THE ARMIES OF THE REPUBLIC, 585 - 629
The Army built up by the rebels, later Republicans, after 585 was radically different to the traditional Imperial Army in almost every respect. Many new recruits had to be hastily raised, initially from fervid supporters of the regime, and later from a "levee en masse" of the whole population, although, of course, there was a basic bedrock of professional forces formed by the support of the old Armies of Marossan, Helvrieh and others. It was not possible to drill and train these men in the same way as the soldiers of the Imperial Army, and hence new tactics had to be invented to make it possible to employ their enthusiastic but untrained ardour.
So Republican forces were based on smaller units than the PUEGGIS, and these units allowed the soldiers to act more independently, and with greater initiative being devolved to lower-level commanders. Thus the OCHOS, which in the Imperial Army was just a constituent unit of about 800 men, 14 or so of which formed the PUEGGIS (or Army) of 11,500 men, became the main unit of manoeuvre and fighting. It consisted mostly of infantry, who fought partly as skirmishers, in open order, lived off the country, and was distinguished by its speed of movement. By the 590s it used both the standard lever crossbow, and the light repeating crossbow, and took some opportunity in the field of using cover and camouflage when moving to the attack. A good example of the success of this style of fighting is the Battle of Fourtis in 588, when the Imperial Army of Crehonerex III, slow-moving and deliberate in its invasion of the rebel Provinces, was overwhelmed and almost surrounded by the faster-moving and tactically bolder levies of Atlantis.
After this, it benefited from the generalship of a number of talented young men, who would probably never have reached the higher military ranks under the old regime. Pre-eminent among these was Russalonni Bourbronni, the young Chalcran, who, with other leaders such as Sunon Pouton and Fulgon Ventel, spearheaded the Republican conquest of Atlantidieh and parts of Chalcrieh I in 589 – 591. Bourbonni was undoubtedly the greatest of these soldiers, and had the chance to prove it in his successful defence of the siege of Cennatlantis against four separate Imperialist attacks, and later in the advance into Chalcrieh. Details about this military operation can be found in the following links:
Unfortunately Pranonni grew suspicious of Bourbonni’s success, and his unwillingness to toe the party line, and in 592, he was transferred to Th. Thiss., where, after a couple of brilliant campaigns, he was killed in action in 593.
After the 600s, as the civil war between Imperialists and Republicans settled down to a stalemate, the Republican Army tended to grow more orthodox and regular, closer in fact to the Armies of the Imperialists. They even regrouped their OCHOSIX back into larger units of 7000 men, though they called them OCHOSEMBIX rather than PUEGGISIX. In due course it lost the tactical initiative to the Imperialists, who were adopting new weapons and new styles of fighting, which the Republicans did not pick up. Finally the emergence of brilliant young Imperialist commanders, such as the future Ruthopheax I, sealed the fate of the Republic and its Army in the 620s
THE DECLINE AND TRANSFORMATION OF THE IMPERIALIST ARMIES, 585 - 605
During the 580s and 590s, the Imperialist Army continued much as it had been for the past decades, despite the evident superiority of some aspects of the Republicans' forces, as evidenced by their successes up until the mid 590s. As noted, the PUEGGIS remained the main unit of operation, divided into 14 OCHOSIX of about 900 men each. Most of these were infantry, with two artillery units, and also a separate cavalry OCHOS attached. The OCHOSIX were divided into active (i.e. frontier) and reserve forces. Various locally raised forces also shared in the defence of the frontiers. Infantry weapons were based on the steel lever-crossbow. However the success of the Republicans' use of skirmishers and the lighter repeating crossbows for infantry, led the Imperialists to adopt both of these as the 590s wore on. They also, like the Republicans, gradually abandoned the armour, which they had worn since the 540s.
Cavalry had found little favour in recent years, but now it was increased, especially for use on the frontiers against the invading nomads. Medium cavalry, armed with spears rather than light crossbows, were also introduced to the frontier and central front armies after 592. Finally, the pressure of having to fight both on the frontiers against nomads and (later) Ughans and Basquecs, and internally against the Republicans (and later other Imperialist forces), forced commanders to employ the Reserve OCHOSIX on the frontiers, and the active forces against the rebels. The need for more mobile forces, and the fall in numbers available, led to a decline in the size of PUEGGISIX from some 14000 to around 7000 by 605.
THE END OF VOLUNTARY RESTRAINT ON MILITARY INNOVATIONS
During the Second Empire, the Court of Ethics usually forbade innovations of any sort, especially military ones. As far as new military weapons were concerned, this was due above all to Atlantis' fear that rival states would soon learn about and adopt such new weapons, and upset the overall balance of power. Better to keep the military balance as it was, with Atlantis definitely "top dog", than make changes which might have disastrously unpredictable results. So up to 585, the only real new weapons which Atlantis adopted were different types of crossbows. The main one was the invention of the repeating light crossbow about 520, which was quietly introduced to the armed forces only after 580. This weapon allowed the soldier to fire up to twelve bolts, one after another, from a magazine, without having to reload each time. However, it could only fire effectively for a maximum of about 180 yards, much less than ordinary crossbows, and at first had no bayonet (infantry using it had a sword, but normally relied on the other infantry to defend them.) This first version was a light wooden weapon, and used in groups amidst the other crossbows.
It was adopted widely by the armies of the Republic after 586, and helped them to win their initial victories over the Imperialists. A heavier version of this, with bayonet, was adopted about 600. With the demise of the Court of Ethics in Republican areas, the Republican leaders saw no reason to voluntarily refuse to adopt new weapons any more. The Imperialists were also forced to forego their previous restraint, especially after 600 as the whole Second Empire organisation declined, and the new little pseudo-Imperialist states, which now appeared, were run by men who no longer subscribed to the ethic of the old Second Empire. So invention of new weapons were now quickly followed by their adoption in Atlantean armies.
In the 590s a repeating artillery crossbow was invented and put into use in both sets of Atlantean armies. But this was soon overtaken by the most significant event of this whole era - the invention of gunpowder weapons.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF WARFARE AFTER 600
Non-military use of gunpowder can be traced back to about 400, and was employed in the southern, non-Atlantean, states for fireworks. Atlantis deliberately banned any developments of these for military usage, but in the 580s, encouraged by the stalemate of the war with Atlantis, Basquecieh invented the first military gunpowder rockets. These were employed tentatively during the fighting of the 590s, and the Imperialists immediately hastened to manufacture some themselves. These were used only for sieges or at sea for the first few years. The speed with which Atlantean rockets were produced shows that their must already have been experimental work in progress, but we learn nothing of this from our sources.
However, a floodgate of military innovation was now opened, as the Imperialists threw restraint to the winds. Atlantis now moved on to use gunpowder for the very first cannon - smoothbore muzzle-loaders. These were worked on after 595, and first used in action in 605, against the Basquecs. The latter of course soon started to make their own. Over the next few decades, continual improvements were made, either in Basquecieh or in Atlantis. Smaller rockets, semi-mobile and usable tactically as artillery, were produced after 600, and after 640, a further upgrade led to mobile rockets which could be used as infantry weapons. These were all initiated in Basquecieh, which always preferred rockets to cannon, although Atlantis soon copied them as well. Other inventions from Atlantis included flame-throwers, invented in 470, but only permitted for general use on ships after 585; armoured, horse-drawn transport carts after 605; armoured, horse-drawn fighting "chariots" after 630;and smooth-bore breech-loading cannon after 650. Needless to say, all of these also reached other surrounding states, such as Ughrieh, Rabarrieh, and the nomads, after an interval in time.
THE NEW STYLE OF WARFARE - RUTHOPHEAX'S REVOLUTION
These innovations led to a new style of fighting, with new types and sizes of units, after 600. The possibilities now opened up in warfare were seized on by Ruthopheax I, in particular, and lay at the basis of his brilliant military successes between 625 and 670. His great advantage was to use these new weapons of war, and turn them to his tactical and strategical advantage, before they were fully assimilated by his enemies. Thus the Republicans were much slower in recognising the importance of the "new warfare", as it was called, partly because they were further away from Basquecieh, which initiated many of them. Before they could take full advantage of them, Ruthopheax had overwhelmed them. Similarly, the nomads, the southern states and Ughrieh were all slower to catch on to them and were duly beaten. Basquecieh was, of course, the initiator of many of these weapons, but its civil war prevented it from keeping level with Atlantis, and it made the mistake of adopting the less effective new weapons - such as rockets instead of cannon.
Ruthopheax’s military system relied on the following factors: the flexibility of the new army organisation, the desire and ability to attack hard, the inability of defenders to rely on fortresses or field defences in the face of the new artillery, and the careful organisation of supplies for the army via roads and rivers. We need in particular to concentrate on his tactical practice, making use of the new weapons of war. He was in a position to attack much more decisively than his predecessors, and in every battle, he sought to induce the enemy to weaken their centre, or occasionally a flank, by demonstrations against other parts of the front, and then smash into this denuded area with his full force. He was less inclined to use strong flank attacks, unlike other generals in other periods. For the main attack, he combined an initial heavy bombardment by artillery, with a steady advance by infantry, preceded by skirmishers. He often used armoured chariots or wagons to get his forces nearer the front in safety, and once the enemy line was sufficiently weakened, he would unleash his heavy armoured cavalry to break through. The infantry and medium cavalry would then pursue the fleeing enemy unmercifully. Such decisive field-battles were the more readily produced, because the enemy was unable to rely on impregnable fortresses or strong field defences.
Ruthopheax's successes on the battlefield can also be attributed to another factors: his reorganisation of the Army.
THE REORGANISATION OF THE ATLANTEAN ARMY, 600 - 670
Between 605 and 630, Imperialist mobile and garrison armies were completely separated. The field or mobile armies - PUEGGISIX - were around 7000-8000 men strong, and were now divided into DARCOYIX, which were new units. (From "darcul/darcuyix" = third(s)). Within these, there were three OCHOSIX. These DARCOYIX were semi-independent, with most soldiers armed with both traditional crossbows and repeating crossbows, and with a line of skirmishers. Cavalry was divided between the DARCOYIX, with heavy cavalry in reserve. Cannon and rockets were at this stage just part of the Army Reserve, and used for sieges.
After 630, Ruthopheax revolutionised this organisation. After his triumph over the Republicans, he abolished all the old Republican units, and renamed the Imperialist forces under his control. Initially he increased the size of PUEGGISIX to 9000 men, each with 4-5 OCHOSIX. But in the 640s, he made much greater changes. He now created CENNPUEGGISIX (or "New Armies"), which were twice the size of the old PUEGGISIX (i.e. about 20000), and were created by uniting two old "Armies", or adding newly raised ones to one of the older ones. He tried to retain as many of the old units as possible, to conserve "esprit de corps". All these Armies were now officered by Imperialist gentry, while the soldiers were a mixture of long-serving volunteers and an increasing admixture of conscripts from Imperialist Provinces. The CENNPUEGGISIX were then subdivided into four CENNDARCOYIX (later just called "PUEGGISIX" and "DARCOYIX"), which were subdivided into ten PUONDIX. This resulted in the setting-up of an organisation very similar to our modern CORPS-DIVISION-REGIMENT structure. After 670, two CENNPUEGGISIX, (by this time increased in size to 22000, and later 24000 men), were based in and recruited from each Province of the Third Empire - 11 Provinces produced 22 PUEGGISIX, plus one extra, i.e. about 600000 men. (During the great campaigns of the 650s and 660s, the overall size of the Atlantean Army was much greater, at least 800000 men.)
Infantry weapons remained unchanged till 670 - indeed right up till the 730s, although the proportion of repeating crossbows to ordinary ones increased all the time, and these repeaters became heavier and with slightly greater range. Heavy cavalry was armed with a lance, and a repeating crossbow. Artillery showed the most important changes. Mechanical artillery was almost completely phased out, in favour of cannon and rockets. Medium repeating crossbows were the exception, but they were confined to fortifications after the 680s. Cannon were attached to DARCOYIX (old and new) at the rate of 2 or 3 per 1000 men after the 630s. Horse artillery developed after 650s. Rockets became lighter and more mobile after the 620s, and by 640 had become infantry weapons, and were attached to DARCOYIX (8 - 10 per 1000 men). Heavy rockets remained in Army reserve for sieges, until replaced by mortars after 670. By and large, Atlantis preferred cannon to rockets, unlike the Basquecs. Other innovations were the use of massive quantities of horses and carts to transport infantry rapidly. Experiments were also made with heavy, armoured "chariots" for infantry and artillery.
(For a detailed account of Ruthopheax I's wars, see: Ruthopheax I's war against the Republicans Ruthopheax I's wars against State E, 1- 631-633 Ruthopheax I's wars against State E, 2- 634 Ruthopheax I's wars against State C- !- 644 and Ruthopheax I's wars against State C- 2- 645)
THE ORGANISATION OF THE THIRD EMPIRE ARMY
The basic structure and organisation of the Army scarcely changed between 660 and at least 730. After 670, it was divided between internal security and external defence, with each province maintaining two PUEGGISIX. Originally conscripted, the Army became over the years wholly voluntary. After 683, it was formally split into a Frontier and an Internal Security force. The latter later became largely a paramilitary police force, keeping order at home. All the heavy equipment and arms (siege cannon, fortifications, transport) was concentrated on the frontiers. This whole epoch was relatively peaceful, with only very minor wars involving Atlantis and foreign countries, and the size of the Army was kept quite low throughout. It was about 600000 strong in 673 (frontier forces 480000). It was reduced to about 520000 from 683 to 730 (420000 frontier forces). Each army (CENNPUEGGIS) was about 22000 strong: three of its CENNDARCOYIX were frontier forces, and the fourth was Internal Security. As the threat from Basquecieh gradually became realised during the 730s, the overall size increased again to 55000 by 732, and 650000 in 743, at the outbreak of the Great Continental War. By now, the Internal Force represented only 70000 of this, and most of it had to be quickly redeployed to the frontiers, once war began. There was also the equivalent of a territorial force (a reserve of men who had earlier served in the active army, and could be called up whenever necessary), which was about 500000 strong in the 730s.
Command of Frontier forces was vested overall in the Imperial Generalissimo after 680. Below him, individual PUEGGISIX were run by the governors of the Province in which they were based and recruited. The matching Internal Forces were run by the Provincial Governors as well.
A soldier of the period around 700
THE STRATEGY AND WEAPONRY OF THE THIRD EMPIRE ARMY
The hard-hitting, fast moving, excellently armed army of Ruthopheax I could hardly be recognised in the forces of the 680s-720s. The army had necessarily become immobile, manning frontier defences, and whereas in the 660s, over one third of it had access to horse-drawn transport, this had declined to perhaps one-third by 730. Throughout this period, a massive programme of fortress and fortification building was undertaken, all round the edges of the Empire, to make sure the Empire’s defences could withstand the new gunpowder artillery. Overall strategy soon became wholly defensive, based on the new style of fortresses, which, with their lower walls, and overlapping fields of fire, were increasingly resistant to attack by non-rifled cannon. Small "dugouts", offering all-round protection to several soldiers and a gun or two, were placed at intervals around these forts, within range of the artillery of the fort, thus making attack very difficult, and forcing opponents to undertake full-scale sieges. The lack of large-scale foreign wars also meant it was almost impossible to test out tactics or strategy, or the use and co-ordination of weapons, and campaigns usually involved only small forces at a time.
Ruthopheax I and his descendants froze military weapons as they were in the 660s, and banned the use of all innovations, eg breech-loading, rifling, and rifles. Until 705, Atlantis was able to enforce this ban on all the major surrounding countries as well. But thereafter Basquecieh slipped out of its control, and began experimenting again with new weapons. This redoubled when the aggressive military genius, Gosscalt, seized power after 724. Over the years from 705 to 743, Basquecieh discovered or rediscovered all sorts of new weapons, which were surreptitiously produced and used in small numbers in foreign wars. Atlantis, and other states, were forced to follow suit. Atlantis did this by setting up secret industrial centres after 727, and tested or developed new weapons for the army and navy in secret. But unlike Basquecieh, these were only delivered to the armed forces in very small numbers, and when war came in 743, Basquecieh was much better armed at first.
Thus after 705 Basquecieh began experimenting again with breech-loading cannon and rediscovered rifling. After 715, she started work on handguns, and invented the cylindrical percussion cartridge. In the 720s Basquecieh issued muzzle-loading handguns to some of its armed forces. Explosive shells for cannon had been invented, like so much else, before 670, but were then banned by Atlantis. They were used by all sides at sea, however, and were reintroduced by Basquecieh on land after 725. By 730, Basquecieh was producing muzzle-loading rifled cannon and the first breech-loading handguns with cartridges. The war between Basquecieh and Rabarrieh from 732 to 737 saw the Basquecs using a variety of different weapons, ranging from crossbows to breech-loading rifles, from muzzle-loading cannon to muzzle and even breech-loading rifled cannon. Explosive shells were used sparingly, but balloons were used for the first time in war. Over the next years, down to 743, Basquecieh concentrated on producing more breech-loaders of every sort.
In the 730s, Atlantis finally began to wake up to the Basquec threat, but almost too late. She threw herself into producing and testing breech-loading rifles, deliberately rejecting muzzle-loaders as an inefficient halfway stage. Rifled cannon were also produced, but nearly all these were muzzle-loading breech-loaders were much more difficult to manufacture successfully, but the Basquecs had already advanced further along this path. Other nations were catching up. Rabarrieh was probably at least as advanced as Atlantis, thanks to the educational results of its unsuccessful war with Basquecieh. The Ughans were partially rearmed by Basquecieh in the 730s, and had a small admixture of rifled handguns and cannon supplied by the Basquecs. The two Skallandieh empires were largely traditionally armed in 743, though Anauren was perhaps on the level of Atlantis.To read the next part of this history, click on The Army- 740 - 890