Skirmishers are light infantry or cavalry soldiers in the role of skirmishing—stationed to act as a vanguard, flank guard, or rearguard, screening a tactical position or a larger body of friendly troops from enemy advances. They are usually deployed in a skirmish line—an irregular open formation much more spread out in depth and breadth than a traditional line formation. Their purpose is to harass the enemy—engaging them in only light or sporadic combat in order to delay their movement, disrupt their attack, or weaken their morale. Skirmishers' open formations and smaller numbers can give them superior mobility over the regular forces, allowing them to fight on more favorable terms, taking advantage of better position or terrain and quickly withdrawing from any threat of superior enemy forces.
Skirmishers can be either regular army units temporarily detached to perform skirmishing, or specialty units specifically armed and trained for such low-level irregular warfare tactics. Light infantry, light cavalry, and irregular units often specialize in skirmishing.
Though often critical in screening the main army from sudden enemy attacks, skirmishers are poor at taking and defending ground from heavy infantry or heavy cavalry. In modern times, following the obsolescence of such heavy troops, all infantry has become indistinguishable from skirmishers, and the term has effectively lost military meaning.
A battle with only light, relatively indecisive combat is often called a skirmish.
In ancient warfare, skirmishers typically carried bows, javelins, slings, and sometimes light shields. Acting as light infantry with their light arms and minimal armour, they could run ahead of the main battle line, release a volley of arrows, sling stones, or javelins, and retreat behind their main battle line before the clash of the opposing main forces. The aims of skirmishing were to disrupt enemy formations by causing casualties before the main battle, and to tempt the opposing infantry into attacking prematurely, throwing their organization into disarray. Skirmishers could also be effectively used to surround opposing soldiers in the absence of friendly cavalry.
Once preliminary skirmishing was over, skirmishers participated in the main battle by shooting into the enemy formation, or joined in melée combat with daggers or short swords. Due to their mobility, skirmishers were also valuable for reconnaissance, especially in wooded or urban areas.
In classical Greece, skirmishers originally had low status. For example, Herodotus, in his account of the Battle of Plataea of 479 BC, mentions that the Spartans fielded 35,000 lightly armed helots to 5,000 hoplites yet there is no mention of them in his account of the fighting. Often Greek historians ignored them altogether, though Xenophon distinguished them explicitly from the statary troops. It was far cheaper to equip oneself as lightly armed as opposed to a fully armed hoplite – indeed it was not uncommon for the lightly armed to go into battle equipped with stones. Hence the low status of skirmishers reflected the low status of the poorer sections of society who made up skirmishers. Additionally, "hit and run" tactics contradicted the Greek ideal of heroism. Plato gives the skirmisher a voice to advocate "flight without shame," but only to denounce it as an inversion of decent values.
Nevertheless, skirmishers chalked up significant victories in this period, such as the Athenian defeat at the hands of the Aetolian javelin men in 426 BC and, in the same war, the Athenian victory of Sphacteria.
Skirmisher infantry would gain more respect in the subsequent years as their usefulness was more widely recognised and as the ancient bias against them waned. Peltasts, light javelin infantry, played a vital role in the Peloponnesian War and well equipped skirmisher troops such as Thureophoroi and Thorakites would be developed to provide a strong mobile force for the Greek and Macedonian armies.
Celts did not, in general, favour ranged weapons. The exceptions tended not to include the use of skirmishers. The Britons used the sling and javelin extensively, but for siege warfare, not skirmishing. Among the Gauls likewise, the bow was employed when defending a fixed position. The Celtic lack of skirmishers cost them dearly during the Gallic Invasion of Greece of 279 BC, where they found themselves helpless in the face of Aetolian skirmishing tactics.
In the Punic Wars, despite the Roman and Carthaginian armies' different organisations, skimishers had the same role in both: to screen the main armies. The Roman legions of this period had a specialised infantry class called Velites that acted as skirmish troops, engaging the enemy before the Roman heavy infantry made contact, while the Carthaginians recruited their skirmishers from native peoples across the Carthaginian Empire.
The medieval skirmishers were generally armed with crossbows or longbows wielded largely by commoners. In the fourteenth century, although long held in disdain by Castilian heavy cavalry manned by the aristocracy, the crossbowmen contributed greatly to the Portuguese victory at the Battle of Aljubarrota. Similarly, English archers played a key role in the English victory over French heavy cavalry at Crécy. In the next century they largely repeated the feat at the Battle of Agincourt. Such disasters have been seen as marking the beginning of the end of the dominance of the medieval cavalry in particular and heavy cavalry in general.
The Seven Years' War and American Revolutionary War were two early conflicts in which the modern rifle began to make a significant contribution to warfare. Despite its lower rate-of-fire, its accuracy at long range offered advantages over the smoothbore musket in common use among regular armies of the time. In both those wars many American frontiersmen served in the militia. The Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War was assisted by such irregular troops, such as the Minutemen. They engaged in skirmishing tactics, firing from cover rather than in the open field engagements customary at that time. Their tactics were influenced by experiences fighting Native Americans. Militia in a skirmish role was particularly effective in the Battle of Cowpens. The character of Natty Bumppo in James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans was notably called La Longue Carabine by the French due to his skill with the long rifle common among the Colonials.
During the Napoleonic Wars skirmishers played a key role in battles, attempting to disrupt the main enemy force by firing into their close-packed ranks and by preventing enemy skirmishers from doing the same to friendly troops. Because skirmishers generally fought in open order they could take cover behind trees, houses, towers and similar items, thereby presenting unrewarding targets for small arms and artillery fire. Such tactics often made them vulnerable to cavalry however.
A skirmish force screening the main body of infantry became so important to any army in the field that eventually all the major European powers developed specialised skirmishing infantry. Examples included the German Jäger, French Voltigeurs and British riflemen.
While muskets were the predominant infantry weapon of the late 18th century, the British Army learned firsthand of the importance of rifles in the American Revolutionary War and began experimenting with them shortly thereafter, resulting in the Baker rifle. Although slower to reload and more costly to produce than a musket, they were much more accurate and proved their worth in the Peninsular War. Throughout the conflict, British riflemen were able to selectively target and eliminate the officers and NCOs of French forces from outside of musket range.
In the American theater, American riflemen again contributed to British casualties but now had to contend with revised British light infantry tactics.
A consequence of experiences during these wars was a trend to training line troops to adopt tactics that until then had been used only by skirmishers.
The treatise, New American Tactics, by General John Watts de Peyster advocated making the skirmish line the new line of battle, a revolutionary idea at the time. During the American Civil War, it was common for cavalrymen to dismount and form a skirmish line to delay enemy troops advancing towards an objective (for example, the actions of the Union cavalrymen led by Brig. General John Buford on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg). Skirmish lines were also used to harass enemy probing missions, hampering the other force from gaining an effective intelligence picture by engaging their scouts and likewise forcing them to deploy.
By the late 19th century, the concept of fighting in formation was on the wane. Heavy infantry had disappeared, and all infantry effectively became skirmishers; the term has become obsolete but as late as World War I continued to be associated with battlefield reconnaissance screens (which are essentially modern skirmish lines). As in the American Civil War, the primary role of the infantry skirmish line was to screen the advance of a parent force and disrupt the enemy's own reconnaissance efforts. With the mechanization of modern warfare, the role of infantry skirmishers was more or less combined with those of light cavalry, as mounted scouts in specialized reconnaissance vehicles took over the responsibility of screening large formations during maneuvers in addition to conducting their own probing actions.
With regards to the role of skirmishers as light infantry, some modern military units still use light and heavily armed units in conjunction. For example, the Soviet Army routinely deployed more lightly armed motorized rifle regiments on the flanks or secondary sectors of a motorized rifle division on the offensive, while the heaviest units backed by the heaviest armour would fight in the division's main effort. The modern Military of the United States has light, rapid deployment Stryker brigade combat teams working with heavy mechanized and armored units, with tracked M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks forming the primary combat force.
South Africa's military doctrine placed a disproportionate emphasis on the use of highly mobile, light mechanized forces that were able to cover ground swiftly while keeping heavier enemy armoured and infantry formations off balance, only engaging when the conditions were favourable. The lightly armed South African units used tactics such as rapid movement, flank harassment, and confusing the enemy with continuous maneuvering to compensate for their inferiority in firepower when faced with Angolan and Cuban forces during the South African Border War. The innovative use of South African reconnaissance units to throw Angolan tank formations into disarray before luring them into ambushes, effectively deploying them as skirmishers, was also a consistent feature of that conflict.
The 69th Pennsylvania Infantry (originally raised as the 2nd California) was a volunteer regiment in the Union army during the American Civil War. Part of the famed Philadelphia Brigade, it played a key role defending against Pickett's Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Companies I and K, designated as the regiment's skirmisher companies, wore a very Americanized Zouave uniform. This uniform consisted of a dark blue Zouave jacket with green trimming, green cuffs, and sixteen brass buttons down the front on both sides of the jacket, a sky blue Zouave vest, chasseur sky-blue trousers, and a dark blue kepi. This was one of the few Zouave uniforms that did not use red as the jacket trimming. However, the Zouave uniforms were mostly destroyed during the Peninsula Campaign and were not replaced.Abraham Boulger
Lieutenant Colonel Abraham Boulger VC (4 September 1835, Kilcullen, County Kildare – 23 January 1900) was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Boulger was 21 years old, and a Lance-Corporal in the 84th Regiment of Foot (later 2nd Bn, The York and Lancaster Regiment), British Army during the Indian Mutiny when the following deeds took place for which he was awarded the VC:
Lance-Corporal Abraham BoulgerDate of Acts of Bravery, from 12th July to 25th September, 1857For distinguished bravery and forwardness; a skirmisher, in all the twelve action's fought between 12th July, and 25th September, 1857. (Extract from Field Force Orders of the late Major-General Havelock, dated 17 October 1857.)
He served as a quartermaster during the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War and later achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. He died in Moate, County Westmeath, Ireland, on 23 January 1900, aged 64. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the York & Lancaster Regiment Museum in Rotherham, England.Cthulhu Live
Cthulhu Live is a live-action roleplaying game (LARP) version of the popular horror roleplaying game Call of Cthulhu, based on the works of horror author H. P. Lovecraft. Created by game designer Robert "Mac" McLaughlin, the first edition of the game was published in 1997 by Chaosium. A second edition and four supplements were published over the following years by Fantasy Flight Games. Its third edition was published in September 2006 by Skirmisher Publishing LLC, which has supported it with a Companion CD-ROM, a number of ready-to-use scripts, and a section of the company's interactive forum.Electra (horse)
Electra (1906 – 1918) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare. A a two-year-old she showed considerable promise as she won four time from eight starts and finished second on three occasions. In the following year she won the 1000 Guineas and the Park Hill Stakes as well as finishing second in the Newmarket Stakes, Coronation Stakes and Free Handicap. She appeared to be most unlucky when running unplaced in the Epsom Oaks. She failed to win as a four-year-old and was retired from racing but later became a very successful broodmare.Floor Games
Floor Games is a book published in 1911 by H. G. Wells. This light-hearted volume argues in a humorously dictatorial tone that "The jolliest indoor games for boys and girls demand a floor." Illustrated with photographs and drawings, it briefly describes a number of games that can be played on "well lit and airy" floors with "four main groups" of toys: soldiers about two inches high (Wells regrets the "curse of militarism" that makes civilians hard to find), largish wooden bricks, boards and planks, and electric railway rolling stock and rails. Various remarks show that the book is based on Wells's experience of playing such games with his two sons, George Philip "Gip" Wells (1901-1985) and Frank Richard Wells (1903-1982), identified here only by their initials.
Although Floor Games is often characterized as a "companion book" to Wells's Little Wars (1913), the earlier book was conceived of as a self-standing volume so that the author might later write a book devoted purely to war games. Floor Games describes mostly specific games for young children, whereas Little Wars describes war games for older children and adults.
Wells describes how the boards and planks can be used to set up various imaginative geographies to play the "game of wonderful islands" in which the floor is the sea, create the setting for "twin cities" (to allow his two sons a measure of independence in their creations), or undertake engineering projects (he describes the building of funiculars in some detail).
During World War II, the toy soldiers that inspired Floor Games and Little Wars were confiscated by the police from Wells's son (by Rebecca West) Anthony West, on account of his pacifism.Floor Games has been regarded as a precursor not only of learning through play but also of nonverbal child psychotherapy. Along with Little Wars, the book has often been reprinted. A recent edition of the book was published by Skirmisher Publishing LLC in 2006 and includes a foreword by game design giant James F. Dunnigan an introduction by game designer and author Michael J. Varhola.Geojedo
Geojedo or Geoje Island (also often spelled Koje Island) is the principal island of Geoje City, on the southern coast of Gyeongsangnam-do province, South Korea. It is joined to land by two bridges from nearby Tongyeong. Gohyeon is the largest town on the island. The Busan-Geoje Fixed Link was open in December 2010 and provides a more direct connection to the city of Busan.
Geoje Island covers an area of 383.44 square kilometres (148.05 sq mi), the second largest island in South Korea (second to Jeju Island). The landscape features several peaks: Gara (580 metres (1,900 ft)), Gyerong (554.9 metres (1,821 ft)), the skirmisher mountain (465.5 metres (1,527 ft)), Daegeum (437.5 metres (1,435 ft)) and Googsabong (400 metres (1,300 ft)). Geojedo is known for its rich deposits of granite. The southern belt of Geojedo, together with part of Namhaedo in Namhae County, belongs to Hallyeo Maritime National Park.
Geoje Island features several natural harbors. Shipbuilding is the largest industry on the island. The second and third largest shipyards in South Korea are both located on the island, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in the city of Okpo, and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) in the city of Gohyeon (Geoje City).HMS Skirmisher (1905)
HMS Skirmisher was one of two Sentinel-class scout cruisers which served with the Royal Navy. She was completed in 1905 and served throughout the First World War, being scrapped in 1920. She has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Skirmisher.Heavy infantry
Heavy infantry refers to heavily armed and armoured infantrymen trained to mount frontal assaults and/or anchor the defensive center of a battle line. This differentiates them from light infantry which are relatively mobile and lightly armoured skirmisher troops intended for screening, scouting, and other roles unsuited to the heavier soldiers.
Heavy infantry typically make use of dense battlefield formations, such as shield wall or phalanx, multiplying their effective weight of arms with weight of numbers.
Heavy infantry were critical to many ancient armies, such as the Greek hoplites, Macedonian phalangites, and Roman legionaries. After the fall of Rome, heavy infantry declined in Europe, but returned to dominance in the Late Middle Ages with Swiss pikemen and German Landsknechts. With the rise of firearms during early modern warfare, dense formations became too hazardous. By the early 18th century, heavy infantry were replaced by line infantry armed with muskets and bayonets and having no armour.List of OGL publishers
This is a partial list of companies that have published roleplaying games under the provisions of the Open Game License (OGL) issued by Wizards of the Coast.
Alderac Entertainment Group/Crafty Games, Spycraft 2.0
Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc., "Prime Directive d20", "Prime Directive PD20 Modern"
Bards and Sages, Neiyar: Land of Heaven and the Abyss, Koboldnomicon
Editora JBC, Defensores de Tóquio - Manual 4D&T
Evil Hat Productions, FATE, Spirit of the Century, The Dresden Files RPG
Green Ronin Publishing, True20 Adventure Roleplaying Game, Mutants & Masterminds Roleplaying Game
Louis Porter Jr. Design, "NeoExodus: A House Divided"
Mongoose Publishing, OGL Ancients, OGL CyberNet: Cyberpunk Roleplaying, OGL Horror, OGL Manga, OGL Steampunk, OGL Wild West
Morbidgames, "Ave Molech"
Paizo Publishing, Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Parlor Games LLC, Tephra: The Steampunk RPG
Skirmisher Publishing LLC, Nuisances
Spica Publishing, third party publishers of products for the current edition of the Traveller SF RPG.
Broken Gear Studios OGL d20 and pathfinder character foliosMichael O. Varhola
Michael O. Varhola (born September 24, 1966) is an author, publisher, and lecturer. He has written numerous books, games, and articles, and founded game development company and manufacturer Skirmisher Publishing LLC. He also served as the assistant editor of The Hilltop Reporter, a weekly newspaper located in Texas Hill Country. In 1997, he married Diane Varhola. In 2003, he changed his middle name from James to Odysseus, but did not start using it publicly until 2011.
Varhola is a 1993 graduate of University of Maryland, College Park, from which he received a B.S. in journalism. Other schools he attended include the Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado, and the American University of Paris. He graduated from high school at Carson Long Military Institute in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania.
Varhola has authored or co-authored the non-fiction books Everyday Life During the Civil War (1999), Fire and Ice: The Korean War, 1950-1953 (2000),
D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944 (2001), Shipwrecks and Lost Treasure of the Great Lakes (2007), Ghosthunting Virginia (2008), Ghosthunting Maryland (2009), Life in Civil War America (2011), Texas Confidential: Sex, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in the Lone Star State (2011). He also wrote the fiction title Swords of Kos: Necropolis (2012).
Varhola is the co-author of several gaming books, including Experts (2002), Warriors (2003), Tests of Skill (2004), Nuisances (2005), Experts v.3.5 (2005), Nation Builder (2005), Gary Gygax's Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds Volume 6: Nation Builder (2006), H.G. Wells' Little Orc Wars (2007), Nuisances: Director's Cut (2007), and City Builder: A Guide to Designing Communities (2011).
Varhola published and wrote introductions to editions of H.G. Wells' Little Wars (2004) and Floor Games (2006) and Robert Louis Stevenson's Stevenson at Play.Picket (military)
A picket (archaically, picquet [variant form piquet]) is a soldier, or small unit of soldiers, placed on a line forward of a position to provide warning of an enemy advance. It can also refer to any unit (for example, an aircraft or ship) performing a similar function.Pirates, Vikings and Knights II
Pirates, Vikings and Knights II is a multiplayer team-based first-person action video game, developed as a total conversion modification on Valve's proprietary Source engine. The game is currently in beta development stages, with its first public release on 1 January 2007. The second major public version was released a year later on 7 February 2008.The game is a sequel to Pirates, Vikings and Knights, which was created by three UC Berkeley students (Garrett Moore, Matt Bishop, and Kris Hauser). The original was a modification for Valve's earlier GoldSrc engine. The game is set around three teams, the pirates, the Vikings and the knights—each with distinct classes and abilities—battling in a variety of game modes across various Medieval, Norse and Caribbean environments. As of the fifth major release eight of the eighteen planned classes have been implemented.The game has been received positively by the industry's critics, being praised for its originality and graphical quality. By the end of February 2008, the game has acquired over six and a half million player minutes per month on the Steam content delivery system.Pont de l'Alma
Pont de l'Alma (English: Alma Bridge) is a road bridge in Paris, France across the Seine. It was named to commemorate the Battle of Alma during the Crimean War, in which the Ottoman-Franco-British alliance achieved victory over the Russian army, on 20 September 1854.Prodromoi
In ancient Greece, the prodromoi (singular: prodromos) were skirmisher light cavalry. Their name (ancient Greek: πρόδρομοι, prοdromoi, lit. "pre-cursors," "runners-before," or "runners-ahead") implies that these cavalry 'moved before the rest of the army' and were therefore intended for scouting and screening missions. They were usually equipped with javelins, and a sword. Sometimes they wore either linen or leather armour, as well as bronze helmets.Redoute de Gravelle
The redoute de Gravelle (Gravelle redoubt) is a fort in Joinville-le-Pont, situated to the south-east of Vincennes in Paris. Built under Louis-Philippe, from 1968 it housed the École nationale de police de Paris (ENPP), before becoming an illegal immigrants detention centre. Its south face is decorated with Auguste Arnaud's statue of a skirmisher, formerly placed next to one of a zouave on the old pont de l'Alma, but moved to its present position after the construction of the A4 autoroute in 1973. The statue is visible from the A4.Scaramouche
Scaramouche (from Italian scaramuccia, literally "little skirmisher"), also known as scaramouch, is a stock clown character of the commedia dell'arte (comic theatrical arts of Italian literature). The role combined characteristics of the Zanni (servant) and the Capitano (masked henchman). Usually attired in black Spanish dress and burlesquing a Don, he was often beaten by Harlequin for his boasting and cowardice.Senegalese Tirailleurs
The Senegalese Tirailleurs (French: Tirailleurs Sénégalais) were a corps of colonial infantry in the French Army. They were initially recruited from Senegal,
French West Africa and subsequently throughout Western, Central and Eastern Africa: the main sub-Saharan regions of the French colonial empire. The noun tirailleur, which translates variously as "skirmisher", "rifleman", or "sharpshooter", was a designation given by the French Army to indigenous infantry recruited in the various colonies and overseas possessions of the French Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Despite recruitment not being limited to Senegal, these infantry units took on the adjective "sénégalais" since that was where the first black African Tirailleur regiment had been formed. The first Senegalese Tirailleurs were formed in 1857 and served France in a number of wars, including World War I (providing around 200,000 troops, more than 135,000 of whom fought in Europe and 30,000 of whom were killed) and World War II. Other tirailleur regiments were raised in French North Africa from the Arab and Berber populations of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, collectively they were called tirailleurs nord-africains or Turcos. Tirailleur regiments were also raised in Indochina, they were called Vietnamese, Tonkinese or Annamites Tirailleurs.Skirmisher Publishing
Skirmisher Publishing LLC is a publisher of wargames, roleplaying games and historic reprints based in Spring Branch, Texas, USA. It was founded by the author, editor and game designer Michael J. Varhola and is co-owned by Robert "Mac" McLaughlin, Oliver Cass and Geoffrey Weber.
About half of Skirmisher's products have been published under the d20 System, a system of game mechanics for role-playing games published in 2000 by Wizards of the Coast, that is based on the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons and named after the 20-sided die which is central to the core mechanics of the system.
Skirmisher products created for the d20 system include the books Experts (2002), Warriors (2003), Tests of Skill (2004), Nuisances (2005) and Experts v.3.5 (2005). Artists whose work appears in these books include Brendan Cass, Dragan Ciric, Sharon L. Daugherty, William Hazzard II, Phil "Shade" Kightlinger and Lissanne Lake, noted for her numerous Dragonmagazine covers, and Geoffrey Weber.
Other notable Skirmisher publications include a reprint of the H.G. Wells 1913 wargaming classic Little Wars (2004) — which the company republished in a self-standing form for the first time in 27 years, a reprint of Wells' 1911 work Floor Games (2006), which includes a foreword by the game designer James F. Dunnigan, and the third edition of the Cthulhu Live live-action roleplaying game.
The company also has a line of Orc miniatures that it has dubbed the "Orcs of the Triple Death" and which it supports with a series of products that include d20 game statistics and descriptive text.Training ship
A training ship is a ship used to train students as sailors. The term is especially used for ships employed by navies to train future officers. Essentially there are two types: those used for training at sea and old hulks used to house classrooms.
The hands-on aspect provided by sail training has also been used as a platform for everything from semesters at sea for undergraduate oceanography and biology students, marine science and physical science for high school students, and character building for at-risk youths.
In the Sea Cadet Corps all Units use a ship prefix "T.S.", followed by the ship's proper name. For example, the Fishguard Sea Cadets' ship's name is T.S. Skirmisher. The T.S. prefix is used as the Sea Cadets is not part of the Royal Navy, and cannot be prefixed "HMS".