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Hypothetical - Ancient Rome vs Han China

Yaoudelizard

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The first and second pictures show the Han Dynasty city walls in Xi'an.

The third picture is the Great Wall. The Han Dynasty was one of the main construction periods of the Great Wall.
Really, they lasted 2000 years in such good condition. That’s better than I thought. Correct me if I’m wrong, the Great Wall picture looks like a Ming section.
 

MH.Yang

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This is reasonable scenario? Dude?

1. Was it even possible to field and utilize 850,000 troops for one battle? What about cost-related considerations and logistics requirements of an army this big?
2. How many commanders in either camp?
3. What is the location of the battle? What are the geographical features of the location?
4. What is the Roman strategy for the battle?

Your scenario is too bland for the Roman camp and too ambitious for the Chinese camp to be taken at face value for one battle.

- - - - -

The closest real-life example of HOW a battle turned out between a LARGE [and competent] Roman side and a LARGE [and competent] Chinese-origin side is apparent in the Battle of Catalunian Plains that was fought in 451 AD in Gaul:


- Atilla utilized his Light Mobile Forces (LMF) to break the Roman Center and forced it to retreat.
- Atilla then utilized his LMF to bombard Roman Infantry Units (RIU) on the Roman Left (and also on the Roman Right) with arrows. But RIU on either side withstood volley after volley of arrows unleashed upon them by virtue of creating "tortoise formations." While this happened, Roman Auxiliary Units (RAU) stationed behind the RIU were able to inflict heavy losses on LMF of Atilla and forced them to retreat.
- Atilla then ordered his Heavy Cavalry Units (HCU) to charge towards RIU on the Roman Left (and also on the Roman Right) in an effort to break their "tortoise formations" but RIU held their ground. Atilla then moved to FLANK the Roman Right with his regrouped LMF. Romans lost a notable commander in this fight and Atilla felt that victory was within reach at this stage.
- Aetius had managed to recover the forces that composed of the Roman Center and charged towards the position of Atilla.
- The Roman Reserve that was in hiding in a geographical formation nearby descended from there and joined the Roman Right by FLANKING Atilla's forces that were locked in combat on this side, and made it possible to rout them. This was a decisive blow to Atilla's forces and he decided to RETREAT from the battlefield and forefeit his campaign in Gaul by extension.

Both camps suffered heavy losses in this battle but Romans prevailed by virtue of superior tactics. Aetius was the finest Roman commander and tactician of his time - he studied Chinese methods of warfare due to political situation of his time and used this knowledge to his advantage in the Battle of Catalunian Plains.

While Atilla was in the position to DICTATE where the battle would be fought to make sure that his LMF will not be hampered in the location of his choice, Aetius also studied the environment and created a reserve force to be brought to action when absolutely necessary (the element of Surprise calculus).

- - - - -

I am NOT doubting the Han Dynasty's capacity to fight a war with another great Empire but pointing out various factors that are likely to be involved in shaping the course of the war, and I would expect the war to last several years with multiple battles in the mix. You should study Punic Wars for perspective.

Roman military strength also varied across times.
Roman military strength was at its peak at 645,000 troops in the time of Constantine the Great.
At the peak of the Han Dynasty (A.D. 157), the government's registered residence clearly recorded a population of more than 60 million. There are 680k guard-corps&border-corps (professional soldiers), including 160k cavalry. The local corps (non professional soldiers) are about 1.3 million.

In the history of China, there are many wars in which the number of soldiers involved exceeds 1 million.

Battle of Changping
262-260 BC. About 1 million soldiers participated in the war.


Battle of Fei River

AD 383. About 1.05 million soldiers participated in the war.



Goguryeo–Sui War

598-614 BC. About 1.3 million soldiers participated in the war.




BTW:
The proportion of professional infantry in Han Dynasty armed with armor exceeded 80%. The percentage of cavalry equipped with armor is about 8%. The proportion of non professional infantry equipped with armor is about 33%.


Han Dynasty armor:


Really, they lasted 2000 years in such good condition. That’s better than I thought. Correct me if I’m wrong, the Great Wall picture looks like a Ming section.
 

retaxis

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Why do you think the Roman's didn't have their own cavalry???

Just like a tank some places work well for them while others don't work out well.

In places where horses worked well they used them..in other places they used dismounted men.

It looks alot more cool in a movie to have men use shield formations than scury around like cowboys on horses.

It's not like they didn't have horses....they did have chariots after all.
China had 15-20x the amount of cavalry compared to the Romans. They had the recurve bow which is far superior to the Romans and had the saddle which allowed you to fight 10x better on horse back and shoot arrows while galloping around. Chinese cavalry were around 1000years ahead of Roman cavalry and routinely called upon 150k+ cavalry to fight the xiongnu wars. Its not even worth comparing in any logical sense.
 

Hamartia Antidote

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and had the saddle which allowed you to fight 10x better on horse back

Why do you think the Romans didn't have saddles?

2634.jpg.webp


Roman_horse_harness_and_saddle.png




I think you mean they didn't have "stirrups".
220px-Uhlans8SK581.JPG
 
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MH.Yang

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Why do you think the Roman's didn't have their own cavalry???

Just like a tank some places work well for them while others don't work out well.

In places where horses worked well they used them..in other places they used dismounted men.

It looks alot more cool in a movie to have men use shield formations than scury around like cowboys on horses.

It's not like they didn't have horses....they did have chariots after all.
Although the Roman Empire had cavalry, their combat effectiveness was negligible.

The number of Roman cavalry was too small. The number of cavalry in the Han Dynasty was more than ten times that of the Roman Empire.

Moreover, the Roman cavalry lacked saddles. Because there is no saddle, their weapons are usually one handed short spear or bronze short sword (the forging ability of the Roman Empire is backward, and the quality of the bronze short sword with a length of no more than 55cm can only be guaranteed) and a wooden shield. In battle, they cannot use bows and arrows, and their legs need to clamp the horses, and their hands with shields need to hold the reins. So the Roman cavalry in the early and middle periods usually dismounted. It was not until the late period when the Roman cavalry met the Huns that they began to learn how to ride horses and shoot arrows.

The cavalry of the Han Dynasty has always been the most powerful force in East Asia. They can use both legs to control the horse through the saddle, and both hands can use weapons. Generally, cavalry in the Han Dynasty used two handed spears, steel sabres and bent bows (infantry in the Han Dynasty usually used foot heavy crossbows or repeatedly-fired-crossbows ).

Han Dynasty steel sabre.

IMG_20221124_125601.jpg


Heavy crossbow in Han Dynasty.

IMG_20221124_125618.jpg


The Han Dynasty repeatedly-fired-crossbows:

IMG_20221124_125610.jpg


 

MH.Yang

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Why do you think the Romans didn't have saddles?

2634.jpg.webp


Roman_horse_harness_and_saddle.png




I think you mean they didn't have "stirrups".
220px-Uhlans8SK581.JPG


This is the quadrangle saddle. Use this saddle, it is impossible to control the horse with both legs, and then use both hands to fight and shoot arrows.

This is the real saddle. It must have two stirrups and two convex parts at the front and back.

IMG_20221124_130643.jpg




The Han Dynasty emperor also had one 5k heavy cavalry corps. These cavalry can directly tear apart any Roman infantry regiment that uses a dagger.

IMG_20221124_130946.jpg


Cavalry vs Infantry:
When the infantry gather, the cavalry use their excellent mobility to circle and shoot with bows and arrows. Once the infantry commander cannot tolerate casualties, disperse the infantry. Cavalry will use spears to assault and destroy the psychological defense of infantry. As soon as the infantry began to flee, the slaughter began.




BTW: Even the four corner saddle was only used by cavalry of the late Roman Empire. They learned to use saddles from the Huns. But the Huns also had no real saddle. Although the Huns had seen the saddles of cavalry in the Han Dynasty, they lacked sufficient financial resources to make real saddles.
 
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MH.Yang

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China had 15-20x the amount of cavalry compared to the Romans. They had the recurve bow which is far superior to the Romans and had the saddle which allowed you to fight 10x better on horse back and shoot arrows while galloping around. Chinese cavalry were around 1000years ahead of Roman cavalry and routinely called upon 150k+ cavalry to fight the xiongnu wars. Its not even worth comparing in any logical sense.
The soldiers of the Roman Empire needed to prepare their own weapons and horses. This resulted in very few cavalry in the Roman Empire.

Chinese emperors was set up "太仆寺" to raise horses on a large scale. There are usually hundreds of thousands or even millions of horses in the Chinese government's horse farm.

The different systems of the two countries determine that there was be a huge gap in the number of cavalry.


Similarly, because the two countries paid different attention to cavalry, the Roman Empire never invented real cavalry equipment such as saddle, cavalry knife, spear and horse armor. This also led them to be taught a lesson by the Hun cavalry.
 

MH.Yang

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It looks alot more cool in a movie to have men use shield formations than scury around like cowboys on horses.

Is the shield array of the Roman Empire cool?

Come on, that's kindergarten level tactics. It can only be used to kill uncivilized barbarians.


In 225 BC(When the Roman Empire and the Celts fought the battle of Telamon. The Han Dynasty was born in 202 BC), the war between Qin and Chu.
In this war, the state of Qin dispatched 600k soldiers, including 270k front-line soldiers wearing armor. The state of Chu dispatched 550k soldiers, including 200k front-line soldiers wearing armor. More than 300k front-line soldiers are fighting on the main battlefield of Ying Chen.


This film scene completely copies the tactics and armor weapons of both sides in Ying Chen's main battlefield at that time. You can think about what the shield corps of the Roman Empire can do in such a battlefield:

 

Hamartia Antidote

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This is the quadrangle saddle. Use this saddle, it is impossible to control the horse with both legs, and then use both hands to fight and shoot arrows.

This is the real saddle. It must have two stirrups and two convex parts at the front and back.

View attachment 899962



The Han Dynasty emperor also had one 5k heavy cavalry corps. These cavalry can directly tear apart any Roman infantry regiment that uses a dagger.

View attachment 899963

Cavalry vs Infantry:




BTW: Even the four corner saddle was only used by cavalry of the late Roman Empire. They learned to use saddles from the Huns. But the Huns also had no real saddle. Although the Huns had seen the saddles of cavalry in the Han Dynasty, they lacked sufficient financial resources to make real saddles.

I don't think the Romans had stirrups but they must have had something to hold them down as I have ridden horses a few times (including big Clydesdales) and it is simply impossible to stay on a horse when it is galluping cross country unless you are firmly in the saddle. Even with your feet firmly in stirrups you are under a lot of force.

You can see something on Roman coins
Quintus_labienus.jpg
 
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MH.Yang

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I don't think the Romans had stirrups but they must have had something to hold them down as I have ridden horses a few times (including big Clydesdales) and it is simply impossible to stay on a horse when it is galluping cross country unless you are firmly in the saddle. Even with your feet firmly in stirrups you are under a lot of force.
Do you know why the Han Dynasty emperor had hundreds of thousands or even more than a million horses, but at the peak there were only 160000 cavalry?

Because the horses used by the army are castrated male horses.

This is also the reason why the cavalry of the Roman Empire was very weak. The horses of the Roman cavalry were private property, and they were reluctant to castrate the male horses.

Only nomads or countries like China where the government raises horses on a large scale can have real war horses.

BTW: I guess your horse is not a castrated horse.
You can see from the video I sent that there are actors on horseback shooting arrows. They are just actors, not professional cavalry. If the actor can shoot arrows on the horse through the saddle, then the professional soldier can also.
 

Mystic League

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Its interesting because both were at their peak power at roughly the same few hundred years. So who would have won a war if the country were closer together and could fight against one another? Of course we will never know because Rome hasn't existed in a long time but we can still imagine.

1. Land area was about equal at their height around 2000 years ago.
2. Population was about equal at 65million as well. However Rome had tens of millions of slaves who often rebelled e.g. spartacus rebellions so that has to be taken into consideration too.
3. Both were military mights of their time and conquered their neighbours. China conquered the far east and the mongol-xiongnu people as well as subdued the vietnam etc. Rome conquered much of Europe.
4. Both were very good at siege warfare and had advanced weapons for their time
5. China relied more on horse archers/cavalary especially fighting against the proto-turk/xiongnu/mongols etc while rome was more infantry.
6. Both had the strongest militaries of their era in their side of the world
7. Economy was equal as well from what I have read.
8. Both had a history of civil wars in terms of civilisations so they fought against their own people in walled cities as well adding adaptation to combat experience

So who do you think would have had the upper hand?

Edit: As discussed in thread the following was reviewed
China had:
1. Superior recurve bows which can shoot further and penetrate shields and armour
2. Saddles on horses which allowed Chinese to fight much better on horse back and shoot arrows while galloping
3. Crossbows and repeating crossbows which Europe didn't have for another 1000years
4. Greater mobility and far number of horses and horsemen
5. Collosal city walls over 10metres in height and over 6 metres thick of solid stone. Compared to thin wooden 10foot roman walls. Much better siege defence.
6. Unified ethnic group without a massive slave population who often rebels e.g. serville wars etc
Hun is Mongol not China. China likes to steal others glory. Pakistan needs to stand on it's own strength not on China's stolen strength.
 

MH.Yang

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Hun is Mongol not China. China likes to steal others glory. Pakistan needs to stand on it's own strength not on China's stolen strength.
The Huns are certainly not Chinese.

But do you know why the Huns left the rich East Asian prairie, crossed the desert and icebergs full of death, moved 8000 kilometers, and then went to Europe to fight with the Roman Empire?



Don't worry, the Han people will never agree that the Huns are Chinese. Because the Huns are only slaves ruled by us.

Plagiarism of slave honor? Don't make us laugh.
 

Hamartia Antidote

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Because the horses used by the army are castrated male horses.

Again why do you think the Romans didn't castrate their horses or that army horses were privately owned..so many assumptions made in this thread.

Horse gelding (and pretty much all other male animals not used for breeding) was common in Greek/Roman times because a bunch of male animals near each other would get into fights. This was simply an un-needed distraction and castration was found to solve it.

Also female horses were simply not used in most armies because they too can be tempermental during reproductive cycles and since castration isn't an option they were avoided.
 
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MH.Yang

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Again why do you think the Romans didn't castrate their horses or that army horses were privately owned..so many assumptions made in this thread.

Horse gelding (and pretty much all other male animals not used for breeding) was common in Greek/Roman times because a bunch of male animals near each other would get into fights. This was simply an un-needed distraction and castration was found to solve it.

Also female horses were simply not used in most armies because they too can be tempermental during reproductive cycles and since castration isn't an option they were avoided.
Before Camillus came to power, the soldiers of the Roman Empire even needed to prepare their own weapons and armor.

The rich citizens of the Roman Empire provided their own horses to serve as cavalry. Those who could buy armor would serve as heavy infantry. The poorest citizens could only serve as light infantry.

Even after Camillus came to power, the Roman Empire still required cavalry to prepare their own horses.


IMG_20221124_223752.jpg
 

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