Discover more from Proof of Work
Summary of "Genghis Khan" by James Chambers (Part IV)
Chapter IV: The Invincible Army
As Genghis Khan, Temujin was now tasked with organizing all the tribes in the steppes. He would create the best army anyone had ever seen.
Since the Mongols were illiterate and had no alphabet, Genghis used a man named Tata-tonga, who was well-read, to help write out all his commands. Tata-tonga was also ordered to teach all princes of imperial blood reading and writing lessons. Eventually, everyone learning to read and write helped more people, and the tribes slowly became more literate.
Everyone obeyed the laws because thieves and murderers were publicly executed. As a result, everyone was okay with the conscription because of their safe and happy lives. All males aged 20-60 were to be on call at all times. They all got a specific unit to be in and were given training that specialized in the types of fighting they'd do within their units.
Since the tribes grew up hunting and herding, everyone was great at it. They were trained since early childhood for all the skills needed in battle. Everyone was a fantastic rider and had high endurance due to their childhood training.
Mongol camps were known as 'ordu,' which is the source of the word 'horde.' But it's not the horde you think of. This army was organized, unlike anything at the time. Every 10,000 men were divided into 10 groups of 1,000 men. Those 1,000 men were then divided into 10 groups of 100 men. Those 100 men were divided up into 10 groups of 10 men. Within the groups of 10, they voted on their commander. Then, those commanders would elect the commanders of the 100 people squadrons. But Genghis Khan elected the commanders of the 1,000 and 10,000 people squadrons. This organization was much more advanced and made the army happy about their votes being heard.
Since most army men were illiterate, each squadron had its own visually distinct uniform. Everyone with ranks was given a token that varied in weight and material (gold or silver). It also had drawings of animals or shapes on them to depict ranks further. This allowed a complicated ranking system with an illiterate army.
Everyone in the army got a sword, shield covered in leather, lasso, a dagger and two quivers with armour-piercing arrows. They received all the clothes they needed and big water bottles. The light horsemen got three javelins, and heavy cavalrymen got a battle-axe and a 12 ft lance with a hook below the point for dragging enemies off their horseback.
Their horses were treated better than even religious Islamic tribes treated their horses. They were allowed to graze when they grew old, and everyone was banned from eating them. If they rode into battle, they were treated as a brother in arms and to be respected as such. In times of hunger, the men were not allowed to slit the weak horse's ankles for blood (a common practice in these times) unless there were no lactating female horses they could drink from.
For three months, most army members conducted a sport called "The Great Hunt" every spring. It was enjoyable for everyone, and they all looked forward to it the entire year. It was highly efficient and got the tribes vast amounts of different foods for an extended period.
What would happen is the Mongols would plant massive flags to form a boundary. At night, they were replaced with giant torches, which dictated the borders in which they were allowed to herd the animals.
The rules were simple. Herd as many animals as possible and kill none. No animals were allowed to escape once herded. This forced them to coordinate with each other and learn to communicate over a massive boundary. They would herd animals to the middle of a circle of thousands of screaming Mongol men in full armour. The animals were petrified and would fight each other in confusion. Genghis would eventually come into the ring and initiate the first kill. After this, men were permitted to hunt and demonstrate their skills to Genghis.
Since the land mass was so large, the animals varied in species inside the circle. Some men would show off their archery skills by picking off deer from a distance. Some men would fight tigers in single combat and with little armour. Once Genghis saw enough, he gave the order to divide, and the surviving animals were permitted to escape.
Another advantage they had over other armies was their messaging system. Every 25 miles, a new post housed 10 men with food, shelter and horses. So messengers would bring a message to a post, they'd double it, and on a new horse, they'd ride to the next post. If there was a post in another direction, then one of the 10 men would get on their horse and take that message to the other post.
When travellers would stumble upon the posts, they'd be in awe. The posts were ordered to provide them hospitality as if they were brothers in arms. Word spread about how safe and hospitable all these posts around the steppes were, and everyone revered Genghis for it.
Genghis also promoted people within the army based on merit, not their bloodline, and this naturally solved many contention issues other tribes experienced within their ranks.
The Mongol army was so advanced that their military tactics, logistics and intelligence operations wouldn't be unfamiliar to people fighting wars in the 19th century. There was nothing else like the invincible army.