My favorite military general

jedion357's picture
May 29, 2010 - 8:04pm
Jan Zizka

In the 1400s you had the precurser of the Reformation when a Hungarian Priest was burned at the stake for  radical ideas that compared to Martin Luther made him look like a conservative. Non the less his death led to an religious and peasent revolt against the authority of the Holy Roman Emperor and the Catholic Church- it didn't have to go there but the emperor's Jessuit advisor was for purging those who defied the catholic church.

But I get ahead of myself...Jan Zizka lost an eye in his youth due to an arrow, I believe, but still became a knight. Early in his carreer he's part of a coalition of Poles that are standing against a Teutonic order of knights and in the Polish order of battle is a mass of archebus armed troops and the firearms significantly contribute to the slaughter of the Teutonic order (St John IIRC) The Poles were expected to loose so this event stays with Zizka.

Latter in life hes the military leader who finds himself trying to lead this religious/ peasent revolt and never before has a peasent revolt ever succeeded in standing against a hvy cavalry charge by knights but he has and idea.

Knight hood suffers from the weight of its own arrogance- they know they rock and they feel no need to change. Plus there is no real mechanism of institutional knowledge so that the institution of knighthood could never learn from its failures.

Its impossible for Zizka to train peasents to be knights in the short time he has and thus his movement is doomed so instead He just trains his soldiers to do one thing: one man learns to use the archebus, one the cross bow, one the hooked pike, and one the sword and then they are trained to function as a unit and given an armored high sided wagon.

The crossbow and archebus men stayed in the wagon and fired away and ignored the knights who charged because they were protected. the pike men would attempt to hook and drag a knight from his horse when he got close and the swordsmen would rush forward and dispatch a fallen knight.

The areas of Bohemia that were under zizka's control had limited foundries and he was limited to very small caliber cannon that he mounted on wagons too.

The basic tactic was to circle their wagons and chain the wheels so that no wagon could be tipped and fire one cannon until a shot landed into the knights camp, which invaribably provoked an impetuous charge that knights were famous for. They would charge and get slaghtered then fall back and while deciding what to do Zizka would have a canon fire a shot into them which would provoke another charge. His soldiers quickely became veteran and elite

Significantly Zizka had his soldiers dig in and form a bank of earth in front of wagons so that the cannons on them could be "hull down". This is a modern tank tactic and yet a knight turned general was using it in the 1400's. (Hull down means that the bulk of the hull is below an earth work forcing the enemy to have to shoot over the earth which means more elevation which complicates firing and leads to misses.

Anyhow eventualy the Hussite army goes on a grand tour of Germany kicking knightly arse and not bothering to take names and basically sack city after city and accumulate a huge wagon train of spoil. When they reach the Baltic Sea the Hussite soldiers filled their canteens with salt water and said, "Only the Sea could stop us."

Zizka proved unstoppable and there came times when the opposing force would quit the field because they heard he was the CnC they were facing. But then he was shot in the good eye and was fully blinded.

Yet he still led his troops and still won. His captians would stand next to him and describe what was happenning and he would issue orders. And the Blind General still kicked the piss out of the Holy Roman Emperor's armies.

Saddly he contracted the plague and after lingering he lost his life. Upon his death his men renamed themselves the Orphans- (who says men cant express their inner feelings)
Before his death Zizka ordered that his body be skinned and made into a drum so that he could continue to give orders to his men.

Eventually the Holy Roman Emperor bought off one faction of Hussites who betrayed their brethern.

yet after that Hussite wagon teams roamed eastern europe as mercenaries and were in high demand.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Georgie's picture
May 31, 2010 - 10:45am
Interesting stuff. I love learning about generals that I haven't heard about before.

There are so many excellent generals to admire for their cleverness, insight, and innovations. My preference will always be for one who studied them all and embodied the concept of seizing the initiative and never letting go - George S. Patton. (It's no co-incidence that I pick the Georgie name for my forum identity).
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.    * Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

jedion357's picture
May 31, 2010 - 12:17pm
I get a kick out of Patton too.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Gergmaster's picture
June 1, 2010 - 8:44pm
My favorite would have to be Charles the Hammer or Carolus Martellus. If I remember correctly he won almost every single battle except for one or two in his entire life, very impressive. During the 730s he defeated the Moors. People called Charles Martellous, which in latin means hammer and has a religious significance. If anyone knows of Maccabees (which means Hammerer in Greek) you can seen why Charles took on the nickname he had been given or had created, nobody really knows. He also laid the ground work for one the longest lasting empires known to history (called the German Empire by the Italians and many today know it as the Holy Roman Empire), which lasted from 800 with the coronation of Charlemange till is was disbanded in 1832.
Confucious Says:
     Man with one chopstick go hungry.
     Man who eat many prunes get good run for money.
     Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.

Rick's picture
June 21, 2010 - 8:18am
Maybe a contraversial choice - but I do think Banastre Tarleton was an outstanding leader and tactician of his day. Not the greatest general of all time, but very successful and colourful - I know their were atrocities committed by both sides in the war, but the sheer amount of negative propaganda that surrounded Tarleton was an indication of just how successful he was in his campaigns.

"But, Sir," the bosun said, regretting the words even before they left his mouth, "we don't have any thumbscrews."

"That, Bosun," the XO replied in a low, mad whisper, "is why they give us machine shops!"

Sam's picture
June 23, 2010 - 12:20pm
There are so many good generals to choose from... but of course Patton rocks. A good combat general focused on victory.

Sargonarhes's picture
June 23, 2010 - 5:15pm
Dane Ragnar Lodbrok.
Viking chief so he may as well be a general, his most notable feat is having raided Paris with 120 ships full of Vikings. By remaining on the move, he cleverly avoided battles with large concentrations of heavy Frankish cavalry, while maximizing his advantages of mobility. His raid on Paris he held the city hostage and threatened to burn the city to the ground unless paid 7,000 lbs of silver, it was paid. And then Ragnar demanded another 7,000 lbs to make him leave, that was paid as well.

Not very clever but his tactics got results.
His death he was captured in England and thrown into a snake pit by King Aelle. Which was avenged by Ragnar's sons Ivar and Ubbe who in turn killed King Aelle.

Arminius tale of how he got 10,000 Germanic tribesmen to destroy 3 Roman legions is another tale.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.