Saturday, February 05, 2005
Genghis Part III: Whirlwind of the Steppes
The Mongol soldiers were some of the most successful soldiers on Earth. Under Genghis Khan they were only defeated once, and that was simply because they deemed it wise to retreat after a battle in Mongolia. They would use tactics and strategies that their foes would not dare to use. Riding mostly on horses, they swept through farms, villages, towns, cities, citadels, plains, and forests. Their secret was that the tactics they used were the same they had been using for generations while hunting. Flanking, speed, false retreat, deception, espionage, all of these vital parts of the Mongols' way of war were mostly learned during the hunting expeditions. Genghis Khan did not originate these, he pushed them to their maximum potential against his human enemies. Most of the soldiers under Genghis Khan were ethnically one of the Turks. Only a minority belonged to one of the Mongol tribes. Practically all of these troops were cavalry archers, able to accurately fire arrows at their enemies and still gallop away. Their equipment consisted of two recurved composite bows, a quiver with about 40 arrows, a lance, lariat, rope, axe, and numerous other neccesities of a mounted warrior. One of their favourite tactics when facing stronger and more numerous oponents was to fire their arrows while constantly riding away. Often the opponents were heavily armoured knights. While they tried to pursue the Mongols their horses eventually started to tire out. Also, they would be under a constant hail of arrows. Finally, as the knights seemed to be weakened enough the Mongols would turn and charge right at their unsuspecting enemy. This was a favourite in field battles. On the other hand these troops often had to lay siege to massive cities. When they first attacked China they tried to starve out the first few cities. Unfortunately, the Mongols relied on fast blitzkrieg tactics and this method was too slow. Therefore they begant to be sneaky. For one city under siege they just collected what they really needed and abandoned camp. The Cinese soldiers within the walls took this as a sign that the Mongols had surrendered. Once the horsemen had moved far enough the Chinese quickly started plundering the abandoned enemy camp. Completely distracted, they were horrified when they saw the Mongol soldiers returning at full gallop, cutting through the unprepared Chinese and into the open gates. The city quickly fell. This post is long enough so I will continue it later.