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Marshal Zhukov on Alexander’s failed India invasion

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Virajith, Jun 2, 2013.

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  1. Virajith

    Virajith Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    [​IMG]

    In 326 BCE a formidable European army invaded India. Led by Alexander of Macedon it comprised battle hardened Macedonian soldiers, Greek cavalry, Balkan fighters and Persians allies. The total number of fighting men numbered more than 41,000.
    Their most memorable clash was at the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum) against the army of Porus, the ruler of the Paurava kingdom of western Punjab. For more than 25 centuries it was believed that Alexander’s forces defeated the Indians. Greek and Roman accounts say the Indians were bested by the superior courage and stature of the Macedonians.
    Two millennia later, British historians latched on to the Alexander legend and described the campaign as the triumph of the organised West against the chaotic East. Although Alexander defeated only a few minor kingdoms in India’s northwest, in the view of many gleeful colonial writers the conquest of India was complete.
    In reality much of the country was not even known to the Greeks. So handing victory to Alexander is like describing Hitler as the conqueror of Russia because the Germans advanced up to Stalingrad.


    Zhukov’s view of Alexander

    [​IMG]

    In 1957, while addressing the cadets of the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, Zhukov said Alexander’s actions after the Battle of Hydaspes suggest he had suffered an outright defeat. In Zhukov’s view, Alexander had suffered a greater setback in India than Napoleon in Russia. Napoleon had invaded Russia with 600,000 troops; of these only 30,000 survived, and of that number fewer than 1,000 were ever able to return to duty.
    So if Zhukov was comparing Alexander’s campaign in India to Napoleon’s disaster, the Macedonians and Greeks must have retreated in an equally ignominious fashion. Zhukov would know a fleeing force if he saw one; he had chased the German Army over 2000 km from Stalingrad to Berlin.

    No easy victories

    Alexander’s troubles began as soon as he crossed the Indian border. He first faced resistance in the Kunar, Swat, Buner and Peshawar valleys where the Aspasioi and Assakenoi, known in Hindu texts as Ashvayana and Ashvakayana, stopped his advance. Although small by Indian standards they did not submit before Alexander’s killing machine.

    The Assakenoi offered stubborn resistance from their mountain strongholds of Massaga, Bazira and Ora. The bloody fighting at Massaga was a prelude to what awaited Alexander in India. On the first day after bitter fighting the Macedonians and Greeks were forced to retreat with heavy losses. Alexander himself was seriously wounded in the ankle. On the fourth day the king of Massaga was killed but the city refused to surrender. The command of the army went to his old mother, which brought the entire women of the area into the fighting.

    Realising that his plans to storm India were going down at its very gates, Alexander called for a truce. The Assakenoi agreed; the old queen was too trusting. That night when the citizens of Massaga had gone off to sleep after their celebrations, Alexander’s troops entered the city and massacred the entire citizenry. A similar slaughter then followed at Ora.
    However, the fierce resistance put up by the Indian defenders had reduced the strength – and perhaps the confidence – of the until then all-conquering Macedonian army.


    Faceoff at the river


    In his entire conquering career Alexander’s hardest encounter was the Battle of Hydaspes, in which he faced king Porus of Paurava, a small but prosperous Indian kingdom on the river Jhelum. Porus is described in Greek accounts as standing seven feet tall.

    In May 326 BCE, the European and Paurava armies faced each other across the banks of the Jhelum. By all accounts it was an awe-inspiring spectacle. The 34,000 Macedonian infantry and 7000 Greek cavalry were bolstered by the Indian king Ambhi, who was Porus’s rival. Ambhi was the ruler of the neighbouring kingdom of Taxila and had offered to help Alexander on condition he would be given Porus’s kingdom.


    [​IMG]

    Facing this tumultuous force led by the genius of Alexander was the Paurava army of 20,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry and 200 war elephants. Being a comparatively small kingdom by Indian standards, Paurava couldn’t have maintained such a large standing army, so it’s likely many of its defenders were hastily armed civilians. Also, the Greeks habitually exaggerated enemy strength.
    According to Greek sources, for several days the armies eyeballed each other across the river.

    The Greek-Macedonian force after having lost several thousand soldiers fighting the Indian mountain cities, were terrified at the prospect of fighting the fierce Paurava army. They had heard about the havoc Indian war elephants created among enemy ranks. The modern equivalent of battle tanks, the elephants also scared the wits out of the horses in the Greek cavalry.
    Another terrible weapon in the Indians' armoury was the two-meter bow. As tall as a man it could launch massive arrows able to transfix more than one enemy soldier.


    Indians strike


    The battle was savagely fought. As the volleys of heavy arrows from the long Indian bows scythed into the enemy’s formations, the first wave of war elephants waded into the Macedonian phalanx that was bristling with 17-feet long sarissas. Some of the animals got impaled in the process. Then a second wave of these mighty beasts rushed into the gap created by the first, either trampling the Macedonian soldiers or grabbing them by their trunks and presenting them up for the mounted Indian soldiers to cut or spear them. It was a nightmarish scenario for the invaders. As the terrified Macedonians pushed back, the Indian infantry charged into the gap.

    In the first charge, by the Indians, Porus’s brother Amar killed Alexander’s favourite horse Bucephalus, forcing Alexander to dismount. This was a big deal. In battles outside India the elite Macedonian bodyguards had not allowed a single enemy soldier to deliver so much as a scratch on their king's body, let alone slay his mount. Yet in this battle Indian troops not only broke into Alexander’s inner cordon, they also killed Nicaea, one of his leading commanders.

    According to the Roman historian Marcus Justinus, Porus challenged Alexander, who charged him on horseback. In the ensuing duel, Alexander fell off his horse and was at the mercy of the Indian king’s spear. But Porus dithered for a second and Alexander’s bodyguards rushed in to save their king.

    Plutarch, the Greek historian and biographer, says there seems to have been nothing wrong with Indian morale. Despite initial setbacks, when their vaunted chariots got stuck in the mud, Porus’s army “rallied and kept resisting the Macedonians with unsurpassable braveryâ€.


    Macedonians: Shaken, not stirred


    Although the Greeks claim victory, the fanatical resistance put up by the Indian soldiers and ordinary people everywhere had shaken the nerves of Alexander's army to the core. They refused to move further east. Nothing Alexander could say or do would spur his men to continue eastward. The army was close to mutiny.

    [​IMG]


    Says Plutarch: “The combat with Porus took the edge off the Macedonians’ courage, and stayed their further progress into India. For having found it hard enough to defeat an enemy who brought but 20,000 foot and 2000 horse into the field, they thought they had reason to oppose Alexander's design of leading them on to pass the Ganges, on the further side of which was covered with multitudes of enemies.â€

    The Greek historian says after the battle with the Pauravas, the badly bruised and rattled Macedonians panicked when they received information further from Punjab lay places “where the inhabitants were skilled in agriculture, where there were elephants in yet greater abundance and men were superior in stature and courageâ€.

    Indeed, on the other side of the Ganges was the mighty kingdom of Magadh, ruled by the wily Nandas, who commanded one of the most powerful and largest standing armies in the world. According to Plutarch, the courage of the Macedonians evaporated when they came to know the Nandas “were awaiting them with 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8000 war chariots and 6000 fighting elephantsâ€. Undoubtedly, Alexander’s army would have walked into a slaughterhouse.
    Hundreds of kilometres from the Indian heartland, Alexander ordered a retreat to great jubilation among his soldiers.



    Partisans counterattack

    The celebrations were premature. On its way south towards the sea, Alexander's army was constantly harried by Indian partisans, republics and kingdoms.

    In a campaign at Sangala in Punjab, the Indian attack was so ferocious it completely destroyed the Greek cavalry, forcing Alexander to attack on foot. In the next battle, against the Malavs of Multan, he was felled by an Indian warrior whose arrow pierced the Macedonian’s breastplate and ribs.
    Says Military History magazine: “Although there was more fighting, Alexander’s wound put an end to any more personal exploits. Lung tissue never fully recovers, and the thick scarring in its place made every breath cut like a knife.â€


    Alexander never recovered and died in Babylon (modern Iraq) at the age of 33.

    Sourcel
     
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  2. AccessDenied

    AccessDenied Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    The keen eye of one of the most bad-ass generals of modern history had inevitably seen through the 'interpretations' of ALL pansy-a$$, deluded and 'supremacist' historians who peddled 'classical-supremacy'. This little factoid can shut up a lot of loud history 'enthusiasts' who still claim that the Greeks were the 'greatest' amongst the ancient civilizations.:respect:
     
  3. Eddie

    Eddie Lieutenant SENIOR MEMBER

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    [MENTION=9333]AccessDenied[/MENTION]

    chek this out..
    History Channel Documentary:: King Porus ( of Punjab) (Past Peruvia) vs Alexander the Great


     
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  4. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    Against Porus, Alexander may have won the battle but he lost the war. Reason that he is hailed as great general is what he did in Persia: Persians outnumbered him in every way yet entire Empire was conquered in short order.

    And Persians used elephants in battle of Gaugamela, even though not in as large numbers as avaliable to Porus. As for bows, two meters would be significantly more than likely average height of the time, more than even English long bows. Further, I believe that Rigveda mentions metal bows, which would be logical considering effects of high humidity on wood.
     
  5. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Sometimes even i am lead to believe that Porus had won the battle
     
  6. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Porus was from same clan as mine so you can call me biased. But you need to factor a few things in mind before making your opinion ragarding outcome of the war.
    FIRST
    Alexander never spared any king who fought against him. he killed him and also his entire army.
    SECOND.
    A war tax was imposed on King Ambhi to surrender land on which Porus Created a city called Purushpur which is now known as Peshawar. The real Indian name of Porus was Puru.
    THIRDLY
    Porus was vastly outnumbered while Alexander had fresh lot of greeks join him before this war. He also had persian soldiers and also Kazak+Mongolian horsemen to swell his ranks. In the initial battle the sons of Porus died and also his brother died alongwith about 5000 troops as they thought that river crossing was a ploy and Alexander will attack from diff dirxn. But that did not deter him from attacking Alexander with much reduced force.
    FOURTHLY
    The longbows of Porus failed is a myth. Why has it been so mentioned when Alexander made a special request to Porus for the Steel swords which Indians carried. rest of the world had not known about steel while in India we had all our weapons made of steel.
    The art of firing an arrow from a bow which is over two meters tall is considered lost in India but you will be shocked to know that it is alive and me and my family and my children know the art. We will not teach it to a non brahmin. The speed of arrow for 200yards is over twice the speed of best known synthetic bow which world has known or created tilldate. I am willing to do a demostration provided it is not filmed and the art is kept secret.
    FIFTHLY
    Other than Indians, no other civilization had steel making abilities while the body armour of greeks was made of copper.
    SIXTHLY
    Indian elephants never went wild due to rains as has been suggested by many historians. Elephansts have wide foot for large grip on slipperry ground for this very reason.

    LASTLY
    The war ended with Alexander and Porus unable to defeat anyone and also depleted in strength so much that they were unable to exploit eachothers failed strength.

    Anyone who doubts my theory must do a google search of wootz steel. Alexander had specially requested Porus for one such sword as the copper swords of Greeks just broke into two against Indian swords made of steel. with such overwhelming tech advantage, who can evr agree that Porus lost the battle. Copper against steel is like arrows against machine gun. Make your opinion.
     
  7. tunguska

    tunguska Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Chankya united the many Indian kingdom against the possible Alexander attack then Alexander saw the might of united india at that time and he return from modern day Punjab itself.

     
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  8. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    I don't trust either Greek or Indian sources about Alexander, as both are likely to be biased, just in opposite directions.

    Not exactly. Only ruler other than Porus I know that Alexander fought against was actually usurper who betrayed and killed his legitimate king. Considering that Alexander's own father was killed, he certainly didn't take that lightly; plus there was an example to be set, else somebody from Alexander's entourage gets similar funny ideas. Egypt by that time was under Persia, so it did not have domestic ruler; basically, only kingdom Alexander did conquer was Persian, which was falling apart at the time, with central authority existing only in name. Alexander did chase Darius, however, as he believed that he had to catch him in order to be called legitimate Persian king; wether Alexander planned to kill him or not, I do not know.

    Alexander did receive reinforcements from Greece, but that was during Persian campaign. Later on, reinforcements mainly consisted of people recruited from local populaces - Persians et cetera.

    Mongolian? I doubt it, AFAIK Mongolians lived where they do now from before Alexander, and he never reached Mongolia itself (and yes, I know that historically Mongolia was larger than it today is).

    Greek armor and weapons were made from bronze and iron, not copper - you're off by few thousand years, as use of pure copper lasted for no more than century; it was soon replaced by arsenic bronze (hence Greek myth about Hefest) and later by copper-pewter mixture which itself was at least partly replaced by iron. Steel was known and utilized by Romans during second century AD at latest, though it was inferior to Damascus steel (which was in production in Middle East since at least 330 BC); some sources state that steel was known to Spartans as early as 650 BC, providing Sparta with huge military superiority over its neighbours; in any case Spartans used iron bars as form of currency instead of gold coins for centuries, and no other Greek city-state seemed able to produce steel (I doubt that Spartans were keen to share that secret with anyone); iron tools and weapons on the other hand were used as early as 800 BC. Steel production in India dates to 500 BC, and it used superior procedure to Western production.

    Macedonian armor was not simply bronze; it was actually composed of layers of bronze and linen, or just several layers of linen; latter arrangement offered both high mobility and good protection from arrows. Bronze-only cuirass was also used but not as extensively as linen armor. Iron plate armor was also used but was limited to officers of higher rank and royalty. (In terms of frequency of use, rank goes linen > bronze > linen-bronze > iron).

    I never said they did. They were known to get wild when hit by arrows, and Romans used fire arrows to scare off Phyrus' elephants. Wether that countermeasure was known to Alexander, I don't know.

    True.
     
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  9. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Please recheck about wootz steel. Their used to be a very old saying in entire european world and Arab world called,"Giving an Indian reply". That was actually meant for the swords made of Indian steel which were unknown to the world at that time.
    Wootz steel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Damascus steel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Wootz Steel - What is Wootz Steel
    http://met.iisc.ernet.in/~rangu/text.pdf

    Now if you still do not believe my words, Please be my guest in Delhi and I will take you to the Qutub Minar to show you the steel Pillar which has not rusted till date in last over 2500yrs.
    The truth is that Greeks were butchered inspite of being overwhelmingly superior in numbers and the army of Ambhi and the Kombhoj (Mongolians/ Kazaks/CentralAsians/Afgans) which supported Alexander was completely defeated at the borders of India. Can you please name even one historian who has ever called the battle one sided? Every historian says that Alexander won but they also add another line at the bottom to say that Porus was not conquered and remained the king of his state. That too without having to pay any taxes or contribution to Greek army. Porus had provided suport to the departing Greek Army only within the bounds of his Kingdom. And the History tells us what happened to Alexander when he took the route along Indus to leave a butchering field called India.
     
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  10. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    Damascus steel had natural formations that made it look ornamented, later these were imitated through process using various acids, so I'd say that yes, wootz steel and Damascus steel are the same thing.

    It was no one-sided to either side, whereas expressions you are using ("butchered") would suggest that you believe otherwise.
     
  11. Himanshu Pandey

    Himanshu Pandey Don't get mad, get even. STAR MEMBER

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    the battle was a tie and use of iron started before 1000 BC in India as vedas have a clear mention of iron in them... till 600 BC we had produced the steel and till the time alaxander came ... copper and bronze armour was a history in India.... till the fall of roman empire arms and armor were one of the exports of India.
     
  12. arun.id

    arun.id Lieutenant SENIOR MEMBER

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    My favorite game was bow and arrow as a kid. I would pretend as a warrior and aim at mangos in the trees. It's a relief to know that the real bow and arrow science is still passed on.
     
  13. smestarz

    smestarz Lt. Colonel REGISTERED

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    Few things, YES you were right about Alexander killing every king who fought against him. Alexander was an egoistic bastard (he was a bastard technically) and he was in love with his own image that is why during his "conquest of the world" he founded many cities called Alexandria, but only one in Egypt remained

    Re: Bow.
    I believe I do have some idea of how to fire the Two metre bow.

    The War,
    I believe that in the war, both the forces of Alexander and Puru fought to standstill, and frankly Alexander was in no position to continue after the loss of forces against Puru and he knew that there is bigger Emperor (Nanda kings) who rules much bigger area and who were able to assemble at least 5000 war elephants.

    Thus it is quiet possible that Alexander had asked for a truce since the battle was undecided and most of his men wanted to go back. Thus in such a position it is best to ensure that they are not pursued further and he kept small force to ensure their withdrawal is not attacked by having a peace agreement with Puru and his General Selecus to cover his retreat from any attack if possible. Surely Alexander did not trust anyone.

    This is my view,
     
  14. smestarz

    smestarz Lt. Colonel REGISTERED

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    Further some of the Greek Chroniclers are known to lie to show the Heroism of alexander
    Alexander personally led a campaign against the Aspasioi and later against the Assakenoi. The Assakenoi (Ashvakas) had opposed the invader with an army of 20,000 cavalry, 38,000 infantry and 30 elephants (as stated by Curtius). A contingent of 7,000 Kamboj soldiers were brought from Abhisara.[14] The Ashvakas had fought valiantly and offered a stubborn resistance to the invader in many of their strongholds. Massaga was the scene of the bloodiest fight. Alexander received a serious wound in the fighting at Massaga. The city could not be stormed even after five days (nine days according to Curius) of bloody fighting. On the fifth day, Assakenos, the Chieftain of the Ashvakas fell a martyr in the field. Thereupon, the supreme command of the military operations was assumed by Cleophis.[15] Like her son, Cleophis stood determined to defend her motherland to the last extremity. The example of Cleophis assuming the command of the military operations also brought the entire women of the locality into the fighting

    Referring to Massaga battle, Greek historian Arrian (Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon') asserts that only 25 soldiers of Alexander had died during the five days of bloody fighting at Massaga.[17] He further asserts that after the fall of their chieftain, the Ashvakas became dispirited and sent an embassy to Alexander for a ceasefire. An agreement was reached between Alexander and the tribes-people, according to which the latter were to vacate the fort and the mercenaries were to join Alexander's forces. After vacating the fort, tribes-people had gathered on a ridge when Alexander (according to Arrian) received intelligence through his spies that the mercenaries did not want to fight against their own countrymen and were planning to escape during the night. Alexander surrounded the ridge and slaughtered all the tribes-men gathered there.[18] But the accounts of Curtius (Quintus Curtius Rufus) do not support any such train of events. The earlier accounts of Diodorus (Diodorus Siculus) also give a complete lie to the above accounts of Arrian.[19] Diodorus, nowhere refers to any agreement whereby the tribes-men or mercenaries had agreed to join Alexander's forces but later on backed out and planned to escape under the pall of darkness. Rather, he specifically states that the tribes-people had vacated the fort in accordance with the agreement and had gone about 80 stadia when Alexander, who was 'actuated by an implacable enmity' and had kept his troops under arms, ready for action, treacherously fell upon the tribes-people and made a great slaughter of their ranks.[20][21][22][23] Diodorus gives a very graphic and vivid account of the battle that had ensued and also greatly applauds the courage and heroism shown by the tribes-men and their women against Alexanderian forces.[24][25] Still another Greek chronicler Plutarch (Mestrius Plutarchus) prior to Arrian, attests that "Alexander incurred serious losses and accordingly, concluded a treaty of peace with Assaceni but, afterwards, as they were going away, set upon them while they were on the road and committed a complete carnage". Rightly therefore, Plutarch swears at Alexander for his treacherous action and calls it "a foul blot on the his martial fame".[26] "In view of these clear remarks, the account of Arrian seems to be a tendentious effort to window-dress a despicable act of abject treachery and perfidy".[27] Curtius attests: "Not only did Alexander slaughter the entire population of Massaga, but also did he reduce its buildings to rubble". The above statement also clearly shows that Alexander must have suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Assakenian Kambojas so that he consequently lost his mental poise and attacked the buildings of Massaga, thus committing arson and man-slaughter to give vent to his boiling wrath.

    From the foregoing discussion, it becomes quite clear that not only did Arrian throw a veil over the treachery of Alexander, but also did he downplay the bravery and heroism of the Ashvakas when the latter faced with sudden treacherous onslaught of Alexander. His claims that only 25 soldiers of Alexander had died in five days of bloody fighting for the control of Massaga fort, cast very serious doubts on his integrity as an impartial chronicler.[28] The war accounts of Diodorus who preceded Arrian by about 200 years differ materially from the latter and gives a lie to Arrian. Also the accounts of Plutarch indisputably prove that the initiative for the peace treaty came not from the Ashvakas but from Alexander himself which clearly indicates that Alexander had suffered severe losses in this battle with the Assakenoi. Arrian indeed seems to be a partial chronicler and a liar on top of it who has intentionally tried to misrepresent the historical facts

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleophis#Alexander.27s_war_with_Ashvakas
     
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  15. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    I used the Butchered wrongly. the correct word is that Greeks lost more men than Porus and also had a higher attrition in the war. But because of higher numbers, Greeks were able to hold their ground and also caused equal damage to Porus army rendering it ineffective.
     
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