Foot March Speed in the Crusades

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Yank_Lurker, Dec 1, 2008.

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  1. I'm watching a show on Richard the Lionheart tonight, and they stated that it took his army 2 months to march from Jaffa to Jerusalem. 40 miles, 2 months! I know that the Union Army in the ACW was making up to 16 miles a day by the end of the war, Richard's speed was abysmal, even granted that the Union Army had far better logistics. Certainly the Romans could have made it faster. My limited knowledge of the intervening terrain from wargaming indicates no serious natural obstacles or difficult terrain from the coast to can anyone explain the poor march speed?
  2. It depends whether they were just marching, or actually engaged in other actions such as military engineering - ie they may have been building fortified outposts or logistics staging points along the way.

    The rate of marching troops would also have depended upon the tactical situation. The Union troops you mention were advancing to contact with overwhelmingly strong cavalry flank protection and a safe rear area. Richard's troops had insufficient numbers to have any significant manoeuvre units, and probably had to shield their entire baggage train so that parts could not be picked off by enemy cavalry. Trying to keep a thousand or so ox/donkey carts together and moving must have been a nightmare at the best of times. Quite possibly they had to sit for days on end waiting for water or forage to be brought up - given the terrain and environment - or even shuttle the whole thing from waterhole to waterhole in escorted "packets".
  3. Where is Lairdx when you need him?
  4. In addition to supply problems, Richard's forces were constantly being attacked for the entire march by small delaying ambushes and harrassing attacks by Saladin's troops, who intended to break up Richard's formation so his army could be over-run by Saladin's main force. Richard's troops were under orders to keep a tight defensive formation ancd not be drawn out by these attacks, but on 7 September 1191 some of his knights left the main army to pursue some of Saladin's troops. Richard decided to send his army to assist the knights, and Saladin attacked.

    Under these circumstances, I suppose the Crusading army's slow progress is understandable.

    A-level History :headbang:
  5. One must also consider the state (and lack of) roads in this period of time. This can slow down a walking man, let alone numerous baggage carts and retinues of servants. Further complicated, as mentioned above, by the logistical nightmare coming with such a vast array.

    Then there is the general, unhealthy state of the average man in this period. Armies in these days constituted a few well trained Knights backed up by scores of ordinary peasant folk, who, though hardy, weren't the apex of physical fitness and prone to disease due to squalid conditions of living.
  6. Slightly going against points already raised.What about comparing speeds with those in a similar situation.I am thinking just now of Wellesley in India.There the roads were terrible, the supplies were still moved by bullock and the vast majority of men were on foot.There were also the delaying attacks of Mahratta cavalry.However his speed of march was much quicker.

    The general round about point I am trying to make is what made Richard 'especially' slow, when compared to others.