For as long as man has walked the earth there has been war. Early man fought to survive.
He fought animals who attacked him, he killed those animals for food. He fought against other men who tried to drive him from his hunting grounds.
Combat changed as the technology improved. These changes brought socioeconomic and political changes.
Looking into the past tells us how weapons and warriors are made. It provides valuable lessons to aspiring leaders throughout the ages.
The First Weapons
At first early man used any stick or stone to survive. Slowly he learned to make better weapons. He sharpened the end of a stick to use it for stabbing.
He found that different kinds of stones could be shaped into sharp pieces that would cut. Later he made bows, this allowed him to launch his pointed sticks as arrows.
Arms and Armor
Over time wandering hunters settled into villages. These villages grew into towns. Over the centuries there were enough men to form armies in times of trouble.
Over the centuries the soldier’s weapons, improved and grew more complex. Some men become weapon makers and others made armor to protect the soldiers. The story of the first arms race is about the competition between these two groups of craftsmen.
A weapon maker might design a new sword, but the armorer would make a new suit of armor the sword couldn’t penetrate. Then the weapon maker would make a new sword that would pierce the armor, and the cycle would continue.
Workers in Metal
The making of armor reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. Swords, daggers, and other edged weapons were made by “cutlers.” Armorers and mail-makers supplied the armor worn by knights.
Most of the shaping was done by hand with the metal being hammered on metal blocks. Some armorers set their workshops by rivers, they’d use the running water to turn wheels and drive mechanical hammers.
Rich men had their armor made to measure by experts. Ordinary armor was designed to fit most grunt foot soldiers.
Gunpowder was discovered in China nearly over a 1,000 years ago. It reached Europe in the Middle Ages. Firearms became common in the 16th century.
At first they were simple, made by armor and blacksmiths themselves. Soon they became complicated and special skills and workers were needed to make only firearms.
Most guns included the work of several craftsmen who made different parts: the barrel, the wooden stock and firing mechanism. Until about 1850 almost all the gunmaker’s work was done by hand. After 1850 more and more machines were used to mass produce firearms for soldiers.
The contest between weapons and armor is still going on today. For many years tanks and armored fighting vehicles seemed to rule the battlefield, but today a single infantryman can destroy a tank with a missile.