War in itself is nasty. The mere fact that lives are lost during those times when nations once in a while decide to go and kill each other and destroy cities and villages for whatever cause is already enough reason to think that war is a brutal thing. However, some tactics in the history of warfare were more brutal than the others, taking the concept of war to a whole new different level. While we are not here to question whether these techniques were too much or not, they were no doubt all-out devastating. There is the old saying that, “The only unfair fight is the one you lose.” Here are three of them:

Genocide By Mongols

Ever since the Mongols started their conquest in the 13th century with at most 1 million warriors, they managed to conquer hundreds of cities and villages, defeating armies and nations ten or more times than their manpower. They were truly unstoppable. In fact, they were the reason behind the death of about 11% of the world’s population at that time, and we are talking about a staggering 37.75 to 60 million people in Eurasia, either immediately during the battle or after Mongols invaded them.  The Mongol invasi0n led directly to the creation of Russia itself which was a remnant of the vast Mongol empire when it collapsed.

Kawashima Jimbei Ii – The Mongol Invasion (Walters Art Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Mongols were known to use genocide as a form of warfare, so they would not only crush the armies, the houses, and the whole cities or empires, but they would also exterminate whole populations. Surrender and be treated reasonably well, resist and se your city sacked, looted and burned, every male of any age executed and see your women carried off into slavery. This allowed them to hold vast territories even after their main force had moved on elsewhere. When Mongols demanded a certain city to either surrender or have all of them killed, they would just surrender. They also did not dare interfere while the Mongols occupied their lands in fear for their lives. This terrorism allowed them to have foreign troops join them, bringing more advanced technology that further enabled them to expand even more rapidly.

In A Romans Legion, Even Your Feet Were Weapons

Pair of sandalwood soles (caligae), their shape has been preserved by the reinforcing nails. (JoanbanjoCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Caligae from below, showing hobnails (MatthiasKabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Roman Empire had been part of many battles and won many of them. The Roman legionnaires were one of the major reasons for their success, known for their military tactics and distinctive look. Part of it was their flimsy-looking sandals called Caligae. The open-toe footwear didn’t look impressive at all, especially when worn in combat against the enemies who were more likely shielding themselves with body armor from head to toe. However, the underside of the Caligae was actually fitted with studs, something that the soldiers had to buy and put by themselves. These were used to protect their feet over rough ground, but they also served a purpose in combat. The Roman legionaire fought in a close, disciplined formation in cohorts and push the enemy back as the whole formation advanced during a battle. Unfortunate enemies who fell in front of the cohort would meet these studded sandals as the Romans stomped them while they marched forward. The blow you suffered from their short sword may not have been fatal, but the hundreds of feet wearing sandals with reinforced nails trampling you as you laid there sure would.

Poison Gasses of WWI

Poisonous Gas in WWI (Lraymond21CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The trenches of World War I was already awful enough with the muck, decomposing bodies, rats, artillery explosions, and enemies sneaking in to kill you silently. If that was not enough, poison gases were also used to take out the enemies, and the experience was far from being pleasant, to say the least. Chlorine gas turned water in the airway to hydrochloric acid, causing the lungs to fill with water and for the victims to drown while suffering on the bed. Mustard gas caused blindness, blistering on the skin that could cause third-degree burns, oozing yellow fluid. It could also cause blistering on the lungs when inhaled. Phosgene gas’s effect was not seen immediately but was deadlier than chlorine gas. The effects could take up to 48 hours, but it also caused a build-up of fluid in the lungs, leading to death. Most of the poison gasses were delivered through artillery shells in liquid form encased in glass bottled and then attached inside the warhead. Upon contact, the glass would easily break and evaporate, pouring down a mist of despair. These shells were usually color-coded, a system that the Germans started.

The effects of these gasses were brutal and highly personal, with effects that could either cause painful death or permanent disfigurement.