While Jon focusing NW on archery is a good idea now, was it really bad for NW to focus on melee weaponry prior to start of the story? Horde of Wildlings attacking the wall is a new development, so likely 99+% of wildling encounters happened on Rangings and the like, where melee is more useful. In addition, practice shooting at horizontal targets 100' away or so is of marginal benefit when shooting at enemies 700' directly below you.

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One important corrective: “hordes of wildlings attacking the Wall” is NOT a new development:

“Wildlings have invaded the realm before.“ Jon had heard the tales from Old Nan and Maester Luwin both, back at Winterfell. "Raymun Redbeard led them south in the time of my grandfather’s grandfather, and before him there was a king named Bael the Bard.”“Aye, and long before them came the Horned Lord and the brother kings Gendel and Gorne, and in ancient days Joramun, who blew the Horn of Winter and woke giants from the earth. Each man of them broke his strength on the Wall, or was broken by the power of Winterfell on the far side…”

The Watch is primarily a defensive military force manning a fixed fortification. GRRM’s problems with math aside, it makes a lot more sense to train them in archery and siege weaponry than it does to emphasize hand-to-hand training, given that melee weapons’ arms-length range doesn’t do you much good when you’re on the top of a bloody great wall and the enemy is at the bottom. 

Now, ranging is a different story, but I would maintain that Ser Alliser’s godawful training scheme is still a bad one: emphasizing fighting on foot one-on-one is a very bad idea when the Night’s Watch is badly outnumbered by wildling raiders, who are absolutely going to use their advantage of numbers to overwhelm whatever negligable training in the blade a crow gets in boot camp. 

To the extent that you’d emphasize melee combat at all in the Watch, it should absolutely be focusing on cavalry tactics, which would allow the Night’s Watch to punch above their weight vis-a-vis the mostly on-foot Wildlings. And cavalry tactics emphasize horsemanship over swordsmanship, because you don’t need to be very good with a sword when you’re thundering down on someone at top horsepower. 

Why did the Confederate generals fail to collectively devise a Fabian-esque strategy of attrition against the Union's larger war machine like what George Washington successfully did against the British Army?

Because they had a military genius as President who handled all the large-scale planning, with input from his best generals, especially Bob Lee and John Hood. And all three of them knew that being aggressive is what wins wars.

That was really what Jeff Davis believed. Any damnyankee invasion must be attacked and driven back. Better yet, take the war to the north and force a settlement at gunpoint.

Davis loved aggressive generals who agreed with him, and he hated generals like Joe Johnston, who understood that railroad supply was the “Achilles heel” of an attacking army and spent his time threatening his enemies' rail lines (thus holding up much larger armies) rather than doing something stupid, like attacking.

In addition, since the Confederate capital was Richmond, Lee had Davis' ear. Lee only cared about Virginia, and kept convincing Davis that rather than using the Confederacy’s interior lines to shift troops to a threatened area, it was better to keep the Confederacy’s biggest army (Lee's) together and counterinvade the north. This led directly to Antitam and Gettysburg, and meanwhile the lack of troops out west lost the Mississipi River after Gettysburg.

Out “west" (Tennessee / Georgia) Johnston was holding up Sherman's larger army. Not good enough; Davis put Hood in charge, since Hood was aggressive. Indeed he was, wrecking his army in two frontal assaults in Sherman, and then after Sherman took Atlanta Hood aggressively marched on Nashville with the remains of his army. That worked about as well as one would expect.

The core reason for all of this was the nature of the Confederate leadership. These were invariably plantation owners who were used to doing whatever they wanted with no one to tell them differently. Plus, most were veterans of the Mexican War. They were used to attacking superior numbers and winning. There were several reasons that worked in the Mexican War, none of which applied to the American Civil War. And the fact that in several cases Confederate generals won against larger armies early in the war convinced them that was the way to win. The fact that these victories were against incompetent Union generals, and that they were Pyrrhic victories the Confederacy could not afford, was lost on them.

The whole Confederacy was based on a fantasy world dreamed up by the aristocratic oligarchy that ran the southern states. It is no surprise that their military reflected this thinking.

-Bruce Matthews

A siege tower (also breaching tower; or in the Middle Ages a belfry) is a specialised siege engine, constructed to protect assailants and ladders while approaching the defensive walls of a fortification. The tower was often rectangular with four wheels with its height roughly equal to that of the wall or sometimes higher to allow archers to stand on top of the tower and shoot into the fortification. Because the towers were wooden and thus flammable, they had to have some non-flammable covering of iron or fresh animal skins. Used since the 11th century BC in the ancient Near East, the 4th century BC in Europe and also in antiquity in the Far East, siege towers were of unwieldy dimensions and, like trebuchets, were therefore mostly constructed on site of the siege. Taking considerable time to construct, siege towers were mainly built if the defence of the opposing fortification could not be overcome by ladder assault ("escalade"), by mining or by breaking walls or gates.

The siege tower sometimes housed spearmen, pikemen, swordsmen, archers or crossbowmen who shot arrows and quarrels at the defenders. Because of the size of the tower it would often be the first target of large stone catapults but it had its own projectiles with which to retaliate.

Siege towers were used to get troops over an enemy curtain wall. When a siege tower was near a wall, it would drop a gangplank between it and the wall. Troops could then rush onto the walls and into the castle or city.

Viking Ships in a siege of Paris. (Deutsch: Belagerung Paris' durch eine Wikingerflotte) Date: 19th century Source: Scanned from the German history magazine Der Spiegel Geschichte (6/2010): Die Wikinger - Krieger mit Kultur: Das Leben der Nordmänner. Spiegel-Verlag Rudolf Augstein GmbH & Co. KG, Hamburg 2010, p.33 Author: Unknown

Text: source                      

Say hello to the most recent addition to our rare book collection: 

Vallo libro continente appertinente a capitanij, retenere et fortificare vna citta con bastioni, con noui artificij de fuoco aggiontti, come nella tabola appare, et de diuerse sorte poluere, et de espugnare vna citta con ponti, scale, argani, trombe, trenciere, artegliarie, caue, dare auisamenti senza messo allo amico, fare ordinanze, battaglioni, et ponti de disfida con lo pingere, opera molto vtile con la esperientia de l'arte militare (1524) by Battista Della Valle (1470-1550)

This is a second edition of an early military engineering and pyrotechnics manual. The first edition was published in 1521. Some of the topics discussed in the book include establishment of fortifications for a city, construction of both defensive and offensive machinery (e.g., battering rams), and various troop formations during battle.

Orsimer Combat Tactics

Orcs are often seen as fighting with very little cohesion as a unit, which, I think, stems from their culture’s strong emphasis on individual duals and trial by combat, but I think that, in a pitched battle, a very different side would show.

For a start, Orsimer are trained to fight in defense of their stronghold, fending off anything from wild animals and bandits attacks to giants or even the occasional dragon. To fight in such a way requires each defender to know their role, and to trust that their comrades will do their part. Fighting as though you can rely on no one but yourself is a good way to get yourself and others killed as you drift away from your assigned place to take on tasks rightfully assigned to others.

Further, many Orsimer have fought in the Imperial Legion, and while the Code undoubtedly stresses a reliance first and foremost upon orcish ways, it seems very unlikely to me that orcish legionnaires would not see the value of fighting as a team on an open field.

With Legion training tempering the experience of fighting together to defend their homes, I think it very likely that Orsimer, fighting together, would prize organization and cohesion within the unit, and fight more like a troop of Mongol soldiers than a gang of bandits.

Anonymous asked:

Was it ever possible to take successive castles by surprise? Or completely ignore them and move on through enemy land? We see the Blackfish holding out against the Lannisters/Freys with just 200 men, but at the start of the war, the westerlands armies rampage all across the Riverlands incredibly quickly, and Twyin after the Green Fork somehow takes Harranhal by walking in. Is this just off page weirdness?

Yeah, that particular part of the campaign has GRRM’s thumb squarely on the scales, because it has to happen that way in order to set up Robb’s decision to go for Jaime or Tywin.

I mean, it’s technically possible to take successive castles by surprise - but it becomes increasingly unlikely with each castle, because word spreads fast. And it’s absolutely possible to ignore castles as long as you’re willing to live off the land and cut yourself off from supply lines, but that doesn’t seem to be what Tywin was doing, since these castles are described as fallen not bypassed. 

 “The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.” So begins The Art of War, a meditation on the rules of war that was first published in China. Historians don’t know the exact date of the book’s publication (though they believe it to be in the 4th or 5th century); in fact, they don’t even know who wrote it! Scholars have long believed that The Art of War’s author was a Chinese military leader named Sun Tzu, or Sunzi. Today, however, many people think that there was no Sun Tzu: Instead, they argue, the book is a compilation of generations of Chinese theories and teachings on military strategy. Whether or not Sun Tzu was a real person, it’s clear that “he” was very wise: The Art of War still resonates with readers today.

The Mystery of Sun Tzu:

For generations, scholars have been trying to figure out who Sun Tzu was--if he existed at all. Legend has it that he was a Chinese military leader in an era known as the Spring and Autumn Period. This was a time of great turmoil in China, as many vassal states vied for power and control of the country’s unpopulated territories. Under these circumstances, Sun Tzu’s skills as a warrior were much in demand.

As the story goes, the king of one of the feuding vassal states challenged Sun Tzu to prove his military expertise by turning a harem of royal courtesans into an organized, well-trained fighting force. At first, the courtesans failed to perform their duties; in response, Sun Tzu beheaded two of the king’s favorites in front of everyone. After that, the courtesan armies followed orders perfectly, and the king was so impressed that he put Sun Tzu in charge of his whole military.

The Art of War:

Scholars do not know how The Art of War came to be—and whether or not “Sun Tzu,” if he existed, had anything to do with its creation. What they do know is that copies of the book, typically written on sets of sewn-together bamboo slats, ended up in the hands of politicians, military leaders and scholars across China. From there, translated copies of “Sun Tzu’s” work found their way to Korea and Japan. (The oldest Japanese version dates from the 8th century A.D.)

For more than 1,000 years, rulers and scholars across Asia consulted The Art of War as they plotted their military maneuvers and imperial conquests. Japanese samurai, for example, studied it closely. However, it did not reach the Western world until the end of the 18th century, when a Jesuit missionary translated the book into French. (Historians say that the French emperor Napoleon was the first Western leader to follow its teachings.) It was finally translated into English in 1905. 

Premises of The Art of War:

The Art of War presents the basic principles of warfare and gives military leaders advice on when and how to fight. Its 13 chapters offer specific battle strategies--for example, one tells commanders how to move armies through inhospitable terrain, while another explains how to use and respond to different types of weapons--but they also give more general advice about conflicts and their resolution. Rules like “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight;” “He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces;” “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks;” “Victory usually goes to the army who has better trained officers and men;” and “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril” can be applied to particular battle situations as well as to other kinds of disagreements and challenges. 

The Art of War Today:

Ever since The Art of War was published, military leaders have been following its advice. In the twentieth century, the Communist leader Mao Zedong said that the lessons he learned from The Art of War helped him defeat Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist forces during the Chinese Civil War. Other recent devotees of Sun Tzu’s work include Viet Minh commanders Vo Nguyen Giap and Ho Chi Minh and American Gulf War generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell.

Meanwhile, executives and lawyers use the teachings of The Art of War to get the upper hand in negotiations and to win trials. Business-school professors assign the book to their students and sports coaches use it to win games. It has even been the subject of a self-help dating guide. Plainly, this 2,500-year-old book still resonates with a 21st-century audience.