Devils are indeed in details. Watching a Japanese movie Fire on the Plain, it suddenly reminded me a topic I have always wanted to write about — you know, when we are listening to the wonderful story of the Three Kingdoms, and fancy how powerful China was, and how you could also be a hero, neither the author, nor anyone has lived off these stories, such as nowadays talk show hosts, bother to mention to you at all, that if there were indeed an army of that size — a few hundred thousands, or even millions, how terrible the smell their camp must have been!
Yes. We heard in 评书 of 埋锅造饭, and there are many stories about how an army can run out of food, and how you can raid your enemy's food line to arouse a panic. But, no one has described the other end of the human digest system — shits! Literally. If you eat, you shit. They have to come out, somehow, some way, some day. No exception. As a matter of fact, I would even fancy (well, I'm using the word "fancy" because myself never had experience of starvation, thus can only speculate) that holding shit from coming out is more difficult than enduring a few days of hunger. I can totally see myself skip a few meals to survive, and even happy (ask Noah and he will definitely agree), but holding from toilet for a few days!?.... very unlikely.
So there it is. If I were a general back in those days, I could tell the size of an army by counting how smelly their camp was. Especially back then public health was a thing never heard of. My friend in Tibet is still struggling w/ a resident without a proper toilet to go to, in 21st century, then what's the odds that ancient army has such a discipline to deal with that!?
Further, if such knowledge and practice has existed and has been used in such a massive scale ← we are talking about a lot of people, males mostly, concentrated in a tight space and in a short period of time, then why not we never heard about anything in books? in talks? The people, so called fighters, existed with a curious attribute that they have all the other human features except this one thing! How wonderful!
Think about it. If they didn't dig toilet, then the camp would be a massive shit dump! Will the tent next to you care anything about you stepping onto their shits!? probably not. So everyone takes his path of lease resistence — being the most convenient for him, at that emergency moment, and forget about social etiquete! Then what will that camp look like? smell like? errrr............
Now someone will say, oh, they have toilet like we do. Then, let's say how many these facilities they will have!? It has be many many many, because, when you live w/ even a few thousand people, the ground it takes to have all these people lie down is quite large. Therefore, are you going to walk across a few miles just to pee!? Maybe not. So there must be a facility near you or your group. Well, then this becomes a math exercise: for an army of 100,000, let's say 100 people share a toilet, then there needs to be, 1000 toilets! and you know what, digging those things are not that easy! and what about when you are marching into a territory in which digging a toilet is not possible, say, winter in New England!?
Everytime when I watched movie that soldiers are ambushing an enemy by lying and waiting for hours there, I was always wondering, what if I need to pee right now? or shit? Pee might be ok. But shit!? I mean, I can do that, but that smell will give away our position, right!? and it won't be just me, what if quite a few of my band of brothers had the same need!?
Details, details, details. I looked at Vietnam war movies, and saw American barracks. They make sense. There is toilet. But in China's grand military stories, no one shits, physically.
This is fxxx miracle.
— by Feng Xia