Best Tricks In Ancient History Warfare?

Oct 2013
40
Netherlands
When the Vikings under Bjorn Ironside invaded Italy, they tried to take a town called Luni. (which they believed to be Rome)
After being unable to breach the walls, the Vikings sent messengers to the Bishop to say that, being deathly ill one of their leaders had a deathbed conversion and wished to receive Christian sacraments within their church.
He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard,then suprised everyone by leaping from his stretcher.
The Viking party hacked their way to the gates, opened them and let the rest of the army in.
 
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Oct 2007
102
New York, NY
Again with Hannibal, this time in the last couple years of his life, he lured the numerically superior fleet of Eumenes II into close quarters against his squadron of Bithynians in the Sea of Marmara, and after sending a blank letter to Eumenes’ ship to identify which one to most heavily target, Hannibal catapulted earthenware jars onto the Pergamunian vessels. This was initially received with laughter and mild confusion by the targets, but that changed quickly when they realized the jars were filled poisonous snakes!

Chinese military history is rife with examples of elaborate deceptions. One resourceful act not unlike Hannibal I remember reading of was administered by one T’ien Tan in c. 279 BCE while defending a city in the State of Qi: in this particular case, flammable reeds were attached to the tails of 1,000 cattle, to which blades were attached to their horns and dressed in elaborate red cloth to give an appearance of dragons! The defending soldiers salvoed behind these stampeding fire ‘dragons’ with blades protruding. The besiegers were indeed scattered.

James :)
 
Mar 2017
873
Colorado
I'm continually impressed with Caesar's misdirection, as opposed to major battle maneuvers.

Several times in the Gallic Wars, he doesn't want to leave his entrenched fortifications because he'll be exposed to superior forces, so he lures them in within his reach. He instructs his soldiers to either act overconfident & drunk, stumbling around & falling .. or ... to act like they're all in preparation for a quick retreat, nervously glancing at the enemy, loading up pack animals, digging escape routes. etc. The way Caesar tells it, it works most of the time. Some times, it does not.

After the second invasion of Briton, 15 days after 2 legions form an encampment, Ambiorix slaughters 3/4 of them. He finds he's powerless, even with superior numbers, to breach the Roman encampment ... so he flat out lies to them. He tells them he's just come from Caesar's winter camp (and he now serves Caesar) with an important message: the Gauls have hired German mercenaries, and they're days away from a massive attack on the Roman camp (none of this is true). The two men in charge believe him, and the troops leave camp ... where they're cut down.

Another "trick" Caesar had was rapid movement. He makes it clear he does forced marches ... a lot. It sounds like grueling, drill sergeant egotistic behavior ... but by the end of Gaul, he continuously befuddles his enemies (including Pompey) with his rapid coverages of large distances, including surprise marches in the middle of the night. He catches many unprepared that thought they had a couple of days to spare. "How the Hell did he get here so fast?"
 
Last edited:
Aug 2016
977
US&A
I'm continually impressed with Caesar's misdirection, as opposed to major battle maneuvers.

Several times in the Gallic Wars, he doesn't want to leave his entrenched fortifications because he'll be exposed to superior forces, so he lures them in within his reach. He instructs his soldiers to either act overconfident & drunk, stumbling around & falling .. or ... to act like they're all in preparation for a quick retreat, nervously glancing at the enemy, loading up pack animals, digging escape routes. etc. The way Caesar tells it, it works most of the time. Some times, it does not.

After the second invasion of Briton, 15 days after 2 legions form an encampment, Ambiorix slaughters 3/4 of them. He finds he's powerless, even with superior numbers, to breach the Roman encampment ... so he flat out lies to them. He tells them he's just come from Caesar's winter camp (and he now serves Caesar) with an important message: the Gauls have hired German mercenaries, and they're days away from a massive attack on the Roman camp (none of this is true). The two men in charge believe him, and the troops leave camp ... where they're cut down.

Another "trick" Caesar had was rapid movement. He makes it clear he does forced marches ... a lot. It sounds like grueling, drill sergeant egotistic behavior ... but by the end of Gaul, he continuously befuddles his enemies (including Pompey) with his rapid coverages of large distances, including surprise marches in the middle of the night. He catches many unprepared that thought they had a couple of days to spare. "How the Hell did he get here so fast?"
That's the interesting thing about humans. If we're young and fit we can march for hours, and a thirty minute rest will put us back at 90% if not better.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,873
Blachernai
When the Vikings under Bjorn Ironside invaded Italy, they tried to take a town called Luni. (which they believed to be Rome)
After being unable to breach the walls, the Vikings sent messengers to the Bishop to say that, being deathly ill one of their leaders had a deathbed conversion and wished to receive Christian sacraments within their church.
He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard,then suprised everyone by leaping from his stretcher.
The Viking party hacked their way to the gates, opened them and let the rest of the army in.
Do we have an account of this that does not come from the sagas? The exact same thing is recorded in Harald's Saga but takes place in Sicily.
 
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