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i want to make renaissance era armies that are large in size and able to travel far( without plundering for resources) but I'm running into a problem regarding how to feed them since there is no industrial farming or preservation. (to support large armies traveling far away from the homeland)

some important info for the solution

  • they are stuck in the renaissance era (originally in the late 1900s) but medicine and hygiene and philosophy have advanced.
  • the army is run by a powerful and well-connected government
  • the land they travel to is just normal plains the reason that they don't steal from the land is because of the highly regulated military court system.
  • the country is well connected by water channels that are well guarded, but these channels do not extend outside the country border, rather the land they travel have few rivers but aren't enough to be used for supplies transport.
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    $\begingroup$ How big do you want them? .. Napoleon's was 1,000,000 strong at its largest with 680,000 men participating in the Russian campaign, & that was in the early 1800's so unless you're on about some stupidly large army sizes far beyond anything we see even today I fail to see any problem here you'd need an answer for? $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Dec 6 '19 at 6:40
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    $\begingroup$ Point of order : the renaissance wasn't in the 1900's, at the latest it ended in the 1600's. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Dec 6 '19 at 6:47
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    $\begingroup$ stupidly large army sizes far beyond anything we see even today : in 2010 the Russian army was only around 1,027,000 active troops, so not any larger than Napoleons in any substantial or meaningful sense .. especially given the larger agricultural base & geographic footprint Russia can call upon to feed them. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Dec 6 '19 at 7:05
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    $\begingroup$ It is not really possible to support a large(-ish) army by "plundering for resources"; that works only for small "armies", simply because the enemy won't be helpful and leave well-stocked food supplies in the path of the army. That's why all professional armies had logistic trains commanded by experienced and knowledgeable officers. For example, in 1683 (that's only a few decades after the end of the Renaissane period) the Ottomans besieged Vienna with an army of 150,000 men. The army was assembled at Adrianopole and took two and a half months to travel from there to Vienna. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Dec 6 '19 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ @ Pelinore they are stuck in the renaissance era, not the year, meaning its the year is 1920 but they didn't advance like in our timeline. regarding the size well I was going for about 5 million note that the land they are in is as big as the soviet union was minus all the tundra and frozen lands (wether is like west Europe) $\endgroup$ – Hasan Alsudani Dec 6 '19 at 22:31
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There were already many food preservation techniques used by sailors and armies by the renaissance that allowed them to store food for months or years if need be. Flour can be kept and only cooked into bread/biscuits/etc as needed giving you a reliable source of carbohydrates. Dried and salted meats give you proteins. Certain cheeses can last a long time without refrigeration.

Fruit is your hardest major food group, but by the mid-1700s many sailing ships would carry oranges, lemons, and melons and by the the late 1700s, lemon juice was used to replace fresh fruit because it lasted longer. If you are going back with modern knowledge, your time traveler might know that adding fruit juice, dried peppers, or chilies to the menu would prevent scurvy and allow long term preservation of all your needed food groups.

As for bulk: the answer is plantations. Plantation style farming was common in many ancient civilizations such as Rome and Greece, and was later revived in the renaissance using Irish, Native American, and African slave labor. Basically, as long as you are willing to exploit a considerable % of your population to make all of your food while giving them less than their fair share, you can produce a large enough excess for a non-agricultural urban culture and permanent standing military without needing industrial farming. In fact, the revival of farmer exploitation in this manner is sometimes cited as a contributing factor to the the rise of urbanization that allowed the renaissance to happen.

There are also certain crops that offer notoriously good returns on your labor compared to others. Potatoes and Yams for example give a far better caloric return for your labor than wheat or berries. Focussing on high return crops like that would also allow you to better feed your people off of fewer farmers per capita.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi and thank you for the reply. that settles the preservation part of my question thank you. what remains is how a country can provide food to large armies, in the renaissance era with no industrial farming $\endgroup$ – Hasan Alsudani Dec 6 '19 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ @HasanAlsudani if your question is not fully answered, why select an answer so soon? please give enough time for others to attempt answering your question. $\endgroup$ – V. Sim Dec 6 '19 at 5:16
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    $\begingroup$ You also have napoleon's technique, put hearty soup in wine bottle and boil, effectively the first from of pasteurized canning. $\endgroup$ – John Dec 6 '19 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ "if your question is not fully answered, why select an answer so soon?" Even I've got to upvote this one. Personally, I find it best to wait at least 3-4 days before accepting an answer no matter how good it is. Sometimes the best answer only comes after people have gotten to read through other people's multiple perspectives. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Dec 6 '19 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki sorry you are very much correct but I felt that this answer was good at the time and i felt the question didn't require more answers. $\endgroup$ – Hasan Alsudani Dec 6 '19 at 22:30
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Historically, Japanese armies faced exactly this issue. What they started doing was carrying around miso paste and mixing it with boiling water to make soup. Lightweight, nutritious, easy to produce, and tasty. No factory farming required, and preservation isn't really an issue.

You may not want to call it "miso", you could say it's a bean paste or say it's from some made-up plant.

Edit to add: miso is surprisingly high in calories, protein, fiber, and vitamins. It's really very nutritionally dense. That being said, I was thinking about it some more and a different route would be to follow the indigenous north american example and make pemmican (which is also extremely nutritious). Unfortunately, that requires access to meat and that may be hard to come by in sufficient amounts. Either plan requires plenty of planning beforehand so that the army has time to either plant many beans or raise many animals.

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  • $\begingroup$ thank you for your interesting answer, how large an army can be supported by this miso paste, I mean surely the plant it was made of must have been industrially farmed for army support? $\endgroup$ – Hasan Alsudani Dec 6 '19 at 4:06
  • $\begingroup$ @HasanAlsudani that depends on how much land you have to spare and work force to process your paste. This paste could also be combination of multiple crops for increased nutritional content. I'm also curious to find out if the paste was mainly used to satisfy caloric demands or nutritional demands. From "mixing with boiling water to make soup" it sound more like nutritional than caloric. $\endgroup$ – V. Sim Dec 6 '19 at 5:11
  • $\begingroup$ There is no need to delete an answer and then repost it. Simply use the edit function made available. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Dec 6 '19 at 8:29
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I found this excellent answer on the history stack; original linked. If you like it, go upvote the original!

https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/174/how-was-napoleons-invasion-of-russia-supplied/176#176

There were four main methods of supplying troops during the Napoleonic period;

(1) The individual soldiers would be issued with rations that they carried in their knapsack. Enough for about two weeks. This was often in the form of biscuits.

(2) Cattle or other animals were herded along and slaughtered along the way but these increased the grazing requirement.

(3) Wagons following in the supply train. The main component of which was normally flour. Periodically they would stop construct ovens and bake biscuits..

(4) Living off the land and foraging...

Comments noted French soldiers also carried cheese, which I would like to have if I were a soldier, or if I were not. Napoleon is later than Renaissance but people like to talk about his armies because there were records and organization and Napoleon's campaigns in some respects predate the later industrialization of warfare.

As regards where this food comes from (for points 1 thru 3; point 4 is stolen food) it is sold to you by family farmers who grow more than their family needs and sell it, or you claim some of what they have grown as tax. This is how small scale farming works. It is inefficient because you must buy from multiple small farms to accumulate what you need but so be it.

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    $\begingroup$ Not sure of the accuracy. But supposedly one of the reasons sea turtles got very close to extinction is because you can stack them, alive, in the hold of a ship. Then you can pull them out as needed and cook them. So people would go collect them for long sea voyages. Yes, live animals as storage for food. $\endgroup$ – puppetsock Dec 6 '19 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ @puppetsock - I think that was the Galapagos tortoises people would stow in the hold. It is a lot easier to collect a bunch of them than it is sea turtles. $\endgroup$ – Willk Dec 6 '19 at 22:14

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