It has some very interesting (and gruesome) reconstructions of battles with English longbowmen - from the point-of-view of the longbowmen.
In the actual battle of Agincourt , ~5,000 archers and ~1,000 men-at-arms took on ~20-30,000 French infantry.
As the ~5,000 archers could fire ~12 arrows a minute, with 72-100 arrows each, the French would have had 360,000-500,000 arrows hit their lines during the battle - 10 to 20 for each Frenchman.
The article talks about the impossibility of shooting 10-12 arrows-per-minute, however it doesn't talk about how the English trained from childhood to fire a longbow - in fact, it was written into law for hundreds of years.
I’m an amateur archer, with a preference for traditional, sightless recurve bows. At my entirely-amateur level, I can put an arrow in the target (though not the bulls eye) at 20 yards without pausing to aim - shooting by muscle memory - at a rate of 4-5 per minute.
It’s pretty difficult for me to imagine someone with a lifetime of practice couldn’t shoot at least twice as fast as I can, with my roughly one year of practice.
They wanted to highlight that the leg bones took on structural differences in ancient times because of the type of physical work they endured. The only modern humans that get these features now are Olympic athletes.
For those not used to the sport, most untrained adult men have issues pulling back 70 lbs more than once. With a little practice this becomes "easy" but there is definitely and learning and strength curve.
I don't disagree though, these archers were farmers first, which builds massive strength, and archers second -- which again, builds massive strength. People today, even hobbyists, aren't training for life and death battles. Even daily training won't compare to being a commissioned soldier.
In an era where I would guess people were stronger anyway due to manual work, they stood out as particularly muscular.
Then again, I’m a sedentary white collar that shoots for an hour a week.
I find it really hard to picture myself in that type of conflict.
Yet, despite being no more clement, and that death is a constant, the idea of my D-Day craft opening up, and being raked with invisible machine gun fire is almost clinical in nature.
Airstrikes and missles are so far removed from medieval battles, it would be fair to say that you can sit in a destroyer with AC and comfortably press a button while thinking what happens at the end of your book tonight before bed. I can imagine that, but not the guilt one may feel if any.
What a difference distance makes.
Imagine being in the middle of an army that is being driven into a more and more compact mass of panicking humanity, knowing that you've lost and are doomed to die, but that death does not arrive for, possibly, the better part of a day! Livy reported of the Romans that, "Some were found with their heads plunged into the earth, which they had excavated; having thus, as it appeared, made pits for themselves, and having suffocated themselves."
I'd take one good charge and death by a storm of arrows over that any day.
Actually, if infantry groups large enough to maintain a front meet hand to hand on flat terrain, and the soldiers are of similar strength, losses should be about 1:1 and proportional to the length of the front because the larger party can’t put more soldiers near the front than the smaller one (if anything, the larger party would be able to give its soldiers more rest)
(If the smaller group gets too small to easily keep up a closed front, this changes; it gets torn apart fast because each defender would be needed almost all the time to prevent the front from breaking, and also would face >1 enemy. Guns, spears, or artillery change things even more, as they allow the larger group to land more blows per enemy head than the smaller group _above_ the proportion of the sizes of the armies)
So, all else being equal, the much larger Roman army should have been able to break that encirclement.
⇒ either things weren’t equal (were the hastily created Roman legions less experienced or less well trained?) or was panicking the important factor?
So now it's 100 vs. 90, each of the fighting legionaries on the circle has to fight the man in front of them, while avoiding a thrust from the extra men along side them. Meanwhile the other 30 wait, listening as their comrades are being slowly killed.
But it never begins as a circle. Instead the solid line of legionaries is outflanked, barbarians rush around them causing panic in the rear lines at both sides. The men at the end of the line are butchered quickly, they can't fight the men in front of them while being attacked from the side.
So masses of romans at the ends of the lines were killed and the survivors on the ends ran back behind the center of the line until they formed a tightly bound ball of men, those buried in the center unable to fight, while the now greater numbers of their opponents are free to attack the outer line from all directions.
For that to happen, the radius of the circle of Romans has to be ¾ of that of the circle of barbarians. With 2 meters distance between their heads, that would make a radius of 6 meters vs 8 meters, and circumferences of 36 and 48 meters, or about half a meter per man. Tight, but yes, at that scale, the outside army has the benefit.
These armies were larger, though. At 900 defenders and the same distance between the lines, there would be 930 attackers. At 9,000 defenders, there would be 9,030.
”barbarians rush around them causing panic”.
Panic is what I put in as an option, and what surprises me. I would hope the Roman army, knowingly marching into enemy lines in a fairly shallow column would be prepared to see enemies appear in their flanks.
What you describe must have happened, but I don’t see how an army that large with such superior numbers would get there, unless its soldiers weren’t as good as those of the enemy in some way by quite some margin. Lack of leadership decreasing soldier resilience? Lack of experience?
Second, the troops weren't identical. Hannibal had very experienced mercenaries with all sorts of different weapons, and his cavalry was far better than the romans.
Third, Varro thought he'd crush the center of Hannibal's line and force the Carthaginians to panic as they fall back into the river by stacking Roman forces far deeper than usual. That shortened their line and made it easier to outflank. And pushing back Hannibals center naturally pushed his forces into an enveloping crescent shape.
Fourth, the Roman infantrymen didn't know what was going on. The wind was in their face, blowing dust. The Carthagian army made enormous noise as it attacked. The roman troops were thirsty and hungry, Varro had drawn up his troops early before they could eat or drink.
Lastly what destroyed the Roman cohesion was the loss of their cavalary. The Numidian cavalry crushed them on one side and barbarian cavalry crushed them on the other. Then the carthagians could wheel and attack the roman infantry from the back and sides, while their cavalry cut off any retreat.
Probably the USAF intel analysts that watch war zones through aerial cameras. They are literally 1000s of miles away but still see the full horrors of war.
As to that button: that’s only true if you are very much the stronger party in a conflict. I think there were quite a few Iraqi soldiers in AC units pressing buttons wondering how soon a missile fired by a Predator drone would hit them.
I would guess that also would make it harder for defenders to dodge incoming arrows. Rationale: if you can see it, one incoming arrow is relatively easy to avoid, ten per square meter almost impossible. Also, the arrows would come in from different directions (the ones fired earliest almost vertically, the last ones fired almost horizontally), making it harder to see all arrows heading for you.
I imagine you wouldn't really enjoy the sight whilst being under it though!
There may be issues with some of the details of the stories. But many of those issues are more about our modern perception of what is being said. Interpreting the "darkening of the sky" as an eclipse like event is a perception problem. Nobody questions would question a contemporary account of German flak in WW2 feeling like a darkening of the sky from the perspective of a bomber crewman.
The end results speak for themselves -- you can correlate the order of battle of the English from multiple areas and the outcome of major engagements and wars are known. If the arrows were less effective than described, the French heavy infantry and cavalry would have been considerably more successful.
And ancient battles often had more than 1000 archers. Thermopylae probably had 5,000 professional archers. That's 25,000+ arrows in the sky, focused on one area. There's no question that it would block out the sun to some degree, but how much?