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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
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Message started by AjlouniBoy on Jan 13th, 2006 at 3:52pm

Title: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by AjlouniBoy on Jan 13th, 2006 at 3:52pm
Detailed accounts of the roles of slingers in the Roman Army are related by Vegetius:

Flavius Vegetius Renatus:  Epitome of Military Science

Book II: The Ancient Legion


14. Lines of Battle

In a Fifth line were sometimes placed carriage-ballistas and manuballistarii (crossbowmen or catapultiers), “sling–staff men” (fundibulatores) and slingers (funditores).  “Sling–staff men” are those who cast stones from a “sling-staff”(fustibalus)  The “sling-staff” is a staff 4 ft. long, attached to the middle of which is a sling (funda) made of leather and operated with either hand, it discharges stones almost like the mangonel (onager).   Slingers discharge stones from slings made of flax or hair-the later are said to be better-by whirling the arm about the head.

17.  When the battle commences the heavy armament stands like a wall.This point should be noted and maintained by every manner of means:  when the battle commenced, the First and Second lines stood immobile…Meanwhile, the light troops, armaturae, exculcatores, archers and slingers, i.e. the light armament provoked the opposition, going in front of the line.  If they managed to put the enemy to flight, they pursued.  If they came under pressure by the other side’s resolve or numbers, they returned to their own men and took up position behind them.
Then the heavy armament took up the battle, and stood so to speak like a wall of iron…

23.  The training of soldiers
Archers and slingers used to put up scopae, i.e. bundles of brushwood or straw, for a target, removing themselves 600 ft. from the target, to practice hitting it frequently with arrows, or stones aimed from a “sling-staff” (fustibalus).  This enabled them to do without nerves in battle what they had always done in exercises on the training-field.
They should also be accustomed to rotating the sling once only about the head, when the stone is discharged from it.

24. War Elephants
[Methods of dealing with War Elephants including chariot or horseback spearmen, infantry with pikes, lances, or javelins, slingers, and ballistas firing extra large bolts are discussed.]

Another method was for slingers with “sling-staves” (fustibali) and slings to shoot  round stones at the Indians controlling the elephants, knocking them off, turrets and all, and slay them; no safer method has been found than this…

Against elephants we have listed several examples and devices, so that if the need ever arise it may be known what should be deployed against such monstrous beasts.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by badgerdude on Jan 16th, 2006 at 10:57am
 I think that the sling stone, no matter how big, would only annoy an elephant. However, elephants, being tempermental beasts, would only put up with so much. After a while, they would probably start to try to shake off the people riding it or just go on rampage.
 If you really want to take out an elephant, you sneak up behind it with a very large sword or axe. Use it to cut the tendons in the back of one leg. Elephants are the only four legged mammal that cannot stand on 3 legs. Down it goes.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Fritz_the_Cat on Jan 16th, 2006 at 11:26am
How about slinging mice at the elephants :P

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by AjlouniBoy on Jan 16th, 2006 at 12:57pm
War elephants were said to be very touchy about squealing pigs.

Whatever one could do to create chaos and neutralize the effectiveness of this ProtoTank was worth it.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by badgerdude on Jan 17th, 2006 at 12:48pm
 That's why it was a strategy to light pigs on fire and release them in the direction of the elephants.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Fritz_the_Cat on Jan 17th, 2006 at 2:56pm
Wow ! Sending BBQ pigs to the enemy ?  ;D

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by badgerdude on Jan 18th, 2006 at 12:43pm
Whatever works to get the elephants unnerved. One can imagine the chaos of a rampaging elephant on the field of battle :o.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Leeds_Lobber on Jan 21st, 2006 at 5:45pm
Methods used against elephants in the Ancient World

1) skirmishers - able to get up close to elephants, stab, hack at and annoy them with the ability to get out of the way a bit more than poor old formed infantry - counter-tactic - elephant escorts; friendly skirmishers.

2) Flaming Pigs - the Aetolians invented these - smear pigs in Pitch, light them and herd them in the direction of the elephant. They worked , a bit...... The Romans tried them too against Pyrhus.

3) Anti-'phant Spikes - against Antigonus Monopthalmus the citizens of xxxx (canna remember) hammered long nails through doors, and then laid them spikes-up in the road. Worked very well.

4) Caltrops - a more mobile form of the above - also worked well

5) Anti Elephant Carts. The Romans tried these, in a simple form, and the Ancient Indians from those states that were low on Elephants. We are not too sure what they were like - the Roman ones were probably something like a big wheelbarrow, with spikey bits sticking out. There is a mad Indian Professor who claims the ancient Indian Rathamasaula were steam-powered or clockwork - like a giant threshing machine sorta thing. Most people think he is a loon and that they were pretty much the same as the Roman one. The Roman ones didn't work very well.

6) Get the hell outa the way. This worked best of all, and spelled the end of the War elephant in the west. Romans perfected the knack (also used by Alexander against Chariots) of forming up in a checkerboard, and when elephants attacjed, opening lanes which the elephant would charge down, avoiding people (see below) behind the lanes would be skirmishers to attack the elephant from the sides.

7) Bigger, meaner elephants. The Ptolemies (egypt) got their elephants from North Africa - the now extinct North African Forest Elephant. The Seleucids ( Syria ) got theirs from India - the Indian elephants were bigger and meaner than the forest elephant, and the forest elephants were scared of them.

8) Artillery - big ballistae, or massed archery. Worked a treat.

9) Music - the romans tried this against Pyrhus - trumpets, gongs, shouting.

The thing about elephants is that they are not very warlike. They don't like attacking people unless they are in Musth (on heat) and when they are on heat they will attack everybody pretty much, friend or foe. They don't like loud noises or people shouting at them, which makes them unsuitable for a battlefield, and if they see a wall of people ahead with a gap in they will go for the gap by preference.

As people got used to facing them the problem got worse and worse. Good infantry knew if they stood firm, the elephants would back off. Their number one use in the later years was on the ends of the battle line to scare off cavalry trying to get round the end of the army.

There were plenty of examples of elephants running amock and turning and charging back through their own lines. So bad did it get that Mahouts in the Carthaginian army allegedly carried a hammer and chisel - if the elephant ran amock, they would put the chisel against the top of the elephants head and whack in the chisel. The Ultimate 'in case of fire break elephant'

Oh yes - Fire. They didn't like fire.

Pat

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by loh_kah_hoe on Jan 21st, 2006 at 8:58pm
:) Someone in another forum said that the ancient chinese used fake lion costumes to scare off war elephants. :)


Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by tint on Jan 21st, 2006 at 9:22pm
Chinese wear lion customs alot.   ;D

At Chinese new year (which is next Sunday) and other festivals there would be loads of lion and dragon dance everywhere.  They are to scare off demons and such.  I have never heard of using it against war elephant but it sounds likely.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by MammotHunter on Jan 24th, 2006 at 8:31am
elephants, like all animals, are very wary of fire. As badgerdude said, incindiary pigs were released in the direction of war elephants to unnerve and stampede them, hopefully in the other direction. Didn't always work, but it was apparently effective enough. The pigs, in addition, would also be so fearful of being on fire, that, once released, they would run in all directions and gore anyone stupid enough to stand in their path of escape. Sort of a one shot weapon, but it serves a purpose. Fire arrows are also useful against elephants. If the fire doesn't panic them, a flaming arrow in their hide does.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by badgerdude on Jan 25th, 2006 at 12:36pm


   In the Arabic lands, flaming camels were also used. :o

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Leeds_Lobber on Jan 26th, 2006 at 6:11am
Thats nothing - there are far funnier weapons in history.

-Camels dressed up as Elephants to scare off Cavalry!
-Wagons full of rocks rolled down hills.
-Slingers firing eggs at American Marines as they are scared of getting their pretty uniforms dirty  (just kidding about that one).

Pat


Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by ChuckRocks on Jan 26th, 2006 at 6:48am

wrote on Jan 25th, 2006 at 12:36pm:
   In the Arabic lands, flaming camels were also used. :o


I thought the flaming Arabs smoked camels.



How do you fight a War Elephant?

PEPPER SPRAY!

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by badgerdude on Jan 27th, 2006 at 4:03pm
 The other thing to do is incorperate it into your army. When Caesar invaded Britannia, he brought elephants along with in as part of the army. On top of them were towers, in which archers and slingers fired.
 Of course the Britons, having never seen anything like it , cried "Run away! Run away!"

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by badgerdude on Jan 27th, 2006 at 4:05pm
 This is getting off topic, but Leeds mentioned funny weapons.
 During the first Gulf War, the Scottish regiments were sent over to help fight. Along with them went bagpipers. The Iraqi, never having heard such a thing in the desert, filled their pantaloons and ran away. True Story!!

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Matthias on Jan 27th, 2006 at 4:21pm
True story... there have been bagpipes in the middle east for 3000 years, and lots of reed hornpipes and bagpipe precursors. The Scots certainly don't have a monopoly on wailing ;)

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by bigkahuna on Jan 27th, 2006 at 8:42pm
I believe the Jordanian Arab Legion has a pipeband as do the Saudi Arabians.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Leeds_Lobber on Jan 28th, 2006 at 2:34pm
Sadly the elephants that Claudius Caesar brought with him when he invaded Brittania were not War elephants - they were virtually circus elephants! They were minus Towers, minus crew - they just led them onto the field of battle. He also took camels for the same reason. Julius had mentioned how the best troops in the Brit army were the Chariots, so they took nellies and Joes along to scare the horses.

The only use of war Elephant I know of by Romans were during the macedonian war and by the Pompeian forces under Ahenobarbus in Africa.

Pat


Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by AjlouniBoy on Jan 30th, 2006 at 6:27pm

wrote on Jan 27th, 2006 at 4:05pm:
 This is getting off topic, but Leeds mentioned funny weapons.
 During the first Gulf War, the Scottish regiments were sent over to help fight. Along with them went bagpipers. The Iraqi, never having heard such a thing in the desert, filled their pantaloons and ran away. True Story!!


Might want to recheck sources on this.  Iraq was created by the British carveup of the Ottoman empire.  They heard a lot of bagpipes during that administration.  I don't know about the Iraqis current status regarding bagpipes, but their brothers in Jordan continue to play at official ceremonies and have a renowned bagpipe school.  Nice segement featuring them in the recent documentary "Bagpipe:  Instrument of War"

Still, anybody could be excused for accidents if a bunch of angry Scotts were piping at ya.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by bigkahuna on Jan 31st, 2006 at 4:49am
Don't forget the Gurkhas. Even the Japanese have pipe bands these days with feather bonnets and the full kit :o

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Leeds_lobber on Feb 3rd, 2006 at 5:45am
"Might want to recheck sources on this.  Iraq was created by the British carveup of the Ottoman empire.  They heard a lot of bagpipes during that administration.  I don't know about the Iraqis current status regarding bagpipes, but their brothers in Jordan continue to play at official ceremonies and have a renowned bagpipe school.  Nice segement featuring them in the recent documentary "Bagpipe:  Instrument of War"

Still, anybody could be excused for accidents if a bunch of angry Scotts were piping at ya. "


Heh, I too have often wondered about the 'terrifying effect' often ascribed to the dreaded Pipe. I wonder if its not just an excuse..... "The Ferkin Devils in Skirts are coming - they are all loonies... hey! they have bagpipes! Run away from the bagpipes, run away from the bagpipes, look everyone we are fleeing from the unfair bagpipes, NOT the maniacal redhaired loonies in dresses with great big swords and a gut full of whiskey!"

Pat

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by slingbadger on Feb 21st, 2006 at 12:09pm


 There are also references ( gimme a few days to check my files) to slingers firing off caltrops for uses against elephants. A bunch of then in front of you would make any animal think twice, I think.

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Altay on Feb 27th, 2006 at 4:11am

wrote on Jan 27th, 2006 at 4:03pm:
 The other thing to do is incorperate it into your army. When Caesar invaded Britannia, he brought elephants along with in as part of the army. On top of them were towers, in which archers and slingers fired.
 Of course the Britons, having never seen anything like it , cried "Run away! Run away!"


But then the Britons started countering the Elephants with large wooden Badgers ;D ;D

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Leeds_Lobber on Feb 27th, 2006 at 5:34am
Run Away! Run Away !

;D ;D ;D ;D

Pat

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by bigkahuna on Feb 27th, 2006 at 6:09am
HA HA  and with very sharp teeth! ;D ;D

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by slingbadger on Feb 27th, 2006 at 5:06pm
Badgers? Badgers? We don' need no steenkin badgers!

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Leeds_Lobber on Feb 28th, 2006 at 4:29am
They could grip it by the husk.

Pat

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Douglas_The_Black on Feb 28th, 2006 at 8:17am
Is it a european swallow or an african swallow?

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by bigkahuna on Feb 28th, 2006 at 4:05pm
;D ;D ;D  It's not a question of where he grips it. It's a simple question of weight ratios. ;D ;D ;D

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by slingbadger on Mar 1st, 2006 at 9:26am
Anyway, I found the reference. It was written by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, about the battle of Pyrrus.

  " In battle they use wagons to counter his elephants, mounting bowmen, hurlers of stones, and slingers, who threw iron caltrops."
 
 Personally, if the Bug Bunny cartoons have taught me anything, I would have just used mice. :o

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Leeds_Lobber on Mar 2nd, 2006 at 5:51am
" In battle they use wagons to counter his elephants, mounting bowmen, hurlers of stones, and slingers, who threw iron caltrops."

Ah, NOW we see the violence inherent in the system. Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, Help, I'm being repressed!

Pat

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by bigkahuna on Mar 2nd, 2006 at 6:27am
Bloody peasant! ;D

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by slingbadger on Mar 12th, 2006 at 11:32am
 Found  another reference!!
 This one is from the Battle of Thapsus. The African General Scipio was using elephants against the Romans.
 " Meanwhile, the slingers and archers on the right wing hurled rapid vollies of missles at the dense mass of elephants, with result that the beasts, terrified at the whistling of the sling shot and the showering of stones and lead bullets, turned round and began to trample down their fellows."
  Pretty impressive. I can just see the war stories '" No s--t, there I was, me against a hundred, a stone my only weapon."

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by SlingWolf on Mar 19th, 2006 at 3:51pm
When War elephants didn't work.... do you think the idea of War Tigers ever came to anyones mind?

*my fake reference*

"... and the War Tigers turned on their masters the moment they were released, killing all of the army. Then they went on to attack the other side, and both armies died. on that day, two civilizations fell to ruins... And a lot of tigers feasted like kings."

Hmm.... I should make a book!

;D SlingWolf ;D

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by slingbadger on Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:23pm
I suppose it makes more sense, than, say war aardvarks

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by bigkahuna on Mar 23rd, 2006 at 1:43pm
Or War Badgers! ::)

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by SlingWolf on Mar 23rd, 2006 at 3:37pm
"And the War Badgers charged first into battle! The enemies came out and killed all the badgers immediately and fled the battlefield! While they were all talking to a skinner to make badger hats, We conquered their land!"

;D SlingWolf ;D

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Eleatic Guest on Apr 20th, 2006 at 12:00pm
Hello,

when did the Romans start using the fustibalus?

I know, late Roman writer Vegetius mentions them, but was the weapon already in use in Republican times?

Regards

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by slingbadger on Apr 21st, 2006 at 1:17pm
This question can be put out in a general forum type of entry.  That way, more people will see it.
 As for your question, I haven't found any references to fustibals any earlier than Vegetius. that doesn't mean that they weren't there though. Slingers did not occupy a high rank in the Roman army at this time, so were frequently not mentioned.
 Anybody else, can you help??

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by kid_slinger on Apr 23rd, 2006 at 3:19pm
Fritz, mice only scare elephants in cartoons, haven't you learned that yet?

Title: Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Post by Taiki on Apr 24th, 2006 at 10:17am
its a lie its not true :o cartoons Lied to me ? :o...*childhood inocence lost forever*  :'(

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