Honor, Virtus et Potestas

Archive for May, 2011

The Halberd: A Weapons System of the Swiss Guard

By: Jefferson P. Webb

Without question there are a plethora of extremely effective and efficient weapons that were utilized during the Medieval period to defeat one’s enemies. But how many of them are still in military service today, and held by men who know how to use them? One without a doubt is still in service and that weapon is the halberd. The halberd is much more than a single weapon, it is a weapon system. There are a great number of applications for this weapon when in the hands of a skilled soldier.

When taking a look at this weapon, even the novice will immediately imagine many different uses for the weapon rather than one single function. One characteristic of this weapon is its ax blade. This aspect of the weapon lends itself to hacking/chopping and slicing, just as one can imagine an ax head doing. The head of the halberd has yet another feature called the fluke, or hook. The hook was used to hook mounted troops and pull them off of their horses.1 Naturally one was also able to swing halberd and drive the hook into an enemy as well as unseat him from a horse. (more…)

Advertisements

The Battle of Sphacteria: Light Versus Heavy Infantry in Maneuver Warfare

By: Jefferson P. Webb

Although there are a great number of battles that have taken place throughout the great spans of history whose names are so familiar, the name, Sphacteria, does not typically ring a bell with the average person. In spite of this the Battle of Sphacteria was a paramount military engagement of the classical world where the advantages of heavy versus light forces, and combined arms forces are concerned. This match-up took place on the island of Sphacteria in 425 BC during the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens1. While it would be very easy to get involved in discussing everything culminating up to the point of this battle, it should suffice to state the fact that the Spartans were concerned that the Athenians would take the island and Sparta deployed a force of 420 hoplites (heavy infantry) to the island to occupy it. What the Spartans did not count on was the Athenian sea victory around the island that stranded the 420 hoplites, leaving them effectively cut off and isolated on the island.2 Next, the Athenian forces invaded the island in an attempt to smash the Spartans’ force and themselves occupy the island. What took place was a key point in the evolution of combined arms warfare. (more…)