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Thread: Historical Unit Size

  1. #1

    Default Historical Unit Size

    Hey everyone,

    I am currently writing an in-depth novelistic AAR for a Nabata campaign, and I'm a bit of a stickler for getting details right if I can help it. Given that, I was wondering if anyone happened to know a general number for how big each of the different unit types would be in real life. For example, I'm playing with unit scale "normal", which means standard infantry units (missile, swords, spears) have 80 men, phalanxes have 120, and cavalry have 50. This however, clearly has no bearing on actual historical troop numbers. So the question is:

    In real life how many men would be in a typical unit of standard infantry, phalanx, or cavalry?

    I don't need exact numbers (playing as Nabata I am assuming a "tribal" style of military organization anyway, so numbers wouldn't be as regimented as in other more professional militaries) but I would like to have a rough idea so that I can accurately describe my battles in the AAR. Thanks for any info anyone can provide.
    Wood's World of Words | Kilo11's Library


  2. #2

    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    Depends entirely on the nation/community they come from. Some had prescribed, standard sizes. For example, the smallest tactical unit of the Makedonian phalanx was the syntagma, which comprised 256 men. By contrast a tribal levy would be whomever turned up because they had ties to the headman/bravest warrior/whomever was in charge.
    It began on seven hills - a historical house-ruled Romani AAR
    Heirs to Lysimachos - a semi-historical Epeiros-as-Pergamon AAR
    Philetairos' Gift - a second attempt at an Epeiros-as-Pergamon AAR


  3. #3

    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    Quote Originally Posted by QuintusSertorius View Post
    Depends entirely on the nation/community they come from... a tribal levy would be whomever turned up because they had ties to the headman/bravest warrior/whomever was in charge.
    I sort of thought as much. Any ideas about (very) rough numbers for such units?

    I guess I could just make up numbers for the battles in Arabia, as those would largely be between the same types of tribal/levy units, and so I can decide what makes most sense to me given populations of the territories. However, when I eventually tangle with the Ptolemies (long-term plan is to hop from Aden over the Red Sea and work my way down the Nile to Alexandria) it would be good to know what kinds of numbers I should have in mind. Essentially, when I describe the force that crosses the Red Sea, I would hate for it to be half the size it would have to be to engage a normal medium-stack Ptolemy army. Due to that I was hoping for some knowledge about unit sizes for at least the factions that would have had standards.
    Wood's World of Words | Kilo11's Library


  4. #4

    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    Kilo11 you should look at historical battles and skirmishes that happened in those regions.
    As you know, numbers in EBII are in scale, so if a battle had somethings like 30,000 soldiers, using a full stack would try to represent that. Check the strategikos submod on the submod section of the forum to see better which units you should use

  5. #5

    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    The closest you can manage to that is on Huge Unit Scale, where you could imagine it's a 1:10 ratio with reality.
    It began on seven hills - a historical house-ruled Romani AAR
    Heirs to Lysimachos - a semi-historical Epeiros-as-Pergamon AAR
    Philetairos' Gift - a second attempt at an Epeiros-as-Pergamon AAR


  6. #6
    AnthoniusII's Avatar Μέγαc Δομέστικοc
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    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post

    In real life how many men would be in a typical unit of standard infantry, phalanx, or cavalry?
    Depends on the era. Examples:
    Phalanx created by Phillip II and used by Alexander the Great was 6 regiments of 256 men = 1536 men
    That gave EACH of the 12 Phalanxes a flexibillity in battle that shown in Gaugamella.
    The Succesors Phalanxes though did not have the trained soldiers of Phillip's and relied on brutal force of their number , that was a UNIQUE unit of 12000 men.
    The caused flexibillity problems and gave Roman legions the advandage to defeat them.
    Hypasistes were a single unit of 1200 men.
    Hetaeroi often belonged to units of 1000 men.
    You realise that realistic army units are our of question.
    Even if you had a PC that could hundle such units, the game would not know how to put them on walls! Even in vanilla numbers, units fit on wall sections when they are in normal size max!
    Bigger units can not find enough room on walls!
    There are moments (in history), in which a nation owes,
    if it wants to be considered as a great one, to be able to fight.
    Even without hope of winning. Just because it has to.
    Greek War motto.
    XXI Armored Brigade. Proud that served in that unit in 1996!
    "Spartans do not ask how many (enemies are) but where they are"!
    XXI Armored Brigade's motto.
    The Greek Secret (or why they will fight again if it will be necessary or why they do not sell their history).


  7. #7

    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    Philip also dual-trained his phalangites (something else which wouldn't have survived into our era):

    Unlike a spear, which retains some utility in single combat, a pike is essentially useless outside a compact phalanx. The formation, in both senses of the word, of the Macedonian phalanx, gave Philip an infantry force that was capable of standing up to Greek hoplites in open battle. If it was to retain any strategic utility however, its men needed to be able to fight outside the confines of the phalanx. As with most peoples living in an area surrounded by hills, the traditional Macedonian weapon was the javelin. Philip ensured that his men were trained in the use of both weapons, and carried whichever was the most appropriate for the occasion, so that his infantry could fulfill the role of both hoplite and peltast as need be. When marching through broken country, javelins were carried: Polyainos relates how when Onomarchos' Phokian's ambushed Philip's men, they were able to fight back at a distance. Similarly, a pike was of little use when assaulting a city, when troops had to climb ladders up walls and inside seige towers, so the javelin was carried in this situation as well.

    Philip's brutally efficient training programme, backed by his autocratic royal power, ensured his men lived up to his expectations. Training men to use two sorts of weapons with equal facility is no easy task, and very few other classes of warriors over the millenia have ever attained such dexterity; the few that readily spring to mind are mostly aristocratic steppe horsemen accustomed to both lance and bow. Training his men to use two weapons that required a completely different formation to fight with, a rigid pike phalanx against the loose order required to hurl javelins, made the achievment all the more outstanding, especially given the inclusive nature of his reforms - it was the entire national levy that was so trained, and not just a picked elite. The result was that not only could Philip eventually come to count on troops as good as any opposition could field, but he would have numbers of his side as well.
    Source.
    It began on seven hills - a historical house-ruled Romani AAR
    Heirs to Lysimachos - a semi-historical Epeiros-as-Pergamon AAR
    Philetairos' Gift - a second attempt at an Epeiros-as-Pergamon AAR


  8. #8

    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Lusitanio View Post
    Kilo11 you should look at historical battles and skirmishes that happened in those regions. As you know, numbers in EBII are in scale, so if a battle had somethings like 30,000 soldiers, using a full stack would try to represent that. Check the strategikos submod on the submod section of the forum to see better which units you should use
    Lusitanio, the idea of taking a recorded historical battle and treating that as a "full-stack" engagement is a nice and simple idea and something I had not thought of, so thanks for that tip. I can then just carve up the numbers of each type of soldier depending on how the unit distribution is in the army I'm engaging.

    The Strategikos submod is not something I am familiar with, and I don't know what you mean by "seeing better which units I should use". Would you mind elaborating, and perhaps putting up a link to that submod?

    Quote Originally Posted by QuintusSertorius View Post
    The closest you can manage to that is on Huge Unit Scale, where you could imagine it's a 1:10 ratio with reality.
    Thanks for the scale Quintus. I use normal scale usually, just for ease of managing units on battlefields and so my poor computer doesn't have to work too hard rendering all of the (astoundingly beatifully textured) units, but having that 1:10 scale from huge unit to real unit in the back of my head will be helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnthoniusII View Post
    Depends on the era. Examples:
    Phalanx created by Phillip II and used by Alexander the Great was 6 regiments of 256 men = 1536 men
    That gave EACH of the 12 Phalanxes a flexibillity in battle that shown in Gaugamella.
    The Succesors Phalanxes though did not have the trained soldiers of Phillip's and relied on brutal force of their number , that was a UNIQUE unit of 12000 men.
    The caused flexibillity problems and gave Roman legions the advandage to defeat them.
    Hypasistes were a single unit of 1200 men.
    Hetaeroi often belonged to units of 1000 men.
    Thanks for these numbers Anthonius; they will come in handy for me to visualize the size of different forces and try to get an intuitive feel for how big particular armies are.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnthoniusII View Post
    You realise that realistic army units are our of question.
    Even if you had a PC that could hundle such units, the game would not know how to put them on walls! Even in vanilla numbers, units fit on wall sections when they are in normal size max!
    Bigger units can not find enough room on walls!
    I know that, and am not concerned with that side of the issue. I always use normal scale, for the reasons you say, and I'm not looking for the game itself to have realistic numbers. I just want to know for the purposes of my AARs, so that when I say my troops engaged a force that was so-and-so big, the hard number I use makes sense historically.
    Wood's World of Words | Kilo11's Library


  9. #9

    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    If Huge is 1:10, then Normal is 1:25 scale.
    It began on seven hills - a historical house-ruled Romani AAR
    Heirs to Lysimachos - a semi-historical Epeiros-as-Pergamon AAR
    Philetairos' Gift - a second attempt at an Epeiros-as-Pergamon AAR


  10. #10

    Default Re: Historical Unit Size

    Kylo11 sorry if I wasn't very explicit.

    The submod I was talking about was this one: http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showt...k%26%23972%3Bs
    It was included army compositions for a good number of factions, altought I don't know if Nabatea is included in the submod. With it you could also see what units you could use to represent and historical army. And I was refering to the unit scale set in huge scale (I forgot to mention that). But I use the large scale because my pc is not that good :/
    If you want to read some information about Nabatea you could check this article (beware that it was a lot of text to read): https://www.auac.ch/bns/research/conferences.html

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