Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > European History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

European History European History Forum - Western and Eastern Europe including the British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old January 4th, 2013, 02:38 PM   #11

M.E.T.H.O.D.'s Avatar
Burgundian Janitor
 
Joined: Aug 2011
From: Galway/Gaillimh
Posts: 3,390
Blog Entries: 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
most interesting METHOD. spain as you argue had special advantages such as its well drilled infantry which provided an esprit de corps and cohesiveness that other armies couldn't match. just a few questions on the Tercio and this sort of warfare in general

- against a cavalry assault a Tercio seems almost impervious yet how would it have matched against an infantry assault, would it have formed into a line with pike men slowly advancing on each other such as seen in the video posted

- was it possible to advance in Tercio formation or could it be only done while stationary?

- how effective were the arquebusiers?, they can't have been all that effective and while an improvement on previous firearms must have still left much to be desired. i just feel a bit skeptical on them solely deciding battles and feel that most of the casualties must have still come from close quarter fighting.
Intelligent questions Irishcrusader

- an infantry vs. infantry situation(more precisely pikemen vs pikemen) would have resulted in the so-called "pike push": with both formations pressing the enemy with the pikes until the collapse of the formation.
Despite the great mayhem of such a situation, the number of casualties inflicted by pikes was relatively low(in fact most, if not all pikemen were well protected :equipped with a cuirass and a steel helmet).
As shown in the final battle of Alatriste, the quickest way to disrupt the enemy formation was to send soldiers in the gaps and then used them to bring down the vulnerable pikemen engaged in the push.
This soldiers wore a lighter equipment compared to standard pikemen: little to no armor, while the weapon of choice was a thrusting sword or a dagger (during the earlier days of pike engagements, halberdiers and men equipped with two-handed swords were also common)
These soldiers could be part of a specialized corp(like the famous "rhodeleros" of Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, equipped with a short sword and a buckler called rodela) or were nothing but shooters(they usually had no armor and therefore were more agile than pikemen; moreover shooters were selected among shorter and thinner soldiers, again compared to pikemen)
Since most of the men inside a Spanish tercio were shooters, they had too to be trained in melee combat in order to have a successfull units.
Shooters were expose targets only against cavalry units employing the caracole tactic with either pistols or carbines, that's why during these actions the shooters were relegated in the heart of the formation, with the tercio moving against the target and engaging it.
Pikemen and shooters were used to spend countless hours together performing marches,charges and other kind of defensive and offensive movement in order to be able to increase their cohesion in battle(despite its size, a tercio was a agile formation, quick to adapt to a good number of situations): a pefectly coordinated tercio, with multiple lines of shooters coming up only to unload their weapons, one after the other, well protected by pikemen, with the enemy artillery "silenced" or in no position to shoot was something pretty much impossible to stop.
After several successful volleys of fire (imagine 6 thousand soldiers shooting at an enemy close formation distant no more than 40 meters), an already weakened enemy(in both numbers and morale) would have met a pretty grim fate against the square; indeed, the fight was often decided during the early phases of the engagement, with one side breaking the formation and escaping from the fight, causing a slaughter of fleeing enemies, cut down by the cavalry or by the pursuing infantry.
Sometimes, arquebusers and muskets were enough to discourage enemies into challenging the might of the Spanish empire in close combat.
Moreover the Spanish tercio had the notoriety of being unbreakable(as shown even at Rocroi), that's why enemy commanders were not usually enthusiast at the ideas of sending their men against the Spaniards.
M.E.T.H.O.D. is offline  
Remove Ads
Old January 5th, 2013, 03:20 AM   #12
Historian
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 2,307

Quote:
Originally Posted by M.E.T.H.O.D. View Post
Intelligent questions Irishcrusader

- an infantry vs. infantry situation(more precisely pikemen vs pikemen) would have resulted in the so-called "pike push": with both formations pressing the enemy with the pikes until the collapse of the formation.
Despite the great mayhem of such a situation, the number of casualties inflicted by pikes was relatively low(in fact most, if not all pikemen were well protected :equipped with a cuirass and a steel helmet).
As shown in the final battle of Alatriste, the quickest way to disrupt the enemy formation was to send soldiers in the gaps and then used them to bring down the vulnerable pikemen engaged in the push.
This soldiers wore a lighter equipment compared to standard pikemen: little to no armor, while the weapon of choice was a thrusting sword or a dagger (during the earlier days of pike engagements, halberdiers and men equipped with two-handed swords were also common)
These soldiers could be part of a specialized corp(like the famous "rhodeleros" of Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, equipped with a short sword and a buckler called rodela) or were nothing but shooters(they usually had no armor and therefore were more agile than pikemen; moreover shooters were selected among shorter and thinner soldiers, again compared to pikemen)
Since most of the men inside a Spanish tercio were shooters, they had too to be trained in melee combat in order to have a successfull units.
Shooters were expose targets only against cavalry units employing the caracole tactic with either pistols or carbines, that's why during these actions the shooters were relegated in the heart of the formation, with the tercio moving against the target and engaging it.
Pikemen and shooters were used to spend countless hours together performing marches,charges and other kind of defensive and offensive movement in order to be able to increase their cohesion in battle(despite its size, a tercio was a agile formation, quick to adapt to a good number of situations): a pefectly coordinated tercio, with multiple lines of shooters coming up only to unload their weapons, one after the other, well protected by pikemen, with the enemy artillery "silenced" or in no position to shoot was something pretty much impossible to stop.
After several successful volleys of fire (imagine 6 thousand soldiers shooting at an enemy close formation distant no more than 40 meters), an already weakened enemy(in both numbers and morale) would have met a pretty grim fate against the square; indeed, the fight was often decided during the early phases of the engagement, with one side breaking the formation and escaping from the fight, causing a slaughter of fleeing enemies, cut down by the cavalry or by the pursuing infantry.
Sometimes, arquebusers and muskets were enough to discourage enemies into challenging the might of the Spanish empire in close combat.
Moreover the Spanish tercio had the notoriety of being unbreakable(as shown even at Rocroi), that's why enemy commanders were not usually enthusiast at the ideas of sending their men against the Spaniards.
Well, it's a good write up. It just begs the question why the tercio system was abandoned?

That is, the general observation about the tercios is that they were large, which meany any agility was relative and hard to come by (the original Spanish formations remained the best), and that they were in the end rather wasteful of manpower. I.e. the systems developed later were relatively better at bringing manpower/firepower to bear.

Artillery development is another aspect. I would imagine a tercio also made a very good target for an artillery heavy opponent?
Larrey is online now  
Old January 5th, 2013, 05:11 AM   #13

M.E.T.H.O.D.'s Avatar
Burgundian Janitor
 
Joined: Aug 2011
From: Galway/Gaillimh
Posts: 3,390
Blog Entries: 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larrey View Post
Well, it's a good write up. It just begs the question why the tercio system was abandoned?

That is, the general observation about the tercios is that they were large, which meany any agility was relative and hard to come by (the original Spanish formations remained the best), and that they were in the end rather wasteful of manpower. I.e. the systems developed later were relatively better at bringing manpower/firepower to bear.

Artillery development is another aspect. I would imagine a tercio also made a very good target for an artillery heavy opponent?
The death of the pike and shot era is usually linked to three aspects

- muskets: the development of lighter muskets caused the obsolescence of the supporting stick, turning the shooters into a less static force.
The invention of the flintlock mechanism was another deadly blow to the pike and shot formation, since shooters were now able to shoot faster and more precisely increasing even more the number of casualties caused by small arms fire.

-artillery: the development of lighter artillery pieces, easy to move from a position to another on the battlefield and with an higher rate of fire, was another decisive factor
As long as artillery pieces were bulky and slow, the vulnerability of pikemen to long range shooting was only a problem during the earliest phases of the battle(before the contact of the two armies) or during the conclusive stages(in the case of a tercio isolated in the open with no artilerry or cavalry support)
With this progress, serving as a pikemen became increasingly difficult: not all men were able to stand still, with the enemy shelling your formation, leaving you no pause between a shot and the other.
Moreover, the dimension of the tercio became an even greater handicap in case of an enfilade fire.


-the plug bayonet: the invention of the bayonet gave a valuable melee weapon to shooters(comparable in lenght with a short pike), the bayonet also made them able to withstand cavalry charges without the support of the less flexible pikemen.
Cracking the shaft of a pike was a fairly easy task, while breaking a musket was a bit more complicated.
Shooters equipped with bayonets also meant less time "wasted" in the training of the pikemen and less money spent on the equipment(since pikemen were usually protected with thick cuirassess and steel elment, while shooters only relied on simple leather jackets).
M.E.T.H.O.D. is offline  
Old January 5th, 2013, 07:12 AM   #14

irishcrusader95's Avatar
None shall pass!
 
Joined: Aug 2010
From: Ireland
Posts: 6,639
Blog Entries: 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by M.E.T.H.O.D. View Post
Intelligent questions Irishcrusader

Pikemen and shooters were used to spend countless hours together performing marches,charges and other kind of defensive and offensive movement in order to be able to increase their cohesion in battle(despite its size, a tercio was a agile formation, quick to adapt to a good number of situations): a pefectly coordinated tercio, with multiple lines of shooters coming up only to unload their weapons, one after the other, well protected by pikemen, with the enemy artillery "silenced" or in no position to shoot was something pretty much impossible to stop.
After several successful volleys of fire (imagine 6 thousand soldiers shooting at an enemy close formation distant no more than 40 meters), an already weakened enemy(in both numbers and morale) would have met a pretty grim fate against the square; indeed, the fight was often decided during the early phases of the engagement, with one side breaking the formation and escaping from the fight, causing a slaughter of fleeing enemies, cut down by the cavalry or by the pursuing infantry.
Sometimes, arquebusers and muskets were enough to discourage enemies into challenging the might of the Spanish empire in close combat.
Moreover the Spanish tercio had the notoriety of being unbreakable(as shown even at Rocroi), that's why enemy commanders were not usually enthusiast at the ideas of sending their men against the Spaniards.
the numbers alone mentioned is enough to show that the shooters would inflict comparable losses at the least. thank you for the correction METHOD
Quote:
Originally Posted by M.E.T.H.O.D. View Post
The death of the pike and shot era is usually linked to three aspects

- muskets: the development of lighter muskets caused the obsolescence of the supporting stick, turning the shooters into a less static force.
The invention of the flintlock mechanism was another deadly blow to the pike and shot formation, since shooters were now able to shoot faster and more precisely increasing even more the number of casualties caused by small arms fire.

-artillery: the development of lighter artillery pieces, easy to move from a position to another on the battlefield and with an higher rate of fire, was another decisive factor
As long as artillery pieces were bulky and slow, the vulnerability of pikemen to long range shooting was only a problem during the earliest phases of the battle(before the contact of the two armies) or during the conclusive stages(in the case of a tercio isolated in the open with no artilerry or cavalry support)
With this progress, serving as a pikemen became increasingly difficult: not all men were able to stand still, with the enemy shelling your formation, leaving you no pause between a shot and the other.
Moreover, the dimension of the tercio became an even greater handicap in case of an enfilade fire.


-the plug bayonet: the invention of the bayonet gave a valuable melee weapon to shooters(comparable in lenght with a short pike), the bayonet also made them able to withstand cavalry charges without the support of the less flexible pikemen.
Cracking the shaft of a pike was a fairly easy task, while breaking a musket was a bit more complicated.
Shooters equipped with bayonets also meant less time "wasted" in the training of the pikemen and less money spent on the equipment(since pikemen were usually protected with thick cuirassess and steel elment, while shooters only relied on simple leather jackets).
all very interesting points the greater penetrating power as well in the new muskets would have been enough to penetrate the large cuirassess making it pointless to have such large formations of them.

all this then begs the question, who and when fully abandoned the old pike and shot formations for the brightly uniformed line infantry of the 18th centuary.
irishcrusader95 is offline  
Old January 5th, 2013, 08:38 AM   #15
Historian
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 6,242

Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
the numbers alone mentioned is enough to show that the shooters would inflict comparable losses at the least. thank you for the correction METHOD

all very interesting points the greater penetrating power as well in the new muskets would have been enough to penetrate the large cuirassess making it pointless to have such large formations of them.

all this then begs the question, who and when fully abandoned the old pike and shot formations for the brightly uniformed line infantry of the 18th centuary.
@irishcrusader:

It is hard to answer that question, but there are a few clues.

I. Pikemen remained - in some armies - until the early 18th century. The pike was much reduced in number, but was still seen as effective against shock action by cavalry. Almost no European cavalry wore much, if any, armor by that time but shock action by 'heavy' cavalry was a threat especially if an infantry formation was broken.

The French retained the pike even though they had adopted the socket bayonnet sometime around 1690. French infantry had some pike equipped infantry as late as Blenheim (1704). It seems to have been abandoned subsequently.

The Swedish army used pikes in the campaigns of Charles XII after 1700, though I don't know to what extent. It likely had to do with the importance of cavalry in Polish and Russian armies.

II. As to who and when fully abandoned the 'pike and shot,' In 1686 (from what I have read) Maximillian Emmanuel of Bavaria abandoned pikes due to experience from the war against the Turks after Vienna in 1683. I don't know about Habsburg Austria or the rest of the Empire. It may have had to do with Turkish cavalry tactics (AFAIK the Turks were mostly lighter cavalry).

It isn't much of an answer, and much of what you read is all "about this time" and "sometime around" a particular year. The change was probably gradual, and the info on the Bavarian army is the only definite date I have seen.

Maybe our members can speak to the British and Dutch armies.
pikeshot1600 is online now  
Old January 5th, 2013, 10:54 AM   #16

M.E.T.H.O.D.'s Avatar
Burgundian Janitor
 
Joined: Aug 2011
From: Galway/Gaillimh
Posts: 3,390
Blog Entries: 4

Great post pikeshot1600!

If I'm not wrong, less elitist and professional armies(I mean armies that heavily relied on poor quality conscripts) discared the pikes later, as compared with nations like Prussia,Austria and England, which abandoned the pike and shot formation during the fist years of the 18th century.

Generally, the pikemen suffered the same fate of the heavily armored knight: despite their demonstrated obsolescence, they survived for a quite long time, with a more marginalized role, until their "extiction" from the great proscenium of the battlefield.
In fact, despite the crushing defeat suffered at Rocroi, the symbol of the decline of the tercio, the pike and shot formations continued to be seen on battlefields, up until the end of the 17th century, more than fifty years from Rocroi.

I think the story of the Tercio de Cerdena(Tercio of Sardinia) perfectly symbolize this age, here' a brief history of the unit
The unit was formed in 1556,with the union of ten companies of arquebusers and pikemen,all volunteer soldiers recruited from the Spanish dominions.
The unit took part in the Siege of Malta(1565) as a relief force sent by the king of Spain and two years later was sent in the Low Countries to fight the rebels; during an engagement, the men of the Tercio de Cerdena decided to engage the enemy without forming the usual formation and without waiting for reinforcements, suffering a great number of causualties in the process. For its lack of discipline the unit was disbandes and its flags and banners publicly burned.
Survivors of the Tercio de Cerdena later took part in the battle of Lepanto,employed by Don Juan as his personal bodyguard onboard his flagship.
The Sardinian Tercio was reformed in 1626 and in the following years fought in Lombardy, Montferrat and Flanders.
Another Sardinian Tercio(a sort of twin unit) also fought in Northern France, notably at Honnecourt(one of the greatest victories of the tercios) and at Rocroi, where it was one of the units that refused the French terms of surrender, fighting almost until its total annihilation(by 1647 the unit was reduced to around 200 men)
The unit survied the Thirty Years' War and "evolved" into the Regimiento de Cerdena(regiment of Sardinia), serving the Spanish monarchy(the Habsburgs) during the War of Spanish Succession and later the House of Savoy.
M.E.T.H.O.D. is offline  
Old January 9th, 2013, 10:52 AM   #17

Frank81's Avatar
Guanarteme
 
Joined: Feb 2010
From: Canary Islands-Spain
Posts: 2,526

Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
there use of combined arm tactics was the key. the pike men held off any cavalry assult while the arqubusers fired from the protection of the square. i would be interested to know if whether other countries ever addopted it?
Battle of Rocroi - YouTube
awsome battle scene

The Tercio system was adopted by most of the European countries, with the exception Russia and Poland.

The Tercio itself is not purely Spanish though. When the Spanish fought in Italy at first, the bulk of the infantry were men of arms, supported by crossbowmen (mostly) and gunmen (lesser). After some bitter defeats, they adopted the Swiss pike square system, but stressing fire weapons and adding swordmen.

The swordmen, called rodeleros, soon became redundant, and dissapeared of the tercios. Spanish pikemen were as good swordmen as pike fighters.

In mid 16th century, the Spanish introduced the musket, but they replaced arquebusiers only a hundred years later. It was considered that slow firing rate of muskets should be compensated by fast firing arquebusiers. The change was again replicated elsewhere. Both, musketers and arquebusiers fought in semi-independent units called "mangas", four in total.





Quote:
Originally Posted by M.E.T.H.O.D. View Post
Moreover, the Spanish tercios had a lower number of foreign mercenaries, with a good number of men coming from their countries under the direct rule of the Habsburg crown, with a comradeship unknown to other countries.
The Spanish infantry tradition proved also instrumental for creating a successful pool of able general, skilled in coordinating the efforts of the various body forming the army.

Only a little addition to your informative post.

The Spanish tercios, were 100% Spanish. People tend to confuse this fact. Beside the Spanish tercios, there were Walloon, Portuguese and Italian tercios, together with German companies. But they did not fought in the same unit.

A Tercio could be named with non-Iberian terms: the Tercios of Cerdeña, Lombardía or Sicilia were made up of Spanish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
most interesting METHOD. spain as you argue had special advantages such as its well drilled infantry which provided an esprit de corps and cohesiveness that other armies couldn't match. just a few questions on the Tercio and this sort of warfare in general

- against a cavalry assault a Tercio seems almost impervious yet how would it have matched against an infantry assault, would it have formed into a line with pike men slowly advancing on each other such as seen in the video posted

- was it possible to advance in Tercio formation or could it be only done while stationary?

- how effective were the arquebusiers?, they can't have been all that effective and while an improvement on previous firearms must have still left much to be desired. i just feel a bit skeptical on them solely deciding battles and feel that most of the casualties must have still come from close quarter fighting.

0. Spanish men were intensivelly drilled in Italy before being sent elsewhere. There, Spain had fortress where soldiers were trained and a lot of hot war experience that served as "drill camps".

Together with drill, a remarkable characteristic of Spanish tercios were their spirit de corps. Units had their names and flags, and soldiers developed a strong feeling of proudness.

When, as related by METHOD, a tercio like the one of Cerdeña were disbanded, soldiers felt a very deep feeling of sadness. When the men of the Tercio of Cerdeña had to break their flags, soldiers enraged and bitterly cried.

1. Yes, it could be like it is shown in the movie. But consider that Spanish tercio, in spite of modern authors opinions, could be very flexible. Spaniards loved ambushes and infiltrating actions ("encamisadas", "action carried with shirts only"), and used to dettach pikemen and gunmen to carry special task. Look for example the development of the Battle of
Mook

You can read a description of more battles here http://usuarios.multimania.es/ao1617/war/aow.html and more information about the Tercios in the same page http://usuarios.multimania.es/ao1617/tercios.html

2. The Spanish Tercio could move fast. In order to achieve that, the Tercio was given a higher deep, I mean, it fought like a column. Units deployed in line to maximize fire are slower than those that moves in column, as the French knew during the Napoleonic wars.

Here you can see four Spanish tercios on the march, each pike square with its respective four "mangas" ahead

Click the image to open in full size.

3. Arquebusiers were very effective, they could produce carnages if the enemy was caught very close or packed. In the
Battle_of_Ceresole Battle_of_Ceresole
, both, Imperials and French intermixed arquebusiers with pikemen, with orders of not firing until very close. The fire was so devastating, that the entire first ranks of both armies were wiped out.

The bulk of the casualties, as usual, took place during retreat. But I would say fire weapons increased lethality of front line actions, since a shot of a gun was nearly unstoppable.

Last edited by Frank81; January 9th, 2013 at 10:59 AM.
Frank81 is offline  
Old January 9th, 2013, 10:16 PM   #18
Historian
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 2,307

Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
all this then begs the question, who and when fully abandoned the old pike and shot formations for the brightly uniformed line infantry of the 18th centuary.
A definite answer is probably going to have to cut out most of the 17th century, since there was a gradual development going on. Probably the French. (Affording the standardised uniforms alone would suggest one of the wealthier nations for starters.)

The 17th c. saw the introduction of mobile field artillery, gradually larger proportions of musketeers, increasingly relying on fire-power to win battles. But as I think this thread makes clear, it's not as if the Spanish tercios weren't developing and adapting through the 17th c. either. And everyone still relied on pikes, so it was still pike AND shot. But that's actually a question a bit different from what became of the Spanish tercios?
Larrey is online now  
Old January 10th, 2013, 04:36 AM   #19

Frank81's Avatar
Guanarteme
 
Joined: Feb 2010
From: Canary Islands-Spain
Posts: 2,526

The Spanish tercios adopted the Dutch system and further innovations during the 17th century. However, they did slower, and some archaic features could be found as late as 1690, arquebusiers for example were still in use.

The real problem of the tercios were the lack of funds, that made impossible to keep them with the adequate personnel and enough equipment.
Frank81 is offline  
Old January 10th, 2013, 07:56 AM   #20
Historian
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 2,307

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank81 View Post
The Spanish tercios adopted the Dutch system and further innovations during the 17th century. However, they did slower, and some archaic features could be found as late as 1690, arquebusiers for example were still in use.

The real problem of the tercios were the lack of funds, that made impossible to keep them with the adequate personnel and enough equipment.
Sounds like a management problem then? It's not as if other militarily entrepreneuring military nations necessarily possesed greater funds than Spain in the period.
Larrey is online now  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > European History

Tags
spanish, tercio


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Help with Old Spanish...again Richard Stanbery American History 51 October 29th, 2011 10:18 AM
Spanish Project HELP alucardromeo231 History Help 3 May 10th, 2011 02:59 AM
War of the Spanish Succession DesertPilot European History 6 August 28th, 2009 02:52 PM
Spanish History Patheya European History 14 June 7th, 2009 04:15 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.