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Great Battles #1 -jhelum/hydaspes 326bc

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Austerlitz, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    BATTLE OF JHELUM 326 BC - ALEXANDER IN INDIA

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    BACKGROUND : ALEXANDER MARCHES TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH

    To the ancient greeks ,India(indus derived from sanskrit sindhu)marked the eastern edge of the world - The ends of the earth .On the western extremity was the pillars of hercules(gibraltar in spain) beyond which lay the great western ocean,the eastern bound of this great ocean that surrounded the whole earth lay in india -the distant corner of asia(derived from hittite word assuwha).According to greek myth,Dionysus -the greek god of wine and ecstasy was brought up in the east and wandered for several years in india.Hercules was said to have failed in his Indian expedition.Moreover,Darius had conquered a small part of the western subcontinent near gandhara and this also gave alexander a legitimate cause to advance into the region -as he had replaced the 'King of kings' as ruler of the erstwhile persian empire.The thought of trumping herakles and going into the unknown to do the impossible yet again drove alexander,now proclaimed son of a god, eastwards.

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    Alexander's route to india.Having overran the persian empire,Macedonians struck with lightning speed in central asia,crushing the dangerous rebellion there under the satrap bessus and secured the southern syr darya valley with the river jaxartes [u can see the j visible in map -above the river oxus]marking the northern limit of the empire -then they swung south and erupted into afghanisthan through the hindu kush)Alexander married Roxanne,the sogdian princess during his central asian conquests.)By 327 BC,Alexander was ready.Having secured the persian empire,crossed the hindu kush and put down revolts in bactra as well as defeating a scythian incursion at jaxartes(Battle of Jaxartes) -the veteran macedonian forces were now poised for the new campaign.

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    India as a whole consisted of three parts:
    • the valley of the Indus in the west, which can be subdivided into three parts:
      • Gandhara, the valley of the river Cophen (modern Kabul) and the western part of the Punjab, which had, during the reign of Darius I, been part of the Achaemenid empire but consisted in 326 of several small principalities, such as Taxila and Massaga etc.
      • the eastern Punjab, the kingdom of Porus (Pauravas);
      • the lower valley of the Indus, called Sindhu.(Modern day sindh)
    • the Valley of the Ganges in the east. This was the powerful kingdom of Magadha; its capital was Pataliputra, modern Patna.Ruled by the Nanda empire.Beyond them the Gangaridai kingdom on the mouth of the ganges.(modern bengal roughly) and Kalinga (modern orissa possibly).According to some gangardai and kalinga were an united one kingdom [as they are said to possess very large numbers of war elephants which small states couldn't maintain]
    • the deep south, also known as Pandava.Ruled by several deccan kingdoms

    The above photo is the map of asia at alexander's death.The indus valley area here is in alexander's domain.But u can see the gangaridai,the nandas and the southern kingdoms.


    CONTINUED -
     
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  2. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    THE MACEDONIAN ARMY :

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    The Macedonian war machine was the creation of Philip the one-eyed ,father of Alexander.The latest innovations in weapons and tactics in Hellenistic warfare were adopted,innovated upon and refined by Philip II, and he created a uniquely flexible and effective army. By introducing military service as a full-time occupation, Philip was able to drill his men regularly, ensuring unity and cohesion in his ranks. In a remarkably short time, this led to the creation of one of the finest military machines of the ancient world from what was a second-rate power.2 things aided philip in the creation of his army - macedonia was naturally prosperous with a large manpower base and he acquired further gold mines through conquest and treachery that allowed him of all the states of greece to maintain a large permanent standing army.The conquests of Alexander would have been impossible without the army his father created.

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    HEAVY INFANTRY : PHALANX BATTALIONS -( THE PHEZHETAIROI )

    The core of the macedonian infantry was composed of several phalanx battalions .One of the most imitated and succesful military formations in history,this again was the brain child of philip.


    Birth of the Phalanx -
    When philip came to the throne of macedonia,she was near bankrupt and under constant threat of illyrian invasion who regularly pillaged the country.Indeed the last king had fallen in battle with them.At this time,Hoplites and peltasts dominated infantry warfare in greece.But new trends were emerging with Epaminondas's use of the oblique order and deep phalanx at leuctra to break spartan power.Philip II spent much of his youth as a hostage at Thebes, where he studied closely Epaminondas and Pelopidas, whose reforms were the basis for a good part of Philip's tactics. Philip II improved on these military innovators by using both Epaminondas' deeper phalanx and Mercenary general Iphicrates' combination of a longer spear and smaller and lighter shield.However, the introduction of the sarissa pike and a smaller shield seem to have been innovations devised by Philip himself.
    Philip faced a critical problem.He didn't have the funds to issue his hastily raised armies to defend macedonia from invasion with heavy armour,without which success in close combat was doubtful.Another was that these hastily drilled armies couldn't be taught complex manuevering at once,it would take time.He dealt with both these problems ingeneously by removing the need for close combat at all by lengthening the traditional hoplite spear into a huge pike or sarissa that could outreach and enemy and hold him at bay.A sarissa pikeman could do with light or no armour and still come out on top in a head on fight.He also designed the phalanx to concentrate on moving forwards,rather than complex manuevering thus making it easier for the levies to get accustomed to it.The macedonian phalanx had been born.

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    Organization of the Phalanx -

    These soldiers fought in close-ranked rectangular or square formations, of which the smallest tactical unit was the 256 men strong syntagma or speira. Six Syntagmas formed a phalanx battalion or Taxies of 1536 men.One Taxies was levied from each of the districts across macedon.It formed one of the first permanent standing armies in history.(an earlier example would be assyrians).This formation typically fought eight or sixteen men deep and in a frontage of thirty-two or sixteen men accordingly. Each file of 16 men, a lochos. was commanded by a Lochagos who was in the front rank. Junior officers, one at the rear and one in the centre, were in place to steady the ranks and maintain the cohesion of the formation, similar to modern-day NCOs. The commander of the syntagma theoretically fought at the head of the extreme far-right file.A syntagma was accompanied by five additional individuals to the rear: a herald (to act as a messenger), a trumpeter (to sound out commands), an ensign (to hold the unit's standard), an additional officer (called ouragos), and a servant. This array of both audial and visual communication methods helped to make sure that even in the dust and din of battle orders could still be received and given. Six syntagmata formed a taxis of 1,500 men commanded by a strategos, six taxeis formed a phalanx under a phalangiarch.These infantrymen were called Phezhetairoi — the Foot Companions — and made up the dreaded Macedonian phalanx.Six phalanx battalions accompanied Alexander on his invasion of persia,six remaining behind with antipater in macedon.After Sparta's final defeat at Megalopolis,one of the taxies from macedon was sent as reinforcement and arrived in time for the indian campaign.

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    Equipment of the Phalangite -

    One of the innovations by philip was the light shield that could be slung around the soldier's shoulder from his neck.This freed up both hands for the heavy 2 handed 18 foot pike to be wielded effectively.This also meant the charge of a macedonian phalanx head on was the most devastating of antiquity -the force of the 2 handed pike could go through shields and body armour with ease..In combat the rear members of the phalanx held their spears up to deflect missiles.See the curved close quarter Kopis blade ,this weapon which bears close resemblance to the iberian falcata originated possibly with the etruscans or the spartans and was introduced in the indian subcontinent by the macedonians.The modern Nepalese kukri and the turkish yataghan are direct derivatives of this.

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    Comparatively light armour allowed macedonian armies to force march incredible distances on average 40 miles a day and baffle their enemies.This was made possible by the regular drilling and marching and annual exercises that philip had introduced and would serve alexander in good stead.See on the march the pike could be folded in 2.On the opposite end is a counter weight which could also act as a substitute spear point if the original broke.(not easily,being made of hardended ashwood)On the extreme right u can see the relative heights of the phalangite in comparison with his weapon.

    In total,The Macedonian pike, the sarissa, gave its wielder many advantages both offensively and defensively.Defensively it could hold the enemy at bay presenting an impenetrable barrier of pikes,or offensively relentlessly push an enemy back using their longer reach acting as an advancing forest of spears.Frontally invincible its vulnerabilities lay in its inability to change direction quickly,open flanks and poor close combat ability of the phalangites.

    Through extensive drilling and training, the Foot Companions of alexander were able to execute complex manoeuvres well beyond
    the reach of most contemporary armies.
    [something later phalanxes were unable to do] The sound of myriads of pikes moving though the air in unison, as they were deployed, was said to be most impressive, and very demoralising to the ears of enemy troops.In both persia and greece,the phalanx had proved irresistable and indeed would remain unchallenged till the coming of the roman legion.Under Alexander however it was meant to be one element of a combined arms force -the anvil to his cavalry's hammer.To fix the enemy body in place with the phalanx and allow wedges of companions to slash through his ranks at designated weak points and assault him from flank and rear,crushing them in between the phalanx and cavalry.Alexander usually campaigned his whole career with a core body of around 10,000 phalangites.
     
  3. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    HEAVY INFANTRY : THE HYPASPISTS -


    The elite of the macedonian foot infantry.These were organized into chiliarchies of 1000 men. There were always 3 chiliarchies for 3000 hypaspists.No more no less.They were never broken down into formations of less than 1000 men to preserve their versitality and superb combat potential.They were a sort of ancient age commando-troop.They could perform nearly every function.Fight as phalangites in a phalanx alongside the regular battalions(as they did at hydaspes),skirmish as peltasts or light infantry,fight in loose order as sword armed assault infantry in sieges or broken terrain,or serving as a running link between the cavalry and infantry(as at gaugamela).They endured far more extensive and rigorous training than the regular foot.Incredibly fit and swift,they could keep up with the cavalry by running on foot!One chiliarchy of 1000 men served as the king's personal bodyguard or the Agema.Seleucus,later founder of the seleucid empire led the hypaspists at Hydaspes.By the time of the Indian campaign they had been given silvershields by Alexander and this became their new name -Argyraspids(Silvershields),they would make and break the fortunes of macedonian generals in the fight for Alexander's empire after his death.
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    HEAVY INFANTRY : ALLIED/MERCENARY GREEK HOPLITES -


    Alexander was supplied with substantial contingents of hoplites by the greek states allied or subjected to him.He also recruited thousands of mercenaries.These were outclassed by the macedonian phalanx but could deal with any other contemporary infantry force on equal or better terms.They fought in the traditional hoplite phalanx.Alexander mostly used them as garrisons.At Hydaspes most of them seems to have played a secondary role in Craterus's diversionary force.


    CONTINUED :
     
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  4. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    THE LIGHT INFANTRY

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    PELTASTS -

    Peltasts formed the bulk of alexander's light infantry.Peltasts carried a crescent-shaped wicker shield called pelte (Latin: peltarion) as their main protection, hence their name.These were javelin hurling light infantry who could by dint of their lack of armour easily outrun heavy infantry.They were introduced in greek warfare during the peloponessian wars to devastating effect against the slow heavy infantry hoplite armies.


    The peltasts throw their javelins into the phalanx, but their lack of armour means that they can evade any attempt by the hoplites to bring them to battle. They can continue to wear down the phalanx with impunity.They also acted as a screen in front of the heavy infantry phalanx in alexander's army.By the time of alexander peltasts were a common feature of all greek armies and almost all mercenaries were peltatsts.The original peltasts were thracians,but later all javelin light infantry came to be symbolized by this term.In alexander's army,most of the peltasts were mercenaries.About 1000 were the savage thracian peltasts.

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    To the right is a Thracian peltast.You can see him fitted out in typical thracian attire and armed for close combat with the national weapon of thrace - the deadly inverted curved slashing blade called the falx.This weapon would give the romans troubles to no end during their campaigns in dacia 400 yrs later.These sickle like weapons imparted enough downward or sideways slashing power to cut through shields.
    Thrace,an area N-E of macedon supplied excellent peltasts and medium cavalry for the macedonian armies.

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    AGRIANIAN JAVELINEERS -

    In terms of equipment agrianian javelineers differed little from the other peltasts,but they formed the elite light infantry of alexander's army.Agrianines were a tribe of mixed thracian-paeonian origin situated to the north of macedon between illyria to the west and thrace to the east.(modern day serbia and south bulgaria)They were allied to macedon from the times of philip.Alexander gave them right to self rule and ample share of booty,earning their total trust and faith.Crack javelin-throwers and axemen, they were some of alexander's most fanatically loyal infantry.The agranian tribe remained allied to macedon till its incorporation into the roman dominion.
    The main speciality of the agrianines was their climbing skills.These mountain men were expert loose order assault troops and were grouped together with the hypaspists.Their commander was Attalus.They numbered from 1000-2000.

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    CRETAN ARCHERS -


    Cretan archers were famed military soldiers in the ancient mediterranean world. They were widely recognized as among the best archers in the world for a number of years, and as such found employment as mercenaries in many armies from times much earlier than alexander's time.They commanded a degree of respect from even the spartans,reknowned-despisers of archery.They served in the macedonian armies throughout alexander's campaigns and that of the diadochi wars.Rome employed cretan archers as auxillaries throughout the republic and empire period.They were still being used during the byzantine era.The cretan bow was geared towards armour piercing rather than range.Their skill with the bow was equaled or exceeded by no other except the famed archers of syria.Alexander's army had perhaps 2000 cretan archers.(not all were ethnically cretan-perhaps half were cretan and half macedonians trained in cretan style).Life on the varied terrain of Crete put a focus on skilled hunters and the naval power of ancient Crete revolved around skilled archers to man the ships. Once the Cretans became known for their archery they simply continued to put effort into producing the finest mercenary archers available.

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    SLINGERS -

    Slingers,particularly those famed slingers from the island of Rhodes formed the final light infantry troop type in Alexander's army.Using cloth and sinew slings, types of shot ranging from half pound shaped slugs to rocks found on the ground were spun above the head and released at a very high velocity, as much as twice the rang of traditional bows. Though they were not as lethal as arrows, they were far from harmless. Lead shot would shatter arms, and would easily concuss a soldier wearing a helmet and kill one without one.Slings were simple to pick up but took a lifetime to master the precise angle and flick of the wrist needed to hit a man at 400 meters. The actual sling could also be simply constructed or elegantly crafted by an expert. Balearic and Rhodian slingers often had several types of slings, likely for use at different ranges. The different types of shot seemed to be used at different ranges as well.
    The second picture depicts a sling projectile with the message 'Take that' engraved on it.

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  5. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    MACEDONIAN CAVALRY

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    HEAVY CAVALRY - THE COMPANION CAVALRY

    The Creame De' la Creame of the macedonian army,the elite companion cavalry was the decisive mounted assault force that decided nearly all of alexander's battles,and with whom he placed himself and rode into combat with.They have been regarded as the best heavy cavalry of the ancient world and the first true shock cavalry of history.Another creation of Philip,who sought to use them as the hammer to his phalanx's anvil.
    The Hetairoi could be members of the Macedonian aristocracy or commoners of any Greek origin who enjoyed the trust and friendship of the Macedonian regent.

    Armed with a 8-10ft Xyston lance,a cuirass,a boetian helmet,greaves and a modified kopis or machaira (literally meat chopper)for close combat.Superbly trained and a crack veteran force, they used the best weapons and rode the best horses.They used the lance for shock action- very unusual at this time without stirrups,and also charged at the gallop.Both these features signified a very high standard of training.

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    Organization -

    The Macedonian cavalry were organized into squadrons of 200 horse called Ile.3-4 such squadrons making up a hipparchy or cavalry regiment.(The above picture depicts 8 ille as part of one hipparchy,this is symbolic.These 8 squadrons were the original 1800 companions alexander set out with on his invasion of persia -and thus this 'hipparchy' in the diagram signifies the whole of the companion cavalry regiment)

    The Royal Ile was 300-400 men in strength and was included in the Basilikon Agema (King's guard ).This was the unit where alexander placed himself.By hydaspes with reinforcements the total numbers of companions had risen to perhaps 3000.Also several persian nobles had been included with their entourage as part of the cavalry.4 hipparchies are given as number-but we don't know how many of them were present at hydaspes or the role played by them.(A part of the whole macedonian invasion force was away while hydaspes was being fought)The Squadrons or Ile were subdivided into Tetarchies of 49 men which were the actual blocks that charged in wedge formation.Each squadron had 2 officers - each officer in charge of 2 tetrachies.

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    HEAVY CAVALRY - THE THESSALIAN CAVALRY

    Thessaly,Macedonia's neighbour and ally to the south was excellent horse country -and reknowned for its horsemen.Man to man the thessalian cavalry were nearly as good as the companions.Their equipment was identical.While the companions performed an offensive role on the right flank,the thessalians usually protected the left in a defensive role.They used a rhomboid formation.They were led at Jhelum by possibly Coenus.Numbered around 2000.

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    MEDIUM CAVALRY - THE PERSIAN CAVALRY

    After Alexander's conquest of persia,he took into his service large numbers of oriental cavalry.Many of the persian nobles with their contingents joining him.Equipped with scale armour,short spears,javelins,bows and axes.Outclassed by the companions,they were still far superior to alexander's greek allied cavalry.Exact numbers present at hydaspes are unknown.

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    MEDIUM CAVALRY - THE THRACIAN & PAEONIAN CAVALRY

    Thracian horsemen in the foreground.Recruited from thrace,these fierce cavalrymen served alexander well throughout his campaigns.Numbered possibly around 1000.Armed with javelins and short spear,known to be adept at skirmishing as well as modest shock action.

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    LIGHT CAVALRY - STEPPE HORSE ARCHERS


    The deadliest component of Alexander's light cavalry were a 1000 man division of Scythian and Dahae horse archers.Recruited during his central asian campaign - these steppe predators were lethal bowmen and their hit and run attacks could grind down,demoralize and disorganize even a most determined entrenched foe.

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    LIGHT CAVALRY - ALLIED GREEK CAVALRY AND MACEDONIAN SCOUTS

    The lower tier of the macedonian cavalry was composed of allied greek cavalry which were generally of poor quality.And also macedonian scouts - the Prodromoi and the Sarissophoroi.These were without armour but used a shorter sarissa from horseback.They functioned as light lancers.Used for reconssaince,as bait(as at granicus and jaxartes) or simply secondary troops.There were a considerable number of them but had limited battlefield functions.

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  6. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    MACEDONIAN SIEGE EQUIPMENT

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    The Macedonians had developed their siege tactics under Philip. What had made the macedonian army so fearsome was its ability to conduct the successful capture of even the most impregnable positions.This was apparent throughout the persian and greek campaigns and would be in india.Alexander has been described as the 'greatest besieger of history'. This was a dramatic shift from earlier warfare, where Greek armies had lacked the ability to conduct an effective assault on the enemy stronghold despite defeating his army on the field. For instance, during the Peloponessian war, the Spartans were never able to take Athens despite easily conquering her surrounding territory.The dramatic change in the abilities of Greeks to operate against fortifications owed much to the development of effective artillery. This had begun around 400 BC in Syracuse under Dionysius I for its wars against carthage.

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    For this purpose they had developed the Gastraphates,essentially hand held large crossbows and used them to good effect.It would take several decades before the rest of the Greek world would know what the Sryacusans had invented, it is said that the first greek outside of Syracuse to see a Gastraphetes was King Archidamos II of Sparta,Syracuse's ally against Athens who said when he saw it “O Herakles (Hercules)! This is the end of the valour of men!''After this first artillery piece there came even more as other Greek engineers sought to expand and surpass the Gastraphetes. From the Gastraphetes there comes two distinct branches of artillery, torsion and non-torsion, until the arrival of gunpowder in Europe the torsion artillery was the most powerful.

    The first artillery piece to be invented as an immediate result of the Gastraphetes was the Oxybeles, which is Greek for “bolt shooter”. The Oxybeles was invented in 375 BC as a heavy base mounted weapon, it had the ability of being able to pierce most shields and armor up to a range of 400 meters, because of this the Greeks named all weapons of this type as katapeltes, Greek for shield piercer, this is where we get our word catapult.

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    The next step up in artillery technology was the Lithobolos, which first appeared around 335 B.C. Larger versions of the Lithobolos were called the Palintonon or Ballista.These were torsion powered engines and superior to the earlier designs.These improved catapults were first used in mass by the phocians against philip,handing him his 2 ever defeats.Macedonia responded by getting more and better ones of their own and philip's engineering marvels were dreaded throughout greece.Alexander's army included 2 types - The Oxybeles and the Lithobolos.Apart from these specially designed battering rams and siege towers were also a common feature of macedonia's siege train.All these would frequently be in action in the indian campaign.The art of siege engineering reached its zenith under the romans.

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    Covered battering Ram.The sloped protected roofs spoil any boiling oil attack from the city walls.Underneath the protection of the cover rams can proceed with the men given a large amount of protection from enemy archers.
    Second picture depicts 'Tortoise' devices.Covered structures to provide sappers protection to fill in ditches and flatten the ground for the approach of siege towers.​

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    Macedonian Siege Tower.These ominous mobile structures would be wheeled into position at the level of the city walls.Covered by hide as protection against fire projectiles.The slits in the body of the tower contain catapults and archers for ranged support.Inside are the assault troops .The assault troops were lowered with a ramp onto the top of the walls,the preliminary step to taking the city.When on the march these could be disassembled and carried in parts.Or be transported by the navy,when moving close to the coastal route or through a large river.​

    MACEDONIAN TACTICS -

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    The macedonian army was designed to act as a combined arms force with each specialized component synergizing with the other for optimum results.The basic macedonian battle array was typical, though variations were made according to battlefield conditions.Main body of the Phalanx Battalions formed up in the centre.Screened by light infantry-peltasts and archers.On the right flank is the elite companion cavalry meant to deliver the knockout blow.The elite hypaspists form the link between the phalanx and the companions.They are supported by light infantry -mostly the agrianians and thracians.Some light cavalry on 2 wings.On the left flank is the thessalian cavalry deployed in a defensive role,also supported by light infantry.Alexander places himself with the companions.​

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    (Evolution of Greek Tactics - pre-macedonian era)​

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    (Macedonian Hammer and Anvil)​

    The companions rout the enemy cavalry on the left wing,then swing and assault his flank.While the phalanx advances and pins him down from the front.The macedonian left wing cavalry bends its line into a defensive front.Popularly known as Hammer and Anvil tactics,The companions are the hammer and the phalanx is the anvil.The enemy is crushed in between.Note the phalanx advances in oblique order so as to concentrate its attack on the point of the enemy line that is to be attacked by the companions from the flank or rear.The rest of its flank is refused to delay coming in contact with the enemy on that side.This oblique order attack was used against numerically superior enemies to gain local parity or superiority.
    The hypaspists,light cavalry of the right flank and agrianians all exploit the breakthrough created by the companions in the enemy line and also cover the phalanx's exposed flank.

    CONTINUED.
     
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  7. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    PAURAVA ARMY

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    The Kingdom of Porus or Puru,was the most prominent of the small petty kingdoms of the indus valley on the eve of alexander's invasion.The pauravas are an ancient ancestry,claiming descent from the moon itself. (Chandravanshi).They are said to be descended from one king Yayati,whose 2 sons Yadu and Puru are originators of the yadav(of whom krishna is most reknowned) and the Paurava bloodlines.The paurava lineage thus pre-dates even the mahabharata times.This meant that while in comparison of resources at one's disposal,alexander was in a totally different league to porus,in terms of heritage- Puru was every bit as proud as the supposed son of Zeus and the descendant of Achilles.

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    Data on ancient indian armies are scarce with Kautilya's arthshastra and Megasthenes's Indica providing valuable information.
    Above is a general representation of mauryan armies of the same period.Not all of these applicable to puru's armies due to difference in resource availability.Indian infantry of this era used 5 types of weapons - Heavy Metal Clubs/maces(Gada),Bows,Swords,Axes and spears.Of these, Swordsmen were the top tier as iron was precious.

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    The kshatriya warrior caste would be most likely to use Maces and swords and be equipped with iron scale armour.(Corresponding to mauryan swordsmen in the above picture.)The indian mercenaries would also be reasonably well equipped in terms of weapons and armour.Indeed these mercenaries proved formidable opponents throughout the indian campaign.For a small kingdom like porus the bulk of the infantry would be levies -spearmen,bowmen and axemen with no armour.Mostly clad in a loincloth and headress along with their respective weapons.Only magadha by virtue of her fabulous wealth(Centred on the fertile gangetic basin - An empire's wealth being directly proportional to amount of land revenue and also in command of the riverine gangetic trade as well as the trade with S-E Asia) plus possesing abundant copper and Iron mines could afford to equip the whole of her vast standing army with iron weapons and armour (as described by megasthenes) and still have more left for export.

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    Indian Levy infantryman with a khanda sword.The khanda was blunt tip double edged broadsword indigeneous to india.A prestigious weapon, not many levy infantry would have access to them.Curved bladed sabres like the Talwar were not known in india at this time and came with the trurks and arabs.Longswords were introduced by the kushans and sakas.

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    The Indian bowmen would have formed a large part of porus's army.The Bamboo longbow was known for its penetrating power and range,but at hydaspes they were to disappoint.This was because the rains loosened the tension in the bowstrings and more significantly the archers found it difficult to brace their bows in the muddy terrain.(longbows required stable base)


    Indian infantry didn't fight in close defined drilled formations like the phalanx or the legion.They prefered a more individualistic approach similar to the gauls.The infantry's main role was to support the elephants and exploit gaps created by them,due to the mode of fighting they could easily confront a macedonian soldier in a loose order fighting melee in broken terrain,but would be at a disadvantage head on against the macedonian phalanx.

    Why Lack of Melee Armoured Infantry formations?

    As in persia where vast spaces,weather and dominance of cavalry hindered effective development of heavy infantry,in India the elephant dominated.The mere existence of large numbers of elephants discouraged the development of heavily armoured infantrymen in close packed formations -being perfect targets for elephant attacks.The humid hot climate also discouraged large scale use of heavy body armour.
     
  8. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    [​IMG]
    A levy spearman,a bowman and standard light cavalry.In terms of cavalry,Porus was not only outnumbered 2 to 1 but also heavily outclassed.The typical indian cavalryman of this age was mostly unarmoured,armed with javelins and short spears.They would be outreached by the larger macedonian xyston spears.Despite this they fought bravely at hydaspes.

    Ofcourse,not the whole of the cavalry was such.At least a part of porus's cavalry would be medium cavalry with armour.And the larger kingdoms fielded armoured cavalry in large quantities.These while much better would still be at a disadvantage to the macedonian horsemen who had - better and heavier horses and longer spears.Another factor was difference in doctrine.The macedonian companions were unique for their time in launching frontal closed rank massed cavalry charges with lance.

    Development of Cavalry in India -


    Cavalry developed late in the indian subcontinent .This was due to several factors.Primary being that india was poor horse country.The horse breeds indigeneous to india were inferior than the heavier battle horses bred in central asia and europe.Second again was the primacy of the elephant.Cavalry was expensive,and for kings to maintain both quantities of elephants and cavalry would be a severe drain on finances.Besides elephants were much superior to cavalry head to head,and thus the need for development of this arm was not as keenly felt.True heavy shock cavalry in India emerged with the Guptas who modelled theirs on the kushan and saka cavalry,and there after the gurjara pratiharas-the precursor of the rajputs.In ancient india horsemen from central asia and afghanisthan were sought after as mercenaries.

    Thus we see elephants were mixed blessing in hindsight for the Progress of indian warfare,On one hand they acted as the most serious deterrant to an invading army.On the other they retarded the development of the other 2 arms.
    [​IMG]
    THE CHARIOT -

    Chariots.For over a thousand years they had signified power in the ancient era.The main secret behind the military successes of the hittites,the aryans,the egyptians and the early assyrians they were already beginning to fall into obsolescence by the late assyrian empire timeframe -some 300 yrs before alexander.In india chariots were still in vogue ,though long having ceded the place of the decisive battlefield strike weapon to the elephant.But still retained a place in the army.Note indians used traditional chariots-mobile missile platforms,not the scythed chariot variety used by the persians.The chariot’s real strength on the battlefield was the raised firing platform it offered to archers – it was the original “artillery platform.” Archers mounted on a chariot were raised above the battlespace and could see what they were firing at. The chariot-mounted, highly mobile and highly accurate archer was both a tactical weapon and one which could offer very accurate and quite considerable firepower.It was also used for transporting troops and as a command vehicle.

    Why chariots became obsolete?

    However the vehicle had severe limitations.It could only be used on absolutely flat terrain without obstacles and required multiple horses .And in this lay the seeds of its obsolescence.In the heyday of the chariot,horses had been smaller and weaker.But with evolution newer horse breeds could now carry the weight of a single armoured man on its back.Cavalry also didn't require flat solid terrain to operate and was much more versatile.So why would states maintain chariots that required multiple horses whereas a single cavalryman could do much the same.At Jhelum,the chariots failed miserably.They were bogged down in the muddy ground and became immobile sitting targets.

    [​IMG]
    THE WAR ELEPHANT -

    The centrepiece of ancient indian warfare was the war elephant.If India was poor in horses,it possesed enormous numbers of war elephants.The asiatic war elephant is the largest breed that can be employed for war.(The african savannah elephant being untameable)Larger than the north african pachyderms used by carthage.These imposing and intimidating beasts were the tanks of the ancient battlefield.They could toss enemy soldiers around with their trunks,mangle them with their tusks or simply trample them under their feet.Elephants also offered elevated firing positions for archers and javelineers.Richer kingdoms would provide armour for their elephants making them even more formidable.Thus they could be employed as mobile fortresses that stopped an enemy dead in its tracks or as a brute force terror weapon to mow through the enemy ranks.Used properly they could be an unstoppable force.

    ''The destruction of the enemy army mainly depends on elephants.Where there are elephants,there is victory '' - Kautilya
    (In the Arthashashtra.
    )​

    Most indian kings directed the battle from elephants.The number of elephants maintained by a king was synonimous with his power.Porus had 85-140 war elephants at jhelum and they presented the most formidable challenge to alexander's army among puru's forces.The nandas maintained 3000-6000 elephants.(though its questionable if this whole number can take the field at once) and mauryas under chandragupta upto 9000.Chandragupta gifted 500 elephants to seleucus later ,which won him the battle at Ipsus and eventually the seleucid empire.

    Weakness - The one dangerous flaw of using elephants was that they could easily turn on your own forces.If maddened by injuries or loss of its mahouts an elephant could go berserk and became an equal menace to both sides.

    [​IMG]
    INDIAN TACTICS :

    Indian battlefield tactics rested on stability,security and brute force.A typical battle array would have elephants spread out all over the front of the centre of the army interspersed with infantry[rectangles] for close protection.On the flanks would be the cavalry supported by the chariots[crossed circles].Behind the Elephant line would be the main infantry body.The elephants would wear down an opposing army ,before charging through to create gaps in his line.The main infantry body would then rush through and exploit those gaps.A final reserve force of elephants were kept at the back with the commander(star)

    The one weakness of these tactics was that of mobility.Because the cavalry was not of the highest quality,an enemy with superior cavalry could choose the place of attack and dictate the terms of the contest as long as it avoided direct confrontation with the elephnats.Elephants were slow to manuevre and redeploy tactically and also consumed large amounts of fodder which restricted strategic mobility.

    CONTINUED.
     
  9. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    ROAD TO HYDASPES

    [​IMG]
    Descending from the Hindukush into afghanisthan,alexander in may 327BC Alexander founded the town of Alexandria Ad caucasum.After reorganizing the military administration of the surrounding areas he stockpiled supplies for the upcoming invasion and assembled his forces at Nicea,near modern Kabul.(Note in above map,locations are mostly correct except for nysa-explanation later).Here he recieved embassies from the rulers who were ready to subject themselves to the summons he had earlier issued.Prominent among them was the King of Taxila(father of Omphis).Alexander already had in his service Sisocottus(sashigupta),a indian mercenary captain previously in persian service who had defected after gaugamela where he was present.These two revealed much to alexander about the strengths and political standing of the petty kingdoms and tribal republics in the area.At this point the whole army numbered 120,000 -150,000 including camp followers who constituted a significant portion.Around 50,000 -60,000 were europeans.The rest former elements of the royal persian army.

    While descending into the Cophen valley[kabul river valley], Alexander informed his new vassals of his intentions; He planned to spend the rest of the Summer and Autumn in reducing the region in his front up to the river Indus. However, as matters eventuated, he found that the campaign he proposed was going to be far more difficult then he had anticipated.From there, he was going to proceed beyond the Indus and punish the Indian states beyond that river that had not submitted themselves to him ,brought him tribute and recognized him as their new master.

    At Nicea, he took the time to split his army into two separate forces with a very specific goal in mind; to retain the advantage of interior lines so that he could reinforce his army at any point should any particular section of his army become threatened during the course of his campaign in the valley of the Cophen. In addition to this, these two forces were to keep the Indians in the region from combining their forces and coordinating against the Macedonians. This is the sign of Alexander's grasp of strategy, especially considering the nature of the topography of the region.

    The army that was going to march along the river Cophen was going to be commanded by Perdiccas and Hephaestion.They were going to have the king of Taxila with them so that they had his knowledge of the region at their disposal.They were to proceed along the right, or southern bank, of the Cophen and the forces they were to have at their disposal were - 3 Phalanx battalions under Gorgias,Cleitus the white and Meleager ,half the Companion cavalry and the mercenary cavalry squadrons.(see the southern route taken by this force).Their instructions were as follows; to follow the river as fast as they could to the Indus—reducing all the cities and oppidums to submission on the way—through either systematic reduction or by terms — and immediately build a bridge upon their arrival at the Indus so that when the King arrived and after the winter when the King had wintered his army in the region—as planned—they could proceed to cross the river and punish the tribes across the Indus.

    [​IMG]
    Hephaestion and Perdiccas -

    The southern march didn't meet significant resistance.Moving through the Khyber pass,it took Peucalaotis(Pushkalavati) after brief resistance- North of current Peshwar.

    [​IMG]
    (Charsadda in pic corresponds to Pushkalavati)
    In the Peshawar valley ,most of the tribal chiefs preferred the alternative of submission, but one named Hasti (Astes) ventured to resist. His stronghold, which held out for thirty days, was taken and destroyed.Perdiccas and Hephastion proceeded to set up a bridge over the Indus at Hund and await the main army under Alexander.On the other side of the bridge lay the friendly territory of Taxila.

    Alexander in the SWAT valley - The Aspasians

    Meanwhile alexander took the other part of the army on the mission he deemed more difficult.Subjugation of the tribes North of the cophen,so that when he entered taxila his LoC would be safe.Here however he was to face bitter resistance.He had with him - half the companion cavalry,four phalanx battalions,the hypaspists(now called the silver shields),the archers and agrianians,the dahae horse archers and mounted lancers(including persian cavalry).The first tribe on his path were the aspasians,they were still mustering their forces near their capital when Alexander with his habitual stunning speed crossed the river and arrived to surprised them with all the cavalry and 800 mounted infantry racing ahead of the main body.The aspasians caught unprepared were driven into their walls.The next day the rest of the army arrived and the siege engines got to work.The siege was brief but hotly contested.A number of the indians managed to escape,but were pursued and savaged by the macedonian cavalry who slew many.Alexander was wounded in the shoulder in the siege and the enraged macedonian soldiers razed the town to the ground.As we shall see,the campaign in this region increasingly took on a genocidal character.The location of this town has not been identified.
    Alexander moved on to the next large settlement called Andaca which surrendered. Alexander understood that the best way to control these valleys was to hold the openings and exits with strong garrisons.The macedonian cavalry would thus also be a persistent threat to the livelihood of the people of this areas,who were mostly herders and whose herds they could seize/slaughter with impunity by such measures-.As they were in valleys, there is nowhere they could take these herds in time to escape the vengeance of the Macedonians - thus ensuring their good behaviour.He left his second-in-command Craterus with sizeable garrisons to mop up the neighbouring tribes in the kunar valley region .(see alexander's movements in the early hand drawn map)

    He then crossed the mountains and entered the valley now called Bajaur. Alexander's next destination was Euspla where the King of the Aspasians was. At this point, deeming their cause lost, the Aspasians burned this city and fled.In a skirmish between the vanguards an interesting combat took place between Ptolemy, The Aspasian King and Alexander. One of the barbarians with the Aspasian King thrust his spear right through Ptolemy's breast plate, but the spear did not make contact with him due to the armour stopping the severity of the blow. It was at this point that Ptolemy killed the King of the Aspasians himself by thrusting his spear through both of his thigh's. At this point, in a combat between Alexander, Ptolemy and the Aspasian Kings body guard they fought over the corpse of the fallen king.

    Moving to Arigaeum which had been burnt and abandoned,Alexander rebuilt the town as a garrison city.At this point Craterus rejoined him,having executed his previous task.Ptolemy on a foraging expedition meanwhile brought news that the surviving aspasians had joined forces with the neighbouring tribes and were assembling for battle nearby.Alexander moved immediately to confront this new threat.

    [​IMG]
    BATTLE OF ARIGAEUM :

    The Aspasians were deployed on the high ground with a considerable army.Alexander divided his forces into 3 parts.Ptolemy taking up the left, had a third of the hypaspists, the battalions of Philip and Philotas, two squadrons of horse archers(400), the Agrianians and half the other cavalry. Leonnatus was ordered to take up the right flank, with Attalus' and Balacrus' battalions.

    Alexander took advantage of the adjoining vegetation to hide these 2 wings and sent them to their respective flanks through a circular route unseen by the aspasians due to the cover of terrain.Meanwhile he led his smaller and greatly outnumbered centre division and approached the main indian force baiting them.Encouraged by their large numerical superiority,these abandoned the high ground and attacked alexander head on.
    Ptolemy and Leonnatus now revealed themselves and attacked from both flanks.Ptolemy encountered heavy resistance but Leonnatus broke through.Eventually with their flanks ruptured,the aspasians surrendered.This battle ended the resistance capability of the aspasians.

    Visit to Nysa -

    After arigeum ,the macedonians reached nysa slightly to the north.An attempt to take the town by assault having failed by reason of the depth of the protecting river, Alexander was preparing to reduce it by blockade when the speedy submission of the inhabitants rendered further operations unnecessary. They are alleged to have craved his clemency on the ground that they were akin to Dionysos and the Greeks, because the ivy and vine grew in their country, and the triple-peaked mountain which overshadowed their town was no other than Mount Meros. Alexander, who found such fancies useful as a stimulant to his homesick troops, did not examine the evidence for the kinship with Dionysos in too critical a spirit, but was glad to accept the Nysaian appeals and to exercise a gracious clemency.The macedonians celebrated and rested in drunken stupor for 10 days before resuming their campaign.(Note location of Nysa is given wrong in hand held map,which places it on perdiccas's route)
     
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  10. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    Campaign against the Assaceni -

    Further east lay the tribal confederation of the Assaceni (Ashwaseni or horse soldiers).They could reportedly muster upto 20,000 infantry,2000 cavalry and 30 elephants though this might be exaggareted.Alexander again advanced rapidly by forced marches giving the tribal chieftains no time to assemble and they dispersed to their respective areas.He then proceeded to besiege Massaga,the capital of the Assaceni.It is identified with modern Chakdara.

    [​IMG]
    SIEGE OF MASSAGA :

    Massaga was the largest city in the area.The assaceni had hired 7,000 mercenaries from the hinterland beyond the Indus.These professional warriors were soldiers of no common order, and as a result of their presence the Assacenians as well as the mercenaries themselves were confident of victory against the Macedonians.As the macedonians approached ,they were taken aback as the indians instantly came out and attack.Initially caught off guard,Alexander ordered his men to conduct a false withdrawal to a nearby hill.Elated at the enemy retreat,the indians followed with vigour -but lost their cohesion and discipline in the process.Alexander soon launched a counterattack as the cretan archers who were waiting, suddenly poured volley after volley into the onrushing indians.They were followed by the agrianians and the phalanx and drove the indians into the city with 200 killed.However alexander was again injured in the fighting in the calf.

    "They may call me son of Zeus, but I suffer none the less like a mortal. This is blood, not ichor!"

    The next day Alexander ordered an assault.This however was beaten back quickly,the mercenaries now proving their worth.
    The next day the macedonian battering rams attempted to tear down a section of the walls.However again the veteran mercenaries were alert to the danger and prevented any such attempts from bearing fruit.
    Now Alexander ordered a terrace to be built along with a siege tower.This took 9 days to complete.Finally when the siege tower started advancing towards the city walls it must have been an awe-inspiring sight for even the indian mercenaries -who would have seen nothing like it.Macedonian siege machinery were at this point the most advanced in the world,well ahead of the rest.Archers and light infantry were placed to support the assault troops in the siege tower.To their chagrin however,the macedonian assault troops were yet again repulsed with loss by the mercenaries,despite ranged fire support.

    [​IMG]
    [A mercenary swordsman-they offered some of the most bitter resistance to alexander's advance]​

    The next day, Alexander ordered that from the tower they extend a bridge and would have the same men who stormed Tyre from the bridges built on the mole to storm the Assacenians. Meanwhile, the archers and slingers would continue to fire as before. However, again the mercenaries put up fierce resistance. While this was going on, Alexander ordered that a unit of elite Hypaspists charge across the bridge at the mercenaries. However, too many of them rushed upon it too quickly and the hastily built bridge collapsed under their weight.Seizing this oppurtunity,the indians fired volleys of missiles at these fallen men,then a furious sally from the side gates got into their midst and cut down a large number of these soldiers.Alexander was eventually able to save a few with a counter attack,but the damage had been done.The loss of the irreplaceable elite hypaspists especially,would have been keenly felt.

    Finally on the next day,the macedonians launched another similar attack.During the course of the fighting,a chance catapult bolt killed the leader of the mercenaries.This incident,along with the decisive numerical superiority enjoyed by the macedonians eventually demoralized the mercenaries who had till then fought with utmost gallantry.They sent envoys to treat for terms.Alexander's conditions for their surrender were as follows; they agree to serve under him and they surrender to him the Massagan King's family as hostages.Conditions were agreed upon and the mercenaries encamped on a nearby hill.

    Here 2 versions are presented to us on what happened next.According to one, the mercenaries were unwilling to march over the Indus and fight their fellow Indians and attempted to retreat in the night from their encampment.Upon which alexander enraged at this violation of terms surrounded the hill with his army and attacked them.
    The second version goes that Alexander,by now increasingly despotic, was furious over the resistance to his will displayed by these men and the heavy losses they had caused him.Enraged he wished to make an example out them just as he had made an example out of the greek mercenaries at granicus.He thus broke the treaty and suddenly surrounded and assaulted them .

    Whatever be the case -the macedonians surrounded the encampment from all sides and attacked the surprised indians who formed up a hollow square with the women and children in the centre.They resisted valiantly in a last stand until outnumbered and encircled they were cut down to the last man.After this the macedonians entered the now near defenceless town of massaga and killed any surviving defenders,wholly violating the treaty.The civilian population was largely spared by the pleadings of the queen.Alexander's conduct in this case has been criticized by historians such as Plutarch and marked a blot on his legacy along with other incidents such as thebes,persepolis and gaza.

    The siege of massaga was finally over.It had been a bloody and brutal struggle and the toughest challenge of the indian campaign yet for the macedonian army.Yet greater ones lay ahead.

    CONTINUED -
     
  11. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    SIEGE OF AORNUS

    [​IMG]
    Even as the siege of massaga was proceeding,Alexander as usual thinking ahead had dispatched several of his commanders to proceed forward and take the neighbouring smaller strongholds to follow up his seizure of massga.This was done to prevent the inhabitants from fleeing and joining forces with indian tribes further inland.he issued the following orders, Coenus was to proceed to an oppidum by the name of Bazira—he expected this town to capitulate as a result of Massaga. Simultaneously, he sent Alcetas, Attalus and Demetrius to Ora with the very specific orders to blockade the oppidum of Ora until he could arrive himself and take it.

    At Ora things went relatively well ,the macedonians easily beat back a sortie of the inhabitants and proceeded to besiege it.At Bazira however,situated on a steep rock ,Coenus made no progress.Alexander with massaga taken,moved at first towards bazira but changed plans and reidrected his main body towards Ora when he learned that Abhisara[Abhisares],the king of hazara.(A small kingdom north of taxila on the east bank of the indus)was preparing to relieve the place.He also commanded Coenus to create a camp with a garrison at bazira to watch the place and rejoin alexander at ora.Encouraged at Coenus's departure,the tribesmen at Bazira made a sally but these lightly armed foes were soon driven back with 500 dead by the macedonians.The full brunt of the macedonian war machine fell on Ora which was stormed days later.On hearing of the fate of Ora,the disheartened denizens of bazira burnt the place and escaped.Abhisara too gave up any plans for a cross indus intervention.The macedonians now followed the fleeing inhabitants through the shangla pass(see above map) and arrived to where the survivors from all directions in this region had taken refuge - The Stronghold of Aornos ('Avarana' in sanskrit - Cover or hiding place)

    [​IMG]
    The mountain, which is at least twelve miles in circumference, and rises to a height of more than seven thousand feet above the sea, or five thousand above the Indus, is washed on its southern face by that river, which at this point is of great depth, and enclosed by rugged and precipitous rocks, forbidding approach from that side. On the other sides, as at Massaga, ravines, cliffs, and swamps presented obstacles sufficient to daunt the bravest assailant.It was accessible by a single pathway to the summit.It had a flat summit well supplied with natural springs and wide enough to grow crops: it could not be starved to submission.Local legend held that even the mythical Krishna had not succeeded in taking the fortress,whom the macedonians held synonimous with Hercules.Thus the son of zeus set out to outdo Herakles,another son of zeus.
    Alexander first secured his rear with garrisons at Massaga,Bazira and Ora.Then established a large supply depot in a nearby town,in case the assault failed and his troops had to blockade the place.He conducted a thorough personal reconssaince,Neighboring tribesmen who surrendered to Alexander offered to lead him to the best point of access.

    Ptolemy managed to gain a foothold on a neighbouring spur to the west,but alexander's initial attempt to effect a junction with this force were repulsed by sorties.After 2 days of fierce skirmishing,Ptolemy was able to beat back attacks on his field fortifications and a junction was made.At the vulnerable north side leading to the fort, Alexander and his catapults were stopped by a deep ravine.

    Examination of the ground showed that a direct attack was impossible until some of the surrounding ravines should be filled up. Plenty of timber was available in the adjoining forests, and Alexander resolved to use this material to form a pathway.
    To bring the siege engines within reach, an earthwork mound was constructed to bridge the ravine with carpentry, brush and earth. The first day's work brought the siege mound 50 m (60 yards) closer, but as the sides of the ravine fell away steeply below, progress rapidly slowed; nevertheless, at the end of the third day, a low hill connected to the nearest tip of Pir-Sar was within reach and was taken, after Alexander in the vanguard and his first force were repelled by boulders rolled down from above.Within the brief space of four days Alexander succeeded in gaining possession of a small hill on a level with the rock, and in thus securing a dominant position. The success of this operation convinced the garrison that the capture of the citadel was merely a question of time, and the negotiations for capitulation on terms were begun.The besieged, being more anxious to gain time for escape than to conclude a treaty, evacuated the rock during the night, and attempted to slip away unobserved in the darkness.But alexander being vigilant,detected this movement and a handpicked force of 700 men climbed up and pursued the retreating indians killing a number of them.Aornos ,the stronghold that had never been taken - added further to the reputation of 'Alexander the besieger'.Alexander erected altars to Athena,which have been excavated.The command of aornos was given to sisocottus(sashigupta).With the fall of aornos,alexander made quick raid north up the now wholly subdued valley and then retraced his steps this time towards hund -where Perdiccas and hephaestion awaited with a bridge to take the macedonians to the east of the indus.The surviving assaceni took refuge in abhisara country on the east bank.

    [​IMG]
    TAXILA :

    At Hund Alexander was met by an embassy from Ambhi (Omphis), who had recently succeeded to the throne of Taxila, the great city three marches beyond the Indus. The lately deceased king had met the invader in the previous year at Nikaia and tendered the submission of his kingdom. This tender was now renewed on behalf of his son by the embassy, and tribute was given which alexander returned fivefold.This strategic generosity earned him the total loyalty of Ambhi,who was to provide liberal supplies to the macedonian army and a contingent of 5000 troops.

    The ready submission of the rulers of Taxila is explained by the fact that they desired Alexander’s help against their enemies in the neighbouring states. Taxila was then at war both with the hill kingdom of Abhisara and with the more powerful state governed by the king whom the Greeks called Poros, which corresponded with the modern districts of Jihlam, Gujarat, and Shahpur.

    Spring had now begun, and as the omens were favourable, the refreshed army began the passage of the river one morning at daybreak, and, with the help of the Taxilan king, safely effected entrance on the soil of India, which no European traveller or invader had ever before trodden.Meanwhile Abhisara sent an embassy pretending submission,although in reality he awaited a chance to join Puru.Alexander hoped that Poros would display complaisance equal to that of his ally. But a summons sent requiring him to do homage and pay tribute was met with the proud answer that he would indeed come to his frontier to meet the invader, but at the head of an army ready for battle.Porus now awaited Alexander on the east bank of the hydaspes(Jhelum) river with his forces.Stage is set for the battle of Hydaspes.

    CONTINUED .
     
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  12. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    BATTLE OF HYDASPES - THE CROSSING

    [​IMG]
    With his preparations complete,alexander's army thus moved to confront porus rapidly.Porus was waiting for him on the east bank of the hydaspes/jhelum.Alexander had to subdue King Porus in order to keep marching east. To leave such a strong opponent at his flanks would endanger any further exploit. He could also not afford to show any sign of weakness if he wanted to keep the loyalty of the already subdued Indian princes. Porus had to defend his kingdom and chose the perfect spot to check Alexander's advance.

    Size of the Opposing armies: A controversial issue.Approximate modern estimates.

    Macedonian Army - 24,000 greek and macedonian infantry,8,000 cavalry,5,000 indian allies.Number of persian auxillaries if present unknown(little to no role in the battle)Total ~37,000.

    Paurava Army - 25,000 infantry(normal figure given either 20,000 or 30,000 .So middle point taken)80-140 war elephants.300 chariots.3,000 cavalry.Total ~30,000.

    [​IMG]
    Alexander's Crossing -

    Puru's first line of defense was the jhelum river.Over a mile wide, deep, and fast moving (unlike the river Granicus),and increasingly swollen by the monsoon.Porus believed Alexander would have to either wait for the monsoon season to end before crossing or simply abandon his quest and leave. In preparation for the Macedonians’ arrival, he stationed his army in a defensive position along the river and waited to violently dispute any passage of the river.As Porus had anticipated, Alexander made camp directly across from him on the west side of the Hydaspes and gave every indication he would wait for the monsoon season to end, even going so far as having large grain shipments sent in from his Indian ally King Ambhi.Realizing there might be spies in his camp, Alexander voiced aloud how he could easily wait until the end of the monsoon season before engaging the Indian king in battle. To support his boast he built numerous campfires along his side of the river, marching his men back and forth in formation - all the while searching for a suitable crossing spot. Curiosity drove Porus to initially shadow these movements, finally deciding they were only a diversion and stopped, although he continued to monitor possible crossing locations.
    Alexander however had no intention to wait.He continued this farce for several days lulling puru into a false sense of security.Then one night it happened.

    [​IMG]
    Alexander divided his army into three parts. A force of 2,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry plus the allies under Craterus stayed directly opposite Porus' position. Alexander led the chosen force of 5,000 cavalry and 10,500 infantry, including 2,000 archers, while a reserve force of 1,000 cavalry and 4,500 infantry under Meleager waited for Alexander's force to secure the far bank and then join them. That night a terrible storm arose, with rain, wind and thunder. Using the weather as a screen, Alexander moved his turning force into position 17 miles upstream.Alexander even left a soldier dressed as himslef with craterus's force to confuse porus.

    His chosen crossing point was a headland that jutted into the river toward a wooded island, providing concealment for his landing craft. The crossing was to be in three waves. In order to safely cross the river Alexander made rafts from tents and used the thirty galleys and boats from his crossing of the Indus River.Unfortunately, the crossing did not go as smoothly as he had hoped. Alexander was surprised that instead of reaching the opposite shore he landed on a large island in the middle of the river. From the island to the other side, his men would have to wade across.By dawn Alexander's force had crossed the river and begun moving toward Porus' camp.Alexander's force comprised at least 5 veteran phalanx battalions(taxies),~3000 elite hypaspists,4000 light infantry including peltasts,cretan archers and agrianian javelineers,1000 scythian and dahae horse archers and 5000 picked heavy cavalry led by 3000 or more companions.[rest would probabaly be thessalians]

    Porus's Response -
    By now Porus understood something was afoot and when his scouts brought news of wet macedonians coming ashore on this bank,he immediately sent his son with a force of 100 chariots and 1000-2000 cavalry to investigate if it was a feint or delay the macedonians if it was a real attack.However by this time alexander and the bulk of his cavalry had crossed and reformed.This small force was assaulted by alexander's heavy cavalry and destroyed.The chariots got stuck in the muddy terrain and became useless.After losing 400 men including porus's son,the rest fled in disarray back to the main indian army.Porus however now knew for certain that alexander's army had crossed and was approaching him.This ill fated premature reconssaince in force however had cost him even more of his cavalry,he had been heavily outnumbered as it was in the beginning itself.

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    PORUS'S DILEMMA :

    Alexander's brilliant deception and bold tactical turning movement now placed puru in a dilemma.
    Moving his whole force against Alexander or Craterus is not feasible,as then the other will take him from the rear.

    If porus bends his line and throws a blocking detatchment in alexander's path while keeping the larger part facing craterus,alexander will use his superior and more numerous cavalry to flank porus and take him from the rear while the infantry pins down the blocking detatchment.Such a move would also break up the concentration of porus's main offensive force-his elephants into halves in 2 directions.

    Porus could retreat however this would have serious disadvantages.Alexander numerous and superior cavalry could harass and cut off his retreating forces piecemeal with craterus joins from the other bank,plus ancient armies usually lacked the discipline to conduct a planned withdrawal in the face of serious opposition[no officer korps,no regulated drilling,usually levies].There is always the possibility that his army could just disintegrate attempting to withdraw.Finally porus,a proud kshatriya would find such a course highly disagreeable to his personal honour and prestige.Also this course would be wastage of his war elephants which can't be used unless ur facing the enemy(otherwise they will mow through their own troops)

    [​IMG]

    If porus leaves a holding force against craterus and faces alexander with the bulk of his army ,alexander will attempt to flank him with his superior cavalry.This is the scenario that will actually play out.

    Essence of the problem for porus is thus his inferiority in cavalry.This advantage in mobile striking power gives alexander the initiative in that he can pick the place where HE wants to fight and thus dictate the terms of the engagement.Porus's main offensive force-his elephnats on the other hand are difficult and unwieldy to relocate at a moment's notice.Porus thus chose the penultimate option.

    CONTINUED.
     
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  13. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    I will demolish all this when I reply one by one.
     
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  14. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    BATTLE OF HYDASPES

    [​IMG]
    Macedonians in black.Indians in gold.Porus leaves behind a contingent to watch craterus and moves to confront alexander.

    Part of the macedonian infantry is still crossing the river when porus's army comes into view of the macedonians.The rest are wet and slowly forming up.The light infantry screens the flanks.Among them are peltasts,cretan archers and agrianians.Some are armed with axes which are hoped would be useful against elephant's feet or trunks.

    Porus deploys his army in standard indic formation.A elephant line in the front interspersed with supporting light infantry.Behind them the main body of infantry composed of levy spearmen and archers and a smaller number of kshatriya swordsmen would be formed.On the flanks are the chariots-100 on each flank.Behind them are his depleted cavalry,perhaps 2500 strong after the losses in the initial skirmish.Porus places himself in the centre where he has a clear view from atop his elephant.With him is a small final reserve body of elephants.

    Alexander's principal tactical problem is to use his superior cavalry to maximum effect,but avoid the war elephants whose smell the horses fear and against whom shock cavalry are all but useless.Alexander realizes a standard frontal charge with his shock companions on the paurava infantry line is impossible due to the elephant barrier opposing him.He must thus open up one or both flanks if he is to use his 'hammer and anvil' tactic.He must also buy time for his infantry to form up and join the battle.
    He sends forward his superb central asian scythian and dahae horse archers(1000 men)to bombard the chariots and lure them out from the proximity of the elephants.The steppe horse archers are supported by sogdian and bactrian mounted javelineers.They proceed to initiate incessant archery fire from their deadly composite bows on the indian chariots.The chariots are closely packed with upto 6 men,of whom only 2 have shields.This non stop harassment and mounting casulaities has its desired effect.The chariots attempt to close with the horse archers,However with the monsoon rains and the muddy river bank,they get immobilized by the mud and end up being sitting ducks for the withering barrage from the horse archers.
    [​IMG]

    1. Indian left wing cavalry sees its chariots being slaughtered and moves to intervene.This is exactly what alexander had been waiting for,the lead hipparchies of the companion cavalry led by alexander in person arrayed in wedge formation intercept the indian cavalry mid way in a thunderous clash.
    2.Porus senses the growing crisis on his left wing.The crack veteran companions with their longer xyston spears and heavier armour are steadily gaining an upper hand over the outnumbered paurava cavalry.Puru orders his right wing cavalry to reinforce his left wing and fall on the exposed flank of alexander's engaged companions.

    3..Meanwhile alexander before setting off orders coenus,his lieutenant to take the 2 rear squadrons and engage the indian right wing cavalry.He is to conduct the redeployment behind the main infantry body so as to be invisible to porus's eyes.He does precisely this and puru is unaware of this cavalry movement hidden as it is by the phalanx's sarissas.

    4. Coenus suddenly emerging from behind the phalanx notices this move and follows the indian right wing cavalry.He intercepts them just before they are able to come to grips with the companions.The would be flankers are now taken from flank by coenus's heavy cavalry.

    5. Unable to withstand the superior power and numbers of the companions on one side,and coenus from the other,the paurava cavalry are increasingly pushed back into a small area.They break and flee to the safety of the elephants.

    6. Meanwhile the 5 phalanx battalions(~9000) and the hypaspists(3,000)plus 4,000 odd archers,slingers and javelineers now form up the macedonian infantry line and begin to advance at the oblique -Hypaspists under seleucus[the largest division] taking up position of honour on the right.Note hypaspists[silver shields] fought as traditional phalangites in this battle.Next,from left to right are the 5 phalanx battalions under Antigenes,Cleitus the White,Meleager,Attalus and Gorgias respectively.

    [​IMG]
    (Alternative theory -Coenus's outflanking move could have also been carried out this way)

    [​IMG]

    ALTERNATE HYPOTHESIS :


    The above 2 diagrams show 2 alternative ways Coenus could have carried out his maneuvre.But the 3rd one is unlikely.There is debate as to how exactly coenus arrived at the flanks and rear of the indian cavalry-just that he followed them and caught them.The texts do not clearly mention if as on the first instance it took place in front of the paurava line or behind.Second hyposthesis assumes an elevated ground as u can see that masked coenus's approach.I think maybe first one is more likely as second one would imply that coenus circled round whole paurava army -essentially putting himself between puru's main army and his detatchment watching craterus and puru neither his reserve did anything about it.Also in second case distance covered by coenus is much larger.

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    PORUS STRIKES BACK :

    1.Seeing the indian cavalry routed,alexander's horsemen attempt to push their advantage.Here the war elephants prove their worth.The horses are panicked and the attack of the companions repulsed - a first in a pitched battle.


    2.Porus now presses his momentary respite.He unleashes his war elephants on the advancing macedonian phalanx.
    The Javelineers and archers try to drive the elephants off with missiles but the elephants simply plough through ignoring the harassment and crash headlong into the macedonian phalanx.

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    3. The macedonian phalanx is shaken by the tremendous impact of the war elephant's assault.The macedonians have never fought these terrible beasts before and they take a heavy toll.Men are flung around in the air,mangled by their tusks or simply trampled.The fighting here is prolonged ,brutal and bloody.The phalanx 's cohesion is partially disrupted and it gives ground.

    4.Encouraged by the carnage of the elphants,the indian cavalry regroup and again attack the macedonian cavalry.Outnumbered and outmatched they resist valiantly in utter vain.Result is a swift defeat and they retreat back in ever more dwindling numbers to the main body.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
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  15. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    [​IMG]
    ALEXANDER BREAKS THROUGH :

    1.Meanwhile the assault of the elephants begins to lose its initial momentum as the phalanx regains its balance as the bloodbath in the centre slowly turns to alexander's favour.The beats become tired and their support infantry fail to follow up properly,the spearmen being held at distance by the long sarissas and the bowmen having trouble firing accurately as they are unable to brace their longbows in the muddy soil.The macedonian light infantry take a toll on the elephant mahouts and soon many of the riderless beats are out of the equation.Others are maddened by pain,as the macedonians spike their feet with their pikes.Now they lock shields,clanging them and making lots of noise to scare the beasts and advance as one body.The remaining elephants maddened with pain go berserk.

    2.The maddened elephants turn round and mow through their own ranks,causing chaos and confusion and tearing holes into the paurava line.

    3.The macedonian phalanx mauled but unbroken, now advances rhythmically - a rolling forest of pikes and makes contact with the indian infantry line.The paurava infantry are heavily outmatched in a straight head on contest against the phalanx.

    4.Meanwhile after routing the paurava cavalry for a second time alexander now reorganizes his cavalry and proceeds to envelop porus's left flank from side and rear.This huge cavalry attack finally destroys the remnants of the indian cavalry which are penned up in a restricted space with no place to manuevre and attacked from all directions.Porus's left flank begisn collapsing under the onslaught.

    5.Meanwhile craterus observes alexander making progress.The paurava contingent opposite him is dismayed at he turn of events.Craterus forces a passage across the river from the demoralized enemy.The paurava contingent withdraws -as craterus arrives on the east bank.He is now in puru's rear.

    [​IMG]

    1.Alexander continues his assault on the left flank with his cavalry.
    2.Porus's tactical situation is now hopeless,but unlike darius he neither panics nor flees.In a desperate gamble he gathers a last ditch reserve of perhaps 40 elephants and leads a charge in person the macedonian centre- hurling javelins from atop his mount with lethal accuracy.This time however the macedonians are more prepared.The solid pike line,concentrated light infantry missile fire and the small number of elephants cause the attack to be repulsed.Porus is wounded several times but keeps fighting.

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    (Coin of Alexander to memorate hydaspes.This depicts an alleged incident where porus on his elephant challenged alexander to a duel.Alexander accepted with the predictable result of a elephant-horse contest in that he was thrown off his horse and carried to safety by his bodyguards)

    3-5 .Craterus joins the attack from the rear and porus is now completely sarrounded.The indians attempt to form a double spear line box,but are unable to properly form it under attack from all directions.A part of the paurava forces escapes the encirclement.Puru is surrounded but initially refuses any calls to surrender.An appeal by ambhi,his rival is met with a javelin throw.Finally a friend of porus's approaches him and convinces him to lay down arms.After 8 hours of heavy fighting,the battle of hydaspes is over.

    He soon fainted from his multiple wounds.Brought before alexander,who was much in admiration of his valour and tenacity,porus maintained his dignity and pride and asked to be treated like a king in a well known conversation.And he was.Alexander accepted and Porus remained a satrap of alexander until his death and retained control of all his domains.This event should not be taken too deeply in sentiment,it may be termed strategic generosity.It was common policy of alexander in persia to keep the older rulers in place mostly -this removed the headache of local administration,minimized chances of rebeliion and local political power vaccuum and removed the need to provide legitimacy.Also Alexander was shrewd enough to want porus as an ally against his planned campaign against magadha.Just as ambhi with supplies and men had been indispensable as alexander's foothold in the contest against porus ,so too porus was probably to be against magadha.Soon we'll see that all this would be for naught.Porus regained his sovereignity after alexander's death,but didn't live to enjoy it.He was assasinated by the macedonian regent of the area who needed his war elephants for the succesor wars.Porus's son died at the battle of gabiene of the diadochi wars leading an indian contingent.Henceforth the whole area passed onto a new power and a ew conqueror -Chandragupta maurya,founder of the mauryan dynasty.

    [​IMG]
    LOSSES :

    Another controversial topic.Porus's army suffered heavily.Perhaps 12,000 killed and 9,000 captured.[possibly includes non-combatants].His brother fled to the gangaridai kingdom.
    For the macedonians though it was not much of an occasion to celebrate.
    Modern estimates are probably 1,000-1,100 killed and upto 3,000 wounded?Numbers vary from ludicrously low to very high.But all sources agree on one fact -That this was alexander's costliest battle.Taken that the macedonians lost 500-600 at issus and 1000 odd at gaugamela -losses would be larger than that to tally with the statement of costliest battle.The most clear evidence of the ferocity of the fighting was the duration - The battle lasted an incredible eight hours.Very very long for an ancient battle.[Considering that Issus lasted perhaps quarter of an hour to half an hour and gaugamela maybe little more than an hour,macedonian nerves must have been frayed at the prospect of going deeper into hostile territory.This would have consequences in the near future].We are told that bulk of the casulaities were in the veteran phalanx battalions which bore the brunt of the elephant attack,75% of foot companion losses caused by elephants.(phalanx ,again was at the forefront of the mutiny).Alexander had 7 taxies of macedonian phalangites in the indian campaign - [around 10,500 men].If 2,000-3,000 were total killed and wounded came from this group it would be very serious [as that would mean 20%-33% casulalities among the veteran infantry-the core of the army]
    That a petty border king had caused such problems with an army 5 times smaller than darius and probably 100 odd elephants,would no doubt cause doubts as to the result in the soldiers mind when the bigger struggle against the nandas and gangaridai of the heartland with thousands of elephants and men began ,who was by now exhausted.(marched 12,000 miles)Puru's defiance at hydaspes thus played a major role in the subsequent mutiny that was to come.

    Hydaspes marked Alexander's last great pitched battle,and is among his finest.The river crossing operation is now the standard prototype and served as inspiration to many later commaders such as napoleon at wagram and gustavas adolphus at lech.

    [​IMG]
    BATTLE ANALYSIS :


    1) Deception - Alexander's deception was masterly.He was patient and observant and slowly manuevered porus into a lull.The best way to achieve surprise is to 'establish a routine,then suddenly break it'.Exactly what he did.The other measures were equally cunning.

    2) Audacity and surprise - Alexander's audacity in crossing such a wide river in the monsoon and in the night amidst a thunderstorm was no doubt pivotal to his achieving surprise.Porus must have thought only a madman would attempt it.Coenus's move was another brilliant tactical manuever.

    3) Mobility - Primary factor in alexander's success.The Mobile striking power of his superior cavalry,allowed him to dictate the terms of the engagement almost throughout.

    4) Know ur enemy - Alexander was able to recognize the main combat potential of the enemy in his elephants and that of his own in his cavalry.He thus quickly ascertained who he wanted to fight and where and made sure his cavalry never seriously engaged elephants head on.

    5) Divide Et Impera - Alexander's campaigning would proabaly be a lot difficult without his securing of ambhi's unconditional support by gold and latent threat of force.The abundant supply made alexander's logistics problem a minor issue.He was thus able to use local rivalries to his overall strategic advantage.

    6) Durability - Alexander had reason to be thankful to his phalanx.The durability of philip's splendid instrument shone out again and bore the brunt of the porus's elephant assault.

    7)Terrain and Weather - Weather and terrian hampered porus's army hindering both his archers who couldn't brace their bows and the chariots which became useless.

    Overall the battle can be divided into 2 phases -the crossing and the main battle which was a single flank envelopment .

    CONTINUED.
     

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