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Archers in Front or Behind?

Discussion of topics concerning life in the middle ages around the world, including architecture, history, and warfare.

Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby AK_Brickster » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:26 pm

First of all, Richard! A triple-post?? Really? lol

Second, I would put my archers in the back. Especially if it's two large forces going after each other, you are just lobbing massive volleys at the enemy, so you don't have to worry about a flat trajectory as much. Once the enemy is close enough to need a flat trajectory, it's time for the infantry to move to engage anyway, so you would just be in the way if you were in the front.

If you're using conscripted soldiers and losing the hand-to-hand portion, you can always order your archers to lob into the fray, without bothering to worry whether you're going to hit your own men in the process ;)
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby richardanthonyc » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:52 am

AK_Brickster wrote:First of all, Richard! A triple-post?? Really? lol

Second, I would put my archers in the back. Especially if it's two large forces going after each other, you are just lobbing massive volleys at the enemy, so you don't have to worry about a flat trajectory as much. Once the enemy is close enough to need a flat trajectory, it's time for the infantry to move to engage anyway, so you would just be in the way if you were in the front.

If you're using conscripted soldiers and losing the hand-to-hand portion, you can always order your archers to lob into the fray, without bothering to worry whether you're going to hit your own men in the process ;)



I like to do a good tripple post :P
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Stormy Arthur » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:11 pm

Throndor wrote:The Mongolians had success because they had the Recurve bow, but that wasn't really a European thing. [/quote
Throndor wrote:Also, archers are fairly cheap to train and maintain;



As to no re-curve bows and no horse-archers, you'll have to tell the Hungarians, Poles, Finns and Turks they are doing it wrong...

Throndor wrote:Also, archers are fairly cheap to train and maintain;


Archers are very expensive to train and maintain, also it requires constant practice. One of the reasons most armies maintained crossbow men instead of archers, it's also a leading factor to the supplantation of the archer in England in the Tudor era.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby WvdP » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:09 pm

In Roman legions and during the Hundred Years War it was not uncommon to put archers in the front and let them shoot the enemy as long as the enemy was not close enough to attack them. When the enemy approached, the archers would open their lines to let the cavalry and/or infantry through, or the cavalry and/or infantry would open their lines to let the archers through.
The formation of armies at the battlefield was definitely not inflexible during battles. The position of your archers would depend on the stadium of the battle. In front when both armies aren't within reach of the melee weapons; between the lines of infantry and/or cavalry when the enemy approaches and behind the infantry and/or cavalry during the melee.

However, for sieges and ambushes you would naturally need other formations.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Hayden. » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:39 pm

When I play Strategic war games, such as Rome total war, I find the best way is to mingle them with infantry then send them to the rear when the enemy approach.
Or with cavalry, put them in the front, then when the enemy comes I send them to the rear and charge the cavalry.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:03 pm

Manzikert.... was just bad planning on the Byzantine part. They were outnumbered two to one and to make matters worse the Byzantine army had a large number of Turks who simply left the battle, further weakening any chance the Romans had of victory. That said the battle should never have happened. Romanos should have had more support internally and been more cautious.


Richard,

What evidence is there that Mongol arrows could shoot 100 meters further than the european longbow? Are these real longbows of the toys that are often seen now a days? Payne-Galloway in his book on the crossbow had some figures of such long distance for the larger Turkish bow of composite build but these were nearly as long as longbows and were made in a way that self bows could not compete with. Because composite bows for mounted men tend to be shorter they might be nearly as powerful but often were not, nor could they be as strong as the longer composite bows the Turks used on foot- since their tactics were about harrying fire and wearing a group down.

I have personally seen and measured longbow arrows well over 350 yards in fight. Some have reached 400-425 yards when I was not present but measured.

Now going back to Payne-Galloway he states the only way the Turkish super bow was able to loose an arrow that far was an arrow guide and small dart-like projectiles. This is one of the major issues with archery. To get a arrow or dart farthest it need be light with a powerful bow. But if the arrow is light the decrease in mass will make the impact force greatly reduced. If it is too light on a strong bow then it might simply shatter though so there is a balance. As well the most powerful bows I know of in Asia top about around 180-200lb draw. These seemingly is similar with warbows in Europe and were of limited use as it takes not only a lifetime of training but near full time training. The Manchurians who took over China in 1644 were major proponents of archery and many of their writings indicate the highest draw bows were not the average.

Mongol bows likely were relatively strong in draw but with lighter arrows this would limit impact joules. Since we have hundreds if not thousands of accounts dealing with Mongol tactics and archery this seems to be the case as their strategy and tactics revolve around this type of archery.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Tria » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:13 pm

Archers would be primarly behind, but due to the fact that they are light infantry (fast but no armor) they should move forward sometimes and blend with the swordsmen or spearmen who will protect them from enemies.
At least in Stronghold (PC GAME) that works pretty good...
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:30 am

Yeah video games love that set up. In the real world that is not how they were used most often. Any one who likes should look up De Re Militari by Vegetius. He includes a great deal of this. If you do not like manuals on military activity Anne Komnena's Alexiad includes formation information for most of the battles. Archers generally are in front or flanking. They might be light infantry but having them in front gives them more time and range of aim than behind an army.

Like the example I gave above it does happen where they are used behind but I figure this set up was to allow close proximity for them to loose arrows.

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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby richardanthonyc » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:22 am

Heir of Black Falcon wrote:Manzikert.... was just bad planning on the Byzantine part. They were outnumbered two to one and to make matters worse the Byzantine army had a large number of Turks who simply left the battle, further weakening any chance the Romans had of victory. That said the battle should never have happened. Romanos should have had more support internally and been more cautious.


Richard,

What evidence is there that Mongol arrows could shoot 100 meters further than the european longbow? Are these real longbows of the toys that are often seen now a days? Payne-Galloway in his book on the crossbow had some figures of such long distance for the larger Turkish bow of composite build but these were nearly as long as longbows and were made in a way that self bows could not compete with. Because composite bows for mounted men tend to be shorter they might be nearly as powerful but often were not, nor could they be as strong as the longer composite bows the Turks used on foot- since their tactics were about harrying fire and wearing a group down.

I have personally seen and measured longbow arrows well over 350 yards in fight. Some have reached 400-425 yards when I was not present but measured.

Now going back to Payne-Galloway he states the only way the Turkish super bow was able to loose an arrow that far was an arrow guide and small dart-like projectiles. This is one of the major issues with archery. To get a arrow or dart farthest it need be light with a powerful bow. But if the arrow is light the decrease in mass will make the impact force greatly reduced. If it is too light on a strong bow then it might simply shatter though so there is a balance. As well the most powerful bows I know of in Asia top about around 180-200lb draw. These seemingly is similar with warbows in Europe and were of limited use as it takes not only a lifetime of training but near full time training. The Manchurians who took over China in 1644 were major proponents of archery and many of their writings indicate the highest draw bows were not the average.

Mongol bows likely were relatively strong in draw but with lighter arrows this would limit impact joules. Since we have hundreds if not thousands of accounts dealing with Mongol tactics and archery this seems to be the case as their strategy and tactics revolve around this type of archery.


An inscription on a stone stele was found near Nerchinsk in Siberia: "While Chinggis (Genghis) Khan was holding an assembly of Mongolian dignitaries, after his conquest of Sartaul (Khwarezm), Yesüngge (the son of Chinggis Khan's brother) shot a target at 335 alds (536 m)."

In the historical novel "Khökh Sudar" Injinashi, the Mongolian philosopher, historian and writer, imagines the competition amongst all Mongolian men in about 1194-1195: five archers each hit the target three times from a distance of 500 bows (1 bow = at least 1 metre)

Theres the Historical attesting to the Mongolian bow and how is has a longer range than the Longbow
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby richardanthonyc » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:14 am

Heir of Black Falcon wrote:Manzikert.... was just bad planning on the Byzantine part. They were outnumbered two to one and to make matters worse the Byzantine army had a large number of Turks who simply left the battle, further weakening any chance the Romans had of victory. That said the battle should never have happened. Romanos should have had more support internally and been more cautious.


Also just looking at manzikert agian the Byzantines where the ones with twice the numbers of the Turks?
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:39 am

Perhaps. The numbers for this battle are not so simple. Most of the really high, 50% plus numbers are from sources highly critical of the ruler at the time. Considering the Empire was in a civil war much of the 11th century this could easily be seen as propaganda to show just how pathetic the man was- hence should not be in charge. I think they could have had more men but they were unprepared and seem to have failed to use scouts in an effective manner. Myself I figure the turks had more men as resources were limted in Byzantium at the time.

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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby richardanthonyc » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:23 am

I don't think that they would have won even if they had Belisarius :lol:
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby mpoh98 » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:43 pm

In the rear. I think it extremely unlikely for them to shoot their own men. After all, they are aiming more up than forward. I would also think that they would have to be good shots to be in the army.
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby *Lionheart* » Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:52 am

Throndor wrote:I was just wondering what was more realistic/successful/used: having archers in front of your troops, or behind them. I can see the logic of both ways. For starters, if your troops are in front of your archers, your archers are protected and can have an enemy in their line of fire for prolonged periods if their targets go into melee. However, they may also shoot their own troops, and have shortened range. Archers in front would provide the archers with longer range, a clearer shot, and not have the risk of them killing their allies, but it also leaves them vulnerable, and to move them hastily behind your lines is a bit unrealistic, and accidents may happen if 50 men are walking through each other's ranks while carrying huge medieval weapons. While I can see the pros and cons of both sides, I see both of these a lot, and I don't think there's really a "right" or "wrong". Personally, I think it just makes more sense to have the archers in the rear. What do you think?


I would have my archers in the rear, and as for them shooting their own men, it wouldn't happen with english archers as they were very proficient in archery and wielded the fabled longbow which had a generous rang of 180 yards or much more depending on the bow and could be fire one arrow per 3 seconds. :eyebrows:
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Re: Archers in Front or Behind?

Postby allenvirgil » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:52 am

*Lionheart* wrote:
Throndor wrote:I was just wondering what was more realistic/successful/used: having archers in front of your troops, or behind them. I can see the logic of both ways. For starters, if your troops are in front of your archers, your archers are protected and can have an enemy in their line of fire for prolonged periods if their targets go into melee. However, they may also shoot their own troops, and have shortened range. Archers in front would provide the archers with longer range, a clearer shot, and not have the risk of them killing their allies, but it also leaves them vulnerable, and to move them hastily behind your lines is a bit unrealistic, and accidents may happen if 50 men are walking through each other's ranks while carrying huge medieval weapons. While I can see the pros and cons of both sides, I see both of these a lot, and I don't think there's really a "right" or "wrong". Personally, I think it just makes more sense to have the archers in the rear. What do you think?


I would have my archers in the rear, and as for them shooting their own men, it wouldn't happen with english archers as they were very proficient in archery and wielded the fabled longbow which had a generous rang of 180 yards or much more depending on the bow and could be fire one arrow per 3 seconds. :eyebrows:


agree that would be the best way to have your archers in the rear
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