The story below is purely fictional. Parts of it are inspired by the work of fiction writers while others are from historians. The time frame will be late Middle Ages- Renaissance period. As I am bad with names, I used some real world examples. I hope this will be an enjoyable read to all.
The smell of spent gunpowder lingers across the battered beach. The shelling had finally stopped. It was the government’s last attempt to weaken the resistance just before the landing began. Ever since the control of the seas were lost to the government, separatist forces, led by Don Juanz of Toledo, has based his army here, in the last ditch attempt to prevent the government troops from making a beachhead on the West. Don Juanz had ordered a makeshift line of defenses to be built along the coast. Trenches, five foot deep, were dug to withstand most bombardment from the primitive artillery of the age. Ramps were also built to facilitate the movement of horses such that aggressive counterattack operations could be made. Now six thousand soldiers were hiding inside these trenches. Funded and equipped by the Free Merchant Guild, slight more than half of them were veterans, having served previously either under the government or as mercenaries. The rest were levies, lacking experience but brave nonetheless. Based on the sheer number of ships present at the coast, the men knew that they were outnumbered. Gigantic war galleons containing hundreds of men each cruise slowly towards the coast. The government troops were expected to attack in waves, as this was their usual practice, tiring the defenders before the killing blow came. Not only were numbers lacking for the separatists, they also have far less resources. The missile troops did not have much ammunition and they had to conserve what they have and made every shot count. Despite these overwhelming odds, the men knew they still have to fight. They waited patiently; knowing that soon the enemy will be upon them and the dance of death will began.
The battle began with a hail of missile weapons from the enemy. The first wave consists mainly of skirmishers, recruited from the heartlands on Anatolia, backed by regiments of levy spearmen barely more than militia. As the separatists were hiding behind the trenches, the skirmishers have to get very close before hurling their javelins and firing their arrows. Despite the short distance, Don Juanz had ordered his forces to hold back and take cover; missile troops were to hold fire. Don Juanz knew that this is the prelude before the storm and it’s not a time to make a rash move. However, despite being well armored and under covered, there are still a couple of men that died to a lucky shot from an arrow or a javelin.
Infuriated, Duke Bela, already an impatient man, approach his commander in chief, “My Lord, please let me go. Give me some knights and we will drive these irritating fools back just a detachment will do.”
Aware that the skirmishers were simply a delaying tactic for the enemy to fully deploy their forces, Don Juanz gave his consent and swiftly Duke Bela ride out with the Knights of Samatovia. Swiftly, they bear upon the enemy who quickly fled. Many were cut down but some manage to make their way to the spear formations. Duke Bela encouraged his men, “ Do not fear these levies, come with me and we will make them flee like the others. Charge!” With a great shout, the knights charge towards the spear formations. Just at the last hundred paces, the spears broke formation and ran. “Victory” thought Duke Bela. His short moment of triumph soon gave way to disappointment for fleeing of the spears only revealed a line of hand gunners crouching on the ground. Duke Bela knew that he is done for. A single volley was all it took and the flower of the Samatovian chivalry was gone. The immediate threat eliminated, the gunners together with the skirmishers march forward and continue their barrage on the separatist line.
Don Juanz knew that this cannot go on and they had to counterattack en masse. An order was given and the entire separatist army left the trenches and surge forward. This time the enemy missiles troops tried to put up some form of resistance before pulling and leaving the job to the levy spearmen. The two forces soon clashed, the untrained spears of the government forces were no match for men-at arms of the separatist armed with steel swords, pikes and halberds. Don Juanz had also wisely forbid his knights to charge head-on against the spear formations, that is the duty of the men-at-arms. Their duty is simply to run down enemy fleeing troops and if the situation demands, flank charges. The government military leaders were not idle at this point, they tried to counter Don Juanz’s counterattack by sending in regular government troops into the fray. These men were armed with broadswords and large shields, well trained, the bread and butter infantry of the government use their shields to knock their rivals off balance before slashing with their swords. There was great bloodshed and the two forces were well matched. The masses men of the government forces versus the individual skill of the separatist. In the midst of the fighting, Don Juan noticed that the government forces were gradually peeling away, could their morale be breaking? His queries were soon answer when the sound of the bungle was heard on the government’s side. It was the signal to retreat. The regular swordsmen disengage themselves with the separatist in hot pursue. There was scatter cheering between the separatist and they race down the beach.
All the cheerful stopped when the separatist saw the next wave before them. It was the elite infantry forces of the government supplement by mercenaries who refused to fight alongside the separatist. Apparently, all the maneuvers earlier were done to buy time for these strong troops. For they were deployed in alternating companies of swordsmen and pikemen. It was the sword and shield formation, Don Juanz noted, the pikes proceed to pin the enemy in place, as formations become disorderly due to protracted combat, the swordsmen will move in where their fighting skills will turn the tide decisively. Don Juanz knew that although morale was high, his troops were getting tired. There is only a single way out now.
“Knights dismount and join the infantry. Crossbowmen, archers and gunners, FIRE!”
As the knights dismounted and dismiss their warhorses, the unrestrained missile troops finally bring their arms to bear on the enemy. Don Juan hope that the missiles will even the odds before combat takes place. The knights on foot will serve to hold the men in place and keep morale high. This is the climax now.
Despite the rain of death on the government forces, they were still in high spirits and swiftly the government’s crack troops crash into the ranks of the separatists. Having the knights on foot seems to be a wise decision given that the two forces were evenly match. Whenever a contingent was tiring itself out, Don Juanz will order its withdrawal and missile troops to fire into the enemy formations. Fresher troops will then be led into the fray while the formerly engaged contingents rest. This process of alternating between companies allowed the separatist to hold out longer than expected. At times, the battle seems to be on the favor of the government forces but sometimes the separatist will prevail instead. The tide of the battle swing to and fro for hours before the bungle for withdrawal was heard from the government side again! However this was not a rout and and the government troops disengage, the separatist do not dare to pursue clinging on to their weapons tightly and half expecting even more fresh enemy to appear.
They waited for a moment, but no one came to fight. Soon there was cheering, perhaps victory was theirs! Many had fallen and every single survivor suffered wounds, they had prevailed but barely. It was then did Don Juanz hear the sound of the firing of handguns. Apparently the enemy had not given up yet, making use of the fact that the separatist forces were standing in the open in the beaches, the government officers were preparing to pound separatist into submission.
“Quick take cover, back to the trenches.”
Realizing than the battle wasn’t theirs yet, the separatists made a wild run back to the safety of the trenches. The knights, having sent their mounts away had to discard pieces of their equipment to retreat quickly.
As the separatist made their way to safety, Don Juan noticed that the sound of gun shots were replaced by a familiar sound, something very familiar yet slipped on his mind due to the fatigue of battle. Subconsciously, the commander looked back. Don Juanz cursed himself for making such a big mistake. He should have known, having served as a soldier for so long. For the familiar sound was no other than the trotting of horses. Knights.
A battle is like a fistfight, missile troops serves as the jab, to disorient the enemy and lower his confidence, melee infantry are the fists, to batter and weaken the enemy. The cavalry delivers the killing blow, wiping the enemy from the field and eliminating all resistance.
Mahmud Shah smiled as he remembered his sovereign’s teachings. The separatists were fleeing before him. It was a masterstroke; the enemy had totally lost their will to fight upon seeing his knights. Leading the various orders of knights, Mahmud delivers the killing blow. Not all the knights were equipped the same way. Some held lances to break into formations of swordsmen while others had longswords to chase down fleeing men as well as continuing a prolong fight if the lancers face stiff resistance. Some separatist pikemen kept their head and were regrouping to form phalanxes; these were met by horsemen armed with missile weapons such as javelins and bows. They simply keep on peppering the foes with missiles until the latter finally lose their nerves and ran only to be run down. In addition, special teams rode all the way to the trenches and blew them up with demolition charges brought for this very purpose. It’s a massacre.
Mahmud finally spotted his target, Don Juanz, his former colleague now turned traitor. The Emperor had special plans for Don Juanz and Mahmud proceed to seize the latter alive.
Don Juanz knew its over now. He had failed to deliver his people to freedom. Waving his sword high up into the air he issued a challenge, “Mahmud, I challenge you to personal combat.”
“Only fools will risk a defeat when victory is within sight,” came the reply. Calmly Mahmud retrieve a pistol from his belt and shoot Don Juanz in the thigh.
“Coward! You have no honor, you call yourself a knight?” were Don Juanz’s words as he collapse helplessly on the blood-soaked sand.
Mahmud sneered, “I have honor alright just that its difference to yours. My honor requires me to serve my sovereign in the best ways possible. I do not fight meaningless personal combat nor do I lead an army to rebellion. Men! Tie this traitor and bring him to face judgment from the Emperor.
I truly enjoy writing this piece. Fiction based on our world gives me far greater flexibility compared to those of the fantasy genre. Perhaps its because every fantasy race has its unique characteristics and I have to oblige to these. Here I do not have to do so as they all are humans and can be anyway I wanted them to be. Once again I hope readers will enjoy the story as much as I had in writing it.