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Condottiero Magno
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2014 5:46 pm    Post subject: About Tang Taizong's battle formations... Reply with quote
Aside from the Killer Katanas rules and the in depth coverage in Turnbull's Samurai Armies: 1467-1649, is there an in print work that goes into detail about the eight battle formations of Tang Taizong and the 14+ later additions, used during the Sengoku and earlier periods, when employed in engagements - profusely illustrated with diagrams theoretical and possible actual reconstructions?

Is there a work that covers the formations as depicted in art, with possibly color and b&w reproductions? Page 40 of Turnbull's has gyorin formation
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2014 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Various issues of Rekishi Gunzou do so, particularly the one special issue that covers Sengoku battles, weapons, and tactics. However, I'm almost positive this is the source that both the KK rules and Turnbull got their info from, so there wouldn't be much of anything new other than a couple nice 'bird's eye' view artwork pages of the formations used in the field.

The formations (as far as they relate to Japanese warfare) are really for the most part Edo period constructs and used to depict armies in folding screens and prints. Occasionally a daimyo might set up his camp in one of these formations, but things were generally much less structured on the battlefield-both for reasons of terrain and the nature of warrior band/vassal based subunits of various sizes and weaponry. Look for example at battles where the layouts are fairly well documented-Sekigahara, Osaka Winter, and Osaka Summer. Most of the sources you read where formations are mentioned (say, for example, Tokugawa Ieyasu using 'crane's wing' at Mikatagahara) are also from the Edo period.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
Various issues of Rekishi Gunzou do so, particularly the one special issue that covers Sengoku battles, weapons, and tactics. However, I'm almost positive this is the source that both the KK rules and Turnbull got their info from, so there wouldn't be much of anything new other than a couple nice 'bird's eye' view artwork pages of the formations used in the field.

I'd have to order the issues from japan and rely on a translator, graphic heavy titles are a must, but if you're positive about KK and Turnbull relying on this source, I'll use the funds on other works. I recall a 2 title series on Sengoku battles that I came across here, via a search and then on Amazon.jp, but can't recall the name and ISBNs.
Tatsunoshi wrote:
The formations (as far as they relate to Japanese warfare) are really for the most part Edo period constructs and used to depict armies in folding screens and prints. Occasionally a daimyo might set up his camp in one of these formations, but things were generally much less structured on the battlefield-both for reasons of terrain and the nature of warrior band/vassal based subunits of various sizes and weaponry. Look for example at battles where the layouts are fairly well documented-Sekigahara, Osaka Winter, and Osaka Summer. Most of the sources you read where formations are mentioned (say, for example, Tokugawa Ieyasu using 'crane's wing' at Mikatagahara) are also from the Edo period.

I figured the formations weren't as structured to the extent depicted in the diagrams, for the aforementioned reasons, but had no idea these were mostly Edo period constructs. So Shingen at Mikatagahara didn't deploy his army in the gyorin formation? What was the reason for depicting forces in these formations in the Edo period? Most of the prints I've seen aren't depicting fancy formations, other than blocks of troops and jumbled masses. Occasionally a few prints depict deployments, but don't know or can't tell the depicted formation.

Given that these were later fabrications, has anyone collected these prints, organized them by formation, then discussed likelihood or unlikelihood of its use? The result would look more like an informative coffee table style book.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Condottiero Magno wrote:
I'd have to order the issues from japan and rely on a translator, graphic heavy titles are a must, but if you're positive about KK and Turnbull relying on this source, I'll use the funds on other works.


I won’t have access to my books for awhile, but I recall with 99% certainty that both Turnbull and KK have that issue of Rekishi Gunzou in their sources, and both duplicate the layouts faithfully. So you’re probably better off saving your money.

CM wrote:
I figured the formations weren't as structured to the extent depicted in the diagrams, for the aforementioned reasons, but had no idea these were mostly Edo period constructs. So Shingen at Mikatagahara didn't deploy his army in the gyorin formation? What was the reason for depicting forces in these formations in the Edo period? Most of the prints I've seen aren't depicting fancy formations, other than blocks of troops and jumbled masses. Occasionally a few prints depict deployments, but don't know or can't tell the depicted formation.

Given that these were later fabrications, has anyone collected these prints, organized them by formation, then discussed likelihood or unlikelihood of its use? The result would look more like an informative coffee table style book.


It’s hard to say. The problem is that there are extremely few contemporary sources dealing with the battles (for example, what we know about Anegawa amounts to about a paragraph in the Shinchokoki-and even that was written decades after the fact, albeit from contemporary diaries). Gyorin would have been an odd formation to use since it’s supposedly designed for defense, and the Takeda heavily outnumbered the Tokugawa. The bit about the Takeda using gyorin first appeared in the very early Edo period if memory serves me correct. These type of accounts tended to be written to glorify the Tokugawa (or in the case of the 1616 Koyo Gunkan, the Takeda) and often included passages that paralleled them with stories or incidents from the Chinese classics (like Sun Bin’s Art of War) to give them more prestige. Still, it’s a pretty standard deployment for a large force on the tactical defensive during that time-a strong line with angled flank support and a large pool of centrally located reserves, and the accounts (particularly if it’s mentioned in the Koyo Gunkan, I’m not sure if it was) were close enough to the battle for it to have a basis in fact. I’m sure many of the well-read commanders of the day were familiar with the formations from Sun Bin and might have used the concepts behind them to arrange their forces before a battle if time and opportunity permitted-but as you mentioned, just not nearly as neatly and regimented as they appear in screens and other artwork. The lack of sources just makes it tough to figure out how much stock was put in them, how their concepts were used, or even how many commanders had even read the Sun Tzu/Sun Bin/etc works. My personal opinion is that since samurai commanders were highly pragmatic, they would be apt to use the concepts and theories behind the formations more so than sticking to them as templates. One of the other mods is doing research into pretty much this very issue, so it’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.

I’m not aware of any books that extensively and exclusively discuss the formations vis a vis (+1!) warfare in Japan, although they might be out there. The lack of source material mentioned above might make that doubtful. Would make a nice artbook, though, looking at the ‘formation’ artwork from the Edo period.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
I won’t have access to my books for awhile, but I recall with 99% certainty that both Turnbull and KK have that issue of Rekishi Gunzou in their sources, and both duplicate the layouts faithfully.


TURNBULL QUOTED A SOURCE? Shocked

Quote:
My personal opinion is that since samurai commanders were highly pragmatic, they would be apt to use the concepts and theories behind the formations more so than sticking to them as templates. One of the other mods is doing research into pretty much this very issue, so it’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.


Whoever that guy is, he's a complete idiot. But Tatsu's right, or at least I agree with his opinion. I look at it from a practitioner's perspective; as a contemporary military commander, you have what's called a doctrinal template, that is, given ideal terrain, you arrange certain types of forces in certain type of pattern depending on the tactical goal. A doctrinal template is going to differ depending on if it's an armor unit or an infantry unit, on the offense or the defense, etc. You then take that template and have to adjust it for terrain. Which means that even today, it's pretty rare that a unit moves or fights in a perfect replication of the doctrinal pattern.

It's important to remember that this is a period when larger-scale "formations" were first really being deployed. I say that in quotes because many people think "exact placement of troops", when really it should just mean (in this case) "large group in some variable semblance of order." Controlling large groups of soldiers is hard. It's especially hard when you don't have radios and other modern forms of communication to transmit instructions (it's hard enough when you have those things). Nagashino of course is the example I'll go to, but the idea that there was this block of 1000's of gunners all lined up in ranks performing coordinated fire is ridiculous. It's impossible. I couldn't have 3000 modern soldiers with M-4's fire in coordinated volleys. There's a reason that when you see depictions of British forces in Zulu movies firing, they're in platoon-size elements. Communications simply can't carry from the leadership to that large a group of forces, no matter if you use flags, conchs, what have you. They have to be broken into smaller elements with leadership at lower levels to communicate instructions.

Now, consider that we're dealing with non-professional armies (in that there was not a career education for soldiers), with minimal time to drill and instill the discipline and reactions necessary for coordinated formation movement on the battlefield. At Nagashino, for instance, subordinates of Nobunaga were instructed to "cough up" groups of gunners. Nobunaga himself gave up a large chunk of his personal arquebus force (the exact number isn't coming to me at the moment), and he put this conglomeration of gunners that had never trained together under 5 subordinate commanders. They had the day before the battle to prepare, which isn't nearly enough time to figure out how to be in one huge block and execute coordinated movements involving fire and maneuver. Lafayette took all winter at Valley Forge to teach the Continental Army how to drill using manuals from the Prussians, and that's still less coordinated than the image many have about Nagashino.

Bottom line, these "formations" probably existed as concepts. MY guess is that more advanced samurai commanders had them in mind when they planned their tactical emplacement of forces. I doubt it was something that was exercised and coordinated and drilled to the lowest level, ie Juubei the pikeman knew that two blasts on the conch meant they were betting into the Kakuyoku formation. At the most, the commanders (kashira) of lower level formations knew that when the commander of the force called for this, it meant I'm supposed to take my guys to the right wing, etc.

My current proposal for PhD work is to look at how samurai commanders were educated for warfare, which includes the study and transmission of Sunzi, Sun Bin, etc. and how it was implemented on the battlefield. I've been told my certain professors (Berry) that the sources don't exist and it may be impossible to sort that out. I've been told by professors on the Chinese history side that no one has looked at Chinese military history to see how the military Classics are implemented tactically, that the assumption is that they're used mostly when things go wrong to explain that General ABC lost because he didn't heed Sunzi's words.

I can't speak to these formations existing prior to the Edo period. I can speak to the fact that whether they did or not, they are theoretically possible and make theoretical sense as to their stated purposes. Which is why I can use the formation depicted on the Kawanakajima kassen byobu as a basis for a doctemp to place on the Nagashino map and determine where people could fit. What I cannot do is say "this is how forces were arranged", because it wouldn't make sense, and battlefields aren't static. It's part of my problem with over-reliance on battle screens, as ultimately they are pieces of art to commemorate, not duplicate, the scene of the battle. While not necessarily wrong, they're not necessarily accurate, either.

Bottom line, I think some sort of formation standards were used, but I don't necessarily think they were interchangable and the names we use now may only have been after-the-fact descriptors. Example, Shingen may have put forces on the wings with a weak center to entice Kenshin in, and later writers applied the "kakyoku" name because it became literary convention. That doesn't mean that in camp, Shingen literal words were "form in Kakuyoku." It also doesn't mean that they're like kenjutsu or martial arts named techniques. "Oh, Shingen is in kakuyoku, so I must use the Gyorin to counter" isn't necessarily what is in Kenshin's mind.

This is something I REALLY want to delve into, and probably will roll my Nagahino stuff into this rather than publish a separate book at this point because [reasons].

Quote:
I’m not aware of any books that extensively and exclusively discuss the formations vis a vis (+1!) warfare in Japan, although they might be out there. The lack of source material mentioned above might make that doubtful. Would make a nice artbook, though, looking at the ‘formation’ artwork from the Edo period.


Give me 10 years.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Gyorin is a blunted hoshi, a sound formation for a commander concerned about the flanks and could be easily changed, especially if the force is composed of mostly non-professionals, after gauging the opponent's intentions and flanks, in contrast with the latter which might result in one's envelopment.

I get the prestige aspect and the need to explain the reasons for victory, via a structured view, especially with the Edo period, in contrast with the chaos of the actual event. No one committed anything to posterity, especially as an in clan manual or did the Tokugawa censor everything?
Tatsunoshi wrote:
I’m not aware of any books that extensively and exclusively discuss the formations vis a vis (+1!) warfare in Japan, although they might be out there. The lack of source material mentioned above might make that doubtful. Would make a nice artbook, though, looking at the ‘formation’ artwork from the Edo period.

Maybe a Kickstarter, like the O-umajirushi Translation Project?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
IIRC, Brian Bradford accused Turnbull of appropriating his work at one point, not sure which parts, but the battlefield formations are in the '79 Osprey and Killer Katanas I didn't come out til '97. I think they've patched things up since then.

I agree with everything you've said regarding theory and practice and have read plenty on it and why some commanders lose when trying to emulate Hannibal's double envelopment at Cannae, like Charles the Bold.

Why is that mod an idiot? Is it due to the impossibility of the task?
ltdomer98 wrote:
Give me 10 years.

I'll be 45 young by then and I'm still waiting for a translation of the Zohyo Monogatari, so I wouldn't have to rely on Turnbull's snippets on ashigaru pike fighting.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Condottiero Magno wrote:
Why is that mod an idiot? Is it due to the impossibility of the task?


Because that mod is me. Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
Condottiero Magno wrote:
Why is that mod an idiot? Is it due to the impossibility of the task?


Because that mod is me. Laughing

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Condottiero Magno wrote:
I get the prestige aspect and the need to explain the reasons for victory, via a structured view, especially with the Edo period, in contrast with the chaos of the actual event. No one committed anything to posterity, especially as an in clan manual or did the Tokugawa censor everything?


There are very few clan 'military' manuals from the Sengoku, and none of the ones I've seen have the formation info in them. I don't think it's anything the Tokugawa would have had to censor, and besides, most manuals would have never come to their attention since they wouldn't be circulated outside the domain (even something like the Hagakure that was considered subversive during the Tokugawa era circulated by staying within Saga). Most of them are concerned with individual and small unit tactics-as Domer indicated, a lot of this is because large scale armies were just getting started. I also think Domer is correct that later writers projected the terms onto the formations. I certainly can't picture Shingen and Kenshin sitting there matching moves and switching into predesignated formations at the drop of a kabuto to counter each other. Realistically, command control was pretty limited to setting up before a battle and committing reserves.

Brian's made lots of accusations of plagiarism over the years. While I think he has a case in a couple of these (most notably that CA ripped off his rules system to set up parameters in the first Shogun Total War), most of them are totally unfounded. For the longest time he didn't seem to realize that other authors were doing the same thing as him-lifting information straight out of the exact same issues of Rekishi Gunzo that he was lifting information straight out of. So of course they'd look very similar. That was his issue with Turnbull (although Turnbull has been clearly guilty of plagiarism in other cases). I'm pretty sure Brian quit doing the KK add-ons after the Imjin War supplement since he felt everyone and their brother was stealing his work.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
I certainly can't picture Shingen and Kenshin sitting there matching moves and switching into predesignated formations at the drop of a kabuto to counter each other.


People who think this was how things worked have watched too much Pokemon.
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