Yes, this is sort of the exact opposite of Hyena42's Warlord Guide. So, credit goes to him.
Guide to Abbey Defense
It is clear that in every book, no matter how massive the force, Redwall Abbey never falls, and if it does it is for no more than a few days. However, the good side never comes away without some casualties; and that is the biggest reason for this blog. The abbey could do some small things to prevent death within its ranks.
Usually, the abbey is warned before any significant attack ensues. However, vermin will [at least they should] eventually realize that a blitzkrieg [lightning/fast attack] is the most effective way to storm an abbey, and so there are things that must be taken care of at once, before and during this event.
1:Always have a queue of abbey-beasts who are fit for battle and know it well. They will be the best ones to turn to in the event of an attack, obviously. Though it may seem ironic to have warriors trained in a peaceful abbey, you cannot keep much peace if you're overrun by vermin. [they still do a good job despite that though.]
2:Keep a storage of weapons somewhere that is safe, nearby, and is accessible by several abbey-beasts. You don't want too many inhabitants having to worry about weapons in the abbey and you don't want too few inhabitants knowing where they are at, lest that one or few get killed and no-one can find the weapons [not extremely likely, but that wouldn't be good].
3:In the event of an impending attack, keep the oatmeal on high heat. Preferably on the gatehouse.
4:If you have no oatmeal, make applesauce. You have an orchard.
5:If you don't want to waste good apples then perhaps there is some compost that could be boiled into a cauldron of horror. Recommended materials: anything rotten [vegetables of course; potatoes are particularly vile, I would know], food scraps, other unmentionable things. Mix with any liquid-like substance [water is still good, but boring]. Old honey, oils, or creams.
1: First thing to do in the case of a sudden attack is to get fighters to the front lines and mothers, dibbuns, and infirm to safety. If rule 1 of preparation is followed this isn't much of a problem. Fighters will usher their objectives away from the fight and set themselves against their quarry.
2: The abbot/abbess should hold a council [which they usually do] with one or several of the wiser combatants as well as other knowledgeable folk. The organization of a messenger party to Salamandastron will need to be discussed as well as the strategy against the enemy attack. [see 3 - 5 above]
3: Here is a list of things you should do, according to your position in the abbey
- Abbot/abbess: Don't go outside [ever], you are needed by all that are under you [everyone]. Stay calm and clear-headed to your best abilities and keep organization the priority.
- Cook: Bake something. First of all, its your job, whether you're paid or not. Second, you will need to have a good supply of food in the case of a prolonged siege which might possibly carry itself over the walls and to the abbey itself.
- Brother/sister: Help the abbot with whatever he needs done. Be ready to assist with dibbuns and elderly or help at the infirmary. You may also be needed close to the battle, giving out rations, weapons, supplies, etc.
- Infirmary keeper: Set an area for wounded fighters in your workplace. Try to work methodically, keep patients calm, and make sure you have some extra hands [paws]. If the situation grows desperate [you're short of hands/ short of medicine] you may need to start separating "expectants" [patients who are likely not to survive] from less seriously wounded fighters, taking care of those who can rush back into battle and comforting expectants.
- Abbey Warrior: You will be at the head of the defense force on the walls. It is important that you at least have a sub-conscious view of the battle and its surroundings. Vermin often imply sneak tactics: going around the opposite side of the walls, scaling them, climbing trees [of course these have most always failed miserably, as I have mentioned already, but they'll figure something out eventually].
- Cellar keeper: There isn't much else you can do aside from swinging a mallet at someone's head, and that's hard to do over a wall, so busy yourself with getting barrels of drink into the abbey and refreshing the troops [if you have been keeping any alcoholic beverages be sure to give those to the troops. Molatov Cocktail!]. You'd also be helpful with organizing little ones and helping the abbot.
- Recorder: I need not tell you what to do, other than move to a safe place, bringing plenty of ink and scrolls with you. If an enemy invades your room, throw ink in the eyes and jab with a pen.
As an abbey warrior you need to have a head on your shoulders, the ability to make quick decisions, a courage that needs no fuel, and plenty of battlefield experience. Your job during an invasion is vital in keeping the abbey and its inhabitants unharmed.
Your actions during battle, therefore, can have an effect on your soldier's morale. Morale is key to victory, which is probably why vermin always tend to lose. Vermin leaders tend to hang in the back, letting their troops go forth and fight while they stay safe. A true leader guides from the very front. You do not guide a body from the tail, but from the head.
A group of soldiers will be much more emboldened and courageous when they see that their leader is ready to go into the heart of the battle, and this increases your unit's effectiveness. You can't expect a horde to be thrilled to go into a war when its leader is cowering at the back.
Still, it poses a great risk to your life. You will be the quarry of almost every soldier within range, so you must be able to live with that and its consequences.
But, these risks are very slim when you are fighting behind a wall, which is most always the case when you're defending an abbey. In this case, you must be flexible [no, not bodily, I mean versatile] and efficient, moving from position to position and assessing the field. It is best to have several higher-ranked soldiers for this though, so they can relay information to you, rather than you having to look after everything. So, really, you can just sit back in one spot shooting arrows and scheming while your information slaves relay back to you.
But this isn't how a good leader functions though, so do go around once in awhile, looking over your troops. Let them know you're watching out for them and that you aren't leaving everything up to those ranked lower than you.
The Show of Force
A show of strength, depending on how strong it is, can be intimidating but, really, it is not of much significance at all. All it tells you is what the enemy looks like. A commander that shows his troops could have more hidden somewhere and if the soldiers seem sloppy in their gate it just opens the possibility that they could be ill-trained. Its not hard to act sloppy. In other words - ignore the enemy's boasting and concentrate on other matters, unless that force happens to look particularly abominable in number or quality. In other words - do what the Redwallers always do in that matter... [yes, I just wasted several moments of your life. Sorry, I'll try not to do that for the rest of this blog.]
Random side note - Always keep a random Redwaller walking on your walls. They always seem to have the best of luck; especially the dibbuns if someone is scaling your walls.