Rivers, Logistics, and Lunar Grand Strategy

From: Peter Mcaveney <pmcaveney_at_usa.net>
Date: 11 Dec 00 16:22:59 EST

I'd be shocked if the Creek and the Stream are navigable through Sartar in anything larger than a kayak.

RW example: I live near the Connecticut River, 100 miles upstream from its mouth. It's medium-sized here and running over fairly flat terrain. Barge traffic on the river has supported an industrial corridor since the late 18th century. During my commute to work I pass three sets of locks. At least one would pose an absolute block to navigation without the locks, which AFAIK are far beyond Lunar technology.

The problems facing navigation get worse as you approach a river's source. With less water volume sandbars and fords can get in your way. As the terrain gets hilly the grade of the river steepens and (most importantly) become irregular, creating rapids and waterfalls. The difficulties will also vary by season; the rivers are probably navigable in water season but impossible in fire season, for instance.

Canonical sources state that the Oslir is navigable as far as Furthest, but that doesn't mean there are not several portages involved to bypass troublesome stretches of the river. The sixty mile portage to get to Alda Chur is three day's journey by foot or horse; a caravan would take a week even with a good road. IMHO that's a big barrier. Remember that most trade in ancient/medieval times was in luxury goods precisely because overland transportation was difficult, expensive, and risky. The Lunar quartermasters will have to unload their boats and carry their supplies several times through wilderness infested with bandits, Broos, Dragonewts, and hostile aborigines. You'll also need to feed the horses and mules, not to mention the troops guarding the caravans.

If you're interested look up the effects of the Nile's cataracts on Egyptian history.

I'd guess that half the Sartar garrison's troops are involved in securing their supply lines. That includes caravan escorts, garrisons of forts at the loading/unloading points and at the supply dumps, and troops helping to secure local supplies through tax collection. It's feasible, but it is also a major burden on the Lunars. A smart Lunar commander would have a year's supplies stockpiled in case of trouble, but that stockpile is finite and vulnerable.

My two cents on the training debate:

Liddell Hart's ideas rule here. The phalanx is the essence of the direct approach, and o/i skirmishers personify the indirect approach. Arguing about which is better in the abstract is pointless; it depends entirely on the commanders and the circumstances of battle. (Oh, and a day a week is a lot of training, esp. for kids who learn faster and more deeply than adults. On the other hand indirect approach troops need more skills than direct approach units. Think Napoleonic cavalry. Think special forces / Spetsnaz units.)

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