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Most effective unique unit prior to the mid 17th Century.

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  Quote Keltoi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Most effective unique unit prior to the mid 17th Century.
    Posted: 16-Aug-2004 at 18:51

What is, in your opinion, the most effective and well trained unique military unit prior to the mid 17th Century *edit* for their time?

IMHO it was the Winged Hussar. They took on forces several times larger than their own with minimal casualties. If you want to learn about the hussars, here is a site I found interesting:

http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/PolishHorseArtillery.htm

I am also impressed by the Swedish halberders and their effectiveness until gunpowder became prominent.

I would make this a poll, but it appears that you can't make polls in this forum, anyway post your thoughts please.



Edited by Keltoi
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  Quote Roughneck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Aug-2004 at 19:01
You mean for their time?  Because each unit is surpassed by newer ones.  Using that stipulation, I'd say the Roman legionnaire.  Just look at a map to see why.
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  Quote Keltoi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Aug-2004 at 19:07
Yes, for their time. I will edit my post.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Aug-2004 at 19:19
I would have to say the Cataphract(by that I mean the type that used the bow along with a charge)  Probably one of the most versatile troops ever,  they could be used camels and horses,  could shoot a bow and the more heavily armored kinds I can imagine would pretty much crush anything that got in it's way.
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  Quote Genghis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Aug-2004 at 21:15
The Swiss Halberdiers can't be left out.  The Byzantine Kataphractoi were quite good, along with Roman legionnaires.  Also, don't forget English longbowmen whose firepower wasn't matched till World War I.
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  Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Aug-2004 at 23:44
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2004 at 01:53
I'd say the samurai!
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  Quote ihsan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2004 at 10:19

Well, surely it depends from time to time and from region to region.

In the 2nd millenium BC, until the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the Chariots were the most effective units in the Middle East. In China, this continued up to the Han Dynasty.

The Greek Hoplites and Phalangites were the best in the 1st millenium BC Mediterrenean-Middle Eastern World before the Roman Legionaries beat them. These themselves gave their importance to Cavalries in the mid-1st millenium AD in Europe. Starting from the 4th century AD up to the 15th-16th centuries, Cavalry (be it heavy, medium or light) was the dominant unit in Europe, Middle East and the Steppesb (much earlier in the Steppes and in China though). Of course, Camels always had and still have their own advantages in desert terrains, whereas War Elephants were the keys units in India and Indo-China for many centuries.

In Europe, Anti-Cavalry Infantry started to gain importance during the 14th century and the importance of Cavalry decreased greately, though not fully, in the 16th century (especially Heavy Cavalry).

And you know the rest...

One more thing to add: throughout centuries, the Crossbowman had a very important role in China. Chariots were effective at the beginning but they were largely replaced with Light Cavalry modelled from steppe riders during the Han Dynasty.



Edited by ihsan
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  Quote demon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2004 at 13:49

Sea unique unit- Turtle ship.  I wonder if any cannon prior to 17th century would penetrate that sheet of iron...

 

Land Unique Unit.  Hmmmm...  I am leaning towards a gunpowder unit.  Like a musketeer. 

Grrr..
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  Quote Keltoi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2004 at 15:38
The hussars destroyed anti-horse infantry even in the late 18th Century, ihsan. After that, they were not used.
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  Quote TJK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2004 at 15:56

The hussars destroyed anti-horse infantry even in the late 18th Century, ihsan. After that, they were not used.

There were two types of hussars - polish winged hussar was heavy cavalry orginated from light units of Serbian and Hungarian orgin. It became heavy cavalry after reforms of polish king Stephan Batory in the second half of XVII centaury. For about 50 years this formation was a king of battlefield able to crush every other or even combined formation. The best achievements were battle of Kircholm (defeat of 3xbigger Swedish army ) and battle of Klushino (defeat of 5xtimes bigger Russian army). After the reforms of Gustav Adolf western type infantry (especially Swedish) became nearly invincible for the sole cavalry action (including winged hussars). The position of the best cavalry of Europe was held however by winged hussars up to the end of XVII centaury.    

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2004 at 16:17
Hoplite or whatever was the special force Alexander carried with him.  Can't think of the name off the top of my head.
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  Quote fastspawn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2004 at 22:01
The Macedonian Phalanx?

They say the Theban Sacred Band, which have been four times in history is the pest hoplites because the members were always lovers
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  Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2009 at 09:29
One could well consider the "Sacred Band of Thebes", as one of the best, after all they never saw defeat until almost all of the "300" were killed by Alexander and Phillip, as was a similar band of "300",called the "Spartans!"

But another "Band of 300" seems to have been conposed of the Catalans, a group that defeated most every army of its times, Angevins, Byzantines, Franks, Moslems, etc.!

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  Quote diegis1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2009 at 08:09
 Well, my top 3 is:
 
 1- roman legion - unchallenged for centuries, in both training, "esprit de corp" and military achivements, with an organization who was matched just by Napoleon army.

 2- mongol cavalry - agile, excelent equiped for a mobile war, very good bows, they conquered a huge teritory in a short amount of time.
 
 3- dacian falxmen - dacians had a very good record against schytians/sarmatians, macedonians, bastarnae, celts and greeks, and in the I - II century AD their army was the only one able to fight head on the dreaded roman legions, with falxmen so dangerous that make romans for the first and only time in their history to adapt their armour and tactics during the time of a campaign, and falx making such a strong impression that romans said they doesnt care about parthians arrows, after saw the terrible wounds make by dacian curved swords.

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  Quote TheGreatSimba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2009 at 11:09
Originally posted by diegis1

 Well, my top 3 is:
 
 1- roman legion - unchallenged for centuries, in both training, "esprit de corp" and military achivements, with an organization who was matched just by Napoleon army.


This is a misconception. The Roman Legionnaires mainly fought smaller nations or "barbarian" tribes (who were not equipped, untrained, unorganized, etc...), of course they came out on top most of the time. However, the Roman legionnaires were ineffective against armies of other large empires, notably the Iranian Savaran.

Originally posted by diegis1


 2- mongol cavalry - agile, excelent equiped for a mobile war, very good bows, they conquered a huge teritory in a short amount of time.


Very true, however, Mongol cavalry in my opinion is not very unique. Most Central Asian cultures had effective cavalry. examples include the Huns, Parthians, Mongols, Savaran, Samartians, etc...
 
In my opinion, I would say that Cavalry units, specifically Central Asian cavalry armies, have been the most effective unique fighting units prior to invention of gun powder.
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  Quote diegis1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2009 at 13:39
Originally posted by TheGreatSimba

 

This is a misconception. The Roman Legionnaires mainly fought smaller nations or "barbarian" tribes (who were not equipped, untrained, unorganized, etc...), of course they came out on top most of the time. However, the Roman legionnaires were ineffective against armies of other large empires, notably the Iranian Savaran.


Very true, however, Mongol cavalry in my opinion is not very unique. Most Central Asian cultures had effective cavalry. examples include the Huns, Parthians, Mongols, Savaran, Samartians, etc...
 
In my opinion, I would say that Cavalry units, specifically Central Asian cavalry armies, have been the most effective unique fighting units prior to invention of gun powder.


 1- Hmm, not quite. Romans started as a small city with some agriculture land around, and at the begining of II century AD they was the most powerful (and the most populated) empire in the world (well, i know there is an endless debate with Rome vs China, and is hard to say for sure). And their legions are still viewed as a model of training and organization and fighting spirit by many modern armies. And they fight not just barbarians (where usualy the roman armies was much smaller then barbarian ones, as celts or germanic) but organized armies too, and kingdoms (Carthagina, all hellenistic states, Macedonia, Greek cities, Egypt, Seleucid kingdom, Pontus Kingdom, Dacia, Parthia, Armenia), and among themselves as well. They had some loses too, but pretty much dominated their adversaries, including Persians, more then being dominated.

2- And yes, you are right, Mongols wasnt unique, but they was the most efficient from all others you mentioned (Sarmatians for ex. wasnt able to make even a small organized kingdom, and huns disapeared very quickly)



Edited by diegis1 - 23-Dec-2009 at 13:44
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