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China, a History

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Bee Cha
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2007, 12:02:42 am »

Shang Military

Shang infantry were armed with a variety of stone or bronze weaponry, including mo spears, yu pole-axes, ge pole-based dagger-axes, the compound bow, and bronze or leather helmets (Wang Hongyuan 1993). Their western military frontier was at the Taihang Mountains, where they fought the ma or "horse" barbarians, who might have used chariots. The Shang themselves likely only used chariots as mobile command vehicles or elite symbols. Although the Shang depended upon the military skills of their nobility, the masses of town dwelling and rural commoners provided the Shang rulers with conscript labor as well as military obligation when mobilized for ventures of defense or conquest. The subservient lords of noble lineage and other state rulers were obligated to furnish their locally-kept forces with all the necessary equipment, armor, and armaments, while the Shang king maintained a force of about a thousand troops at his capital, and personally led this force into battle. A rudimentary military bureaucracy was needed in order to muster troops of three to five thousand troops in border campaigns, while it was recorded that up to thirteen thousand troops were mustered in order to suppress uprisings of insolent states to Shang authority.

The army was divided into three sections - left, right, and middle. There were largely two types of army units in these sections, those being the loosely organized infantry that were conscripted from the privileged populace and played a supporting role, while the core of the army was the warrior nobility who rode in chariots. Chariot-based warfare continued as a prime means of conducting battle well into the Warring States (481 BC-221 BC) period, although this was slowly phased out by massive infantry, and then large cavalry-based forces by the 3rd century BC. However, even after the Shang integrated the chariot into their military forces, the nobility were still largely amassed in infantry form, as the chariot was mostly associated with transportation, ceremonies, and large-scale royal hunting expeditions. Chariots in the Shang period generally carried three men, the driver placed at the center, an archer on the left, and a warrior armed with a dagger-ax on the right. It had a rectangular frame, with two large spoked wheels, and was driven by two horses, although some had teams of four horses
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