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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
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Message started by Samuel on Feb 2nd, 2020 at 5:30pm

Title: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Samuel on Feb 2nd, 2020 at 5:30pm
CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST THE FRENCH) 1808

Last week I found this amazing document. It was written by a foreman from Soria and published in Malaga, addressing all Spanish shepherds to leave their flocks and form light units of slingers to drive out of the country the Napoleonic French armies. The style and tone is like if a shepherd was speaking to fellow shepherds, so it is actually very funny (unfortunately, I don’t think the whole text has being translated to English, but I might be wrong).

Out of its 5 pages, I’ve translated the parts that talk about the sling (most of the document are insults against the French and bravados to boost the morale). I’ve tried to keep as accurate as possible, so some parts may sound a bit awkward in English.

So, here it is:

So friends, if we are as shepherds now as those were, the Shepherds from Bethelhem, if some of us are as precise in covering an eye with a pebble, even to the French Emperor himself, as did the Shepherd David with the Giant Goliath; let’s get dirty.

I know very well that when we hit with a stone, we make the same damage than a soldier with his gun, and even we make more, because the soldiers fire thoughtlessly, while we throw to hit, aiming to the eyebrow and hitting in the eye.

The Generals, our Lords, know us well, and they know that (…) our weapons are from our sheep’s fabric, because from their wool we make the slings, and our ammunition is found everywhere, and there is no need of carts to carry it, because empty bag, full bag. The Lords know well that we also know how to walk the twists and turns, and that we do ambushes, and in no time we carry on, and in no time we flee to another part (…) and because we usually do more breakage than a summer storm.


I find very interesting the point that a shepherd slinger is way more accurate than soldiers with a gun of the time (not very surprising anyway). And they also seem very confident in their ability to hit an eye in the context of a confrontation.

I have read some stories about young boys slinging at French soldiers in the streets of Madrid and also during the battle of Bailen, but don’t know if this “light units of shepherd slingers” were actually operating during the war. I’ll try to find more info.

Hope you find it interesting, here is the link:

http://bdh.bne.es/bnesearch/biblioteca/Convocatoria%20que%20a%20todos%20los%20pastores%20de%20Espa%C3%B1a%20dirige%20un%20Mayoral%20de%20la%20Sierra%20de%20Soria%20para%20la%20formaci%C3%B3n%20de%20compa%C3%B1ias%20ligeras%20de%20honderos%20%20%20%20%20/qls/Un%20Mayoral%20de%20la%20Sierra%20de%20Soria/qls/bdh0000147284;jsessionid=DBB7B734C878DF999BABCD9213E20B8E

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by TOMBELAINE on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 3:21am
Thank you, Samuel.
Very interesting.
The text said that their sling were made with the wool of their sheeps. I think it's an important information.

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Sarosh on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 5:11am

Samuel wrote on Feb 2nd, 2020 at 5:30pm:
“I know very well that when we hit with a stone, we make the same damage than a soldier with his gun, and even we make more, because the soldiers fire thoughtlessly, while we throw to hit, aiming to the eyebrow and hitting in the eye.”


He talks like he has already killed a man with a sling. Did shepherds sling at each other to resolve disputes? or is he a veteran from another war?

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Samuel on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 5:53am
It’s true that he talks as if he has done it or at least he has seen it, and not just once. I have not a sure answer for you, but it does not surprise me that shepherds used their slings to settle quarrels, as in the time, gentlemen used swords or pistols and villagers used knives and clubs (as can be seen in this magnificent Goya’s painting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight_with_Cudgels)

In addition, I’ve talk to old fellows (in their 90s) that told me when they where young they used slings to fight with boys from neighboring villages (kind of the Peruvian Chiaraje but for kids. Those were harsh times, for sure).

Those were also times of bandits an highwaymen, so...

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Kick on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 8:27am
This is really fascinating. Great find! Interesting that they made slings from sheep's wool and were so confident. I certainly wouldn't want to stand against and angry group of shepherds that have been using a sling since they could walk...

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by TheJackinati on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 9:10am
I'm not too surprised that Shepherds would use wool for their slings. Given that they could be in charge of whole flocks of sheep for months at a time.

They'd probably use more of the rougher rovings rather than the finer wool that's used to make yarn for the textile industry or for yarn manufacture. Probably with more guard hairs in it.

As a result, they likely had slings with less elasticity than modern slings made from most sheep wool yarn.

A sling I got from Amdocraft was certainly made from a rougher, tougher wool than any wool yarn you can get here.

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by NooneOfConsequence on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 9:29am
Shepherds are also used to living outdoors in austere conditions, so they’re good recruiting for a militia... if you can find them.

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Kick on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 11:52am

TheJackinati wrote on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 9:10am:
I'm not too surprised that Shepherds would use wool for their slings. Given that they could be in charge of whole flocks of sheep for months at a time.

They'd probably use more of the rougher rovings rather than the finer wool that's used to make yarn for the textile industry or for yarn manufacture. Probably with more guard hairs in it.

As a result, they likely had slings with less elasticity than modern slings made from most sheep wool yarn.

A sling I got from Amdocraft was certainly made from a rougher, tougher wool than any wool yarn you can get here.


I guess it shouldn't be that surprising but I had only heard of slings being made from wool in other shepherd communities (Tibetan and South American are the two that came to mind) I hadn't considered that other places would have done the same, but of course it makes perfect sense. Does anyone know if there are surviving Spanish wool slings (or wool slings from elsewhere?)

The AmdoCraft slings are also made up, in part, of yak hair so that would definitely be a contributing factor to the toughness.

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Curious Aardvark on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 3:19pm
given that invading armies often have to 'forage' for food. I'd say many shepherds would have killed french soldiers in the course of their job.

Fascinating certainly that slings were still considered for warfare that late in the era of firearms !

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Samuel on Feb 4th, 2020 at 5:05am

NooneOfConsequence wrote on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 9:29am:
Shepherds are also used to living outdoors in austere conditions, so they’re good recruiting for a militia... if you can find them.


Actually thats one of the points of the author of the call. He says somethin like "Our bed is always ready and we are used to bad weather and every terrain".


Curious Aardvark wrote on Feb 3rd, 2020 at 3:19pm:


Fascinating certainly that slings were still considered for warfare that late in the era of firearms !


And that brings the question: How effective were/could have been slingers in those context???

I allways thought that, taking into account the slow firing rate of musquets and ther manifest inacuracy, bows and slings could have been very usefull. Also because during Napoleonic wars most soldiers didn`t use armour.

Their main disadvantages are that they need way more time to master and, at least for slings, looser formations. But for skirmishing light infantry could make some sense, mainlly if they are already trained, like shephers.


Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Kick on Feb 4th, 2020 at 8:56am
There was a period where armour had lost a lot of it's significance, but guns were still slow and somewhat crude. I guess that would have been the perfect time for slings and arrows to be put back into use. It's a shame they are both quite hard to master and so had been largely forgotten... except for the shepherds :D

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Lithera on Feb 8th, 2020 at 8:22pm

"And that brings the question: How effective were/could have been slingers in those context???

I allways thought that, taking into account the slow firing rate of musquets and ther manifest inacuracy, bows and slings could have been very usefull. Also because during Napoleonic wars most soldiers didn`t use armour."

I own and shoot a flintlock musket (Brown Bess) and can rather easily get off 4 aimed rounds a minute, and 5 rounds a minute if I warm up first (no time to aim though). I would say that the smoothbore musket has man-sized accuracy up to about 100 yards (Any more than that, then luck begins to enter into the equation). An expert slinger would certainly be at a great advantage, especially if they had lead glandes which you cant really dodge... higher rate of fire, and greater accuracy (especially out to 200+ yard ranges).
Also the slinger has the potential to be a lot more stealthy, for what that is worth.

Sorry about the quotations, I would use the Quote button if I knew how it worked...

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Kick on Feb 9th, 2020 at 2:28am
If you click Quote, the entire comment gets copied. If you highlight a certain part and then click Mark & Quote, it takes just that highlighted part.

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Tomas on Feb 9th, 2020 at 10:37am
So cool. More inspiration to train!

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Samuel on Feb 9th, 2020 at 2:33pm

Lithera wrote on Feb 8th, 2020 at 8:22pm:
I own and shoot a flintlock musket (Brown Bess) and can rather easily get off 4 aimed rounds a minute, and 5 rounds a minute if I warm up first (no time to aim though). I would say that the smoothbore musket has man-sized accuracy up to about 100 yards (Any more than that, then luck begins to enter into the equation).


I'm not an expert at all. Never fired a musket. Apparently a rate of 5 to 6 shots per minute was technically possible, but after the first minutes it dropped to 2 or 3, or even lower.

Check this video (rate of fire is around 9:40 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw3wlU3eYsc

It says also that they usually sacrificed accuracy for mass shooting.

By the way, I have being checking some writings from the wars of independence in Latin America against the Spaniards (roughly the same period) and there are many references to entire battalions of slingers, even engaging in open battle. I should get some time and translate some for the forum.

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Caldou on Feb 14th, 2020 at 4:15pm
Well, let me dust off my slings and I will show you what a French can do... (I can pretty much miss all the target you can set, are you up to the challenge ? :p)

Title: Re: CALL FOR ALL SPANISH SHEPHERDS TO FORM LIGHT COMPANIES OF SLINGERS (AGAINST
Post by Sarosh on Feb 14th, 2020 at 5:52pm

Samuel wrote on Feb 9th, 2020 at 2:33pm:
Lithera wrote on Feb 9th, 2020 at 3:22am:
I own and shoot a flintlock musket (Brown Bess) and can rather easily get off 4 aimed rounds a minute, and 5 rounds a minute if I warm up first (no time to aim though). I would say that the smoothbore musket has man-sized accuracy up to about 100 yards (Any more than that, then luck begins to enter into the equation).


I'm not an expert at all. Never fired a musket. Apparently a rate of 5 to 6 shots per minute was technically possible, but after the first minutes it dropped to 2 or 3, or even lower.

Check this video (rate of fire is around 9:40 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw3wlU3eYsc

It says also that they usually sacrificed accuracy for mass shooting.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zViyZGmBhvs
it seems human psychology is far more important than rate of fire or weapon specs.

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