I may have a mild to giant obsession with Native Mongolian cultures. Years ago, it started with my fascination for wolves which eventually led me to the country of wolf totems. Then there was of course Chinggis Khan to read about while I was at it. The analphabet who took over Asia after reuniting Mongolian tribes. How the heck is that not interesting enough to research more.
In school they just teach you there was this guy who took over this and that, during this year and that year, with an army of so and so many men. Exam, grades, goobye, next topic. They don't tell you the juicy stuff unless you go out and read the right books yourself. I'm here to break that spell of school programming.
I learned that Chinggis Khan (real name "Temujin", Chinggis Khan is more like a title) copied some of strategies and survival skills from wolves actually, as did most of Mongolians to survive in their harsh environment. There were laws about respecting each other and being a good host. And death penalties for things like running away from a fight, betraying your Khan, leaving a wounded soldier on the field, or stealing from your own people unless you paid them back nine-fold. And you weren't allowed to eat something in someone's presence without offering to share your food with them first.
HOW COOL ARE THESE GUYS.
There's a lot more to know but I'll just share the 15 Military Tactics of Chinggis Khan for now.
From the book "CHINGGIS KHAN - The golden History of Mongols" translated by Urgune Onon, revised by Sue Bradbury:
The 15 Military Tactics of Chinggis Khan
1. Crow Soldiers and Scattered Stars Tactics (also known as Ocean Waves Tactics)
When they faced the enemy, the army would split into small groups consisting of three to five soldiers to avoid being surrounded. Chinggis ordered that when the enemy scattered the Mongols should also scatter, and when the enemy regrouped they should also regroup. They were to appear suddenly, like something dropping from the sky, and disappear like lightning. The attack would be signalled by a shout or the crack of a whip. One hundred cavalrymen could surround a thousand enemy soldiers and a thousand cavalrymen could control a front thirdy-three miles long in order to attack the enemy at the right place and the right moment.
2. The Cavalrymen Charge Tactics (also known as Chisel Attack Tactics)
A group of cavalrymen would make a direct charge into the enemy line; if the first charge failed, a second and even a third group were to attack. No matter how great the opposition, even if they numbered a hundred thousand, they could not withstand the charges. Finally, in response to a signal, the Mongol cavalrymen would charge from all directions into the enemy lines in order to destroy their formation.
3. Archers' Tactics
The archers, armed with shields, dismounted from their geldings, and shot at the enemy, sometimes using the geldings as ramparts behind which to shelter. Other archers shot from horseback, the horses being trained to stop dead in mid-gallop to allow the archer to take aim. Once the enemy came under fire, their lines would be broken and they would scatter in disorder. At that point the cavalrymen would attack the enemy lines.
4. Throw-Into-Disorder Tactics
If the enemy was strong in the battlefield or was sheltering in a fort, so that there was no way to win, the Mongols would herd oxen and wild horses into the enemy lines to cause confusion. These stampede tactics always worked.
5. Wearing-Down Tactics
When the enemy stood in a defensive position with spears planted in rows, thus preventing a cavalry charge into the line, the Mongols would withdraw their main forces, leaving only a few small detachments to harass the enemy by shooting arrows into the spear-held line. Due to lack of food, water and rest, the enemy would eventually have to move. Once the weary forces were on the march, the Mongol army would launch a surprise attack.
6. Confuse And Intimidate Tactics
In 1204, Chinggis Khan ordered his soldiers to set up camp, spreading out over the Sa'ari steppe (in western Mongolia). Every able-bodied man lit five fires some distance apart, which scared the Naiman people and enabled Chinggis Khan to defeat them.
When the Mongols encountered numerically superior forces, they often sent troops to stir up dust behind their own lines by means of branches tied to the tails of their horses. On seeing this, the enemy sometimes believed that larged reinforcements were at hand and fled.
The Mongols also placed stuffed dummies, small Mongol children and females, on the spare horses to suggest that the army was much bigger than it was. This trick was used by the Mongol general Shigi-qutuqu in 1221 when he engaged Jaladin at Biruan between Kabul and Ghazna.
7. Lure-Into-An-Ambush Tactics
As soon as battle started, the Mongol soldiers would make a feigned retreat. They deliberately threw away gold and silver and other impedimenta. Such tactics were used sparingly- for example, if they could not break into heavily fortified cities or through a strong pass. In 1211, when the Mongols first attacked the Jin territory in north China, Chinggis Khan sent Jebe and Guyigu Nek as vanguards to attack the famous Chabchiyal pass. The Mongols could not break through this pass because it backed onto mountain cliffs and was strongly fortified. Instead they decided to lure the enemy out by slowly retreating. The Jin army thought that the Mongols had given up, so they chased after them, and were surprised, after riding a certain distance, to see the retreating Mongol soldiers suddenly turn to counter-attack. At that moment, the main ambush slaughtered the enemy until their bodies piled up as far as Chibchyal like rotten logs. Jebe stormed the gate of Chichayal, and took the pass.
In May 1222, the two Mongol generals, Jebe and Sube'etei, and 20'000 Mongol cavalrymen pursued the fleeing Kypchaks (or Cumans) from the west side of the Caspian Sea towards the north-west, to Kiev. The Mongols met the joint forces of the Russians and the Cumans, 30'000 men, on the eastern bank of the Dnieper river. Some say that Sube'etei, with only 2'000 Mongol cavalry, lured the -russiasns and Cumans for nine days towards the little Kalka river which flows into the Sea of Azov, where the main Mondol cavalrymen numbering 20'000 were waiting. Under the direction of Jebe and Sube'etei, the Mongols attacked the enemy at the end of May and destroyed most of their forces.
8. Arc Formation Tactics
The Mongols would send out two detachments in a wide curve, as in the tips of a bow, but with the main forces staying at the centre of the arc, hiding in shady plces to await the enemy. These two detachements went first to engange the enemy, shooting to infuriate them and lure them to the place where the main forces were waiting. These two detachments also closed in from the flanks of from behind the enemy. The Mongols called these tactics "bow tactics".
The Cossacks also used these tactics in successfully defeating their enemies.
9. Lightning Attack Tactics And Surprise Attack Tactics
These two tactics were perhaps the most important of all: the lightning attack meant speed, and the surprise attack meant suddennness. In 1203, the Mongol attacked Ong Khan, who had erected a golden yurt and was feasting. For three nights and three days, under Chinggis's command, they fought, and in the end Ong Khan and his son managed to escape, though his entire army surrendered. This was an example of Chinggis's "surprise attack" tactics.
In 1213, the Mongol army, commanded by Jebe, failed to take the city of Dungchang (Mukden), so they retreated for six days over a distance of about 170 miles. The enemy who were defending the city thought that the Mongols had given up, but Jebe with his Mongol cavalrymen returned to the city, covering the distance in one night and launching a surprise attack. This was an example of "lightning attack" tactics.
10. Outflanking Tactics
When the Mongol cavalrymen could not attack the enemy from the front, they would leave a small detachment in front to draw the attention of the enemy. Meanwhile the main force went round the back, via almost impassable roads, to attack the enemy from the rear. There are two examples to illustrate these tactics in the History. In 1207, Chinggis Khan ordered Dorbei-doqshin to attack the Tumer people in the northern part of Mongolia. He left a small detachment on the main road, and orderer his best soldiers to travel on the paths made by the red deer. They climbed the highest mountain, then suddenly came down as though descending from Heaven, finishing the enemy while they were feasting.
In 1213, when the Mongol cavalrymen under Chinggis Khan wanted to take Chabchiyal pass, the Jin army fortified it strongly and spread iron spikes on the road to the north to prevent the advance of the geldings. The entrance to the pass was also reinforced by an iron gate. Chinggis left a small detachment to shoot at the Kin army, then took his main army west and back to the southern end of the pass. He captured a place called Nan Lou, and went on to take the pass.
11. Encircling Tactics
Chinggis used these tactics many times in order to destroy his enemies completely; they were based on the enemy's strengths and formations. If the enemy openly exposed their flank and rear, and the city defenders were weak, the Mongols would encircle them from all sides. If the enemy deployed their forces by the rivers, exposing two or three flanks, then the Mongols would encircle the them from all sides of the river bank.
In 1221, Chinggis destroyed Kalaldin Magubirdi, who had deployed his soldiers on the west bank of the Indus, by attacking on two or three sides. Plano Caprini (who was in the Mongolia in 1246) records that the Mongols always sent the captured personnel and non-Mongol soldiers in first, led by a few Mongols, to fight the encircled enemy. Only then would the strong regular army gradually appear from nowhere to reinforce the stronghold, outflank the enemy on both winds and then destroy them.
12. Open-The-End Tactics
If the enemy was very strong and willing to fight to the death, the Mongols would leave a gap in their ranks. In this way, the enemy might think they saw an escape route, become scattered and start to run. At that precise moment the Mongols would fix upon a suitable place to kill their fleeing enemies one by one.
13. The Combination Of Swords And Arrows Tactics
The Mongols avoided hand-to-hand fighting if at all possible, prefering to use bows and arrows, with a range of 200 to 300 yards, to kill the enemy. Plano Carpini records:
If it is possible to avoid it, the Mongols never engage in hand-to-hand fighting. They always use arrows first to kill the enemy and their horses. After kiilling or wounding the enemy and their horses, making them too weak to fight, the Mongols move in to finish them off.
14. Hot Pursuit Tactics and Dispersing Tactics
If the Mongols were winning, they would pursue the enemy so that no one escaped alive. If they were losing, however, they would disperse in all directions, so the enemy was unable to catch them.
15. Bush Clump Tactics
These tactics involved dividing the soldiers into many small groups which, although keeping contact with each other, maintained a low profile as they advanced. Such tactics were also used at night time, and on dark or cloudy days.