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war wagon fort (mobile defense)

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One of the earliest examples of using conjoined wagons as fortification is described in the Chinese historical record Book of Han. During the 119 BC Battle of Mobei of the Han–Xiongnu War, the famous Han general Wei Qing used armored wagons known as "Wu Gang Wagon" (武剛車) in ring formations to neutralise the Xiongnu's cavalry charges, before launching a counteroffensive which overran the nomads.[11]


Ammianus Marcellinus, a Roman army officer and historian of the 4th century, describes a Roman army approaching "ad carraginem" as they approach a Gothic camp.[2] Historians interpret this as a wagon-fort



Political: The Han dynasty originally had thought to essentially re-establish the Zhou dynasty system, aka distributing fiefdoms with the central fief being the largest, but over the first 3 generaiton that course completely failed as all the fiefs eventually got into war with the central court again and again, cultimating the the rebellion of the 7 states in the time of Han Jin Di (the father of Han Wudi)

Meanwhile, during the late Warring States period to the Early Han era, the massive infighting along with the rising power of the Xiong Nu saw them taking over the Hetao region which had been previously explored by the Zhao kingdom. the war there went back and forth as Qin Shi Huang managed to take them back but it was lost again in the wake of the Qin collapse, and Liu Bang's attempt to take it back ended up in failure.

So essentially, the Han had reformed itself into a true centralized state by the Time of Han Wudi, while the border zone between the nomads and settled people were in the hands of the Nomads at this point.

Social: The early Han emperors (and most fiefs as well) generally went for the so called "Huang Lao" (Daoist) Policies, aka try to keep low taxes and generally avoid civil projects (thus calling on civilian man power) as much as possible. essentially giving people rest and let the society rebuild itself. This was largely succesful and the general population / economy recovered from the disastorous wars starting from the late warring states to the end of the Chu / Han conflict.

Meanwhile though, the Han at this stage still did posses one trait of the Warring States, it's military system, which was the full conscription system, not unlike those of today, men must serve at least 3 years sometime before their mid 20s, (usually at least 1 year at the capital), and then be reactivated again if there's war, so that meant the Han had a very large pool of soldier that are not yet too far removed from being use to war. (the last major war was just 20 some years before the war against the Xiong Nu)

Military Tactics: Primarily, the Han tactics was what could be described as a carrier group on land, due to the logistical problem of fighting in the Steppes, the army had to bring along a very large convoy of supplies, what they did essentially was to carry the supplies in large heavy wagons, and when encountering the Xiong Nu the infantry would form up the wagons into a circle chain, turning it into a mobile fort. while their cavalry host fought mostly in the same matter as the Xiong Nu, aka horse archery. Using the wagon fort as cover / base for their operation. The Infantry to Cavalry ratio was roughly 2:1, though most of the fighting was primarily done by the Cavalry.

It should be said though, that the XiongNu war was in reality more of a mixed bag than a pure victory, or rather it could be called what Chinese would say "adding a leg to the drawn snake"

Phase 1:133-126 B.C, the objective was clear, to take back the Hetao region (the Northern Bend in the middle portions of the Yellow River). they had largely achieved this by 127/126 B.C,

Phase 2 123-119 B.C: at this point the objective became blurred, as the Han seem to wanted to give "a decisive strike" on the Xiong Nu but with no real other strategic objective in mind (since they alread retook the primary border region, all that's left are the nomadic pastrol lands which they can't hold.) And it became mostly just about trying to kill as many Xiong Nu as possible. not exactly a brilliant plan. Though by 119 B.C they had largely achieved their goal.. in the span of 5 years they killed / captured something like 200 thousand Xiong Nu. (but the price was heavy too)

Phase 3 104-90 B.C: if phase 2 was already quesitonable, phase 3 became all out ridiculas, as huge expedition were send with no real objective in mind, and many ended up in disastor, by this point it seem to have become a simple glory fest where the later few war was simply started for no reason other then a few particularly general wanted to gain fame and glory . The Social / Political / Economic state of the Wudi era had really begun to decline badly by then, and the military result more or less reflected this, this phase basically started with an disastor in 104 B.C where the Han tried to actively manipulate politics in the Steppes by sending an expedition to help decide a succession conflict, only to have the whole army destroyed (and the guy they support losing) and ended in another major disastor where Li Guang Li, the brother-in-law of the Emperor (and the glory seeker that started most of the late war) surrended to the Xiong Nu.

So the Han essentially achieved their real strategic goal almost right off the bat, but spent the next 3 decade on a wild goose chases that ended up doing little except putting a huge strain on the economy and society.


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