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[freeciv-data] Re: [Freeciv-Dev] Re: Artillery and sea units (PR#1476)

[freeciv-data] Re: [Freeciv-Dev] Re: Artillery and sea units (PR#1476)

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To: Raahul Kumar <raahul_da_man@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: rms@xxxxxxx, dspeyer@xxxxxxxxxxx, freeciv-data@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [freeciv-data] Re: [Freeciv-Dev] Re: Artillery and sea units (PR#1476)
From: Thanasis Kinias <tkinias@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 25 May 2002 11:45:39 -0700
Reply-to: freeciv-data@xxxxxxxxxxx

scripsit Raahul Kumar:
> --- Thanasis Kinias <tkinias@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > scripsit Raahul Kumar:
> >  
> > > You are probably right that phalanx should enjoy a bonus against
> > > horsemen, but most definately not knights. The knights of the Middle
> > > Ages would probably kill phalanxes, but not pikemen. It's also the
> > > case that pikemen are better armed(Iron tipped vs Bronze). Iron
> > > weapons vs bronze always ends with the death of the bronze armed.
> > 
> > Don't overestimate material technology!  There were plenty of battles in
> > American history where native forces with neolithic technology -- that
> > is, no metalworking whatsoever -- defeated foes armed with muskets.
> Interesting. I'm not sure that is true. As far as I was aware, the battles in
> America's went violently against the neolithic tech. Cortez, all the Spanish
> adventurers etc. It's certainly the case that the iron armed peoples inflicted
> many and massive defeats on the bronze armed. It's like claiming based on
> Isandalwhana that spears can defeat guns.

Well, spears _can_ defeat guns, given the right circumstances.  Now, I'm
not talking about a modern infantry unit with machine guns, mortars,
etc., but a unit with flintlock muskets or similar.  (Remember that in
the Napoleonic wars, battles were decided by bayonet charges, and
cavalry caused great damage with sabres and lances.)

If you have a poorly-trained, demoralized unit of musketeers in
difficult terrain, they are going to be thrashed by a formation of
motivated, well-led light infantry, even if the infantry have only bows
and flint-tipped arrows.

The campaigns I was thinking of, BTW, were North American.  I'm not an
American historian, so I can't give you names and dates, but I remember many
battles where colonial militia forces were badly defeated by natives in
places like New York, Ohio, etc.

> > In related terms, consider the victories that Israeli pilots scored in
> > the early days, flying obselete prop-driven fighters against modern (for
> > the time) jets.
> Hmm. How about the massive victories scored by the US against Iraq? And it
> seems to me that the Israeli's normally had a tech edge in their wars against
> the Arabs. 

The massive victories the U.S. scored were not due merely, or even mostly,
to greater firepower.  The U.S. won through undermining the morale,
communications, and supply of the Iraqi forces, so that when the battle
was joined there was minimal resistance.  Dupuy actually got a lot of
attention from this, because a simple comparison of firepower showed
that the U.S. should have lost most of the engagements, but he could
reproduce the actual results and amazingly low U.S. casualty levels by
accounting for the `soft' factors.

I could also cite France in 1940, where the French aircraft, tanks, and
artillery were of generally superior quality -- and often quantity --
compared with the Germans.  The `soft' factors of leadership,
organization, communications, morale, etc., made the difference.  Take a
look at the specs for a Pz II -- those little buggers were a joke, but
Germany conquered Poland, France, and most of Western Europe with them.

[much snippage]
> Also, Romans were the first to employ modern leadership tactics. They
> promoted people based on merit! I cannot emphasize what a huge
> difference that is. They were also the first to institute an army wide
> training program. Far better than any other available at the time.
> Only the Mongols had a tougher training program, and it certainly
> wasn't organised institutionally.
> They moved quicker, could go places where phalanx couldn't, used more missile
> weapons(javelins), had better fortifications and a lot better leadership.

This is really my point.  The difference is all in the `soft' factors,
not in the material technology.  The Romans didn't win through superior
metallurgy (as I recall, it was Syria which was known for its steel, not
Rome) but through superior employment of what they had.

In re Freeciv, the point is that until you get Musketeers, improvements
in the quality of infantry come from better organization and employment,
not any advance in material technology.  Of course steel pike tips are
better than fire-hardened wood, but a Swiss pike unit with fire-hardened
wood is better than a bunch of French peasants rounded up and given the
best steel weapons money could buy.

Thanasis Kinias
Web Developer, Information Technology
Graduate Student, Department of History
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A.

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul

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