----- Original Message -----
From: "John Phillips" <[log in to unmask]>
> An army that goes raiding inland and straggles slowly back to base
> encumbered with loot and stolen animals would need great discipline to avoid
> being spread out over miles. A sitting duck to be ambushed from the rear.
True. Though you first have to sit back and allow them to pillage & loot (& kill)
in order to be straggling back to their ships in an encumbered state. That may
be something your population are unwilling to see happen first. And then again,
you need to collect your own army in the right place to catch said raiders after
they've already raided but before they disembark again (and become safe from
retaliation aboard their ships). That's awfully hard to orchestrate as defenders,
who don't know (due to the mobility of the Viking ships) where they're going
to stike next. As we know, the Vikings had already raided Kent (which was
an attack that came out-of-the-blue, and could not be responded to in time).
They they found safe anchorage on Northey Island, with only limited access
on or off it. The English thus managed to summon-up Byrhtnoth's army to go
face them, due to their becoming temporarily stationary, while not actually
attacking any targets on the mainland. So this was the first (and maybe only)
chance the English would get to tackle the Vikings before they raided again.
It was actually quite a heroic thing to do, considering they were outnumbered.
But then, by using the causeway to their advantage, the English could limit the
number of Vikings that could fave them at any one time to quite a narrow front.
It actually reminds me a lot of the Spartan stand against an overwhelmingly
larger Persian army at Thermopylae, where a stand behind a stone wall in a
narrow pass flanked by mountains & sea succeded in preventing the Persian
advance for three days; and resulted in an awful lot of the invading Persians
being killed in the process, which then contributeded to them being able to be
defeated by the subsequent stand made by other Greek forces at Plataea.