Saturday, 28 November 2009

WALKING THE PLANK

This extract from an attempt to storm a fort could be translated to a sea battle.

A boarding action could have closely resembled the storming of a wall as described here.


From The Civil Wars by Appian Book 5 36-37


He took an abundance of iron tools, for wall fighting, and ladders of every form. He carried machines for filling the ditches, and folding towers from which planks could be let down to the walls; also all kinds of missiles and stones, and wickerwork to be thrown upon the palisades. They made a violent assault, filled up the ditch, scaled the palisades, and advanced to the walls, which some of them undermined, while others applied the ladders, and others simultaneously moved up the towers and defended themselves with stones, arrows, and leaden balls, with absolute contempt of death. This was done at many different places, and the enemy being drawn in many different directions made a more feeble resistance.
37 The planks having been thrown upon the walls at some places, the struggle became very hazardous, for the forces of Lucius fighting on the bridges were exposed to missiles and javelins on every side. They forced their way, nevertheless, and a few leaped over the wall.


The precarious nature of the enterprise is very obvious here. The Roman raven can be seen as a device which sought to make boarding a more deliberate procedure which could become a straight fight. Time and again the contrast is made between fighting a sea battle and 'fighting a land battle at sea'. When the 'land battle at sea' develops it is usually because some circumstance limits the other side's mobility. The fight takes place in restricted sea space against a shore or in a strait or one side is surrounded.

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