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Weapons and Tactics / Re: What was the range of an ancient javelin?
« Last post by Erpingham on Today at 10:52:04 AM »
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So at least sometimes, maximum range is the tactically preferred range.  It depends upon your system - and, I would suggest, your opponent.

A fair point, though the Towton example can be explained by archers advancing to an expected engagement distance rather than absolute maximum range.

The opposition point is interesting.  Between missile troops, closing to a more effective range means your opponent is also more effective.  You might be happier closing to a short distance of a body of close order infantry without missile weapons than with a line of fellow missile troops.
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But was it worth engaging a target with massed shooting in this way?  You had only a limited ammunition supplies, so it may be better to reserve them for ranges when you could be more certain about hitting something and your shots to penetrate armour.  This essentially Mick's point - just because you can engage at maximum range doesn't mean you did - tactically preferred range could have been different.  This doesn't mean that the thonged javelin's range advantage wasn't used, just that we cannot assume that everyone threw/shot missiles at maximum range and we need some battlefield evidence to show what happened to set alongside our experiments.

Towton, AD 1461.

Both sides seem to have unloaded their arrow inventory at maximum range at the beginning of the battle (or at least the Lancastrians appear to have done so).  Snowy weather and a cunning Yorkist commander ensured the Lancastrians shot to no effect, but the interesting part is the arrow storm at extreme range at the commencement of the battle.

So at least sometimes, maximum range is the tactically preferred range.  It depends upon your system - and, I would suggest, your opponent.
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Weapons and Tactics / Re: What was the range of an ancient javelin?
« Last post by Erpingham on Today at 10:30:52 AM »
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"A longbow shot could kill at perhaps 250 yards"

If you are in defence and are fool ,I am sure of this.
Not only a man, all in your unit will be destroyed.

But if you move quickly and attack the enemy archers  and if they dont' have support from others troops,
and  you be able to avoid the volley the enemy is lost.

Not wanting to divert us to talking about longbows but this does show us some of the issues.  Longbowmen had a reasonable chance of hitting a mass of men at 250yds and some of those shots would hit someone, and some of those people would not be well-enough protected to avoid harm.  But was it worth engaging a target with massed shooting in this way?  You had only a limited ammunition supplies, so it may be better to reserve them for ranges when you could be more certain about hitting something and your shots to penetrate armour.  This essentially Mick's point - just because you can engage at maximum range doesn't mean you did - tactically preferred range could have been different.  This doesn't mean that the thonged javelin's range advantage wasn't used, just that we cannot assume that everyone threw/shot missiles at maximum range and we need some battlefield evidence to show what happened to set alongside our experiments.

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Army Research / Re: Ancient Egyptian clothing colours
« Last post by Patrick Waterson on Today at 10:30:47 AM »
This is why some people who claim a wool allergy may be able to happily wear other animal fibres like alpaca and cashmere, which tend to be finer than wool. Wool from the fine wool breeds, such as cormo, merino, and Targhee can have fine enough fibres that they won't upset those sensitive to coarser wool."[/color]

So your Egyptians not liking wool could be easily explained

Good; thanks, Jim.  This would indeed explain why Hori was taunting Amenemope with the prospect of discomfort under a woolly cloak/blanket.

I suppose that in those cultures where wool would be the main garment fibre, one would be exposed to it from birth and soon develop a resistance to it. Or (linking to the Telamon thread) perhaps that is the real reason for Gallic nudity :)

This opens up a whole new potential chapter in Celtic psychology and sociology ... ;)
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I know the Crusader army tended to be rather small but I think 9 blokes trying to reconquer the Holy Land is placing rather a lot of faith in Divine Intervention...

Obviously they had miscalculated the figure representational scale.
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Ancient and Medieval History / Re: Romano-British rabbit found
« Last post by Patrick Waterson on Today at 10:12:29 AM »
If the Welsh were familiar with the rabbit and the Anglo-Saxons were not, it does imply a Roman connection - unless of course the Welsh word was simply adapted from the Normans.

I wonder whether the humble rabbit was represented in texts relating to Roman times perserved in Welsh monasteries, and retained its designation and presence in Welsh through that route.  Conjectures, conjectures ...
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Effective range is the range at which shooting has an effect (other than allowing troops to fight in the shade).  Thus, at Agincourt, the English archers were able to stir the French into attacking with flight arrows shot at over 300 yards and then inflict on their slow massed formations sufficient casualties and disordering effects to slow them, disrupt them, funnel them towards the English men-at-arms and just incidentally leave numbers of bodies lying in the mud.

The point is that battles are fought by formations and weapons are part of a weapon system; what we need to assess for military simulation purposes is the effect of a weapon system when used against a formation.

Regarding missile weapons, we need to assess: at what range are they effective against particular formations?  And the answer will vary with the target formation and with circumstances.

At Falkirk in AD 1298, the English (and Welsh) archers shot at unspecified ranges to kill men and disrupt schiltron formations in the Scottish army.  They inflicted heavy casualties and weakened the formations to the point where a charge by the English knights was able to smash each schiltron and win the battle.

At Halidon Hill (AD 1333) and Homildon Hill (AD 1402) an English army was able to do the same to an attacking Scottish army, mainly on foot.  Similar results were achieved at Crecy (AD 1346) and Agincourt (AD 1415).

Conversely, at Bannockburn (AD 1314) and Patay (AD 1429) English archers were swept away by a cavalry charge.  As Mariano notes, opponents who can attack rapidly are at much less risk from archers and will take fewer losses.  The classic archers' counter is to erect an obstacle (pits, stakes, etc.) to slow, disarray and perhaps even halt the attacker.  Failing that, add a troop type (polearm, pike) which can stop a cavalry charge and work in close cooperation with them.

So ranges are effective relative to particular formations and troop types; longbowmen will disrupt and repulse slow-moving cavalry but are vulnerable to fast-moving cavalry wearing exactly the same armour at exactly the same ranges.  A longbow arrow might not penetrate plate arour at more than 30 yards, but a rapid blizzard of longbow arrows will affect cavalry at 300 yards (if only because injury to horses induces the knights to charge).

Against other skirmishers, velites are not going to litter the field with bodies; they will inflict some casualties, lose some, and then retire, by which time the rest of the army is warmed up and ready to fight.  As Mark says, their usual contribution was mainly to morale.

But at Telamon, they found they were rapidly thinning the ranks of the Gaesati; they were having a disproportionate effect against a particularly vulnerable target.  So they were kept at it until they had effectively shot the Gaesati to pieces.

Similarly, when using a pilum, individual accuracy is less important than the ability to hit a massed target.  There is nevertheless some element of skill involved; our account of Munda in Caesar's (Hirtius'?) Spanish War notes that when the (inexperienced) Pompeian troops threw their pila they inflicted few losses, but when the experienced Caesarians threw, their opponents 'went down in heaps'.  An important part of defending against a pila volley, as in Livy's account of Silanus' operation against the Iberian iusta legio in 207 BC, seems to have been the crouch-down-and-raise-shield action; if Pompey's recruits omitted to do this (perhaps wanting to watch their pila landing) it could accoutn for the disproportionate casualties.

In conclusion, wargame design is not about 'book' ranges so much as the range at which a particular weapons system has an effect on a particular formation over a certain timescale.  Against massed formations, one can use missile weapons at extreme range and still be effective.  Or one can cause losses but without appreciable effect on the formation.  Against skirmishing formations, losses will typically be low and fairly even unless one side has a distinct superiority in experience, technique or both.  Against armoured formations, even an shower of ineffectual missiles can cause a slowing down and raising of shields which inhibits other activity (a 'suppressed' result, as it were).  Against unarmoured formations, few missile types will be ineffective even at the longest ranges; they key will be the effect they have on the formation's cohesion and behaviour.

Wargaming is ultimately about systems meeting systems.Trying to hit a dodging individual with a pilum at 15 yards would be a futile exercise.  Trying to hit a slowly advancing enemy formation at 30-50 yards (being uphill adds to range) would be so easy that the entire enemy front rank would end up with pierced shields (Helvetii, 58 BC).  Effective ranges depend upon your target and your technique much more than on the modern re-enactor's individual efforts, which merely establish a baseline for inexperienced troops unfamiliar with their weapons and not practised in their system.
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Ancient and Medieval History / Re: Romano-British rabbit found
« Last post by Erpingham on Today at 09:33:34 AM »


I suppose it may be significant that cony and rabbit are both words from the continent, the Anglo-Saxons not needing to leave us a word for them.

Although this letter claims Welsh had a word for rabbit. It is possible that the word does come from post-classical Latin. However, I think the writer may have missed the connection with the word coney from Anglo-Norman and we'd need to see some use of the word prior to the Norman conquest.
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Players Seeking Players / Re: app for finding gamers
« Last post by Mark G on Today at 08:05:06 AM »
It’s the URL broken into words
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Weapons and Tactics / Re: What was the range of an ancient javelin?
« Last post by Mark G on Today at 08:04:01 AM »
This is the key point until you reach high explosive.

There is maximum range
There is accurate range
And there is effective range.

When looking at weapons thrown at armour or shields, it is not important whether you can thrown to maximum range. 
It is not even important whether you can throw and hit at a long range.
 Unless you are only intending on being a nuisance (such as Asian long flight arrows), or are simply hoping to make your first time on the battlefield and then go home, the only time you would commit your ammunition is when you expect your missile to have a chance of defeating the shield or armour.

With a weapon like a pila, some tests have even been made to show this.
The range is very close, 15 m rather than the 50 at which the target can be hit.

For young men being introduced to battle, they are fine to throw at long range, and retire.  I always expect their purpose on the field to be more for morale anyway, and only after a long campaign would they be expected to fight properly I think.

Discuss effective range not long range or accurate range.
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