b-battles-art - 8/4/94
Creating more authentic bridge battles.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: PAULB at saturn.uark.EDU (Paul A. Byers)
Subject: bridge battles
Date: 19 Jul 1994 13:49:06 -0400
Organization: University of Arkansas
Here is a article I wrote for the Bird of Prey, the Calontir fighters
newsletter. Thought I would post it too, just cause I can. :)
Crossing the Wet parts against nasties
by Pavel Itsnarrowhereavich, edited by William Hairy Dick
Over the years I've seen some really amazing bridge battles. Some have been memorable for their action. I was at the Pennsic were John the Bearkiller killed over a dozen foes, him alone against the entire enemy army. Then there was the Estrella when Guy threw 4 raps with such speed and force that his opponent (a notorious rhino.) just walked past Guy, jerking and mumbling to himself as his brain reset. Others have been unique for their setting, I've been at Pennsics and Estrellas were there were 3 modern interstate sized bridges with in a 100 yards of each other.
The common denominator of all of these battles has been one thing, modern bridges. Many of the war planers in the current middle ages seem to feel that all battles should be over in less than 5 minutes, the resurrection battles are really just a series of shorter battles, so they try to make the bridge battle a narrow field battle. We are suppose to be simulating period circumstances, with a nod to modern conventions, not the other way around.
Our war planners should plan our bridges, and therefore bridge battles, as if they were real period bridges, not interstates with service roads. There are two key points to consider: bridge size and proximity. In period most of the standing bridges in the country- side were of roman design. Because they were meant to pass a double file of troops and their carts, most bridges were between 8-12 foot wide and much longer than we like our bridges. Sites unsuitable for bridges, either because of soft bottoms or lack of traffic were crossed by ferries and fords. So bridges, fords and ferries were of great strategic and tactical import. Covering the choke points of a river was just important then as now.
Usually there was only one bridge crossing a river. A major city, like London, might have more than one bridge within a mile of each other, but these bridges usually had buildings on them, making the right of way across the bridge narrow. That could make for an interesting battle too. A bridge battle inside a town battle.
These points are seemingly neglected at most major wars, we should not have giant, short, multiples of bridges in an open field. This year's Estrella War featured three 25'+ bridges that are only 30- 50 foot long (wide and short) and are side by side. We should have narrow (8'-12') long (60'-70') bridges. There might be a ford or ferry near by, but there would more likely have been small boats nearby. If we stay with the multiple bridges we should space them more than 50 feet apart and build a town around them. Another thought is that since many large bridges would be in a town, this lets us have some house to house fighting.
We should base our bridge battle on a period model, much like Gilligan based his battle on Stamford bridge at Lilies VIII. This would lead away from the phalanx type tactics that are used now and towards more individual bravery. It also lead to a more flexible use of resources. Do you allow your boats to cross? Do you have your archers on the bridge attacking the front ranks or do you have them doing counter battery and suppression of the rear ranks? Archers would have to pick their targets instead of having the enemy reserves in range to just lob missiles at.
If we wanted to use multiple bridges, we model the scenario after London or Paris. The bridges would be widely spaced and built up. Commanders would have to position their reserves more carefully, since distance now plays a part, and siege weapons would benefit from a built-up bridge scenario, since the obstacles presented by towns and buildings make indirect fire more authentic and useful. This could lead to some really fun scenarios.
Ferries have been ignored because of the trouble they seem to pose, I think a good battle could be had with one. Put 1/3 of the attacking forces on one side with the ferry (made of large, 3", PVC ) on one side of the river, with the other 2/3 on the other shore waiting to be ferried across. The defenders, with 1/2 of their army available at first and the other half available in five or ten minutes, would be trying to crush the attacker's beach-head and prevent him from bringing his army across. The ferries should be at least 12' by 14' and should move at a walk in both directions. This would lead to some interesting battles, with the attackers trying to buy enough time to bring over their army while the defenders attempt to regain control of the ferry.
With some imagination, period bridges could add a new face to the bridge battle as we know it today. Instead of being a stand alone, set-piece scenario, the bridge could be incorporated into town or boat battles, increasing the challenges to the commanders and the fun for the participants. Regardless of what new scenarios we dream up for the bridge battle, the important part is "no more interstate bridges in medieval Europe."