7 Disadvantages Of A Battering Ram

Today, we are taking a look at the disadvantages of the battering ram. You will see all 7 disadvantages of the battering ram explained in detail right here. So, let’s begin right away.

What are the 7 disadvantages of the battering ram?

The 7 disadvantages of a battering ram are:

  1. Requires a large number of people to operate effectively
  2. Slow and cumbersome to transport and set up
  3. Can be easily blocked or obstructed by fortifications or obstacles
  4. Vulnerable to counterattacks by defending soldiers
  5. Limited in its ability to breach certain types of walls or barriers
  6. Can cause structural damage to the building being attacked making it less valuable when conquered
  7. Requires significant maintenance and repair after use

Now, let’s go through each of the 7 battering ram disadvantages in detail. Starting with …

Battering Rams Needed A Lot Of People To Operate Them

The number of people needed to effectively operate a battering ram varied depending on the size of the ram. It could be from a dozen all the way to a hundred people. And everything in between. A vast number of people were required to work in unison to swing the ram in order to generate the necessary momentum to cause the maximum damage.

Now, these people needed to at least be somewhat trained to operate it. And on top of that battering rams had the disadvantage of needing people to provide cover for them. That usually came in the form of arrow fire from archers.

Are You Curious? You can see the 4 most common catapults used in medieval times by clicking here. Another tab will open up. And you can visit that article after finishing this one.

So, needing a great deal of manpower is disadvantage number 1. What’s the second one?

Slow To Transport And Set Up

Battering rams were large and heavy. They had to be in order to be effective.

Their weight made them difficult to transport over long distances. It was also challenging to maneuver the ram into position, especially if the terrain was difficult (we will get to that in our next segment). Once the ram was in position, it took a considerable amount of time to set up and prepare for use. All of these factors meant that the use of a battering ram required careful planning and coordination to be effective.

Can Be Easily Blocked Or Obstructed

Due to their large size and weight battering rams were vulnerable to being blocked or obstructed by fortifications or obstacles. As an example walls or gates could be reinforced with additional barriers, such as spikes or sharp objects, which made it challenging for the ram to penetrate.

The defenders could also create obstacles, such as moats or trenches, to slow down the advance of the ram or even force it to change direction. As a result, the use of battering rams required a careful assessment of the fortifications and obstacles that needed to be overcome.

Vulnerable To Counterattacks

Battering rams were vulnerable to counterattacks by the defenders. Which makes sense, right? A large slow moving object that is capable of causing damage is bound to attract attention from the opposing side. And with their attention also came attacks.

The operators of the ram were exposed to attacks from:

  • arrows
  • spear
  • other projectiles

Defenders could also use hot oil, boiling water, or other substances to deter the attackers. The purpose of the hot water or oil was to inflict damage on the operators, not the weapon itself.

If the defenders managed to destroy the ram, the attackers could be left exposed and vulnerable to counterattacks. As a result, the use of battering rams required a significant amount of protection and coordination to be effective.

On to the next vulnerability.

Limited In Its Ability To Breach Certain Types Of Walls

Battering rams were limited in their ability to breach certain types of walls or barriers. For example, walls made of stone or other hard materials could be difficult to penetrate with a ram. Some walls were too thick, while others were designed to be resistant to battering rams. As a result, the use of battering rams required a careful assessment of the materials and design of the fortifications that needed to be breached.

It Could Damage The Walls Of Conquered Fortifications

This one is kind of counterintuitive. The walls of a conquered city get damaged. But you are thinking “wait isn’t that the point of the battering ram?” Yes, yes it is. But when you take the city you are left with defending a city that has a gap in the wall. So, good luck with that.

Using a battering ram can make your conquest less defendable if you are not able to plug the gap in the wall quickly then you are in trouble.

And the last disadvantage of using a battering ram is …

Significant Wear And Tare After Each Use

As you might imagine a weapon of this size caught the attention of the defending forces. With their attention came weapons and attacks. So, defenders, as was said before, poured all kinds of physical and liquid projectiles on battering rams in hopes of stopping them.

This did cause significant damage that had to be repaired after each battle. Even with the ram itself. Battering a solid stone fortification repeatedly could and did cause stress to the head of the battering ram. Which was also a structural weak point after repeated use.

In Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you wish to continue learning I suggest taking a look at my next article “The Complete History Of Battering Rams” right here.

Take care!