"Sarge, tell us one where it all went hell."
"Stay in the battle long enough, pup, and you are sure to have a story or two like this. It was the second year of Ventbarre quarterly, but Sir Sebastian was unable to leave his lands so we were commanded by Prince Cornelius. His armour blazed in the sun, and he was unmatched on the tournament field. However, Prince Cornelius is not the most gifted field commander."
"He was shit?"
"No, there are many grades of commander, from the lows of the brown trouser panic merchants, to the highs of the peerless commands issued from the voice of Sir Sebastian. Or so my very tinted memory recalls. Corny wasn't shit, he was above average. However field command is bloody difficult, and an average commander is shit. You need exquisite timing, An average person will blunder in. You need physical and psychological presence. A normal person blends to the crowd, and no-one listens. You need to know your troops and their capabilities. A normal person can't get out of their own ego and actually assess their troops. You need to be able to bellow like a foghorn but still have every word clearly understood. An average person will not be heard. Corny was a moderate commander, but after being commanded by Seb, it did look pretty ordinary."
"I still say he was shit."
"Kitten, what happened when I put you on the spot in training"
"I froze and we got flanked and butchered"
"That was shit. Put a unit of ten armoured combatants together any way you can and command it, then I'll give your opinion more thought that this slash I'm about to take."
"If there's a branch in your face, then that's the place"
"Thanks, Rabbit. Anyway, we were formed up, with our irregulars to the right, facing Descarte and Attica and their irregulars. We had the higher ground, and the enemy were a mile down the hill. We were just holding off, keeping the good ground, and there was an archery skirmish going on as usual."
"Oh, disappear up of your own heroic bum, Kitten. Archery allows the soft and infirm to join in our little game. And frankly, I love a woman in armour, whether it be for melee or missile combat. 'Artillery and Archery lends dignity to what would otherwise be an undignified brawl.' Any commander worth his salt can counter archery. Any commander who fears archery rightly fears his own incompetence. And remember: If we don't encourage archery on our side, every one of the little bastards will be on the other side shooting at us. Don't let me catch you giving archers lip, scaliwag.
Where was I? Lined up, archery duel. Well the irregulars gave up their ground like the leaderless fucking rabble we know they are. They marched on down, gave away the ground, and were about to get flanked. The shield wall helpfully started pointing this out to our dear illustrious. 'Corny, they are going to get munched. What are we doing' we chorused. 'Get our lights closer' so they trot past and do some better shooting, ' They need protection' 'I'm not breaking the wall, so Ynws Fwar, go protect them.' So the southerner four march down in time to not do much, our irregulars get butchered, and our lights got smeared by fast moving melee combatants.
Situation normal, all fucked up. Snafu. 'GET BACK HERE CORMAC' In calm moments, you refer to the group or formal unit names. In a clusterfuck, you call for a person. Cormac turns his unit of four around, and calmly marches back to us. Yes, that's right, BACK TO THE ENEMY. Miracle of miracles, one of them actually made it without getting shot in the back.
So our side has been picked apart piecemeal, and we have good ground but we are outnumbered about two to one in melee combatants, and have no missile troops. Good luck has gone, time for good management. Corny grasped what had happened, and then tried to execute a masterful plan. Too late and too complex. e was trying to organise a second defensive facing so we could push in one direction, but the grunts he was yelling at had no idea, and the voice had gone a bit squeaky. We charged into Descarte, who held, and were butchered in a nice, neat military square. Flanked by the Atticans on one side and the irregulars on the other. None of the front shield wall dropped to enemies to the front - we were all taken from behind in the flood of flankers."
"Yeah, it was ordinary. But I try to back what I say. There was a flood of whingers and whiners trying to get into Corny's ear, but I didn't join the throng. I simply vowed to myself 'not again' and decided that the only action was to try it myself and prove I could do it with action rather than word. The next year, it was all about my unit my way. Saint Florian's Militia."