Author Topic: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh  (Read 582 times)

Erpingham

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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2021, 09:15:28 AM »
One can argue that a light or heavy chariot is suitable for charging infantry, just in different ways. Given that it is the horses that actually contact the infantry and knock them flat, a light chariot will easily bounce over their prone bodies - we see chariots running over prone foot in Egyptian art and Egyptian chariots are lightweight.

Not again  ::)

If a light chariot impacts a solid body of men, it will have an effect on the horses.  If they don't stumble, they will certainly slow down and if the formation is deep enough, grind to a halt.  Turning a chariot in a crowd would be very difficult, leaving crew and horses vulnerable in the middle of the enemy.  So, not one to try until your pretty sure the enemy are going to run away. 
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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2021, 01:35:59 PM »
Now Justin, if the spearmen can out last the archers and get away by night then how come at Hattin they did not just wait  for the evening and just stroll to the lake? How come at Carrhae the Romans morale cracked when the Parthians brought on the camels loaded with spare arrows?  The chariots have an enormous advantage, they can pick on the unshielded flank and rear of the infantry and  gradually grind it down. Think of Arsuf, eventually the Crusaders could take it no longer and had to do something, but if your own chariots are driven off then negotiating looks a better bet.
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Justin Swanton

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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2021, 04:17:34 PM »
True. Good point about Hattin and Carrhae.

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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2021, 07:42:30 PM »
Is Carrhae not an example where the infantry did indeed last until nightfall, despite the extra arrows. They left behind 4000 wounded and however many dead, but it was the death of Crassus and the continual pressure the next day which finally caused the Romans to break. Even then, Gaius Cassius Longinus and others led about 10000 off the field.
Taking a couple of days to destroy the enemy is likely a luxury which couldn't always be afforded.
In many cases, an army reaching a town - as the Romans did - would have been able to hole up without much fear of being successfully besieged.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2021, 07:51:10 PM by Swampster »
  • Peter Kershaw

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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2021, 08:38:23 PM »
Also, the ability to be profligate with the lives of horses varies massively over the centuries and from country to country.  New Kingdom Egyptians had to import pretty much everything needed for chariot warfare - not just most of the horses, given the relative infancy of domesticated breeding in such a hot climate, but also the different timbers needed for the chariots themselves.  One suspects, therefore, that they placed a somewhat different value on how expendable such assets were, compared to, say, an 18th or 19th century European cavalry commander, or even a Norman or Frankish knight.  (And they came close to losing in 1099 when they found that they had rather run out of horses by the time they reached Antioch and the critical phase of the crusade).  Furthermore, look at the immense time, and effort invested in training chariot teams, as detailed in Kikkuli's manual.  These are not assets you are going to drive into formed infantry, risking death or serious injury, unless it absolutely clinches victory.  The horses are quite literally worth incalculably more than common infantrymen...  they certainly get far better grain for a start!
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David Stevens

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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2021, 11:32:55 PM »
Peter, we should bear in mind who the infantry are. Chariot societies are aristocratic organisations. The top guys are being driven around and are expensively trained and supported. The infantry of the period are of a much lower social standing and likely had a much underdeveloped command  structure compared to that of Roman legions. They also have a lot less armour than the Romans.  We should expect them to be a lot less  resilient in the face of concentrated archery which goes on for hours.
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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2021, 09:18:23 AM »
Peter, we should bear in mind who the infantry are. Chariot societies are aristocratic organisations. The top guys are being driven around and are expensively trained and supported. The infantry of the period are of a much lower social standing and likely had a much underdeveloped command  structure compared to that of Roman legions. They also have a lot less armour than the Romans.  We should expect them to be a lot less  resilient in the face of concentrated archery which goes on for hours.
Roy
Remember, I didn't use Carrhae as an example :)
I don't think Hattin is a useful example of the ability to destroy an army with sustained archery either Thirst was the major issue. The prequel to Arsuf shows how a crusader army with suitable logistics could cope with sustained archery.

I don't think Hattin or Carrhae tell us much about the bronze age ability to withstand sustained archery - too many differences.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2021, 09:26:47 AM by Swampster »
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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2021, 02:27:57 PM »
I wonder whether the fact that the _only evidence for the Hittite extra man comes from a series of state propaganda reliefs devise by their enemies and depicting a single and a-typical event (which according to the Egyptian version was a Hittite defeat) doesn't tell us all we need to know about this innovation.

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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2021, 02:46:23 PM »
Not all that long after Kadesh, three-man chariot crews became standard. The Peleset are showing three-man chariot crews in the Medinet Habu reliefs of Djahy, less than a century later. Yet no-one goes on about "special circumstances and royal propaganda" there. I have never quite understood why people have this issue with the evidence for Kadesh. It seems plain to me. It is just possible that Kadesh was the experiment that was ancestral to all those Peleset, Neo-Hittite and Assyrian three-man chariot crews, I suppose.
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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2021, 03:28:40 PM »
Peter, actually I think that Hattin is quite a useful example of what happens to an army when its infantry are  abandoned by the mobile force and subjected to a long archery shoot by mounted opponents.  The key comparison the nature of the armies, both are composed of a social elite ,knights or  chariots, and once that has been beaten the opposing infantry are condemned to suffer casualties, pretty well without reply. If the infantry move they will become disordered and  vulnerable to charges, if they stand still then they have to be very high quality to hold together.  Isn’t there a hellenistic example where a pike phalanx surrenders once its supports are stripped away and it is surrounded by skirmishers?
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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2021, 05:30:12 PM »
Did the knights abandon the foot or the foot desert from the knights? Raymond broke out with a couple of hundred knights but Guy was fighting with others until the end, by which time the foot had gone.

Take away the desperation caused by two days' thirst and would the shooting had been sufficient? The morale effects of being surrounded and kept awake at night are also significant. I would agree that the crusaders could not just muscle their way past the mounted to get to the water, but this doesn't tell us that the shooting is what prevents it. I think that if the crusaders knew that the muslims would rely on shooting and withdrawing then this would encourage them to keep marching as the saracens would end up either being pressed against the lake or withdrawing to the sides - the threat of being charged from whatever direction kept the crusaders from advancing.

 As I said, the prelude to Arsuf showed the foot were effective at moving along despite the shooting. But as you said with Carrhae, these are not bronze age foot.
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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2021, 06:36:43 PM »
Abd as you said Peter, Richard has taken steps with his fleet an probably unit rotation, to ensure that the foot are fed and watered and supported by knights near them, both forbidding the foot from retreat and  keeping the horse archers at a distance.  Plus the sea provides a secure flank and marching South has the advantage of keeping the shield facing towards where the arrows are coming from.

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Re: Hittite Chariots at Kadesh
« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2021, 10:51:30 PM »
This would suggest that it is far more complicated than a force with plentiful arrows and mobility will be able to mow down a less mobile force and prevent it from moving away.
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