Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/79

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62
RPERSIA.

charged but in volleys, which are very powerful and do great execution from their number.

As to the field-pieces, they were, till the recent improvements in this branch of the service, of very little use. The wretched state of the roads on the frontiers prevented the transport of them from place to place, and the carriages were so miserably constructed, that they were sure to break with a few discharges, if they escaped being dashed in pieces by rocks or tumbled down precipices.

A Persian soldier armed cap-a-pie, observes Mr. Scott Waring, is of all figures the most ridiculous. It is really laughable to see how they encumber themselves with weapons of defence: their horses groan under the weight of their arms. These consist of a pair of pistols in their holsters, a single one slung in their waist, a carbine or a long Turkish gun, a sword, a dagger, and an immense long spear; for all these fire-arms they have separate ramrods, tied about their persons, powder-horns for loading, others for priming, and a variety of cartouch-boxes, filled with different sized cartridges. The rattling of all these things may be heard when they are a great way off. Their saddle and arms cannot weigh less than eighty pounds, an enormous addition to the horse's burden: they nevertheless consider themselves as light-armed troops, ridiculing the Turkish cavalry, who, they say, can take care of little else than their big boots and their cap.

The arms of the Persians are very good, particularly their swords, which are highly prized by the Turks. They are full of jouhur, or what is called damask, which, however, does not express the meaning of the word; for the jouhur is inherent in the steel. Tavernier says, that none but the Golconda steel can be damasked; but in this he is mistaken, as the Khorasan swords are more valuable than any others, the blade alone often costing twenty or thirty guineas.

SECTION III.

OF THE MILITARY ART AMONG THE PERSIANS.

It may be affirmed with truth, that till Abbas Mirza, the heir-apparent to the throne, undertook a few years since to reform the military system of the Persians, they had no idea of tactics and military engineering. They are wholly ignorant of the art of entrenchment and fortification; their camp consists of a circle surrounded with a few lines, and it is reputed to be impregnable when it is pitched on the bank of a river or against the declivity of a hill. The best fortified towns are encompassed with a wall built of mud mixed with straw, a few brick towers, and a ditch: