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"Skirmisher reloads" Topic

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464 hits since 17 Sep 2018
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Korvessa17 Sep 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

I was looking at a picture of a peltast the other day and t dawned on me that they could throw their 4-5 javelins in seconds. Yet they seemed to stick around longer than that. How did they handle their reloads?
Were there "servants" that continually shuttled reloads from the rear to the front?
Did they spend more time threatening to throw the things then actually throwing them?
I presume you could pick up a few on the ground that were thrown by the enemy, as if this wasn't a thing there would be no need for the pilum design.
How did they manage to stay engaged as long as they did, with so little ammo?

On a related note, in classical times, who carried more ammo, a slinger or an archer?

advocate17 Sep 2018 9:25 a.m. PST

Related question: sling stones are cheaper and/or* easier to carry. What do you think?

* I don't know how much a lead shot might cost. So maybe they were more expensive. But making an arrow was a skilled job requiring several different items.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2018 10:03 a.m. PST

While there is much which is unreliable about the Dead Sea War Scroll, it might reflect actual practice of successive lines of troops, with each line going out in turn to throw their javelins. The writer is rather fixated on 'seven', so the exact number of lines and javelins actually used would probably vary.

Mars Ultor Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2018 10:53 a.m. PST

Lead couldn't have been that expensive – it was used to deliver water all over the place in Roman cities. For instance, if you go to Ostia, there are places where they have piled up many yards of lead pipe dug up from the ground or buildings. So with all due respect to the bow, I would think that lead bullets would be more available, and stones even more so.

I'd like to know which was more accurate at a longer distance.

Korvessa17 Sep 2018 12:50 p.m. PST

I know volume wise sling shot takes up a lot less room that an arrow, but weight-wise, I have no idea how much ammo constituted a "combat load" for either.
I also am quite sure that making a decent war arrow is more difficult, and thus likely more expensive, than a lead bullet. But by how much I have no clue.

I do love the fact that they would sometimes inscribe belligerent messages on the lead bullets.

TMPWargamerabbit17 Sep 2018 12:52 p.m. PST

One thing about Ancient missile weapons….. what you throw at the enemy, they in most cases, can throw back at you unless broken upon impact (with hard ground). So when skirmishing with the enemy, if they have similar weapons then the re-supply is coming at you all the time. Now if faced by enemy with different weapon system…. bow and arrow and you have javelin in hand for example, then supply could be problematic. Call up the "junior team" bearing the spare javelins is your only choice of action after you and your buddy second have tossed all their javelins. Or maybe, with sharp pointy stick or cheap sword/dagger in hand, charge the nearby missile men (bowmen) may be more to tactics when faced by bowmen or slingers.

goragrad17 Sep 2018 4:21 p.m. PST

At least in the Old and Middle Kingdom era, javelin skirmishers were accompanied by quiver carriers to give them a greater reserve.

Some Thracian skirmishers actually just threw rocks – presumably picking them up from the ground as needed.

Slingers always had the option to forage for suitable ammo after using up what they initially carried. One reason perhaps that slingers were valued into the Middle Ages as scouts.

Parthian horse archers at Carrhae had a supply train with a large quantity of additional arrows.

Different armies had different approaches over the centuries. As noted above, a number of them provided their missile armed skirmishers with hand to hand weaponry as a backup and trained them to use it.

evilgong Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2018 8:00 p.m. PST

Re-enactment archers have mentioned that a few men of a unit are detailed to scavenge arrows as soon as the action starts – well before anybody runs out.

Mars Ultor Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2018 5:58 p.m. PST

Evilgong, I wonder how those poor bastards got picked. I think I'd rather stay in place than running around a battlefield being peppered with arrows.

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