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Old November 26th, 2016, 09:04 PM   #11

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Originally Posted by paranoid marvin View Post
I would imagine most soldiers would have no interest in rousing speeches made by someone who would usually be at the rear of any attack.
I agree with Matthew. It is likely that in a good number of cases the general would have taken part in action himself and so this wouldn't be a problem. Lots of these leaders had earned the respect of their men in one way or another.
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Old November 26th, 2016, 09:19 PM   #12

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I agree with Matthew. It is likely that in a good number of cases the general would have taken part in action himself and so this wouldn't be a problem. Lots of these leaders had earned the respect of their men in one way or another.
Right, using modern wars an example...

A general in Afghanistan or Iraq might have been a company or battalion commander in Desert Storm, and a platoon commander in Operation Just Cause.

The United States and Britain, perhaps unfortunately, fight wars often enough that isn't common for the generals to have not experienced war as junior officers.

There are notable exceptions of course, like Dwight D. Eisenhower, who unlike many of the American generals in the Second World War had missed the First World War. He was kept stateside in a logistics role during WW1, much to his chagrin.

Last edited by Scaeva; November 26th, 2016 at 09:22 PM.
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Old November 27th, 2016, 01:15 AM   #13

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Richard Lionheart while was talking to his forces before of the battle at Arsuf had to deal with knights breaking the ranks and he had to ride really fast to regain the front of the charge. Richard didn't remain in the rear ... He stayed with the first line.
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Old November 27th, 2016, 03:20 AM   #14
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Undoubtedly many early monarchs put themselves in harms way (although usually less risk of harm than their men). But if I were a soldier who'd turned up willingly (or unwillingly) in the front line of an army facing an opponent, i dont think any long speeches would be welcome. I guess the most famous one (and one we know definitely happened) was Horatio Nelson's ' England expects' message.

I guess far easier to deliver than done vocally and it got across a simple message without being over long or complicated.
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Old November 27th, 2016, 06:14 AM   #15

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Undoubtedly many early monarchs put themselves in harms way (although usually less risk of harm than their men).
Tell that to the ones who died there. Sure, they're more likely to be well-armored and have personal guards, but they typically went into the *worst* fighting and most dangerous spots. The future Roman emperor Titus apparently had a bad habit of saying, "Look! Bad guys!" and charging off on horseback, leaving armor and guards behind (to their consternation). Let alone details like having the rest of his army fall in for battle!

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But if I were a soldier who'd turned up willingly (or unwillingly) in the front line of an army facing an opponent, i dont think any long speeches would be welcome.
You think that because you, like the rest of us, are a product of a completely different way of life. It could take a couple hours to get armies deployed for battle, and there's a lot of standing and looking at the enemy with not much to do. *I* would think a little attention and some words from the boss would be highly appreciated! It's only in the last century or so that the middle and lower classes have had the luxury of being able to despise the upper class or anyone in power. For thousands of years the common masses often respected and admired their superiors, even if there was some resentment or anger.

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Old November 28th, 2016, 02:24 PM   #16

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You think that because you, like the rest of us, are a product of a completely different way of life. It could take a couple hours to get armies deployed for battle, and there's a lot of standing and looking at the enemy with not much to do. *I* would think a little attention and some words from the boss would be highly appreciated! It's only in the last century or so that the middle and lower classes have had the luxury of being able to despise the upper class or anyone in power. For thousands of years the common masses often respected and admired their superiors, even if there was some resentment or anger.

Matthew
Wanted to say something like this in my post. There was probably a more natural respect for the king or leader than there is today.
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Old November 29th, 2016, 03:32 AM   #17

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Richard Lionheart while was talking to his forces before of the battle at Arsuf had to deal with knights breaking the ranks and he had to ride really fast to regain the front of the charge. Richard didn't remain in the rear ... He stayed with the first line.
Sounds like a bit of a shambles then (I know they won), which seems to characterise a lot of crusading made up from different parties not necessarily under the same control except nominally. Just checking on Arsuf and it appears the Hospitallers broke ranks in this case.

A heavy cavalry charge in medieval times was a long (usually) slow trot, keeping to lines according to the individual standard bearers and commanders of the different groups, the whole charge usually in 2 or 3 lines or waves. Galloping the last 100 metres or so.

I hope the reasoning for all that is obvious so it just shows a lot of medieval battles are won more or less accidentally, despite incompetent command. With leaders chosen by royal or noble blood rather than ability it is often a question of who is the least incompetent.

You'd have thought the Hospitallers might have learned something at Hattin, but then again I guess all the ones there lost their heads!

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Old December 2nd, 2016, 05:10 AM   #18

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Not so much a speech as a prayer. Royalist officer, Sir Jacob Astley at the Battle of Edgehill;


"O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget Thee, do not forget me."

.................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ....

"Well, here goes the last of the Brudenells"

Lord Cardigan just before the Charge of the Light Brigade"


.................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ......

Sir Colin Cambell to the very religious soldiers of the 93rd at the Battle of the Alma:

“Now men, you are going into action…No soldier must go carrying off wounded men. If any soldier does such a thing, his name shall be stuck up in his parish kirk.”

and Sir Colin to the same regiment as it formed the Thin Red Line at Balaclava:
"There is no retreat from here, men. You must die where you stand."

Sir Colin's aide John Scott is said to have replied, "Aye, Sir Colin. If needs be, we'll do that."

Last edited by Triceratops; December 2nd, 2016 at 05:47 AM.
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Old December 2nd, 2016, 05:21 AM   #19

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It may be a letter rather than a speech, but it's worth mentioning since it would have been read aloud to the men by their platoon sergeants, or the platoon or company commanders.
Effectively, it served the same purpose.

In a similar vein, Douglas Haig's "Backs to the Wall" communique, 11th April 1918:


Click the image to open in full size.

.................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ................................

Four years earlier:

War Office Instruction 61, 1914

The accompanying gracious message has been received from His Majesty the King for communication to the army after embarkation for active service. General Officers Commanding should give instructions to the following effect:
The Officer Commanding each unit will take the first opportunity, after embarkation, to parade his unit. He will bring it to attention and read aloud the King’s Message and then call for three cheers to His Majesty.
9 August 1914
Buckingham Palace
You are leaving home to fight for the honour and safety of my Empire.
Belgium, whose country we are pledged to defend, has been attacked and France is about to be invaded by the same powerful foe.
I have implicit confidence in you my soldiers. Duty is your watchword, and I know your duty will be nobly done.
I shall follow your movement with deepest interest and mark with eager satisfaction your daily progress; indeed your welfare will never be absent from my thoughts.
I pray God to bless you and guard you and bring you back victorious.
George RI

Last edited by Triceratops; December 2nd, 2016 at 06:13 AM.
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Old December 2nd, 2016, 09:57 PM   #20
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I know everybody has heard the old axiom about arguing strategy and/or tactics while real soldiers talk logistics.

In that vein forget the movies, forget the history books and consider the logistics of delivering a prebattle speech. While it is conceivable that a Lt, Capt, even a Major could possibly deliver such a speech to a squad...platoon...company...maybe even a regiment but on a potential battlefield it is simply impossible to do so, prior to the last few decades.

An unassisted voice in an open field simply would not carry further than the first few ranks and even that not clearly. As a trained classical singer I can tell you from personal experience how difficult it is to project a singing voice to more than a hundred or so without a microphone.
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