Tagged: Bashkirs and Tartars
12/04/2020 at 13:05 #134665
I could have posted this on the 18th Century or the Napoleonic Boards too because the figures will work for those periods too. I realised I have a collection of diverse but appropriate looking 15mm figures for Bashkirs and Tartars. Mine will see service in a variety of periods and come together as a Tartar Force for the Great Northern War.
If you would like to see some of what’s bout in 15mm please click the link.
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/12/04/2020 at 13:08 #134666MikeKeymaster12/04/2020 at 14:00 #134669
It wouldn’t bother me too much but Tatars at the time of the GNW are not using bow. They would be armed with pistols & carbines or similar.12/04/2020 at 15:39 #134673
Yes, I read that too. They had access to firearms and pistols could be very handy close up. The thing is long guns were less efficient than bows in the hands of accomplished horse archers.
A world away the Comanche took up the gun and then reverted to the bow. It took the Colt revolver to stop their gallop. Post Colt the Comanche wanted fire arms again but it took a repeater for that to happen.
The Bashkirs were still using bows in Napoleon’s time albeit without good effect. I think they wouldn’t get close enough and maybe they thought it wasn’t really their fight. Anyhow, I’m not convinced that the all of the Tartars abandoned the bow.
I liked the figures too and you know how that is.
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/12/04/2020 at 19:53 #134685
The whole relative effectiveness of bow and firearms is a complicated issue but I think one that was basically answered around 100 years before this time.
The Bashkirs were in almost continuous revolt at this time and barely trusted with anything dangerous when not in revolt. Also I don’t think that they are in the same kind of league as the Tatars. The Tatars were a big power in the area and had only a few years before this era raid far into Russia every year.
I have idea on the Comanche but again I don’t think they are in the same kind of league as the Tatars. They are also, of course, a long way from the area and in a completely different set of circumstances. Any comparison is meaningless.
I am sure that some Tatars would have bows as well. Some people were wandering around Normandy in 1944 with swords, bows and all sorts. Similar the LDF (Dad’s army) were equipped with kitchen knives on broom handles and similar. That doesn’t mean that the standard armament in WW2 wasn’t bolt action rifles, SMG, etc.
As a general rule at this time good troops used firearms. Rubbish troops and troops from isolated areas used bows, until they could get firearms. The Tatars were a large rich power with a good army.12/04/2020 at 22:24 #134693
I don’t think the Comanche example is meaningless. They were the most horsey of the plains people. They got the horse first. They took to guns and then gave them up because of the relative effectiveness of bow and firearms. Guns are great, easy to use, no long training needed and they do a lot of damage armour or not if they hit the target. But, they were slow and cumbersome hence the revision because they were already trained archers.
Bashkirs might not have been in the same political league as the Tartars but they were both steppe peoples who shared a horse and bow culture. Firearms become more popular but they seem to have used them as they would a bow. I cannot recall Tartar cavalry ever using the wall of lead methods of Russian cavalry.
Is there a point where we can say that Tartar lads were no longer trained as horse archers?
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/14/04/2020 at 20:13 #134804
I would be very careful going down the ‘their culture is similar’ route. Even if this was true, which it almost certainly wasn’t, a whole host of other factors are going to make such comparisons meaningless & have frequently led people down wrong paths.
The Tatars were a power at this time, heirs to an even greater state, and the close ally of a ‘superpower’. They were a relatively rich, organised large state and had easy access to firearms, gunpowder, etc. The Bashkirs and Comanches were isolated relatively poor, relatively small groups with little resources and no significant allies. I know what I would look at to explain why the Bashkirs and Comanches (assuming they did) stuck with bows.
I think the Tatars continued to train as mounted skirmishers right the way through but to put a date on when they switched from bows is more difficult. Going by impressions only the light horse of this part of the world started to get reasonable numbers of firearms by circa 1600 and switched by circa 1650. But of course with many exceptions.15/04/2020 at 11:53 #134833
You would be right to be careful because in total their cultural packages could not have been more different. What they shared a horse and bow military/hunting cultural component.
The Comanche were a hugely powerful people. They controlled a massive territory, levied regular tribute from New Mexico and dominated the trade routes. They were by any contemporary standard wealthy. They made treaties with the waxing and waning imperial powers. They could access as many guns as they wanted. For a while they did so and then reverted to the bow for reasons of military efficiency. You needn’t look further for an explanation. With the advent of revolvers and repeaters they wanted guns again. That was because the new guns were better than bows. They got them too. If you are minded to follow up on this I’d suggest T.R Fehrenbach’s Commanches it’s an excellent read.
I’m sure the Tartars had gunsmiths and powder mills as well as access to those products. They were a powerful entity and close to the Sublime Porte more often than not. For that matter should a Bashkir have really wanted a gun I’d be pretty sure he could get one. Some Bashkirs probably did have guns but Napoleon’s soldiers report them as shooting bows.
All the above leads me to think that it is unlikely all trained horse archers using steppe tactics would totally abandon the bow in favour of the type of gun then available.
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/17/04/2020 at 18:23 #134936
They might have, and it is might, had a similar culture in the days when the Tatars were a minor tribe involved in the Mongol invasions 500 years before this. They then spent around 250 years helping to run a major empire before taking full control of their own empire which was around 250 years old around this time. During these times they were living in cities/town, building palaces/mosques and similar. By circa 1700 they were a more or less standard state, in the Ottoman mould rather than a ‘Western’ one. Any ‘horse/hunting culture’ was a distant memory as was being a ‘steppe’ people as we would usually think of it.
With respect to the Comanches and their time/area they were maybe a big fish in a very small isolated and backward pond. I am relying on Wikipedia here which is probably wrong in the details but it is clear from that we are talking a relatively small group who were ‘powerful’ in a very isolated and underdeveloped area but insignificant by any other measure. According to Wiki they peaked in around 1840. In that year the Comanches did their ‘Great Raid’. This was circa 400 warriors fighting against the state of Texas when it was independent. They Comanches killed 41 people, burned a few small towns and stole lots of firearms, one wonders why they did this if they thought they were useless. They were then trashed by circa 200 Texans in from what I can see was the Comanches largest battle, they might have had 1000 people at that but probably a lot less actual warriors.
In contrast, the Tatars were in decline around circa 1700. Up until the end of the war of 1699 they had been doing annual raids on the heartland of major powers like Poland and Russia. In these they often enslaved more people each year than in the whole Comanche nation. They burnt, captured, looted major cities and had the potential to destroy large well organised states. It was only in this kind of era, circa 1680, that they had declined far enough to have dropped out of being a big fish in a big pond. In 1711 the declining field army was said to be 100,000 men but was probably more like 40,000 to 50,000 – i.e. about 1000 times bigger than the Comanches at their peak.
Maybe the Comanche did like bows rather than firearms, I couldn’t find anything on that but then I don’t have particularly good sources. Maybe that was because they thought that bows were better than firearms, although I would want to know more about the reasons why they thought this and the reality of their situation, in the circumstances they found themselves in. But that doesn’t change the fact that the vast majority of light cavalry rejected bows and switched to firearms as soon as they could. The main block on them doing that being availability of the guns themselves, but also gunpowder and other ‘logistic’ factors. This could be rationalised by ‘bows being better’. I would not be surprised if some isolated district of the Tatar area also just fielded say 500 archers, the kind of strength of the Comanche ‘army’ for the same/similar reasons as the reasons Comanches kept bows. That doesn’t mean the other 40,000 plus members of the Tatar field army didn’t favour firearms for whatever reason.
Similarly I would guess you are right that some of the Bashkirs would have firearms and I have no idea what they were armed with in Napoleon’s time. They were, and also reportedly still are, a very persecuted group and heavily subjugated back then at least. They look to have been a lot stronger than the Comanche, they appear to be around 10,000 in 1812, but they were facing a lot stronger opposition & had lost any choice they might have on weapons, etc.17/04/2020 at 22:46 #134939
Ah well, there’s Wiki and scholarship and sometimes they meet. Not on this occasion it seems.
I don’t really have anything else to add to what I’ve said already. Thank you for providing me with the inspiration to write a blog post or two about horsey people and guns. Without our exchange I doubt it would have occurred to me.
http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/18/04/2020 at 16:47 #134983
I look forward to seeing your blog on this.
Yes on Wiki and it would be interesting to know what they got wrong with the Comanche. The problem with them is they often cite good sources, they cite the book you recommended, but you don’t know if they have actually used them.19/04/2020 at 12:16 #135023
Thanks Hwiccee. I’ll credit you with the inspiration.
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