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Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants (Read 9248 times)
AjlouniBoy
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Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
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.
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slingbadger
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #1 - 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.
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #2 - Jan 16th, 2006 at 11:26am
 
How about slinging mice at the elephants Tongue
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #3 - 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.
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #4 - 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.
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #5 - Jan 17th, 2006 at 2:56pm
 
Wow ! Sending BBQ pigs to the enemy ?  Grin
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #6 - 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 Shocked.
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #7 - 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
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #8 - Jan 21st, 2006 at 8:58pm
 
Smiley Someone in another forum said that the ancient chinese used fake lion costumes to scare off war elephants. Smiley

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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #9 - Jan 21st, 2006 at 9:22pm
 
Chinese wear lion customs alot.   Grin

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.
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #10 - 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.
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #11 - Jan 25th, 2006 at 12:36pm
 


    In the Arabic lands, flaming camels were also used. Shocked
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #12 - 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

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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #13 - Jan 26th, 2006 at 6:48am
 
Quote:
   In the Arabic lands, flaming camels were also used. Shocked


I thought the flaming Arabs smoked camels.



How do you fight a War Elephant?

PEPPER SPRAY!
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Re: Roman Slingers vs. War Elephants
Reply #14 - 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!"
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The greatest of all the accomplishments of 20th cent. science has been the discovery of human ignorance  The main difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has it's limits.-Einstein   I'm getting psychic as I get older. Or is that psychotic?
 
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