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Agincourt- French too tired?

Discussion in 'Military History' started by GRW, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    The only really bad thing about putting on a suit of plate, is that every swine within a quarter mile then starts hitting you with stuff - obviously this is what I would do too. Safe, Innit.
    Though i think we haven't really had the full story on what was done at Leeds - I read most of the larger report and it wasn't really what the Media reports or Armouries PR machine says it was - imagine that.

    We might conceivably get to shoot at some chainmail soon - I'll try and remember photos, and will get a shot of the Cuirass with Caliver & Longbow shotmarks.
     
  2. green slime

    green slime Member

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    "The French should have won"

    I think the French expected that, and so were very sloppy and careless; Failing to charge when Henry moved forward his position, until the stakes were in place protecting the archers. The recently plowed ground and rain. The initial cavalry charge ruined the battlefield for whomever needed to cross it; the French could've been more patient, having numbers and supply. The English needed the battle to escape. It was perhaps less a failure of the French commander, as the sheer arrogance of the majority of young French noblemen present.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    From what I've read a fair number of the early wheelocks were reasonably accurate. See:
    http://www.therifleshoppe.com/catalog_pages/wheellocks/wheellocks.htm
    on the other hand:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheellock
    Apparently the French made some of the best wheel locks
    http://www.nramuseum.org/the-museum/the-galleries/old-guns-in-a-new-world/case-13-exploration,-settlement,-survival-trade-in-the-new-world/french-wheellock-rifle.aspx
    This thread has pictures of a target used at 100 yards:
    http://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/fusionbb/showtopic.php?tid/265993/
     
  4. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Hmmm, that quote seems to saying that reliably hitting the pigeon at 200 yards was something remarkable, whereas the quote concerning the longbowmen seems to indicate if you weren't hitting all 12 shots at 240 yards, you weren't worth your salt.

    And its not the expensive wheellock that was going to equip armies of conscripted commoners:

    "Wheel-lock firearms were never mass-produced for military purposes, but the best preserved armoury collection at the Landeszeughaus Graz, Austria contains over 3,000 examples many of which were produced in small batches for military units."

    "The high production cost and complexity of the mechanism however hindered the wheellock's widespread adoption. A highly skilled gunsmith was required to build the mechanism, and the variety of parts and complex design made it liable to malfunction if not carefully maintained."

    It was well suited to the nobleman adventurer, as it functioned even in bad weather, which the preceeding matchlock couldn't (but the longbow could, marginally)

    Let's look even later into military weaponry:

    "Flintlock muskets were the mainstay of European armies between 1660 and 1840. A musket was a muzzle-loading smoothbore long gun that was loaded with a round lead ball, but it could also be loaded with shot for hunting. For military purposes, the weapon was loaded with ball, or a mixture of ball with several large shot (called buck and ball), and had an effective range of about 75 to 100 metres."

    So still even by 1800, a shorter effective range, a lower rate of fire. Why were they used? Because you didn't need to train commoners for decades for them to be proficient! So much for the rapid advance of gunnery... Even then, armies didn't bother with rifling (a because the amassed tactics were efficient enough) beyond small units of skirmishers or snipers.

    Musket balls from smoothbore muskets do not travel in a straight line.

    If you had a trained unit of longbowmen on the field of battle in 1800, they would've been extremely useful, but no one could afford to replace their loses. One volley from the musket armed peasants, and a bayonet charge; it wouldn't matter if they all died engaging the archers; each archer represented a enormous investment in time, and were scarce, even in 1400 in England. Commoner's capable of discharing a musket and advancing with a bayonet were a dime to the dozen, until WW1.
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    But a pigeon is a fair amount smaller than an elephant which was the example you stated. Furthermore a pigeon is a fair amount smaller than a man which is the target you mentioned in regards to the longbow at 250 yards. The wording also implies to me that it wasn't uncommon for the longbow archer to miss at that range while the implication is the majority could hit with all 12 shots. Then there are issuse like a distance for the wheellock was 200 paces a pace is about 5 feet so that translates to just over 333 yards.
    Indeed and I supplied a quote making just that point, although there was some military use of them.

    Well there was also the moral impacts of the boom and smoke and it was much harder to see the ball coming at you nor was it possible to avoid it and shields didn't stop the bullets very well either.

    Rather depends on what you call small units does it not? The British were equipping regiments with them from what I recall.

    Compaired to an arrow they do at least in the critical 30-100 yard range.

    As you say useful for a time. I doubt a unit of musketteers of comparable size could actually get in contact with them. Artillery and cavalry would be their most dangerous foes. You are most definitly correct in that the training of the longbow men was the major expense. One reason crossbow men were so popular on the contnent.
     
  6. green slime

    green slime Member

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    No, I don't think so... a pace is approx 3 feet. or 1 yard, which is exactly why that measure appeared already in Roman times.

    Otherwise a 6 foot tall individual would almost be doing the splits to take a 5 foot step. try it and see... :ambulance:
     
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Nobody's denying the training thing was a lead factor in replacing the Longbow, but the argument that the Longbow was some kind of wunderwaffen and that was the only reason doesn't really stand.

    Indeed, the 'hand-cannons' of the specific time of Agincourt weren't worth their salt, but they're not really the guns which replaced the bow.

    If we take Pavia as the turning point, which it was, by that time the guns at hand were not those miniaturised cannons, but as seen in this illustration, more in the Arquebus and Caliver mould:

    [​IMG]

    The picture also shows the actual tactical usage of guns which so destroyed the flower of French Chivalry (again), and led to the capture of a King.
    People often seem to think early guns were used in the same way as bows, and that they operated as independent 'ranged' units, but our modern understanding of missile weapons doesn't fully apply. They were a shock weapon which could be integrated extremely closely into melee units in a way that the bow or Crossbow could only do in a rather limited manner. Longbowmen have to withdraw somewhat when the melee begins or be cut down - Caliver-men have a large club, can be more heavily armoured, are and can load & fire from far more cramped circumstances more easily protected by polearms.

    Yes, a Caliver-man could be trained more quickly than an Archer, but to say that was the only reason for the gun's rise is to not fully grasp the implications of gunpowder on the C16th battlefield. Nations who adopted quickly, like Spain, or those who employed the most modern Mercenaries, found themselves with a new form of battering ram, which could deliver the most tremendous shock at short range. A shock so substantial it trumped many long range advantages of the bow.
    Yes, the bow's still firing faster, but the ranged time segment of a battle is limited if the commander is any good, and now an exceptionally closely integrated division of polearms, Longswords, & firearms could cover ground quickly, and with an intensely concentrated 'combined arms' effect.
    The likelihood of cutting through the melee and engaging the lightly armed Bowmen directly with a still-formed block of heavily armed & armoured men has increased enormously - the bow begins to fade somewhat in relevance. Throw Cavalry into that mix, and the threat to Bowmen is even worse.
    (Actually, mentioning cavalry and Longbowmen... The battle of Patay isn't that often referenced, and even in the C15th that was disastrous for the bow boys - they had their weaknesses, even during the 100 years, like anyone else.)

    Though all this 'one weapon replaces another' stuff is shaky ground. My Interest in sword evolution has taught me at least one thing, and that's that weapon evolution is highly complex, involving concurrent lines of development and many seemingly anachronistic survivors of use, sometimes encompassing centuries. (Visit the Pitt-Rivers to get a serious lesson in armed diversity ;) )
    Not unlike WW2, there were no 'magic' weapons, just things which flowered or failed depending on circumstances.
     
  8. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Addressed the "pacing" already.

    Admittedly, about the Elephant, but I tend to doubt the veracity of a reliable 200 yard wheellock kill of a pigeon. Wheellocks; I don't believe they were commonly rifled in 1650. With no rifling, I don't see how it's possible, for a musketball to travel that range in a straightline. Early firearms using black powder had difficulty with rifling because of the fouling left behind by the combustion of the powder. So an accurate musket with equivalent range, (but slower rate of fire) isn't going to kill large numbers of Archer's; quite the opposite; a couple of shots, and then the musketteer is going to look distinctly perculated, and, in addition, loose any chance of hitting the elephant, because the device is fouled.

    However, it still doesn't defeat the original contention: the sole reason for the demise of the longbowman, was the amount of time to produce competent archers.

    That some nobleman could order an accurate device for his hunting pleasure and fork the device over to Johnny to clear and clean and prepare for firing isn't going to replace anything on the battlefield.
     
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    200 yd engagement became something of an irrelevance, largely (arguably - no fun without arguments!) for the reasons I cite in post #67.

    I don't know if you've ever fired any Caliver/Arquebus type weapons, but whenever I have, even taking into account modern powder, I'm always surprised at just how accurate they can be, and to what range even the most badly formed ball can still embed itself an inch or two into an Oak stump.

    Sniping is a different thing - there's some damned fine sourced examples out there of early modern fowling pieces used in a military context, but no - not a war winner or particularly relevant weapon for another hundred or so years. Though Greville's fall at Lichfield in 1643, if sniper it was, certainly seemed to foreshadow the birth of a whole new ballgame.
    Having stood where he's said to have fallen and looked towards the cathedral tower, that was some shot...

    Edit - found a nice clear pic of the Greville plaque:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I don't think it was a wunderwaffen. Just that it was a weapon that required such enormous dedication to perfect, that it became obsolete, because its practitioners were impossible to replace in a timely manner.

    When the tactics of the day developed such that a longbowman was expected to master both the pike and longbow, well... Its great that your such a fantastic programmer, so now we expect you to manage your own projects as well, and remain as productive, so we can cut back on expenses...

    I've not yet seen an argument that convinces me, that anything else was involved, other than the inordinate time it took to master the weapon. If in an engagement, the Cavlier or Grenadier killed on a ratio 1-to-1 vs the Longbowman, they were way ahead. Longbowmen were homegrown in England and Wales over decades; the whole of Europe could produce a Cavlier or Grenadier in a matter of months.

    If I as a commander in 1650 saw a formation of archer mercenaries on the other side, too damn right I'm gonna make sure they pay in blood. Next time, you definitely won't have half as many. I'll make my losses up; where are you going to get more longbowmen?
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    But a pace isn't a step. It's a step with both feet. See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pace_(unit)
    My pace is about 5' and I'm only 5'6". Looks like if it was Roman paces I was a bit off in saying 333 yards though, the above works out to a bit over 320 yards.
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Again, I agree that training was a significant factor in the bow's demise, and have been putting that case to.people for twenty-odd years.
    But I can't see how the evidence of Pavia and other battles from the gun's rise doesn't underline how it was indeed much more complex than purely that factor.
     
  13. green slime

    green slime Member

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    pace or double pace; now how is that going to be a double? We have no way of knowing whether the original author was meaning passus or gradus? Or at least, I don't here and now.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    When I've encountered the use of the term in the past a full pace (I.e. a step with each foot) is most often what is meant in older documents. Modern usage has gone to a single step. Given that the qutoe was from Rome in 1526 I would put heavy odds on it being the Roman Pace that he was refering to. I also suspect he was exagerating more than a bit.
     
  15. green slime

    green slime Member

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    But the translation... when was that done? Where is the original text to see what was actually written? The Byzantine pace was apparently 2½ feet...
     
  16. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Not at all familiar with that battle; it seems quite a large engagement at first perusal. All I noticed at first glance was lots of references to pikemen and cavalry, aqubusiers, and significantly large numbers of the armies involved.

    Given that there cannot have been more than a few (two?) thousand longbow mercenaries in the Entirity of Europe, at any time, ever. Its hardly surprising they wouldn't be mentioned in wikipedia. I'll have to keep digging further about this engagement.
     
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Pavia's a blinder.
    One of those fin de siècle moments - something of a line beginning to be drawn between the Medieval and the Early Modern.

    I must say, during a recent interest in C16th Mercenary companies, I've never seen all that much reference on Archers at all outside of local conflict - and the English armies of the C16th hardly represent the state of the art.
    I certainly don't associate Longbows with the European big boys (maybe some Longbows in Burgundy a couple of hundred years before). Pavise Crossbowmen though (now there's something I'd like to see from a time machine).
    I seem to recall the pay of an Archer was a relative pittance compared to the boys with big trousers & Greatswords, Pikes etc.And those boys and their commanders tended to follow the cash.

    If the subject interests, Irish/Scots mercenaries & Gallowglasses might be handy starters for search terms.
    There might also be something out there on Condotierri missile weapons, but I'm only grazing the surface on those boys and associate them with the Pavise & Crossbow or Gun in a ranged context (not that they were all that interested in killing too many, a corpse being potentially worth a lot less than a hostage and missile weapons having a tendency not to discriminate).
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    For anyone still daft enough to think Armour really hinders movement, nice video. Fatigue, maybe (though never forget men who wore it were born to the stuff), but movement - no.
    (Particularly 1:16 onwards for the 'floored' movements).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hlIUrd7d1Q&feature=youtu.be
     
    belasar likes this.
  19. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Good clip.
     
  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Are you going to try to procure a set of armor at some time, Veep?
     

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