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Harry J. Fletcher




Location: Lost in Texas
Joined: 19 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Mar, 2010 5:49 pm    Post subject: Caltrops         Reply with quote

In my reading about medieval battles I haven't read about the use of CALTROPS , a sort three or four spiked jack with sharp points used in the medieval warfare to injure horses or deny the ground for their use. One would think that their use would have been to protect infantry from heavy cavalry charges similarly to the way antitank mines are laid in front of infantry positions to impede tanks and render them better targets for antitank weapons.

In combined arms operations which the English were famous for using, if an infantry formation adopted close order with spears such as schiltron then it could be attacked by the archers. If the infantry spread out to make a less desirable target or attacked the archers then they became the object for a heavy cavalry attack. There is the CRUX, how to keep an infantry formation safe from a heavy cavalry charge yet deny a suitable target for the archers? Its seems that caltrops would have been an ideal solution.

Has anyone done any reading on this weapon and where it was employed in a battle with success?

To Study The Edge of History


Last edited by Harry J. Fletcher on Wed 10 Mar, 2010 1:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 792

PostPosted: Sun 07 Mar, 2010 6:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Caltrops         Reply with quote

Harry J. Fletcher wrote:
In my reading about medieval battles I haven't read about the use of CALTROPS , a sort three or four spiked jack with sharp points used in the medieval warfare to injure horses or deny the ground for their use. One would think that their use would have been to protect infantry from heavy cavalry charges similarly to the way antitank mines are laid in front of infantry positions to impede tanks and render them better targets for antitank weapons.

In combined arms operations which the English were famous for using, if an infantry formation adopted close order with spears such as schiltron then it could be attacked by the archers. If the infantry spread out to make a less desirable target or attacked the archers then they became the object for a heavy cavalry attack. There is the CRUX, how to keep an infantry formation safe from a heavy cavalry charge yet deny a suitable target for the archers? Its seems that caltrops would have been an ideal solution.

Has anyone done any reading on this weapon and where it was employed in a battle WITH SUCCESS?
Here are 2 caltrop or makibishi from Japan, I do not know much about them but if you notice the holes in them, possibly for carrying around or for laying them out in a string..like a police spike strip. They appear to be old but I am not sure how old.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Mar, 2010 6:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Caltrops         Reply with quote

Eric S wrote:
[I do not know much about them but if you notice the holes in them, possibly for carrying around or for laying them out in a string..like a police spike strip.
They appear to be old but I am not sure how old.


Would be useful also to remove the caltrops quickly from your front when your own troops or cavalry wanted to advance.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Sun 07 Mar, 2010 10:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Chinese used them. So did the Romans (called tribulus) and Persians. I thought the Japanese called them tetsubishi. Generally there were two sizes;.smaller ones for humans and larger ones for mounts (horses, camels, elephants, etc). One early recorded use of the caltrop was at Gaugamela (331bc) when the Persians tried to use them against the Macedonian cavalry. The largest deployment of caltrops was by the Chin against the Mongols at P'ei K'ou fort (1213). Apparently the ground was covered with caltrops up to a distance of 30 miles from the fort.
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Mar, 2010 11:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
The Chinese used them. So did the Romans (called tribulus) and Persians. I thought the Japanese called them tetsubishi. Generally there were two sizes;.smaller ones for humans and larger ones for mounts (horses, camels, elephants, etc). One early recorded use of the caltrop was at Gaugamela (331bc) when the Persians tried to use them against the Macedonian cavalry. The largest deployment of caltrops was by the Chin against the Mongols at P'ei K'ou fort (1213). Apparently the ground was covered with caltrops up to a distance of 30 miles from the fort.
Dan, I do not know if there is a difference between the 2 names, when you search they both bring up the same type of info. WTF?!
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