Welcome to Battle School. I should start by saying that this is predominantly for fantasy writers before mechanised warfare. Also, most of the information will be general and generic in its nature. If you want to write about the Romans, do your own research.
This series of essays isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide about how to write riveting and realistic battle scenes, it isn’t about writing battle scenes at all. It’s about all those pesky little things no one ever thinks about when they decide to put a battle, or even just a large melee into their story.
Just how do you get 5,000 men to do what you want on 20 acres of battlefield in the days before radio, walkie-talkies, telephones, semaphore, or even minimal literacy? Simple, you shout at them. And, if they are too far away to hear you, you go over and shout at them there. Simple?
You have a nice, fancy and oh-so-deadly cavalry regiment of 600 men, how much hay and grain do they need to feed their horses each and every day? Not so very much, just 4 metric tons—each and every day. Or the horses will either founder on too much green grass or they’ll starve and you’ll then have 600 foot-sore infantry. And lets not mention the 20-40 litres of water they need each day too.
So, my preliminary list of topics will be this:
Why have a war at all? Army, what army? Before the war there is logistics Strategy Getting to the battlefield Songs around the campfire: The night before Command and control Battle Tactics Wounded, Prisoners, and the Butcher’s Bill.
If anyone has anything they’d like to ask, know, or suggest as a topic, feel free to let me know.
kdw (Notice the lower case? I can learn.), where would you like me to put these? Hmmm, perhaps I should rephrase that a little.
You could use the Writing Challenges area, if you like.
Or, if you think that might get cumbersome (and logistically challenging), I might be able to set up a separate "Special Projects" area, or even a "How to Have a Believable Battle" area.
Thing is, we don't have sub-topic capability so far as I know. It would be nice to be able to have a "Battle" topic, say in Writing Challenges, with sub-topics for each of the things you've listed (and any additional ones), but maybe nesting topics is beyond what forums should (or even want) to do.
So, if you think "Writing Challenges" wouldn't work for you, let me know, and I'll poke around in the workings and see what else can be managed.
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Battle school, to me, seems suited to the Writing Class forum. Like, it's school and the class topic sessions are about battle in general and in the specific. Individual threads could be labeled Battle School: C Cubed (Command, Control, and Communication), for example.
The content proposed seems to be of a lecture type, too. Though mindful of two particular and peculiar characteristics of lecture venues generally; that is, though the discourse method overtly is one-directional -- lecturer to receiver -- responses to a lecture, including question and answer sessions and follow-on responses and dissents and further contributions, are conversational of remove in time and space. Lecture is as much a conversation as a casual discourse midday at a coffee shop.
The second criteria of substance is that a lecturer opines and through that process develops greater appreciation of a topic from sharing knowledge, testing knowledge through both a Socratic method -- knowledge held in abeyance (perhaps even overlooked from a lecturer's knowledge) so that auditors and interlocutors can self-actualize learning -- and through peer review.
That latter, peer review, is sublime in more ways than the obvious potentials for straightforward addition and dissent or contention that note factual, logical, rationale, and organization shortfalls. Of particular note is peer review's propensity for collaborative efforts and outcomes; that is, a reception and perception of broader and more focused bases for a topic's effectual realization.
For example, C Cubed is a battle strategy as old and noble as human existence. The communication part is as essential as command and control. An early strategy for effective battle communication probably developed intuitively. A troupe selected a leader based on physical stature. The tallest man or woman is by necessity and nature more visible than the average participants. The troupe naturally looks to the tallest person for direction because he or she is most visible.
That characteristic is so ingrained in human society that, to this day, physical stature remains an instinctive decision that influences leader selection and likewise shapes hierarchal stratification. The leader need not be an effective strategist and tactician, only be most visible to the rank and file and intermediate leadership.
On a battlefield, leaders enhance their communication aptitudes by adornments that as well stand out from the fray. Brighter apparel, rank insignia, pennants, higher heights, like from a steed, command car, or tower, even a hilltop height away from the front line. Leadership semaphore signals codes combatants perceive, interpret, and act upon.
In an ideal battle situation, a leader's primary role is battle tactics moderator through communications, not tyranical commander or controller, which may alienate a battle corps and result in a leader's replacement, mutiny, mass desertion, and worse. Maybe leaders are decision-makers between numerous competing options advisors, tacticians, strategists, even weather and surveillance and other such fact-based knowledge experts propose as well, again, moderator and communicator.
I propose then that battle school lectures and discussions be posted in the Writing Class forum and that they be labeled by topic; that is, Main Topic: Subtopic, as I suggest above: Battle School: C Cubed or a more focused subtopic label, Battle School: Communication.