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Thread: Battlefield indentification pre-uniform

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    Imam Of The House in Imp. Off. Herbert West's Avatar
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    Battlefield indentification pre-uniform

    How did people differentiate friend from foe in a melee before uniforms and such? Once the battle is joined, and everyone is covered in blood, mud, and sweat (and in cases of civil wars, speaks the same tounge), how do you sort out who to strike at and who not to strike at once the lines break?

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    Second Lieutenant Robmel's Avatar
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    Armies used same color scarfs, bands and other dress items (for example, sewn crosses or other marks) for friend identification. Also infantry usually fought in formation (shieldwall and other - depending on epoch) and melee was orderly and formations were maintained to the critical point, than shown on Hollywood films.

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    Premature anti-fascist Abdul Goatherd's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robmel View Post
    Armies used same color scarfs, bands and other dress items (for example, sewn crosses or other marks) for friend identification.
    And if cloth was unavailable, flowers, leaves, twigs & twine tied to specific shoulders/helmet parts, etc., frequently agreed to with the enemy in pre-battle formalities.

    Of course, these twigs didn't always stay put. So there was slogans/passwords at encounters. Also just plain familiarity did its bit. Armies did they always rush around the entire field. You know your friends by face & accent.
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    Irken Tallest Arilou's Avatar
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    As mentioned, twigs, flowers, and other such identifying marks (including scarves) also battle-cries.
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  5. #5
    Flags, banners, different styles of equipment, war cries, field signs as mentioned such as wearing particular items or colours, distinct colours among medieval retinues. None of this is foolproof, there are recorded instances of troops not recognising allies or enemies coming towards them from an unexpected direction. Although the same thing can be said of uniformed troops, with "blue on blue" being the currently common euphimism for shooting some of your allies.

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    Husky Comrade Chaos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Tim View Post
    Flags, banners, different styles of equipment, war cries, field signs as mentioned such as wearing particular items or colours, distinct colours among medieval retinues. None of this is foolproof, there are recorded instances of troops not recognising allies or enemies coming towards them from an unexpected direction. Although the same thing can be said of uniformed troops, with "blue on blue" being the currently common euphimism for shooting some of your allies.
    What is the name of that hilariously terrible battle with the Austrians fighting the Turks?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade Chaos View Post
    What is the name of that hilariously terrible battle with the Austrians fighting the Turks?
    Karansebes? Not that there were any actual Turks present, of course.

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    Unelmavävy hyder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Tim View Post
    Karansebes? Not that there were any actual Turks present, of course.
    Who were they then? And why was it hilarious?
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    Premature anti-fascist Abdul Goatherd's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by hyder View Post
    Who were they then? And why was it hilarious?
    Austrians fighting each other without realizing it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kar%C3%A1nsebes
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    Unelmavävy hyder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdul Goatherd View Post
    Austrians fighting each other without realizing it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kar%C3%A1nsebes
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    Imam Of The House in Imp. Off. Herbert West's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdul Goatherd View Post
    Austrians fighting each other without realizing it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kar%C3%A1nsebes
    Too bad that battle and that "article" are a hoax.

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    Dutch bike broker Graf Zeppelin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert West View Post
    Too bad that battle and that "article" are a hoax.
    Its not a hoax, its funny and I want it to be true because its awesome so it is real.
    You ask for steak, I bring you fish. You say that you think steak is better than fish. I say that fish is much more popular than steak so obviously it's better. You say that no matter how good the fish is it can't be better at being steak than the actual steak we used to serve. I say that's just your perception and you're entitled to it but you should accept that fish is the future and that's good. You begin to say something but I stab you in the eye with a fork and run into the kitchen.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Abdul Goatherd View Post
    And if cloth was unavailable, flowers, leaves, twigs & twine tied to specific shoulders/helmet parts, etc., frequently agreed to with the enemy in pre-battle formalities.

    Of course, these twigs didn't always stay put. So there was slogans/passwords at encounters. Also just plain familiarity did its bit. Armies did they always rush around the entire field. You know your friends by face & accent.
    Just to expand a bit, for example how according to legend Davy Sant (St David, patron of the Welsh) told the Cymru to stick a leek in their hats as a battlefield identifier. Very useful, and could be used in a tasty snack after victory too. And it's why we get the English rose, the Scotish thistle, the Irish shamrock, and... the Welsh leek.

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