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Title adopted, of course, from Agesilaos' (3) reference on the Macedonian phalanx thread.

Firstly, I must send a warm thank you to Paullus for the hospitality, company and case of Penfold's red consumed on the night in question. Also for Wary's Warfare in the Ancient World. This is a rather large (coffee table) book excellently illustrated. Many a battle diagram is also included along with a "potted" description of the battle. A pity Gabiene did not make it but, you can't have them all. And, yes, we did agree on much. A worry that...

I have some rather serious issues with the Hydaspes rendition (and one or two others, but they're for when I return home). The Hydaspes rendition has the phalanx made up (going from memory - book is up in the room and I'm on a lobby machine) of the hypaspists and "Greek Mercenaries". Whilst nothing is really certain about the stationing of Coenus' cavalry - and that of Demetrius - it is logical that it charged from behind the left of the phalanx at the moment that Porus commits his right cavalry to the battle out on his left wing involving the Dahe and Companions. There are no Greek mercenaries (nor are there "Illyrians") in the phalanx for this battle. In fact, in a stark indication of the size of the army of Porus, Alexander took the royal hypaspists. The regular hypaspists and two brigades of of the phalanx (Clitus and Coenus). the only other infantry are the Agrianes and archers. The rest is cavalry. Arrian's account clearly has only these troops in the battle narrative. It is with these troops that Alexander first crushes Porus' forces force together and then surrounds with the intent of killing as many as possible in the time available. Only when this happens and the Indians break the cordon do we hear of Craterus' troops joining in the pusuit.

Reconstructions which suppose that the mercenaries (and others under Meleagher) join in when battle is engaged - as do Craterus' brigades - are not supported by the available source material. Nor is an army of 30-50,000 infantry for Porus a reality. Indeed if the spacing of the elephants is correct, Porus has a Persian style polyglot of rediculous numbers which Alexander takes on with the hypapspist brigades and two regular brigades of infantry.

Bit like disrespecting the bowling in an Ashes Test that...
Paralus/Michael wrote:
Quote:I have some rather serious issues with the Hydaspes rendition (and one or two others, but they're for when I return home).
Oh my Good Lord, what have I done? :roll: :roll: Should never have given him that book........ Sad x
Talk about making a rod for your own back. One by one , he's going to pick apart all my battle reconstructions ( and let's face it, in many cases due to lack of information in our sources, Guesswork comes into play, and there is always room for "interpretation" :? ( )

BUGGER ! Smile D lol:
Quote: Oh my Good Lord, what have I done?

Well may you ask.

Quote:One by one , he's going to pick apart all my battle reconstructions...

Not all. Only those that are demonstrably incorrect.

Quote:...and let's face it, in many cases due to lack of information in our sources, Guesswork comes into play, and there is always room for "interpretation"...

If not wholesale invention: "Illyrians, Greek mercenaries" and a, seemimgly, entire Macedonian phalanx??

Quote:BUGGER !

Indeed.
Quote:
Paullus Scipio:35d0k69m Wrote:Oh my Good Lord, what have I done?

Well may you ask.
...a phrase reminiscent of that old humbug, Goof Whatlam.....

Quote:One by one , he's going to pick apart all my battle reconstructions...

Not all. Only those that are demonstrably incorrect.
I reckon that despite being 30 years old, and the knowledge that's surfaced since, I can still defend most of those interpretations, including this one......
Quote:...and let's face it, in many cases due to lack of information in our sources, Guesswork comes into play, and there is always room for "interpretation"...

If not wholesale invention: "Illyrians, Greek mercenaries" and a, seemimgly, entire Macedonian phalanx??

Ah, sirrah! ....you go too far...."wholesale invention" indeed! I shall respond in detail tomorrow......

Quote:BUGGER !

Indeed.
Paralus wrote:
Quote:Reconstructions which suppose that the mercenaries (and others under Meleagher) join in when battle is engaged - as do Craterus' brigades - are not supported by the available source material. Nor is an army of 30-50,000 infantry for Porus a reality. Indeed if the spacing of the elephants is correct, Porus has a Persian style polyglot of rediculous numbers which Alexander takes on with the hypapspist brigades and two regular brigades of infantry.
...this is all a bit cryptic. Could you perhaps post a little more fully, giving reasons for your statements. For example, the sources refer to the troops under Meleager, and the troops under Craterus in quite different ways. What reasons do you have for thinking Porus' army did not number of the order of 30,000 ? ( other than supposition based in turn on the supposed size of the force under Alexander - and directly contrary to what the sources say)

Are you suggesting that a few thousand under Alexander took on arelatively small force under Porus? Evidence?
A little pressed for time: doing the relatives thingy today and leaving now. I hope to be back early evening and, subject to one of these machines being available, will get back on this.

The key is the detailed dispositions given by Arrian. He is clear that only the "attack force" participated in the battle. Craterus is active in the pursuit as Alexander's force is "buggered" by then. Heckel, from memory, supposes Meleagher crossed and joined in the battle. This is unsupported by the evidence and is conjectural.

I once added up the forces (as best as possible) for the Hydaspes attack force and came up with some 13,000 maximum... I think. Alexander planned - clearly from the outset - to fight with this force. It rather beggars belief that he will have actively chosen to do so against either 30,000 or 50,000.... in my opinion. This is part of the one Macedonian the equal of 100 barbarians motif.
Quote:He then picked the select body-guard called the Companions, as well as the cavalry regiments of Hephaestion, Perdiccas, and Demetrius, the cavalry from Bactria, Sogdiana, and Scythia, and the Daan horse-archers; and from the phalanx of infantry the shield-bearing guards, the brigades of Clitus and Coenus, with the archers and Agrianians...

The force with which Alexander takes on Porus: 3-4,000 hypaspists (and royal hypaspists); over 3,000 phalanx troops as well as 1,000 Agrianes and1,000 archers. The rest are cavalry: from memory 5,000 or more. Porus, seemingly, has line defined by 200 elephants - over thirty metres apart - thus giving us a line over six kilometres long(!) and filled with Indians in "dense phalanx". Taken on by some 13,000 Macedonian marvels.

Right.....

Interesting that Alexander selects "from the phalanx of infantry" the hypaspists. Given that both Diodorus and Curtius clearly describe the effectiveness of the sariisa in this action....
Why is 13,000 vs. 30,000 so hard to swallow when Gaugamela was 45,000 vs. 100,000?

EDIT: and not every Macedonian unit was engaged at Gaugamela either.
I have Heckel and Yardley's collection of ancient sources handy, so here are some thoughts. Arrian 5.13.4 gives Porus 30,000 cavalry, 30,000 picked infantry, 300 chariots, and 200 elephants to fight Alexander. Rufus 8.13.6 gives Porus' army across the Hydaspes 85 elephants, 300 chariots, 30,000 infantry, and an unknown number of cavalry. The Metz Epitome gives the same figures (85 elephants, 300 four-horse chariots, more than 30,000 infantry) but has Taxilies tell Alexander them. Again, this is supposed to be Porus' entire field army not the men available to fight Alexander. Arrian tells us that some elephants and men (infantry?) were left to block the rest of Alexander's men from crossing and taking his army in the flank, and some chariots and cavalry were lost when they ran into Alexander's force shortly after it had crossed.

It goes without saying that each of these numbers should be trusted about as much as a North Korean press release. The fact that they are sincere doesn't make them trustworthy. Its amazing that a competent soldier like Arrian didn't realize that if Porus had 30,000 cavalry the following battle account would make no sense. Before the battle he has Alexander rush ahead with his cavalry and light-armed confident that if Porus sends out his cavalry, those troops alone will trounce them. In the battle itself he has the Indians mass all their cavalry on their left to meet a feint with most of Alexander's cavalry, at which point two hipparchies of Companions ride around the Indian line to menace the cavalry in their flank, Alexander charges, and the Indians fleet to take shelter behind their elephants without striking a blow. They come out once or twice to fight but are badly mauled. Unfortunately, the figures for infantry can neither be trusted nor dismissed out of hand.

Arrian says that Alexander crossed the river with almost 6,000 infantry and about 5,000 cavalry and that he was supperior in cavalry. This seems to be an under-estimate, and his list of units which crossed misses out some Thracian akontistai who appear in his acccount and are named by Rufus. Alexander seems to have had the following units:

Cavalry: Three hipparchies of Companions plus the Agema (paper strength of 1500 + 300?), Bactrians, Sogdians, and Scythians (maybe a paper strength of 1,000 each?), about 1,000 Dahae mounted archers

Heavy infantry: All the hypaspists (paper strength of 4,000?), two taxeis of foot companions (Cleitus and Coenus, paper strength of 4,000?)

Light infantry: Thracian peltasts, Agrianes, (Macedonian?) archers under the command of Tauron. Maybe a paper strength of 3,000?

Which you can turn into 5,000 horse and 8,000 foot fairly easily by assuming that a typical unit is 20-30% under strength and that Arrian's 6,000 foot refers only to heavy infantry.

I don't think its impossible that Alexander willingly faced 30,000 Indians with 13,000 of his own men. He believed he was divine, and his veterans were the best in the world at killing people and breaking things. He also had cavalry superiority, so he didn't have to worry about his infantry line being outflanked. I have no idea whether Porus' kingdom was large enough to produce an army of 30,000 though! And our accounts of the battle sound like the Indian army was much smaller.

Quote:Interesting that Alexander selects "from the phalanx of infantry" the hypaspists. Given that both Diodorus and Curtius clearly describe the effectiveness of the sariisa in this action....
Unfortunately, Arrian 5.12.2 and 5.16.3 and 5.17.3 refer to the archers, akontistai, and Agrianes as part of the phalanx too. I think your hypastpist pikemen theory could well be right, but I don't think this particular passage affects it.
Quote: Why is 13,000 vs. 30,000 so hard to swallow when Gaugamela was 45,000 vs. 100,000?

Well, that is most likely due to the fact that I don't believe Darius mustered - much less managed to wield - the hyperbolic figures the Greco-Macedonian sources foist upon us. The listing of Darius' forces reads like Herodotus' famous list for the confrontation nearly 150 years previous. This list - the order of battle at Guagamela of the Persians - too came into Macedonian hands after the battle. Whilst there is no pressing reason to dismiss this there equally is no pressing reason to believe the descriptions related by Arrian are a faithful reproduction of that list. It reads - just like Herodotus - as a list of the King's peoples.

As I noted on the Guagamela numbers thread, I believe this muster was nearer to Diadochoi musters - near to that of The One-Eyed at his hight: some 80,000 or so. As to Porus' numbers, that's currently a work in progress...

Quote:EDIT: and not every Macedonian unit was engaged at Gaugamela either.

From memory - leaving aside the cavalry dispositions - Arrian lists (from the companion cavalry to the left) the royal hypaspists, the hypaspists and all six taxeis of the phalanx. Who are we missing?
Quote:I don't think its impossible that Alexander willingly faced 30,000 Indians with 13,000 of his own men. He believed he was divine, and his veterans were the best in the world at killing people and breaking things. He also had cavalry superiority, so he didn't have to worry about his infantry line being outflanked. I have no idea whether Porus' kingdom was large enough to produce an army of 30,000 though! And our accounts of the battle sound like the Indian army was much smaller.

And that last is the key: the related action shows Alexander surrounding the Indians with the “strike force” he took across initially. Whilst the narration of the action might be a little confused and elements left out, it is doubtful that all sources failed to notice other infantry units joining the battle. No source mentions any other units joining battle and so Alexander fought the battle with two taxeis of the phalanx, the agema of the hypaspists and the regular hypaspists, half or so of the hipparchies, the cavalry from Bactria, Sogdiana, and Scythia, and the mounted archers. Arrian totals these later as 5,000 horse – as you say. Arrian’s numbers for infantry do not, in any case, add up: even with 3,000 hypaspists, 3,072 phalangites and a minimum 2000 Agrianes and archers we get over 8,000. His “6,000” must apply to the “heavy” infantry only.

Other numbers are somewhat more problematical. I don’t see a reason to suppose that the taxeis of the phalanx were now 2,000 strong. There is circumstantial evidence for a seventh taxis which, if correct, might argue against enlarging the complement of the unit across the board. The general view is of 1536 per unit (16 lochoi of 256). This is what Alexander is trying to put together with the “mixed phalanx” – where the files are still sixteen deep and obviously in closed up “battle order” unless they fought in open order (funny that he didn’t think to create them as eight deep in their “normal” fighting order!) – in the absence of Antipater’s reinforcements.

The hypaspists and their agema are a perennial and impenetrable problem. There is evidence that, by this time, the corps had been expanded to four chiliarchies (Diodorus, for example, describes them as “more than 3,000 strong” in Eumenes’ army). On that basis I’d not disagree with 4,000 or so although the above infantry numbers give pause.

The light troops listed by Arrian are the Agrianes (minimum 1,000) and the “archers” (Tauron’s and also a minimum1,000). Curtius does mention “Thracians” but he may have erred as the bulk of these light troops were left in Media and Parthyaea as “satrapal” forces (Arr. 3.19.7 and 5.20.7). Arrian describes the Agrianes and archers as being posted on “the extremities of the phalanx”. He mentions the “Agrianes and javelin throwers”. We do not know who these javelin throwers are if they are not the Agrianes as they are not listed amongst the troops selected and enumerated twice.

As for Porus, Arrian relates that he had 200 elephants between which he placed his infantry – as well as infantry “outside” of the elephants (wings abutted by cavalry). He further states that the elephants were 30metres apart. This gives a line of six kilometres. If the spaces are filled by infantry that argues for rather large totals. If Macedonian “battle order” is assumed that’s a frontage of men (not counting the wings) of about 5,470. How deep were they? We don’t know.

What we do know is that Alexander's infantry – some 8,000 or so strong – are to take on the centre. After the sarissae and javelins had done their job Alexander then orders the phalanx to lock shields and press forward whilst he and the cavalry get around and behind the Indians. I find it difficult to imagine 8,000 men, in synaspismos and likely occupying no more than about 230 metres of frontage, taking on the confused Indian line as described. I have a similar difficulty with them beginning the battle taking on an Indian frontage of six kilometres with a frontage of 460 metres.

Any way you work it the infantry phalanx as given was not about to take on the Indians as described. Even at four deep the frontage is only 915 metres and 1,830. The army of Porus in this battle cannot have been 30,000-50,000. The number of elephants is grossly exaggerated and Curtius’ 85 is closer but likely too much

I do think that Plutarch is closer to the truth with his number of 20,000 infantry. Some these are deputed to watch Craterus (and those under Meleagher you'd think). This is not Darius at Guagamela with an empire to draw on. Hence Alexander, taking some 13,000, provides two feints to split Porus' forces and leaves strict instructions that they do that precise job. He then takes what is necessary to tackle what he estimates is the remaining "main" force.

Presumably Porus figured to deny Alexander a crossing of the river - diffucult enough - and thus have him head off in pursuit of easier prey. Perhaps he thought to execute a "Stirling Bridge" had Alexander initially forced a crossing. If so, he seriously misjudged his Macedonian conqueror.

All that having been said – and back to the start of this thread – I can find no room in Alexander’s dispositions for Paullus’s Illyrians and Greek mercenaries. The Illyrians are not attested by any source at this battle. Indeed they seem only to be mentioned once and that was at Guagamela (Curtius 4.13.31):

Quote:The rearmost ranks he faced away from the front, so that the circular formation could give protection to the whole army, and here were placed the Illyrians…

The battle was won by those that Arrian enumerates as the strike force which he makes plain when giving the numbers of dead and at 5.18.1:

Quote:At the same time Craterus and the other officers of Alexander’s army who had been left behind on the bank of the Hydaspes crossed the river, when they perceived that Alexander was winning a brilliant victory. These men, being fresh, followed up the pursuit instead of Alexander’s exhausted troops, and made no less a slaughter of the Indians in their retreat.

Not an Illyrian in sight…