How did armies such as the Mongols keep their archers supplied with arrows while on campaign?
Metallurgy was practiced by our ancestors for thousands of years. During the Hunnu (xiongnu) empire, metalworking was well established and commonly practiced. Blacksmiths made astonishing works of art from metal, gold and silver. The composite bows and various types of arrows have been used extensively by the Hunnus. The arrowheads below are the whistling arrowheads used by the Hunnu generals to command the soldiers. (Inner Mongolian museum)
By the time of the Mongols, the traditions of metalworking was passed on from previous generations. It was well established and common. It was customary to send one of the sons to war and make one of the sons a blacksmith.
Each Mongolian soldier was required to carry 2–3 quivers holding 30 arrows each. That’s almost 90 arrows per person. In addition, they also carried 40–60 arrow heads in a small satchel. Arrows are comparatively easy to make while on expeditions. Birch was the most used wood, but bamboo, willows were also acceptable. Vulture feathers were the standard material for fletching, but in dire situations other feathers were perfectly acceptable. So Mongol soldier was highly self sufficient and could last for months, but eventually the arrowheads broke and needed to be replaced.
For this purpose Chinggis Khan established a ministry to prepare weapons and horses for war. Arrows were prepared in huge quantities and were sent in carts as part of the logistics supply. Blacksmiths also went to war with the warriors to repair the weapons and armor. They would also make additional arrows from locally sourced materials.
Originally published at https://mongoliafaq.com on September 8, 2020.