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Old 02-09-2005, 04:44 PM   #1
Neurion
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White Tree Tactical discussion: Countering Mumakil

Considering that the Gondorians have faced the Haradhrim in battle many times before in their history, I'd expect that they would have developed tactics for countering the threat posed by the Mumakil.

How do you think they would have done so?
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Old 02-09-2005, 05:24 PM   #2
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I suppose one defense against the Mumakil was the walls of the Pelenor.
Didn't Gandalf complain that the Gondorians were overlate in repairing the Peleanor walls?
As big as the Mumakil were, they still couldn't knock down walls. They would have needed Grond for the gates, and the blasting fire of Saruman for the repaired and strengthened stone walls and then the Mumakil could be used inside the walls of the Pelenor to wreak havoc.
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Old 02-09-2005, 05:25 PM   #3
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Other than shouting, "Ware! Ware!" and appealing to the Valar for help, you mean? According to the History Channel, Hannibal's elephants took fright at the Romans' horses and were much less aggressive in their presence. EDIT: After further research I found that it was actually the other way around, but horses could be trained to withstand elephants in which case the elephants were repelled by the smell of horses. And Wikipedia.com tells me this:
Quote:
A reportedly effective anti-elephant weapon was the pig. Pliny the Elder reported that "elephants are scared by the smallest squeal of a pig" (VIII, 1.27). A siege of Megara was reportedly broken when the Megarians poured oil on a herd of pigs, set them alight, and drove them towards the enemy's massed war elephants. The elephants bolted in terror from the flaming squealing pigs.
But who knows how much spare bacon the Gondorians had to fry up just for their breakfast guests from Harad?
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Old 02-09-2005, 05:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindolirian
Other than shouting, "Ware! Ware!" and appealing to the Valar for help, you mean? According to the History Channel, Hannibal's elephants took fright at the Romans' horses and were much less aggressive in their presence. And Wikipedia.com tells me this: But who knows how much spare bacon the Gondorians had to fry up just for their breakfast guests from Harad?
Cool! LoL!
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Old 02-09-2005, 06:02 PM   #5
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Big caltrops.

Loud trumpets could sometimes scare them too.
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Old 02-09-2005, 06:12 PM   #6
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Interestingly enough

I think that in Roman times they also used pigs to scare the elephants. Perhaps Gondor had a hidden hog farm reserved in case of Mumak attacks?

Sophia

[edit:] I should probably read links more thoroughly... but I'll leave this post here, just for anyone who, like me, was too lazy to read the Wikipedia article all the way through.
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Old 02-09-2005, 08:30 PM   #7
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Big mice.
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Old 02-10-2005, 08:46 AM   #8
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I think I'll stick to my caltrops and trumpets. They smell much nicer and don't require food.
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Old 02-10-2005, 05:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindolirian
Other than shouting, "Ware! Ware!" and appealing to the Valar for help, you mean? According to the History Channel, Hannibal's elephants took fright at the Romans' horses and were much less aggressive in their presence. EDIT: After further research I found that it was actually the other way around, but horses could be trained to withstand elephants in which case the elephants were repelled by the smell of horses. And Wikipedia.com
That reminds me: In their conquest of China, the Mongols would sometimes set elephants on fire and send them towards the Chinese lines.

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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
I think I'll stick to my caltrops and trumpets. They smell much nicer and don't require food.
Caltrops. Hmm. Yeah. Big caltrops.
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:12 PM   #10
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It would work...
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:33 PM   #11
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Yes, but how many resources would be required to build these huge things in bulk (since you must scatter them densely to insure that they are stepped on)? Sounds like a pretty expensive endeavor, so you're welcome to bring it up with Denethor at the next national defense spending committee meeting.
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindolirian
Yes, but how many resources would be required to build these huge things in bulk (since you must scatter them densely to insure that they are stepped on)? Sounds like a pretty expensive endeavor, so you're welcome to bring it up with Denethor at the next national defense spending committee meeting.
As lord of the elven realm of Harlindon, I pledge the aid of the smiths and weapon-wrights of my folk in this worthy endeavour.
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:57 PM   #13
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As lord of the elven realm of Harlindon, I pledge the aid of the smiths and weapon-wrights of my folk in this worthy endeavour.
Very diplomatic of you, to be sure, but why do you need to be concerned with the defense of Gondor? The last time Sauron worsted the "last bastion of defense" he never reached your land. Not to mention as Elves, you can always hop on your ships and run off to Valinor. Of course, I'm being facetious, but still just pointing out the impracticalty.
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Old 02-10-2005, 07:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindol
Yes, but how many resources would be required to build these huge things in bulk (since you must scatter them densely to insure that they are stepped on)? Sounds like a pretty expensive endeavor ...
Whereas big mice are very low maintenance. All they would need to start them off would be a mating pair and they would have an army of the critters in no time. Now surely that would present a very appealing proposition to Gondor's Treasury.

And the numbers could be kept in check by introducing a regiment of big cats. Oh, and a few big dogs to make sure the big cats didn't get out off hand (Wargs would probably suffice). And maybe some big elephants to keep the big dogs in check.

Hang on ...
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Old 02-11-2005, 11:10 AM   #15
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Yes, but how many resources would be required to build these huge things in bulk
Simple, loot the corpses for the armor of the mountains of dead orcs the wars are continually generating. Melt down the armor, bang them into big caltrops and *presto* there you are.

In fact, the expense would not be so great as you suppose. After the mumak goes bonkers the handler would have to kill it. After your glorious victory you can just pull the caltrop out of the foot, give it a good cleaning, it is ready to be used again.

Quote:
And the numbers could be kept in check by introducing a regiment of big cats. Oh, and a few big dogs to make sure the big cats didn't get out off hand (Wargs would probably suffice). And maybe some big elephants to keep the big dogs in check.
I hereby submit a memorandum to the Lord Steward of Gondor suggesting this plan be adopted immediately. It would eliminate the need for a human army. All you'd have to do is get the giant mice to charge the enemy. That would get the enemy all scared. The cats would naturally chase the mice. However, once they got in among the enemy they would naturally cause all sorts of chaos, and probably eat large number of them. Same thing with the Wargs. The mamuks would go charging in and flatten anything that is left.

However, this might only work once...
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Old 02-11-2005, 01:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
mumak goes bonkers
Isn't that precisely what we're trying to avoid?!
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Old 02-11-2005, 02:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindolirian
Very diplomatic of you, to be sure, but why do you need to be concerned with the defense of Gondor? The last time Sauron worsted the "last bastion of defense" he never reached your land. Not to mention as Elves, you can always hop on your ships and run off to Valinor.
ah yes, but I am doomed to be a hopeless altruist.
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Old 02-11-2005, 03:17 PM   #18
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Isn't that precisely what we're trying to avoid?!
Well, I suppose from a certain point of view they are all ready bonkers, or all liquored up, when they go into battle.

By going bonkers I meant start stomping their own side to pieces.

This actually happened a fair amount. I personally consider the use of elephants to be of dubious value.
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Old 02-11-2005, 08:56 PM   #19
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Well, one way they wouldn't have done it is via a light cavalry charge
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Old 02-13-2005, 01:04 AM   #20
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The only recorded persons who successfully countered elephants in battles were Alexander and Scipio Africanus.

Alexander's heavy infantry, the phalangites would poke at the animals eyes, slash the softer under bellies or the genitals with their 14 foot long sarissas after they have killed the riders. In any case the macedonians suffered heavily in that battle.

Scipio made use of a large number of horns and trumpets to scare the Carthaginian elephants. This caused them to bolt back into the carthaginian ranks, crushing their own men.

There were other reasonings in both cases that the soldiers parted ranks to allow the elephants to pass through them. But it the poking and slashing drove the elephants into a frenzy, it would have caused more damage.

Horses are terrified of elephants. So the part where highly skilled Rohirrim horsemen darted between the legs of the mumakil would not have worked.

In the case of the Mumakil, may I suggest this sensible tactical doctrine:

Tactics 101: Countering the Mumakil

At first sight of a mumak;

1. Say a prayer to whatever higher power you believe in.

2. Turn to a direction perpendicular to the beast's line of travel

3. Run like hell.

The fact is, Tolkien's elephants were so big that I don't think anything on the battles of antiquity could have stop that, save for a highly accurate and lucky shot from a siege artillery. Then again, I doubt that in this newtonian world, the mumak's legs would have been strong enough to support it's body without snapping. Ditto for the internal organs which would be crushed by the beast's bulk.
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Old 02-13-2005, 09:23 AM   #21
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The only recorded persons who successfully countered elephants in battles were Alexander and Scipio Africanus.
I fear you must expand your list to include Julius Caesar and most of the Hellensitic monarchs. (By Hannibal's day the Macedonian-Greek generals were coming to the conclusion that they ate too much, were too expensive to acquire, and did too little to justify their keep. Note that at Cynoscephale it was the Romans and not the Macedonians who used the elephants to great effect).

At Thapsus, Caesar gave an army with elephants such a through kickin' (mainly because the elephants charged in the wrong direction i.e. backwards) that it routed his enemies. That was the last time they were used in European warfare that I recall.

Quote:
Horses are terrified of elephants. So the part where highly skilled Rohirrim horsemen darted between the legs of the mumakil would not have worked.
Amen!

Quote:
Then again, I doubt that in this newtonian world, the mumak's legs would have been strong enough to support it's body without snapping. Ditto for the internal organs which would be crushed by the beast's bulk.
To say nothing about finding enough food.
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Old 02-13-2005, 09:37 AM   #22
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Oh yes, how could I have forgotten the 5th legion and their anti-elephant tactics that worked so well against Afranius and Juba at Thapsus. My compliments to the dwarf.

I belief elephants were also used in Claudius campaign in Britain. Not as a weapon of war but rather to awe the britons.

It would be impossible to counter mumaks on the battlefield.
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Old 02-13-2005, 09:56 AM   #23
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*is reminded heavily of Rome: Total War*

(For those who never played it, to counter elephants, you have to either use fire arrows, set pigs on fire, use lots of spearmen though a lot will die, or something like that to spook them. They then go on rampage killing allies and enemies alike)
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Old 02-16-2005, 08:13 PM   #24
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Concerning Mumakil...

Burning pigs! How nasty - I'd forgotten that one, not sure I'm too happy to be reminded.

For me, the film Mumakil were far bigger than I'd imagined, something not more than twice the size of an ordinary elephant would have appeared more believable.

I think that in ancient times the elephants had greatest effect on troops who hadn't encountered them before, once trained in how to deal with the beasts, they could often become a big liability to the elephant-using side.

This put me in mind of an old thread

Elephants Oliphants

They were also used as command platforms by generals, especialy in India, I guess that you'd get a good view from the top of a Nelly and, as long as you stayed well behind the front line, you'd hope that it wouldn't go bonkers. They're still used in National Parks as tiger-spoting platforms, with the added bonus that the tiger is unlikley to eat you as long as you stay on the howdah. A good elephant is also a great substitute for a JCB, just this year I saw some on TV helping shift the debris from the terrible tsunami disaster. Apparently the elephant driver (mahout) has a really close relationship with the elephant, as they have likely trained and worked together for many years. therefore, in a battle situation, the mahout may well be reluctant to put his friend (and himself!) in harm's way.

Hooray for peaceful elephants
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Old 02-16-2005, 09:04 PM   #25
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i guess more archers would be good... well in Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth, the best way to counter Oliphants is to use fire arrows, which scare them and shake everything on top off of it...
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Old 02-16-2005, 09:17 PM   #26
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Apparently the elephant driver (mahout) has a really close relationship with the elephant, as they have likely trained and worked together for many years. therefore, in a battle situation, the mahout may well be reluctant to put his friend (and himself!) in harm's way.
Also makes one wonder how quickly the handler would whack the spike home should need arise.

Maybe this partially explains why elephants gone bad could cause so much havoc to their own armies. The driver was more willing to let their own army die rather than the elephant.
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Old 02-26-2005, 07:16 AM   #27
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Being Mumak myself, I would say that a couple more Elves like Legolas (considering the Movie scenes) would do the job...
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Old 02-26-2005, 09:38 AM   #28
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keep in mind this is the books thread not the movies, so we think the book way... if i was a haradrim, i would easily kill legolas but nooooo...stupid plot...
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Old 02-26-2005, 02:42 PM   #29
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Sorry for the miss, Gil, let's stick to the books...
Maybe the best way to counter the Mumak attacks would be to insert very thick, short and sharp spikes on the ground at strategic access places to prevent them from coming, and maybe the use of heavy rock throwing catapults fom afar (but this could kill the Gondorian soldiers on the field...).
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Old 03-02-2005, 07:19 AM   #30
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At the conclusion of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields a list of notable casualties is, er, listed. In that list we find that
Quote:
Duilin of Morthond and his brother were trampled to death when they assailed the mumakil, leading their bowmen close to shoot at the eyes of the monsters.
This appears to be the best tactic the Gondorians had found to counter the mumak, and it appears to have been effective, seeing as no foe escaped
Quote:
except to die or drown in the red foam of the River.
I'm not sure if that is a reference to only the foes within the Rammas, but none of the Haradrim survived, so I presume that means the controllers of the beasts.
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Old 03-17-2005, 02:34 PM   #31
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Tolkien

interesting fact, the horns medieval soldiers carried (i.e. Horn of gondor) were called olifaunts, why did tolkien decide to call mumakil oliphaunts? As to countering them, as slow and rather untalented beasts, catapults with flaming projectiles would work, or knocking down the platform on its back. The flames would likely scare the beast.

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