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Battle Chariots

 

Disciplines > WarfareThe Six Secret Teachings > 6.8 Battle Chariots

Teaching set  | Observed lessons | Discussion | See also

 

Teaching set

Leopard Secret Teachings 6.8 (58)

Observed lessons

  • There are ten fatal terrains that the chariot should avoid:
    • Where a retreat path is blocked
    • When it takes a long time to reach the enemy in pursuit
    • When land ahead is easy but land to the rear is difficult
    • Narrow and obstructing areas that make maneuver and retreat difficult
    • Where the land is muddy, marshy or soft
    • Where there are steep cliffs and hills that limit routes
    • When there is luxuriant grasses that suggest excessive water supplies
    • Where there are few chariots and little enemy infantry that are easily overrun
    • Where there are ravines, ditches, rivers and hills
    • When it has been raining hard
  • There are eight situations that are advantageous to chariots:
    • When the enemy have not set their ranks in order
    • When the flags and pennants of the enemy are moving, showing they are not settled
    • When some of the enemy advance while others retreat
    • When officers and troops are still looking at one another
    • When they appear doubtful during advance
    • When the enemy army is suddenly frightened
    • When fighting on easy terrain at dusk
    • When they are just setting camp after a hard march

Discussion

Battle chariots were the heavy armored vehicles of their day. They were fast, though not as fast as a single cavalry rider. What they lacked in speed they made up for in weight and power. A foot soldier would be terrified by an approaching chariot, which could either run them over or cut them down.

Chariots, like their modern equivalents, had drawbacks. Being wheeled, they were limited to relatively smooth and level ground. Being heavy, they would quickly become bogged down in soft ground. They need firmer, flatter ground than horses, which can navigate far more difficult terrain. This also limits the routes that chariots can take when maneuvering and retreating, which makes it easier to waylay them. This is also true now for tanks and other powered machines and the ten fatal terrains still need to be considered.

Chariots are most effective when there is disorder, such as before they are ready to fight or when other fighting has broken their ranks. The chariots can then smash through and cause further havoc.

See also

Learning

 

Sawyer, R.D. (1993). The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, Basic Books

 

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