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Mr. Mask
05-17-2013, 07:21 PM
On many boards, there is often a popular thread where people with an interest in military history, modern military, and historical re-enactment gather, and have discussions about combat and war throughout the ages. In these threads, people without expertise would pop in to ask questions, which are quickly pounced upon by a group of starving wolves experts.

Combat is a theme that pops up with some regularity on this board, and there seem to be at least some experts in this field. So, I would like to see if a thread for asking and answering combat-related questions would go over well with the community.

I know a little from my own study, and will do my best to chip in where I can.



Here's a question to set the ball rolling:

Around the thirteenth century, were there any common practices to camouflage military camps? Hiding an army is a difficult task, so I'm wondering if anyone bothered. Would tents be drab, unimposing colours? Or perhaps even be covered with vegetation to make them less noticeable?


Feel free to add your own questions to the thread. I look forward to seeing them, and us all having fun discussions which will better our writing.

Sarpedon
05-17-2013, 09:01 PM
Camoflage was a 20th century invention. We had a huge argument about that on here some time ago.

And no, there could be no way to hide an army camp, and no reason to. Before airplanes and artillery, who cares if anyone can see your camp or not? They have to come and hit you with a stick no matter what.

ECathers
05-17-2013, 10:13 PM
Camoflage was a 20th century invention. We had a huge argument about that on here some time ago.

And no, there could be no way to hide an army camp, and no reason to. Before airplanes and artillery, who cares if anyone can see your camp or not? They have to come and hit you with a stick no matter what.

20th century? Seriously what are you smoking?

If you mean camo gear (patterned clothing) and all, then ok, but if you mean the basic use of camouflage itself then...

Drachen Jager
05-17-2013, 10:18 PM
Camoflage uniforms were in use by specialized units in the 18th century.

Michael Davis
05-17-2013, 11:16 PM
Ref you question to hide a camp - VC did it effectively by going under ground.

Ref a military thread - I have 30 years in support of the Intel and military community and try to chime in when I see such questions but don't remember to many popping up here.

Ref those that threw monkey do do on anyone that supports the military, given one of my genres is mil/political thrillers, get it all the time. Just ignore it. My first novel received six five star reviews before one lady announced she could never look favorably on any author that presented our warriors in a positive light. Takes all kinds to make up a free society.

WeaselFire
05-17-2013, 11:30 PM
Around the thirteenth century, were there any common practices to camouflage military camps? Hiding an army is a difficult task, so I'm wondering if anyone bothered. Would tents be drab, unimposing colours? Or perhaps even be covered with vegetation to make them less noticeable?
Other than camping over the hill, no outward attempt. Camps were set up around available resources, drinking water, access to transportation, etc. Tents were actually not very prevalent, too much to haul with an army. Those that existed were whatever color the fabric was, no attempts to dye them. This applies to European/British armies.

Other nations often flamboyantly colored the tents, set standards and advertised their presence. Nomadic groups simply brought everyone, Roman armies often did as well. An encampment was an entire town. Oriental camps were often a nearly permanent establishment, while New World and Sub-Saharan camps were almost non-existent, armies there didn't move much.

So, pretty much, tactics were individual to specific regions, groups and even leaders. Rarely, beyond the Romans and Egyptians, were there standing armies that had any true organized tactics. In the middle ages, Europeans rarely mounted campaigns of any significance. The War of the Roses and the 100 years war (116 years actually...) were actually pretty small and localized affairs. Not since the Romans, Egyptians and Greeks had been in power had anyone really seen organized war. Some of the hordes from the steps, but even that died after Genghis Khan. The Crusades were somewhat over-blown by historians, the battles were really limited and in limited areas, for control of specific locations.

The only organized warfare of national scale at that time was Chinese, with some Korean and Japanese. And most of those weren't conquering but rather defending against uprisings.

Then again, I wasn't there... :)

Jeff

Sarpedon
05-17-2013, 11:34 PM
Yes I mean patterned gear. No I am not smoking anything.

People did indeed know about wearing less conspicuous colors and attaching leaves to themselves before then. However, prior to the 19th century, there was little point, except for scouts. With short range weapons, there's no real reason to try to conceal yourself, because camoflaged or not, people are going to see you before they are in range of your glaive or blunderbuss.

The british changed from red to khaki during the Boer War, (ca 1900). The french went into World War 1 with blue shirts and red pants and hats. The germans wore gray, but cancelled the effect of that by wearing brass knobs on their heads. Prior to the 20th century, the military thinking was that avoiding friendly fire by wearing a distinctive uniform was more important than being inconspicuous.

And remember, we are talking about camoflaging army camps. Sure, people made hidden outposts in the olden days, but large scale camoflage was invented primarily to protect against aerial sightings, again starting in World War 1. In the 13th century, there's absolutely no point.

Trebor1415
05-21-2013, 06:54 AM
Around the thirteenth century, were there any common practices to camouflage military camps? Hiding an army is a difficult task, so I'm wondering if anyone bothered. Would tents be drab, unimposing colours? Or perhaps even be covered with vegetation to make them less noticeable?

.

Worried about those 13th Century air force or recon satellites, huh?

No, in the 13th Century there wouldn't be any point to camoflauging a military camp. The kind of things you are talking about, nets, brown tetns, etc, are primarily designed to hide you from air observation.

A 13th Century camp would most likely be sprawling and quite squalid. There'd be soldiers, of various levels of discipline, and camp followers and the like.

Mr. Mask
05-21-2013, 09:01 AM
The main kind of camouflage used was probably just making camp in the woods. Forests are great for ambush.


One thing I've wondered about from time to time, is a kind of armour nicknamed, "ring armour" or "ringmail". Most examples of it are just mail armour, mistaken as being something different due to the art style, it seems. However, I have heard that there apparently was a design of ring armour in use (though perhaps rare use).

A definition I've heard of is metal rings sewn to a backing material. I heard of one example that used thick, doughnut-like rings with small holes, called "coin armour" or something.

Does anyone know more about this kind of armour?

Drachen Jager
05-21-2013, 09:24 AM
Ring mail is not a nickname, that's properly what it's called.

Pretty similar to chain mail, except that each ring was riveted or fastened together, whereas chain mail is just bent into shape. Sometimes the rings were flat, and AFAIK chain mail was always a round cross-section stock bent into rings.

Only thing I could find for coin armor is tlingit armor, but that appears to be a North American native invention from what I can see.

Mr. Mask
05-21-2013, 11:06 AM
Tlingit armour will be the stuff I heard about.

Thank you for the info on ring armour, as well. I changed my search query, and managed to find out a little more about it.

Trebor1415
05-23-2013, 04:59 PM
Ring mail is not a nickname, that's properly what it's called.

Pretty similar to chain mail, except that each ring was riveted or fastened together, whereas chain mail is just bent into shape. Sometimes the rings were flat, and AFAIK chain mail was always a round cross-section stock bent into rings.

Only thing I could find for coin armor is tlingit armor, but that appears to be a North American native invention from what I can see.

European mail (not really called "chain mail" at the time) was generally made of flat stock with each ring rivetted together in a 4 in 1 pattern.

The Wiki page isn't bad:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mail_%28armour%29