Aeneas Tacticus 39.





39. Ruses

1. Another device to which you should resort during a siege is this. Dig a trench in the gateway and for some way into the city, leaving a passage on each side. Then let some of your force make a sally, and skirmish so as to entice some of your opponents to pursue them into the city. 2. The citizens, as they flee into the city, should run in along the passages left on each side, but their pursuers, knowing nothing of the trench, which should be concealed, will probably fall into it and be killed inside the city; a force should be drawn up for the occasion in the streets and in the spaces near the gates where the trenches are. 3. If more of the enemy are running in after these and you wish to stop them, you must have ready a door of stout timber to let down from the beam above the gate and have it plated with iron. 4. When you wish to check the enemy as they rush in, let this door fall straight down: it will kill some of them as it falls, and prevent the rest from getting in. Meanwhile some of the men on the wall must shoot down the enemy near the gates. 5. But you must always have a prearranged rendezvous for your own men, where they are assemble if ever the enemy follow them into the city, so that they may be distinguished by their position: for it is no easy task to know friend from foe when they rush in pell-mell in the confusion of the fight.
6. Once when an enemy became too venturesome and advanced too close to the wall, lassos were prepared for day and night (by day they were concealed and by night used openly: the object was to entice the enemy up to the city by skirmishing and haul up those who were caught in the lassos. 7. The noose itself should be made of the strongest rope obtainable; the line that pulls up the man should be a chain for the first three feet from the noose, so that it cannot be cut through; the hauling end should be of rush rope. The whole apparatus is let down and hauled up from inside the walls, by ropes or swing-beams. If the enemy try to cut the rope, the defenders reply by letting it down with a run by means of the swing-beams, to prevent them from doing so: the use of the chains [for the whole length] to prevent such an occurrence is undesirable, for they are troublesome things and awkward to handle, and also not worth the expense.






created 14/02/2010 - updated 04/07/2017