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The Battlefield After the Battle (acoup.blog)
104 points by apsec112 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments





>will either have been recovered by the victorious army or looted by the local population

This phrasing, with different terms for the army and the local population doing the exact same thing, reminds me of the famous Onion take on Hurricane Katrina:

>NEW ORLEANS—Throughout the Gulf Coast, Caucasian suburbanites attempting to gather food and drink in the shattered wreckage of shopping districts have reported seeing African­Americans "looting snacks and beer from damaged businesses." "I was in the abandoned Wal-Mart gathering an air mattress so I could float out the potato chips, beef jerky, and Budweiser I'd managed to find," said white survivor Lars Wrightson, who had carefully selected foodstuffs whose salt and alcohol content provide protection against contamination. "Then I look up, and I see a whole family of [African-Americans] going straight for the booze. Hell, you could see they had already looted a fortune in diapers." Radio stations still in operation are advising store owners and white people in the affected areas to locate firearms in sporting-goods stores in order to protect themselves against marauding blacks looting gun shops.


> This phrasing, with different terms for the army and the local population doing the exact same thing

The victorious force does own captured movable state-owned equipment and are acting within the law when they take it and are not looting - rule 49 of customary international humanitarian law, which has ancient precedence and is reinforced implicitly in both the Hague Regulations, Geneva Conventions, and pretty much any state's own military laws.

The local population have no such right - that's what makes it looting when they do it.


> movable state-owned equipment

Since when are products in stores or the stores itself property of the state? Or personal property inside and outside houses?


> Since when are products in stores or the stores itself property of the state? Or personal property inside and outside houses?

I don't think they are. Why do you think they would be? The laws of war specifically exclude personal property.

That paragraph in the article is referring to for example 'musket, sabre, bayonet or ammunition pouch' on the battlefield. They're state-owned and aren't personal property. (Well, historically an officer's equipment might be personal purchase but I don't think the law would interpret any fighting equipment as being legitimately a personal effect.)


I don't think that is a list of things they took, IMHO it's a list of notable things missing on the battlefield which should be next to the bodies but aren't. They probably took everything, not just these listed items, and they probably did not loot just these, but also stuff from houses, etc.

I don't really understand what you're trying to say. You're just making a wider point that some people do sometimes loot other things off the battlefield? Yes and that's illegal.

But the examples specifically given in the article from the battlefield aren't looting, and that's why the article doesn't say they're looting. But I won't keep arguing.


I am saying that the list is examples of notable things missing on the battlefield (thus missing weapons are interesting), not a list of things that they took most of the time, or notable things they took. They took everything of value, most of which was personal property, so speculating about the word looting or legality seems weird, because their actions were mostly not legal, not the other way around, and you can't really separate the two.

The Onion article was based on two actual press images whose captions made exactly that distinction: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/hurricane-katrina-looters/

For a few reasons that I won't get into, I grew up around Portuguese bullfights, which are fought on horseback. The bullfighting arenas are empty most of the year, and they actually naturally grow grass in the pit, but they usually clear the grass with tillers before bullfighting season starts. I've seen people ride in grassy pits before, practicing their bullfighting maneuvers, and it is actually pretty amazing how quickly the grass turns to mud. The key thing is the type of maneuvers they do. They start and stop alot, but they also do this thing in the middle of a charge where the horse alters its momentum sideways using its hind legs. After about 20 runs or so, the outer part of the ring is muddied, and after about 50 runs, the inside of the ring is muddied.

Also of note is soccer fields. Note where the most worn areas of the field are: the two areas where the goalies stand. The thing that the goalies do on the grass that the rest of the players do not: they jump, and most often laterally. Again, movements that change direction quite quickly.

I can understand why grass doesn't turn muddy on modern battlefields where guns are the primary weapons. But I wouldn't doubt for a second that a medieval battlefield would be a muddy mess. It may take a long time to get rid of the grass by marching or walking, but try fighting on it with horses while ground forces collectively stampede each other. Those aren't normal movements on the grass...they're going to dig in and uproot grass quite easily. And since guns aren't involved, physical proximity is closer, and therefore the impacts are more localized and intensified.


I'm a bit torn on this. I played a sport in university involving mock sword fights and a lot of running, and we did hurt the grass cover quite a bit - so much that this was one reason to stop playing when it rained, besides it being uncomfortable.

We had no horses, no armor making us heavier and were a small group of maybe 20 people. When there was a tournament with some rain and more use of one field that field suffered a lot, in my recollection.

Though maybe his judgement is still correct if fighting really mainly involves some people in formation repositioning and trading blows on one front line? On a bigger area mostly?

On the other hand, what the author here criticizes is the depiction of battlefields as no man's land. Hard to assume he is not correct there. This total deconstruction of the landscape is not the same as some muddy patches.


Did anyone ever get caught by surprise when training on grass and doing the actual bullfighting on the mud that remained after training and initial fights?

If you're a bullfighter that is at a level for public performance, I would imagine it being a little risky to have conditions changing on you. The people I saw were very entry level and we're riding slower and more deliberately, so they probably never got to a point where they had to worry about it.

I'd just like to throw in that as a wargamer for decades, and military history buff in general, this blog is absolutely worth every post.

The Gondor and Sparta collections that have been posted were both very illuminating and I look forward to browsing more posts for the sheer curiosity.


This historian’s blog is a massively geeky, fascinating time suck. Reminds me of filfre.net, which I also discovered through HN

Unmentioned is the remarkable tendency of defeated but not wounded soldiers, for example after Waterloo, to group into large tight mounds when flight isn't easy. I would guess this would be less likely pregunpowder. There's at least one good book only about what the aftermath of Waterloo was like.

I do like this blog, the series on Sparta was pretty great and was entertaining reading.

What I find a bit distracting though is the author's overuse of parentheses. For example:

> (Obviously, I don’t mean just Flanders, but rather World War One generally, but since I am writing in English, and we are generally thinking about fiction produced in English (if not always by native English speakers), the experience of the BEF in Flanders tends to dominate the memory of the war.)

It seems like every 1 in 3 paragraphs is parenthesised, and it unfortunately disrupts the overall flow of the post.


I kinda like it — reminds me of a class taught by an erudite professor who has to constantly reign himself in from following tangents.

Wasn’t the problem in The Witcher 3 the necrophage infestation that prevented anyone from looting the corpses? That is why you were given the task of clearing them out. I remember spending far too long looting there on my play through.



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