((OOC: Originally these essays were going remain as drafts until we have more information on military things, however the new format of the Royal Herald I have decided to release them. The intent behind this is to be a manual of arms written by Degwin Zabi based on his military experiences, it’ll be divided into four parts. Part One will cover the Introduction and Chapter One: The Recruitment and Training of Infantry and Cavalry and their Equipage. Part Two will cover Chapter Two: Formations and Tactics of Land Battles. Part Three shall cover Chapter Three: Military Engineering and Chapter Four: Siegecraft. Part Four shall cover Chapter Five: Espionage. I expect as our knowledge of warfare grows Nirath’s generals (and eventually admirals) will write commentaries and edits – and help propagate the knowledge of the art of warfare through successive generations.))
o My Reader
It has been custom in the past that when writing an educational works to address such things to their kings and dukes, from a persuasion that no work can be published with propriety but under the auspices of the King, and that the knowledge of a duke should be more general, and of the most important kind, as its influence is felt so keenly by all his subjects.
I do not do this, not from any lack of loyalty to our great King Dragor, or from any pretension of the martial glory of my House. I address this work more generally, to any who may read it, in the hopes that many will, for while the civil wars of my grandfather and his fathers’ era are behind us and our most glorious Kingdom enters into a renewed period of peace and prosperity the need for soldiers, and for captains to lead them has decreased little. With our nation’s increased wealth comes an increase in those who would prey upon us, for there is plenty that look towards us with envy. So dear reader I have put pen to scroll to present to you with the knowledge, whoever you may be, prince, duke, captain, or humble officer of militia, to defend your homes and our nation.
The Recruitment and Training of Infantry and Cavalry and their Equipage.
Discipline as the Cause of Military Greatness
Victory in war does not depend entirely upon numbers or mere courage; only skill and discipline will insure it. The soldier may face greater numbers, wealthier foes, and enemies unequalled in deception and stratagem but these may be countered with ease by hardening the soldier by continual practice of training him to every manoeuvre that might happen in the line and in action and by not stinting on the punishment of idleness and sloth. The courage of a well trained soldier is heightened by his knowledge of his profession, and he only wants an opportunity to execute what he is convinced he has been perfectly taught. A handful of men, inured to war, proceed to certain victory, while on the contrary numerous armies of raw and undisciplined troops are but multitudes of men dragged to slaughter.
On the Selection of Recruits.
While it is certain that training and good discipline may make any man stronger than what he was a good captain like a good potter chooses only the best clay from which to work. We must dear reader treat this subject with great care and attend the selection of recruits with some method.
The City and the Country
No one, I imagine, can doubt that the peasants are the most fit to carry arms for they from their infancy have been exposed to all kinds of weather and have been brought up to the hardest labour. They are able to endure the greatest heat of the sun, are unacquainted with the use of baths, and are strangers to the other luxuries of life. They are simple, content with little, inured to all kinds of fatigue, and prepared in some measure for a military life by their continual employment in their country-work, in handling the spade, digging trenches and carrying burdens. In cases of when there are not enough volunteers, however, we are sometimes obliged to take recruits from the cities. These men, as soon as enlisted, should be taught to work on entrenchments, to march in ranks, to carry heavy burdens, and to bear the sun and dust. Their meals should be coarse and moderate; they should be accustomed to lie sometimes in the open air and sometimes in tents. After this, they should be instructed in the use of their arms. If any long expedition is planned before their first year of service is complete, they should be encamped as far as possible from the temptations of the city. By these precautions their minds, as well as their bodies, will properly be prepared for the service. After a year of service, those recruited in the city can be considered able for service once more within a city as their life within the regiment will have hardened them to the temptations that city life provides.
The Proper Age for Recruits.
The proper time for enlisting youth into a regiment is at their entrance into the age of puberty (or only shortly thereafter). At this time instructions of every kind are more quickly imbibed and more lastingly imprinted on the mind. Besides this, the indispensable military exercises of running and leaping must be acquired before the limbs are too much stiffened by age. For it is activity, improved by continual practice, which forms the useful and good soldier. Indeed it is certainly better that a soldier, perfectly disciplined, should, through emulation, repine at his not being yet arrived at a proper age for action, than have the mortification of knowing it is past. A sufficient time is also required for his instruction in the different branches of the service. It is no easy matter to train the horse or foot archer, or to form the infantryman to every part of the drill, to teach him not to quit his post, to keep ranks, to take a proper aim and throw his missile weapons with force, to dig trenches, to plant palisades, how to manage his shield, glance off the blows of the enemy, and how to parry a stroke with dexterity. A soldier, thus perfect in his business, so far from showing any backwardness to engage, will be eager for an opportunity of signalling himself.
Signs of Desirable Qualities.
Those employed to superintend new recruits should be particularly careful in examining the features of their faces, their eyes, and the make of their limbs, to enable them to form a true judgement and choose such as are most likely to prove good soldiers. For experience assures us that there are in men, as well as in horses and dogs, certain signs by which their virtues may be discovered. The young soldier, therefore, ought to have a lively eye, should carry his head erect, his chest should be broad, his shoulders muscular and brawny, his fingers long, his arms strong, his waist small, his shape easy, his legs and feet rather nervous than fleshy. When all these marks are found in a recruit, a little height may be dispensed with, since it is of much more importance that a soldier should be strong than tall.
On the Training of Recruits
The first thing the soldiers are to be taught is the military step, which can only be acquired by constant practice of marching quickly and together. Nor is anything of more consequence either on the march or in the line than that they should keep their ranks with the greatest exactness. For troops who march in an irregular and disorderly manner are always in great danger of being defeated. They should march with the common military step twenty miles in five summer-hours, and with the full step, which is quicker, twenty-four miles in the same number of hours. If they exceed this pace, they no longer march but run, and no certain rate can be assigned.
But the young recruits in particular must be exercised in running, in order to charge the enemy with great vigour; occupy, on occasion, an advantageous post with greater expedition, and prevent the enemy in their designs upon the same; that they may, when sent to reconnoitre, advance with speed, return with greater celerity and more easily come up with the enemy in a pursuit.
Leaping is another very necessary exercise, to enable them to pass ditches or embarrassing eminences of any kind without trouble or difficulty. There is also another very material advantage to be derived from these exercises in time of action; for a soldier who advances with his javelin, running and leaping, dazzles the eyes of his adversary, strikes him with terror, and gives him the fatal stroke before he has time to put himself on his defence.
Every young soldier, without exception, should in the summer months be taught to swim; for it is sometimes impossible to pass rivers on bridges, but the flying and pursuing army both are often obliged to swim over them. A sudden melting of snow or fall of rain often makes them overflow their banks, and in such a situation, the danger is as great from ignorance in swimming as from the enemy.
To accustom soldiers to carry burdens is also an essential part of discipline. Recruits in particular should be obliged frequently to carry a weight of not less than sixty pounds (exclusive of their arms), and to march with it in the ranks. This is because on difficult expeditions they often find themselves under the necessity of carrying their provisions as well as their arms. Nor will they find this troublesome when inured to it by custom, which makes everything easy.
Recruits are to be instructed in the manner of entrenching camps, there being no part of discipline so necessary and useful as this. For in a camp, well chosen and entrenched, the troops both day and night lie secure within their works, even though in view of the enemy.
All soldiers whether infantry, archers or cavalry should be expected to have completed this initial training.
The Post Exercise
This is an invention of the greatest use, not only to soldiers, but also to gladiators. No man of either profession ever distinguished himself in the circus or field of battle, who was not perfect in this kind of exercise. Every soldier, should therefore, fix a post firmly in the ground, about the height of six feet. Against this, as against a real enemy, the recruit should be exercised with training weapons, as if it were with the common shield and sword, sometimes aiming at the head or face, sometimes at the sides, at others endeavouring to strike at the thighs or legs. He should be instructed in what manner to advance and retire, and in short how to take every advantage of his adversary; but should above all particularly cautioned not to lay himself open to his antagonist while aiming his stroke at him.
On the Training of Infantry.
Swordsmen should be taught not to cut but to thrust with their swords. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended both by the bones and armour. On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal. Besides in the attitude of striking, it is impossible to avoid exposing the right arm and side when using the edge; but when using the point, the body is covered while a thrust is given, and the adversary receives the point before he sees the sword.
Spearmen should be trained in the complete use and drill of spears, how to advance at point in order to most effectively attack the enemy and how to brace to receive an enemy charge. Spearmen should be trained in movement with their spear so that they do not entangle their allies either with the butt or point of their weapon.
Great care should also be taken to practice evolutions and formations constantly for no part of drill is more essential in action than for soldiers to keep their ranks with the greatest exactness, without opening or closing too much. Troops too much crowded can never fight as they ought, and only embarrass one another. If their order is too open and loose, they give the enemy an opportunity of penetrating. Whenever this happens and they are attacked in the rear, universal disorder and confusion are inevitable. Recruits should therefore be constantly in the field, drawn up by the roll and formed at first into a single rank. They should learn to dress in a straight line and to keep an equal and just distance between man and man. They must then be ordered to double the rank, which they must perform very quickly, and instantly cover their file leaders. In the next place, they are to double again and form four deep. After this soldiers must learn the triangle or, as it is commonly called, the wedge, a disposition found very serviceable in action. They must be taught to form the circle or orb; for well-disciplined troops, after being broken by the enemy, have thrown themselves into this position and have thereby prevented the total rout of the army. These evolutions, often practised in the field of exercise, will be found easy in execution on actual service.
On the Training of Archers
Archers are to be trained at the post using bow and arrow to strike a man from ever increasing distances. The masters for this branch must be chosen with care and must apply themselves diligently to teach the men to hold the bow in a proper position, to bend it with strength, to keep the left hand steady, to draw the right with skill, to direct both the attention and the eye to the object, and to take their aim with equal certainty either on foot or on horseback. But this is not to be acquired without great application, nor to be retained without daily exercise and practice.
The practice of massed fire while on foot is to be engaged with often, for the use of massed fire in the past has been key to many Nirathii victories and will in future be the key to many more. It is suggested to this end that the Dukes of the Realm should encourage all residents within their duchies to take up the bow, so that a great reserve of trained archers may thus be made available for use.
On the Training of Cavalry
Cavalry are to be trained at the post using lance and sabre to strike a man with accuracy and speed. The masters for this branch must teach the men to care properly for their mounts, to ride with speed over many types of terrain, and to strike efficiently while riding in formation. As with the infantry great care must be taken to practice evolutions and formations.
It is recommended that the cavalry be drawn from the sons of the aristocracy and nobility, as they can more easily bear the costs related to a mount, and have, unless their education has been lacking, been riding since a young age.
On Specialist Training
There are many types of military specialist, from the military engineers who construct bridges and fortifications, to the artillerymen who operate the great siege engines and the scout that ranges ahead of an army on the march. All must be trained according to their branch, practicing their arms and equipment daily until such time as their actions upon a command being given are automatic and instant.
On the Equipment of Soldiers
There are as many ways of equipping soldiers for war as there are princes, dukes, and captains, in this treatise I show the ways that my troops have been equipped and explain the reasoning for equipping them in such a way.
Light spears are most often used to create a cheap force multiplier and make a good choice for militia forces, I equip my light spears with padded cloth and a simple 8ft spear. The use of padded cloth saves on money and allows for the light forces to move quickly should they need. This ability to move quickly increases their utility as rapidly deployed militia and for vanguard and flanking actions.
I tend to equip my archers similarly to my light spears, with bows of course rather than spears. The use of padded cloth allows for the archers to maintain their mobility in order that they may disengage if threatened by enemy infantry. I find that many archers tend to also carry infantry short swords in case they are overrun. I tend to discourage this practice since it encourages the archers to fight rather than flee when faced with trained melee troops.
I equip my line swordsmen with chain mail tunics, cloth leggings, heavy shields and short thrusting swords. I find chain makes a fine balance between the protection required by front line troops and the risk of overburdening troops, especially those fighting in the arid environments of our native Nirath.
I equip my line spears in the same manner, chain tunics, cloth leggings and 8ft spears for the same reasons. I tend to have more spearmen than swordsmen as spears are cheaper to equip a large force with.
I tend to encourage cavalry as a quick scouting force rather than a decisive engaging force, for this reason I usually equip my cavalry with padded cloth tunics and offer a short lance and sabre. Since I mainly recruit my cavalry from the nobility and aristocracy of course many cavalry troopers in my regiments ignore the gear I offer in favour of personal arms and armour.