The Evolution of Warfare Throughout History

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Warfare between humans has existed for many, many years. Humans have gone from using wooden clubs to nuclear weapons, from individuals going at each other to air warfare being used to defeat armies in an instant. It is safe to say that warfare has changed over the millions of years it has been active.

Weaponry has been used in warfare since the stone age, dating back to 2.5 million years ago. The earliest known form of weapons were wooden/stone clubs. Stone tips are one of the oldest known weapons to be found, which were used during this time period. In 3000 BC the bronze age came to be. Bronze had soon replaced stone in weapons, and bronze maces became widely used. Armour was created by bronze, which allowed soldiers to take more hits from the opponents. Ancient Egyptians invented the sword during the Bronze Age. Other cultures soon acquired swords, and they became popular. Around 1200 BC came the iron age.

During this time the production of steel weapons had begun. These steel weapons were durable and much stronger than their bronze counterparts. Bronze armour was replaced with Steel armour which drastically reduced the casualty rate by almost 30%. The development of the bow and arrow had changed warfare. The bow and arrow allowed soldiers to kill enemies from a safe distance, while also being accurate, making it a more popular option than swords, spears, clubs and maces. Bows were first made from wood and bone, and its effectiveness was very limited. Around about 1500 BC the composite bow came around and had revolutionized warfare. Parthian archers were very skilled at using this bow, and they used it to defeat the Roman army at Carrhae in 53 BC. In 399 BC came the catapult which was used to fling giant projectiles over castle walls.

The catapult was later replaced by cannons which fired iron balls, with the use of gunpowder. Firearm technology continued to develop and Egyptian soldiers were the first to use hand cannons and other small firearms at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. More modern changes in warfare where shown throughout the Hundred Years’ War, which began in 1337 and ended in 1453.

During battles, such as the one at Agincourt in 1415, French knights were repeatedly slaughtered by english longbow men. This was because the longbow had the power to pierce steel armour. The french realised that charging in with cavalry was suicidal, when coming up against skilled archers. Artillery was used by the French towards the end of the war which was used to defeat the English at Castilian. Another instance of the use of Artillery was in 1453 by the Turks to defeat Constantinople. The rise of gunpowder eventually led to bow and arrow becoming outdated. Around the 1400’s China’s Ming Dynasty drove firearm technology forwards.

Developments include the matchlock, which eliminates the need to fire a gun with a hand held match, and the musket. Soon during 1775, the first submarine was used in battle, which was also known as “turtle”. Around 1836 came the revolver, which had the fastest reload time of any firearm during the time. The revolver became popular among people. The invention of the minie balls in the 1840s solved the slow loading problem of rifles, and in the 1850s and 1860s rifles quickly replaced muskets on the battlefield. aircraft were first used in war in 1911. They were first used by the Italians against the Turks near Tripoli, but it was not until the Great War of 1914–18 that their use became widespread.

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The first use of chemical weapons goes back to World War I, when on April 22, 1915 large amounts of chlorine were released by German military forces at Ypres, Belgium. Chemical weapons became popular as it had the power to injure large amounts of people, while also being hard to track, with some looking like fog. The first use of tanks on the battlefield was the use of British Mark I tanks at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15 September 1916. Although many broke down, nearly a third succeeded in breaking through. On August 6, 1945, during World War II, an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Soon after this, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. After these events the atomic bomb has not been used since as it is too destructive, having the power to wipe whole cities and the people in them. Today’s weapons includes artillery, rifles and a variety of destructive weapons. Todays weaponry include a variety of rifles, explosives, weaponized vehicles, nuclear weapons, which have since evolved from weapons such as the revolver, musket, tanks, submarines and more.

Tactics started as simple as one individual/group encountering another, trying to claiming territorial dominance. As settlements grew, and agriculture became more widespread, encounters between pillagers and local villages arose. These encounters became violent as attackers would try to steal stored food from the villagers/farmers. These events prompted the invention of defensive measures and strategic attack initiatives. Tactics had risen from these events with the likes of stealth (silent kills, using darkness to hide) building defensive perimeters, using guard towers, creating blockades with heavy objects, and using alarms.

Eventually settlement to settlement wars surfaced. This gave way to armies, logistic problems and employment of ‘guns for hire’ later on. War soon became a matter of scale. Bigger armies and soldiers won. Archers, horse mounted cavalry and war elephants won. Soon war became a matter of scale. Bigger armies won, Bigger soldiers won, Horse mounted cavalry, Archers, and war elephants won. At one point analyzing and strategic thinking changed war. Smaller armies with better mobility and better equipment could win a war by killing the operational heads of the other army (corporals, kings, etc). Uses of the environment became a big thing. 100 soldiers being clever, and outsmarting their opponents, could defend or push back a force of thousands.

A really long staff with sharpened ends could defend against a cavalry. Or a group of soldiers using their shields and creating a perfect box was invulnerable against archers allowing the soldier to get close enough to take out archers. Armies began to use formations when attacking such as the “phalanx” position which occurred during 2500 BC. “The phalanx is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar pole weapons.”

The defensive measures of surrounding big cities with big walls became outdated due to the introduction of gunpowder. Soon distance became irrelevant. In the beginning armies who were equipped with better guns seemed to be winning, but eventually smart tactics against steady ranks of shooters treating muskets as arches took over. Around this time, trench warfare arose. Next trench warfare arose. Soldiers who fired at incoming waves of enemies in a trench or bunker won more. At this time the point of every war was to kill all the soldiers of the opposing side, or kill the leader, forcing the army to surrender or disperse. Marine warfare changed after the invention of cannons. Up until that time all that the ships were carrying soldiers from one place to another.

The Byzantine had the only good defence against naval attacks, Things that could burn on water burnt down enemy ships. Apart from that, ships which were equipped with various sized cannons ruled the sea. The bigger the ship and the more cannons it had, the better. Ships hunted in packs as there were strength in numbers. Trench warfare was still a tactic that was being used in war, but with both sides equally trenched in and having the same firepower trench warfare went nowhere and then came chemical / biological agents. Chemical agents made war a nightmare for those of whom it was used against. These chemicals included tear, chlorine, mustard and phosgene gas. Air crafts had soon come into the scene as a counter to chemical attacks. Being able to fly over the enemy trenches, attack behind defensive lines and not be affected by the chemical / biological attacks made air warfare the primary focus of every army. With WWI and WWII, the main strategies of war changed to holding ground, inevitably squeezing the opponents supply lines, disrupting or destroying the logistics and forcing the enemies to surrender.

The main tactics were to have spread out armies with various units in the air and on the ground holding the line and managing supplies. Later on came the atomic age. With the atomic bomb the strategy changed to deterrence on the global scale. No mass wars were possible after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mutual destruction made sure that the main strategy between the greatest nations could not be open warfare.The smaller nations kept killing each other with endless wars. Most of which seemed to have no strategy at all.

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