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 Post subject: History: Phalanx, Epistates vs Protostates...
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:49 pm 
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In military texts, an epistates (the one who stands behind) is the man behind a protostates (the one who stands first/in front). The phalanx was made up of alternate ranks of protostates and epistates. Thus, in a file of 8 men, the protostates were the men in positions 1,3,5 and 7, while the epistates occupied positions 2,4,6 and 8.

^(Wikipedia)

That said, history has played tug of war with fresh recruits and seasoned fighters since the beginnings of professional militaries; flip-flopping them in rank and file. I believe in colonial era, the fresh recruits were front, veterans and officers behind.

How did this play out in Phalanx formations? Emphasis on the Greeks, but Rome too. For some reason, I'm thinking the experience is in the front because of the discipline needed...

Anyone know where the experienced soldiers are located in this situation?

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 Post subject: Re: History: Phalanx, Epistates vs Protostates...
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:47 pm 
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Wikipedia's "Structural History of the Roman Military" article.
Europa Barbarorum's "History and Military Units of the Romani" article.

During the late Kingdom and Early Republic eras of Rome (Camillan military era) , the legions were divided up by skill, age, and financial ability of the soldiers to equip themselves.

Out in the very front were various drafted peasants or fighters seeking to better their station such as
  • Leves Image armed w/ javs and buckler
  • and the Accensi Image slingers who could stay in the rear for safety or move out in front to screen the movements of the main formation or gain extra range against the enemy forces.

Behind them were the main formations of the legion. In front were the
  • Hastati Image
  • followed by the PrincipesImage
  • with the hardened reserves being the TriariiImage who fought in traditional hoplite fashion
  • and the Rorarii Image armed with spears, helmet, and tower shield, though they are believed to have filled an auxiliary/supernumerary role

It is known that during the time of Marius, he rotated his lines and reserves more frequently than previous generals had. Most waited until a line was completely beaten and near routing before sending in fresh troops to continue the battle. I have read (but cannot find the source at this time) that each roman unit down to the maniple level would rotate their troops from front to rear each time either one of their own or one of the enemy was killed. That is to say the front man is killed or kills his enemy, steps to the side (Romans usually didn't fight in a shield wall, but left room to step aside and swing their swords), backs up to the rear of the formation and the man who was behind him steps up to the front to repeat the process. This ensured both experience and freshness for the troops at a rate that would be otherwise unavailable if the front line simply fought until death or the enemy was destroyed.

During the time of the Empire from Augustus to about 250 AD, the "classic" Roman Legion existed. Their order of battle was thus:

Front Line
5th Cohort | 4th Cohort | 3rd Cohort | 2nd Cohort | 1st Cohort

Second Line
10th Cohort | 9th Cohort | 8th Cohort | 7th Cohort | 6th Cohort

and the website states:
Roman-Empire.net wrote:
The first cohort of any legion were its elite troops. So too the sixth cohort consisted of "the finest of the young men", the eighth contained "selected troops", the tenth cohort "good troops".
The weakest cohorts were the 2nd, 4th, 7th and the 9th cohorts. It was in the 7th and 9th cohorts one would expect to find recruits in training.


Since most people were and are right handed (in fact the latin word for "left" is sinister) the "strong" side of a formation is the left or shield side. Therefore, somewhat inexperienced or less-than-elite troops could be on that end of the line because they had their shields to rely on for extra defense. Likewise, the "weak" side of a formation is the right side because you only have your sword to rely on to save you, while at the same time you had to overcome the enemy's shield to kill him. Thus, the best units were on the right end of the formation and, as we see on our own fields today, the great toilet bowl effect could ensue unless one side was "anchored" on terrain or one side ended up defeating the other.

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 Post subject: Re: History: Phalanx, Epistates vs Protostates...
PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:42 am 
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Good **** question.
And good, very good, answer. Nice work man.
I can decide which way is better for Belegarth, we've(the WUH) have tried both.
We've put our new guys togther as a group and tried to support them. This works ok, but you can't rely on a group of new guys alone to live while you repsition or ward off an attack by a really good team.
This type of action tend to lead into having a slow block of new guys and a very fast, smaller group of Vets that end up acting like Cavalry.
If you stager your people: newguy/vet/newguy/vet/newguy/vet: you get alot better line, but loose you cavalry support. This can work with a good set of rear guards, but it's dicey. You either really **** WORK the rest of the field, or eventually you get flanked and everybody goes down after slaughtering whoever you get caught fighting.
It really depends on who your fighting.
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 Post subject: Re: History: Phalanx, Epistates vs Protostates...
PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:43 pm 
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Thank you Fork, that really means a lot coming from you.

Here's what I was able to dig up on Phalanx formation make up. From Wikipedia's Phalanx page I found some interesting sections.

Quote:
The basic combat element of the Greek armies was the stichos (meaning "file") or enomotia (meaning "sworn"), usually 8-16 men strong, led by a decadarchos who was assisted by a dimoerites and two decasteroe (sing. decasteros). Four to a maximum of 32 enomotiae (depending on the era in question or the city) were forming a lochos led by a lochagos, who in this way was in command of initially 100 hoplites to a maximum of c.a 500 in the late Hellenistic armies. Here, it has to be noted that the military manuals of Asclepiodotus and Aelian use the term lochos to denote a file in the phalanx. A taxis (mora for the Spartans) was the greatest standard hoplitic formation of 500 to 1500 men, led by a strategos (general). The entire army, a total of several taxeis or morae was led by a generals' council. The commander-in-chief was usually called a polemarchos or a strategos autocrator.
Breaking that down into modern military jargon, a squad of 8-16 men was led by a squad leader who had a second-in-command and two fire team leaders to help him out. Between 4 and 32 squads formed a Platoon/Company lead by a Lieutenant/Captain and had between 100 and 500 men under him. The largest unit that was used appears to be like a Battalion with 500-1500 men led by a Colonel/Brigadier General with a lot of independence. Several Battalions made up the Army and that was commanded by something like an "Allied Command" with one 4-5 star over it all. This shows that there were vets and trusted "motivators" distributed throughout all areas of the army for command and control purposes.

Quote:
Several stages in hoplite combat can be defined:
  • Ephodos: The hoplites stop singing their paeanes (battle hymns) and move towards the enemy, gradually picking up pace and momentum. In the instants before impact war cries (alalagmoe, sing. alalagmos) would be made. Notable war cries were the Athenian (elelelelef! elelelelef!) and the Macedonian (alalalalai! alalalalai!) alalagmoe.
  • Krousis: The opposing phalanxes meet each other almost simultaneously along their front. The promachoe (the front-liners) had to be physically and psychologically fit to sustain and survive the clash.
  • Doratismos: Repeated, rapid spear thrusts in order to disrupt the enemy formation.
  • Othismos: Literally "pushing" after most spears have been broken, the hoplites begin to push with their large shields and use their secondary weapon, the sword. This could be the longest phase.
  • Pararrhexis: "Breaching" the opposing phalanx, the enemy formation shatters and the battle ends.
I bolded what I find to be significant sentences because they lend credence to the idea that the front line troops in a phalanx were the best, most hardened, and most physically and mentally fit for battle in the entire unit. This is further supplemented by the following statement:

Quote:
The phalanx usually advanced at a walking pace, although it is possible that they picked up speed during the last several yards. One of the main reasons for this slow approach was to maintain formation. If the phalanx lost its shape as it approached the enemy it would be rendered useless.
Veteran troops of tested mettle at the front would likely be more able to control the pace of march compared to over-eager or frightened recruits or other soldiers of lesser stature. Continuing:

Quote:
The opposing sides would collide, possibly shivering many of the spears of the front row. The battle would then rely on the valour of the men in the front line; whilst those in the rear maintained forward pressure on the front ranks with their shields.
Again, the front line (along with depth of formation) is believed to be the key to winning the day. Any recruit or lesser-trained soldier could stand in the rear and push / take pot shots when they were available from the rear and learn from and encourage the front line. If they started to falter, that's what the ouragos (meaning tail-leader) officer was for.

The article goes on to talk about the "strong" vs the "weak" side of the formation and the toilet bowl drifting effect that would occur just like I mentioned in the Roman post above. This leads me to believe that the cream of the crop (officers and such) were also posted on the right flank.

Furthermore, we do not need to worry about dying like real soldiers have to, especially in ghastly hand-to-hand combat where the ground would be slick with the warm blood of your friends and neighbors, men gurgling for their mothers and wives as they slink to the ground grasping at the gaping gushing hole that was their throat or face just a moment before. These were real considerations that ancient warriors used to face and they attempted to protect against it thusly:

Quote:
The hoplites had to trust their neighbours to protect them, and be willing to protect their neighbour; a phalanx was thus only as strong as its weakest elements. The effectiveness of the phalanx therefore depended upon how well the hoplites could maintain this formation while in combat, and how well they could stand their ground, especially when engaged against another phalanx. For this reason, the formation was deliberately organized to group friends and family closely together, thus providing a psychological incentive to support one's fellows, and a disincentive through shame to panic or attempt to flee.
Again, not something that we on a Bel field need to worry about, but that is an additional way that they formed up their troops.

**********************************************

Personally, I really am torn by attempting to use real tactics in Belegarth. Fork, you made an awesome statement in the Green vs Blue thread

Forkbeard wrote:
.....With all these armor-less fools running around, we STILL never really see more than a handfull of people trying to fight spear and sheild. Why, be cuase it is usefless on it's own in Bel combat.
It has nothing to do with armor. Its the weapons all the way. In real life , you can slash with your spear. You can hit with the but, you can brain people with the shaft and you can STAB TO THE FACE. Taking away all these attacks cripples the weapon style. Now add in that in real life you can hit people with your sheild and reder them unconsious and injure them badly. Now add in the fact that spear and sheild is really only effective in groups, like a phalanx, which we don't really do, you've basicly completely ruined the style.
All this amounts to the same cripling that quarterstaves go through in our game. In real life, it is a much more effective weapon than a Bel legal quarterstaff.
Have you ever tried to fight an un armored fighter with short spear and shield while they go S&B?.....
It's the God-honest truth that a ton of real life tactics and weapon combos are totally nerfed to the point of uselessness because of our safety rules. That's not a bad thing, just the nature of the beast since we're playing a game.

I have worked very hard on a Latin drill manual based on the Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies Manual and some stuff that the Ermine Street Guard does. It was intended to give us an edge by speaking Latin so no one could understand us as well as to give us training guidelines for using formations and tactics. Unfortunately, Legio XXV doesn't have nearly enough people and those we do have are nothing near fully trained professional soldiers (foam or otherwise), so we're rather ineffective. Additionally, because you only need to "pop" someone with a foam sword and not give a truly disabling or killing blow, tactics and armor that let you power through and close the gap while slaughtering and maiming aren't as useful as range control, footwork, dodging, and knowing how to take advantage of an opening.

I don't know how the game is played in the East, but I hear that it is a lot of huge lines forming shield walls. Perhaps that's the old glory days of Dag or just centralized around the mid-Atlantic. Out west there is much more skirmishing and old fashioned "barbarian" hero-like individualism or small teams of 2-3. Bigger units like the WUH can form maneuverable and independent sub-units that allow flanking and pinning.

That same Phalanx article wrote:
Quote:
Some groups, such as the Spartans at Nemea, tried to use this phenomenon (toilet bowling) to their advantage. In this case the phalanx would sacrifice their left side, which typically consisted of allied troops, in an effort to overtake the enemy from the flank. It is unlikely that this strategy worked very often, as it is not mentioned frequently in ancient Greek literature.
Possibly a tactic worth attempting, though surely not one that will gain the favor of the sacrificed. I often will attempt to go "heavy" on the right side of our formation and use n00bs or fighters good at being skirmishers to draw attention away from our assault on the left in order to attempt to divide the enemy mentally, if not physically. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but I definitely have to rotate the troops through the meat grinder or give them specialty archer-hunter-killer roles to keep morale and interest in coming back up.

I like Forkbeard's cavalry approach to using fast vets to flank and take out sides while slower and well-protected but possibly lesser-skilled troops hold the main line. I think that the fortunate thing about our game is that we don't really die. This encourages anyone serious enough to want to excel to get in the thick of things and spar on the side until they become faster and better able to anticipate enemy moves. The greatest part of this game is its speed, IMO - we fight, we die, we rez, we do it again.

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Just don't call it boffing/boffering. That's not what we do. We fight. With swords. To the sorta-death. I can't stand it when someone says boffering. Plus is means sexin' in the UK.



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 Post subject: Re: History: Phalanx, Epistates vs Protostates...
PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:43 pm 
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Just read through all of that, and probably will do so a couple more times for retention. I appreciate the well-thought/researched answers gentlemen.

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 Post subject: Re: History: Phalanx, Epistates vs Protostates...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 9:55 pm 
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Yeah, nice work, guys.


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 Post subject: Re: History: Phalanx, Epistates vs Protostates...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:19 pm 
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I really enjoyed this report, thank you!

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