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Thursday, September 4, 2014

PODA weapons devolution 12



Cavalry can be your shock troop to disburse infantry formation, given the type of warfare, but most likely not in the gunpowder age we most likely won’t see end ( whether that happens to be smokeless or black gunpowder remains to be seen ).  Horse troops are valuable for their mobility in scouting and recon.  And are great for long distance raids.  As long as you keep them off the battlefield directly out of infantry formation rifle fire- although as recently as the German/French conflict in the late 1800’s where both sides had the first generation of breech loading centerfire weapons cavalry did play an essential role at times- they are necessary tactical units.  Of course, only two groups may employ large horse units- bountiful agriculture areas or grassland ecosystems.  Areas at the margins where the soil barely feeds people can’t support a horse population.  And those areas supporting grass rather than crops are great for horse but they do limit the range their warriors may strike out from.  Once they leave the source of their mounts feed they are immediately at a military disadvantage.  I bring this up as it seems most folks just naturally assume once the cars sputter to a stop we will all cheerfully mount horses and gallivant about the countryside as gentlemen of yore.  All very splendid, if you have an infrastructure to support them.  You need endless grassland or few enough people and enough excess land for pasturage.  And you need transportation of feed to areas that don’t provide it if your horse goes there ( different breeds have different feeding requirements- some can’t last long at all on wild food but need cultivated crops where others thrive on it ).


Artillery was the first use of blackpowder and it ushered in the age of fortified cities- a very different proposition from the luxury forts of kings in terms of expense which, together with the cost of cannon, pushed forwards centralization- and the end of localized power from a nobles castle.  Then, it decimated the military advantage of knights and the eventual rebirth of rights of the populace.  The end of serfdom and the beginning of democracy ( it took awhile, and was a bit on the bloody side ).  But long before handheld weapons were practical, artillery reigned.  And to a large extent it has always been the predominant battlefield gunpowder weapon.  Cannon fire always inflicts the most casualties.  You need infantry to protect the artillery yet artillery is infantries main foe ( tanks are the fusion of horse and shot but still need infantry to protect it- and aircraft has taken on the recon role.  Of course, some idiots still keep trying to use aircraft as a substitute for raiding ).  But, again, you are going to have nitrate and metal ore/smelting issues.  Catapults are probably going to be the artillery of the post-apocalypse ( very shortly after the modern stock of shells is depleted ).


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  1. In the War of Northern Aggression it was disease that was the number one killer of soldiers. Maybe a future article?

    1. Well, wasn't disease a #1 killer of everyone most of the time? I think that was why being a soldier wasn't viewed with alarm then like it is now. Odds were you don't see a battlefield death prior to a microbe one. And you ate better, or at least more often.

  2. Horse (or bike) carried infantry is the most likely future. It used to be that a 3-6 man squad would ride horses (along with a dozen other squads) to do raids and skirmishing during the early personal firearms era. They would attack from horse back occasionally but usually dismount, leaving one rear guard to watch the mounts while the rest formed up as fast attack special forces. They were used during the pike and cannon era as skirmishers, flankers, supply line disruptors, and other special force uses. If bikes can be kept as a technology ( other than possibly replaceable rubber I don't see why not) I could see mountain style bike riders acting in a similar role with the added advantage of reduced feed, training and maintenance costs- Calvary is expensive to train both man and animal, regular infantry far cheaper, mount infantry on bikes to give nearly the speed of calvary with little increase in food or maintenance costs- seems win-win to me. And if you have any petroleum age motors you can give the commanders motorized bikes to give them an edge up when it is time to retreat.

  3. Hey Jim!

    You are in La La land again



    1. OOOOww - thanks for the point! the troops cant eat the mounts if the mounts are bikes!

  4. Horses would be a regular menu item in America now had it not been for the Texas Cattleman's Association getting a federal law passed after WWII banning consumption. Many U.S. Troops developed a taste for horse while fighting and serving in France. The Cattlemen were afraid this would cut into their business. Now thanks to the Whacko's out there it is virtually impossible to slaughter a gelding for human consumption in this F**ked up country.
    As an after thought, consider how important haying is in Northern climes where snow is a concern. Much time will be used haying the old fashion way. Without a baler, the hay will have to be hauled to the barn, elevated to the loft and stored till winter when it is needed. Work work work!
    One other after thought about black powder. Potassium Nitrate was made from human and animal shit in a trough with urine and water pour over the top to precipitate out the KNO3, in a second trough below the first. So gunpowder will never disappear completely as somebody will replicate the old ways. Charcoal is easy to make. The sulfur will be the bugaboo for most as it is mostly made as a byproduct in the Petroleum refining business now instead of being mined. Love your articles, they make us all think.


I must moderate-trust me. Criticize ideas, NOT the people behind them. Be civil. You will be warned twice and the third time just deleted. No N-Bombs. If you disagree with me, you must praise my hair first.