15 February 2016

Yu Da You's Du Lun Che (獨輪車) — Part 3

Circling up the wagons
Defensive formation of war wagons is fairly straightforward: war wagons are deployed into a rectangle or circle to form a makeshift fortification. However, owing to its lighter weight, the war carts of Yu Da You (俞大猷) could maintain some mobility even after a defensive circle was formed. This was very crucial to Yu Da You's war cart regiment, as Mongol horsemen were simply too fast and too unpredictable. A mobile defensive circle was a temporary defensive formation that protected the army so that it could relocate to a favourable position and deploy into a proper wagon fort.

Yu Da You drafted the following formations based on a medium sized battlegroup consisted of seven Xiao Ying (小營), or ninety-one war carts.

Yu Da You's War Cart Battalion
Battlegroup on the march: War cart battlegroup formed into a long column, with mounted scouts riding ahead and behind the formation.

Ming Chinese Mobile Wagon Fort
Mobile defensive circle: If the scouts reported enemy sighting and there was no favourable terrain, the war cart battlegroup would deploy into a narrow defensive circle, only two carts wide. Infantry, horsemen and packhorses were placed inside the circle. The formation would then relocate to a more defensible position.

Ming Chinese Cart Fort Tactic
Yan Yue Zhen (偃月陣, lit. 'Crescent formation'): After the battlegroup repositioned to a defensive position, it would redeploy into a semicircle, ready to face its enemy. The formation had three "gates" or entrances that allowed troops inside the wagon fort to counterattack out of the fort. Left and right gates were used exclusively by horsemen for flanking manoeuvre, while the central gate could be used by all troops. Troops were advised against pursuing the enemy too far away from the wagon fort for fear of feint retreat, ambush or enemy reinforcement.

Other blog posts in my Du Lun Che series:
Yu Da You's Du Lun Che (獨輪車) — Part 1
Yu Da You's Du Lun Che (獨輪車) — Part 2
Yu Da You's Du Lun Che (獨輪車) — Part 3
Yu Da You's Du Lun Che (獨輪車) — Part 4
Yu Da You's Du Lun Che (獨輪車) — Part 5

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