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Started by Jim Webster, August 20, 2023, 07:59:01 PM

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Back in the day, pitching in Greeks against Persians and the pike phalanx in action, fellow wargamers helped to 're-enact' a battle like Arbela, with soldiers heaving forward in tight packed masses and occasionally losing their spears as they impaled their opponents.
What happened when a soldier lost his pike?
In our test, the easiest thing to do was reach back to the soldier behind you and take his spear, so the pikes are being passed forward to the front like a conveyor belt. Otherwise you start to get gaps. What do you think? Is that really possible when the troops are crushing forward? 


I think we might ask whether it was that important that every man in the front rank had a spear at this point (no pun intended).  When you've got to the breaking spears stage, you are probably so close, you can use your sword and rely for cover from the guy behind you who hasn't broken his spear.  We might also consider whether it would be practical to be swapping weapons actually while fighting. Neither of these objections would apply in a pause in the fighting, if you allow such in your thoughts about ancient melees, though.


Simon, can I just pick up upon a point that you made about Frederick the Great. Its not strictly true that shooting was the main tactic for Frederick's infantry.He certainly did improve rates of fire initially, biput his thought did develop.  Later in his wars he prepared targets with his 12 pounder artillery and then advanced his grenadiers with muskets shouldered. Tge enemy would break on ir before the bayonet charge. What Frederick was understanding was that opponents could be broken not just through casualties inflicted by fire, but by the impetus imparted to their minds by preparation and by the rapid advance of a disciplined ordered body of determined men. Fire in this period was not good enough in the period that such a charge was in range  to stop the charge. Ancients is different because the psychology of the opponent is different, he is expecting the impact and hand to hand contact.