Dismiss Notice
Welcome to IDF- Indian Defence Forum , register for free to join this friendly community of defence enthusiastic from around the world. Make your opinion heard and appreciated.

Great Battles #11 - Ipsus 301 Bc(battle For Alexander's Empire)

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Austerlitz, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2016
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    316
    Country Flag:
    India
    IPSUS 301 BC - CLASH OF THE DIADOCHI

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    BACKGROUND -

    As Alexander lay dying in 323 BC,he was asked who should succeed him,he reportedly said -'the strongest'.
    His generals would not disappoint.For 20 yrs his former comrades in arms and companions,the now called 'diadochi ' or successors have waged relentless warfare over the corpse of his empire.
    Over the course of four round of wars Antigonus the one eyed and his son Demetrius have come to dominate affairs,with their powerbase in the rich heartland of anatolia and syria .(above map 301 BC)
    The others understand that they must stand against antigonus united or fall one by one.

    The course of the diadochi wars had seen some of the greatest macedonian stalwarts fall one by one.Parmenion (killed on Alexander's orders) ,his son Philotas(executed for conspiracy), Cleitus the Black (Killed by alexander in a drunken rage) were dead even before Alexander's demise.Philip's other old marshal Antipater ,regent in Macedonia had persevered, dying of old age and his son Cassander secured Macedonia for himself after murdering Alexander's infant son.
    Of the 2 brightest rising stars at the time of Alexander's death - Perdiccas's arrogance had been his downfall,being killed by his own men.Craterus,universally recognized as the best macedonian general after Alexander and revered by the macedonian veterans had been killed in a sudden cavalry skirmish in a major upset.Same had been the fate of the companion Leonnatus.Eumenes,the greek and chief of Alexander's intelligence had been a surprise,but his luck eventually ran out before Antigonus.
    The wily Ptolemy had no intention of fighting to win all of Alexander's empire,he smuggled Alexander's body into Egypt as a symbol of legitimacy and built up a solid powerbase there,content to defend it militarily while carrying on diplomatic machinations to prevent any other of the diadochi from becoming overhwleming in power.Seleucus,a relatively late star after early reverses has secured Mesopotamia and the eastern part of Alexander's empire.Lysimachus,one of the old companions held Thrace.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    (Antigonus & Demetrius)


    Antigonus Monopthalmus & Demetrius-
    The last of Philip's generals,at Ipsus Antigonus was 81 years old.To the young men of the army he was a living legend,who had slowly grinded his way to the top in the diadochi power struggle.Antigonus made his name first under Philip,then as governor of Asia Minor area(Phyrgia to be exact) he defeated the persians in 3 seperate battles,when they attempted to cut off alexander's communications with macedonia even as he marched against darius's main army at gaugamela.In the Diadochi years antigonus had maintained his reputation,he was a feared and especially reknowned for he speed of his forced marches -on occasion 40 miles a day.He was seconded by his son Demetrius whom he shared command with and who was in command of the cavalry.Demetrius had a mixed career ,some success in greece against cassander but defeat against Ptolemy and seleucus at Gaza.

    [​IMG]

    Lysimachus -

    An old companion of Alexander's and one of his bodyguards Lysimachus was an important figure throughout Alexander's campaigns ,he accompanied the king throughout and was honoured for his valour in the Indian campaign.During the Diadochi wars he made his powerbase in Thrace.

    Seleucus -
    Initially a junior general,Seleucus rose in prominence during the later part of Alexander's later campaigns.He commanded the hypaspists during the later part of the persian campaign and in the Indian campaign,notably at hydaspes.After the king's death,he was initially a part of Perdiccas's faction but later using the power vaccuum resulting from the death of senior generals ,emulating Ptolemy's succesful strategum in Egypt sought to curve out for himself a secure powerbase in Mesopotamia and Alexander's eastern provinces centred on Babylon.He tried to recover Afghanistan and The Indus Valley from the rising Mauryan power under Chandragupta but met with failure.His existential crisis being in the West where Antigonus was ascendant,he negotiated a peace treaty with Chandragupta ceding the provinces to the mauryans ,sealing the new freindship with a matrimonial alliance -in return he recieved 480 Indian war elephants with their mahouts and staff which were to play a pivotal role in the coming war against Antigonus.

    [​IMG]

    ROAD TO IPSUS :


    Lysimachus crosses over from thrace and unites with reinforcements from cassander and captures several cities,he is however soon contained by Antigonus ,who surprises him with one of his famous forced marches and nearly catches him napping.Lysimachus escapes the trap with some help from nature with Antigonus pursuing.Antigonus however soon recieves word that seleucus has returned from the east at the head of a large host.He recalls his son Demetrius and his forces from Greece and they link up even as lysimachus and seleucus unite their forces.Ptolemy makes tentative probes in syria and waits and watches.

    Both sides have good reasons to offer battle-
    For the allies it represents their chance to defeat antigonus before he crushes them seperately.
    They also can't afford to stay away too long from their power centres in Thrace and Babylon and must settle the issue quickly.

    For the Antigonids,it represents a chance to destroy his enemies at one stroke.
    More importantly they wish to crush the allies before ptolemy can join them .
    NEXT: OPPOSING ARMIES
     
  2. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2016
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    316
    Country Flag:
    India
    OPPOSING ARMIES

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    ANTIGONIDS -
    70,000 Infantry.(40,000 phalangites & 30,000 Light infantry)
    10,000 Cavalry(Mostly heavy)
    75 War elephants

    DIADOCHI ALLIES -
    64,000 Infantry (30-34,000 phalangites & 30,000 light infantry)
    15,000 Cavalry (Mostly light & medium cavalry)
    400War elephants.

    Both sides possesed extremely similar armies,the core of which remained the macedonian phalanx.Invented by philip and perfected by alexander they presented an impenetrable forest of pikes that were invulnerable from the front.The rear pikemen held up their pikes to deflect arrows.If their flanks were turned though,their light armour and poor close combat equipment was a recipe for disaster.On a flat plain battlefield they were a near unstoppable force.The antigonids had a advantage in number of phalangites at Ipsus.Details already discussed here -
    http://indiandefence.com/threads/great-battles-1-jhelum-hydaspes-326bc.56501/

    Of the allied armies ,Cassander's reinforcements sent from Macedonia provided the best of sturdy heavy phalangites, as well as those from Lysimachus.Seleucus didn't bring very many phalanx infantry from the East.Lysimachus's Thracian cavalry provided the most reliable battle cavalry for the allies.He also brought with large numbers of Thracian light infantry -especially the famous thracian peltasts.Seleucus's force would be large numbers of eastern light infantry -archers and javelineers,mercenaries,small core of veteran contingents from the east,light and medium cavalry - mostly iranian origin and lastly 400 indian war elephants.

    [​IMG]
    Some of the trrop types who would have been present.Syrian archers,thracian mercenaries,greek hoplite mercenaries,eastern light infantry -particualrly javelineers from anatolia.Syrian archers would have been plentiful in the antigonid army and were reknowned for their art in the mediterranean world,later the romans would employ them as auxillaries.The thracian here is armed with a close combat spear and falx implying his role as a melee type,bulk of thracian infantry would be light infantry with 2 javelins,a pelte small shield and falx for close combat assault.Both sides would recruit large numbers of anatolian light infantry.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Persian cavalry of the heavy and light type.These would form the bulk of the cavalry Seleucus brought from the mesopotamian heartland and the eastern satrapies.A horse archers with no armour,a small shield and close combat sword.Persian light cavalry would also carry 2 short spears or javelins sometimes.On the right is a late persian heavy cavalry type.Scale corset armour ,short spear for close combat.These iranian lancers would form much of the allied heavy cavalry.Seleucus also brought with him a force of Scythian and Dahae horse archers.

    Second picture is Thracian medium cavalry.These would have accompanied Lysimachus in numbers and represented the most reliable of the allied cavalry.While well armoured they prefered skirmishing with their short javelins before charging in contrast to the massed shock approach with lance of the heavy companion cavalry.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Heavy companion hetairoi cavalry.During the Diadochi wars the former royal companion arm broke up with contingents joining each faction.Each contender raised his own companion force,formed of his best heavy cavalry force and his closest friends and retainers.This would have been the antigonid trump card and they enjoyed a significant advantage in heavy cavalry of this type.Armed with xyston long lance and armour as well as a xiphos or machaira for close combat,mounted on the best horses they charged in wedge formation.

    [​IMG]
    Finally,both sides possesed the war elephant -the one new element in hellenistic warfare .Alexander's veteran generals didn't forget the mauling the phalanx took at hydaspes to these beasts and each had when possible tried to raise an elephant force.The antigonids deployed 75 such elephants,but here the allies had a potential trump card in the 400+ war elephants seleucus recieved from Chandragupta and brought to the battlefield.

    War elephants were typically fitted with a tower on their back that housed several soldiers armed with sarissae and projectiles (arrows or javelins) to unload on the enemy. The rider (indian mahout) sat across the neck and guided the elephant into battle. Armour too, was sometimes wrapped around the elephants to protect them and increase the natural defense offered by the thickness of their hides.It could be used as both a mobile missile platform and a shock assault weapon.A frontal charge against the massed pikes of the phalanx however was unlikely to succeed.Yet, if used for a frontal assault, the danger of them being routed and falling in panic into the lines of their own army was great.A very important factor was that the elephants were a deterrent to heavy cavalry.Horses were terrified by the size and smell of these beasts and would not go near them,in any case they could not do anything against the height and bulk of an elephant.

    Elephants when able were provided with armour to protect them against projectiles.Light infantry projectiles aiming at the elephants head or its mahout were an effective method of bringing down these behemoths.To protect elephants from this type of harassment,they were provided with an infantry guard of 50 men.The elephants were organized in battlegroups of 16 .It is important to remember elephants were herd animals and as long as the herd leader was in action the pack could perform splendidly,but if the herd leader was killed was liable to panic unless very well trained.

    NEXT : BATTLE OF IPSUS
     
  3. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2016
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    316
    Country Flag:
    India
    BATTLE OF IPSUS

    [​IMG]
    Ipsus was to be in terms of numbers alone the greatest battle of the hellenistic era(even larger in scale than gaugamela).The nearly 200,000 men gathered on the field would never have seen such a concentration and never would again.In terms of the men involved it was to be a generational thing.The last of Philip's generation -Antigonus was there.As were men of Alexander's generation -Lysimachus,Seleucus.Among Demetrius's companions also rode a young 18 year old Pyyrhus of Epirus - one day to be the nemesis of Rome and Carthage in Italy and Sicily,and a great tactical influence on Hannibal.The results were to be decisive - it represented the last chance to reunify Alexander's world empire.

    Tactically, both sides faced the common problem of the wars fought amongst the Successors; how to defeat an army equipped in the same manner and using the same basic tactics. The Diadochi seem to have been inherently conservative, and continued to favour a strong attack with cavalry on the right wing of the battle-line (tactics commonly used by both Philip and Alexander) as the principal tactical thrust— even though they must have been aware of the likelihood their opponents would perform the same manoeuvre on the opposite side of the battlefield. When armies were numerically even and deploying the same tactics, gaining a clear advantage was difficult. The use of novel weapons such as war elephants and scythed chariots to change the tactical balance was one approach used by the Diadochi. Thus both sides at Ipsus had war elephants, although thanks to Seleucus, the allies were able to field an unusually high number. Both sides therefore sought an open battlefield; the allies in order to use their elephants to full potential, and the Antigonids to allow full use of their strong cavalry arm.For the Antigonids, strong in both infantry and cavalry, the tactical situation was straightforward, and followed the template Successor tactic of a massive cavalry assault on the right wing. For the allies, weaker in infantry, the tactics would have been to maximise their overwhelming superiority in elephants.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Both sides deployed their troops in a standard Macedonian formation, with the phalanx of heavy infantry in the centre of the battle line. In front, and to the sides of the phalanx, light infantry were deployed to act as skirmishers and to protect the flanks of the phalanx; cavalry was split between the two wings. In the Antigonid line, Demetrius commanded the best of the cavalry, stationed on the right wing. Antigonus, with his personal bodyguard was positioned in the centre behind the phalanx. The 75 elephants were deployed in front of the battle-line with their infantry guards.Antogonids also deployed caltrops on the ground to prevent an elephant charge in front of the phalanx.

    The allies split their cavalry evenly,with light infantry and horse archers screening the phalanx and 100 elephants spread out on the front line.The thracian cavalry was on the right flank,with some of the companions and mostly iranians on the left.Seleucus in an unprecedented move,it seems held back the bulk of his elephants 300 or more in huge reserve behind the phalanx.This unique use is difficult to understand.Most probably,seleucus being the only senior commander present with extensive experience in elephant warfare having just fought 2 years against the Mauryans and their huge elephant armies wished to employ some of those lessons here.

    THE BATTLE ITSELF : (above diagram)

    Opposing war elephants and their supporting infantry collide on the antigonid left as the allied force advances to engage his elephant screen.
    The remaining allied elephants advance and the antigonid light infantry on the centre.Demetrius launches his cavalry assault and routs antiochus's allied horsemen.He is unable to rein in his horsemen who chase the enemy too far and his cavalry becomes detatched from the main body.

    [​IMG]
    1.The combined elephant and light infantry drive back the antigonid light infantry screen on their right flank.On the left the rival elephant forces engage in a furious but inconclusive duel .Its a stalemate.Diodorus -"the elephants of Antigonus and Lysimachus fought as if nature had matched them equally in courage and strength"

    2.Having forced back the antigonid light infantry.The elephants and allied light infantry exploit the gap created by demetrius's departure and begin to harass the antigonid right phalanx with persistent missile fire.The elephants don't advance to make a physical assault because they are too few in number and traps.

    3.Seleucus sees the rout of his cavalry and redeploys his massive elephant reserve to face demetrius.Demetrius finally manages to regroup his cavalry and returns to attack the allied rear,but finds an impenetrable wall of 300 war elephants barring his way.He takes heavy missile fire from the elephant towers and his horses are panicked by the smell and sight of these behemoths.

    4.The main allied phalanx and right wing cavalry advance.

    [​IMG]
    1.The phalanxes engage in close combat.Sarissa against sarissa in the classic push of pike.Antigonids have the advantage here.

    2.The antogonid exposed right flank is compromised as the horse archers and peltast light infantry infiltrate to the flank and rear of the phalanx and begin to bombard it with javelins.The demoralized phalangites begin to retreat or desert to the allied side.

    3.Antigonus moves to the left to personally try and stem the tide,waiting desperately for demetrius to arrive.But he is killed by a javelin.

    4.Hearing of Antigonus's death,the antigonid line crumbles and breaks.
    Demetrius eventually returns finds it is hopeless and flees with his remaining horsemen.

    [​IMG]

    AFTERMATH -

    The allied host lost perhaps 3000 men,in return the entire antogonid army had deserted,dispersed killed or taken prisoner.
    The victors curved up antigonid realms,Demetrius fled but his son was later able to establish an antigonid dynasty in original macedon.Seleucus founded the massive Seleucid empire.He came to be known as the 'elephant king'.Lysimachus was later killed in another succesor war against Seleucus.Ipsus marked the end of any attempt to unify alexander's empire.
    The successor dynasties would continue to rage on and off wars over territory for more than one and half a century until they were all destroyed by a new player- The rising power of Rome.

    [​IMG]
    BATTLE ANALYSIS :

    1)Economy Of Effort- This is the common principle of war,the other side of the principle concentration of effort.
    Seleucus used his elephants with maximum efficiency.Using just the amount needed to neutralize the antigonid elephant screen and pepper the phalanx,allowed him to concentrate the bulk of his elephant force where he needed it.
    ''Economy of force is the reciprocal of mass. It requires accepting prudent risk in selected areas to achieve superiority — overwhelming effects — in the decisive operation.''-US army doctrine based on writings of Karl von clausewitz.

    2)Surprise - Another common principle of war,seleucus surprised his enemy with his elephant reserve.Antigonus possibly expected a massive frontal elephant charge that never came.

    3)Patience- The allied commanders patiently checkmated the antigonids.Only after neutralizing first the elephant screen,then the light infantry and foremost the cavalry threat and with the phalanx deserting did they make their decisive attack.Instead of a rash frontal assault against a prepared enemy,the elpehants were used judiciously as mobile fortresses to punish the enemy.

    4)Lack of Antigonid Reserve - The antigonids lacked a reserve body to deal with the light infantry and horse archers that turned their flank which they didn't possess.Unlike the allies who had elephants to shield their weak flank.

    5)Demetrius's Delay- Demetrius's failure to reign in his cavalry immediately after the succesful charge may also have helped in buying time for elephant wall to deploy.
    Sources -
    Wars of Alexander's Succesors Vol 2. - Bob Bennett
    Net sources

    ............................................................................................ X--------------------X .........................................................................................
     

Share This Page