Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Tactics against Hussite Wagenburgs Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Hunter B.




Location: Away from Home
Joined: 26 Aug 2008

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 11:56 am    Post subject: Tactics against Hussite Wagenburgs         Reply with quote

I was very intrigued by the Osprey primer on the Hussite wars and did some poking around. First, their success in battle amazed me. While the defensive advantages of grouped wagons are obvious, it has some serious vulnerabilities. If I got it right then it seems that the counter to the Wagenburg was to feint a retreat, draw the enemy cavalry and infantry out of the fortification, destroy them in open battle, and then close and destroy the Wagenburgs at leisure. I know I'm simplifying this a lot, but one thing springs to the forefront of my mind.

Why didn't they use fire? I don't recall coming across a single mention of the use of fire against a Wagenburg, which kind of astounds me. On the surface it is the most obvious tactic against them, to me at least. In my very, very limited reading, have I missed something completely?

“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”
View user's profile Send private message
Vaclav Homan




Location: Hradec, Czech
Joined: 22 Jan 2008

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Husite (in deutsch Hussits) were czech artisan, rustic, gentry, free lancers. They were in defenzive against numerous catholick and in this case is Vozová Hradba (corral?, german Wagen Burg) advantageous in fight with cavalery or infantery.
Husite using first fire wearpons in large scale. Howitzer is from czech Houfnice.
Retirement as tactical move was using in battle of Lipany. It was battle of two Husits fraction, radical and moderate.
Wagen Burg, more fire wearpons, discipline, drill was succes in this time. Innovation was in betterment currently knowledge under genial leader Jan Žiška z Trocnova.

There is only one art of fence yet many ways to reach it
View user's profile Send private message
Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The other defense against the defensive wagon emplacements was use of field artillery, which wasn't available during the Hussite wars, but was used against wagon fortifications during the German Peasants War in the early 1500's.

Also realize that the troops fighting the Hussites didn't take them seriously until later. Initially they probably were thinking that they only were fighting peasants and unskilled warriors with no battle skills. The Hussite leadership was what probably made this a false assumption.

At least those are my recollections on my readings of these wars...

Bryce
View user's profile Send private message
Hunter B.




Location: Away from Home
Joined: 26 Aug 2008

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 3:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryce Felperin wrote:
The other defense against the defensive wagon emplacements was use of field artillery, which wasn't available during the Hussite wars, but was used against wagon fortifications during the German Peasants War in the early 1500's.

Also realize that the troops fighting the Hussites didn't take them seriously until later. Initially they probably were thinking that they only were fighting peasants and unskilled warriors with no battle skills. The Hussite leadership was what probably made this a false assumption.

At least those are my recollections on my readings of these wars...

Bryce


Even then after the first couple of defeats why wouldn't they just have used fire arrows against the fortifications? At best the Hussites would have burned alive, maybe they would have charged out, and at worst they'd have put out the fires and kept right along.

To me it seems like the most straight forward and simple tactic (ie the one you'd try first).

“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”
View user's profile Send private message
Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hunter B. wrote:
Bryce Felperin wrote:
The other defense against the defensive wagon emplacements was use of field artillery, which wasn't available during the Hussite wars, but was used against wagon fortifications during the German Peasants War in the early 1500's.

Also realize that the troops fighting the Hussites didn't take them seriously until later. Initially they probably were thinking that they only were fighting peasants and unskilled warriors with no battle skills. The Hussite leadership was what probably made this a false assumption.

At least those are my recollections on my readings of these wars...

Bryce


Even then after the first couple of defeats why wouldn't they just have used fire arrows against the fortifications? At best the Hussites would have burned alive, maybe they would have charged out, and at worst they'd have put out the fires and kept right along.

To me it seems like the most straight forward and simple tactic (ie the one you'd try first).


Well...the Hussites probably had fire pails of sand or dirt to put out fires and fire arrows didn't set fires to wood that quickly anyway.

The Hussites also had good leadership and discipline...unlike many of their Knightly opponents of the time.

Remember, the whole wagon circle defense is meant to be used against a mounted adversary who like to charge their opponents. At the time this descriped most all armies who opposed them in the field.

Besides the wagon circle, the Hussites were the first to widely use firearms as well. This made approaching their wagons a bit more dangerous for your average armored knight as well.
View user's profile Send private message
Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
Joined: 01 Aug 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 650

PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 11:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From what I've read Jan Žiška was brilliant, and worked very well with the resources that he had. If memory serves the Hussites started out with very poor armaments, but used firearms to force the enemy heavy cavalry to get in close to the lager, then bashed them over the head with long flails. They coudn't stay back, there's no point lancing a wagon, and once they got close they had to face nasty helm busting flails. Great stuff.

As soon as they got control of a city with manufacturing capability (I think it was Lipany), the Hussites under Žiška used it to crank out more firearms and wagons.

One of my favorite paintings features Jan Žiška looking just utterly heroic and grizzled:

http://prostir.museum/images/Jan_Zizka_-_Grunwald(2).jpg

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,098

PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 11:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Hussites are in large part misunderstood or perhaps, understood very generally and oversimplified too often. The Hussites were the first group to use a large number of firearms but large scale compared to their other arms might be somewhat an overstatement unless looking at the relative to other countries. IT was the combination of arms and tactics more than any one item or items.

The largest asset they had was Jan Zizka and his military know and their cause being very strong to them. Jan Zizka was a master. He was able to do what few in medieval history could. Take a force of men with little to no military training and utilize them so they became formidable militarily. He did this in several ways.

He countered lack of heavy cavalry with the wagons, apparently the pike not being their national weapon like other places (Swiss and Scots). He used these as portable forts basically in lines. I know Russ Mitchell has looked into this and we have talked some about it so maybe he will chime in as he has read more primary sources than I. Usually in several lines of these wagons makes a very static but strong defence. Inside these wagons men with pikes, halberds, war flails, crossbows and guns could break both cavalry and infantry. Missile fire would wear them down before engaging and likely goad them into attacking. Scholars state that the Hussites for every 6000 had about 36 field guns and about 360 handguns. This seems fairly accurate as the Hodetin Ordinance (late 1420s or 1430) stipulates groups of 20 well defined, 6 crossbow men and 2 gunners per wagon.

If a place looked like it would break men were sent to reinforce from behind the wagons where a force awaited to attack. Once the enemy broke these men and cavalry would come out and route the enemies to ensure they did not regroup. The cavalry also could come out while the battle was on and pounce then return. Their cavalry was usually made up of lighter cavalry and the heavy cavalry made of the nobles that supported them far fewer than the crusading armies. Jan Zizka was smart and used the wagons to shoot his enemies up and once they engaged he had men who were partially defended by the wagons beside them and likely barricades of some type with these massive war flails that could kill anyone within their distance.

The only defeats I know of are fighting other hussite factions and using a feint and drawing them from their wagons. I do not know why they did not try lighting them on fire so cannot comment much on that. I guess they had spades and lots of earth around so perhaps they could put them out easy enough.

It would seem that if they were encircled and 'besieged' so to speak that they could be taken. The problem is that the crusading armies were almost always multinational and always seemed ready to leave. Keeping them static and waiting might have been impossible. Though if you could then perhaps you could get some cannons and other siege equipment going and break the hussites wagons up or at least get them to charge your awaiting army, instead of vice versa. That said I cannot think of many defeats for them so we might never know what worked or did not.

As Bryce said though most guns/cannons were not easy to move about, at least those that could mash a wagon up being fairly large and likely the reason the crusaders could not wheel them around quickly to fight. There is evidence that the crusaders used cannons and such at times. The 1430 levies had gunners and cannons as well, though never in a large enough force to likely impact a field battle greatly. There was a battle where I think Sigismund did bring cannons to it but I cannot remember if they were employed or if they had little effect. Needless to say I think after the battle the Hussites got a few free cannons.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Fri 10 Oct, 2008 12:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryce Felperin wrote:
fire arrows didn't set fires to wood that quickly anyway.


All too true! I've experimented with them before, and they seem to be more useful as a distraction than as actual incendiary projectiles. Even in naval warfare--where there'd be a lot more wood and canvas to burn, and picking up water to douse fires wouldn't be that easy--the fires were probably more useful for distracting the victim ship's crew (and hence reducing their fighting potential) than burning the ship as such.

Of course, it'd be more effective to try burning the wagons with torches and earthenware bottles filled with pitch, but try getting into throwing distance while the wagenburg's defenders are showering you with firearm balls and crossbow bolts.

Note that wagenburgs eventually became obsolete as a major tactical device due to artillery developments in terms of both technical sophistication (making the guns more mobile, reliable, and effective) and sheer numbers (making it possible to overwhelm wagon forts with a concentration of guns). They still retained some use in protecting a camp against light cavalry raiders--in fact, IIRC it was the default form of camp defense for 18th-century Central and Eastern European armies--but they were too immobile to have much effect on a maneuver battlefield and not sufficiently tough to survive the sheer volume of fire delivered in a gunpowder siege.
View user's profile Send private message
Vaclav Homan




Location: Hradec, Czech
Joined: 22 Jan 2008

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Sat 11 Oct, 2008 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At first fought Husites for Jan Hus and John Wicklef writing but later was concerned this revolution on money and politics power as other revolution in World. Czech kingdom was rich and fundamental in Holy roman epire therefore Holy Father with empeor and roman king be concerned in this war. Husites won all battle with crusader from all europe but not with czech nobility oposition.
There is old czech movi about Jan Žižka, there are good deails using Husitians wearpons. Two movie there is obout first battle with crusaders nad another is great battle by Prag.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpaeyIbk8N8&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE-ghxHNhl0&NR=1

There is only one art of fence yet many ways to reach it
View user's profile Send private message
Tyrone Mckay





Joined: 28 Sep 2008

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat 11 Oct, 2008 2:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Hussites were also foreunners of the Protestant Refermation, thanks to Jan Huss.
View user's profile Send private message
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,098

PostPosted: Sat 11 Oct, 2008 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vaclav,

Interesting movie. What is it called? I wish it had english subtitles... Thanks for posting those videos.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
Vaclav Homan




Location: Hradec, Czech
Joined: 22 Jan 2008

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Sun 12 Oct, 2008 1:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Husite was first protestant reformation movement with military succes. Jan Hus teaching was born in Prag university, it was university movement for resurgence in Church.

Movies are influenced in not free epoch and there are some speculation. Wearpons and costume are good, sometimes there instead of mail armour only wool stuff.
In this web site are the best czech Husits movies.
http://www.husitstvi.cz/husite-ve-filmu.php
But I such english subtitel without effect. It is not interesting for word shops.
http://www.dvd-svet.cz/detail/proti-vsem/

There is only one art of fence yet many ways to reach it
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,170

PostPosted: Sun 12 Oct, 2008 11:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From what I've read above and elsewhere the defensive use seems to have been as static defence: Movable defence but mostly used in a defensive unmoving circle.

Just theoretically I wonder if warwagons could be used in parallel lines, but in motion either for a strategic withdrawal i.e. a running fight. ( Very slow moving fight that is, a mile or two an hour maybe ).

The point being that this would avoid being trapped and basically put under siege by an assuming an intelligent enemy.

On a flat plain it might work with handgonners and crossbowmen in the carts and spear/flail/halberd/bill men walking inside or outside the lines of wagons.

Having a small force of heavy cavalry ( Knights ) and light horse archers could ride out to counter attack or lure and enemy in between the lines where crossfire from the wagons protected by the walking infantry. ( Repeated for an attrition effect ).

Anyway, these tactics may not be historical but I wonder what you think: Would these be viable tactics ?

Oh, and if under too much pressure the wagons could form a static defensive formation.

As far as defeating the moving tactic digging trenches across the path of the wagons at choke points or using other obstacles such as hidden wolf pits or caltrops etc ... to slow or block the motion of the wagons.

Against, the static formation regular siege techniques to starve out and even better if the formation was isolated from a source of water.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2008 3:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Just theoretically I wonder if warwagons could be used in parallel lines, but in motion either for a strategic withdrawal i.e. a running fight. ( Very slow moving fight that is, a mile or two an hour maybe ).

The point being that this would avoid being trapped and basically put under siege by an assuming an intelligent enemy


Not exactly a good recipe for that purpose, I guess--a competent enemy might have been able to deploy and fire their artillery with deadly effect before the convoy could move very far. Of course, the troops inside the convoy (especially cavalry) might sally out to prevent such an artillery attack, but then this would have been possible from a static wagenburg position as well.


Quote:
Having a small force of heavy cavalry ( Knights ) and light horse archers could ride out to counter attack or lure and enemy in between the lines where crossfire from the wagons protected by the walking infantry. ( Repeated for an attrition effect ).

Anyway, these tactics may not be historical but I wonder what you think: Would these be viable tactics ?


At least the cavalry part is perfectly historical--in some of the later battles, the Hussites owed a considerable part of their success to the availability of effective cavalry provided by the moderate Utraquist faction, and these horsemen were indeed meant to sally out and attack the weakeed enemy at the decisive moment in a battle.

BTW, it seems that warwagons were occasionally used in an offensive manner, but this use was more the exception than the rule. Try looking up Matt Haywood's pages for some information:

http://www.warfareeast.co.uk/main/Hussite_Bat...events.htm

http://www.warfareeast.co.uk/main/Hussite_Tac...sation.htm

http://www.warfareeast.co.uk/main/Warwagons.htm
View user's profile Send private message
James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

Posts: 253

PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs- I would like to add that the only general making real use of cannon at this time was St Joan, Remember, she was a peasent too, out to kill English " goddams" anyway she could. The generals she trained built the first standing professional army in weastern Europe for King CharlesVII, and it was heavily armed with cannon made by the first great cannon founder Jean Bureau,another peasent.P.S.. Joan was not saintly in war. Unless a english prisoner had extraordinary hostage value, she cut his throat
Ja68ms
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,098

PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 10:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James,

I am not so convinced that you can attribute French changes in military systems to Joan individually or as part of a collective. As far as the Ordinance companies, French archers and the improved artillery (which Anne Curry's paper from Kalamazoo sheds a much better and rounded account than past ones) they fit well with Charles VII's style of kingship and administration. Their use of artillery while good, hardly was a primary reason for change in Normandy or France in General. Maybe if you look at French artillery after 1490 but mid 15th.... not from what I have read.

England’s loss of the Hundred Years War is greatly the fault of the English as it is the French. Joan clearly had her place in the war; Her win at Orleans basically reversed huge French failures of several decades and began the end of English power.

Regarding her not acting the part of Saint. Fairly relative depending on source you are looking at so a caution should be taken if one is using pro or anti Joan accounts. Its not my place to say she was or was not anyways.

Plenty of people employed cannons but until mid 15th they were very limited in ability and transport. What was impressive about the Hussites is that they used them outside the traditional siege while others, including Joan, typically did not.
View user's profile Send private message
Mark Hanna





Joined: 11 Sep 2008

Posts: 61

PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2008 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are some pictures from our hussite living history display this weekend. Well put some more up today.

http://www.merchantadventurers.com/medieval_t...ial_pl.htm

Mark

ps more photos if your interested.

http://www2.snapfish.com/share/p=712191224453.../otsi=SALB


Last edited by Mark Hanna on Mon 20 Oct, 2008 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2008 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
James,

I am not so convinced that you can attribute French changes in military systems to Joan individually or as part of a collective. As far as the Ordinance companies, French archers and the improved artillery (which Anne Curry's paper from Kalamazoo sheds a much better and rounded account than past ones) they fit well with Charles VII's style of kingship and administration. Their use of artillery while good, hardly was a primary reason for change in Normandy or France in General. Maybe if you look at French artillery after 1490 but mid 15th.... not from what I have read.

England’s loss of the Hundred Years War is greatly the fault of the English as it is the French. Joan clearly had her place in the war; Her win at Orleans basically reversed huge French failures of several decades and began the end of English power.

Regarding her not acting the part of Saint. Fairly relative depending on source you are looking at so a caution should be taken if one is using pro or anti Joan accounts. Its not my place to say she was or was not anyways.

Plenty of people employed cannons but until mid 15th they were very limited in ability and transport. What was impressive about the Hussites is that they used them outside the traditional siege while others, including Joan, typically did not.


Also don't forget the mindset of the people of that era when discussing artillery usage on the battlefield. Until someone came up a tactical problem that could only be resolved by field artillery usage (essentially invented the idea) the old ways of simply charging the enemy rather than softening them up would still be preferred. If you're a German knight of the period, where's the glory in sitting back and watching a bunch of (to you) peasants reload and fire a gun one or two rounds a minute at a bunch of wagons and probably miss most of the time. Eventually you're going to say "the hell with it" and jump on your horse and just charge the enemy!

To our modern minds, it makes sense to soften up the enemy first to avoid casaulties later. To them, it probably didn't even occur to them at all.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Tactics against Hussite Wagenburgs
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum