and snuggle the girls be they short or tall,
then follow young Mat whenever he calls,
to dance with Jak o' the Shadows."
—song of the Band
The Band of the Red Hand (Shen an Calhar in the Old Tongue) is an army named after a legendary band of Manetheren heroes. It is said that they were last to fall to the Trollocs, defending King Aemon al Caar al Thorin himself, when Manetheren died.
The Band is led by Matrim Cauthon, arguably the best general alive and at the very least a commander on the level of the Five Great Captains. The original members of the Band were from Tear and Cairhien, but many were later recruited from Altara, Andor, and Murandy.
The Band's organization and tactics stem from the many memories in Mat's head that were given to him by the Eelfinn. The commanders and many members were drawn to the band by Mat's luck as well as the fact that he is a brilliant general. Many believe they cannot be beaten when Mat is commanding them, and so far they have not.
Military structure and size
As mentioned in the above section, the military structure is taken from the model used in the vast armies that took to the field during the Trolloc Wars until the time of Artur Hawkwing. In those times, there existed, from smallest to largest, Banners, Legions, Grand Legions, and a formal definition of an 'army.'
With regard to the Band of the Red Hand, they had six banners of horse and five banners of foot as of Knife of Dreams. One banner of horse contains roughly 1,500 riders and one banner of foot about 3,000 men. Also the band have 4000 mounted crossbow men but these men were drawn from the footmen, thereby leaving the rest of the foot "a little light on crossbows." Based on these rough figures alone, the Band has around 24,000 fighting men (9,000 horse and 15,000 foot). There also exists a banner of masons dedicated to building bridges and similar tasks, though this is historically often a much smaller and indeterminate number. In addition to the mason's banner, it is yet unknown how many non-combatant members of the Band exist; these include the scout forces, quartermasters, wagon drivers, blacksmiths, armorers, farriers, grooms, cooks, pages, etc.
Mat's promotion of Talmanes Delovinde and Daerid Ondin to the rank of Lieutenant-General means that each of them command a Legion. The Band of the Red Hand in its entirety consists of more than one Legion, making Mat the leader of a Grand Legion and hence a Captain-General. He may or may not be also a Marshall-General.
Accurate numbers of the Band of the Red Hand will likely be given in the next book. As it is, it is hard to gauge the number of new recruits versus the losses taken in Altara against the Seanchan.
The subdivisions of the Band before their recent expansion in Murandy were as follows:
Cavalry- The mounted troops in the Band are said to be divided into six squadrons, each squadron consisting of roughly 500 riders. It assumed, therefore, that each Banner of horse consists of three squadrons. Furthermore, each squadron consists of ten troops. Each troop, therefore, consists of roughly 50 riders.
Infantry- The troops on foot are divided into twelve companies, each company consisting of around 250 men. Each company is further divided into five squads, each squad being around 50 men. A squad of foot and a troop of cavalry are therefore roughly the same in number. Each squad has a mix of pikemen, billmen and crossbowmen, with a ratio of approximately one archer or crossbowman to four pike or billmen - so around 10 in each squad. It must be noted, however, that the band currently has a much higher ratio of crossbowmen than it did previously.
Currently the Band is in two sections. One part is with Mat moving northeast out of Altara; this group was composed of three banners of horse and four thousand mounted crossbowmen. They had lost four hundred crossbowmen and five hundred cavalry before their last battle in Altara and recruited some Altarans (amount unknown) who were fighting the Seanchan. The other section, led by Estean and Daerid, comprised of three banners of horse, five banners of foot, and the Mason's Banner, is moving north out of Murandy and into Andor.
The basis of the Band's name and iconography is found in Irish legend. The Red Branch was both the name of the ruling house of Ulster and its warrior band, containing the greatest Irish heroes. The symbol for Ulster is a red hand. Hugh O'Neill, an Irish Chief from Co. Tyrone, Ulster is reported to have used the Red Hand as his banner during the Nine Years War in which O'Neill won a number of victories against a larger and better equipped force.
- Matrim Cauthon- Leader and founder of the Band of the Red Hand.
- Talmanes Delovinde - Formerly Banner-General of the First Banner of Horse, known informally as 'the Thunderbolts.'
- Daerid Ondin - Formerly Banner-General of the First Banner of Foot.
- Nalesean Aldiaya - Killed by a gholam in Ebou Dar. Was the Banner-General of the Second Banner of Horse.
- Edorion Selorna - Formerly leader of the First Squadron of Horse, known as Edorion's Hammers.
- Carlomin - Formerly leader of the Fourth Squadron of Horse, known as Carlomin's Leopards.
- Reimon - Formerly leader of the Fifth Squadron of Horse, known as Reimon's Eagles.
- Estean Andiama - Presumably a leader of a Banner, since Talmanes left him in charge of the larger portion of the Band.
NOTE: It is quite possible that Estean, Alhandrin, and Meresin were the leaders of the Second, Third, and Sixth Squadrons of Horse as there are known to be only six Squadrons before Murandy and these are the only six leaders named up to this point.
- Main article: Redarm
The policing force of the Band.
- Chel Vanin - Scout and former horsethief.
- Lopin - Manservant to Mat.
- Macoll - Bannerman.
- Ladwin - Scout.
- Mar - Scout.
- Master Roidelle - Mapmaker to the Band of the Red Hand.
- Nerim - Manservant to Talmanes and loaned to Mat during his stay in Ebou Dar.
- Verdin - Squadman.
- Random soldiers