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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
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Message started by Thearos on Apr 11th, 2009 at 7:56pm

Title: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Apr 11th, 2009 at 7:56pm
Just some thoughts inspired by W. K. Pritchett's wonderful chapter on slingers, in Greek State at War, chap. 5 (on Google Books, BTW).

Slingers belong to the category of light-armed (psiloi in Greek, expediti, etc, in Latin). How do you employ them ?  No doubt the sling served in "small" or "skulking" war for the communities that specialized in its use, for instance the Cretan cities, the Akarnanians, Achaians; Balearic islanders. But in the sort of operations that turn up in our sources (literary, concerned with big war), en masse, in corps of hundreds, sometimes thousands of slingers, archers, javelin-men, on foot. In sieges, they serve to manage space-- clearing space for assaults, making siege works difficult, preventing sorties (the siege of Same in 189 gives an example of this).

In the field ? The enemy is the heavy infantry, the mainstay whose presence holds ground, whose clash is honourable and decisive. WHen drawn up in tactically significant masses (say a box of men, 2000 men, 8 deep, 250 across,)-- a lovely target. Light missile troops contain them, force them to hunker behind shields and make them tactically immobile, make tactical movement difficult and costly (especially in terrain such as passes or river crossings). Even the Greek shield with specially added on curtain to protect the legs against missiles (visible e.g. on the reliefs from the Nereid tomb from Xanthos), or the big Roman scutum, will not make infantry movement under sling and arrow fire any easier.

The light armed corps' mobility means that the main counter, and indeed, main infantry job of closing for hand to hand fighting with edged weapons, is impossible (and failed attempts to close will prove very costly)-- this is true even for javelineers, who have to run up to reach javelin range. If heavy infantry is pinned (by terrain, by other infantry), it can be wiped out or forced to surrender. The earliest detailled descriptions of this sort of clashes are in Thucydides-- where both professionals of the javelin, and light-armed amateurs, inflict checks on heavy infantry; more examples in Xenophon.

What's the counter ? Another screen of light infantry; as Thucydides writes (for a battle during the Sicilian expedition, in 413 I think)-- light infantry drives off light infantry, each side wins and loses, before the serious stuff-- heavy infantry work-- starts.

How do you deploy e.g. 500 slingers ? They can't be shoulder to shoulder, obviously, whatever the slinging style-- perhaps 2.5m to 3 m between each slinger, so the "firing line" is a widely spaced line of men. Is it only one line ? Or is there a second line of firers, disposed in a checker board ? Or even several lines ? A loose mass of men, the rear elements firing above the heads of the others, towards the enemy heavy infantry.

The fun begins when one line of slingers meets another line, within effective range (say 150-200m ?). The contest is no longer about area fire into a mass target, but plinking at individual slingers on the other side, in sharp shooting duels. Slingers drop to reload and offer smaller targets, jump about to offer difficult targets, and try to conserve ammunition, to outlast the other side. What then happens ? Sometimes, one side is very much beefed up, or ione side panics and is drawn to loose off all of its ammo: this happened to the contingent of archers in Athenian service, during their invasion of Aitolia in 427 BC-- in a battle against Aitolian psiloi, and without good light infantry support (since the Athenians had marched on without wiating for Lokrian allied support, which would have included psiloi), the Athenian archers were outnumbered by the Aitolian stone throwers, their commander was killed by a stone, the archers ran out of ammo, the Atiolian stone throwers drove them off, then did for the Athenian marines. More usually, both sides of light infantry draw out each others' sting, then move aside.

Still nerve wracking for those who had to fight in the slinging line, no doubt.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Apr 11th, 2009 at 8:31pm
  Another way to deploy them was to have them attack from high places, such as cliffs and such. It's strategies like this that really started changing the way war was conducted. Usually it was on a flat field, but now it could be conducted in almost any type of terrain.
 Slingers  were also effective in sieges, both from the walls, and against the walls. The main point for slingers  to strike from castle walls were not to take out the people sieging, but to harass the soldiers who were making the siege weapons, like the trebuchets and such.  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on Apr 12th, 2009 at 3:45am
I would deploy slingers as far forward as possible to maximise the advantage of range. First targets would be would be large blocks of men because they are easiest to hit. Concentrate on the less experienced or perhaps less well equipped infantry and see if you can rout them or at least knock them into serious disorder.

When the range is close enough to throw more accurately, use concentrated volleys to attack the enemy slingers and archers. They will be well dispersed and moving as much as possible so it would be necessary to pick a smallish area and saturate it with shot. Move the aim point around for each volley.

As the range closes you have pull the slingers back to the flanks and deploy your javelin throwers instead (or swap from one weapon to the other if your light troops are multi-role)

After the infantry have made contact the slingers of both sides would be quite close to each other at the flanks. You would have to hold your ground in a slinger-vs-slinger shootout. The side that lost that duel would then find their infantry flanks exposed to raking close ranged shots while they are trying to fight the enemy infantry.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Apr 12th, 2009 at 5:40am
In fact, that is  where they were. Usually they were deployed right behind the archers, so that the 2 units were coordinated. A constant rain of both arrows and sling stone would be coming down on the enemy. One wonders if this is the origin of the phrase "Sticks and stones may break my bones."
   Another front deployment was behind advancing spearmen. So, there you are, sling stones are coming down on you, so you put your shield up for protection right? Then, here come the spearmen towards you.
  Drop your shield and get clobbered by a slingstone, or keep it raised and get speared, great choice, huh?  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on Apr 12th, 2009 at 7:17am
It apparently stands to reason that slingers would not be able to stand shoulder to shoulder in close formation. Yet that is precisely what the Assyrian relief sculptures featured on our home page show. Is this just artistc licence or did they really stand so close and throw overhand style and in unison?  Please comment as this has really puzzled me for some time.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Apr 12th, 2009 at 11:01am
DM-- all the things you say are no doubt right. But they can be countered by hard core guys on the other side, who apply exactly the same tactics (saturation area fire, sniping, etc). Hence the observation by Thucydides (I think also Polybios in his description of the battle of Cannae, in bk 3) that light armed usually simply neutralize each other, before the main clash-- if the light armed on either side know what they're doing and are well led. On the flanks ? It could be, especially if there is no cavalry; if there is, cavalry  occupies the flanks and is used for various battle winning manoeuvers (Alexander's battles; again, Hannibal at Cannae). But slingers and archers probably stay occupied (Polybios' famous description of the Mak. phalanx says that the long pikes of the rear ranks, help by breaking the flight of missiles).

Light armed need good tactical handling-- which means either mercenaries, or young men from warrior societies which indulge in constant "skulking" warfare. Thucydides describes the retreat of Thracian peltasts (javelin and buckler men) after the sack of Mykalessos in Eastern Boiotia: they hold off cavalry by careful tactics (massed fire and retreat by leaps and bounds)-- these are Thracian fighters hired by Athens, and presumably semi-professional light infantry.

It  may well be contact with this kind of infantry, starting with Athenian involvement in N. Greece and Thrace in the 460s BC, that introduces the revolution in tactics in fifth-century Greece (before the Peloponnesian War)-- lightening of equipment, manoeuvers, reserves. The point is made by N. Sekunda, in various points, but he also observes that Peloponnesian tactics seem to be evolving the same way, away from straight hoplitic slug-fests, perhaps as part of internal evolution.

In Classical Greece, the most efficient and feared light armed are the peltasts, not slingers or archers: javelins or darts, light shield, sword, heavy boots; in contrast, slingers appear in very specific contexts-- sieges, river crossings, holding off cavalry (the best source is Xenophon's Anabasis).

One outlier is the near capture of the Carthaginian camp by Agathokles, described by Diodoros in Bk 19 )the year escapes me, but is in the teens of the fourth century): the Sicilian Greeks nearly overrn the camp, but are driven off by Balearic slingers, presented with a target rich environment (the disorderly massed attack of heavy infantry crowding into the camp through a few gates).



Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Apr 12th, 2009 at 11:06am
Aussie-- I suppose that in sieges, the point is massed fire, to clear defenders off the wall ('managing space' through the application of harm), and slingers can fire massed from behind field fortifications (could they even manage "indirect fire", with ranges called and fall of shot observed ?). But there must be practical limitations, even for overarm fire with no windups-- if only because of the risk of fouling your neighbour's shot ? Time for some experimentation !

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Mordechaj on Apr 12th, 2009 at 4:39pm
try to look at other drawings from that age (and localle). i believe they are all pictured that way - it was simply their style of showing a lot of people.

it's just a presumtion.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on Apr 13th, 2009 at 7:26am
I reckon the real Greek style of slinging was either a figure-8 or a simple overhead throw like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTT78jJuFuU

With the rotation and throw in the vertical plane you are much less at risk of hitting or tangling up with your neighbour. It is also accurate left-to-right, leaving only the range as a variable.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on Apr 13th, 2009 at 9:26am

David Morningstar wrote on Apr 13th, 2009 at 7:26am:
I reckon the real Greek style of slinging was either a figure-8 or a simple overhead throw like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTT78jJuFuU

With the rotation and throw in the vertical plane you are much less at risk of hitting or tangling up with your neighbour. It is also accurate left-to-right, leaving only the range as a variable.


David, Like you I have also wondered whether "Greek style" was actually done in a vertical rather than a horizontal plane. Simple drawings or paintings only show the starting position not the following movement, and for me at least, vertical gives better accuracy and a very compact action allowing slingers to stand comparatively close.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Apr 13th, 2009 at 1:14pm
There is a vase painting that shows a man in "starting" position, not in the well known "pouch before the eyes" aiming position, but simply with outstreched arm to aim, and sling holding arm held out back, with sling hanging--  perhaps the representation of a simple overhead, "whipped" throw, rather like a javelin throw.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on Apr 13th, 2009 at 2:24pm

Thearos wrote on Apr 13th, 2009 at 1:14pm:
There is a vase painting that shows a man in "starting" position, not in the well known "pouch before the eyes" aiming position, but simply with outstreched arm to aim, and sling holding arm held out back, with sling hanging--  perhaps the representation of a simple overhead, "whipped" throw, rather like a javelin throw.



I have seen that and tried it 'javelin style'. Unfortunately it didnt work for toffee. One thing to note is that the thumb of the throwing hand is raised and not gripping anything. This makes it hard to see how this is an accurate depiction of a slinger.

It could be something more like this:

http://www.lloydianaspects.co.uk/weapons/sling.html

http://www.lloydianaspects.co.uk/weapons/sling2.html

Or maybe like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WADQStF-Rq4

Image5_001.jpg (41 KB | )

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Apr 13th, 2009 at 5:02pm
That's the one ! The man wears a soft woolley hat, and a skin serving as a rough shield.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on Apr 13th, 2009 at 6:53pm
I'm pretty sure the drawing is accurate in its detail. I have seen other depictions of the thumbless release grip. It can be a loose fitting loop over the index finger or even a toggle held between the index and middle finger. In normal throwing the final flick is delivered by the fingers, by that stage the thumb is not really gripping the ball.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thomas on Apr 13th, 2009 at 7:25pm
If that drawing is accurate why is the lefty slinger’s right leg appear facing the other way, or is he actually a righty ?

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on Apr 13th, 2009 at 10:16pm
I think it's a rear view of a right handed slinger leaning back before the actual slinging motion in a similar way to the Nick LLoyd style mentioned above. Sure the head is turned a long way to the left and probably too much of the face is visible but it's not my intention to criticize the artistic merit. I think the detail that shows the thumb free and not gripping the release cord is quite likely accurate in that it is not impossible to sling that way.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Apr 14th, 2009 at 9:15am
On another matter, note that if slingers in action in the field turn into slinger on slinger duels, sharp shooting skirmishing matches between lights in the no man's land between the main bodies of infantry etc, --

having inscribed sling bullets, with malicious inscriptions (take this, watch out, take this and get pregnant, blood, etc) takes on a particular force: a slinger's picking out his target, and the inscribed projectiles says-- this one's for YOU.

On slinging posture: the "pouch before the eyes" aiming position does imply rotation above the head, at least once, does it not ?



Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on Apr 22nd, 2009 at 11:36pm
I admit I am well out of my depth from the knowledge of history point of view but as an interested amatuer I suggest that duelling battles between bodies of slingers at ranges of over 100m would be largely ineffective. Even with a rifle and only iron sights it is hard to hit a man who is moving about at that range. With a sling stone the flight time to a target so distant would be at least 2-3 seconds. It would be impossible to predict where a person hopping about from side to side would actually be when the projectile arrived, even in the unlikely event you were accurate enough to group your shots so well as to hit a man sized target.

I assume you mean that the Greek style starting position necessitates a rotation above the head in the horizontal plane. DM above demonstrates a style which he and I call simple overhead (avoiding complications with the Greek style label) Starting in the notional Greek position which allows rudimentary aiming along the cords, allow the pouch to drop behind the back whilst the right hand performs the last half of a normal Fig.8 cast. Turning slightly on the ball of the left foot allows the sling to pass directly overhead greatly reducing lateral dispersion of shots.

I imagine soldiers have always inscribed their projectiles with insulting messages. I remember seeing a brief propaganda clip showing Polish soldiers now serving alongside Soviet forces with a light artillery shell having "Za Katyn" on it written in chalk. The shell was symbolically pointed westwards towards the Germans. Should have been pointing the other way; bitter, bitter irony that one.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Apr 23rd, 2009 at 5:05am
I don't know much about modern warfare, but think it's arty that does most of the killing

http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=84878

so that bodies of men duelling with rifles over iron sights have to expend a lot of ammo, to achieve pretty middling results.

I wonder how it worked with slingers in an ancient battle-- if they got their shots at arrayed bodies of men, their fire told; once countered with people who could shoot back (archers, even javelin men with shields manoeuvering into range), the lethality of their fire drops, as they have to start dodging return fire, go to ground, etc. How do you get your slinging line back into action ? Do you drive it forward to the point when you start inflicting, but also taking, casualties ? Or does the fight turn into largely ineffective duels ? What about ammo consumption ?

Thanks for pointers re. "half round the head then whip straight front"-- looks right, and accurate !

Terrible story re. "For Katyn !"

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on May 7th, 2009 at 8:55am
From 'The Greek State at War, Part V'


Quote:
Onasander, who wrote his Strategikos in the First century of our era, devotes chapter 17 to the disposition of psiloi whom he defines as javelin throwers, archers, and slingers. These are to be deployed in front of the phalanx for if placed in the rear they would do great damage to their own men. Nor are the to be intermingled with hoplites; the slingers would then not "be able to execute the whirling of their slings, as their fellow soldiers stand at their side and in their turn are caused to stumble in trying to avoid the whirling slings." After discharging their weapons while the enemy is still advancing, the psiloi should pass through the ranks of the phalanx to the rear whence they could attack the enemy on the flanks where they cause great loss, striking the body where unprotected.

He concludes "The sling is the most deadly weapon that is used by the light armed troops, because the lead slug is the same colour as the air and is invisible in its course, so that it falls unexpectedly on the unprotected bodies of the enemy, and not only is the impact itself violent but also the missile, heated by the friction of its rush through the air, penetrates the flesh very deeply, so that it becomes invisible and the swelling quickly closes over it."

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Lycurgus on May 7th, 2009 at 10:43am

David Morningstar wrote on May 7th, 2009 at 8:55am:
From 'The Greek State at War, Part V'


Quote:
Onasander, who wrote his Strategikos in the First century of our era, devotes chapter 17 to the disposition of psiloi whom he defines as javelin throwers, archers, and slingers. These are to be deployed in front of the phalanx for if placed in the rear they would do great damage to their own men. Nor are the to be intermingled with hoplites; the slingers would then not "be able to execute the whirling of their slings, as their fellow soldiers stand at their side and in their turn are caused to stumble in trying to avoid the whirling slings." After discharging their weapons while the enemy is still advancing, the psiloi should pass through the ranks of the phalanx to the rear whence they could attack the enemy on the flanks where they cause great loss, striking the body where unprotected.

He concludes "The sling is the most deadly weapon that is used by the light armed troops, because the lead slug is the same colour as the air and is invisible in its course, so that it falls unexpectedly on the unprotected bodies of the enemy, and not only is the impact itself violent but also the missile, heated by the friction of its rush through the air, penetrates the flesh very deeply, so that it becomes invisible and the swelling quickly closes over it."



Thanks for that David, I like that.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on May 7th, 2009 at 10:49am
One of the many sources showing that Greeks and Romans believed that the sling bullet went so fast it got hot (perhaps more likely to have been due to transfer to kinetic energy ?). Nice catch, any way, re disposition of psiloi.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on May 7th, 2009 at 11:23am
Look up that book on Google, there is so much more in it.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on May 7th, 2009 at 7:08pm

Thearos wrote on May 7th, 2009 at 10:49am:
One of the many sources showing that Greeks and Romans believed that the sling bullet went so fast it got hot (perhaps more likely to have been due to transfer to kinetic energy ?). Nice catch, any way, re disposition of psiloi.


Been quite intrigued by how often this notion of lead glandes melting comes up. It's almost certainly nonsense but I Googled the specific heat and melting point of lead to do some ball park calculations.

Apparently lead has a very low specific heat, ie it takes only a small amount of energy to heat it up. (Actual figures are, 0.16 J/g.degreeC for lead, whereas for water it is 4.2 J/g.degreeC) The melting point of lead is 327 C.

A 50 gram projectile moving at 60 m/s has 90 J of kinetic energy, so if all this was converted to heat it would raise the temperature of the lead by 11.2 degrees. (Note major correction if you read the original post where I forgot to divide by the mass.)

Of course the actual amount of KE converted to heat by friction with the air would be very small, perhaps 10 - 20%, and the air itself would absorb some of the energy, like blowing on something to cool it. However an impact with with a hard unyielding surface (like a shield) would cause a sudden rise in the glandes temperature as the remaining KE was dissipated and such a gland would more likely be recovered quickly.  So, perhaps the lead gland would be perceptibly hotter after being thrown hard, at least for a short time.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on May 7th, 2009 at 9:17pm
How fast would that thing have to travel to melt? One reference in the Aeneid refers to a glande melting in mid air. I would pay serious money to see a person do that.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on May 7th, 2009 at 9:50pm
This is also one of the main sources (along with a few references in the medical writers) to lead sling bullets penetrating flesh--one of the reasons T. Rihll believes lead bullets to have been fired by catapults, if need be small and hand held: she thinks a slinger can't throw fast enough to make a bullet go through skin. But the topic's been broached already (I wondered if anyone had slung against a pig carcass or ballistic jelly).

Rihll also notices that the description of the wound, with raised swelling, looks very similar to descriptions of gunshot trauma...

There is an article on this, which I haven't read:

F. P. Moog, ‘Zur Traumatologie der antiken Schleuderbleie’, Medizin historisches Journal 37 (2002) 123-37.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on May 8th, 2009 at 6:38am

slingbadger wrote on May 7th, 2009 at 9:17pm:
How fast would that thing have to travel to melt? One reference in the Aeneid refers to a glande melting in mid air. I would pay serious money to see a person do that.


Even solid lead bullets fired from rifles at close to supersonic speed don't melt athough there is some degree of distortion of the bullet's base within the barrel from the heat of the powder burning. The notion of a lead sling projectile melting or burning in the way that meteorites do is pretty much an impossibility.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on May 8th, 2009 at 6:52am

Thearos wrote on May 7th, 2009 at 9:50pm:
This is also one of the main sources (along with a few references in the medical writers) to lead sling bullets penetrating flesh--one of the reasons T. Rihll believes lead bullets to have been fired by catapults, if need be small and hand held: she thinks a slinger can't throw fast enough to make a bullet go through skin. But the topic's been broached already (I wondered if anyone had slung against a pig carcass or ballistic jelly).

Rihll also notices that the description of the wound, with raised swelling, looks very similar to descriptions of gunshot trauma...

There is an article on this, which I haven't read:

F. P. Moog, ‘Zur Traumatologie der antiken Schleuderbleie’, Medizin historisches Journal 37 (2002) 123-37.


Sorry have not read anything by T Rihll so I have no personal opinion. However as you know, others on this forum believe her to greatly underestimate the speed of slung projectiles. I think that unfabricatable reports of penetrative wounds by lead sling glandes are more than likely accurate especially as these can be quite pointy which greatly aids penetration.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by mrboss on May 8th, 2009 at 12:10pm

Aussie wrote on May 8th, 2009 at 6:52am:

Thearos wrote on May 7th, 2009 at 9:50pm:
This is also one of the main sources (along with a few references in the medical writers) to lead sling bullets penetrating flesh--one of the reasons T. Rihll believes lead bullets to have been fired by catapults, if need be small and hand held: she thinks a slinger can't throw fast enough to make a bullet go through skin. But the topic's been broached already (I wondered if anyone had slung against a pig carcass or ballistic jelly).

Rihll also notices that the description of the wound, with raised swelling, looks very similar to descriptions of gunshot trauma...

There is an article on this, which I haven't read:

F. P. Moog, ‘Zur Traumatologie der antiken Schleuderbleie’, Medizin historisches Journal 37 (2002) 123-37.


Sorry have not read anything by T Rihll so I have no personal opinion. However as you know, others on this forum believe her to greatly underestimate the speed of slung projectiles. I think that unfabricatable reports of penetrative wounds by lead sling glandes are more than likely accurate especially as these can be quite pointy which greatly aids penetration.



Pointiness does aid with penetration, but not with sling projectiles. Ive heard this subject on pointiness alot with sling projectiles, but you really dont need it to be pointy to penetrate into or through somones body when it comes to sling projectiles. Btw the weight and speed plays a key role. For example, a 4 oz projectile (stone or lead ball) going anywhere from 100-250 mph is almost always going to penetrate into or through someone.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on May 8th, 2009 at 4:06pm
Two questions:

do hand slung things go at that speed ?

WHy does pointiness not matter ? Sorry-- I would have thought that a pointed projectile would go faster (and hence have better change of penetration) and that the shape would help a little ?

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on May 8th, 2009 at 4:19pm

Aussie wrote on May 8th, 2009 at 6:38am:

slingbadger wrote on May 7th, 2009 at 9:17pm:
How fast would that thing have to travel to melt? One reference in the Aeneid refers to a glande melting in mid air. I would pay serious money to see a person do that.


Even solid lead bullets fired from rifles at close to supersonic speed don't melt athough there is some degree of distortion of the bullet's base within the barrel from the heat of the powder burning. The notion of a lead sling projectile melting or burning in the way that meteorites do is pretty much an impossibility.



Doing a sonic boom while slinging would be a cool way to scare the you know what out the enemy, though.  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by mrboss on May 8th, 2009 at 8:00pm

Thearos wrote on May 8th, 2009 at 4:06pm:
Two questions:

do hand slung things go at that speed ?

WHy does pointiness not matter ? Sorry-- I would have thought that a pointed projectile would go faster (and hence have better change of penetration) and that the shape would help a little ?


Pointiness can help with speed and penetration. All im saying is that you dont need a pointed sling projectile to penetrate into or through somones body. So pointiness is optional. And yes absolutely, sling projectiles do reach speeds of up to 250+ mph.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on May 9th, 2009 at 4:14am
Thanks, got it.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on May 10th, 2009 at 9:38am
I don't wish to belabour the issue and I also readily admit that I have no experimental evidence to back my points but I would like to make a couple of suggestions:-

1. The fact that tongs and instructions for using them to extract lead glandes have been found fairly much excludes the possibility of hyperbole or errors in translation, ie. lead bullets did penetrate into the bodies of victims. (Perhaps references to the 'molten lead' refers not to glandes melting in flight but to the fact that they were cast.) Of course it is a possibility that these were discharged from bullet shooting crossbows, catapults and the like as well as from slings.

2. Speeds of 250 mph (110m/s) are quoted by Chris Harrison in his introduction on the home page. I don't know his source but such speeds would be maximum, attained by only the absolute best slingers and probably only with smallish projectiles. Techstuf in his demonstration where he penetrates a 'Goliath' cutout made of thick, strong, plywood with a fairly large stone, calculated his stone speed at somewhere around 40 m/s. Speeds of 50 m/s are fairly readily obtained, so whereas even rounded projectiles travelling in excess of 100 m/s would pentrate flesh, such high speeds would not be inevitably required. Bear in mind that kinetic energy varies as the square of the speed, so a projectile moving at 50 m/s has 56% more energy than one of similar mass moving at 40 m/s, and at 100 m/s this goes up by 625%.

3. Lead glandes actually do not leave the pouch any faster than equivalent weight stones but they do retain their velocity better due to their higher density and also their high sectional density, (which is their mass divided by their cross sectional area). They were not truly aerodynamic in the modern aeronautical sense of the word, but they did fly better than stones or shaped clay projectiles. Their high mass concentrated over a small area would create higher local pressure on impact. It is this actual pressure and not the energy itself that causes penetration.

4. Their pointiness or sharpness would probably have been of no consequence when striking something like a heavy shield of bronze or some other dense metal object, but even the relative "sharpness" of pointed lead would aid in penetrating soft substances, ie. human flesh, in the same way as a sharp knife cuts more easily than a dull one.

5. Lastly, it very unlikely to be as simple as, "lead glandes inevitably cause penetrative wounds whilst stones cause only contusions". Quite possibly stones would sometimes penetrate flesh and lead projectiles fail to do so. There a many variables; speed, distance, the place on the body and angle at which the projectile struck, etc. etc.

Regards,

Aussie

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on May 10th, 2009 at 10:19am
Thanks for that. Just a note: the ancient sources (including, I seem to remember, e.g. ARistotle on physics) really did believe that the lead melted in flight.

I take Mrboss means that round proj. can very well penetrate, if going fast enough; you say that the pointiness does help in penetration (energy applied on smaller area, which makes sense to me, actually)

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Jabames on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 2:22am
I'm "guessing"that slingers were deployed like muzzle-loading infantry; b/c they can't shoot too well over friendlies. The first line would fire, then retire, then so on.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 5:45am
Of course, if you want "ethno-archaeology" of a sorts, you can watch videos of Palestinian shebab protesting the West bank wall-- with slings, against Israeli border police. One firing line, and a loose gaggle behind feeding the line. (Unlike black powder warfare, sling fighting does not require the shooter to withdraw to reload)

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by hybrid_throwback on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 7:48am
http://www.calculateme.com/Speed/MetersperSecond/ToKilometersperHour.htm

there ya go aussie.

I count on average 5 seconds for a 120 metre shot (or pretty close to it). of course the speed would vary over it's course especially as I use less than perfect shot  but it comes out on that link to something like 108kph. I would describe myself as "intermediate" in skill and "athletic" in build and approach.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by hybrid_throwback on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 7:50am
Would be interesting to see other people's speeds over the distance (you just have to wait for the thump), even working with rough guesstimates like mine. The range I am sure of but the count is of course one human error from start to finish  :P

The speed on the frontpage I think would apply more at short than long ranges and beyond a certain distance would be nothing like the actual speed. 250mph/402.32kph means sending a stone from A to B 150m away (ish) and hearing a thunk around two seconds later.

That's FAST.Really very fast.

Maybe it'd doable. But I don't think the average user will be doing that. The original number may have been reached by guesstimating speeds over 80 yards and then playing around with conversions and extrapolations and bla bla bla.

I could digest that figure more readily with the rider of "250mph under 50m" or similar because the further it goes, the longer it takes to get there, and then some.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Fundibularius on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 9:38am

Jabames wrote on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 2:22am:
I'm "guessing"that slingers were deployed like muzzle-loading infantry; b/c they can't shoot too well over friendlies.



Of course they can, imo. Shoot over persons, shoot over walls, shoot over almost anything.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Masiakasaurus on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 7:05pm
I have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the velocity argument, but I can provide a reasonable explanation for "molten lead."

When a metallic projectile impacts at high speed it will deform in peculiar ways. Like mushroomed bullets. Very hard impacts between two metallic objects at subsonic speeds produces 'waves' on the projectile which look like ripples on a pond. I'm sure that someone who has cast lead missiles can corroborate this. These deformations in a supposedly hard metal object that you're digging out of your shield would look like it had melted before impact.

Forgive me if I'm just restating an old argument,because that was the first thing that went through my head when I read about the "molten lead" for the first time.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Aussie on Jan 4th, 2010 at 3:32pm

hybrid_throwback wrote on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 7:48am:
http://www.calculateme.com/Speed/MetersperSecond/ToKilometersperHour.htm

there ya go aussie.

I count on average 5 seconds for a 120 metre shot (or pretty close to it). of course the speed would vary over it's course especially as I use less than perfect shot  but it comes out on that link to something like 108kph. I would describe myself as "intermediate" in skill and "athletic" in build and approach.


120m in 5 seconds comes out as 24 m/s or 86.4 km/h (53.7 mph) Of course that's oly an average velocity, not a 'muzzle velocity. Even so I'm sure you sling a lot faster than that.

Trouble is that guesstimating time of flight is horribly inaccurate. To get anywhere meaningful figures you need to measure time with a high degree of certainty, ie your reaction time won't be good enough to 'snap' it with a stopwatch and with any distance long enough for you to count the drop in projectile velocity is so great that your figures will be little more than a ballpark estimate.

Ther are only two velocity measuring methods that I know of that don't require particularly sophisticated equipment.

1. Get a good side-on video of yourself slinging against a nice plain bacground, something like a picket fence is good. Review the video frame by frame and you should be able to see how far the projectile has travelled each time aginst the measured background. If you know the frame rate of the camera you can readily calculate the velocity.

2. Even better and to my mind easier is the recorded sound method. Most laptops have an inbuilt microphone with which you can record the sound of your sling. You should be able to hear the swish of the release followed by the whack as the projectile hits the target. The target needs only be a few metres away and can be as large as you like (garage wall in my case) so hitting it is easy. Now review the recorded soundwave with "Audacity" or some similar program where yo get a visual representation as well as the sound. This enable you to measure the time interval down to the nearest 1/100th of a second so your speed calculations will be very precise.

Have a look at FAQ. There's a thread where this is discussed more fully.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by bigkahuna on Feb 14th, 2010 at 7:11am
You cannot stick light troops out in front of a main body unsupported. Cavalry will tear them apart.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Feb 15th, 2010 at 6:11am
Slingers were considered disposable troops. if they were run down or destroyed, it made no difference. As long as the armored fighters were protected, that was OK.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on Feb 15th, 2010 at 8:24am

It depends how far forward the slingers are. You can see a cavalry charge coming 40 seconds away (Mike Loades, recreating the French charge at Crecy) This is plenty of time for the light troops to scarper between the ranks of the heavy infantry and leave the cavalry facing a forest of spears.

But yes, if they are unsupported the they will get minced every time.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Centrifugal Sin on May 17th, 2010 at 7:42pm
Slingers ain't accurate. You''d probably deploy them in clusters around the front line for some indirect fire. They'd probably stay about 20m within the range of enemy archers, so around 50m near the front lines.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by kentuckythrower on Jan 23rd, 2012 at 1:27am
I think they would be used in loose masses. The bas reliefs seem to depict them as being packed shoulder to shoulder, but it seems this was due to the sculptor's attempt to show large numbers on a limited space.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by xxkid123 on Jan 23rd, 2012 at 8:32pm
Back on to deploying slingers (with disregard to previous arguments), I would expect slinger's to be deployed in front of the army as a loose sharpshooting line. They would be able to probe the enemy or cause them to make a shield wall early to protect themselves. In response, I could send out some calvary to make a quick strike at enemy infantry while they were still shielding their upper body and weren't able to see the attack or at least respond in time.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by kentuckythrower on Jan 23rd, 2012 at 9:08pm
From the account's I've read in this forum as well as in a couple of books detailing slingers in battle, they appear to be most effective in delivering massed "suppressive fires" and not necessarily playing the role of sniper.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by xxkid123 on Jan 23rd, 2012 at 10:33pm

kentuckythrower wrote on Jan 23rd, 2012 at 9:08pm:
From the account's I've read in this forum as well as in a couple of books detailing slingers in battle, they appear to be most effective in delivering massed "suppressive fires" and not necessarily playing the role of sniper.


I agree, as far as what i meant with sharpshooting, I meant they would be directed to shoot towards a general area rather than en masse at a generic enemy, but at a specific flank or section of an enemy line. Regardless, what I just wrote was completely from what I would do (thankfully I don't have an army) and isn't actually based off of fact, history, or anything that has been proven or tried (as far as i know at least).  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Jan 24th, 2012 at 6:41am
They were often employed in the front of armies, with archers (sticks and stones?) to expose weak points and help break shield walls.  The other thing the was as they were keeping the front men busy, the first wave of attackers would often come in while they were distracted.
 They also provided cover while armies were retreating.
  Attacking armies from a high cliff is obvious.
  They were also employed to take out the soldiers who were on elephants. Once the men were off the elephant, it often went rouge, turning on the army.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by kentuckythrower on Jan 24th, 2012 at 1:52pm
Exactly!!! The value of slingers in mucking up the opposing force is generally underestimated my modern historians. The slinger formations made a valuable contibution to military operations of ancient armies, but would best be seen as a force best suited to disrupting and otherwise spoiling the enemy's maneuver plans. Their effect is much like modern mortar or artillery fire...create hell on earth.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by ArchaeoMan on Feb 1st, 2012 at 10:03am
I was watching a youtube clip of someone launching a triple-pouch sling (probably someone from this site!) and it occurred to me that if employing a body of slingers with those type of slings it could be beneficial to have a rotating firing line, something like the cantabrian circle. Since reloading time is increased, this way a constant bombardment could be maintained while not rushing the slingers.

With the shorter reload of normal slings, I don't know how beneficial such a strategy might be, so this may only apply to the (hypothetical) use of double/triple slings.

Otherwise I agree with what others are saying: operate forward of the line (but within supportable distance) in a loose mass to repel enemy skirmishers and bombard the enemy heavy infantry. Slingers on the flanks can help deter cavalry, and light troops would likely be pushed either to the flanks or rear anyway once the main lines came together. As the main lines clash, slingers (and archers, javelin-armed soldiers, etc) could support smaller bodies of infantry or cavalry as they attempt to overlap the enemy's line. Fire into the the enemy's flank would also be highly effective if it could be managed, so the battles to win position on the flank would likely be fierce.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by xxkid123 on Feb 1st, 2012 at 7:25pm
ArchaeoMan: Yep the guy was a slinging.org guy, I think it's Fundiblarious off the top of my head. However, I'm not sure if this was used by the ancients. It's fairly inaccurate, and looks like a great way to run out of ammo. Plus, i haven't seen any historical evidence relating to any slings that fired multiple stones.  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by ArchaeoMan on Feb 10th, 2012 at 11:59pm
xxkid123: I haven't either, it seems like it would be difficult to get accuracy at range with two stones. Better to shoot one stone accurately.

It may simply be natural to adopt a rotating firing line when operating in a loose, informal group. This behavior can sometimes be seen at basketball warm-ups, and here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4VwbJ8f7bE

I am getting pretty speculative though.

One advantage I've started to think of is the ammo. I remember reading that the standard complement of arrows for an English longbowman could have been 2 quivers of 24 arrows each. At just under ten arrows per minute that means a bombardment time of 3 minutes before ammo is exhausted.
Now imagine a conceivable max load of sling bullets. Unlike arrows, weight, not bulk, is the primary consideration. A slinger's other equipment is light, so we can easily imagine a single soldier carrying 100 lead glands (at 50g each this is only 5 kg or around 11 pounds. Total volume is 440cc, adding 50% for air this is 660cc or about 1/2 the size of a human brain: certainly a manageable size to tote around) If the fire rate could be the same as with a bow then this is twice the bombardment time.

Slinging with a weight effectively equal to a bowling ball attached to your hip would probably be awkward, so slingers probably dropped the main satchel, took a few rounds forward and slung away before returning. (Maybe this is why those roman reliefs are always showing slingers with stones held in their cloaks) I don't think slingers could have operated in a dense mass, so rotating forward could allow for adequate space for firing while also having enough men to replace casualties, run ammunition, or engage in close combat in absolute necessity. It seems that slings probably held an advantage over bows in delivering low volume, long duration harassment fire, while massed bows were able to deliver the high-volume, short duration bombardment that could have a more profound impact on a battlefield.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by xxkid123 on Feb 11th, 2012 at 9:51pm
I agree that slingers would probably be more effectively used as a source of hot, masking fire. Sling ammo is just a lot cheaper and faster to produce than arrows.

However, I don't think rotating slingers would work very well. It'd probably be a major hassle to get them to move around in a way that would be effective, unless they were situated on a hill or some sort of overlook that wasn't directly near the battle. If the slingers were deployed in a trench on the front lines, I would think that they wouldn't have a chance for any sort of rotation. Chances are they might just have brought bags filled with ammo (probably 5-10 pounds heavy) and set them down on the ground where they were positioned. then again, if each glande was 2 ounces heavy, then in 2 pounds they could have 16 shots, or a one pound bag on each hip. Light enough to run with, but with enough ammo for a few minutes.

I have never seen anything to hold stones with. Going through AMNH archives I've never seen any ammo pouches. Likewise, many shepherds just get whatever rock is close to hand to use. Members on this forum usually use a messenger bag or a belt pouch to hold rocks, but that's it.

As far as pouch designs go, I can't think of a large bag being effective. glandes will easily move around if not packed tight, and it there are, then it'll probably be difficult getting them out. While arrows are larger, they neatly stack up side to side in quivers. Also, make the pouch too deep, then the slinger might be fishing around in his bag trying to grab a glande near the end of a battle.

Can some of our historians give insight on what ancient slingers used to hold their ammo?

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by kentuckythrower on Feb 12th, 2012 at 7:33am
There is a thread on this forum that shows an Assyrian bas relief. The slinger's have piles of bullets at their feet.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 12th, 2012 at 7:41am
There is an older thread on the "Makron cup", pic also on this website: a slinger is shown with a small "tactical load" in a sort of basket held in the crook of his left elbow.

http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1254615254/36#36

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Feb 12th, 2012 at 12:33pm
The Roman slingers used to drill, so that they were all in sync with each other. One can imagine the chaos if they decided to use their own styles. I seem to remember (I'll see if I can find it) a simple one one spin method they all used..

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 12th, 2012 at 3:25pm
Is there any reliable ancient evidence for this ?

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on Feb 12th, 2012 at 3:42pm

I have slung in a rank with a guy two paces to each side of me. Using a vertical Greek style and picking ammo from the ground at my feet I was fast, 8 shots in 30 seconds, and I didnt whip the guys on either side.

If  you were stuck with a horizontal style then more space would be needed. A Cantabrian circle type of arrangement with three or four guys using one slinging spot and then falling back to reload would make the best use of a limited width of front. I would be concerned about rate of fire though, if your guys spend too much time queueing up then you are losing the target saturation that distance slinging relies upon for its effectiveness.

On a related note I reckon the staff sling would work best as a crew served weapon, with one guy throwing and another guy behind him taking care of the reloading. I think you would get a better rate of fire that way than with two staff slingers shooting independently.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Feb 13th, 2012 at 6:32am

Thearos wrote on Feb 12th, 2012 at 3:25pm:
Is there any reliable ancient evidence for this ?

This was the conclusion of the late great Manfred Korfmann

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 13th, 2012 at 3:46pm
And what was he referring to ?

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Feb 13th, 2012 at 7:13pm
In his article for Scientific American, October, 1973, The sling as a Weapon

 He was talking about the different ways the ancients used the sling in battle. In referenece to the Roman slingers, everything about them was standardized, like the rest of the Roman army. All the slings were the same length, they all fired the same time and the same way. They had their own military designations and could chhose their leader from within their group.
 In the Civil Wars of Caesar, a group of slingers is referenced as the Fundutorum Cohortis Sexcenarias II.  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 14th, 2012 at 11:16am
I read that article, like everyone (alas, no longer online, and difficult to consult) and I don't think he says that about the Roman slingers. If he did, that's incorrect. Much in the Roman army was in fact not standardized, notably as concerns body armour (obviously within certain parameters). The stuff on same length sling, choosing their own leader,etc is (I believe) fancifu. You may have misremembered a little ?

And the reference to Caesar doesn't seem right to me.  There is no evidence for formalized units of slingers in the Roman army during the empire. Caesar did employ ad hoc bodies of Baleares, in Gaul, and, you may well be right, during the Civil war.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Feb 14th, 2012 at 3:17pm
This is supposed to be a friendly forum, for exchcange of ideas. You have the right to agree or disagree with anything you want. However, If you want to argue about things, then count me out of it. No good can come of it.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Masiakasaurus on Feb 14th, 2012 at 4:31pm
I don't see anything unfriendly about Thearos's post.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 14th, 2012 at 6:03pm
It's not a bad thing to get things as correct as possible on this forum.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:06am
OK, all I'm saying, is that when I wrote what I did, I had the article right in my hand. I took the info directly from the source. If people wish to disagree with it, fine. I respect that. Let's leave it at that, and move on.  There are more important things in the world.  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 15th, 2012 at 2:31pm
Could you quote the exact passage, with references ? I reiterate what I wrote: it doesn't sound right. If Korfman wrote it, he was wrong, and I could try to show it by discussing ancient passages. (It's what I do for a living). If I'm wrong, that will be shown too.

Disagreement is how truth emerges.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by curious_aardvark on Feb 18th, 2012 at 12:45pm
Okay - I'm pretty sure I've got the korfman aticle as a pdf somewhere.
I'll see if I can find it.
And badger - chill out man. Until someone finds written evidence of how romans - first define your 'romans' - used slingers - EVERYTHING is down to individual opinion.

Also bear in mind that while I, and many others,  always approach such issues from a common sense angle: ie: as a slinger this makes sense and that doesn't.

Thearos is a professional academic and only gives creedence to actual historical records.

And there's bugger all point arguing with him on those grounds :-)  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 18th, 2012 at 1:30pm
Yes: of course, no evidence for something doesn't mean it didn't happen; nor does evidence for something say it happened all the time. Nonetheless, it does make sense to be very clear what is what.

No: it's not all a case of individual opinion, any more than science is. E.g. "The Romans did not have gunpowder" is not up to individual opinion. "The Romans were a very unequal society" OR "The Romans were very cruel" are statements open to debate; but again, you can talk about the basis for the judgment. Such matters are (pretty) interesting, and probably do matter somewhere down the line; and there is a reason why there are professionals (or professional-standard scholars) to do it.  

For instance, T. Rihll's statements about lead bullets being for catapults can be discussed, not on the basis of common sense, but argument:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/10.2972/hesperia.80.4.0677


So do argue with me-- but bring evidence and arguments.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by ArchaeoMan on Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:25pm
I was reading back through Korfmann, the closest I've seen is a recommendation from Vegetius to release on the first rotation. This seems to imply some sort of technique standardization, which if one is of a mind to, could be stretched to imply volley-fire. Korfmann reads it as an effort to increase the fire-rate. Personally I think Vegetius was engaging in some fanciful armchair generaling... "why, if these guys just released the first time, they could fire twice as fast!"

Does anyone happen to know of an early reference to volley-fire? (slings, bows, muskets, etc) It seems our understanding of ancient combat might draw a lot from the common military practice at the time of study... and classical studies was coming of age at a time when everyone was all about standardized uniforms, volley-fire and marching in step.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on Feb 19th, 2012 at 4:00am

Shooting volleys ensures that everyone slings at the rate of the slowest slinger. I dont see any advantage to volleys once the engagement has started. There will only be a limited time between the armies coming into sling range then clashing shield-to-shield. In that time I want the maximum number of shots to fall on the enemy and that means everyone slings as fast as they can.

I strongly suspect volley fire began in the days of gunpowder, due to the clouds of thick smoke generated by the weapons. Volley fire allows time for the smoke to clear so you can see the enemy for the next shot, but continuous fire would mean continuous smoke and you would not be able to see the enemy to aim at them.

As a sling unit commander I would position us in loose formation in front of our heavy infantry. Not too far in front, because I dont want us to get munched by a sudden cavalry attack.

I would give one aiming point  to my slingers, wait till I reckon the enemy is close enough for most of us to get hits then I would unleash hell. Everyone slings at their best speed and accuracy until the enemy is close enough that we have to break and run for the flanks or through gaps in our infantry.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 19th, 2012 at 10:02am
Slingbadger and Archaeoman refer to Vegetius, who I think recommends release after one spin, instead of three (which rather suggest that the three-spin release was normal, as indeed most ancient sources seem to suggest). He also does mention training to sling. Note this is not for "slingers", but for legionaries. The speech of Hadrian at Lambaesis also mentions slings, including slinging on horseback.

http://www.livius.org/la-ld/lambaesis/lambaesis_inscr.html

(the horseback thing isn't there but it's been referred to in this forum earlier).

So:

-drilling by legionaries in the use of the sling is very likely: legionaries drilled, and the Lambaesis inscription shows that they did sling in the C2nd AD.

-"standardized length" and "volley fire" and "all in synch" are perhaps less likely, especially since the Lambaesis thing seems to be about individual prowess (which the Roman army had considerable time for: this is shown e.g. by Caesar's account of the Gallic Wars, or Josephus on Roman cavalry. The point made I think by Jacques Harmand is his book on Caesar's legionaries). But that's arguable.


Anyways, it's Vegetius (unsurprisingly), to which add the Lambaesis inscription recording a speech of Hadrian. Good to know not just what (we think) we know but how we know it.


Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Feb 19th, 2012 at 10:05am
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=aPK7xjchZFUC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=vegetius+sling&source=bl&ots=mVJthHtrB9&sig=i5bEpbM8zt8AOV6n68fp2NwApmk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LQ9BT9CsFsb08QO82eG2CA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=vegetius%20sling&f=false

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by curious_aardvark on Feb 19th, 2012 at 2:23pm
cool :-)

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by bigkahuna on Feb 19th, 2012 at 9:19pm
The word "Volley" comes from the Latin "Volare", but I don't know when it was first used or in what context. :-/

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by kentuckythrower on Feb 20th, 2012 at 3:17am
Nice link!!!

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Dec 25th, 2012 at 6:53pm
All the examples are in Pritchett, but look at Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, Book 1, chap. 2, paras 4 ff. Alexander surprises the Triballians (Thracian "tribesmen")-- their fighting men form up a line in the shelter of a glen. Alex sends out archers and slingers to pelt them and provoke them out into open ground. It works the Triballians try to close witht he archers, Alex responds by throwing some cavalry forward with orders to check the Triballian charge with javelin fire-- and then personally leads the remaining cav and the heavy infantry against the Triballian. When he makes contact, the advance cavalry party switches from javelins to close in work. The Triballians instantly collapse and run.

Note the very precise use of slingers and archers-- to draw out the enemy (not to "sling over people's heads" etc) before the main engagement.  

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by LightSlinger on Dec 27th, 2012 at 3:58pm
Wow..  What a wide ranging question!  

Depends on what your goal is, but there are some generalities that you can employ in just about every conflict.

1.   "Standardize" your troops as much as possible without restricting their effectiveness.  The fact of the matter is that there are situations where forming tight formations is desirable and when forming loose ones are desirable.  Standardization allows the military commander the greatest flexibility.  For Example, I have Joe Schmoe who is great at figure 8, and Bill whos good with helicopter.  As a military commander I will train and drill them to use an Apache throw for close formations and encourage loose formation drilling with freestyle techniques.  This is a widely accepted military concept.  While in the service I learned "Standard" ways of deploying my M-60 Machine gun.  The beauty of this is that I can now be transferred to any other military outfit and seamlessly blend in like I've been there the whole time and the rest of the team knows what they can expect from me.

2. Deploy your units (all of them, not just the slingers) in ways that maximize their ability to inflict harm while minimizing their exposure to harm.  Slinging units are un-armored and therefore, themselves, vulnerable to harassing fire.  The trick is to direct their fire against targets that can't fight back.  Because slingers can achieve longer ranges with standardized lead ammunition, this for me, would be first, other Ranged Units like archers.  Once they are broken(or destroyed), you can direct your (now unchallenged) slingers to fire upon the most threatening units. Above, some of us were saying to deploy slingers to the front to maximize their range.  The problem with this is that your slingers are now exposed to being fired upon by the enemy slingers (because if the enemy is in range, so are you.), or being cut to ribbons by calvary units.  A good general formation to follow should be Armored units with shields to the Front, at least two ranks deep.  These Shield men should "overlap" their shields one on top of the other to create a "wall" of sorts.  Slingers directly behind them launch projectiles from behind this wall.  This maximizes their range and damage potential, while also providing them with protection from other ranged units and ground attack units.

3. Always use volley fire when possible.  Volley fire is great because it provides what appears to be more devastation to the enemy which can demoralize enemy formations.  I say “appears” because the damage is done at the same time to a “chunk” of the enemy, instead of numerous casualties staggered throughout the formation.  It also ensures that the most fire is directed at the same target.  Once you break into loose formations and start firing “at will”, you take away much of the effectiveness of fighting as a unit.  

4.   Ah, who am I kidding here? I could list probably another 30 things!  LOL..

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Dec 27th, 2012 at 11:08pm

LightSlinger wrote on Dec 27th, 2012 at 3:58pm:
2. [b]  These Shield men should "overlap" their shields one on top of the other to create a "wall" of sorts.  Slingers directly behind them launch projectiles from behind this wall.  This maximizes their range and damage potential, while also providing them with protection from other ranged units and ground attack units.


That's precisely what there is no ancient evidence for. Slingers are sent out forward-- though have to be protected and rescued and withdrawn.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by LightSlinger on Dec 27th, 2012 at 11:41pm

Thearos wrote on Dec 27th, 2012 at 11:08pm:

LightSlinger wrote on Dec 27th, 2012 at 3:58pm:
2. These Shield men should "overlap" their shields one on top of the other to create a "wall" of sorts.  Slingers directly behind them launch projectiles from behind this wall.  This maximizes their range and damage potential, while also providing them with protection from other ranged units and ground attack units.


That's precisely what there is no ancient evidence for. Slingers are sent out forward-- though have to be protected and rescued and withdrawn.


Ha!  Sounds like shoddy leadership to me!  Lol.  

Jk!  Anyway, my above example is just the way that I personally would deploy them.  Ideally speaking, I would actually place my slingers on the high ground, behind something solid.  Walls, dense tree lines, siege towers(which could actually function as slinging platforms now that I think about it), etc.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Dec 28th, 2012 at 6:10am

LightSlinger wrote on Dec 27th, 2012 at 11:41pm:

Thearos wrote on Dec 27th, 2012 at 11:08pm:

LightSlinger wrote on Dec 27th, 2012 at 3:58pm:
2. These Shield men should "overlap" their shields one on top of the other to create a "wall" of sorts.  Slingers directly behind them launch projectiles from behind this wall.  This maximizes their range and damage potential, while also providing them with protection from other ranged units and ground attack units.


That's precisely what there is no ancient evidence for. Slingers are sent out forward-- though have to be protected and rescued and withdrawn.


Ha!  Sounds like shoddy leadership to me!  Lol.


Shoddy isn't the first adjective which comes to mind when reading the best, most detailled account of tactical leadership of Alexander III of Macedonia (Alexander the Great).

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by jlasud on Dec 28th, 2012 at 9:52am
If slingers can launch past the wall,opposing slingers could also sling past the wall (ballistic trajectory) if they receive enemy fire in volleys,and they are a small unit,they could shelter themselves during a volley,then get out,sling,hide,sling.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by LightSlinger on Dec 28th, 2012 at 1:34pm

jlasud wrote on Dec 28th, 2012 at 9:52am:
If slingers can launch past the wall, opposing slingers could also sling past the wall (ballistic trajectory) if they receive enemy fire in volleys, and they are a small unit, they could shelter themselves during a volley, then get out, sling, hide, sling.


True…  So, perhaps we develop a Drill specifically for the slingers:

1.      "SLINGERS LOAD!"  Slingers Load their weapons while the shield wall maintains active defense against enemy missiles in the layering method I mentioned earlier(one Shield man standing over the front Shield man who is kneeling.)

2.      "READY!"  This is a command for the shield wall to prepare to shift the formation.

3.      "FIRE!"  Standing shield men shift a half-step to the left, and also kneel, which lowers their shields a bit.  This briefly exposes the slingers and allows them to throw their Glandes.  When the sling's release cord hits the shield of the shield man in front, the second rank shield men return to their previous position.


Might work anyway…

Load_Ready_FIRE.jpg (59 KB | )

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by jlasud on Dec 28th, 2012 at 2:22pm
Yes,it could work,but as i wrote,and i imagine,mostly in small units. Having a slinger unit of 5-8 men deep,couldn't really benefit of the shield wall. with 2 slinger deep ranks it could work.
Also the shield bearing guys can very well be regular infantry with big oval shields for ex.
This might,and probably was used sometime ,somewhere in the past.
The infantry,has to shield themselves anyways of the enemy hail ,and the slingers might use their defense as well.
Or,there could be multiple lines of shield walls,and slingers behind them,with some cavalry on the flanks.
Aaand because most ancient armies had more melee infantry than ranged units,this multiple lines of shield walls and archers,and slingers behind them could be the ultimate solution.
SLINGER_deployment.bmp (1276 KB | )

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Jaegoor on Dec 28th, 2012 at 2:59pm
http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1282647004/0

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by squirrelslinger on Dec 28th, 2012 at 7:19pm

hybrid_throwback wrote on Jan 3rd, 2010 at 7:50am:
Would be interesting to see other people's speeds over the distance (you just have to wait for the thump), even working with rough guesstimates like mine. The range I am sure of but the count is of course one human error from start to finish  :P

The speed on the frontpage I think would apply more at short than long ranges and beyond a certain distance would be nothing like the actual speed. 250mph/402.32kph means sending a stone from A to B 150m away (ish) and hearing a thunk around two seconds later.

That's FAST.Really very fast.

Maybe it'd doable. But I don't think the average user will be doing that. The original number may have been reached by guesstimating speeds over 80 yards and then playing around with conversions and extrapolations and bla bla bla.

I could digest that figure more readily with the rider of "250mph under 50m" or similar because the further it goes, the longer it takes to get there, and then some.

I have the range, but im not so sure about the speed. I will have to try it.
Also, how to measure the time accuratly.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by Thearos on Dec 29th, 2012 at 10:26am
Slinging from within heavy infantry--

1. It is possible that early Spartan armies had people throwing stones by hand from within ranks of heavy infantry; it is also possible that archers fought within such lines (as shown in pottery). It is also likely that in this period (say 600-550 BC) infantry formations were pretty loose.

2. Alexander crammed archers between ranks of heavy infantry-- but only as a gap-plugging measure, in 324-323, when he was running out of Macedonian veterans and his trainee Persian heavy infantry hadn't come on line yet.

3. Generally, lights are sent out in front and withdrawn before the shock. Why do ancient armies not stick them within ranks ? I can think of a few reasons:

a. You abandon the open space between lines of heavies to enemy lights, who will walk up within range and start pelting your heavies.

b. The line of heavies cannot manoeuver, let alone charge-- you lose the momentum leading up to infantry clash.

c. You sacrifice density within the infantry formation, when faced with a higher density formation, which can manoeuver fast and which can replace front line fighters at the sharp end of the infantry clash.

d. shifting ranks of slingers through or around lines of heavies, at the point of contact, is messy and difficult.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by SchlrFtrRkMystc on May 31st, 2013 at 3:41am
So with all this talk of light infantry dueling why am I hearing so little about slingers in light armor? The thick felt, layered jack/gambeson, leather lamellar, etc.? These all sound like they would be of major benefit to slingers at risk of being hit by enemy slingers or javelin throwers, but mostly enemy archers... also the ability to use a shield while slinging is one of the sling's greatest advantages over the bow (and crossbow) and I'm hearing little about that as well. True it does slow your reload rate a bit, but is well worth it.

Also I am aware of a specific culture who does in fact utilize slinging from the rear. The Tribes of the Gilbert island did this and specifically built big back plates into their armor to protect them from the rear slingers in the case of misfire.  http://www.flickriver.com/photos/mharrsch/1443832609/

Also... the term "FIRE" is anachronistic... it comes from adding fire to a cannon or hand gun in the age of gunpowder... a pregunpowder culture would have no idea what yelling "FIRE" meant. Shoot, loose, sling, throw, or launch would be more appropriate.

Also what about multipurpose units... like heavy infantrymen who spread out a bit and plant their spears and sling as the enemy marches up and then once range is closed they pocket their slings, condense, and ready their spears?

Also why is it that the more I read about slinging in battles... and hunting, and pretty much every other situation... overhand and figure 8 seem to dominate while the helicopter sidearm casts seem to be a bad idea. Takes too much space for mass battles (and extra time), startles animals for hunting, gives away position and intent to single targets, less accurate, more difficult... seriously, this cast just seems to look cool (though not quite as cool as figure 8) and be good for slinging at a shallow but wide oncoming line of troops too far for overhand targeting but too close for long range figure 8 bombarding. Anyone want to stick up for this cast?

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by slingbadger on May 31st, 2013 at 6:37am
Slingers in formation would have had to had been more spread out than say, archers. This is to accommodate  the arm motion when in use, no matter which style was used. Also, each unit used the same style, and drilled constantly, so things could be done in a uniform fashion. This made more effective in battle.

Title: Re: How to employ bodies of slingers in battle
Post by David Morningstar on May 31st, 2013 at 8:53am

I dispute that slingers have to be spread out. I was sandwiched between two archers in a speed shoot-off. They were standing two paces to either side of me. I used the vertical Greek style and and shot faster than both of them with no interference problems.

See how little room is needed side-to side here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJjXXnDSB4s

 

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