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Video: What were the chances of survival for the warriors in the forefront?
2023 Author: Seth Attwood | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 22:42
If you look at films of the historical genre, then the battles that took place in the Ancient World look very spectacular, bright. They were conducted harmoniously, all the actions of the soldiers were perfected and thought out. Infantrymen in armor and with protection in the form of shields in a dense, continuous layer attacked the enemy. Swords and spears were put forward. After that, the battle began.
What, in fact, were the chances of survival for those who went first into battle, and who were put in the first ranks by the commanders?
1. Unique phalanx - a universal approach
A phalanx is an organized soldier formation in the form of even, dense ranks, which is armed with spears. This is how battles were fought in the Ancient World. Thus, all armies, without exception, fought, including the Romans during the reign of the kings.
Only 3-4 rows were direct participants in the battle. Those behind them were in reserve. They replaced wounded comrades and those who were tired, put pressure on those in front, both physical and mental. This detachment pushed the front ranks forward and did not allow any of the soldiers to leave the battlefield, to retreat.
How successful the battle would be was directly dependent on the length of the battle formation and its depth. In the extended form, the phalanx provided the width of the general coverage. The deeper was the depth, the stronger was the onslaught.
The Greek standard version of the phalanx in depth consisted of eight rows. If the number of soldiers made it possible, the formation deepened to twelve rows, and in some cases there were 25.
If the two warring phalanxes were equal, then the winner from the battle was the one in which there were more experienced, motivated and protected warriors. In this regard, the most reliable and, naturally, the strongest were always ahead.
2. What were in the forefront of the loss
Oddly enough, but those who were in front had the same chances of staying alive as the rest of the warriors. In fact, in those days, the battle was fought a little differently than what is shown on the screen. In ancient times, such skirmishes quickly ended. How everything would end, it was possible to predict even before the battle began. It was enough to estimate the number of the phalanx and the weapons of the soldiers. The deeper the phalanx, the faster it coped with a rival, for whom it was not so dense and numerous. As a result, the enemy was forced to flee from the battlefield.
The warriors of the first ranks were usually equipped with greaves, shoulder pads, breastplates and shields, which were wide enough. All this gave people the opportunity to withstand ten to fifteen minutes of the battle. After this time, the logical end of the collision was approaching.
If the rivals' phalanxes were equal in strength, the situation was somewhat different. The first rows, pushed by the others, fell into a crush. Both sides were so closely pressed against each other that there was simply no way to fight. With short interruptions, such clashes could continue for several days in a row. The victory went to that phalanx, in which the commander was more talented.
P. Krenz, a scientist from England, gave an assessment of such battles. In his opinion, the victorious phalanx suffered small losses - no more than five percent of the total number of soldiers. The losses of the vanquished were about fourteen percent. The probability of not surviving the first collision is forty percent. In addition, mostly people did not die in battle, but after its completion.
The vanquished lost people while the victors persecuted them. And those who won were dying from their injuries and possible infections, which were common at the time.
3. Roman legion
The fact that the ancient Roman army was so successful was influenced by many factors. First of all, the military reform played its significant role in this. The Roman legions had a different tactics of warfare, manipular, which differed significantly from the one already described - the phalanx.
The spears were no longer the main ones. The scutum, a special tower shield, came to the fore. The absence of a phalanx gave the soldiers an advantage - maneuverability, which is very important. In addition, the army began to be divided into maniples. That is, different divisions have gained independence in their actions.
But even in this case, the onslaught remained the key to success. The chances of victory increased depending on the force of the legion pushing the enemy. In the event of a protracted battle in the ranks, a replacement took place. Those who were in front, on the whistle, went behind the backs of the standing soldiers, and the back rows came to the fore.
Recruits were always placed in front of the legion. If after the battle the warrior remained alive, then in the next battle he was already placed in the 2nd row, then in the 3rd, etc. This type of tactics existed for three hundred years. During this time, many thousands of battles were fought, in which not only the entire army remained alive, but also many newcomers. Survival did not depend on the row in this case.
It was all about the organization of a particular unit, how well-coordinated the actions of the entire composition were, and, naturally, from the experience and skills of the person who was to the right of the legionnaire. It was this man who protected the warrior from blows with his own shield. If a soldier was injured, he was immediately replaced by a soldier from the 2nd row. The biggest losses were after the battle was over. People died from injuries, disease, hunger and desertion.
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