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Old June 10th, 2015, 10:29 AM   #1

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Question Did armies exploited their own civilians to get supplies from during wartime?


1. Did armies through out history normally had a good amount of and had a good way of getting supplies and necessities (Like clothing, food and drink, firewood, medicine, and/or etc.) for the war effort when they were fighting on their own and/or their allies' land or least until they got into enemy territory during wartime so that they would not live off their own or their ally's civilians as much as possible?

2. If armies did not had good amounts of and were running low and/or ran out supplies and necessities did the armies usually bought supplies and/or stole supplies from their own and/or their allies' civilians? PS: I know that armies usually had to forage for supplies (Mainly food.) but, did they try respect private property and try leave it untouched and just foraged of public property when it came to their own or their allies' civilians?

3. If armies had to steal from their own and/or their allies' civilians into order to get supplies for the war effort was the army usually and/or tried their best to "civilized" and "nice" about it, did the armies usually felt kind of bad about it even though it had to be done, were the civilians usually compensated to win back the hearts of the people, and were the civilians usually upset about it but, were not that upset it because understood that it had to be done or were they upset about it and were usually mad and retaliated about it?

Thanks!
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Old June 10th, 2015, 11:28 AM   #2

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The French army of the 17/18th century certainly did. AFAIK they could reap all the wheat they would find on the fields for feeding the soldiers and the peasents could only "complain to God" as we say.
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Old June 10th, 2015, 01:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
1. Did armies through out history normally had a good amount of and had a good way of getting supplies and necessities (Like clothing, food and drink, firewood, medicine, and/or etc.) for the war effort when they were fighting on their own and/or their allies' land or least until they got into enemy territory during wartime so that they would not live off their own or their ally's civilians as much as possible?
Defensive armies normally did; offensive armies sometimes did.

But this was all in days before good food preservatives, so all armies had to resort to forage by a certain point.

Quote:
2. If armies did not had good amounts of and were running low and/or ran out supplies and necessities did the armies usually bought supplies and/or stole supplies from their own and/or their allies' civilians? PS: I know that armies usually had to forage for supplies (Mainly food.) but, did they try respect private property and try leave it untouched and just foraged of public property when it came to their own or their allies' civilians?
Rules about whether soldiers were allowed to take more than they needed depended on the person in charge, as well as culture and the purpose of the campaign. Some societies allowed looting to supplement a soldiers' otherwise meagre or non-existent wage. Other decisions (such as knightly chevauchees and the Gaelic creach) were intended to destroy as much property as possible.

When soldiers were allowed to loot, natural limits on what each soldier could carry in conjunction with natural limits on how many men could form an army limited the amount of devastation that could occur on a simple pass-through. But, prolonged occupation and sieges would normally destroy the surrounding countryside.


Quote:
3. If armies had to steal from their own and/or their allies' civilians into order to get supplies for the war effort was the army usually and/or tried their best to "civilized" and "nice" about it, did the armies usually felt kind of bad about it even though it had to be done, were the civilians usually compensated to win back the hearts of the people, and were the civilians usually upset about it but, were not that upset it because understood that it had to be done or were they upset about it and were usually mad and retaliated about it?
This all depends on culture and commander, and why the destruction's being carried out (i.e., a tactical decision, desperation, or lax standards of martial conduct).

With feudal Europe's chevauchees, the hearts of the people were what they were trying to win through the devastation: they were showing them (the knights, mainly) that their lord couldn't protect their property, shaming him and encouraging them not to trust him with their full military service in future. There was no point to hearts-and-minds campaigns, as those didn't amount to anything. In wars of conquest property might be spared to make it easier for owners to accept the regime, and in civil wars the main focus was on destroying castles rather than farms, but other than that the destruction would stop when military necessity alone said it should.

With people like the Galwegians, Scots, and Irish, who practiced slave-raiding centuries after everyone near them abandoned the practice (because of serfdom), the objective was acquiring people. So unlike the chevauchees they left property untouched, but took lots and lots of men and women back with them and killed anyone who interfered or slowed down the process. They were big on spectacle to make the peasants do as they wished: Normans and Norse eyewitnesses tell stories of clergy beheaded at altars, and babies lifted on spear points.

Last edited by Domhnall Balloch; June 10th, 2015 at 01:31 PM.
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Old June 10th, 2015, 04:45 PM   #4
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By Napoleonic wars there was a common practice to issue receipts when requisitioning in the countryside for supplies obtained, when in friendly territory. (Not all armies at all times)

Foraging and Looting, troops foraging could quickly become looters. Foraging parties were also easily deserting if they liked.

Wellington was against foraging and went to great lengths to feed the army without it as he thought (a) it broke down military discipline and (b) harmed relations with the population. The Napoleonic French were foraging all the time and were used to looting as well. When they came to defending France they looted their own population as they were long used to it.

The Practice of foraging/looting was a factor in 1812, it broke down discipline, lead to desertions, lead to foraging parties being overwhelmed by regular and irregular Russian forces, and the carting of loot seriously comprised the march.
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Old June 10th, 2015, 04:54 PM   #5

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This is why armies tend to go into the offensive during pre-industrial era. Armies were unsustainable in the way states do today, with long lines of supply providing everything. Because the problems of storage and transport of goods, any state could supply its armies with just a small part of what they needed, or during a very short period of time. In fact, an army fighting defending home inflicted twice the damage to its own nation: one for the enemey foraging into own territory, two for "our" armies foraging and looting into "our" territory.

It was much wiser to send the army into the offensive: you didn't have to spent anything suppliying them because they looted the enemy territory, neither you had to feed the enemy devastating your own lands. At the end of the story, if the attacking army was succesful, maybe could come back with a lot of loot.
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Old June 10th, 2015, 10:49 PM   #6
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Early modern armies would.

The member of the Swedish Royal Council, Count Johan Skytte, made the observation that: "He who raises an army, and maintains it within his own borders, is effectively making war upon himself."

That would hold true for European wars at least up to the Nap Wars. At the time it was part of the argument for why Gustavus Adolphus should ship out to Germany ASAP, when joining the 30 YW. Generally the objective was that IF you were going to war, you would do you damndest to locate the war on someone else's territory due to the destruction it would bring. Britain had that going for itself when involving itself in the continental 18th c. wars (while the entirely domestic Civil War in the 17th c. was very destructive). France's dominant position in Europe from the 17th to the 18th c. among other things manifested itself by France's ability to wage a lot of war, but for 150 years manage to locate them outside its own borders.
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Old June 10th, 2015, 11:19 PM   #7
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Some commanders made great efforts not to pillage when foraging and there was often a lip service to civilian right even when foraging was the main method of supply. In 1812 Napoleon did have some looters excited during the march into Russia. (though forager/looter can be a very subjective distinction). Wellington made a large effort as he saw it as essential to good relations with his allies and for better Army discipline. Gustavus Adolphus made a fair effort early in his career for his army to be act morally, though that slipped later on. Over history Norms varied quite a lot so what holds for one nation/period )or even same army and period just different commanders)
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Old June 11th, 2015, 12:49 AM   #8

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The Clubmen of the English Civil Wars is probably a good example of sides exploiting their own side in a conflict and in turn forcing the general population band together to confront even their own side for their wanton depredations, and it certainly adds some additional shape to the English Civil War.

As a wargamer this topic has always had an appeal.. raids on garrisons to reclaim plunder, seek vengeance for loved ones, and free those who'd been conscripted by force, although this Clubman flag has to be the strangest I've seen in any conflict.

Click the image to open in full size.
The Flag was captured from Dorset Clubmen by Cromwells troops in a skirmish at Hambleton Hill in Dorset on the 4th August 1644

Then you have businesses defending their interests, such as the Ironmasters in Sussex who fired on any side that approached their iron works (the Sussex arms industry had a reputation at the time of supplying quality goods) As far as I am aware all the Iron Masters where pro-Parliament but would still fire on Parliamentary Troops.

The start of Woodbury Declaration speaks volumes of how Royalist population felt about the behaviour of Royalist Forces, and was given to the High Sheriff of Worcestershire.

"We having long groaned under many illegal taxations and unjust pressures and that contrary to orders presented to his Majesty by advice of the Lords and Commons assembled at Oxford And ratified and published by his Majesty's gracious proclamation. And nevertheless finding no redress of our grievances, but that we, our wives and children, have been exposed to utter ruin by the outrages and violence of the soldier; threatening to fire our houses; endeavouring to ravish our wives and daughters, and menacing our persons. We are now enforced to associate ourselves in a mutual league for each other's defence, and do declare to the world that our meetings have been, are, and shall be to no other intention or purpose than as followeth."

As far as I am aware the clubmen uprisings are an unusual event, but it shows that armies do plunder there own people (side) and that people will only tolerate so much before reacting.

Last edited by Caburn; June 11th, 2015 at 12:52 AM.
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Old June 11th, 2015, 02:18 AM   #9

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You are a military commander of X thousand men. Your superiors/king have not made any supply arrangements or such arrangements have run out.

What do you do?
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Old June 11th, 2015, 03:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
The Clubmen of the English Civil Wars is probably a good example of sides exploiting their own side in a conflict and in turn forcing the general population band together to confront even their own side for their wanton depredations, and it certainly adds some additional shape to the English Civil War.

As a wargamer this topic has always had an appeal.. raids on garrisons to reclaim plunder, seek vengeance for loved ones, and free those who'd been conscripted by force, although this Clubman flag has to be the strangest I've seen in any conflict
In Canterbury (I promise, this is relevant ) there is a mound called the Dane John. It was a gun emplacement during the ECW, and the blast from the guns damaged the windows of a nearby house. The garrison commander paid compensation to the man whose windows had been damaged. A plaque by the Dane John (to its right, along the wall) tells the full story.
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