Monday, June 22, 2009

Now it gets really nasty


The heartlessly ambitious do battle with the desperate and the tale is not very pleasant at this point. I spend my time thinking of ways to kill and destroy. I must say, writing fiction is a great purge! Almost every spare conscious moment is spent pondering how one army might attack another and how the second might defend itself.

I can't help thinking of the siege of Leningrad at this point, and the tales I have heard and read, including comments from the next generation when we were in St Petersburg in 2001 and 2004.
Š. was not as ill-prepared as the towns upriver. The cities of central F. had labored together to resist an invasion from the north. The chief approaches were porcupined with sharpened stakes planted too closely for a horse to pass, though warriors on foot could still weave their way through. Trenches and traps created an obstacle course for those who got past the stakes. Even before the ring of stakes, caltrops were scattered liberally to wound hooves and feet alike, many of them hidden among the summer grasses. Every approach from the north was sown with their nasty points.
Sorry, my animal-loving friends, but this is not a movie and the SPCA is not on hand to attest that no horses were hurt. They are victims of war, taken to their doom by humans. Just remember, it's fiction. No ACTUAL horses were harmed in the writing of this epic. 'K?


Caltrop from Vietnam 1968 (Wikipedia)

A caltrop (also known as caltrap, galtrop, cheval trap, galthrap, galtrap, calthrop, crow's foot, or in Latin: tribulus or in Japanese: makibishi or tetsubishi) is an antipersonnel weapon made up of two or more sharp nails or spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base (for example, a tetrahedron). They may be thought of as the landmines of antiquity, useful to shape the battlefield and force the enemy into certain paths and approaches, or to provide a passive defense as part of a defensive works system. Caltrops serve to slow down the advance of horses, war elephants, and human troops. They were said to be particularly effective against the soft feet of camels. In more modern times, caltrops are used against wheeled vehicles with pneumatic tires. [Wikipedia]

It pays to have studied history.
--the BB

2 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

I must say, writing fiction is a great purge!

I hope you were in the right place - if you know what I mean.

Sorry. I couldn't help myself.

Nasty looking instruments, those caltrops.

Paul said...

Very nasty.

Mimi, dearest, are you moving our thoughts from the lofty halls of power to the midden?