Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I am, for the most part, a patient man, and I like to take things somewhat slowly. I would make a great besieger, in fact, I have laid two sieges in the last three years. Thus, the point of this post. Back in the grand day of Vauban, he of the star-shaped fortified towns, siege craft was an art form. You dug your approaching trenches, you mined under the walls, and tried to create a breach of the city's walls. That done, and depending on how you felt about the town you were besieging, you gave your loyal troops 3 to 7 days to rob, pillage, rape, and burn the place until their hearts were content.

However, usually it was considered the proper thing to do to let the besieged city, once they knew their game was up, to allow them to surrender with honor, and to allow the city to be saved being sacked by your troops. It showed that you weren't the bad egg your enemies had made you out to be, and allowed you to keep from getting too terribly many people killed.

Then, as with most things, someone had to go and spoil the rules by which the game of siege was played by, and thus you got the fight until the last man type of siege. The sieges of the Vietnam War, and of Korea. The really dirty sieges that didn't allow for honor, and didn't really care about the human cost, the goal was to win at all costs.

The two sieges I laid were one of each, both were, eventually, successful, but both had different costs. One was quite simply war at it worst, there was no quarter asked for, nor any quarter was received. It was a long, drawn out affair, and the eventually success I obtained was all the sweeter for the fact that I was, at first, the offended party. In fact, it was that offense, which the person giving offense might not have even realized what they had done, that lead to the siege taking place in the first place. I said I was a patient man, I did not say I was a pleasant man. Truth be told, I am not sure the besieged ever really knew that they were surrounded, or that I was, in fact, besieging them. Maybe that is the best kind of siege to endure, the kind that you don't know is happening, and even after your city 'falls' you really don't understand the reason behind it. For the besieged, that is probably as good as it gets. Ignorance being bliss. 

Those type of sieges are still quite fun for the besieging army as sieges can get. The fact that your (eventual) success has gone (mostly) unnoticed should not detract from the fact that it was still a success. In many ways this type of siege is the best type. All you have to know is that you are winning, and that you will win, your target doesn't really need the knowledge about their loss. It would probably just hurt their feelings anyway, and you've probably already done that once or twice anyway.

The second siege that I (most recently) successfully concluded was more of the 'surrender with honor' type of siege. It has been a siege of just over two years, and while their were losses, they were not huge losses. Don't get me wrong, this siege had its nasty moments, and for a while it looked to be a bit of a 'fight till the bitter end' type of siege, but eventually, finally, good sense, and good manners prevailed. It was in some way better, and in some ways worse than the first successful siege, but that is a story for another day. The sweetness of the victory is slightly different than that of the first siege, but by no means is it less sweet for that. After all, two years is a long time to besiege a city, any city, and when it eventually falls, by hook, or crook, or a lot of booze, fall it has, and to the victor belong the spoils right?

No comments: