Sunday, October 27, 2013

Greek Battle on Mount Tamaulipas

This is also a riddle. Where do the warriors com from

October 27, 2013
The Greek Hoplite and Phalanx

The shield wall developed in the West from Viking beginnings had counter parts in earlier times, that of the Roman Legion and the Greek Phalanx.   Depicted above are two Greeks at the Battle of Mount Tamaulipas.  The Greek Phalanx was superseded by the Macedonian Phalanx featuring a long pike and losing the Hoplon (round shield above).   The highly flexible Roman Legion were equipped with a spear that could be thrown or held, and square shield curved outward plus helmet and body armor.

The Greek Hoplite carried a heavy convex round shield called the Hoplon, a spear, a Corinthian helmet , greaves for the shin and bracers for the forearms.   And that was all they wore in the earlier days, later they added a breast plate and protection for the shoulders and thighs.  The images in this issue of Templar Militaris a loin cloth was added for the demure.

In these images of one particular moment in time where both warriors are a half step from effective stabbing distance.   Each has the same equipment and the poses are the same except for where the spears are aimed, eyes ball and the other balls.   The grip on the shield is extended down and toward the threat with the arms held straight which we might call the Straight Greek Grip.   This grip also allows the warrior to adapt a Clench or Strong Grip found in the Shield Wall of the Time of the Temple.

Note the red square which shows the straight Greek grip on the shield

Camera placed directly under duel and shows the straight arm grip by both warriors
Image labeled as Iliad shows both warriors with Greek straight arm grip 
There is a long and tough relationship between the two communities


The crouch kills any chance of movement forward or back, and the couched spear has no power from the seated position

In this case the Persian has both hands on one side of his eyeline (nose) which weakens both arms and balance.  :Leonidas is carrying his spear too low for full torque and his shield would do better in the straight or clenched grip. If so the Persian would go alpha over teakettle on collision.

From a wooden frieze showing the warrior on the left using his leverage to push the other's shield to cross the other's hands on the same side of the eyeline

The historical record of original drawings and art of the time shows the “Greek” grip even into Roman Times

To follow:  The Medieval Hand at War
Bear Fight by Gordon S Fowkes.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


The Temple and the Tactical Imperative.
The Shield Wall was an infantry formation unique to Western Medieval forces of the Crusade Era and to the Roman Republican and Imperial infantry.   The shields of the Shield Wall were heavy and large to protect the spearman and the gap between another whose offensive firepower was delivered over the shield.  The primary grip was close to the top and horizontally so that the weight of the shield was carried by the left shoulder by the left arm in a tight “Strong Arm” grip.
 Absorb.  The tactical imperative used in by the defense against the Fist (warhead, blade, blunt end) is to absorb the shock or dissipate it. This also applies to castle walls and fox holes.

The “Strong Arm” grip held close to the shoulder also is reflected on the placement of grips on the shields themselves.  At least one horizontal grip or handle is placed close to the upper edge of the shield and sometimes another horizontal handle across the forearm nearer to the center of the shield depending on size.

The Shield Wall as the name states is a wall that doesn’t or shouldn’t move.   This would risk a gap in the front ranks which is a very bad thing to happen to the infantry.  Once the overlapping shields expose the fighters behind, they become vulnerable.    The English (Anglo-Saxon) shield wall stood on Senlac Hill for twelve hours before the wall was cracked by a Saxon contingent that thought it was Plunder Time and went after some Normans moving to reorganize, reform, and return.  Some say this was a feint, and perhaps it was.

The Bayeux Tapestry shows what happened after

This sort of indiscipline was the death knell of many a battle for whom lost their cohesion. One of the distinguishing tactics of the descendants of the steppe way of war was the bait and switch by fast and flexible forces, usually mounted archers of which more will be told in a following edition.  The bait and switch tempted Crusader knights to do their specialty, the Charge with Couched Lance,  The light horse would evade and withdraw until the Knights cohesion was lost, horses blown, and a gap between them and their infantry. 

The Battle of Liegnitz in 1241 as depicted in the war game link above (8:11 with music) illustrates how the Mongols destroyed a Western Army resulting in the conquest of most of what was Russian at the time. It was not until Ivan the Terrible was the damage undone.

The Tactical Imperatives of that battle give show the Mongols had the right stuff, at the right place and time.  The only Imperatives the West had was the resilience and armor of the mounted knight to parry and absorb Mongol hits.  Over the centuries that followed, the Russians and Poles developed light and middle weight cavalry to be able to evade and return to worry the cohesion of opponents East and West. 

See also maps at of Battle of Mohai Heath:      BATTLE OF MOHI HEATH 1241

To redress imbalances between the heavy mounted knight with power and speed, but not much flexibility and the heavy armored infantry with the ability to absorb but not the speed to evade or duck has been addressed continually down through the ages.   In the Crusade Era, this meant fast and light both mounted and on foot.  These forces were usually have weapons with some range and/or speed. 

In the Battle of Liegnitz, mounted crossbowmen were used to add the speed of the horse with effective long range firepower.  Crossbowmen, mounted or not suffer from a slow rate of fire.  Eastern forces used mounted long range bowmen on horseback, but they dismounted to fire as was the case with the US Cavalry in the Old West and with Mechanized Infantry before the Bradley.  The default Steppe warrior and descendants used a short range rapid light arrow or bolt from horseback. They could evade Western spears and arrows to pour enough arrows to confuse and trip.

The Battle of Crecy between England and France over who was who in 1346 shortly after the Crusade Era in the Levant shows the trade offs between crossbow and longbow.   The French were so eager to smash the English that they deployed the Genoese crossbowmen before their wagons with their big shields, the ground mounted pavise behind which archers and crossbowmen conducted business.

Caught in the open by English Archers in range and with a very high rate of fire, decimated the Genoese. They started to back up, but the flower of French chivalry rode them down, and into the mud the knights did ride.

Light Infantry Screening Force (Flank, Front, Rear and Gap)

The Bayeux Tapestry shows infantry being used in ways not often recognized, that of flank and “gap” screening missions.  Traditional doctrine and practice recognizes Reconnaissance and Security as two forms to address larger or more dangerous forces.   There are differences in the mission. 

Security Forces orient on the force being protected, while reconnaissance orients on the enemy force.  Two security force missions are the norm, the blocking force and the screening force.  The difference is firepower. Both try to force the enemy to deploy for battle early and slow them down. Normally, these forces are entitled by Front. Flank, or Rear screening or blocking forces.  There are also gaps to be screened and/or protected that are not commonly labeled as such. I use the term “Gap” to describe the Guard or Screening mission (Gap Screen or Gap Guard).   

Screening forces were used by the Normans at Hastings as depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry as archers running along between two groups of Knights on horseback.  Archers and light infantry with small round shield held with a center grip are seen as very small in the margins of the Tapestry.

The Tactical Imperatives leveraged in Security Missions include holding initiative pertaining to the eyes and the brain, while being able to force the other side to slow down, get cautious, but unable to stand and fight for long 

The Medieval 2 Total War (HASTINGS IT IS NOT)rendition show a vigorous but completely erroneous rendition of the arms, equipment, tactics and techniques. The game shows both sides with round shields held with Center Grip, whereas both sides in the Tapestry have the kite shield and use the Strong Arm Grip.   Both sides are shown the sword as the primary line infantry weapon but held in a “couched” position (adopted decades after the battle). The net result as shown in the game (closer look) some spears are protruding through the shields.  This was an error I made in cross checking what worked.

The same rules and roles of combat in the Crusade Era apply to all of the after.  That which shifts with technology, mission, enemy, terrain and the cultures involved, are the Tactical Imperative. 


The Archer: Tactical Imperatives become active when at least one side gets “in range” the other with at least one weapons system.  “Range” and “Speed” are the two sides of the sandwich. The Tactical Milieu is the mix of Imperatives.   In the Crusade Era that meant the fast moving light cavalry or light footed infantry plus the ranges of their weapons against any enemy force that is out of range of those who are. Crusade Era maximum ranges of weaponry were in hundreds of yards and the distance cavalry could close. 

In close battle, which differs from close order battle because the enemy is close.  The most effective ranges were less than arm’s length plus the range of the weapon.  That put the spear ahead of the sword, and the javelin and thrown axe ahead of either.  But it is the Archer that opens the tactical imperatives for the dismounted. They are usually first to close the range with the enemy deadly enough to stop walking and to get ready to fight.

No one has found written records (firing tables) for medieval archery, yet the revival of the bow for hunting and sport does provide comparable data, giving modern steel versus bone and wood. Firing tables or comparisons of the maximum effective range of a rifle versus a bow and arrow on point targets are interesting stories, but in close order battle is against a crowded foe that covers a football pitch at  shoulder to shoulder distance apart.  Engagement by bow, arrow, crossbow and bolt were against area type targets much in the same way machineguns are deployed.

Thus the use of the machine gun against area targets applies as well to other rapid firing ranged weapons with regard to the ground and the enemy.

The definition of “maximum range” depends on the shape and size of the target.  Archery is closer to firing a machine-gun which has a “beaten zone” in which is defined in part by the Circular Area of Probability (CEP), the shape and size of the target, and the azimuth laterally and in depth from the firing position.     The optimum target for a machine gun is enfiladed, the long axis of the target is the same as the gun-target line.  Since the machine-gun is a rapid fire weapon, the beaten zone is moved left and right to cover targets of width.  As did the Archer.

The archery equivalent of a beaten zone has been tested in what have been called “Flight Archery” in which the range of the arrows counted more than the targets.   The Turks had the reputation as the best in this category with ranges up to 800 yards.  Considering the most common targets in the Crusade Era were massed targets engaged with massed archers which suggests an effective range out to 300-400 yards/meters depending on the bow and the armor on the targets

There has been a long standing argument about the performance of the longbow versus the crossbow.  The biggest difference is that the crossbow can be combat effective with a couple of weeks training, the long bow takes years.  The Crossbow shoots in a flatter trajectory at a higher velocity, with a point blank rage of 70 yards, and angled up to 45 degrees can reach 350 yards.A Crossbow is extremely slow to reload compared to any bow.  


Mounted Archery suffered from reduced accuracy and range which was acceptable depending on the speed of the mount.   This trade off between speed, armor, and firepower is at the heart of modern tanks design and equally applicable to Medieval times for both mounted and dismounted soldiery.  The M1 US Tank was the first to use gun stabilization so as to fire on the move.  The British and Russians of my day in the hatch preferred the move and shoot. While the Germans and the US was stop and shoot. The US Cavalry in the Old West could charge with pistol and sword or dismount to fire with their carbines or rifles.  The choice was largely dictated by the ground, relative speed, and armaments.  So Archers and Crossbow were often mounted but dismounted to fire on the militaries of this era.

The typical Turkish and Asian mode was to shoot on the move at a higher rate but with a lower range and penetration.

The Mongols, Turks, and their predecessors, the Scythians of the Steppes had the control of who moved at whose initiative.   With the exception of enemies able to block the movement of Steppe horses, by fortification, shield and/or spear wall, or obstacles natural or man made.

Japanese Yabusame mounted archery competition in Japan calls for precision shots at three targets ten meters away at the gallop over a 225 meter course.   The Steppe tradition included close range distances with a lot of arrows at the gallop. Some fired more than one small arrow at the same time.   This was the sort of archery faced by Templar forces, particularly noted in the Battle of Arsuf.

The Steppe and Asian archer uses a distinctly different way of handling the bow and the arrow.  The Asian fires his arrow on the thumb side (right) of the bow and uses a thumb grip on the arrow. The Western archer fires on the finger side (left) using three fingers to steady the arrow and pull the bowstring to the rear.  IMHO, the reason for the thumb side Asian draw is to facilitate shooting to the left without jabbing the horse in the neck with the bow lilted clockwise. 
Other tactical differences of strategic and operational significance. 

The Western armies of the Crusade era differed in a small number of competing arrays.  The Western knight’s charge with couched lance was formidable and not equaled in the East.  There were heavily armored forces in Islam and East, including lamellar armor for the horse.  Unlike the West their lances were carried much like a quarterback in American Football just before the pass. This method is the predominant one in the Bayeux Tapestry.

One comparative advantage to Muslim and Byzantine forces of a wide array of light forces which normally do not close with the main Crusader defensive Shield Walls, but a series of pin pricks to the point that one report in the running battle of Arsuf of the effectiveness of Western forces said that some Crusader infantrymen had up to ten arrows stuck in the mail and padding and continued to march. 

Link to Youtube with Total War rendition of the battle (9.05)  BATTLE OF ARSUF (Click here)
At the running battle of the Third Crusade between Richard I and Saladin between Acre and the port of Jaffa which was the optimum location for logistics support of operations in and around Jerusalem. The heavy infantry of a slowly moving shield wall (which is unusual for walls) that protected the horses from the rain of arrows from fast moving light archers.  The tactical intent of Saladin was to invite the Crusaders to make a charge that he could evade and duck until the steam ran out of the horses, then to charge with his own heavy cavalry to run down a weakened shield wall.

It didn't work out that well, when the Hospital had had enough of slings and arrows, and ordered a charge, as the Shield Wall parted (passage of lines). King Richard knew that this was the time to put all down, and ordered the other orders, Temple as well, and chased Saladin out of town.
There are two questions before the next piece in released:

1.        How do the spear man reverse the spear from thumb side to pinky side towards the steel when in the front line?

2.       How does an archer run and shoot when enemy is in front?  Twist and shoot?


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Open Battle in Close Order Formation


 There is very little written about how medieval warfare was fought at the small unit and individual level.  There are legions of books about how the units maneuvered but nothing about what amounted to mounted and dismounted drill that would allow warriors from different cultures and tactical systems be able to be integrated on arrival right on the eve of battle. 

Recent recovery of manuscripts written as early as a century after the Burning are a generation or two of evolution and development of arms and armor, and associated tactics, operations and strategies.  In short, that evolution was a reaction of the increased effectiveness of the Infantry honed in battle with the Saracen i n the Levant.   And the loss of good horses and horsemen due to the rising cost of armor, particularly plate. That in turn required bigger pikes for smaller shields until only the buckler remained.

These manuals, available on line at the Association of Renaissance Martial Arts (ARMA) at show a different tactical operating environment (TOE) in the tradeoffs between Armor, Protection and Mobility between walkers and riders. The Tactical Imperatives schema is a more detailed way to analyze the tradeoffs.

I recommend starting with a study of the Bayeux Tapestry which shows certain tactical innovations that the re-enactors and Hollywood have missed. 

  Find one on line as notice how the shield is being held by the Norman Knights on horseback.  It looks like the Corporate Coat Clutch except that the shield is controlled by the left forearm.

 The handles on shields intended for use in the Norman, Viking, and Western European shield walls are horizontally aligned with the ground, snug inside the curve of the shield, where the clench fist is a few inches from the edge to hold the shield close to the chin.  The elbow is directly under the left fist with the left forearm tight against the biceps.  This is true during the 11th and 12th Century and most of the 13th.   The exception to the vertical forearm is on mounted knights later where an angle was necessary for the rider to hold the reins.

Arn the Cuman shows the Cross Gut Grip vs the Stong Arm Grip

Throw, Stab or Stick?

 Another item to note is that the Mounted Norman Knights are holding their spears in what looks like they are about to throw the spear.   That option was used during this time frame, but that is not what the Normans are doing here.  This is a standoff overhand stab.

  The spear is being held in the last quarter of it’s’ length too far back to control the throw. In other sources, I found a few examples of the rider stabbing a foot soldier, hang onto the spear and let the forward motion of the horse pull the spear out.  This is also found in the Middle East and Eastern Europe where the couched lance is rare.  This calls for considerable skill in being able to stab someone or horse or foot with a grip that allows two thirds of more of the weight of the spear in front.

Throw, Stab or Stick?

The Shield Wall 
Experiments with PoserPro2012 to recreate problems of formation formation

The Strong Arm Wrestle Grip in the Infantry forward ranks in the Shield Wall as done by the Angles, Saxons, and Normans is critical to maintaining an unbroken wall of shields. The Shield Wall was an import from the Vikings as all of the above came from Scandinavia and Northern Germany.  The name “Norman” means

“Northman” or Norseman”.   The boss (metal bump) on the front of many Norse shields covers the handle used to secure the shield to the gunwales of the Viking long ship.

By definition, the Shield Wall is a wall over to top of which those behind engaged those before.  As below, the weaponry between the shields to fight those in front means gaps and cracks in the line. 

An early experiment on Shield Walls
 Neither is this:
Copied from Images from Wargaming games

The left hand holds the shield so that the right half of the shield covers the warriors’ chest and abdomen.  The gap between soldiers “shoulder to shoulder” is covered by the shield carried by the warrior on the right. The gentlemen are carrying their shields in the ever popular Gut Clutch useful as that is the most likely outcome. While the dexterity of both hands may be retained, the total strength of both arms and the upper body are weakened.

 Battles of Hastings and Stamford Bridge  1066

 The Saxon line on Senlac Hill show overlapping shields which reoccur in war like the Greek Phalanx, and the Roman Legion who locked shields together. They had just defeated Harald Hardrada, last of the Viking Kings at Stamford Bridge almost to Scotland, and speed marched down to meet William at Hastings.  Despite the fatigue that Anglo Saxon army was, the shield wall on Senlac hill held for twelve hours.  Then someone started to chase what looked like a retreating Norman force, but wasn’t.

The Saxons held Senlac Hill for Twelve hours in an era where less than an hour was the norm

 Notice the array of spears in the Saxon position, they look like quills on a porcupine, no sword or spear goes between overlapping shields.  Therefore, how did warriors behind a wall fight the enemy charging at then? Answer: they fought over the shields with spears held in a stabbing down position. Swords were a sidearm and limited to periods where the wall wobbled.  There are a few examples in the art of the time where a single swordsman nails and opponent who got too close to the wall and was stabbed like a volleyball close return.
A PoserPro2012 experiment on placing only four ranks in formation. This, of course, is far more orderly than the real deal

 The Eye-Hands Principle 

There is a scientific reason for warriors to hold weapons and shield in what looks like a cramped position and in close combat and that is that the brain cannot handle both hands on one side of the center of the visual field (eye line), nor crossed hands.  When hands are on one side, or crossed, both arms and the upper body become significantly weaker.   That the Western knights used the Clench or Strong Arm grip shows knowledge of the effects or crossed arms on gross body movement,

The is relaed to the Cross Extensor Reflex but doubly so.

This Eye-Hands principle is the foundation of the Clench or Strong Arm grip on a shield in a shield wall. Since there is little room to move shoulder to shoulder and the wall in front.  As a purely hypothetical certainty, perhaps the mechanics of baseball, tennis, golf, karate and weed whacking apply.   This is the respected body mechanic known as the “Elvis Pelvis Swivel”, as demonstrated by Arn the Cuman mercenary.

Arn the Cuman showing step by step what Elvis did and sung.

  Or in the case of stab and retract, the Double Elvis Pelvis Swivel applies.  Elvis had a Black Belt in Karate.  The stab is the same as a same side strike applied to the right side with a whiplash from right foot to right arm, twisting the hips to counter-clockwise.  The retraction is an opposite side whiplash, with the dynamic from left foot to right arm by twisting the hips clockwise. 

These principles apply in any other fighting system, regardless of the type shield, the grips on the shield, or use of the shield or no shield at all.  Using a shield in the offense such as the Renaissance sword and buckler works only so long as both hands don’t drift across the eye line.  
The Tactical Operating Environment in the Renaissance had replaced most shiels sith thicker armor and the
double handed sword where fancy handwork with a longer two handed handle was
the symmetry of the day

As in golf, baseball, or felling a tree, the strongest Eye-Hand position is with both hands in direct alignment with the eyes.  The tiniest of shifts weakens the whole upper body.  The appearance of these throwing, hitting, and running games appeared about the time those body movements and coordination disappeared on the battlefield of ths day.

The Cross Gut carry weakens the whole upper body, when two are so joined in battle it is a gut shove with the hands as bystanders.  The body instinctively knows this, and the remedy is to look away from the shoving so long as the eyes stay between the hands.  This means that a lot of shields in use today need to be redesigned without telling one’s opponents of this secret magic trick.

The Crowded Battlefield 

Given no room to maneuver for the individual warrior, especially in a formation that works so long as it does not move, the freewheeling sword and shield work famous in game and video, does not take place until cracks, gaps, holes, and flanks are exposed.  Then it is time for everyone for themselves, i.e. panic from which few survive.   This is captured in the film "Zulu" in the bloody tradeoff between a good Medieval infantry (Zulu) against a good British infantry armed with the Martini-Henry lever action rifle .."and a bayonet with some guts behind it".

Zulu - Volley Fire

Victoria Cross Roll Call

The Knights Templar, Hospital, and other Orders kept order and security of the Crusader Army under Richard the Lion Hearted in a perilous journey from Acre to Jaffa, where at the Battle of Arsuf in 1191.  This was one of the very few battles in which the shield wall moved, and in so doing protected the cavalry from the swarms of arrows from fast riding Saracens.

Order of Battle and Dispositions ofhte Battle of Arsuf
starring Richard the Lion Heated
and Salaidn

Panic - the Startle Respose that destroys nations.


By blinding and confusing an eneymy force, self confidence and cohesion come apart.
Consider now that overlapping shields of belly to back and shoulder to shoulder and the popular free for wall, the melee was only done when there was a crack or crumble in the wall. Normally, any serious breach of the front ranks was the tripping point for panic whereupon most to the panicked were slaughtered by enemy cavalry   

While still a Political Science student at UCLA and a drilling Army Reservist (E-5) I was made privy to panic.  The issue of a Panic Tipping Point is one I was fortunate to have learned about from my Army Reserve Company Commander, Otto H Atkinson, of the 3/31st "Polar Bear" Battle Group (my father found their last command post in the Philippines untouched since their surrender to the Japanese in 1942).   As we unloaded from the busses at Camp Irwin in the Desert for two weeks of fun and games, Captain Otto had us drop out gear a the barracks and spent the first week dug in 24/6  nonstop training. 

One trick he used was to have us in a defensive position, fields of fire coordinated, and waiting for the next order.  Captain Otto has the 1st Sergeant make an attack on one flank all by himself with one soldier directed to "panic" toss his weapons and run off screaming.  Capt. Otto told the next soldier in line to do whatever the first guy did.  The First Sergeant attacked fining his M1 rifle, the Panickee panicked and the follower followed and the whole company scattered like popcorn in a high wind..   

Then we learned what to do and what not to do when someone panics. 1. Check to see if there is something really there, and tell your mates to cool it.  2. Do not chase the clown down, or the rest of the troops will follow. I have used this with each new command when in the field.  That, and killing myself off to see who takes over.

 The cacophony of clash of arms, shouts, screams of men and horses made verbal commands from within a basked helmet somewhat problematic.  Drums were a common means of giving fairly complex commands, but used less in the West than in the East.

The flags, pennons, Guidons and streamers were the principle means of command, control and inspiration in battles well into the XXth Century.  The Rule of the Order gives specific guidance on Guidons, as in guide on it. The recovery of the dying flag bearer to another is a central item depicting bravery in print, on the stage, screen, radio, TV and the net. That is firmly ensconced in modern military tradition, each unit with its’ revered divisional, regimental and battalion colors and the Guidons for the company, battery and troop are still carried.

I once stood in a formation of the 3rd Armored Division in massed formation at Fleigerhorst near Hanau for a pass in review by President John F Kennedy.   Given sick, lame and lazy plus other NATO contingencies I estimate that there was about 10,000 in ranks. In medieval times, 10,000 was respectable but not overly impressive.  We presented arms through seven national anthems during which we hooked our front sites over our belts to keep them aligned.  It took one huge flag from the flight Tower to give the signal to unhook, then order arms. 

 A few days after this, he gave his famous speech ICH BIN EINE BERLINER

 The idea of a mob of that size  attacking in a tight shoulder to shoulder formation is tempting fate, that of Murphy's Laws.  Anything that can go wrong will, and in the worst possible time, and place.   The commanders of the day knew that and avoided open battle unless the odds or fate says otherwise.  The greatest casualties of Medieval warfare up to WW 1 was, unlike popcorn, the cavalry was the wind.

Command and Control on an Unruly Battlefield 

The Medieval principle command and control system was that of unit flags, guidons, and pennons as a guide for those who followed.  This was so critical, that they are still held as imporant in today's military systems including those of the flags of the distubancies under arms today.  The term "capture the flag" was often a war winning tactic.
A change of command ceremony is one in which the outgoing commander presents the unit flag to the Command Sergeant Major who hands it to the incoming commander.

This is B Company, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry (Dragoons) of the 3rd Armored Division
in Gelhausen, Germany 1963-64.  I'm the skinny one at the extreme low left.
The Sharpe's British TV Series on the Napoleonic War has Sergeant Sharpe commissioned as he had captured a French unit's Eagle.  It was vital for the unit flag to fly. And we are all familiar with courageous men shown picking up the fallen flag that often was the key to victory...that the flag still flew.   It is one of the leading scenes in "Birth of a Nation" that Woodrow Wilson really liked.   The end clip of this clip shows the Confederate commander attacking alone but for his battle flag.  

Clips from Birth of a Nation

 The raison d'etre for the shield wall was defense against cracks, gaps, and wobbly shields would make a panic inducing penetration.

The Shield Wall was one of the two big tricks the West brought to the Levant. The other “trick" was charge of Heavy Cavalry with couched lance. The West rode on large stallions which are spirited while the East preferred smaller mares for ease of management.  Cavalry is covered in another chapter.

Templar Military Assistance Mission (like MACV)

Not only did Knights Templar have standardized individual and small unit tactics, the knights also provided the same kind of assistance to other groups of  Christian and Crusaders.  This is similar to the mission of the Military Assistance and Advisory Group, Vietnam by providing advisors, services and support and when needed actual combat forces.. The Knights were assigned the most difficult tasks as in the Battle of Arsuf where they were in a position to preclude panic and maintain formations while under a constant barrage from Saladin's forces light and heavy.

During the Second Crusade, Knights Templar assigned to support that effort were critical in training and coaching the forces through some very hostile terrain, and the Turk as well. Thus, the training received by a typical Templar Knight has to have included individual and small unit tactics common throughout the order, and receive command and staff training the results of which form the Gold Standard of combat troops of that Era.

A collage of bits and pieces of my tour in Vietnam 1968-69 with the 1st Infantry Division
and the 1st Air Cavarly Division.
The only records found around the campus are those of the Rule which accounted for every minute of the day. So where are the programs of instruction, the training schedules, lesson plans and manual? Given the uniformity of tactic and technique throughout the Order, there had to be something like "doctrine". With several centuries of close order combat and high specialization in certain geographic areas, the capabilities of different forces were likely common knowledge.

There is little found in the documentation including paintings and statuary of medieval war in any event. This article is an effort to fill some of those gaps.


Keep an eye on

PS:  More to follow