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    “Stand spears! Shield from arrows!”

    As soon as the commander’s order was given, the spearmen positioned at the very front of the Joseon army’s formation simultaneously pressed the upright spears tightly against their right shoulders and held them firmly.

    The way they held the spears was very peculiar. The right arm, bent in an ‘L’ shape, was tightly gripping the middle part of the spear, and the left arm, raised to face level, was covering the face and gripping the upper part of the spear.

    Between the soldiers who took that posture, the shouts of officers and veteran soldiers erupted.

    “Keep your eyes only forward! Don’t look up at the sky trying to see the arrows and get one stuck in your eyeball!”

    “How much gap between your left arm and helmet? Just enough to see outside slightly! If you’re nervous, place your left arm right under the helmet brim! Don’t hold it loosely and get your eyeball blinded by a stray arrow!”

    “Trust your armor and helmet! There’s a reason they’re annoyingly heavy!”

    As the shouts of the commanders and veteran soldiers echoed from all directions, the arrows shot by the Huligai cavalry began to pour down from the sky.

    Clatter! Thud! Clang! Thwack!

    The arrows that poured down like rain hit the upright spears and bounced off in all directions with a loud noise.

    Feeling the vibration through the spear shaft, the spearmen gritted their teeth and gripped the shaft even more tightly.

    The noise and vibration made by the arrows hitting the spears were eerie, but the vibration and noise made by the arrows bouncing off the helmets and armor – especially the sound of the green cotton cloth covering the outer surface of the iron armor tearing – were even more eerie.

    “Aaargh! My eye!”

    While blocking the arrow rain with their bodies like that, an unwanted scream erupted.

    “You idiot! That’s why I told you to cover properly! Take this guy away. Fill the spot!”

    Fortunately for the other spearmen, there were hardly any soldiers who were injured and had to retreat like that.

    “Damn it! If I survive this battlefield, I’ll have to bow three times a day toward the East Palace! Long live the Crown Prince!”

    The spearmen unconsciously nodded their heads at the veteran soldier’s shout coming from one side.

    ***

    The armor worn by the commanders, cavalrymen, and spearmen of the Army was also Hyang’s creation.

    Thanks to the ‘ultimate cheat of 21st-century memory,’ the production cost of plate armor became very low as press techniques were introduced.

    The supply issue of the main material, steel, was resolved with the establishment of a large steel mill in Anju, and the mass production of armor accelerated.

    The overall design followed Western plate armor, but one part was distinctly different.

    It was the helmet.

    The Western-style helmet that covered the entire head was not suitable for Joseon’s climate.

    Joseon’s summers were damn hot, and winters were damn cold.

    Of course, it wasn’t that Europe didn’t have summers and winters, but not as much as Joseon. Various measures could be taken by adopting European methods, but Hyang, who had the memory of military service in the 21st century, shook his head.

    “Soldiers hate bothersome things at the genetic level, and you want to create more work? Not a single soldier will do it properly.”

    Therefore, Hyang created a new helmet based on the cheomju[1] (簷冑, a helmet with a brim).

    Overall, he increased the size of the brim, and despite having a neck guard made through plate work, he added a dream (a type of cloth) that covered the left, right, and back of the head.

    Of course, he did not forget to secure protection by fixing iron plates inside the dream as padding.

    The brim of the cheomju shielded from the strong sunlight in summer, and by tying the left and right dreams upward, some heat could be released.

    Also, since the helmet and dream were spacious, when winter came, a hat made with cotton could be worn and carefully wrapped with the dream to protect the head from the cold.

    ***

    “Damn it!”

    The Huligai cavalry, who had been shooting arrows at Joseon’s spearmen, simultaneously cursed without exception.

    It was because they saw with their own eyes that the arrows they had shot with all their might were not causing much damage.

    A few of the Joseon spearmen standing like scarecrows fell, but their positions were soon filled. And the Joseon spearmen were steadfastly maintaining the defensive line.

    Seeing the Joseon spearmen’s defensive line being firm, the Huligai cavalry glanced back.

    In the midst of that damn hail of bullets from the Joseon troops, their tribal brothers kept falling but still charged forward.

    Seeing that, the cavalrymen gritted their teeth and looked forward.

    Retreat was not an option.

    The moment they turned their horses’ heads, they would only become fodder for those damn bullets while getting tangled with the brothers charging from behind.

    There was only one answer.

    It was to charge with resolve to die and stick arrows in the faces of those Joseon troops, and then immediately move to the side.

    Only by shaking the formation like that would the brothers following behind thoroughly avenge what they had suffered so far.

    “Hiyah! Ha!”

    “Let’s go!”

    The cavalrymen shouted and spurred their horses.

    ***

    “They’ll be within musket range soon.”

    The spearmen commanders, who had been gauging the distance from the charging Huligai cavalry, shouted in unison.

    “Kneel down! Spear formation!”

    As soon as the commanders’ orders were given, the spearmen immediately knelt on their right knees and thrust their long spears diagonally forward, shouting.

    “Formation set!”

    The spearheads of the long spears held by the spearmen were aimed at the chest and head of the charging horses.

    The long spears held by the spearmen were literally long spears with a length of 1 jang 5 cheok (about 4.5 m).

    The front line of the Joseon army’s formation had literally turned into a wall bristling with thorns.

    If the spearmen had turned into a thorny defensive wall, the musketeers were in charge of the attack.

    “First row! Ready muskets! Aim!”

    As soon as the spearmen, who had been blocking the view, simultaneously lowered their bodies and the view opened up, the commanders of the musketeer units shouted in unison.

    Simultaneously with the commanders’ orders, the musketeers in the first row raised their muskets and aimed.

    “Fire!”

    Ratatata!

    With a loud noise, the first row of the musketeer unit was enveloped in smoke. However, that smoke was swept away by the blowing wind.

    And the musketeers, who received newly loaded muskets from their comrades behind them, aimed at the target again.

    “Fire!”

    Ratatata!

    ***

    Under the concentrated fire of the musketeers, the leading group of the charging Huligai cavalry began to collapse.

    The Huligai cavalrymen who leaped over their fallen brothers, whether they fell from their horses or collapsed on the ground with their horses, were relentlessly shot down by the following bullets.

    The unceasing concentrated fire shattered the charging will of the Huligai cavalry.

    Eventually, about 70 jang (about 200 m) away from the Joseon army’s formation, the Huligai cavalry split to the left and right.

    The plan was to avoid the attack by splitting to the left and right while simultaneously shooting arrows.

    It was a tactic ingrained like instinct in the long history of struggle that had continued through the Yao, Jin, Mongolia, and Ming.

    However, the Huligai cavalry had forgotten about the presence of the Joseon cavalry positioned on the flanks.

    ***

    As the Huligai cavalry, who had split to the left and right, entered firing range, the Joseon cavalry pulled out the muskets they had stuck in their saddles.

    “Aim! Fire!”

    Ratatata!

    The hills where they were positioned were momentarily obscured by the smoke from the muskets fired by the cavalry units and then reappeared.

    The cavalrymen who finished firing took out powder bags from small pouches they were carrying, tore off the bottom with their teeth, and poured the gunpowder into the gun barrel. Then, they began to shove the powder bag into the barrel with the ramrod.

    The powder bag contained both gunpowder and ammunition.

    The ammunition, whose size was precisely matched to maximize the effect of rifling, was difficult to load, but the powder bag made of oiled paper soaked in bean oil made it easy to load the bullet.

    The Joseon cavalrymen, who finished reloading by replacing the flintlock with familiar hand movements, aimed at the Huligai cavalry and all had the same thought.

    ‘Come to think of it… It’s not common to fire muskets consecutively against Jurchen on horseback, right?’

    Typically, after firing a musket, they would either immediately take a cavalry spear and charge, or engage in close combat with a six-barreled horse gun in one hand and a cavalry saber in the other.

    Sitting in the saddle and leisurely firing muskets consecutively like this was unusual.

    While the Huligai cavalry collapsed like a sand castle washed away by seawater under the gunfire from the front and flanks, the infantry who had made a death charge approached the Joseon army’s formation.

    Seeing that, the spearmen commander sent a hand signal to the musketeer commander.

    Confirming the hand signal, the musketeer commander shouted loudly.

    “Cease fire!”

    “Cease fire! Stand muskets!”

    At the shouts of the commanders and lower-ranking officers, the musketeers stopped firing and stood their muskets beside them.

    As the musketeers stopped firing and avoided the danger of friendly fire, the spearmen commanders ordered their subordinates.

    “All rise!”

    At the commanders’ orders, the spearmen rose from their positions, relying on their spears.

    “Second row! Third row! Draw swords!”

    At the commanders’ orders, the spearmen positioned in the second and third rows drew their swords in unison.

    They were real long swords, with a length from the tip of the blade to the end of the hilt reaching up to the chest of an adult male.

    ***

    Early on, when Hyang was acquiring Western books from Ming, he discovered a peculiar book among the Western books brought by the envoys.

    “Why is this appearing here?”

    What Hyang discovered was a longsword fencing manual published in Germany.

    Even the envoys who purchased the book were unaware that it was a fencing manual. They had just done a sweeping shopping spree from a Ming merchant.

    “So… Why is this fencing manual written by an unknown fencer in Ming…”

    As Hyang examined the book this way and that, he found the reason on the very last page of the book.

    – The swordsmanship of the Westerners is full of murderous intent, so it is not good for spiritual cultivation. Therefore, the descendants of the Sei family should neither see nor learn this fencing manual.

    “So… Since they told you not to learn it, you just sold it? By the way, Sei family? Could it be Namgoong?”

    Anyway, now that the fencing manual had arrived, Hyang immediately began his obsession.

    Hyang, who translated the book written in medieval German into Chinese characters as much as possible, sought out a skilled swordsman. And he found a master at the closest place, who was the commander of the Royal Guard.

    At Hyang’s request, the Royal Guard commander, who examined the fencing manual, gave an unexpected answer.

    “If there is a sword suitable for this swordsmanship, it seems like it would be quite useful.”

    “How about teaching it to the Royal Guards or the Gabsa?”

    The Royal Guard commander, who pondered for a moment at Hyang’s words, soon nodded.

    “It should be fine. Although there are those from long-standing military families or those who learned swordsmanship from renowned masters, not all of them are like that.”

    In this way, the Royal Guard commander and Hyang joined forces to make longsword fencing into Joseon military swordsmanship.

    And the result was the longsword held by the spearmen.

    ***

    “Shoulder sword on the right!”

    The spearmen who drew their long swords placed the swords on their right shoulders and glared forward.

    “First row! Thrust!”

    “Thrust!”

    At the commander’s order, the spearmen in the first row simultaneously thrust their long spears forward and shouted loudly.

    After confirming the state of the first row, the commander soon shouted loudly.

    “Advance!”

    Thud! Thud!

    With the sound of heavy footsteps, the spearmen maintained their formation and narrowed the distance with the Huligai infantry charging from the front.

    Watching the scene from behind, the musketeer commanders raised their voices.

    “Musketeers! Bayonets!”

    At the commanders’ shouts, the musketeers turned the bayonet scabbards hanging from their left hips upside down.

    The connecting part of the bayonet blade inside the scabbard slid into the left hand due to gravity.

    “Attach!”

    At the commander’s order, the musketeers, who had pulled out the bayonets, inserted the connecting part into the protruding latch on the muzzle of the musket and twisted it.

    The musketeers who had attached the bayonets to their muskets shouted loudly as they stood their muskets upright.

    “Attached!” (Note 1)

    With this, the musketeer unit was prepared for any potential close combat while observing the battle situation.

    ***

    Note 1) For those who want to see this process in video, please watch the 1964 film “Zulu.”

    1. https://colbase.nich.go.jp/media/tnm/J-14168/image/slideshow_l/J-14168_C0030997.jpg []

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