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Thread: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

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    Default The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    I always wondered about the armies that Hideyoshi Toyotomi faced during his campaign to Korea, in 1592...Since we know about the Japanese army then (Samurai and Ashigaru(, i would like to know more about the other two military forces of Asia, the Joseon Dynasty of Korea, and the Ming Dynasty of China....Any information is welcomed!!!(and if some pictures would be included...)


  2. #2
    hellheaven1987's Avatar Comes Domesticorum
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    This is a good start.
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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    i'll start here I guess, then copy it over to my old thread.

    Joseon army:

    The Joseon dynasty at the time had just seen a very long strech of peace. thus their military capacity has degraded pretty seriously, they're primary defense focus was also left up in the north , against the Jurchen tribesman across the Yalu river. so when the war started, they were pretty much caught with their pants down.

    Their biggest asset was their navy, as ships was both more manuverable than the heaviest of the Japanese ships , but also far heavier than the lighter Japanese ships of the time, combine with one of the most ingenious naval generals of all time it gave them a huge advantage at sea.

    On land, their elite forces at the start of the war was their northern garrison stationed in Hamgyong province (the North Eastern corner of Korea). they were primarily heavy cavarlies who favored using flails in battle.

    The Koreans military have not had any serious experince against organized infantry forces in the span of several memories of lifetimes, so it was not too surprising that in the early going they got their arses completely handed to them. however that didn't mean there was no one learning or that their people didn't posses some military qualities.

    For one thing, archery was a national Korean sport. the Korean were the best archer of the 3 sides by a good bit by this time. as pretty much every military or even civil service people were good archers trained from a young age. they can shoot with the best of them (think of them as the Longbowman of the east, and with composite bows too!). but it was pretty pointless if their front lines collapse on impact everytime.

    After most of Korea fell though, many groups of insurgents called the righteous army were spawned, some were lead by Korean officials who remained behind, (the king and his court had fled to Uiji, which boarders right next to China) . while others were simply by wealthier men with no official ranks.

    Still, the most powerful of these groups were probably the warrior monks of Korea, which had disciplines like no one else. and had little fear of death and often stood in the hardest position of battle.

    The Koreans also had a good degree of gunpowder technology, having seen what Chinese dynasties have been playing with for a long time. they had a reasonable amount of light cannons and fire arrows. the most famous device was probably the Hwacha



    Still, the Koreans had a tough time putting together a real army during the war (the peak of their operation in the first war was probably PyongYang, where they probalby mustered something like 15k to help the Ming army, though only the 4-5K warrior monks were truely good waerriors. in the second war their peak operation maybe put together 10-20 K either for the first offensive on Ulsan or the final offensive on 3 different fortress), partially also because that after the Ming army entered the war, they focused more on trying to support them logistically than actually fighting. but their soldiers grew much more competent defensively in the second go around. and they remained awesome at sea.

    They learned their own strength and weakness quickly after the initial disastor, preferring to harrass with their exellent archers and brave light infantry / heavy cavalries. and then defend key position where they can utilize their archers and gunpowder weapons even better.


    I'll do the Ming later
    Last edited by RollingWave; June 14, 2010 at 02:14 AM.
    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Thanks both!!!!!


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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    The Ming military

    The Ming at this period was experiencing a revival. as a recent administrative reform improved the terrible finacial situation it was in the last century + or so considerably, and it made considerable strides on military fronts as well, as they were finally able to make headways against the Mongols, their primary defensive focus. by having at least part of the Monglian clans agreeing to sign peace deals with them. Their experienced against the Japanese connected pirates in the south a couple decades back also gave them considerable experience against the Japanese style of warfare and armies who were trained and equip to deal with such foes.

    However, the dominant forces of the Ming were still the old garrisons of the north based on the Wei Shou system (sort of a military caste system) . the majority of the Ming army to go into Korea were cavalries, fighting in the style similar to their Mongolian foes. aka either light or heavy horse archers.

    Qi Ji Guang, the general responsible for dealing with the pirate threat a couple decades back and also for training up the new military units, commented how the northern soliders "Only know how to fight in the style of their enemies (Mongols)" and indeed the chief administrator in charge of the first war Song Ying Chang also said in his letters that "The man of the north only knows how to fight Mongols but not Japanese, they built strong fortifications on the stepps but leave their coasts undefended"

    Qi's training however, lived on even though he had passed away a few years prior to the war. troops trained in the style he designed were typically called "Southern Soldiers" indeed their officers are almost all southern man and like to recruit man of similar background. They were almost entirely infantry, and were very skilled in formation fighting and all sorts of firearms. they would be the most reliable forces for the Ming for most of the war.

    Although the Ming military system was supposedly based on the Wei Shou system, by this period the old system was already decaying pretty badly, in the Northern garrisons maybe 50% of the designated familes were still functioning properly, in more inland areas the number usually falls to the single digits. to make up for this, the Ming were in fact allowing individual generals to put together private full time proffesional armies, though disguised under the term "house servants". these retinue warriors were usually very well equiped and trained. and the better trained once were ferocious warriors comparable with the Samurais, some of the Ming generals in this were even rose up as one of these type of warriors.

    The Ming however, drew forces from many source, aside from the Northern cavalries and the southern infantries, there were also units pulled from the remote corners of Sichuan province. who were exellent infantry in mountain warfares.


    In terms of equipment. the Ming had probably the most vast array of different gunpowder weapons at their disposal. with multiple different types of light to medium cannons that often came in large numbers. along with a large quantity use of rocket arrows themself. they did not use arbeques in large numbers. though they did use other hand gun types such as the three barrell hand guns. (whose' merit is that it can fire 3 rounds without reloading, and that it can double as a mace in melee, which is one major reason why the Ming preferred it . although another is that the way it operates and design make it less hazardous for the soliders to poor craftsmanship and implosions.)
    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    some pictures, starting with Korean first

    credits to the Samurai archives board, an exellent board on anything dealing with Japanese history

    http://forums.samurai-archives.com/v...9ff2204e44b0d2

    various Korean cold weapons

    Normal blades


    This is the swords used by the legendary Korean hero Yi Sun-Sin


    Polearms


    Spears


    hooks used for naval warfare, aside from melee also double as grapple hooks


    flail, mostly used by elite cavalry units


    Tridents, used more at sea.


    Helmets



    Armor


    a decent illustration of how officers and individual soliders dressed.

    Last edited by RollingWave; June 13, 2010 at 08:23 AM.
    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Examples of Korean gunpowders weapons

    Hwacha


    Various cannon types

    Victory Gun Seungjachongtong (승자총통 / 勝字銃筒)

    Heaven Cannon Chonja (천자 / 天字)

    Earth Cannon Chija (지자 / 地字)

    Black Cannon Hyonja (현자 / 玄字)

    Yellow Cannon Hwangja (황자 / 黃字)

    Hojunpo Cannon (호준포 / 虎準砲) (note, this is basically the exact same thing as a Chinese crouching tiger Cannon of the time)


    Explosive Projectiles- “Flying Thunderbolts” Pigyok Chinchollae (비격진천뢰 / 飛擊震天雷)
    These are examples of explosive fragmentation projectiles that the Koreans fired from a cannon. Essentially nothing more than a hollow iron ball that was filled with gunpowder and ignited by a fuse, this was an effective weapon for use when attacking groups of enemy soldiers. (all 3 sides used something to similar effect as this, Chinese also called it 震天雷, Japanese called it 炮烙 )

    Last edited by RollingWave; August 15, 2010 at 10:11 PM.
    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    As for the Ming..


    Here are some types of pool arms that they used, the one at the top its called Lian Xian, the primary point of this design was to act as a distraction for opposing infantries, making it harder for their spears to get through, or their attempts to try and push / cut themself through the spear / pike wall .


    From a ming era manuel




    The Ming was a transitional stage of Chinese armor, as they gradually went from this...


    to something more like this



    The Imjin war was already towards the very late portions of the dynasty, so it was most likely that the armor style was closer to the later than the former.


    This is a Miao Dao, aka a No-Dachi sword replica , the Ming copied this design from their encounters with pirates wielding these swords



    swords used by officers and cavalries.

    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    credit :
    http://www.samurai-archives.com
    http://www.Chinahistoryforum.com
    http://www.grandhistorian.com/chines...h12122007.html

    gunpowder weapons:

    The Ming did use arbeques, though from all accounts they didn't deploy it in that large of a quantity. especially not in this war. part of the reason is because that the quality of craftsmanship required for them is higher, which makes it more difficult when we're talking about deploying it to an army that's conservatively estimated at around 800K overall. and possibly over a million. (it's nominal strength is 3 million)





    This is called "Frenchy" cannon, Frenchy is the term the Chinese described Portugese traders. and this design is something they copied from them. it is actually quite an advance designed. being a breech loading cannon, it had a firing rate well beyond not just normal muzzle loaders, but also arbeques. being quite capable of firing over 2 rounds a minute . you might wonder why this design never really became the main stream at the time and people went with much slower loading cannons, the answer is simply that with this design and the metallury ability of the day. you can only forge small sized cannons out of these.


    this is a bigger carted version of the same gun


    Tigrer crouching cannons, this and the frenchy were by far the most common for the Ming. their biggest advantage being that they're very light (the Tigrer crouching cannon is usually only around 20kg)



    This is Qing dynasty era battle (probably their late 17th century war with the Russians), as you can see a lot of Tiger crouching cannons were still deployed.




    This is called a grand general cannon, it was the heaviest cannon in the Ming aresenal at that point. (though in the next couple of decades they would upgrade signficantly thanks to dutch design cannons). the manuels of Qi ji Guang says that they weigh around 600 + KG (though there were bigger once) and were mostly used to fire grap shots.



    as you can see there isn't a whole lot of fundemental difference in design with the Tiger crouching cannon, just bigger.

    Here's a very fundemental design hand cannon, basically just sticking gunpowder and bullets into a hardened bamboo stick. a soldier can just carry several of these around and fire them when need to. they still appear to have used some of this in the Imjin war. though it was a really old design.


    The thing here in the middle, it's called a 3 eye gun, one of the most popular devices for the Ming military, as you can see it is in fact a 3 barrelled handgun. but due to the thickness of the barrell and the stick it is attached to, it was also a effective war mace, so the common practice was for a unit wielding these type of weapon to simply charge toward the enemy, let their multi volley go at point blank range, then immediately engage the enemy without the need of changing weapon. it was a obviously exellent tactic against any sort of stationary formation.




    And here are some Americans firing a real piece.

    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Hmm one Pic is from Qing campain

    I always wonder about that era for example how well could an army of that wars stand against a European counter apart.
    After all they seem to possess similar weapon and tech .

    I get the impression that they used less stiff formations and the battle was more individual .

  11. #11

    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Great posts, RollingWave

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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Quote Originally Posted by jo the greek View Post
    Hmm one Pic is from Qing campain

    I always wonder about that era for example how well could an army of that wars stand against a European counter apart.
    After all they seem to possess similar weapon and tech .

    I get the impression that they used less stiff formations and the battle was more individual .
    -yes, that picture was Qing era. though i'm using it just to show that type of particular cannon is deployed in large numbers, even when the Qing had something like this...




    -This war was in the late 16th century, by then the European technology level was already pretty noticablly ahead of the Chinese. not nearly to the extreme degree that would show up in the Opium war (as the Qing army of the 1830s were really no better if not significantly technologically inferior to the Ming army of 1630 while the European made massive improvements in the 200 year span). but it was noticable.


    The most obvious example is that, at this particular point, the heaviest cannon in the Ming arsenal was the Great General Cannon (pictured in the above posts) which had a standard weight of roughly 600 KG, some were heavier but more were in that range.

    At the same period a european culverine would have weighted something around 900 KG and maybe higher. and the Culverine was far from the heaviest things the European could do.

    Of course, the context of the war also mattered, as the Chinese weren't really facing anyone behind thick stone castles, and in fact their biggest nemesis were people riding around on horses and shooting bows. which points that their cannon design were certainly far more field oriented in it's thinking (and the heavier European cannons of the time weren't deployed in field battle much either. and the need to fight nomads also meant it would be absurd to be using cannons that could only be dragged around by several oxens at a snail's pace) . but still, metallury wise it was pretty obvious that they were starting to fall behind as well, seeing that they still required many thick iron tubes around their cannons to further reinforce it from cracking.

    We could also note that the sea warfare. at the highest the Korean vessals might have been armed with some 30 -40 light cannons. while the Chinese probably even less . (the Ming ship building technology at this time have not only stalled, it literally went backwards several hundred years) , meanwhile, the Scottish Ship Great Michael , launched almost 90 years before this, had 36 large guns and at least as many smaller pieces+ .


    - As for formation fighting or not, the Japanese certainly used group formations extensively, for almost all their troops. As for the Ming, the northern men probably fought in nomadic style horse archer, preferring to skrimish shoot until they have disrupted the enemy enough and then simply just overrun them with one massive charge. the forces trained by Qi Ji Guang however, certainly were fighting in formations as well. as Qi developed a famous "Mandarin duck formation" which was based on small groups of 12 but could also be applicated to much larger formations.

    It should be noted however, that in the Imjin war there was actually very very few field battle of note, in fact, the Ming forces only had 2 serious clashes with the Japanese out in the open in the entire 7 year span. in the first one, the Ming chief commander was caught with only his retinue cavalry and some scouts by a much larger Japanese force in a muddy field, and they retreated to defend a nearby hill on foot, held out for the day until the rest of the Ming forces arrived to force a stalemate . in the second, the description is more contradicting on the two sides but it seems that the Ming deployed standard cavalry tactics against the Japanese successfully.

    Most of the war was fought over siege. which renders most infantry formation obsolete.
    Last edited by RollingWave; June 14, 2010 at 02:20 AM.
    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Also, the Ming used a lot of rocket arrows, probably more than the Koreans. this manuels says they fire from hand held devices such as these, but real war record seem to suggest that they just line them up on ready made platforms and launch them that way.


    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Seems that you have a great knowledge of those two dynasties!!!Well done!!! Now i can get a better idea of the Imjin war as i had only good knowledge of the samurai armies.... Good job!!!!

    EDIT: I can see that the Joseon army is composed too much of light infantry
    Last edited by KaRoU23; June 13, 2010 at 03:36 PM.


  15. #15

    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    can see that the Joseon army is composed too much of light infantry
    Just a side note: In 1592 the Korean bows were were superior to the Japanese, but the Korean army lacked armoured infantry, arquebuses and spears. Before the reorganization of the Korean army, the excellent tactical organization of the Japanese played a large part in their sucess - The Japanese vanguard engaged the enemy backed up by two wings, the centre weakened the enemy by arquebus fire while the wings were ready to smash the enemy with sword and spear. ON the contrary, the Korean army generally moved forward as one body.
    Last edited by Ludicus; June 13, 2010 at 06:46 PM.

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    RollingWave's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Quote Originally Posted by KaRoU23 View Post
    Seems that you have a great knowledge of those two dynasties!!!Well done!!! Now i can get a better idea of the Imjin war as i had only good knowledge of the samurai armies.... Good job!!!!

    EDIT: I can see that the Joseon army is composed too much of light infantry
    The main body of the japanese infantry was hardly heavily armored either. the issue had little to do with relative equipment as each side had their advantages (and one could in fact make a arguement that the Japanese were more or less at a disadvantage as they had virtually no cavalry units and also no artillery.) it was experience and organization. the Koreans had neither when the war started (those are two of the same thing really, it's hard to have organization when you have no experience)


    The annals of Seonjo (the court records of the king) recorded many discussion of the Korean court during this war, in one passage, they talked about how their archers both out range the arbeques and was in fact more accurate, the King then ask why they were losing so terriblly, and the answer was that because even while being more accurate they still could only do limited damage in a distance, and when the Japanese closed in the Korean lines simply collapsed. neglecting whatever advantage their bows can bring. as the Japanese were totally use to taking a little casualty from arrow showers at a distance, but the Koreans paniced and fled at the first signs of significant casaulties.

    Just how inexperienced were they? before the war started one of the head Korean general reportedly said that they'll have no problem with the Japanese because "our men are bigger and stronger" yes, a head general of a military in the late 16th century thinks that the key point of warfare is that you have big strong men, and not you know.. actual organized fighting. When the Japanese marched to the most northern corners of Korea and met against the the elite forces of Korea , it's northern guards, the Korean cavalry actually did a number on the Japanese in the open field. but then the experienced Japanese simply regrouped in a nearby hill and set up a defensive formation, the Koreans took no regard to this and simply tried to charge up the hill and fight them. the end result wasn't too hard to predict.

    The Koreans also wasted away their army in the field in the early going . when it was pretty clear that their makeup would have favored them much better if they were to just try to defend the city (you know, where you can force more individual fightings so your "bigger stronger men" might actually do something. and your archers have more time to fire off their shots), meanwhile the end result was them wasting the army in the field and then fleeing the cities without a fight.
    1180, an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in East Asia, it's technology and wealth is the envy of the world. But soon conflict will engulf the entire region with great consequences and lasting effects for centuries to come, not just for this region, but the entire known world, when one man, one people, unites.....

  17. #17

    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Quote Originally Posted by Ludicus View Post
    Just a side note: In 1592 the Korean bows were were superior to the Japanese, but the Korean army lacked armoured infantry, arquebuses and spears. Before the reorganization of the Korean army, the excellent tactical organization of the Japanese played a large part in their sucess - The Japanese vanguard engaged the enemy backed up by two wings, the centre weakened the enemy by arquebus fire while the wings were ready to smash the enemy with sword and spear. ON the contrary, the Korean army generally moved forward as one body.

    Strange though, as the Yumi bows were too powerful...


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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Quote Originally Posted by RollingWave View Post
    The main body of the japanese infantry was hardly heavily armored either. the issue had little to do with relative equipment as each side had their advantages (and one could in fact make a arguement that the Japanese were more or less at a disadvantage as they had virtually no cavalry units and also no artillery.) it was experience and organization. the Koreans had neither when the war started (those are two of the same thing really, it's hard to have organization when you have no experience)


    The annals of Seonjo (the court records of the king) recorded many discussion of the Korean court during this war, in one passage, they talked about how their archers both out range the arbeques and was in fact more accurate, the King then ask why they were losing so terriblly, and the answer was that because even while being more accurate they still could only do limited damage in a distance, and when the Japanese closed in the Korean lines simply collapsed. neglecting whatever advantage their bows can bring. as the Japanese were totally use to taking a little casualty from arrow showers at a distance, but the Koreans paniced and fled at the first signs of significant casaulties.

    Just how inexperienced were they? before the war started one of the head Korean general reportedly said that they'll have no problem with the Japanese because "our men are bigger and stronger" yes, a head general of a military in the late 16th century thinks that the key point of warfare is that you have big strong men, and not you know.. actual organized fighting. When the Japanese marched to the most northern corners of Korea and met against the the elite forces of Korea , it's northern guards, the Korean cavalry actually did a number on the Japanese in the open field. but then the experienced Japanese simply regrouped in a nearby hill and set up a defensive formation, the Koreans took no regard to this and simply tried to charge up the hill and fight them. the end result wasn't too hard to predict.

    The Koreans also wasted away their army in the field in the early going . when it was pretty clear that their makeup would have favored them much better if they were to just try to defend the city (you know, where you can force more individual fightings so your "bigger stronger men" might actually do something. and your archers have more time to fire off their shots), meanwhile the end result was them wasting the army in the field and then fleeing the cities without a fight.
    hhmm nice

    biographical info are the best

    as for the Yumi i dont think were strong at least better than a longbow
    and i think had livabilities problems

  19. #19

    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Quote Originally Posted by jo the greek View Post
    hhmm nice

    biographical info are the best

    as for the Yumi i dont think were strong at least better than a longbow
    and i think had livabilities problems
    But they were my friend!!!! The Yumi was stronger in craftmanship than an English longbow and it was longer than a longbow (2.2 meters)...And a skilled archer could kill someone from a 100 meter distance!!!!


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    Default Re: The army of Ming Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty during the 16th century

    Quote Originally Posted by KaRoU23 View Post
    But they were my friend!!!! The Yumi was stronger in craftmanship than an English longbow and it was longer than a longbow (2.2 meters)...And a skilled archer could kill someone from a 100 meter distance!!!!
    for one i am sure is that Yumi bow lasted in time less than an longbow especially the string

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