Shang is the first Chinese dynasty about which there is any
information. A previous dynasty , the Hsia, may have existed but this
could be only a myth. Even with the Shang there is little detail, so
much of this list is conjectural. It is possible that the Shang used
elephants as the Indian variety was found in China up to the 1st
millennium B.C. I have not included them in the list. There is no
certainty that they were used, and if they were it was probably rare.
Wargamers being wargamers however, if they were in the list every Shang
army would have them rampaging about.
Traditionally the Shang were founded by T’ang who overthrew the last
Hsia Emperor. They were organised as a number of City States one of
which would serve as capital depending on which was dominant at the
time. Warfare between the states was fairly common, but the main effort
was against the non city-dwelling peoples of Northern China.
Initially the army was all infantry with a heavy emphasis on archers
(she) supported by close quarter fighters (shu). Even the nobility
served as archers. Later, on the nobles adopted the chariot (ma).
These were initially a two horse design with an archer and driver for
crew. These probably used the hit and run, skirmish tactics common to
early charioteers such as Mitanni and Egyptians. Later a third crewman
may have been added. I have assumed that the increase in weight would
preclude skirmish tactics and assumed that they were more shock
oriented, like similar Hittite chariots.
a tricky army to use. Its mainstays are poorly protected archers and
close fighting foot. The early pre-chariot army has no real answer to
cavalry armies. Skilful use of terrain is necessary against such
opponents. Its only advantages are lots of missile troops and weight of
numbers. Against its historical opponents it can certainly hold its own