How did people supply armies of hundreds of thousands in the pre-modern times?

How did people supply armies of hundreds of thousands in the pre-modern times? Even if you could theoretically carry enough grain, how do you get potable water for that many people?

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  1. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Taken from the farms in the countryside. If the leader was especially kind they'd pay for it, but normally not.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >they'd pay for it
      lmao if they were especially kind they would let the farmer live after raping his wife and children

      [...]
      How does that solve the water issue?

      ever wonder why major ancient roads follow rivers?

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >ever wonder why major ancient roads follow rivers?
        They don't.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          L O N D O N
          O
          N
          D
          O
          N

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          did....you look at the picture you just posted?

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Did you? Rivers are those squiggly lines in blue btw.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          There's more than 6 rivers in the UK, the Witham isn't marked and that follows right though lincoln. The Romans even built a canal to connect the Witham and the Trent together

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            And most roads are logically placed to connect two cities with minimal interruption by terrain and rarely deviate from the closest line to follow rivers.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >oi mate you got a loicense for all them extra rivers?

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous
        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          You didn't look at this one either, did you?
          >embarassing

  2. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Foraging. When granary depots were unavailable raiding parties taxed/looted the surrounding countryside and brought it back to the main army, and since this was obviously limited in terms of resources, the army had to keep moving to fresh terrain or risk going hungry.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      This. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons the Thirty Years War was so fricking nasty. You had different armies pillaging the same patches of land over and over again for decades.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Taken from the farms in the countryside. If the leader was especially kind they'd pay for it, but normally not.

      How does that solve the water issue?

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Rivers exist

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Drinking straight from rivers is probably going to get you sick at a minimum.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Yeah, a lot of people got sick in the premodern era. Sometimes this was prevented by mixing water with an alcohol ration like how the British navy did.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            The world was way less populated and polluted. Drinking straight from a river or (non stagnant) lake has been the default human way of life since forever. It wasn't really until urbanization brought massive cholera outbreaks that it was addressed. That lead us to discover the existence of microorganisms and made people stop shitting in and drinking from the same water. But prior to the type of population density the industrial revolution brought you could drink raw river water your whole life

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              >just drink straight from the river lmao
              >ignore the hundred thousand dudes and horses shitting and pissing into it btw

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                have you really never seen a river before? Water fricking flows, just wait until the horses have stopped shitting and it will be downstream in seconds. As I said this is literally how people have lived forever, yeah you drink a little diluted piss now and then but guess what tap water is basically the exact same just closely monitored for bacteria levels. Levels. A little bit of gut bacteria is acceptable even today

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Yeah, a lot of people got sick in the premodern era. Sometimes this was prevented by mixing water with an alcohol ration like how the British navy did.

            The world was way less populated and polluted. Drinking straight from a river or (non stagnant) lake has been the default human way of life since forever. It wasn't really until urbanization brought massive cholera outbreaks that it was addressed. That lead us to discover the existence of microorganisms and made people stop shitting in and drinking from the same water. But prior to the type of population density the industrial revolution brought you could drink raw river water your whole life

            I don't know what kind of shit holes you live in, but drinking out of rivers is perfectly fine in almost all situations.
            Lakes and swamps are problematic but assuming you live in a country with plumbing your river water is most likely fine.
            There's special situations like upstream farms and grazing fields, but I've drank out of my fair share of rivers and I've been fine.
            Cities have only been a problem because of the concentration of germs. You don't get sick from one cholera germ. It's a concentration issue and rivers dissolve everything quickly.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              Running water is generally fine to drink from but you can still get beaver fever in the cleanest of streams, lakes and ponds

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >beaver fever
                literally my mo

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >get you sick at a minimum
            Now you know why 90% fatalities until the mid 19th century during campaign were from illness and disease rather than enemy action. The US civil war was the first war in which combat killed more people than disease.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              I think more people still died from disease in the Civil War, but it was substantially less than what was seen just 10 years prior in the Crimean War

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >73k combat deaths
                >370k non-combat deaths
                Fricking grim

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                The world was way less populated and polluted. Drinking straight from a river or (non stagnant) lake has been the default human way of life since forever. It wasn't really until urbanization brought massive cholera outbreaks that it was addressed. That lead us to discover the existence of microorganisms and made people stop shitting in and drinking from the same water. But prior to the type of population density the industrial revolution brought you could drink raw river water your whole life

                And most of them shit themselves to death after drinking raw water and eating with dirty hands.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Most of the world has ponds, lakes and rivers in abundance. Boiling water has been known for thousands of years though some would just drink it as is and get diseases. Old wars used to have massive amounts of force attrition before a battle was even fought

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >ponds
          You have to be suicidal to drink water from ponds.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            The fact that most soldiers in history knew not to do so didn't stop them from drinking from stagnant water as the massive amount of deaths from dysentery can attest.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            The fact that most soldiers in history knew not to do so didn't stop them from drinking from stagnant water as the massive amount of deaths from dysentery can attest.

            At some point thirst trumps logic, and I would bet that most kings couldn't be bothered to think about the health of their subjects.
            People in ancient times were pretty moronic.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      This. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons the Thirty Years War was so fricking nasty. You had different armies pillaging the same patches of land over and over again for decades.

      you also had obscene desertion rates, it was not uncommon in the 30 years war, to continue the example, to see desertion rates in a 6 month campaign reach 80%

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        I remember reading something from the 30 Years' War that said keeping a soldiers' pay in arrears discouraged desertion. A man who is owed a month's salary might say frick it and bail. A man who was owed four months' salary will probably say, "I'll wait until payday".

  3. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >how do you get potable water for that many people?

    They often didn't which is why so many died of dysentery

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Bunking with a dysentary bro sounds awful.

  4. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Fake. China didn't field massive armies. Their historians embellish fricking everything. They probably only had tens of thousands at any one time.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Eh, while I'm sure there is some exaggeration going on I'm willing to believe that the stated numbers aren't too much smaller. China has always been very populous with a strong economic base. On the other hand, it would explain why they repeatedly and consistently got BTFO by vastly inferior (on paper) forces of steppe nomads.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >vastly inferior (on paper) forces of steppe nomads.

        ITS BECAUSE THE ONE homie DEFENDING THE WALL LITERALLY OPENED IT AND DEFECTED ALONG WITH THE ENTIRE DEFENSIVE ARMY

        IT WASN'T SOME COUPLE THOUSAND MONGOLS FIGHTING THROUGH EVERYTHING YOU DENSE DUNCE

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          cope fairytale

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >ITS BECAUSE THE ONE homie DEFENDING THE WALL LITERALLY OPENED IT AND DEFECTED ALONG WITH THE ENTIRE DEFENSIVE ARMY
          Man did nothing wrong. Rebels hold the capital anyways, the Ming was finished. Him strangling the last Emperor with his own hands was peak Kino.
          >It is said that Youlang (Last Emperor of Ming) scorned Wu in his last moments, saying that he betrayed his people and country, and urged Wu to kill him faster because he was disgusted to see "a traitor's face."

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          why are you talking like a Black person

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Nomads are hardly inferior: motherfrickers invade in their tens of thousands (if not 100,000) and much of that force is mounted cavalry, with heavy cavalry elites forming its core.

        Also Nomads tend to invade during times of Dynastic Decline when chineses are busy killing each other. The only time this didn't happen was during the Khitan/Jurchen Invasion, which was only possible thanks to Song Dynasty Court paranoia over its military. They fricking executed successful generals for being too paranoid ffs.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Look up ancient chinese battles on wikipedia. Look at the stated numbers. Compare with known, fact checked, ancient battles (roman and beyond). Their stated numbers are a fantasy, you are not marching and feeding a force of 500 000 men (or more).

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          This. Also, anyone even a little bit familiar with the Chinese language and literature knows they love to use exaggerated large numbers for dramatic effect.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            But literally everyone did. It's not a Chinese thing. It's probably just a scribe knowing that his superior likes to feel powerful, so the already inflated numbers just get yet another multiplier.
            The farther you go back in history, the worse it becomes.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              I didn't say the Chinese were the only ones who exaggerated their numbers. Yes, loads of people did. But on top of that you cannot take big numbers literally in classical Chinese.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              Roman numbers tend to be pretty safe on the Roman side of things, it becomes much less trustworthy when you look at their stated enemy numbers. This is because the Romans had a very robust system in place for tracking their soldiers and the legionary system means we can always have a fairly good chance of knowing what the upper bound is for their side during battles. And because legions were numbered we can somewhat reliably track them.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          China fudges with its numbers by counting people that other armies at the time like Rome wouldn't as soldiers like the baggage train and camp followers, so out of 100,000 people participating in a battle as little as 10,000 of them are actual combatants.

  5. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    https://acoup.blog/2022/07/15/collections-logistics-how-did-they-do-it-part-i-the-problem/

    This guy is a bit too shallow for my taste but it's a reasonable introduction if you know nothing about the topic.

  6. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Aha! Here's a better source albeit discussing the American Civil War. Read James J. Schneider too. The transition away from Lanchesterian dynamics was a fascinating time.

  7. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >How did people supply armies of hundreds of thousands in the pre-modern times?
    There were no such armies before Napoleon. Most wars were just 3k army vs 3k army skirmishes, sometimes even 300 vs 300 "armies" (see 100 years war or any other medieval conflict). And you don't need that much grain or water to supply such armies, just grab what your enemy stole from you the last time, that will be enough to feed your troops until the next "battle", where half of them will be slaughtered anyway.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Lol no. The Chinese and Romans regularly fielded armies in the tens of thousands. Thing is, wars are usually seasonally things and armies are rarely on war footing for more than a few months. They spend more time at their barracks or return to their farms until called up.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >armies of hundreds of thousands
      During the reign of Augustus, the Roman Army consisted of some 250,000 men, organized into legions of around 5,500 troops. This was not a sustainable arrangement, especially considering the Marian reformation meant Rome was in a vicious cycle of recruitment and conquest (Need to conquer more lands to give to the veterans ending their service, so you need to recruit more men to conquer those new lands, and then they retire and need land grants, and it becomes more and more difficult to supply and control men the further they are from Rome, ect.) But generally soldiers were supplied at their garrison and, in the field, it was a policy of "whatever you can find." This is part of the reason why, as

      Lol no. The Chinese and Romans regularly fielded armies in the tens of thousands. Thing is, wars are usually seasonally things and armies are rarely on war footing for more than a few months. They spend more time at their barracks or return to their farms until called up.

      , wars were generally seasonal (nothing to eat in the winter) and post-Roman levies weren't held for more than a few months, tops.

      Being able to field hundreds of thousands of men in a professional, standing army and have it last wasn't really possible until the industrial revolution, when advances in agriculture meant you needed much less farmers to produce more food than before, and people discovered how to actually preserve food for long periods of time.
      Even then, it wasn't truly realized until Republican France first desperately conscripted everyone who can hold a gun, and realized that the Levee-En-Masse was actually very, frighteningly effective.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        campaign season was autumn because men must work the land in summer, and grain barns are ripe for pillage when harvest is in. dont want to be out in colds months and everyone starves in the spring

        have you really never seen a river before? Water fricking flows, just wait until the horses have stopped shitting and it will be downstream in seconds. As I said this is literally how people have lived forever, yeah you drink a little diluted piss now and then but guess what tap water is basically the exact same just closely monitored for bacteria levels. Levels. A little bit of gut bacteria is acceptable even today

        its risky. alcohol kills germs and medieval types drank it all the time, but it was much weaker, 1-2% Euros still have this often, it is known as table beer.

  8. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >armies of hundreds of thousands in the pre-modern times?
    Didn't exist
    >But Herodotus says there were 400,000 Persians at this battle!
    Overstated
    A massive pre-modern army would be 50K

    The exception is maybe ancient China, due to having such a large population in a centralized land mass.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >The exception is maybe ancient China, due to having such a large population in a centralized land mass.
      No. Thing is ground based logistic before railroads sucks. You can only supply such large armies via waterways.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        I'm pretty sure that's not true. I mean how did the crusades happen?

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        China has a shitton of waterways and canals.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Chinese exception
      Not really they loved making shit up just like everyone else.
      >Battle of Kherlen
      >Original source mentions 1000 horseman
      >Later chronicle that was written several hundred years later claims that it was actually 100.000 man .
      Having a large population does not fix the logistic problems any army back then had.The Chinese still had trouble feeding their garrisons along the wall even when they had local farmers and large silos and feeding a moving army is far harder.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Didn't exist
      Trajan fielded 500 000 men.
      >A massive pre-modern army would be 50K
      Yes, massive but not something unseen.

  9. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >how do you get potable water for that many people?
    You dont and thus half the casualties were from people shitting themselves to death

  10. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Herodotus claimed that Xerxes' army made rivers disappear from its soldiers drinking from it, as it traveled along.

  11. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    It's physically impossible to fuel that many Abrams, tanks simply do not exist.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Battles involving 200k Abrams tanks sure didn't.

  12. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Read Sun Tzu, he literally spellt it out how much oxen, carts, grains etc you need, even down to the quantities.
    Chinese warfare was always about logistics, logistics and logistics. Never he talked about small unit tactics, but always logistics and grand strategy.

    But I cant be saying this here, since this makes Chinese military traditions sounds almost modern and humanized, which is literally verboten in this NAFO/Pajeet infested board that operates on the basis of memes and is moronic like the 2015 liveleak comment sections.

  13. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    They didn’t.Numbers were usually inflated to make it sound more impressive.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      400k bones were actually found at the site of the Changping battle, aka where Qin buried 400k Zhao POWs alive after battle.

  14. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >All these people forgetting to recall that people didn't need to eat as much back then.
    The modern diet is gluttonous compared to what they ate in the old times.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Maybe if you compare sedentary life style to ancient sedentary life style but a soldier that's marching on his foot's gonna need 3000-4000 kcal a day no matter what year it is. That's almost 1kg of dry rice per day.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        You, yet again, have forgotten something. People in the old times were generally smaller than in modern times. Thus, they required less food just to live.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          yeah but they are marching while carrying their weapons and supplies. Even a 5'0 manlet's gonna need 3000 kcal minimum.

  15. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    They didn't.
    And then they lied about "armies of hundreds of thousands "

  16. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    How come animals can drink from untreated water sources but if humans do it we get sick and shit ourselves to death?

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Animals are constantly shitting themselves.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Not crocodiles. They're immune to infection.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Crocodiles trace their lineage more than 200 million years.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Everything living on earth can say the same thing.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              No, their direct ancestors emerged 200 million years.
              Real crocodiles emerged 180 million years ago.
              But this is the real answer why we shit ourselves to death

              We extended our metabolism outside our bodies, the only species on the planet to do so.
              Also, animals die too.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          They're stupidly buffed thanks to their lengthy development time, give us another billion years to work things out

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >not using an army of crocodiles
          Dummy ancient generals.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      We extended our metabolism outside our bodies, the only species on the planet to do so.
      Also, animals die too.

  17. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    considering that preservation techniques for food amounted to honeyed stuff and basically nuts and other non-perishables, it's pretty obvious that the maximum amount of men capable of being fielded per square meter was fairly limited. Waterways definitely helped (and Europe is, for all intents and purposes, just a massive fricking peninsula with plenty of rivers flowing deep into the continent) but historical accounts of conflicts always tend to be exaggerated.

    Sometimes it's possible to throw around some approximations based on archeological evidence, but keep in mind its virtually impossible even for the best carbon dating techniques to pin everything to one precise date. We can say that in year 1xx to 1xx, something happened. But you're still looking at decades of variability. Even within one decade you could be looking at a potential site that is the result of multiple skirmishes or battles around the same area and it's impossible to precisely date them apart, so a thousand years later, it just looks like one massive battle, gets recorded like that in history, and here we are even later postulating.

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