It must be terrible to be the first soldier going up one of these siege ladders. I mean, it must put a damper on enthusiasm for the job when you know your only function is to serve as a human shield for everyone down below.
Hope you had a good holiday and are well prepped for the New Year’s Eve celebrations! Wonderful page, as always, especially the the last panel!
Its interesting that in many military traditions it is an honour to be chosen from the multitude of volunteers to be the first at the wall… The brits called it the “Forlorne Hope” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forlorn_hope) and were a member of the Forlorne Hope to 1) Breach the defenses and, most importantly, 2) survive the battle, great honor/career advancement/judicial pardons for past crimes/first crack the the lootin’ and pillagin’ is heaped upon that person. The literary British Rifleman/swashbuckling rogue Richard Sharpe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Sharpe_(fictional_character), portrayed by Sean Bean in the BBC series) was one such survivor of a Forlorne Hope.
Anyhow, best wishes for 2011 to all!
Thanks vonbek… I didn’t know about the Forlone Hope before, that’s some interesting history to read about. And happy New Year to you too.
“When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.”
There’s a reason why, in the pre-gunpowder era, fortresses were rarely taken by storm. A very dynamic page; super job. Happy New Year! 新年快乐！
Byzantium, the New York of it’s day, was taken by storm…by piling attacking soldiers a thousands thick, the invaders finally just cake walked in, so to speak…
Rivers of blood in the street then actually ensued…
Never a fate was so richly deserved…Byzantium having utterly destroyed all its neighbors and bankrupting itself in the process, it was then left defenseless against the surrounding desert rabble.
No idea if the “forlorn hope” (as conceptualized in the West) was in practice in China during the Three Kingdoms era, but I don’t recall any accounts of it.
@Mercy: Thanks, and Happy New Year to you too
@Ming: I know almost nothing about the history of the Byzantine empire, but it sounds like the fall of Byzantium would be very interesting to read about.
@ Chortles: I’m also not aware of dedicated siege troops like the Forlorn Hope in Chinese history, although there are certainly plenty of examples of the underlying concept – using promises of riches and glory to encourage frontline soldiers to attack boldly.
True re: the underlying concept, but in the context of “the forlorn hope,” I’m not aware of the concept applying to siege warfare in ancient Chinese warfare, as opposed to the general “I want to be the vanguard” (which for some reason to my mind implies the idea of field warfare).
Indeed, Belisarius, the Alexander of his days, doubled the Eastern Roman Empire, saving the Emperor Justinian’s life from rioting charioteers
by trapping and slaughtering 30,000 of them only to be cuckolded by his wife,
blinded by a jealous Emperor and forced to beg by the roadside…
“Interesting times”…( a Chinese expression, I believe) followed in consequence…
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