So far I have concentrated my painting efforts to field armies that would do the actual fighting, but what would be army without a wagons, beasts of burden and camps? While the progress on the camps is somewhat slow, I have spent some time to figure out what kind of wagon trains I prefer. Obviously they need to be multipurpose, since likely periods of utilization include napoleonic wars and ancients. To get started, some tumbrils sounded a good idea. I thought that it is better if the construction is somewhat modular, and pillaged baggage could be presented by removing the cargo instead of removing the whole models. I picked up some from Baccus, and albeit the cartwheels are a bit oversized, they are not bad models.
Unfortunately, logistics trains do not often play major parts in war-games (save the camp in ancient settings which have the sole function of being loot. A side note, Impetus has fantastic feature that open way to enemy camp and loot is so tempting that the units may have to start looting before fight is over). In many respects, rather cumbersome logistics trains did play role in the actual engagement. Some typical examples can be found from Peninsular War, where relatively often narrow, and poor roads were blocked up by the logistics and artillery trains, delaying vital movements of troops and cavalry. Even in smaller settings, there are quite few where withdraw is delayed and intense rearguard action is fought to allow the supply train and loot make their way.
For army on a march, to be well supplied, would require immense amount of forage, food, ammunition, powder and other supplies. Additionally, even until rather recently, camp followers caused additional grey hairs. Logistics therefore has always presented a major problem since the dawn of organized warfare. Because of the logistics limitations, campaigning season was relatively short – it was too complicated to move large bodies of men and material for vast distances if beast of burden and horses had no sufficient forage.
There were several methods to overcome the logistics problem. Marching army could pillage the land for supplies, they could carry the needed material with wagons and mules, or the army could carry some in their packs. Numbers of camp followers could be restricted further reduce the problems. Additionally, logistics burden could be limited by limiting the theatre of operations to, or close to friendly territories and establish supply depots in relatively close proximity. This would, however limit the scope of operations to defensive warfare, and would make any far reaching imperial aspirations all but impossible.
Assyrians were probably one of the first to adopt well established logistics trains and depot system to support their armies and imperial aspirations. Assyrian legacy was inherited by Persians and further refined by road network and messenger system. Greeks learned from Persians the importance of good logistics, to extend the field of operations beyond their own borders, and culmination of the Hellenistic learning was kingdom of Macedon under Alexander. His long to march across what used to be Persia to India is a standing testimony of the supply system at the peak of Alexander’s reign.
Numbers that are related to moderate army consumption on a march are truly staggering.
To be continued…