Tuesday, August 5, 2014
A Looting Horde?
What constitutes a looting horde? 100 people? 1000? A Million? At what size does a band of starving refugees become a cohesive unit able to look beyond what the person next to them has in easy reach and instead cast their eyes to the great unknown resources down the road? How many spontaneous officers and NCOs must burst into life to coordinate and keep a looting horde moving in the same direction? How much food must they take per day to keep these starving looters together?
Ever tried to get three well fed guys to follow your orders without a higher power and fear of retaliation if they don't? Ever tried to get three underfed guys to even walk a mile when they have no clue what is up that dark road and no one but you is going to punish them if they don't listen?
I thought not.
There is a reason armies have not relied on foraging to supply themselves exclusively for quite some time now. That is not to say there hasn't been plenty of looting done by groups of armed Men claiming to be part of a military organization from pre-history to the present day. Yet can anyone name a time when companies of Men formed and survived for any length of time simply by living off the land and looting? And did so completely under their own authority and motivation?
Raids by neighbors are not a wandering and looting horde. They require bases, a leadership hierarchy and more importantly time and resources to form before they can start raiding.
The free companies of the 100 years war? Perhaps some of the early peasant or Jaquerie rebellions? Most of those lived short violent lives that ended quickly. A few made good but only by either capturing an area and making it their own or turning to the wealthy as hired men.
By it's very nature even if a looting horde manages to form on it's own it will travel no faster than available resources push it. If it attempts cohesion then it becomes something else all together and if it doesn't things quickly break down.
How many looters does it take to move through a countryside devouring everything they come across and still remain intact? I couldn't tell you because I don't know if it has ever happened but a quick glance at the picture above will tell you what happened to the last army that attempted to move through a hostile country looting and pillaging as they went as their only real plan for survival.
The land emptied in front of them. People burned what they couldn't take with them to deny the horde all they could. Snipers and refugees took shots at them from almost every bit of cover they could find.....
And then Winter hit.
Now imagine a ravaging band of say even 30 desperate men. How much loot do they get from one house or farm? Enough to feed all 30 of them for even a day? I doubt it. How long does it take to loot one house and move on? Do they just rush in saving themselves time or scout an area and creep in slowly. Who breaks up the fights for the slim pickings they get and who gets em motivated to go on to the next house over?
Who protects these 30 guys from the 35 coming up behind them who also have no time to scout and must move fast to keep themselves fed taking all they see because they have no time to search?
The logistics of looting are much harder than defending. A group of looters may hit a farm or house but it won't take long for the area to know something is up and time is not on the looters side. The longer they wait the more the immediate area rises up and prepares to defend or attack. In order to operate with any chance of success they must hit very isolated farms or houses that contain enough resources to last them long enough to pick the next target. If they guess wrong or find only an abandoned house do they have time to try again before things get really dicey?
Attacks like these were common during the civil war around here. Yet every band that attempted them didn't last long before the locals mobilized against them. Side meant nothing in the end no matter how it started out in the beginning. Most units of sympathizers both North and South degenerated quickly into simple looting bandits and were dealt with accordingly. It's rough living with a very short life expectancy. On a small scale looting bands are a real threat but on a large scale they never make much of a dent overall.
When those bands have government backing it becomes a very different story. When they can raid and fall back to a larger group the dynamics change for the defenders but the attackers are no longer a looting horde then but part of a larger organization with different perspective and logistical needs as well.
Your best defense against looters is community and neighbors followed by hidden caches here and there and a quick retreat. Unless you are in a very remote area you will have plenty of fore warning that looters are active in your area and once you are warned you do have a distinct advantage. Looters rely on people not helping their neighbors and hitting places piecemeal. There is no way I am going to let a band of looters hit my neighbors place and not go to help even if I don't always agree with their politics or life style.
The life of a looter would be a short one indeed.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!