How was the Great Wall of China defended?
Soldiers and troops stationed in or nearby Great Wall Passes.
Along the Great Wall of China there are many passes, where soldiers or troops used to station, like Juyongguan Pass, Shanhaiguan Pass and Jiayuguan Pass. When there was a battle, they could move via the wall to the battle site in no time. To strengthen the defensive ability of the passes, defensive towns and other military units with soldiers were set nearby.
For instance, in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), there were eleven defensive towns with troops set along the Great Wall. These towns were all built with thick bricks and stones surrounded by quite high walls, which were easy to hold but hard to attack. Here is a list of troops’ distribution conditions in the Ming Dynasty.
|Defensive Units||Number of Soldiers|
|Town||3,000 soldiers or according to the actual military conditions|
|Road Town||More than 12,000 soldiers|
|Wei Suo||5,600 soldiers|
|Qian Hu Suo||1,120 soldiers|
|Bai Hu Suo||112 soldiers|
|Zong Qi||More than 50 soldiers|
|Fen Qi||About a dozen|
Beacon Towers were set to deliver military messages.
As early as in the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 BC), the method of using beacon towers to deliver message were already in operation. As a primary communication media, beacon towers made a great contribution to the ancient military battles.
How were messages sent along the Great Wall?
Beacon Tower Signal Rules in the Ming Dynasty:
|Day||Night||Number of Enemies|
|One smoke torch, one cannon signal||Fire torch, one cannon signal||About 100|
|Two smoke torch, two cannon signal||Fire torch, two cannon signal||About 500|
|Three smoke torch, three cannon signal||Fire torch, three cannon signal||About 1,000|
|Four smoke torch, four cannon signal||Fire torch, four cannon signal||About 5,000|
|Five smoke torch, five cannon signal||Fire torch, five cannon signal||About 10,000|
Apart from the beacon tower signal system, there is another important post system on land along the Great Wall, which consists of post towns, delivery stations and post houses, providing accommodation and horses for the officers who deliver the messages, as well as the safe guard for the military supplies.
|Wide Passage on the Wall|
How many watchtowers are on the Great Wall of China?
Soldiers patrolled on the Walls of Great Wall for possible invasions.
Due to the huge length of the Great Wall of China, it is impossible to set soldiers along the every inch of it. So the soldiers usually patrolled on the top of the wall to guard the Great Wall of China. The passages on the top of the wall were usually constructed widely. During the battles, the broad passages also make a great contribution on troop’s movement and supplies’ delivery at the highest speed; also, the wall itself is a protection for soldiers from direct attack by enemies.
Military Defense System of China Great Wall
Who was the Great Wall of China built to keep out?