War from the 16th and 17th Century to Invention of Gunpowder

Topics: Military, Spanish Armada, Army Pages: 6 (2114 words) Published: September 2, 2002
WAR FROM THE 16TH AND 17TH CENTURY TO INVENTION OF GUNPOWDER The invention of the powerful artillery guns would change man's role in warring engagements. The artillery guns at first were very limited by their own design. The guns were very heavy and had to be transported by water, which meant that only towns and fortresses that were close to a body of water could be attacked with artillery also known as the cannon. There were also some fortresses that were impervious to the early cannon attacks based on strong designs or natural defenses. The French were able to penetrate the round shaped castles and large walls during the late 1400s by using concentrated fire of several small guns instead of a few large ones.

A new design of smaller walls that were built in uneven lines, like a star shape, was implemented to strengthen the area called crownworks or hornworks. Other modifications of new designs included lower and thicker walls, gun towers that projected at an angle, intervals of guns for fields of fire, wide and deep ditches, and pillboxes.

Of course with the new design of castles came new ways to attack. Some effective ways to attack these castles, but also rare ways to attack, were by surprise, by storm, or by treachery. The most common way to attack the castles were long term engagements that consisted of either surrounding the castle or getting in close enough that the castles guns would be ranged over the position. The long-term methods consisted of starving out the population, forcing surrender, or by mining and bombardment from close range.

The use of firepower also began to put an end to the use of headlong charges and hand-to-hand combat during the Renaissance years. The differences between firearms and the bow were obscene at the beginning of the rifle's evolution. An archer could accurately hit a target at lengths of 200 meters and discharge ten arrows a minute, whereas the arquebus, or rifleman, only had accuracy at 100 meters and took several minutes to reload. Although the new weapons at primacy did not have the accuracy or the range of the bow, the Italians immediately implemented them into their arsenals.

The greatest advantage of the early rifles was that the weapon could be mastered in a matter of months, but it could take up to ten years to master the bow. Eventually the muskets overtook the battlefield, replacing the broadswordsmen, halberd, crossbowmen, long bowmen, and for a time the cavalry. The pikemen maintained a position as protection of the musketeers in between reloads, because improvements needed to be made for the muskets accuracy and rate of fire.

Maurice of Nassau equipped his army with weapons of the same size and caliber in an order to attempt more efficient training methods. His cousin, Count John, began to work on making a training doctrine, which included counted movements for the pikes, arquebus, and muskets. The importance of this training method is that it would enable a commander to ensure that the army trained would be able to improve skills of reloads and master techniques of actual usage of weapons. The doctrine spread to the countries Germany, France, and England and Count John opened a military academy based on Maurice's drill, practice, and training methods of arms, armor, maps, and models.

As time went on the training became more complex and eventually Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden was able through constant drill and practice bring training methods to full potential. Reloading techniques were improved so much that only six ranks of musketeers were needed to maintain a continuous barrage. Firepower from artillery was also perfected as a result of Nassau's work, and every regiment was capable of firing twenty rounds in an hour. Gustavus also trained his cavalry to charge home with sword's drawn, rather than to skirmish with pistols. The military revolution brought the changes of improvement in artillery, increasing reliance on battlefield...

Cited: Parker, Geoffrey. The Military Revolution: Military
Innovation and the Rise of the West 1500-1800.
(Cambridge, United Kingdom:Cambridge University Press,
1996). Chap 1-4
Preston, Richard A., Alex Roland, and Sydney F. Wise. Men
In Arms: A History of Warfare and its interrelationships
With Western Society. (Belmont, California:Wadsworth/
Thomson Learning, 2001). Chap 8
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