Sappers, Miners, and Underminers

I was a kid in when I first heard about “sappers.”  They were the little guys slinging satchel charges and blowing holes in the perimeter wire and bunkers.  I was a big Combat! fan and I knew what satchel charges were, and I had a father in Vietnam and I knew these sappers were trying to kill him.  Also around this time I remember hearing the word “undermine” in reference to the people back in the States who were demonstrating and protesting and spitting on soldiers in airports.  I didn’t really know what “undermine” meant back then, but it sounded sneaky and underhanded to me.

I grew up, learned a few things, absorbed a brain full of arcane trivia and gained a vague awareness of military history and and fortifications and siege warfare and sappers and miners.  Land mines have not always been what we think of today. 

History records the use of mines in ancient times in connection with siege operations.  Reference is made to their use by Alexander the Great, by Caeser, and by other generals of note in history.  They were freely used in the middle ages in the attacks of castles and walled cities.

The object to be obtained by the use of mines during those periods was either that of a breach in a wall, or that of a subterranean passage which would allow the besiegers an entrance into the interior of the place, and an opportunity of capturing the place by surprise.

When a breach in the wall was the object, the mines were driven under the foundations, and these foundations held up by supports made of timber.  When the excavation was significantly large for the purpose the besiegers set fire to the supports.  These being burned, the foundations fell into the excavations made, and a breach in the wall was effected.  — A Text Book of Military Engineering for the use of the Cadets  of the United States Military Academy, Parts II and III comprising siege operations and military mining, with an appendix giving the principles of fortification drawing  , p. 130.

Those old time military miners dug tunnels into the earth just like any other kind of miner.  And the object of all that pick and shovel work was to undermine.

How is your morale these days? 

Are you more enthusiastic about your tribe/nation-state/political party [pick one] and more confident about its success in the future?  Or less?  Speaking as a proud member of the al-Ameriki tribe, I’m slightly more enthusiastic than usual, this being a national holiday and all, but my confidence is wavering.  I see a lot of undermining going on, and I don’t like it, and I’m looking for ways to stop it, and repair the damage.

Somebody is running Morale Operations on my people.  They are my enemies.  I want them neutralized or destroyed.  My perception has been managed by somebody so that I perceive my government to be incapable, incompetant, or unwilling to counter these Morale Operations.  I can hear the tunnelers digging.  Our walls will fall if nothing is done.  The garrison commander chooses not to hear the digging.  The Royal Engineers don’t think it’s their job. 

Grab a shovel, boys and girls.  The Civilian Irregular Corps of Sappers and Miners have counter mines to dig. 



H/T: PurpleSlog



Filed under Morale Operations

2 responses to “Sappers, Miners, and Underminers

  1. I was wondering how do you counter-mine a sapper? Do you dig tunnels under them and collapse their tunnels? Although that would have to done away from the walls, else it would collapse the wall’s foundations as well.

  2. You countersap a sap, or mine a sap. A sap is a trench that may or may not have overhead cover added. You can dig a countersap into the side of it and send your raiders in to kill the sappers. But your own countersap now is an avenue of approach to your fortress.

    You can tunnel under a sap and explode a mine and turn the sap into a crater and ruin the sappers’ day. has al you would ever care to know on the subject