiochus' cavalry charge at Magnesia). Later Romans maybe converted themselves into HI/phalanx for just this reason.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 30, 2019, 10:43:47 AM
Quote

    Discussing LI v MI v HI seems to ignore the potentially important question of their interaction with cavalry


Yes good point. I think Romans are generally weaker against cavalry, which is well modelled if they are MI (hence, an ala and maybe a legion defeated by Antiochus' cavalry charge at Magnesia). Later Romans maybe converted themselves into HI/phalanx for just this reason.

But you'd have to be careful with the intermediate category.   How poor would we want our MI to be against cavalry?  LI = hopeless, MI = in with a shout, HI = pretty untouchable? 
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 30, 2019, 11:27:29 AM
SpeedMeleeMissileon terrainv. cavalry
HISlowGoodPoorPoorGood
MIMediumFairFairFairFair
LIFastPoorGoodGoodPoor

 :)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on August 30, 2019, 12:02:22 PM
Quote
Would you extend this difference to other conventionally-considered-HI who threw stuff, like, say, vikings, early hoplites, and the byzantine infantry of the Strategicon?

Dunno about the non-Classical/Hellenistic examples - not my period... Early hoplites - well that all comes down to origin of the phalanx arguments and that's a knotty enough historical problem without trying to turn it into a gaming problem :). If early hoplites were van Wees style (open order, javelin chuckers, with intermixed LI) then yes, they sound like MI.

Thanks. I take you don't necessarily reject the possibility of HI who combine close combat with missiles.
Quote
Quote
I'm not sure, BTW, that "the success of legion over phalanx" is something that particularly needs to be explained. Which Roman-Hellenistic clashes were actually decided by hot legion-on-phalanx action?

Well - maybe the need is to explain the success of legion-based armies over phalanx-based armies. True that there was on the whole a shortage of hot legion-on-phalanx action - which proves the point, the legions tried not to fight the phalanx frontally and if they did, they lost, being MI...
I'd expect most HI to come off second best against a pike phalanx in a frontal fight, so I don't think it proves very much.

We agree, of course, that legionaries were lighter (in terms of fighting style - not necessarily equipment) than phalangites; the question is if they were sufficently so that they're better grouped with peltasts (sensu Asclepiodoti) than with the phalangites. So I suppose what we need is a decent corpus of descriptions of peltasts in battle ...

(Another option would of course be to have further classes: maybe phalangites are HI, legionaries HMI, peltasts LMI, and psiloi LI. Or, if you think phalangites are a bit of an aberration, EHI, HI, MI, and LI respectively.)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 30, 2019, 12:09:05 PM
You could, of course, use the DBx trick of dividing them into S, O and I.  So legionnaries would be MI (S) and Peltasts MI (O)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on August 30, 2019, 12:12:55 PM
You could, of course, use the DBx trick of dividing them into S, O and I.  So legionnaries would be MI (S) and Peltasts MI (O)
You could, but you could also make phalangites HI (S) and legionaries HI (O). The trick is deciding which is more appropriate.

(Which, frankly, may be more  a question of exactly what HI and MI and (S) and (O) mean game-mechanically than of anything historical.)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 30, 2019, 12:26:49 PM
You could, of course, use the DBx trick of dividing them into S, O and I.  So legionnaries would be MI (S) and Peltasts MI (O)
You could, but you could also make phalangites HI (S) and legionaries HI (O). The trick is deciding which is more appropriate.

(Which, frankly, may be more  a question of exactly what HI and MI and (S) and (O) mean game-mechanically than of anything historical.)

I think one of the problems is we are talking about generalising (or abstracting) over literally thousands of years of military practice over multiple continents.  If we were writing rules for Romans to meet Macedonians, we could focus our definitions more and have Phalangite and Legionary as their own categories, without worry how that might impact on Germans or Daylami or samurai.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Jim Webster on August 30, 2019, 12:32:39 PM
Mark:
Quote
By which logic, Richard, I think you move to seeing armour and weapons as secondary characteristics to the basic density of formation.

Maybe - I have a feeling that wargamers obsess about intervals just as they do about weapons (perhaps because they are quantifiable, and wargamers, generally speaking, are men, and men love numbers). I suspect that formation density, weapons and armour, and overall tactics, doctrine and fighting style all combine into a whole that isn't defined by any one of its parts. To model this in game terms, quite broad categories might work, with modifiers to model the specific differences.


Whereas the ancients normally regarded the fight as going to the better men, all things considered. We could do away with all factors and just have one for Virtus  8)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 30, 2019, 01:34:44 PM
You could drive yourself crazy (I know, I've tried) categorising and recategorising and adding factors and removing them. My primary objective in thinking of legionaries as MI, not as HI (O) or any such abhorrence, is to reflect Polybius' analysis of legion v. phalanx which claims that the key difference between them is that the phalanx requires clear unencumbered terrain and a fair open battle, while the legion can operate on all sorts of terrain and in all sorts of circumstances and types of combat. This is why I think legionaries are heavy peltasts, not light phalangites, and I don't think Polybius' distinction is at all well reflected by standard categorisations of legions as HI.

Quote
I take you don't necessarily reject the possibility of HI who combine close combat with missiles.

Some missiles ('HTW' as was) are clearly just an extra little something to add to melee (and maybe Roman pila are, or became, such, heavy ones at any rate). So yes I think some HI could have a missile capability (which in most rules would rightly be rolled up into their melee capability).

Quote
Whereas the ancients normally regarded the fight as going to the better men, all things considered. We could do away with all factors and just have one for Virtus

A perfectly good idea :). Wargame rules can be Polybian - all about weapons, armour and formations - or they can be Livian - all about quality. DBA is staunchly Polybian, not even having any quality distinctions. Lost Battles is Livian in intent (one Veteran is worth eight Levies). Most go for a mix, which is probably best.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on August 30, 2019, 06:39:10 PM
You could drive yourself crazy (I know, I've tried) categorising and recategorising and adding factors and removing them. My primary objective in thinking of legionaries as MI, not as HI (O) or any such abhorrence, is to reflect Polybius' analysis of legion v. phalanx which claims that the key difference between them is that the phalanx requires clear unencumbered terrain and a fair open battle, while the legion can operate on all sorts of terrain and in all sorts of circumstances and types of combat. This is why I think legionaries are heavy peltasts, not light phalangites, and I don't think Polybius' distinction is at all well reflected by standard categorisations of legions as HI.

Plutarch perhaps has something to add on thureophoroi:

“Plut. Phil. 9.1:  In the first place, however, he changed the faulty practice of the Achaeans in drawing up and arming their soldiers. For they used bucklers which were easily carried because they were so light, and yet were too narrow to protect the body; and spears which were much shorter than the Macedonian pike. For this reason they were effective in fighting at a long distance, because they were so lightly armed, but when they came to close quarters with the enemy they were at a disadvantage. Moreover, a division of line and formation into cohorts was not customary with them, and since they employed a solid phalanx without either leveled line of spears or wall of interlocking shields such as the Macedonian phalanx presented, they were easily dislodged and scattered”

And later in battle with Machanidas: “in a very short time the whole of the mercenaries on either side were engaged. They fought sometimes in close order, sometimes in pairs: and for a long time so entirely without decisive result, that the rest of the two armies, who were watching in which direction the cloud of dust inclined, could come to no conclusion, because both sides maintained for a long while exactly their original ground.”
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Tim on August 30, 2019, 07:23:39 PM
I agree with Rich so want Romans regraded as LHI...
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 30, 2019, 09:39:49 PM
Yes indeed, that's the classic case of the transition from thureophoroi to sarrisophoroi (phalangites). For anyone perplexed by the vocabulary of the translation, here's an annotated and expanded version:

Plut. Phil. 9.1:  "In the first place, however, he changed the faulty practice of the Achaeans in drawing up and arming their soldiers. For they used bucklers [thureoi] which were easily carried because they were so light, and yet were too narrow to protect the body; and spears [dorasi] which were much shorter than the Macedonian pike [sarisa]. For this reason they were effective in fighting at a long distance, because they were so lightly armed [kouphotetos], but when they came to close quarters with the enemy they were at a disadvantage. Moreover, a division of line and formation into cohorts [speirai] was not customary with them, and since they employed a solid phalanx without either leveled line of spears [probole] or wall of interlocking shields [synaspismos] such as the Macedonian phalanx presented, they were easily dislodged and scattered. Philopoemen showed them all this, and persuaded them to adopt long pike [sarisa] and heavy shield [aspis] instead of spear [doru] and buckler [thureos], to protect their bodies with helmets and breastplates and greaves, and to practise stationary and steadfast fighting instead of the nimble movements [dromikos] of light-armed troops [peltastikos]."

We wonders (at least I do) how men armed only with a doru/dory/spear fought 'at a long distance' - presumably javelins featured also.

Polybius 11.13: "in a very short time the whole of the mercenaries on either side were engaged. They fought sometimes in close order, sometimes in pairs [Shuckburgh translation. Paton renders this much more literally: "They were fighting all over the field, in a confused crowd and man to man"]: and for a long time so entirely without decisive result, that the rest of the two armies, who were watching in which direction the cloud of dust inclined, could come to no conclusion, because both sides maintained for a long while exactly their original ground."

So low intensity combat (note this is the euzonoi mercenaries, not the Achaaen phalanx) but we can't read anything into Shuckburgh's 'in close order'.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 31, 2019, 09:46:52 AM
So, if we take this as typical of the difference between hoplites and peltasts (in the tacticians terms)

Hoplites (HI) - heavy equipment, close order, ranks, division of phalanx it to smaller units, operate as a body

Peltasts (MI) - light equipment. able to fight at distance, no ranks and order, large phalanx instead of units, prone to confused, indesive, man-to-man combat. 

As this is explaining Greek practice, it is a bit difficult to see how one might fit legionaries in.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 31, 2019, 10:26:50 AM
Peltasts (MI) - light equipment. able to fight at distance, no ranks and order, large phalanx instead of units, prone to confused, indesive, man-to-man combat. 

Just out of interest, what is the foundation for the idea that non-HI infantry like peltasts didn't have ranks or order? In the manuals they certainly do.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 31, 2019, 10:47:21 AM
Peltasts (MI) - light equipment. able to fight at distance, no ranks and order, large phalanx instead of units, prone to confused, indesive, man-to-man combat. 

Just out of interest, what is the foundation for the idea that non-HI infantry like peltasts didn't have ranks or order? In the manuals they certainly do.

I am trying to interpret the passage as quoted.  In particular


a division of line and formation into cohorts [speirai] was not customary with them

they employed a solid phalanx without either leveled line of spears [probole] or wall of interlocking shields [synaspismos]

They were fighting all over the field, in a confused crowd and man to man


I trust you Hellenophiles to explain how this lines up (or doesn't) with other contemporary sources  - which is of course what you are doing.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on August 31, 2019, 11:30:24 AM
Peltasts (MI) - light equipment. able to fight at distance, no ranks and order, large phalanx instead of units, prone to confused, indesive, man-to-man combat. 

Just out of interest, what is the foundation for the idea that non-HI infantry like peltasts didn't have ranks or order? In the manuals they certainly do.

I am trying to interpret the passage as quoted.  In particular


a division of line and formation into cohorts [speirai] was not customary with them

they employed a solid phalanx without either leveled line of spears [probole] or wall of interlocking shields [synaspismos]

They were fighting all over the field, in a confused crowd and man to man


I trust you Hellenophiles to explain how this lines up (or doesn't) with other contemporary sources  - which is of course what you are doing.

I don't think this means the peltasts didn't have file and rank structure. Plutarch (whose personal experience of infantry - if any - would have been of the Roman legion), is saying that they didn't fight like Macedonians or Romans.

In the first place, however, he changed the faulty practice of the Achaeans in drawing up and arming their soldiers. For they used bucklers [thureoi] which were easily carried because they were so light, and yet were too narrow to protect the body; and spears [dorasi] which were much shorter than the Macedonian pike [sarisa]. For this reason they were effective in fighting at a long distance [πόρρωθεν - porrothen], because they were so lightly armed [kouphotetos] but when they came to close quarters with the enemy they were at a disadvantage.

'Long distance'- porrothen - can also have the meaning of 'further away (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=po%2Frrwqen&la=greek&can=po%2Frrwqen0&prior=ma/ximoi&d=Perseus:text:2008.01.0121:chapter=9:section=1&i=1#Perseus:text:1999.04.0057:entry=pro/swqen-contents)'. Further away than what? The spears [doru] AFAIK are not throwing spears, so Plutarch is probably suggesting is that the peltasts can outrange an adversary like a legionary who usually fights at closer quarters, and, using their agility, keep that distance. Notice 'for this reason.' - i.e. not for the reason that they have missile weapons. The lightness of their weapons however means they do badly close up against a more heavily-equipped opponent.

Moreover, a division of line and formation into cohorts [speirai] was not customary with them, and since they employed a solid phalanx without either leveled line of spears [probole] or wall of interlocking shields [synaspismos] such as the Macedonian phalanx presented, they were easily dislodged and scattered.

Notice that the probole and synapismos refer to the Macedonian phalanx, i.e. the peltasts cannot create an impenetrable mass of spearpoints and shieldwall like the Macedonians can. They have exactly the same problem as the classical hoplite - it is easy for a well-armoured opponent to get past their spear guard. As a speculative guess, I suspect that the reference to the peltasts' lack of subunits (speirai) means they cannot manoeuvre on the battlefield as the Romans did at Cynoscephalae, wheeling their lines by centuries and getting behind the advancing phalanx. This ability requires trained professional troops which the Achaeans at that point were not.





Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 31, 2019, 05:19:16 PM
Broadly speaking I agree; Plutarch isn't saying "the Achaeans were armed as thureophoroi, which means they had light equipment and no unit organisation". He is saying "the Achaeans had the equipment of and fought as thureophoroi, rather than a sarisa-phalanx, and they also had no unit organisation". Peltasts and thureophoroi could have unit organsiation, it's just that the Achaeans didn't. And yes, Romans are lighter (medium) infantry operating in independent units not as a continuous mass (says I), which is what makes them more effective despite their lightness.

Note incidentally that the Achaeans were thureophoroi not peltasts. The two might have been very similar, but not identical (even if the shields were the only difference).

I think interpreting "fighting at a distance" to mean "at spear's length" is a stretch to say the least. Plutarch would hardly be contrasting them with Romans at this point - the comparison is with Macedonians (who by that reckoning fought at an even greater distance). Nobody really understands how thureophoroi fought, but based on this passage, it wasn't at close quarters. There seems to be this distinction between fighting at close quarters like hoplites, and some looser, lower intensity form of combat, probably involving rushing forward in small groups then giving back, as practised by Persians at Plataea and others (Hellenistic peltasts, thureophoroi, other barbarians), that didn't necessarily involve missiles.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on August 31, 2019, 05:38:56 PM
Quote
probably involving rushing forward in small groups then giving back

Without wishing to raise the spectre of the Way of Western Mediterranean Warfare debate, there are those who have Romans doing this, and Iberians.  They do throw things though.

It seems though that these Achaeans are not as well organised as some other thureophoroi (assuming these are the peltasts of the tacticians), or Romans.

While I'm seeing (I think) the similarities between these types (inc Romans) and how they contrast with hoplites (in the tacticians sense), there do seem to still be variations in elan, "getting stuck in" etc.  Are these sufficient to sub-divide fighting styles, or can they be dealt with by other mechanisms (e.g. morale, combat)?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on August 31, 2019, 07:34:51 PM
Ah yes, WMWW. There is something to be said for it...

Without stating the obvious (well actually, stating the obvious), it depends on the rules. Overall my hypothesis is that legionaries are sufficiently similar in fighting style to other 'intermediates' to group them together, but legionaries might be more willing to engage closely than other medium types, especially ones more dependent on missiles. How best to model that in wargames terms is an open question. My preference is for simple rules without a gazillion factors and modifiers so I'm happy with a few broad categories (for infantry, LI, MI, HI) which define overall movement and fighting ability, and morale classes (Veteran, Average, Levy for eg) which are mostly about staying power.

I'm experimenting with 'traits' or keywords that give specific special rules eg pike phalangites get 'projecting spears (probole)' and 'shield wall (synaspismos)' which give an attack/defence bonus to their front, and -ve modifiers to their flanks; legionaries might get 'agility' which lets them manoeuvre easily or attack to their flanks. Some veteran legionaries might get 'aggression' which gives them a +ve melee modifier. And so on.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on September 01, 2019, 10:22:45 AM
Broadly speaking I agree; Plutarch isn't saying "the Achaeans were armed as thureophoroi, which means they had light equipment and no unit organisation". He is saying "the Achaeans had the equipment of and fought as thureophoroi, rather than a sarisa-phalanx, and they also had no unit organisation". Peltasts and thureophoroi could have unit organsiation, it's just that the Achaeans didn't. And yes, Romans are lighter (medium) infantry operating in independent units not as a continuous mass (says I), which is what makes them more effective despite their lightness.

Note incidentally that the Achaeans were thureophoroi not peltasts. The two might have been very similar, but not identical (even if the shields were the only difference).

I think interpreting "fighting at a distance" to mean "at spear's length" is a stretch to say the least. Plutarch would hardly be contrasting them with Romans at this point - the comparison is with Macedonians (who by that reckoning fought at an even greater distance). Nobody really understands how thureophoroi fought, but based on this passage, it wasn't at close quarters. There seems to be this distinction between fighting at close quarters like hoplites, and some looser, lower intensity form of combat, probably involving rushing forward in small groups then giving back, as practised by Persians at Plataea and others (Hellenistic peltasts, thureophoroi, other barbarians), that didn't necessarily involve missiles.

What is the evidence (if any) that thureophoroi were the direct descendants of Iphicratean peltasts? Iphicrates equipped his lot with 12-ft spears and light (though not necessarily small) shields, and the emphasis was on them having combat mobility, able to advance and retire. I understand this as meaning that they could outfight hoplites in a spear contest since they had greater reach, and they didn't have to close up shield-to-shield for othismos/knife fights - they could always back away if the hoplites tried advancing. This would make sense of the switch from round to oblong shields, the oblong shields increasing their mobility by not getting in the way of shields of adjacent files. All a bit tenuous of course but is there anything on this in the sources?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Duncan Head on September 01, 2019, 01:30:04 PM
What is the evidence (if any) that thureophoroi were the direct descendants of Iphicratean peltasts?

There isn't any.

4th-century Iphikratean peltasts either (a) didn't actually exist, or (b) disappeared as soon as they were invented, or (c) inspired Macedonian pikemen, or (d) inspired the Hellenistic peltast "spearmen/light pikemen" of the manuals - depending which interpretation of the evidence you favour.

Thureophoroi emerge in the 3rd century using Gallic-style shields. The Boiotians and Achaian-Arcadians, who are perhaps the best-documented users of the type, seem to have relied previously on traditional hoplites. Thureophoroi are illustrated with conventional-length thrusting-spears, and may have carried throwing-spears either as well as a thruster (that one stele from Alexandria where the spearman's page carries his thureos and javelins) or instead (one interpretation of the description of the pre-reform Achaians "fighting at a distance"). Thureophoroi are not linked with Iphikratean-style extra-long spears.

Finally the only one of the tacticians who mentions the infantry thureos, Arrian, specifically lists Greeks with spear and thureos under the hoplite category, quite distinct from the peltasts.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 01, 2019, 02:25:19 PM
I have a slight worry that the focus on types of Hellenstic infantry will lead us away from the generalising approach of dividing infantry into superclasses, which can then be broken down into a larger number of classes and sub-classes.

It seems to me that the tactitians have given us a very restricted HI class - they are guys with armour shields and thrusting spears of various sorts, who form rigid ranks.  They also talk about a LI class which are lightly equipped and have missile weapons, who skirmish at various points but hang around it quite large blocks some of the time.  The MI don't seem well fleshed out.  It almost seems these are everybody else.  Is being able to chip off some clearly defined HI and LI enough for us?  We need to be able to assign a wider range of troops to our categories, so they may need to be more clearly distinguished.

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on September 01, 2019, 07:43:15 PM
Justin
Quote
... the emphasis was on them having combat mobility, able to advance and retire.

That's overstating it slightly - Nepos "in order that the soldiers might move and charge more easily when less burdened", Diodorus "to enable the user of the small shield, on account of its lightness, to be completely free in his movements" - so mobility and ease of handling yes, but able to advance and retire, not explicitly. (Not but what I think that's what is meant).

Duncan
Quote
Arrian, specifically lists Greeks with spear and thureos under the hoplite category, quite distinct from the peltasts.

Good point. I'm inclined not to set great store by this as it is clearly (judging by absence from Asclepiodotus and Aelian) Arrian's own addition, not something in his sources, and he is probably just trying to be clever. But still.

Generally, yes the whole peltast thing in the tacticians is most unsatisfactory. Asclepiodotus and Aelian never mention the thureos and you'd get no clue from them that thureophoroi even existed. The peltasts are hopelessly under-specified, thrown in as almost an afterthough in the classifications of infantry and not mentioned again (all attention is on hoplites and a little on psiloi). It's tempting to dismiss them as just Aslepiodotus dividing into threes again, as he likes to, expecially given that the only peltasts we see clearly, the Antigonid Peltasts, seem indistinguishable from (pike) hoplites.

I still think that the fighting styles argument, taking all together and not just following the tacticians, supports a three-way division, close combat, low intensity non missile or partial missile combat, and pure missile combat.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: gavindbm on September 01, 2019, 09:48:11 PM
When reading Azar Gats “War in Human Civilisation” he makes an interesting link between observed combat in (somewhere- New Guinea? africa?) where two sides approached and engaged in spear throwing with odd heroic individual engaging in hand to hand combat, and Homeric warfare (two throwing spears, heroes engage hand to hand).  Thus it is possible that this style of combat was common to may areas ... and could be how many tribal peltasts fought.

However, this could be getting close of some ideas of denser groups of light infantry than, for example, Roman legions and Shaka’s Zulus where training (& cohesion/morale) enabled closing to hand to hand combat.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Mark G on September 02, 2019, 07:01:09 AM
There are a lot of contortions going on here to fit a combined thing into a single box.

I shall try again.

Separate armour and weapons from your classification.  The basic formation is about density, that has the greatest effect on movement and manoverability, and is the fundamental which doesn’t change.

So start there. Close, open and skirmishing are your three categories.

Within that, what ever the armour or the weapons are is an add on to the basic.

But it is not the basic.

Consider what would happen if a tent had its armour stolen overnight?  Would they be sent to a different formation for the morning battle?  Or would they be expected to form up where they were supposed to be when they army was drafted for the campaign?

If a hastatii has more armour than a phalangite, what sense is there in basing classification on armour weight?

Basic facts and add ons . 

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 02, 2019, 08:12:55 AM
Separate armour and weapons from your classification.  The basic formation is about density, that has the greatest effect on movement and manoverability, and is the fundamental which doesn’t change.

So start there. Close, open and skirmishing are your three categories.

Looking like a plan ... or a WRG system.

Quote
Within that, what ever the armour or the weapons are is an add on to the basic.

Logical so far ... and very WRG.

Quote
Consider what would happen if a tent had its armour stolen overnight?  Would they be sent to a different formation for the morning battle?  Or would they be expected to form up where they were supposed to be when they army was drafted for the campaign?

The nearest equivalent to this would be El Mansourah, where the Frankish knights fought hard on the first day, but on the morning of the second day were so bruised they could not don their armour and so fought only in aketons - in exactly the same deployment and formation that they used when properly armoured.  (They lost heavily, but it supports what I take to be Mark's point about formation density being consistent and fundamental.)

Quote
If a hastatii has more armour than a phalangite, what sense is there in basing classification on armour weight?

Not too sure what the point is here; for a start, the average Polybian hastatus had on the whole less body armour than a phalangite (a metal chestplate on straps compared to a thorax covering the whole torso) but I take the statement to mean (in WRG terms) that for LHI (loose formation metal-armoured infantry) the 'L' (loose) not the 'HI' (metal-armoured infantry) should be considered the primary classification.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on September 02, 2019, 08:30:23 AM
I think one of the problems is we are talking about generalising (or abstracting) over literally thousands of years of military practice over multiple continents.  If we were writing rules for Romans to meet Macedonians, we could focus our definitions more and have Phalangite and Legionary as their own categories, without worry how that might impact on Germans or Daylami or samurai.

Well yes. Problem is, my interests are wide and my memory is limited, so being able to use the same rules for Romans as for Hittites and Habsburg-Netherlandish is awfully convenient. :)

(Also, if you, as most ancient-medieval rules do, insist on covering sundry obscure types you pretty much have to base their characteristics on better known ones we hope were similar.)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 02, 2019, 09:54:40 AM
Quote
Well yes. Problem is, my interests are wide and my memory is limited, so being able to use the same rules for Romans as for Hittites and Habsburg-Netherlandish is awfully convenient. :)

This might work if armies only fought their contemporaries but they don't.  So you might have a ruleset that treated chariots and men-at-arms in full plate as "knights" (perhaps on social/morale grounds) which is fine if chariots fight chariots or MAA fight MAA but jars if they fight each other.  I suppose we must decide what level of abstraction we require to produce as few overarching classes as we can.

In terms of close, medium and loose, as Patrick has said, this is what WRG did.  We can make certain generalisations from order, particularly about moving across terrain.  But then we have to have a variety of modifiers e.g. aggression, ability to take punishment to represent different fighting styles and perhaps some command & control difference, like regular/irregular.  We could think on whether we had a seperate "shooter" class, or whether this is just another modifier to general classes.

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on September 02, 2019, 10:32:08 AM
Well as as already been said, I don't think formation density strictly speaking is a good measure, since if the tacticians are to be trusted (and I don't know that they are, on this), psiloi used the same file intervals as hoplites, and the intermediate 4.5 foot file interval of WRG LHI etc was entirely imaginary. But if we use density (close, open, skirmish) as a proxy for fighting style (high intensity hand to hand, low intensity mixed, and missile), then the end result is the same. I agree completely that armour (and weapons come to that) should be a secondary consideration, not the defining feature.

I agree that the New Guinea (proposed Homeric) style seems to be a fair model of the low intensity style (but note that New Guineans are in very open order, and Homeric infantry have the option to close up into close order, so close that it formed the inspiration for the Macedonian phalanx. Just to muddy the waters further).

What remains unclear to me in these imaginary rules we are developing is what the differences between these types should be? I'm assuming we are all sane enough to avoid bottom up design for effect differences in the way the toy soldiers move about on the table. So what are the practical differences between types? My little table a few posts back suggested one very simple approach.

Maybe someone needs to propose what set of classifications they would like to use, as it's unclear to me what we are in favour of or against any more.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 02, 2019, 11:31:50 AM
Ok, in an attempt to offer some clue as to how I would do it, my medieval rules (based on Dux B) have these infantry classes

Irregulars
Elite Irregulars
Ordinary Irregulars
Close Order Infantry
Dismounted MAA
Elite Infantry
Common Infantry
Levy infantry
Bows
Longbow
Other foot bow
Levy bow
Other
Foot Skirmishers

The close-order types have worse difficult terrain performance, though this is in part through loss of combat bonuses.  Close order infantry are generally tougher than their irregular or bow social equivalents, reflecting better protection and, in the case of bows, being less expected to get up close and dirty.  Irregulars can be fierce, which makes them charge more wildly.  Skirmishers can be a nuisance but have low survivability.  Note that this reflects medieval conditions - true skirmishers were much rarer than in classical times.

You could collapse this.  A lot of the sub classes (maybe all) could go to be handled by modifiers but I think you'd have too complex a factor table to work through then.  This is part of the uncertainty we see in the debate generally.  How much do the characteristics of the types get loaded into the type itself and how many are modifiers, handled in other parts of the rules?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on September 02, 2019, 12:23:20 PM
This might work if armies only fought their contemporaries but they don't.

This seems to be a quirk specifically of ancients and medievals players - I never seem to see things like WSS English v. SYW French, despite there being popular rulessets (e.g. Black Powder) that cover both wars.
Quote
So you might have a ruleset that treated chariots and men-at-arms in full plate as "knights" (perhaps on social/morale grounds) which is fine if chariots fight chariots or MAA fight MAA but jars if they fight each other.  I suppose we must decide what level of abstraction we require to produce as few overarching classes as we can.

Here I'm firmly with Phil Barker, who in the DBMM rulebook says regarding troop classification that "The primary concern has been to reflect relationships between historically opposed types, and not to speculate unduly on the relative effectiveness of anachronistic opponents." If the rules can handle Qadesh and Agincourt, I don't care very much what they make of Ramses II v. Henry V.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Mark G on September 02, 2019, 01:56:41 PM
Not to say you are right or wrong, Anthony, but you do notice that your four classifications are not exclusive.

What would you do with an irregular close order bowman?

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 02, 2019, 02:24:10 PM
Not to say you are right or wrong, Anthony, but you do notice that your four classifications are not exclusive.

What would you do with an irregular close order bowman?

As irregular is a class of close combat infantry, you wouldn't get an irregular bowman.  Bowman isn't actually defined by formation but function, being troops who can lay down a heavier weight of shot than mere skirmishers.  That said, I wouldn't personally envisage medieval archers in close order and rigid ranks and files anyway. 
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on September 02, 2019, 02:29:39 PM
It's not clear to me what Irregulars are though - it sounds like a description of quality or training rather than a fighting style. How do irregulars differ from the close order infantry? Otherwise it feels as if you have (in the terms I've been proposing):

Irregulars = ?
Close order infantry = HI
Bows = LI
Other = LI as well only worse

Then the other distinctions are about quality, armour and weight of shooting.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 02, 2019, 03:28:50 PM
The original Dux B has "warriors" instead of irregulars, who are "loose clumps of fierce foot".  So, as I've separated them into "fierce" and "not fierce" iregulars are "loose clumps of foot" who might be fierce.  So, in my eyes, they are what I grew up thinking of as LMI :)  In my way of thinking, they represent troops like ribaulds, highlanders, Almoghavars, probably Irish if I had any.

I'm not convinced by the "archers are all LI argument".  I think we are in danger of falling into the limitations of the ancient tactiticians conception, which are based on a period with few archers.  Avoid if you like medieval examples and think of loads of Chinese crossbows, or Persian archers making their opponents "fight in the shade".  Are these the same as small units of highly skilled archers, harassing the enemy with aimed shots?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on September 02, 2019, 04:57:17 PM
OK so Irregulars are MI :)

Do "loose clumps of fierce foot" close to hand to hand combat with other foot (close order foot) and stay there? When they do so do they remain loose? (I'm aware the answers to these q.s may be '"we don't know")

Fair enough re archers as not LI, though you are still thinking of LI being open order, and I'm saying to get away from defining troop types by their file intervals, and instead define them by how they fight. Archers fight at a distance (exclusively, if they can help it) - therefore they are LI. But for massed archers without the ability or inclination to 'evade' maybe a different type is needed, or range-capable MI, or something.

I like the object oriented metaphor for this which I will expound on when I have a moment, unless you're lucky.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 02, 2019, 05:27:08 PM
OK so Irregulars are MI :)

Could be.

Quote

Do "loose clumps of fierce foot" close to hand to hand combat with other foot (close order foot) and stay there? When they do so do they remain loose? (I'm aware the answers to these q.s may be '"we don't know")
I think "don't know" is the answer.  I admit imagining them less formed and more fluid than Close Order and maybe clumping together more in some circumstances (e.g. if attacked by cavalry). 
Quote
Fair enough re archers as not LI, though you are still thinking of LI being open order, and I'm saying to get away from defining troop types by their file intervals, and instead define them by how they fight.
I actually thought I defining by the way they fought.  Either massed shooters or harassing individual shots.  Though, I agree, I'd see archers closer together than skirmishers, so I'm not being rigourous one thing or another.

Quote
range-capable MI, or something.


Probably about right, with generally less desire to get stuck in.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on September 03, 2019, 08:47:30 AM
Stepping back a bit, I think everyone but Justin agrees that there is such a thing as Medium Infantry, even though we don't agree exactly who qualifies?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 03, 2019, 09:05:38 AM
Stepping back a bit, I think everyone but Justin agrees that there is such a thing as Medium Infantry, even though we don't agree exactly who qualifies?

Yes, or exactly what the qualifying parameters are, at least in part because we are dealing with a long and wide catchment of potential candidates.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on September 03, 2019, 10:43:08 AM
Stepping back a bit, I think everyone but Justin agrees that there is such a thing as Medium Infantry, even though we don't agree exactly who qualifies?

The more I think about it, the less I like the tripartite LI, MI, HI classification. Neat and tidy but not real, as it is difficult (this thread for evidence) to fit many historical troop types into it. In wargame terms we are looking at subdivisions that reflect combat effectiveness against other troop types.

How about this:

Melee Infantry


All fight in intermediate order (+/- 3' per file) except pikes who sometimes fight in close order.

1. Opponents cannot come into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Pikemen
2. Opponents come with difficulty into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Hoplites
3. Opponents come with difficulty into bodily contact. Lightly armoured - Spearmen

4. Opponents come easily into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Legionaries
5. Opponents come easily into bodily contact. Lightly armoured - Celtic irregulars, Spanish Scutarii

Missile Infantry

6. Will melee infantry and cavalry. Lightly armoured - Massed Archers
7. Will melee cavalry only. Lightly armoured - Peltasts
8. Will not melee. No armour - Psiloi


A sliding scale of combat effectiveness in melee would go as follows:
1 - 4 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

For ranged combat:
6 - 7 - 8 (peltasts outshoot psiloi as they have more protection against missiles).
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on September 03, 2019, 11:03:26 AM
Well the original question at the head of this topic was whether there should be some intermediate class of MI, and the answer does seem to be (from everyone but Justin) yes there should, so that is some progress. We could discuss for years which types fall into this class and what their exact factors should be, but that's just an implementation issue (and depends on rules) - the basic principle seems agreed.

MI would seem to include thureophoroi, Hellenistic peltasts (when not in pike mode), lots of barbarian types (perhaps all of the 'warbands', all those who don't, like Germans, form phalanx-like formations), Medieval 'Irregulars', Republican Roman legionaries (maybe), massed archers (maybe). And probably lots of others (there are plenty of candidates though we could argue over the particulars).
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 03, 2019, 11:24:35 AM
Reading Richard's post collided with a memory of an earlier post from Andreas about book reviews to open before the idea of the Second Punic War as an affair of different sorts of MI.  Would be an interesting way of looking at it (and playing it).  I shall withdraw, though, into my medieval fastness and contemplate gens de trait as MI with ranged weapons :)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on September 03, 2019, 12:29:17 PM
How about this:

Melee Infantry


All fight in intermediate order (+/- 3' per file) except pikes who sometimes fight in close order.

1. Opponents cannot come into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Pikemen
2. Opponents come with difficulty into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Hoplites
3. Opponents come with difficulty into bodily contact. Lightly armoured - Spearmen

4. Opponents come easily into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Legionaries
5. Opponents come easily into bodily contact. Lightly armoured - Celtic irregulars, Spanish Scutarii

Missile Infantry

6. Will melee infantry and cavalry. Lightly armoured - Massed Archers
7. Will melee cavalry only. Lightly armoured - Peltasts
8. Will not melee. No armour - Psiloi

It seems unhelpful to me to tie in the level of protection into the classifications. What will you then do with unarmoured pikemen, say, or unarmoured massed archers?

Also, given that your exemplars of classes 4 and 5 are noted for chucking stuff, aren't they really MI sensu Ricardi by another name? If not, what's the difference?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Mark G on September 03, 2019, 12:55:07 PM
Where are sparabara in your classification, Justin?
Or  Jannissaries?
Or skutatoi even?
Vikings carry a lot of missile weapons.
And you have opened up the argument that legionaries are either melee with support javelin or javelinmen with backup swords.

It’s a very north western notion that melee and missile must be separated.

And making one the primary is either going to mess up you rating values for the other, or produce a super warrior who is highly rated for both (a bit like old WRG where you added on extras to all your units).

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on September 03, 2019, 04:58:36 PM
I will admit to being fascinated by this topic, if only because I am not much of a wargamer sadly. Just some random thoughts.

Out of games rules context, I think much of this does not matter. Archaic hoplites were much more like a Germanic Warband than anything classical Greeks put on the field. What I am reading would have them jump from MI to HI after the Persian Wars. Hoplites were surely missile troops as well for most of the Archaic period, and even in the classical could throw rocks to good effect close range. Did the Hastatii who were passed the spears of the Triarii to face the Insubres become HI? (Are the Triarii HI?)

Macedonians are HI, but Cherusci with long spears are not. Unarmored romans with scutii are HI that form a fulcum and at least two ranks of heavies throw things, as Maurice describes, but Gallic warbands, who formed close enough to have their shields pinned together are MI? All that really differs in the way these two groups formed what was essentially the same formation- one through systematic drill and one through less formal, and more simple banding of men. What really differed was their ability to stay in formation or regroup, which would be covered by some morale modifier.

We could look at the fact that Romans only beat sarissaphoroi when they could flank them as a reason to make the former MI and the latter HI, but HI hoplites did not do any better. In fact Spartan hoplites generally won their most famous battles by flanking (cyclosis), and often got their asses handed to them in stand up fights. So maybe the tactics are already baked into the troop strength.

Then we have other issues, like what would the Spartan outrunners which broke formation to scatter peltasts be classed as? Also, Hoplites in Orthoi lochoi could race up hills with the best of them.

I think you either need these designations to be rather abstract or reduced to ridiculous detail and multiple tactical options for each troop type.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on September 04, 2019, 06:40:26 AM
How about this:

Melee Infantry


All fight in intermediate order (+/- 3' per file) except pikes who sometimes fight in close order.

1. Opponents cannot come into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Pikemen
2. Opponents come with difficulty into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Hoplites
3. Opponents come with difficulty into bodily contact. Lightly armoured - Spearmen

4. Opponents come easily into bodily contact. Heavily armoured - Legionaries
5. Opponents come easily into bodily contact. Lightly armoured - Celtic irregulars, Spanish Scutarii

Missile Infantry

6. Will melee infantry and cavalry. Lightly armoured - Massed Archers
7. Will melee cavalry only. Lightly armoured - Peltasts
8. Will not melee. No armour - Psiloi

It seems unhelpful to me to tie in the level of protection into the classifications. What will you then do with unarmoured pikemen, say, or unarmoured massed archers?
I would posit that massed archers had some sort of protection, at least the front ranks. Unarmoured pikemen - are you thinking of the Scottish schiltrom? In that case I suppose whether pikemen are armoured or not doesn't make a difference since their principal protection are their pikes (except against arrows).

Also, given that your exemplars of classes 4 and 5 are noted for chucking stuff, aren't they really MI sensu Ricardi by another name? If not, what's the difference?
My take is that a troop type is classified by whether it is predominantly melee or missile. Class 4 and 5 can chuck stuff but their principal contribution is melee. Rulesets seem to abstract shooting ability out of troops that relied largely on melee.

This of course is all offered on the fly. I'd have to take every known troop type in Antiquity/Mediaeval era and see if they fit these classifications well enough to not substantially differ in mode of combat and efficacity from other  troop types in the same classification (except for quality grading) whilst substantially differing from troop types in the other classifications.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on September 04, 2019, 06:49:57 AM
Where are sparabara in your classification, Justin?
Massed archers who can melee (front rank spearmen)

Or  Janissaries?
Are they predominantly archers or melee troops?

Or skutatoi even?
Spearmen?

Vikings carry a lot of missile weapons.
But are predominantly melee troops.

And you have opened up the argument that legionaries are either melee with support javelin or javelinmen with backup swords.
Their principal contribution in combat is melee, so the former.

It’s a very north western notion that melee and missile must be separated.
Most rulesets seem to factor out missile capability with troops that were predominantly melee types. I'm just following that.

And making one the primary is either going to mess up you rating values for the other, or produce a super warrior who is highly rated for both (a bit like old WRG where you added on extras to all your units).
Not sure I follow this.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Mark G on September 04, 2019, 07:00:40 AM
Look, if you have good melee infantry, and you can justify a missile addition, (such as adding darts )you create a super troop.

If you acknowledge the risk and downgrade the melee component, players will start arguments about leaving the javelins behind (as romans did in some civil war battles) or it being day two so the arrows were used yesterday.

Players will start fiddling with troops to emphasise a plan based on rule mechanisms, because it will soon become clear whether it is better to have melee or missile.

And your rules become an exercise on gaming the system .

And put simply, it’s all based on a very abstract notion that doesn’t make sense in many historical cases.

Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 04, 2019, 07:35:17 AM
I think you either need these designations to be rather abstract or reduced to ridiculous detail and multiple tactical options for each troop type.

This essentially represents the two trends in wargaming thought; the latter (detail and troop types) characterised rules sets of the 1970s while abstraction seems to rule today.

The problems are, of course, that detail is only good if it is actually correct, while abstraction is ultimately only good for argument as it does not actually solve the fundamental problem of which troop type goes in which category (again, this is partly on account of our not knowing exactly what each troop type did, or how).

Ignorance, unfortunately, is not bliss: not knowing how, for example, Achaeans of Aratus' period fought means that if they are hopefully assigned to a speculative category, they could end up being much more - or much less - effective than in real life (in real life they were excellent at raids and rapid entry into cities but lost every major battle they fought against Spartans and Macedonians).  The question of archer effectiveness has long dogged wargaming: some settle for just casualties, some disruption, some try to combine the two.  Few if any rules give archery what our source accounts give as their historical impact (and this varies with weather and target type).

Regarding wargame infantry classification, we have a continuum between on the one hand dispersed formation missile users and on the other close or dense formation melee infantry who may or may not have a missile or two to help out.  The two ends of the continuum are easy enough to define, but everything in between is a matter of mixture and degree.

Or is it?

Is there in fact a 'Z axis', a third branch of soldiery exemplified by the massed archer, and all three meet in the middle?  Is the continuum in fact more like a triangle?  (In such a case, the three axes would not meet int he middle, and it is challenging to think of a historical troop type which would represent the union of all three.)

The triangle would conceptually give us three continua:
1) between dispersed formation skirmishers and close formation melee infantry,
2) between dispersed formation missilemen and massed archers (call them massed missilemen but it was rare for any weapons system other than archery) and
3) between close formation melee infantry and massed archers.  The third continuum would be the home for Achaemenid infantry (and perhaps most other Bibilcal infantry types) and Late Imperial Roman mixed missile and melee formations (notably the late legion).

To test this classification system:

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Where are sparabara in your classification?

Continuum 3.

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Or  Janissaries?

Continuum 3.

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Or skutatoi even?

Continuum 1.

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Vikings carry a lot of missile weapons.

Continuum 1.

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... the argument that legionaries are either melee with support javelin or javelinmen with backup swords.

Continuum 1.

Which is all very well, but brings us no closer to actually rating the troops involved.  Each troop type resists an enemy weapons system differently: it is hard to avoid needing a shooting matrix and a melee matrix, and perhaps abstracting melee infantry's missile weapons into the melee matrix if close combat occurs in a turn (or round or bound).  Combat interactions are the greatest challenge; movement can be relatively clear and simple with a few caveats regarding speed of advance and behaviour just prior to contact: these can usually be handled, or at least addressed, by a charge rule.

Those are my thoughts at present, which have not led us very far but may give us something on which to build.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 04, 2019, 07:41:27 AM
Look, if you have good melee infantry, and you can justify a missile addition, (such as adding darts )you create a super troop.

Are you saying such troops did not exist historically?  They did (I am thinking of WRG Late Roman legionaries, for example), so what exactly is the problem?  Sure, they beat most opponents, but on the tabletop - and often in real life - the rest of their army (notably the cavalry) tended to be be out-pointed and had to box very cleverly to survive.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on September 04, 2019, 11:18:52 AM
We seem to be getting most caught up on massed archers, which makes me wonder if these aren't, like 'warband', a wargamer's construct. How do massed archers differ from typical psiloi? If in formation density then psiloi used similar formations if the tacticians are to be believed. If shooting style, do we know that massed barrage was very different in effect from aimed shots (even assuming these are actual differences)? What did massed archers (Persians, Indians, English/Welsh longbows) do if opposing HI marched up to them and tried to engage them in hand to hand combat? Did they evade/fall back? Did they fight it out with melee weapons? If so were they any good? I don't know the answers, though for Indians I think the answer is nobody knows, and for Persians, that there were also spearmen in the unit (perhaps the same men) who fought if they had to. No idea about longbows. Classing these as bow-armed MI seems reasonable to me - it means they can fight hand to hand, but aren't great at it. They are fairly manoeuvrable and capable on terrain, but less so than dedicated skirmishers. Their shooting ability will probably be similar to LI archers - which to me seems reasonable, though individual rules might want for example to upgrade longbows to reflect their effectiveness.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 04, 2019, 11:19:16 AM
Quote
Look, if you have good melee infantry, and you can justify a missile addition, (such as adding darts )you create a super troop.

But is this a flaw in the rules (I think I detect an old WRG controversy about Phil Barkers love of late Romans) or in the system of constructing factors bit by bit out of equipment?  Modern holistic approaches to the combatants (i.e. the Late Roman legion fought in a certain way and was organised and equipped accordingly) do set out to overcome this.

That said, I generally approve of the idea of general overarching rules covering broad categories which can then be modified by more type-specific rules.  I think, in fact, it is pretty much essential when dealing with the timescales and geographies ancients rule writers have chosen.  We are, I think, still largely looking at the highest level of the category tree.

The mention of skutatoi caught me eye.  At certain times, these units consisted of both heavy and light infantry components.  How best to deal with this?  I remember way back to the early WRG there were units with integral sub units, which is one approach.  Or you could do as some pike and shot rules do and treat your unit as a whole, having both a melee strength and a distance shooting effect.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 04, 2019, 11:48:54 AM
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Classing these as bow-armed MI seems reasonable to me - it means they can fight hand to hand, but aren't great at it. They are fairly manoeuvrable and capable on terrain, but less so than dedicated skirmishers.

As I've said above, its not a bad suggestion.  Like other MI, we might have interesting questions of "transforming" - for example, I suspect a longbow unit might sit at range lobbing harassing shots at an enemy but if attacked could up its shooting rate to create an arrow storm.

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Their shooting ability will probably be similar to LI archers - which to me seems reasonable, though individual rules might want for example to upgrade longbows to reflect their effectiveness.

There is also a lot to be said with shooters about trained and untrained.  A Balearic slinger with a lifetime's practice isn't the same as a baggage carrier given a sling and told to make himself useful.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: RichT on September 04, 2019, 12:20:45 PM
Quote
There is also a lot to be said with shooters about trained and untrained.  A Balearic slinger with a lifetime's practice isn't the same as a baggage carrier given a sling and told to make himself useful.

Yes and that's what quality ratings cover. Balearic slingers are Veteran LI (sling), or Ps (S) if you must; baggage carriers are Levy LI (sling), or Ps (I). I think a single 'quality' measure does a fair job of covering such differences (I don't think measuring, say, morale and training/experience separately would add any value).

Apropos of all this I was just looking at Lost Battles to see how Philip Sabin arrived at his AR (massed archer) category and noted footnote 28 to ch. 2:

"One system infamously even rated Indian archers, regarded as the lowest status element of the army, as 'superior' because of their large bows and two-handed swords, thereby placing them in the same category as English medieval longbowmen!"

The reference is to DBM (is this infamous by the way?).

To DBM, Indian archers are 'superior' because of their weapon types. To Phil this is patently absurd because Indians are poor quality. Polybian v. Livian.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on September 04, 2019, 06:14:29 PM
I think you either need these designations to be rather abstract or reduced to ridiculous detail and multiple tactical options for each troop type.

This essentially represents the two trends in wargaming thought; the latter (detail and troop types) characterised rules sets of the 1970s while abstraction seems to rule today.


It seems to me that we are trying to  force heavy and light designations into a model designed to cover Napoleonic light vs line troops, where formation and mobility is the deciding factor.

I like your multiple axis projection. I did one a while back to explain the function of shield walls in various times and cultures. I was able to show three functions- a Barricade to protect missile troops and maybe fire missles as well, such as Sparabara or a Fulcum, a Bastion, from which to either send out skirmishers from the line or allow them to retire behind, as with Triarii, and a Bludgeon, the straight up melee form. Two of the three usually have a missile component, but usually any shield wall can do all three functions, as with Archaic Greeks and Saxons.

For shield walls, you would need melee score and a missile score.  You would not get super troops because there is a trade off. For example, in the real world, archers do not fire well over deep ranks and they give up a big range advantage being far back.  This limits the depth of any shield wall backed by missiles and lowers its melee value.  Sparabara thus formed in one or two ranks, Maurice's fulcum advances in 4 ranks.

So you end up with values on an arbitrary scale like Melee=3, Missile=8 for Sparabara and Melee 8, Melee = 8, Missile =0 for classical hoplites, explaining the results of their clashes. Archaic hoplites of Tyrtaios' day maybe  Melee = 5, Missile = 3, and so on. 

Cohesiveness and the benefit of being in a group you can sink into some morale factor. But massed troops are more fragile than skirmishing troops, and often far less "trained".  This is tied to the expectations the troops have. Hoplites for example expect to remain in formation and move forward to win.  If you break their formation or even just push them back, they will rout because the expectation is not met.  Simple psiloi can attack in a fairly well organized swarm, throw things, run away and scatter, and come right back, simply because they never expected to stand. The trade off here is that they will break at the drop of a hat.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 04, 2019, 07:22:15 PM
It seems to me that we are trying to  force heavy and light designations into a model designed to cover Napoleonic light vs line troops, where formation and mobility is the deciding factor.

There is something in that: many wargamers grow up on Napoleonics, and old habits die hard.

Quote
I like your multiple axis projection. I did one a while back to explain the function of shield walls in various times and cultures. I was able to show three functions- a Barricade to protect missile troops and maybe fire missles as well, such as Sparabara or a Fulcum, a Bastion, from which to either send out skirmishers from the line or allow them to retire behind, as with Triarii, and a Bludgeon, the straight up melee form. Two of the three usually have a missile component, but usually any shield wall can do all three functions, as with Archaic Greeks and Saxons.

And the 'Marian'/Caesarian/Early Imperial Romans: the bludgeon (cuneus) when they want to shift their foes, the barricade when holding a geographic feature and the bastion when measuring up against a foe or simply holding out against cavalry and hoping it will go away.

Nice classifications, by the way.

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For shield walls, you would need melee score and a missile score.  You would not get super troops because there is a trade off.

Agreed.  In addition, the shield wall is of restricted mobility and its flanks need guarding; against such foes on the tabletop, my approach in days of your was to amuse the shield wall with skirmishers backed by a small 'bastion' while the main strength of the army went to chew up the wings.  It usually worked, as many wargamers used to stick to one battle plan and rarely kept reserves.

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Cohesiveness and the benefit of being in a group you can sink into some morale factor. But massed troops are more fragile than skirmishing troops, and often far less "trained".  This is tied to the expectations the troops have. Hoplites for example expect to remain in formation and move forward to win.  If you break their formation or even just push them back, they will rout because the expectation is not met.  Simple psiloi can attack in a fairly well organized swarm, throw things, run away and scatter, and come right back, simply because they never expected to stand. The trade off here is that they will break at the drop of a hat.

The Wargames Research Group (WRG) ancients period rules coped with this as folows: troops were graded for morale as 'A' (elite and household), 'B' (veteran) 'C' (average/standard) and 'D' (raw and/or unenthusiastic)*.  'D' class would rout after one push-back; 'C' two; 'B' three and 'A' four.  Because the melee random factor could vary the outcome of a round of melee, reversing who was pushing back whom, 'A' and 'B' class troops were very resilient provided they were facing opponents of similar weapon and armour type - if seriously outmatched (e.g. sidearms vs pikes), they would lose anyway.  The extra resilience of 'A' and 'B' morale troops also meant that one had time to send someone to their rescue if one had anyone to send.

*There were also 'E' class troops in some versions; these are best described as 'target practice'.

Psiloi and other skirmishing types had an 'evade' move which actuated in reaction to being charged; there was a little variation in the possible move distance, so a fast attacker could catch a laggard skirmisher.  If caught, skirmishers were almost invariably routed by formed troops; the rare exceptions involved high-quality skirmishers and very poor quality formed troops.

WRG rules recognised a 'loose formation' category intermediate between psiloi and hoplites (and their equivalents in other cultures); into this category were placed, or shoehorned, all troops who showed a combination of melee capability with mobility and often missilery, such as Gauls (although Galatians were classed as close formation, as were Germans), Spanish (Iberians) and most hill and mountain-dwelling cultures.  Vikings began as close but were changed to loose following consideration of their fighting well in woods and on/from ships; they have traditionaly been a classification problem.  At least one now largely forgotten rules set got round the problem by allowing them (and others) to change their 'dressing order' from close to loose and vice versa, which worked well enough.  However an in-battle change of dressing order is regarded as too complex - and sometimes too unfounded - by today's wargamers; a pity, as it could solve some of our formation problems by making troop types impossible to classify as either/or into a more useful and acceptable both/and.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 04, 2019, 07:45:59 PM
We seem to be getting most caught up on massed archers, which makes me wonder if these aren't, like 'warband', a wargamer's construct. How do massed archers differ from typical psiloi? If in formation density then psiloi used similar formations if the tacticians are to be believed. If shooting style, do we know that massed barrage was very different in effect from aimed shots (even assuming these are actual differences)?

I shal try my best to answer, or at least consider, this.

Psiloi and skirmishing types generally are held to have used an open formation and done quite a bit of manoeuvring for aimed individual shots and the intentional avoidance of same.  Massed archers, conversely, are generally held to have loosed volleys at massed targets with much greater immediate effect against non-arrow-proof opponents.  These may be generalisations but they capture the flavour of the respective formations - individual aiming by men who had room to manoeuvre as opposed to mass missile discharges by men who had not.  This seems to have held true even when the bow was replaced by the musket; the two different styles are evident there, particularly in the Napoleonic period.

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What did massed archers (Persians, Indians, English/Welsh longbows) do if opposing HI marched up to them and tried to engage them in hand to hand combat? Did they evade/fall back? Did they fight it out with melee weapons? If so were they any good?

On the whole, they seem to have tried to ensure that opposing HI did not manage to close; as and when it did, they fought back - at least the Persians did at Marathon (where they themselves won but their subject contingents collapsed) and Plataea (where they lost); I am not sure about Indians, but our Hydaspes sources give the impression they waited for contact and then were defeated in melee.  English generally faced HI only when up against Scots, and these tended to melt away under sustained longbow archery, often changing course to engage the English dismounted men-at-arms.  I cannot offhand think of any instance in which Scots HI made it into contact with English longbowmen, although English longbowmen happily charged the Scots' flank at Verneuil, with noticeable effect.

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Classing these as bow-armed MI seems reasonable to me - it means they can fight hand to hand, but aren't great at it. They are fairly manoeuvrable and capable on terrain, but less so than dedicated skirmishers.

Probably works.  Mixed units (melee troops with archers, e.g Assyrians) might muddy the waters a bit.

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Their shooting ability will probably be similar to LI archers - which to me seems reasonable, though individual rules might want for example to upgrade longbows to reflect their effectiveness.

I demur, because massed archers aimed to deliver volume at speed while skirmishing types aimed to deliver individual missiles with accuracy, so their shooting was more protracted and while arguably much more efficient was also considerably less effective. 
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on September 04, 2019, 07:53:57 PM
Often these discussions hinge on arms and armor dictating formation.  This video is the closest you will ever see to two Hoplite phalanxes met in battle, and of course they would be psiloi at best, and surely very few know where they are in rank and file. The main difference is that they would clash at spear range rather than fist range.

You can see how Mardonius might catch a rock to the head from the rear ranks- so a missile ranking as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqIAWcTLKx8
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on September 04, 2019, 08:07:28 PM
What did massed archers (Persians, Indians, English/Welsh longbows) do if opposing HI marched up to them and tried to engage them in hand to hand combat? Did they evade/fall back? Did they fight it out with melee weapons? If so were they any good? I don't know the answers, though for Indians I think the answer is nobody knows, and for Persians, that there were also spearmen in the unit (perhaps the same men) who fought if they had to.

Massed archers/missile troops are generally fronted by a barricade of spearmen, as in my diagram above.  We can see this play out at plataia. The hoplites are stopped cold by the Persian Spara initially. If reports of feigned retreat on the Greek side carry any weight, it was no easy thing to break past the wall.  Once the wall was down though, the rest of the ranks were left attacking in sub units to attempt to fragment the Greek line and grabbing dorys in desperation. The Spara would have easily held the hoplites up long enough for a flank attack by cavalry, but that never materialized due to terrain and the threat of the other Greeks lurking around.

The key is that the two together are one unit. You cannot separate the first 3 ranks of a fulcum from the rest behind it, for example.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Andreas Johansson on September 05, 2019, 06:28:58 AM
Apropos of all this I was just looking at Lost Battles to see how Philip Sabin arrived at his AR (massed archer) category and noted footnote 28 to ch. 2:

"One system infamously even rated Indian archers, regarded as the lowest status element of the army, as 'superior' because of their large bows and two-handed swords, thereby placing them in the same category as English medieval longbowmen!"

The reference is to DBM (is this infamous by the way?).

To DBM, Indian archers are 'superior' because of their weapon types. To Phil this is patently absurd because Indians are poor quality. Polybian v. Livian.
The other Phil effectively conceded the point in DBMM, where Indian archers are Ordinary early on and Inferior in post-Maurya times.

(DBX has never been very consistent if it grades on equipment or demonstrated quality, but in general DBMM represents a move in the latter direction compared to DBM.)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: simonw on September 05, 2019, 08:08:04 AM
I don't think that it's the best way to 'classify' Light Medium Infantry by the 'spacing' of men in the ranks. Trained Heavy Infantry could  likely manoeuvre in a looser formation before 'closing'up' for melee. Additionally, 'Phalanx' troops were probably the most 'dense' formation and therefore the least tactically 'flexible'.
I believe that the the best way is to 'classify' troops by 'function' and in this respect, there were troops more capable than others of operating in 'rough' terrain. In 'good going' though, it is more than likely that these troops formed up 'normally' in the main battleline as 'normal' Heavy Foot (e.g. Hypaspists, Iphicratean 'Peltasts', Thureophoroi etc.).
Early 'Peltasts'  were almost certainly 'anti-skirmisher' skirmishers and had no other 'role' in the battleline.  As such, they are best classified as 'skirmishers'. Later 'peltasts' (post Iphicrates) were probably normal 'battleline' troops in good going (no skirmishing role) but possibly had a 'capability' to operate in 'rough terrain' (the same as many 'Warband' types). I note that the Ancient authors' use of the term 'Peltatst' is in many cases, somewhat ambiguous.
Accordingly, there is scope for an 'Auxilia' type of troop classification with a (maybe) lesser melee capability than 'true' Heavy Infantry in open terrain but a capability to 'beat' skirmishers and Heavy Infantry in rough going but that would really be 'the limit'. I don't believe that they should necessarily have any significantly better 'manoeuvrability' than normal Heavy Foot (e.g. ''About Face', Evade etc.), but just a better capacity to cope with/operate in rough going.
As a final thought, SOME massed archers could be considered to have 'Auxilia' type rough terrain capabilities but others would only be 'battleline' Infantry with a lower melee capability. This would vary from army to army. I'm not sure that it's possible to classify them 'all the same' just because they are 'massed archers' (e.g. Mauryan Indians versus Mediaeval Longbowmen).
This is my 'interpretation. Others will have theirs. Pity the poor rules-writers!
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 05, 2019, 09:35:29 AM
I quite like Paul's "shieldwall" diagram.  It is essentially a breakdown of the HI category, I feel.  There are one or two issues for it.  Take a pike phalanx.  It is a lineal descendant of a "bludgeon" but doesn't necessarily (often?) have the large shields for missile protection.  I'd count it in there but then "shieldwall" starts to become an aide memoire (like warband) rather than an actual thing.

The main issue though is it doesn't solve the MI question.  Were there a group with a less solid, more flexible fighting style with the "oomph" to stand toe-to-toe with a shieldwall/HI?  What about massed archers who did away with the outer crust of big shields?

I don't think it is possible to be too dogmatic about the close combat abilities of longbowmen.  I doubt if they sought direct conflict with heavy infantry except in advantageous circumstances (broken formations, difficult terrain) but the evidence is thinner than we'd like.  On the specific issue of fighting Scots spearmen, I can't think of a cast iron example but there are several battles were it might have happened unrecorded (Sark would be an obvious candidate).

While I see Simon's point about spacings, I do think there is there may be a "form/function" element.  HI infantry are closely spaced to do what they do, LI are loosely spaced likewise.  As to the tacticians idea that LI formed up at the same spacing as HI, I can only think this is to manouever rather than fight, unless the LI block acts as a reserve, from which groups move out to skirmish.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on September 05, 2019, 09:12:23 PM
I quite like Paul's "shieldwall" diagram.  It is essentially a breakdown of the HI category, I feel.  There are one or two issues for it.  Take a pike phalanx.  It is a lineal descendant of a "bludgeon" but doesn't necessarily (often?) have the large shields for missile protection.  I'd count it in there but then "shieldwall" starts to become an aide memoire (like warband) rather than an actual thing.

Thanks. Because of the emphasis on functionality, I actually have no problem with considering  sarissaphoroi or renaissance pike as shield walls.  A good breast plate is simply a shield that is worn. An example of this logic would be the way Marurice tells us that a fulcum must be multitiered overlapping shields if the men have no greaves. Implication being that a shield wall of men with greaves have added armor that performs the function of the first rank of shields in protecting the mens legs.  By extension, an armored fellow is a defacto wall of metal, shield or not.  Then there is the possible protection of the pikes themselves vs missiles. In any case, we don't see sarissaphoroi being particularly vulnerable to missiles.

The main difference between a wall of shields and a wall of men is the manner in which tactile information, in the form of touching shields, aids in maintaining cohesion and spacing. This is more important withe less trained troops.


The main issue though is it doesn't solve the MI question.  Were there a group with a less solid, more flexible fighting style with the "oomph" to stand toe-to-toe with a shieldwall/HI?  What about massed archers who did away with the outer crust of big shields?

Are there any massed archers without a crust of shielded spearmen or heavy men at arms, Cheval de frise, etc. who actually stood to face charging heavies?  It may be obvious, but having charged archers shooting mock arrows, archers need to turn and flee quite a bit before they would be able to take a point blank shot, or they die.  If you put even a single shielded man in front, they get to take that shot. I would be suprised to find massed archers without some form of "crust".
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 06, 2019, 06:53:48 AM
Are there any massed archers without a crust of shielded spearmen or heavy men at arms, Cheval de frise, etc. who actually stood to face charging heavies?  It may be obvious, but having charged archers shooting mock arrows, archers need to turn and flee quite a bit before they would be able to take a point blank shot, or they die.  If you put even a single shielded man in front, they get to take that shot. I would be suprised to find massed archers without some form of "crust".

That is a very good question: Egyptians have been thought to have deployed 'pure' archer units, often unprotected, although the only preserved model groups of Egyptian soldiery (from the Middle Kingdom) are mixed spearmen and archers.  In the New Kingdom, the (18th Dynasty period) Amarna letters often plead: "Send archers!" which suggests these could have been a distinct and separate combat arm.  Moving on to the 19th Dynasty period, Ramses II's reliefs show square blocks of spearmen (no infantry archers) on the march, but Merneptah's account of dealing with his Cyrenian and Libyan opponents has archers play the main role in the battle.  Hence in the 19th Dynasty there might have been a separation into distinct combat arms.

So New Kingdom Egyptian archers might have deployed en bloc, 'uncrusted', but we have only indications without proof.  If they ard their weaponry and techniques were qualitatively superior to anything the opposition could throw at them, then 'uncrusted' archer blocks could have been viable, which is not the same as being able to say that they actually existed.  That said, armour for archers, at least in the front rank, might serve the function of a 'crust' without the need to hide behind spearmen.  So I think the jury is still out on that one.  Mine is, anyway.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 06, 2019, 09:04:36 AM
Quote
Are there any massed archers without a crust of shielded spearmen or heavy men at arms, Cheval de frise, etc. who actually stood to face charging heavies?  It may be obvious, but having charged archers shooting mock arrows, archers need to turn and flee quite a bit before they would be able to take a point blank shot, or they die.  If you put even a single shielded man in front, they get to take that shot. I would be suprised to find massed archers without some form of "crust".

I think we have to think about this "crust" a bit more.  I would certainly say that it was common for medieval archers to be in single type units, rather than mixed ones, certainly High Middle Ages onward.  We do, however, see the use of the pavise in later formations but the impression is that this is mainly missile proofing rather than providing a fighting front.

How massed archers approached line-of-battle combat is an interesting one.  You don't place troops who are likely to fall back if the enemy approaches at any key point in your line, unless you've planned for that.  So either they had some combat ability or they fought in conjunction with heavier units. 

Thinking more generally about shieldwalls and archers, I think I'd divide things on the basis of proportion.  An archer assisted shieldwall would be e.g. where close combat component is 2/3 or more.  Below that you are dealing with a MI unit with missile capabilities.  You can adjust the melee capability of the MI unit depending on various factors (aggression, equipment, morale - the usual suspects).
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on September 06, 2019, 11:09:57 AM
If Agincourt is anything to go by the English longbowmen had plenty of time to shoot the advancing French first line that was slowed down by the muddy terrain. Nonetheless the French survived well enough to charge the English line with enough impact to momentarily force it back. I doubt archers of any other period would have fared better. Massed or non-skirmisher archers have to be prepared to be contacted by an advancing HI line, and since, unlike psiloi, they don't have a support line to retire behind, they would have to hold their ground or break. So they melee.

A typical maximum bow range is about 200 metres. How long would it take HI to cover that distance whilst under fire? In the first place the HI get the full effect of the archer volleys only at extreme range, with rear rankers shooting over those in front. The beaten ground covered by such a volley wouldn't be very deep, about as deep as the archer line itself, so walking at a cautious 2km/h with shields up, an HI line 8 ranks and about 12 metres deep will be past the beaten zone in about half a minute (33 metres per minute), presuming the archers themselves are 8 ranks deep. After that only the front rank(s) of the archers can continue to shoot. At 2km/h the HI will reach them in 6 minutes. It is highly unlikely the archers will be able to stop them dead in their tracks by missile fire alone.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: gavindbm on September 06, 2019, 02:29:09 PM
However an in-battle change of dressing order is regarded as too complex - and sometimes too unfounded - by today's wargamers; a pity, as it could solve some of our formation problems by making troop types impossible to classify as either/or into a more useful and acceptable both/and.

Memory says Mortem et Gloriam does include this.  It defines some troops as flexible.  This is used to represent infantry shifting between a dense and looser formation (HI to MI...), and for certain horse archers for shifting between open order/skirmish and denser cavalry mode.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: gavindbm on September 06, 2019, 02:34:27 PM
If Agincourt is anything to go by the English longbowmen had plenty of time to shoot the advancing French first line that was slowed down by the muddy terrain. Nonetheless the French survived well enough to charge the English line with enough impact to momentarily force it back.

A recent Slingshot (324?) had an interesting discussion about how to reflect the effect of massed archers in DBA (a model for effect set of rules) where the author discussed effect and how to model that effect.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: gavindbm on September 06, 2019, 02:41:30 PM
Is there in fact a 'Z axis', a third branch of soldiery exemplified by the massed archer, and all three meet in the middle?  Is the continuum in fact more like a triangle?  (In such a case, the three axes would not meet int he middle, and it is challenging to think of a historical troop type which would represent the union of all three.)

The triangle would conceptually give us three continua:
1) between dispersed formation skirmishers and close formation melee infantry,
2) between dispersed formation missilemen and massed archers (call them massed missilemen but it was rare for any weapons system other than archery) and
3) between close formation melee infantry and massed archers.  The third continuum would be the home for Achaemenid infantry (and perhaps most other Bibilcal infantry types) and Late Imperial Roman mixed missile and melee formations (notably the late legion).

This is interesting.

Is the troop type at the mid-point along all these axes the fighters of Papua New Guinea etc - where they are moderately massed and throw spears at each other from close range with occasional hero rushing out to fight hand-to-hand?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 06, 2019, 07:11:01 PM
Is the troop type at the mid-point along all these axes the fighters of Papua New Guinea etc - where they are moderately massed and throw spears at each other from close range with occasional hero rushing out to fight hand-to-hand?

Such worthies I see as essentially being a loose collection of individually acting hit-and-run unorganised skirmishers, and hence near the loose end of continuum 1.  They do not employ their missiles at sufficient range to make me want to put them on continuum 2, and they are not really massed, just loosely clustered, so escape continuum 3.  I tend to think that 'massed' should have the sense of everyone acting in coordination in addition to breathing down each other's necks.

If we wanted someone on the half-way point of all three continua, I would look for troops which have the ability to move like Zulus, shoot like Cretans and fight in close combat like Iberians.  The closest I can think of right now, albeit coming second best in all three aspects, would be Incas, with their rugged rough terrain performance, massed slingshots (alas not suscribers!) and passable close combat ability.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: gavindbm on September 06, 2019, 07:26:48 PM
Patrick - Incas do sound like a better bet for the mid-point.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on September 06, 2019, 07:27:31 PM

A typical maximum bow range is about 200 metres. How long would it take HI to cover that distance whilst under fire?

From some tests we did: 50m, synaspismos of about 72-60cm frontage, maintaining this frontage at a brisk jog, about 12-15 seconds (19 seconds for us, but we ramped up the speed from a walk).
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 07, 2019, 08:10:57 AM

A typical maximum bow range is about 200 metres. How long would it take HI to cover that distance whilst under fire?

From some tests we did: 50m, synaspismos of about 72-60cm frontage, maintaining this frontage at a brisk jog, about 12-15 seconds (19 seconds for us, but we ramped up the speed from a walk).

So at a 'Marathon jog', it would take about a minute to cover 220 yards or so.  This would take the bite out of Achaemenid archery, which would be more used to targets closing at walking pace (as most close formation armies seem to have done).  The speed of advance would also produce numerous 'overs' from archers in depth shooting indirectly against a shallow 8-deep line.  In some ways, speed of advance can be its own protection.

We might want to define our closing HI a bit more closely: different armies would use different speeds, and my impression is that legions and tribal masses alike would close quite slowly until the time came to charge.  This would give archery more time to take effect, and a slow speed of advance, while permitting effective shield protection, would also make it easier for archers to land the majority of missiles on target when using indirect called shooting.  The intensity of shooting and weight of missiles might also have a more pronounced slowing effect against men in certain types of protection.

Julian the Apostate used a simple system to evade Sassanid archery: he started his infantry advancing at a walk, then when the first enemy volley was released, they moved up to a quick walk (and the arrows landed behind them); for the next volley, as it released they stepped up to a slow jog, then for the next one a quick jog, by which time they were well on the way to closure and out of the indirect shooting 'beaten zone'.  For some reason, few armies seem to have used this elegant countermeasure.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 07, 2019, 08:13:00 AM
Patrick - Incas do sound like a better bet for the mid-point.

In wargaming I have found them to be excellent jacks of all trades, even if masters of none!
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 07, 2019, 09:00:54 AM
Is the troop type at the mid-point along all these axes the fighters of Papua New Guinea etc - where they are moderately massed and throw spears at each other from close range with occasional hero rushing out to fight hand-to-hand?

Such worthies I see as essentially being a loose collection of individually acting hit-and-run unorganised skirmishers, and hence near the loose end of continuum 1. 

I've sometimes wondered if this behaviour is reflected in some forms of ancient skirmisher, particularly the "youths" beloved of Gallic and German armies, some of whom would be eager to impress.  But then I sort of recall Roman velites were prone to this sort of thing, trying to get noticed by heroic acts.  Some even dressed up in wolfskins to be more noticeable, IIRC.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 07, 2019, 09:07:01 AM
Quote
Julian the Apostate used a simple system to evade Sassanid archery: he started his infantry advancing at a walk, then when the first enemy volley was released, they moved up to a quick walk (and the arrows landed behind them); for the next volley, as it released they stepped up to a slow jog, then for the next one a quick jog, by which time they were well on the way to closure and out of the indirect shooting 'beaten zone'.  For some reason, few armies seem to have used this elegant countermeasure.

Interesting - presumably in Ammianus?  It was, I recall, a style point to remark on any special tactics a general employed in battle among the Romans so perhaps this was a one off innovation, rather than a standard tactic?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: nikgaukroger on September 07, 2019, 11:14:14 AM
Quote
Julian the Apostate used a simple system to evade Sassanid archery: he started his infantry advancing at a walk, then when the first enemy volley was released, they moved up to a quick walk (and the arrows landed behind them); for the next volley, as it released they stepped up to a slow jog, then for the next one a quick jog, by which time they were well on the way to closure and out of the indirect shooting 'beaten zone'.  For some reason, few armies seem to have used this elegant countermeasure.

Interesting - presumably in Ammianus? 

Nope, not Ammianus on Julian's campaign. In fact in the account of one of Julian's battles Ammianus describes the Romans as advancing slowly - what protects them from the Persian arrows is forcing their way into the enemy ranks.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: DougM on September 07, 2019, 01:56:23 PM

A typical maximum bow range is about 200 metres. How long would it take HI to cover that distance whilst under fire?

From some tests we did: 50m, synaspismos of about 72-60cm frontage, maintaining this frontage at a brisk jog, about 12-15 seconds (19 seconds for us, but we ramped up the speed from a walk).

 our closing HI a bit more closely: different armies would use different speeds, and my impression is that legions and tribal masses alike would close quite slowly until the time came to charge.  This would give archery more time to take effect, and a slow speed of advance, while permitting effective shield protection, would also make it easier for archers to land the majority of missiles on target when using indirect called shooting.  The intensity of shooting and weight of missiles might also have a more pronounced slowing effect against men in certain types of protection.

Julian the Apostate used a simple system to evade Sassanid archery: he started his infantry advancing at a walk, then when the first enemy volley was released, they moved up to a quick walk (and the arrows landed behind them); for the next volley, as it released they stepped up to a slow jog, then for the next one a quick jog, by which time they were well on the way to closure and out of the indirect shooting 'beaten zone'.  For some reason, few armies seem to have used this elegant countermeasure.

Evidence of this Patrick? As far as I know, all we know is the Roman infantry tried to close quickly to reduce the time spent under archery.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: nikgaukroger on September 07, 2019, 02:27:51 PM
As far as I know, all we know is the Roman infantry tried to close quickly to reduce the time spent under archery.

Or indeed slowly as I mention above - Ammianus 24.6.10
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 07, 2019, 07:00:54 PM
As far as I know, all we know is the Roman infantry tried to close quickly to reduce the time spent under archery.

Or indeed slowly as I mention above - Ammianus 24.6.10

Doug is correct; see Ammianus XXV.1.17:

To prevent the preliminary volleys of the archers from disrupting our ranks he advanced at the double and so ruined the effectiveness of their arrows.

I have inferred Julian's method from the slow start Nick mentions in XXIV.6.10 and the subsequent phrase in idem.11:

... the soldiers were freer from the danger of the arrows the more quickly they forced their way into the enemy's ranks.

together with the explicit rapid advance in XXV.1.17.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: nikgaukroger on September 07, 2019, 08:02:58 PM
What we don't have in Ammianus is anything as specific as:

"he started his infantry advancing at a walk, then when the first enemy volley was released, they moved up to a quick walk (and the arrows landed behind them); for the next volley, as it released they stepped up to a slow jog, then for the next one a quick jog, by which time they were well on the way to closure and out of the indirect shooting 'beaten zone'."

And I don't think you can infer any such from the parts of Ammianus referred to. Certainly you can speculate that it is how it might have worked, but you cannot present it as a documented fact - unless there is something elsewhere that is that detailed of course.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 07, 2019, 08:05:25 PM
And I don't think you can infer any such from the parts of Ammianus referred to. Certainly you can speculate that it is how it might have worked, but you cannot present it as a documented fact - unless there is something elsewhere that is that detailed of course.

Then I shall speculate this is how it might have worked. :)
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 08, 2019, 10:26:12 AM
So, essentially, Roman infantry could advance at the double under archery like Greeks at Marathon but sometimes moved more slowly.  The complicated drill involving the direct involvement of the general was not attested by the sources.  Many thanks for the clarification.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 08, 2019, 06:48:15 PM
The complicated drill involving the direct involvement of the general was not attested by the sources.  Many thanks for the clarification.

Not attested, but I think suggested; it is not actually that complicated, as it is intuitive and simply relies on speeding up after each volley to throw off the archers' aim, which seems a more rational approach in very hot weather than a flat-rate two-hundred-yard dash.  Julian would have trained his troops to it beforehand, not in mid-battle.  Anyway, make of it what you will.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on September 08, 2019, 06:50:07 PM
We do seem to have agreed that reasonably well-protected infantry could advance up to contact with archers who would have to melee them or run for it. Does that help with the classification process of the thread?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: DougM on September 08, 2019, 07:19:23 PM
No. We don't. We have entirely insufficient information. We don't even know whether the archers in this case were mounted or on foot.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: nikgaukroger on September 08, 2019, 08:46:24 PM
The complicated drill involving the direct involvement of the general was not attested by the sources.  Many thanks for the clarification.

Not attested, but I think suggested; it is not actually that complicated, as it is intuitive and simply relies on speeding up after each volley to throw off the archers' aim, which seems a more rational approach in very hot weather than a flat-rate two-hundred-yard dash.  Julian would have trained his troops to it beforehand, not in mid-battle.  Anyway, make of it what you will.

I don't think that the detail you originally posted (as if it were attested) is even suggested to be honest. Is there even anything to suggest that the Persian shooting was by volley?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: DougM on September 08, 2019, 11:07:57 PM
All we have is that Roman foot were told to move  quickly to cut down the time they would be getting hit by Persian archery.

Everything else is conjecture. So for example I could postulate that the Roman infantry arrived for combat tired and disorganised by running,  so it was lucky there were only small numbers of archers.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on September 09, 2019, 06:33:31 AM
What we do have at least is that the drill of the Romans and Greeks (and others like mounted or dismounted French during the 100 years war) was to advance against a line of archers and melee with them, though there is an article/forum post somewhere to the effect that punctuating a line of English longbowmen with men-at-arms would naturally funnel the advancing infantry towards the men-at-arms. Might that have happened in Antiquity?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 09, 2019, 08:21:17 AM
No. We don't. We have entirely insufficient information. We don't even know whether the archers in this case were mounted or on foot.

We can resolve this one.  Let us take a look at Ammianus' account of this battle, as he provides some helpful clues and helpful context (and a couple of enigmas).

The background:

Leaving this place as well, the whole army had come to a district called Maranga, when near daybreak a huge force of Persians appeared with Merena, general of their cavalry, two sons of the king, and many other magnates. - XXV.1.11

So the Persian force is under a general of cavalry, which suggests a significanty cavalry component, although Ammianus nowhere explicitly identifies any of the Persian soldiery as cavalry.  We read on.

Moreover, all the companies were clad in iron (erant autem omnes catervae ferratae), and all parts of their bodies were covered with thick plates, so fitted that the stiff joints conformed with those of their limbs; and the forms of human faces were so skilfully fitted to their heads, that, since their entire bodies were plated with metal, arrows that fell upon them could lodge only where they could see a little through tiny openings fitted to the circle of the eye, or where through the tips of their noses they were able to get a little breath.  - XXV.1.12

Was the entire army composed of cataphracts?

Of these some, who were armed with pikes (quorum pars contis dimicatura), stood so motionless that you would think them held fast by clamps of bronze. Hard by (iuxtaque), the archers (for that nation has especially trusted in this art from the very cradle) were bending their flexible bows with such wide-stretched arms that the strings touched their right breasts, while the arrow-points were close to their left hands; and by a highly skilful stroke of the fingers the arrows flew hissing forth and brought with them deadly wounds. - XXV.1.13

The question here: are the archers cataphracts, or are they accompanying cataphracts?  Note incidentally that a man in this Sassanid army is either a kontos-user or an archer.

Behind them (post hos) the gleaming elephants, with their awful figures and savage, gaping mouths could scarcely be endured by the faint-hearted; and their trumpeting, their odour, and their strange aspect alarmed the horses still more. - XXV.1.14

Elephants behind cavalry?  Or elephants behind archers?  The hos suggests the elephants are behind the archers, which would make the archers in all probability infantry.

[section 15 covers the use of a hammer and chisel to despatch rogue elephants]

Although these sights caused no little fear, the emperor, guarded by troops of armed men and with his trustworthy generals, full of confidence, as the great and dangerous power of the enemy demanded, drew up his soldiers in the form of a crescent with curving wings to meet the enemy. - XXV.1.16

Although these sights caused no little fear, the emperor, guarded by troops of armed men and with his trustworthy generals, full of confidence, as the great and dangerous power of the enemy demanded, drew up his soldiers in the form of a crescent with curving wings (lunari acie sinuatisque lateribus) to meet the enemy. - XXV.1.16

Did this advance his wings or refuse them?  If the Persians were superior in cavalry, he probably refused them.

Now for the key part.

And in order that the onset of the bowmen might not throw our ranks into confusion (et ne sagittariorum procursus nostrorum cuneos disiectaret), he advanced at a swift pace, and so ruined the effectiveness of the arrows. Then the usual signal for battle was given, and the Roman infantry in close order with mighty effort drove the serried ranks of the enemy before them (denseti Romani pedites confertas hostium frontes, nisu protruserunt acerrimo). - XXV.1.17

How often does one see infantry closing 'at a swift pace' against cavalry and 'with mighty effort' driving their serried ranks before them?  I conclude the opponents of the Roman infantry were Persian infantry, and these are identical with the archers Ammianus gives as 'next to' (iuxta) the cataphracts and with elephants at their backs.

There is one further clue.

And in the heat of the combat that followed, the clash of shields, the shouts of the men, and the doleful sound of the whirring arrows continued without intermission. The plains were covered with blood and dead bodies, but the Persian losses were greater; for they often lacked endurance in battle and could with difficulty maintain a close contest man to man, since they were accustomed to fight bravely at long range, but if they perceived that their forces were giving way, as they retreated they would shoot their arrows back like a shower of rain and keep the enemy from a bold pursuit. So by the weight of great strength the Parthians were driven back, and when the signal for retreat was given in the usual manner, our soldiers, long wearied by the fiery course of the sun, returned to their tents, encouraged to dare greater deeds of valour in the future. - XXV.1.18

The 'clash of shields' sounds like an infantry against infantry fight, as does the attritional nature of the struggle.  The surprise is perhaps that the Persian infantry endured as long as they did.

So we can tell from the context that Julian's fast-moving soldiery closed against enemy infantry; despite Ammianus' incompleteness of description, the clues are there.

A couple of enigmas:
1) Why does Ammianus refer to 'all' the Persians as being cased in armour?  Is there a word missing from the MS?  Or were the archers fully armoured for this battle?
2) What has happened to Persian mounted archers?  The archers engaged by the Roman infantry behave like infantry, and nothing seems to happen on the flanks.  Did the Persians have no mounted archers in this battle - or did the Roman 'crescent' with its protruding or refused wings baffle them and the cataphracts and render them unable to influence the outcome?  The lack of Roman pursuit suggests the Persian cavalry had been held in play but not defeated.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 09, 2019, 08:27:14 AM
What we do have at least is that the drill of the Romans and Greeks (and others like mounted or dismounted French during the 100 years war) was to advance against a line of archers and melee with them, though there is an article/forum post somewhere to the effect that punctuating a line of English longbowmen with men-at-arms would naturally funnel the advancing infantry towards the men-at-arms. Might that have happened in Antiquity?

Men-at-arms were prone to attack their peers for a couple of reasons.  One was social - it was more prestigious to do so.  While this is often given as the main reason, it is at least as likely it is about defeating the main enemy force, after which the remainder will give up.  In particular, aiming at the standards, which marked the commanders, was popular as to defeat the enemy commander could cause morale to collapse.  So, do we expect our Romans or Greeks to be governed by similar conventions? 
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 09, 2019, 08:27:49 AM
One point we all missed (which accounts for the initial slowness of the Roman infantry in Ammianus XXIV.6.10) is that they were going slowly to give their skirmishers time and opportunity to play.

So, when both sides were near enough to look each other in the face, the Romans, gleaming in their crested helmets and swinging their shields as if to the rhythm of the anapaestic foot, advanced slowly; and the light-armed skirmishers opened the battle by hurling their javelins, while the earth everywhere was turned to dust and swept away in a swift whirlwind. - XXIV.6.10

The skirmishers would have to withdraw before the lines clashed, and as soon as they did so the Roman infantry would have picked up its pace.

And when the battle-cry was raised in the usual manner by both sides and the trumpets' blare increased the ardour of the men, here and there they fought hand-to-hand with spears and drawn swords; and the soldiers were freer from the danger of the arrows the more quickly they forced their way into the enemy's ranks. - idem.11

So the slow advance is something of a red herring, as it was contingent upon the operation of skirmishers ahead of the line.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 09, 2019, 08:36:52 AM
So, do we expect our Romans or Greeks to be governed by similar conventions?

I would think they were not: one may remember a Republican Roman consul executing his own son for breaking ranks to kill an enemy champion; the son's deed which would have received undiluted approbation from the mediaeval mindset (if one can meaningfully use such a term) but did not from the classical, which had moved on from Homeric standards to a more disciplined outlook.

I think Justin was also asking whether the arrow storm produced a slowing effect in the classical period; the paucity of massed archers outside the Achaemenid Empire and the fact that Greeks in our sources tended to await the moment behind a shield wall (as at Plataea) or move at a fast pace to avoid the arrow storm (as at Marathon) suggests they were conversant with the effects of massed archery and took care to do more about ameliorating it than just making jokes about fighting in the shade.  The fact that they appear to have eschewed a standard advance into an arrow storm suggests they by rapidity or immobility avoided being funnelled rather than being immune to it.  That is my reading, anyway.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 09, 2019, 08:42:08 AM
Quote
but if they perceived that their forces were giving way, as they retreated they would shoot their arrows back like a shower of rain and keep the enemy from a bold pursuit.

Though it is a long way from the MI debate, I'd suggest this sounds like a description of the Parthian Shot, which is usually considered a cavalry tactic.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Jim Webster on September 09, 2019, 10:38:25 AM
Remember that Merena, general of their cavalry, might merely be, Merena, magister equitum
If the author was merely foisting a Roman title onto a Persian equivalent, it may merely mean Merena was senior but not the most senior.
Also in its classic form (the second in command for a dictator in the early republic) the magister equitum could command infantry as well as cavalry
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Justin Swanton on September 09, 2019, 12:23:24 PM
So, do we expect our Romans or Greeks to be governed by similar conventions?

I would think they were not: one may remember a Republican Roman consul executing his own son for breaking ranks to kill an enemy champion

Titus Manlius. A first-class general who probably felt he needed to make an example of his son since the single combat implies the accompanying Roman and Latin troops were prepared to sit by and watch - a dangerous prelude to fraternisation which is exactly what Titus didn't want to see happening ("Why should we fight our comrades?"). IMHO his operational manoeuvring was brilliant, getting his troops into a position at the foot of Vesuvius that negated the Latin superiority in cavalry and supplied perfect ground for his Samnite allies.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: DougM on September 09, 2019, 12:28:04 PM
It's all speculation though isn't it? I could equally postulate that the Roman force adopted a crescent because they massively outnumbered their opponents, (and we know it was the greatest force ever assembled to attack Persia). Are you also suggesting that Persian cavalry were all cataphract armoured albeit some were archers only?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: nikgaukroger on September 09, 2019, 12:47:04 PM
Are you also suggesting that Persian cavalry were all cataphract armoured albeit some were archers only?

IMO it would be a perfectly valid reading of the passage.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: DougM on September 09, 2019, 04:10:47 PM
Are you also suggesting that Persian cavalry were all cataphract armoured albeit some were archers only?

IMO it would be a perfectly valid reading of the passage.

It would, however; it would mean our wargames view of Sasanian armies would have to undergo a radical reassessment. :)   I'm not averse to that, but a lot of people would be horrified. 
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Duncan Head on September 09, 2019, 04:24:30 PM
Are you also suggesting that Persian cavalry were all cataphract armoured albeit some were archers only?

IMO it would be a perfectly valid reading of the passage.

It would, however; it would mean our wargames view of Sasanian armies would have to undergo a radical reassessment. :)   I'm not averse to that, but a lot of people would be horrified.
Isn't it, rather than "a radical reassessment",  essentially the old Phil Barker interpretation? All cavalry are armoured men on armoured horses, some with lance alone (SHC/Kn(X)) and others (a bit less completely armoured, but still armoured men on armoured horses) with bow and optional lance (EHC/Cv(S))?

Compare XXIV.6.8 "The Persians opposed to us serried bands of mail-called horsemen in such close order that the gleam of moving bodies covered with densely fitting plates of iron dazzled the eyes of those who looked upon them, while the whole throng of horse was protected by coverings of leather."
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: DougM on September 09, 2019, 04:36:03 PM
It may be a parallel to the early WRG classification, but it's very different to how they are graded in DBM/DBMM, and by extension, by all the other sets that have derived their classifications from those army lists.  It also isn't reflected in how many cavalry are graded as kontos armed cataphracts and when the cataphracts disappear from the lists.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Duncan Head on September 09, 2019, 04:55:18 PM
It may be a parallel to the early WRG classification, but it's very different to how they are graded in DBM/DBMM, and by extension, by all the other sets that have derived their classifications from those army lists.

I don't see a major difference; in AEIR, old WRG lists, DBMM lists, and this suggestion alike, we have two lots of armoured cavalry on armoured horses, one of which uses archery and one which doesn't  :)

Quote
It also isn't reflected in how many cavalry are graded as kontos armed cataphracts and when the cataphracts disappear from the lists.

There is nothing in the Ammianus passages that gives us a handle on numbers of lancers vs archers, surely? So I don't see how this suggestion is "not reflected" in numerical terms at all.

I forget when the Kn(X) disappear in the DBMM list, but I think it's after Julian, so also completely unaffected by this suggestion.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: nikgaukroger on September 09, 2019, 05:23:26 PM
Are you also suggesting that Persian cavalry were all cataphract armoured albeit some were archers only?

IMO it would be a perfectly valid reading of the passage.

It would, however; it would mean our wargames view of Sasanian armies would have to undergo a radical reassessment. :)   I'm not averse to that, but a lot of people would be horrified.
Isn't it, rather than "a radical reassessment",  essentially the old Phil Barker interpretation? All cavalry are armoured men on armoured horses, some with lance alone (SHC/Kn(X)) and others (a bit less completely armoured, but still armoured men on armoured horses) with bow and optional lance (EHC/Cv(S))?

Compare XXIV.6.8 "The Persians opposed to us serried bands of mail-called horsemen in such close order that the gleam of moving bodies covered with densely fitting plates of iron dazzled the eyes of those who looked upon them, while the whole throng of horse was protected by coverings of leather."

I think a difference from Phil Barker's old interpretation is that in the two bit quoted there is no distinction between the armour of differently armoured cavalry - but only one mentions the horse armour.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 09, 2019, 08:05:29 PM
One point to consider about Ammianus is that he is not necessarily providing a complete description of everyone in the Sassanid army; he seems to be focussing on the points that registered most strongly with the Romans.  The cataphracts and elephants get detailed descriptions; the archers do not.  Anyone else is simply not mentioned.

The question of whether the archers mentioned are horse or foot is subject to two considerations: they are 'iuxta', next to, the cataphracts, as opposed to behind them, and they fight the Roman infantry 'shield to shield', which would be possible only for very small cavalrymen on very small horses. :)  They also have elephants behind them, which would make horses nervous even if they were 'used to' elephants, which itself suggests the archers mentioned were infantry.

This need not mean they were the only archers in the Sassanid army, just that the archers mentioned a) were archers and b) were attacked by the Roman infantry in what looks very much like an infantry fight.  The Sassanids might well have had mounted archers with or behind their cataphracts, or, although I am somewhat hesitant about this suggestion, we may have lost a phrase or two from Ammianus which would have filled in the gaps.

Quote
but if they perceived that their forces were giving way, as they retreated they would shoot their arrows back like a shower of rain and keep the enemy from a bold pursuit.

Though it is a long way from the MI debate, I'd suggest this sounds like a description of the Parthian Shot, which is usually considered a cavalry tactic.

And it may be that Sassanid infantry archers also considered it a useful infantry tactic.  The 'shower of rain' suggests periodic volleys, which tend to be associated with infantry; some will doubtless disagree, but the context in which this is mentioned is the context of a recognisably infantry fight, and I think that has to be the governing consideration.

This all began when the question arose of how well 'MI' archers performed against 'HI' foot.  This particular example suggests the archers can hold but will ultimately lose.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on September 10, 2019, 12:01:05 AM
Julian the Apostate used a simple system to evade Sassanid archery: he started his infantry advancing at a walk, then when the first enemy volley was released, they moved up to a quick walk (and the arrows landed behind them); for the next volley, as it released they stepped up to a slow jog, then for the next one a quick jog, by which time they were well on the way to closure and out of the indirect shooting 'beaten zone'.  For some reason, few armies seem to have used this elegant countermeasure.

Patrick, what is reference?  By the way, as I have come to believe with many things, the author may be assigning an intentional function to a side effect of the way men are constrained to move in groups.  If you want to maintain cohesion, and you do in the face of arrow fire, you need to ramp up your acceleration in this manner. That is not to say that it did not work in the manner described, but only that the "purpose" of the staged advance may not have been to throw off archery. Of course, a wily general knew how to harness such group effects and turn them into tactics.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 10, 2019, 09:17:48 AM
Patrick, what is reference?

Ammianus XXV.1.17:
To prevent the preliminary volleys of the archers from disrupting our ranks he advanced at the double and so ruined the effectiveness of their arrows.

I have inferred Julian's method from the slow start Nick mentions in XXIV.6.10 and the subsequent phrase in idem.11:

... the soldiers were freer from the danger of the arrows the more quickly they forced their way into the enemy's ranks.

I should add that the slow pace in XXXIV.6.10 was connected to skirmishers operating ahead of the legionary infantry, so my conclusion that speed was progressively ramped up would, if correct, apply only after the skirmishers had been pulled back - or if they were not deployed in the first place in the action mentioned in XXV.1.17 (alternative translation):

And in order that the onset of the bowmen might not throw our ranks into confusion, he advanced at a swift pace, and so ruined the effectiveness of the arrows.

The original Latin is:
Et ne sagittariorum procursus nostrorum cuneos disiectaret, illatis concitatius signis ...

'Concitatus' is the key word, to 'put into quick or violent motion'.  The stepping up of pace is not explicitly described, but would make eminent sense in the circumstances.

Quote
By the way, as I have come to believe with many things, the author may be assigning an intentional function to a side effect of the way men are constrained to move in groups.  If you want to maintain cohesion, and you do in the face of arrow fire, you need to ramp up your acceleration in this manner. That is not to say that it did not work in the manner described, but only that the "purpose" of the staged advance may not have been to throw off archery. Of course, a wily general knew how to harness such group effects and turn them into tactics.

A point worth considering; in this case, I would be inclined to believe that intention and action were for one and the same reason, if only because Ammianus, an officer himself, would have known what was said in the briefings.  However the point that formations did certain things for reasons of cohesion in particular circumstances is a very good one and well worth remembering for the future.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Erpingham on September 10, 2019, 10:24:55 AM
Although it wanders further off topic, I think we ought to note that others have pointed out a lack of any reference to a change in pace, rather than a single shift to higher speed, and have requested clarification on the passage where the Persians are said to use regular volleys.  I presume the word translated as "volleys" does actually mean that, rather than "discharge of arrows"?
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Duncan Head on September 10, 2019, 10:32:17 AM
Although it wanders further off topic, I think we ought to note that others have pointed out a lack of any reference to a change in pace, rather than a single shift to higher speed, and have requested clarification on the passage where the Persians are said to use regular volleys.  I presume the word translated as "volleys" does actually mean that, rather than "discharge of arrows"?

Ammianus XXV.1.17:
To prevent the preliminary volleys of the archers from disrupting our ranks he advanced at the double and so ruined the effectiveness of their arrows.

The Latin for this bit is Et ne sagittariorum procursus nostrorum cuneos disiectaret, which the Loeb translation at Lacus Curtius renders as "And in order that the onset of the bowmen might not throw our ranks into confusion". No explicit "volleys" here.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 10, 2019, 09:12:14 PM
The Latin for this bit is Et ne sagittariorum procursus nostrorum cuneos disiectaret, which the Loeb translation at Lacus Curtius renders as "And in order that the onset of the bowmen might not throw our ranks into confusion". No explicit "volleys" here.

Unless 'procursus sagittariorum' actually signified volleys ...

Procursus usually means an onset or sally or charge or similar (cf. Ammianus XX.11.18; XXIX.1.3); it is a curious word to use in connection with archers, who usually shot rather than stormed or sallied.  I wonder if, when used with archers, it actually means they volleyed.  Checking the six uses of 'procursus' in Ammianus reveals only this one use in connection with archers, so we have no comparison, confirmation or refutation, just a very unusual usage.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Jim Webster on September 10, 2019, 09:50:47 PM
This is one of those cases where you just wish for another example or two of the usage because as Patrick says, you can imagine it being a military term that soldiers would understand in context
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: PMBardunias on September 11, 2019, 11:03:27 PM
Patrick, what is reference?

Ammianus XXV.1.17:
To prevent the preliminary volleys of the archers from disrupting our ranks he advanced at the double and so ruined the effectiveness of their arrows.

I have inferred Julian's method from the slow start Nick mentions in XXIV.6.10 and the subsequent phrase in idem.11:

... the soldiers were freer from the danger of the arrows the more quickly they forced their way into the enemy's ranks.

I should add that the slow pace in XXXIV.6.10 was connected to skirmishers operating ahead of the legionary infantry, so my conclusion that speed was progressively ramped up would, if correct, apply only after the skirmishers had been pulled back - or if they were not deployed in the first place in the action mentioned in XXV.1.17 (alternative translation):

And in order that the onset of the bowmen might not throw our ranks into confusion, he advanced at a swift pace, and so ruined the effectiveness of the arrows.

The original Latin is:
Et ne sagittariorum procursus nostrorum cuneos disiectaret, illatis concitatius signis ...

'Concitatus' is the key word, to 'put into quick or violent motion'.  The stepping up of pace is not explicitly described, but would make eminent sense in the circumstances.


I am not sure I see the ramping up in the description. Perhaps it makes more sense that they marched up behind a screen of lights that obscured them, and then charged at the run.  Charging at speed would be more disruptive than ramping up in any case unless the archers had range markers in the beaten zone.
Title: Re: Classification of infantry - the return of the revenge of the extra medium foot!
Post by: Patrick Waterson on September 12, 2019, 08:30:40 PM
I am not sure I see the ramping up in the description. Perhaps it makes more sense that they marched up behind a screen of lights that obscured them, and then charged at the run.  Charging at speed would be more disruptive than ramping up in any case unless the archers had range markers in the beaten zone.

Could be, or it might be that having used the move-up-behind-skirmishers method in the first action Julian ditched this in favour of a more rapid advance in the second.  One consideration in my mind was that it was a very hot day (Ammianus XXV.1.18) and 200+ yards of uniformly fast jogging in armour might not be the ideal preliminary to an upcoming combat.