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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2007 11:32 am    Post subject: Back up horse or not.         Reply with quote

Split from a different topic I will answer here.

Rodolfo Martínez wrote:
Quote:
Well I don't know too much about Western Europe's management of horse exhaustion, so I hope someone can fill us in on that, but it was common practice in many Eastern equestrian forces to have more than one horse per warrior. The Mongols, for example, would have a string of three or more horses per warrior, and if one died or got tired he would go back and get another.


European men-at-arms used to have several horses. But, what happens if you find yourself in the middle of a thight melee, and a bastard hurts your horse, or it gets too tired?


The first real 'cavalry' armies we know of are chariot forces. The clash between the Hittites and Egyptians at Kadesh is wellknown.
What I know of this is that no backup horses were travelling with the armies. The horses were extremely well trained and expected to be able to travel the distances without problems and most likely could. The hittite army invested 7 months of dedicated training in each horse and as chariots would fail underway too, this made availeble a multitude of horses as these were used in teams of four per chariot. Same thing during/after battle.

The numidian light cavalry in the roman army would ride one horse only but in their home land often rode with two horses fíghting! They rode one stallion and the other stallion would fight on the left hand side. As a rule this lightest of cavalries avoided direct contact and could indeed ride seemingly untiringly. They lost VERY few horses.

The mentioned asiatic nomads did not realy have dedicatedly trained warhorses as such and in fact calculated to eat the spent horses too. This meant the armies were frighteningly fast but as they needed a vast amount of horses this limited their main strategy of mounted mass artillery to spaceous areas or at least to the 'vecinity' of this.
They had increadible horse resources in their vast home ranges. (What estranges me more is where and how they got the enourmous number of composite bows! Those were not at all easy nor quick to fabricate.)
This seems to have been their main handicap the further they ventured into western europe, the need of a continuous supply of replacement horses and thus a vast herd closeby and this herd needed grazing land.
The asiatic nomads were rather exceptional in the speed of their armies as over the ages the main bodies of armed forces travelled extremely slow. One of the main differences being the using up of horses.

As the sharpest possible contrast to this, Alexander the Great may have had backup horses but nevertheless he rode his Buceaphalus for some 20 years(!) untill the horse died in battle reputedly saving his master out of a tight spot.

During the middle ages in the west a well trained warhorse, the destrier, represented quite an investment and was a realy valuable possession. Breeding, training and proven battle-worthyness made them quality assets. Only the wealthier knights could afford more than one real destrier.
It is mentioned and seems reasonable that the warhorses were usually not ridden unless/untill one expected to do battle.

The mamluk in their furusiyya value the coöperation between man and horse and this only becomes special if the rider can spend time, a lot of time with his mount(s). It is almost inevitable that the rider will have a favourite even if he is lucky enough to have resources for two or more.

Obviously horses died in battle just like men did, so replacements wére a factor that undoubtedly was taken into account. I doubt however that this was more than a secondary logistical problem simply because riders also died.
So, dúring a battle riders could probably mount a horse of a wounded or killed companian more easily than get one from lager íf there was one there.

Who is not familiar with 'a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!' ? As it turned out King Richard III proved right. He did not get a horse and lost his kingdom.... So, no replacement reaily at hand there Laughing Out Loud

A different aspect is the expected life-span of a war-horse. Buceaphalus is not likely to have been representative for horses during the medieval period when horses suffered from poor quality husbandry not differenty than men did.
This is a point of further study for me as I have the question how and by which horses the crusaders replaced their destriers as the 'arab' breed is not suiteble. The iberian type barb however is but like I say, different subject.

Peter
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 23 May, 2007 4:56 am    Post subject: Re: Back up horse or not.         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
The first real 'cavalry' armies we know of are chariot forces. The clash between the Hittites and Egyptians at Kadesh is wellknown.
What I know of this is that no backup horses were travelling with the armies. The horses were extremely well trained and expected to be able to travel the distances without problems and most likely could. The hittite army invested 7 months of dedicated training in each horse and as chariots would fail underway too, this made availeble a multitude of horses as these were used in teams of four per chariot. Same thing during/after battle.


Hmm...did Kikkuli say anything about this?

BTW, the list of booty won after the siege of Megiddo included "900 chariots" and "over two thousand horses," and since Canaanite chariots were yoked to two horses each then this opens the possibility that they might have kept a significant number of spare horses. of course, the numbers might not be an appropriate representation of chariot warfare practices since 1) they were taken after seven months of siege, during which many of the horses must have died, 2) they might have included spare chariot cars as well, and 3) many of the Canaanite horses and chariots had already been lost in the battle that preceded the siege.
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Thu 24 May, 2007 11:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In re Megiddo,

My recollection is that Thutmoses' account of the spoils referred to things taken after the battle at Megiddo, not the fall of the town. There were remarkably few Canaanite casualties, suggesting more of a rout than a knock-down slugfest; and that leads me to suspect the ratio of horses to chariots is fairly close to what the Canaanite army started out with.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 25 May, 2007 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Felix Wang wrote:
My recollection is that Thutmoses' account of the spoils referred to things taken after the battle at Megiddo, not the fall of the town.

(snip)

and that leads me to suspect the ratio of horses to chariots is fairly close to what the Canaanite army started out with.


Well, that's good news, because it means the Canaanites probably did keep spare horses!

Quote:
There were remarkably few Canaanite casualties, suggesting more of a rout than a knock-down slugfest;


Note that I said "lost," not "killed" or destroyed." In military terminology, "lost" refers to both equipment destroyed and captured by the enemy, which makes perfect sense since either way that particular piece of equipment is lost to its original owner.

If I remember correctly, the Egyptian account of the battle was also quite explicit in stating that the Canaanites ran away rather than being slaughtered on the spot. Nothing strange with that--most battles in history ended with routs or retreats instead of static slaughter anyway. So I didn't think there was any need to establish that the Canaanites routed because that was what I expected the reader to assume in the absence of any information to the contrary.
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 12:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is tricky to take document litterally. Both perception and purpose heavily influance the data and numbers are usually doubtfull at least.

Apart from chariots, mounted cavalry did exist next to driving. Reliefs and art is availeable. We may not know much about this and at present assúme
They were not numerous or limited to messengers or scouts BUT... as driving was the noble thing their may have been a heavy biass in the pictural art.
There are several mentions of warriors mounting their driving horses to flee.
So, the appearant ratio between horses and chariot may be a misrepresentation ánd if correct not mean reserve horses as 'horses' does not automatically mean 'charriot horses'.

@Kikkuli
Kikkuli does not mention battle nor tactics AT ALL. There are however very many documents in the librairy of Hattusha.

Apart from the obvious economics, a possibly (thus possibly not too) telling experience is that extra horses need a lot of extra logistics. Even on a trek on a minute scale even load horses are only to be used if not to be avoided.
I do not knów but I find a body of reserve horses, apart from possibly some for the demi-gods in charge, highly unlikely.

Peter
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 3:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
@Kikkuli
Kikkuli does not mention battle nor tactics AT ALL. There are however very many documents in the librairy of Hattusha.


And why is that a problem? We're not restricting our discussion to the subject of bringing spare horses along in battle, since you mentioned the assertion that "no backup horses were travelling with the armies" and I take it to mean that the scope of our discussion also includes the presence or absence of spare horses in military campaigns as a whole. So if Kikkuli mentions something about bringing spare horses in any military context--not just battles--that will be enough, though I don't know whether he does or not. Even saying that "the king shoudl always keep spare horses in his retinue" is already more than enough.

Does he?
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
And why is that a problem?


He simply does not go 'there'. He restricts himself to the subject = preparation and training.

Possible light on this will need to come from other documents.

I have read many translations and there may be mentions like you suggest. I remember a communication about special 'golden' horses, their not being availeable and the delivery, use of another 'type'. I will try to dig it up and read it with different attention.

In the case of the 'kikkuli epoc' it seems illogical to me have extra horses. It seems an utter waste to train them and not use them unless as back-up, thus including chariots. The chariots must have been A LOT cheaper too so it would seem logistically efficient to keep thóse 'in stock'.

Also remember that for millennia the seasons put serious limitations on war, effectively creating 'warring seasons'. War being as expensive as it was, reserve horses would stretch the logistic system further and not add to the power of the machine. Only if horses during a battle would have a significantly lower functional survival rate than their riders, immediately availeable replacement horses would add to its power.
Feeding the fighting horses was quite a challenge so looking at the 14th century p.e. it appears to be far more likely that if replacement horses would be needed those would be negotiated with vasals or supporting forces locally.

Peter
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
I have read many translations and there may be mentions like you suggest. I remember a communication about special 'golden' horses, their not being availeable and the delivery, use of another 'type'. I will try to dig it up and read it with different attention.


Golden horses? I wonder if tha thas something to do with the Turkoman/Akhal-Teke breed.

Quote:
Feeding the fighting horses was quite a challenge so looking at the 14th century p.e. it appears to be far more likely that if replacement horses would be needed those would be negotiated with vasals or supporting forces locally.


Well, in that case they would still have marched with the army during the climactic phase of the campaign, after they were obtained and before they were returned to (or taken back by) the suppliers. And maybe we shouldn't underestimate the logistical acapabilities of empires like the Egyptian, the Hittite, or the Assyrian.
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Sun 27 May, 2007 3:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Golden horses? I wonder if tha thas something to do with the Turkoman/Akhal-Teke breed.


No need to wonder as it seems as certain as we can ever be.

About logistic capacities we need neither over- nor underestimate anybody. The only factor is time. It would need time.
Furthermore warfare on army-scale was hugely limitated by season and room for millennia. Even the exceptional asiatic nomads were no exception in this respect even though they had very little to do with logistics in the sense of supply trains.

Neither the hittite-egyptian, mongol-hun etc are however representative for 'western' europe.

The incredible turmoil during the 14th century with war all over the place between just about everybody changing sides with anybody, the plague, the great scisma and the last episodes of the crusades gives examples of the possibillities and impossibillities in medieval europa.
The 14th century gives examples of just about ánything concerning medieval europe. Quite confusing too. Without doubt more for the people at the time than for us Laughing Out Loud

Now back to just hórses the plague and also the 'white mens-diseases' massacering the indian population in northern america play a role we should not forget.
In both cases a húge chunk, the mayor part in fact, of the population is killed without respect for social bounderies. It is impossible to realy grasp the impact, the effects. Concerning hórses it means that they become relatively more abundant as does free grazing.

This does not go anywhere nor prooves anything, it is simply an example that every single aspect of life in any period is a product of a complex adaptive system.

HC
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Mon 28 May, 2007 2:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
It is tricky to take document litterally. Both perception and purpose heavily influance the data and numbers are usually doubtfull at least....



The documents are quite clear in this instance. From Swordforum, posted by Dan Howard on 7/18/04

"J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents (Chicago: 1906), Part II. 407. In Breasted's translation of the Egyptian account of Megiddo, Thutmose’s army which included at least 1000 chariots, and many thousands of infantry took away 340 living prisoners, 2041 horses, 924 chariots, 502 bows, but only killed 83 men. This figure was determined by collecting and tallying the hands of the corpses after the battle."

This is an official record of the victory, by the victor. One can question the veracity of the figures, but the numbers stated are perfectly clear. The ratio of chariots to horses is unlikely to have been distorted - I can think of no reason the ratio would be distorted, although the number might be exaggerated.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 28 May, 2007 7:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It might not be quite as simple as it seems. Even the Egyptians were transitioning away from chariots and towards mounted cavalry between 1500 to 1000 BCE according to subject matter experts on them. The meaning of the numbers depend a lot on what one assumes.

There is an obvious disparity between the number of prisoners and men killed versus the number of chariots. How big was the army and equestrian constituent that was routed? How many horses per chariot?

I am not refuting Felix's conclusion, just stating that the numbers given in this excerpt did not make it "crystal clear" for me....

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 28 May, 2007 9:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would it help if I add a quip about the Egyptian account mentioning the fleeing Canaanite charioteers being carried up the city walls by means of ropes after the gates were closed? They obviously couldn't have carried their chariots (or horses) along...
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 29 May, 2007 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Would it help if I add a quip about the Egyptian account mentioning the fleeing Canaanite charioteers being carried up the city walls by means of ropes after the gates were closed? They obviously couldn't have carried their chariots (or horses) along...


Yes, that does help me. It sounds like roughly 2 horses per chariot and not much in the way of mounted cavalry. The possibility exists, even if remote, that there could have been reserve chariots harnessed to go in the event that engaged teams of horses were injured.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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