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Ancient army numbers
#46
Quote:I maintain that Greek historiography is surprisingly neutral. I would expect a much bugger bias in favor of anything Greek than is actually present.

I'm not into buggering anyone's bias but buggered if I can let this go!

Xenophon - with exaggeration no doubt - clearly relates that Cyrus' hopes were placed in his Greeks. As Xenophon relates (1.8.12):

Quote:At this moment Cyrus rode along the line, attended only by Pigres, his interpreter, and three or four others, and shouted to Clearchus to lead his army against the enemy's centre, for the reason that the King was stationed there; “and if,” he said, “we are victorious there, our whole task is accomplished.”

Clearchus found this an impossible task for, of course, the Great King had incontinent numbers (ibid 13):

Quote:Clearchus, however, since he saw the compact body at the enemy's centre and heard from Cyrus that the King was beyond his left wing (for the King was so superior in numbers that, although occupying the centre of his own line, he was beyond Cyrus' left wing), was unwilling to draw the right wing away from the river, for fear that he might be turned on both flanks

Fancy Cyrus asking theGreeks - the right half of his army - to march obliquely at the Great King's centre when that centre was far and away to Cyrus' left as to be beyond his left wing.

So which is correct: Xenophon's literary numerical flatulence or Cyrus' military prowess in asking the absolutely ridiculous?
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

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#47
Quote: Imagine the Persians having to spend just 1 month in front of a city, laying it in siege... The campaign would be over before it had even started. This is what I meant with speed. Having your main force marching at half speed while having other armies taking care of any such problems is crucial to speedily come to Greece proper and thus also minimize supply issues.

They were, in fact, marching through "pacified" territory (the debate over a satrapy of Macedonia/Thrace is another question. The number of sieges were never going to be large until Greece proper (south of Tempe).

Quote:What do you mean about the mobility of Mardonius' forces?

Herodotus' account of the movements of Mardonius' army (9.13-15) does not indicate a host of 300,000 rather something more mobile.
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

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#48
I tend to agree more with the opinion of Macedon over those matters for a large series of reasons of all sorts.

First I do also share the belief of many people here that calculations of human population in antiquity are very inexact not just in Greece and Persia but all over the world and that they are based largely on a mis-conception that world numbers always increased which is simply not true. Even ignoring plagues and wars, birth rates and children mortality they were very variable throughout history even more so if we talk regionally. Certainly for Greece, all data tells us that in antiquity there were more than in medieval times and for this reason I do accept Macedon's parallel with the Byzantine example as a good way to find out. Indeed Byzantines complained of their lower numbers in relation to a more "populous past" but then what is interesting is that even their own numbers were far more than most writers tend to think today. After Gothic raids and during the catastrophic for the Empire reign of Justinian, Hierocles, author of Synecdemus, listed the number of cities up to more than 900, nearly 1000. Contrary to western European standards where cities even as late as Renaissance were incredibly small since 95% of the population lived in rural settings, in Byzantine Empire we casually read about unheard, totally unimportant and totally boring cities here and there having casually 30 and 40,000 citizens. In Greek mainland only, a number of lesser cities like Thebes, Athens, Corinth, Argos till before the late Bulgarian raids were averaging more than 30,000 souls while much later and after huge wars post-saracen, post-bulgarian raids Thessalonika still amassed more than 100,000 (perhaps more than 150,000) souls. Back in pre-Renaissance Eastern Europe and Minor Asia, the worth-mentioning towns and cities had to at least pass the strict cap of 5,000 people but in reality most often by the standards of those days, anything more than 8,000 people. For Greek mainland only, Heriocles mentions 80 (!!!) cities presenting a bustling highly urbanised region that contrasts all the tears Gibbon had wept for the late Roman Empire and the supposed total destruction by barbarians. Given that, Greek mainland had a strict minimum half a million strictly urbanised population but really more close to 1,2 million. Since despite the urbanisation, in all pre-industrialised societies the relation at best could rise at 1 city dweller for 4 rural ones, that results in a an overall population that would be surpassing the 5 million. Is there anyone to suggest that in classical antiquity Greece would have a population smaller than 5 million? Even if we talk about only 1 in 4 Greeks resisting the Persian assault still 1,5 million Greeks could provide easily a 150,000 overall force dispatched together or in parts - Persians knew Greeks were divided by they also knew that in danger they would try to form some kind of union, thus they had tried to sent envoys to all major cities to play them apart.

So given these quite obvious calculations can we imagine that Persians - whose whole Empire was based on numbers - would be unaware of all the above? Wouldn't they calculate an overall Greek force that in a very probable scenario of 1 in 3 resisting would surpass the 150,000 soldiers among them the best Greece had to show when then they already struggled with the Ionian average? And would Persians - who liked to have at least the double numbers even in case of defending and who knew very well that their armies could defeat hoplite armies only if they employed more than double - take the risk invading the Greek mainland with an army only equal to the potential force they could meet either in one or in a series of battles?

It goes without standing that they would calculate at minimum 3 times more the minimum force Greeks could amass. That is an absolute strict minimum of 300,000 men, and in reality more in the region of 400,000 men. From there on if for every 1 soldier you have to have 4 men supporting it, carriers, stock-responsibles, smiths and technicians, cooks then the 100,000s of mariners on the 1000s of ships and so on, the number easily rises to above 1 million and I would say easily more than 1,5 million. Given that at various stages the army would had mobilised here and there a cummulative of more than 2 million people.

Was that feasible? Absolutely! I am amased how easily some are ready to swallow the numbers of migrating Gauls, Goths, Huns and Mongols who were nothing else than a bunch of wandering barbarians that did little calculations and survived by looting the places they invaded and not being able to accept the numbers that the Persian Empire mobilised, which could employ not just confiscation (i.e. Imperial-style looting) not just provisions by supplies from traderoutes but most importantly an overall careful planning.

Speaking in general and not particularly for Greeks and Persians we see in other cultures that even for lower more regional scale warfare the employment of large armies was really casual. The Chinese Sun Tzu writes that any descent army wishing to have any hope should campaign with more than 100,000 soldiers. Of course true that eastern China was really populous and that 1kg of rice may feed more than 1kg of wheat but back then it was not really that much more populous than central Asia, the richest part of the world then, while Sun Tzu wrote this so casually in the sense that he saw the 100,000 number as the limit between a serious army and a bunch of peasants.

You also tend to forget that only in late-19th century with the advent of industrialised technology armies managed to present improved logistics. Up to then, those of the Persian Empire were a prime example. Persians could easily mobilise vast amounts and feed them. They had both the roads and the ships and they could organise local production and according confiscations from own lands and looting from conquered ones. If they did built a bridge over the Bosporus destroying ships that meant they would certainly not pass an army of 80,000 or even 150,000 which they could had simply passed with boats much faster. They passed an extraordinary amount which had to number several 100,000s of fighting men and many others following behind for logistics. They could do it. They had the money.

About the money they had, we have to take into account this: When Alexander raided just one of the 3 main capital cities of the Empire he found in the treasury about 120,000 talents of gold. This was not even the total treasury of the Empire! And this at a time the Empire was in a financial downward spiral. And after all those huge expenses of war and the mobilisation of 100,000s of men! We can easily imagine that in the previous century Persians would have 300 and 400,000 talents to spend. For comparison Athenians only after stealing the money of their allies had managed to gather roughly a mere 10,000 talents which they mostly spent on building projects. That means that Athenians would have less than that 100 years earlier. So if Athenians with 5,000 - 7,000 talents and no developed logistics other than their ships and traderoutes could move around armies and navies of more than 10,000 troops that were more expensive to upkeep than the average Persian soldier in the greater Eastern Mediterranean region, then certainly Persians with an Empire already presenting full logistics enjoying the huge Phoenician navy and with more than 300,000 talents could certainly very easily mobilise 400,000 soldiers which anyway were on average more lightly armed than Athenian ones.

From there one calculate. Water would never be a problem. Food would also not be a problem. Minor Asia and Thrace were 2 days of ship and then you had the amasing Black Sea trade route. We do accept that 1 kg of wheat feeds easily 2 men for a whole day while 1 average sized commercial ship could carry easily a minimum of 50 tons deadweight based on specifications we know for medieval ships that were by no means vastly superior to ancient ones. I.e. a single ship could provide a day's diet of 100,000 men! With Phoenician ships coming and going and with total control over the Black Sea traderoute and the access to Ukrainian wheat-paradise let alone the abundance of Minor Asia, the Persian army following a low-land coastal approach could provide constantly the army with no problem worth-mentioning by Greek writers.

Did all these several 100,00s men appear in a single battle? Of course not. Add the garissons, add the vanguards and rears, add the personal imperial guards, and of course take into account the terrain certainly Mardonius (the main instigator of these campaigns and general of the Persian army) never managed to amass all that mass in a single field and probably he had never expected to do so. The biggest amassing was in the battle of Platea where a substantial Greek force (them too of 100,000 men) met with Mardonius force that was at least double that number but still no army could had ever involve the total mass of its forces. We know that following Mardonius death Persian generals packed their contingents and rushed out of Europe as quickly as possible being also kicked out from the revolting vassals. That would be certainly the most difficult part of their campaign in terms of provisions but still they would survive simply on smaller ratios and eating some of the uneeded animals.

Nikos
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#49
Hahaha.. correct! Of course I meant "bigger"... but bugger has worked OK! Big Grin

Why would it be strange for Cyrus to rest his hopes on his best troops? He did. He proposed a plan that had Clearchus followed, Artaxerxes might have had lost the battle. Had he not, the Greeks would have been surrounded and slain, which was the fear of Clearchus.

As for an oblique attack, yes, it would have been mighty possible and if anyone could have done so, it would have been the Greeks. But to do so, they would not obliquely attack in the space between the two armies. They would redeploy on the left. An oblique advance so far from the inital deployment position would be impossible without marching in column first and this would never have happened in front of the enemy line. What is even more strange is that Cyrus did not force his will on the Greeks as any good general would normally have done. Maybe he was not convinced of the Greeks' loyalty.

So, what Cyrus asked for was far from ridiculous and I think that in this instant Xenophon is actually presenting the brother's plan as sound and efficient. To do as ordered does not require a single, surely suicidal maneuver.

And all this, again does not mean that the numbers suggested by Xenophon, an eye-witness, are correct.
Macedon
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#50
Quote:Roach, the few ancient references that I have seen suggest that the Greeks and Romans considered one noncombatant per soldier an unusually high ratio. Defining "noncombatant" is always complicated; Xenophon wasn't on Cyrus' muster roll, but he brought arms and horses and tried to make himself useful.

Well, Greeks usually brought one slave/serveant each, although the Spartans brought seven... But yeah, those served as psiloi if needed. Romans did away with the camp trail, IIRC - Marius did it first, and his legions got the nickname "Marius' mules" for carrying everything themselves.


@Macedon Just to clear some stuff up, the elite of Cyrus' force was not the Greeks. The most elite troops by far were his bodyguard of 600 armored cavalry. And they were more successful than the hoplites for sure*.

*The hoplites allegedly routed the imperial left... With their mere appearance. What I see as more likely is the left simply retreating - they didn't even loose a shaft at the hoplites, and neither did the cavalry of Tissaphernes even try to engage them.
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#51
Quote:They were, in fact, marching through "pacified" territory (the debate over a satrapy of Macedonia/Thrace is another question. The number of sieges were never going to be large until Greece proper (south of Tempe).

Things were much more complex. First, there could have been trouble with the Thracians as indeed was the case soon after. Then, Macedonia and the Greeks of Thrace were never really trustworthy allies and there were incidents of such subordination as soon as Xerxes was off Greece, some examples in Chalcidice come to mind, before the battle of Plataea or thereabouts. Then there would be the potential problems in Thessaly and Boeotia. An "efficient" Persian army such as the ones that would be sent against Agesilaus soon after would not have been enough and would only entertain thoughts of resistance to the northern Greek populace. Do not forget that each city pursued its own policies and thus, from a total of maybe 30-60 walled cities and towns, some could have sided with the southerners. Just 2-3 would have been enough to completely stall the campaign. A force of 60,000 Persians were heading to Mardonius and never reached him because of such delays.

As for Herodot on Mardonius' army marches, I cannot say that I can come to any conclusions from that. The only clue would be the camp size and even that ca be debated in a number of ways. Do you really believe that it would be strategically sound to leave 50-100,000 men in the midst of potentially enemy territory, against an enemy that had proved superior, that controlled the sea, the forts, the country and that could either conduct a war of harassment as easily as attack en force? And all this with no sure allies in the region. What would happen if the Greeks just unloaded a small force of 5-10,000 men in the north of Thessaly to cut them off completely from any supplies? I personally do not think that Xerxes would have done so.
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#52
[quote][quote="Sean Manning" post=306600]@Macedon Just to clear some stuff up, the elite of Cyrus' force was not the Greeks. The most elite troops by far were his bodyguard of 600 armored cavalry. And they were more successful than the hoplites for sure*.

*The hoplites allegedly routed the imperial left... With their mere appearance. What I see as more likely is the left simply retreating - they didn't even loose a shaft at the hoplites, and neither did the cavalry of Tissaphernes even try to engage them.[/quote]

His 600 bodyguards were his own elite troops. The 13,000 Greeks were his most valuable force. I have always liked Persian heavy cavalry but why were they "more successful" for sure? No matter if you think that the Persian left retreated, what we know is that they fled and that the Persians around Cyrus thought that what they saw was a rout when they proclaimed him a king already. Why don't you think it equally possible that the adversaries of Curus' bodyguard cavalry also "purposefully" fled in order to draw them away from the very lord they were supposed to guard? Cyrus was killed because these men scattered to the pursuit! Truth is simple. Artaxerxes gained the victory, Cyrus was slain, the Greeks marched a long way home, being harassed all the way through the Achaemenid Empire suffering very little, while Tissaphernes let his King down unable to fulfill his promises to him. The Carduchians and the Armenian winter proved more dangerous opponents. As to which troops were "better", why should we even try to compare a Greek hoplitic army to a unit of armored Persian cavalry? Each one had its merits if used correctly.
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#53
[quote][quote="Sean Manning" post=306600]@Macedon Just to clear some stuff up, the elite of Cyrus' force was not the Greeks. The most elite troops by far were his bodyguard of 600 armored cavalry. And they were more successful than the hoplites for sure*.

*The hoplites allegedly routed the imperial left... With their mere appearance. What I see as more likely is the left simply retreating - they didn't even loose a shaft at the hoplites, and neither did the cavalry of Tissaphernes even try to engage them.[/quote]

His 600 bodyguards were his own elite troops. The 13,000 Greeks were his most valuable force in the battle-line. I have always liked Persian heavy cavalry but why were they "more successful" for sure? No matter if you think that the Persian left retreated, what we know is that they fled and that the Persians around Cyrus thought that what they saw was a rout when they proclaimed him a king already. Why don't you think it equally possible that the adversaries of Curus' bodyguard cavalry also "purposefully" fled in order to draw them away from the very lord they were supposed to guard? Cyrus was killed because these men scattered to the pursuit! Truth is simple. Artaxerxes gained the victory, Cyrus was slain, the Greeks marched a long way home, being harassed all the way through the Achaemenid Empire suffering very little, while Tissaphernes let his King down unable to fulfill his promises to him. The Carduchians and the Armenian winter proved more dangerous opponents. As to which troops were "better", why should we even try to compare a Greek hoplitic army to a unit of armored Persian cavalry? Each one had its merits if used correctly.
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#54
The ratio of combatants vs. non-combatants could vary greatly. As combatants we have to see all those people that during the campaign's march

1. Were either fully armed involved in actions of scouting, vanguarding, rear-guarding
2. Were carrying some minimal amount of arms (usually light cavalry and infantry, slingers, archers) ready to be deployed quickly if need arose
3. Were marching close to the carriages carrying their armors thus being ready to get in action relatively fast if news of an enemy approaching them with battle-intentions came
4. Garissons keeping order of the main routes - particularly to ensure flow of provisions (some would include them in a separate account as non-combatants just like the Spartan citizens staying back guarding home from rebellious Helots) but in the case of the Persian campaign a whole 50,000 of the more than 300,000 men were easily consumed by garisson tasks heer and there.

Non combatants were people who were assigned with all the rest of things such as for example stock carriers, stockpilers, smiths and weapon makers, cooks and servants and other technicians. It goes without saying that some of the above tasks could also be done by combatants (or oppositely non-combatants would take arms if need arose) but this would be mostly true for short-distance campaigns. And indeed even in the Persian campaign, for the short distances (i.e. from the port to the camp site) provisions could be transported by employment of lots of combatants. But Persians could not be based on any of the already rebellious Minor Asian Greek levies (those brought were mostly to fill in the ranks and take on the side-tasks as well as, perhaps, to witness the futility of their own hopes for liberty). They were based on Asian troops thus the distances involved were much bigger.

Romans indeed used a lower combatant to non-combatant ratio because they did short-distance campaigns and when they fared a bit further it took them whole decades to first set allies, set bases, get provisions from allies etc. - they had a whole network supporting them there which conveniently was not counted as part of their number while it was very much an integral part of their army - not forgetting that Romans conveniently ignored the inclusion of local allies into side-tasks (vassals, side troops etc.) only concentrating in the numbers of pitched battles. Eg. Romans had already their base in Minor Asia and Aegean via the allied kingdom of Pergamon and Rhodian state (i.e. the 2 biggest naval powers of Greece at the time!) and this 50 years prior to start planning of conquering Greece! Greeks only used a lower soldier to carrier ratio but then campaigned next to home. Once they campaigned deep to Asia they resorted to a self-provided, self-sustained model (i.e. confiscations, i.e. common looting) that would not work for the Persians given that the mass of their army had to cross first half their own Empire!!! Over-taxing it yes they did it, but looting it in a self-sustained model would be politically a gaffe sending the message of rebellion to all regions of the Empire. Thus to send into Greece more than 300,000 fighting men they had to mobile much more than that and then that is what they did because simply they had the money to do so! They were by far the richest Empire ever!

Now, the big question is not whether they had an enormous army sent there or whether they had the means and money to do so because they had both the means and the money to send that amount of men and even more - the really big question was why. They certainly did not built bridges over continents and cut peninsulas in two to pass navies just to punish little Eretria and little Athens. The question is whether Persians had the motive to pay (because as said they could pay) so much for that campaign. Well they had a motive. Not them directly but indirectly by the direct motive of the Phoenicians. It is safe to argue that it had been Phoenicians that masterminded the Persian campaign as proved by their whole-hearted inclusion in the campaign and the investment they placed in, by the notoriously close links of the main instigator Mardonius with Phoenicians and by all means by the extremely weird coincidence of the Carthagenian attack against Magna Graecia on the very same year, very some month of the Persian campaign! Not to forget all the mumbo-jumbo of Xerxes being cosntantly harassed (by dreams... of spirits speaking over his bed!!!) to campaign against Greece, the distrust of the traditional Persian aristocracy to the friend of Phoenicians, Mardonius, that also played a role in the failure of Persians. Had Phoenicians beaten in both Greece and South Italy they would had taken total and absolute control over the East West trade as they had enjoyed earlier on momentarily during the Greek-middle ages. They were the ones with the highest stakes in that campaign.

Nikos (Νικόλαος)
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#55
Quote:As I wrote earlier, Herodotus seems to realise that his naval numbers are over the top. With the Greeks - in full-on desperation mode - mustering some 330 ships for Artemesium (and Athens luckily supplying a majority) he felt the need to "rationalise" the Persian fleet. Note that all the ships destroyed are fighting ships (the grain ships and others are "beyond counting") and we are back to some 600 - that recurrent figure.

Lastly, if we are to believe that Xerxes took 1,207 fighting ships to Greece as well as grain ships and others "beyond counting", just what did the coastal states of the eastern Mediterranean do for an entire sailing season? They would seem reduced to trading and sailing in dinghies.
Comparing Herodotus 7.97 and 7.184 is also instructive: a fleet of three thousand ships including triakonters and pentekonters and twelve hundred triremes turns into twelve hundred triremes plus three thousand pentekonters when Herodotus wants to dazzle his audience with numbers. Not only does he add 1200 ships in this way, but he assumes that each light galley had the largest possible crew. As T. Cuyler Young pointed out in “480/79 BCE- A Persian Perspective,” great stories about defeating an invader demand that the invader be as numerous, and the defenders as few, as possible. Until recently, modern writers tended to make Persian numbers as large as possible because they were influenced by this story.
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#56
Quote:The hoplites allegedly routed the imperial left... With their mere appearance. What I see as more likely is the left simply retreating - they didn't even loose a shaft at the hoplites, and neither did the cavalry of Tissaphernes even try to engage them.

This bit of revisionism would warrant a thread of its own. Note that revisionism can be good if it is correct. But remember, unless we simply cast Xenophon aside, then the Persians failed to stand up to the Greeks twice, and the Greek evidently believed that they controlled the field of battle and could put a man on the Persian throne at will (the Persians available were all too smart to take them up on the offer, knowing what would happen politically).

As for a simple retreat by the Persians. They did loose at least one arrow, for a Greek on the left wing was shot Wink Their chariotry did not retire well if that was the plan! It would be odd for Tissaphernes to charge through the peltasts if the plan of the persians was to give way. Far more likely is that he charged through the peltasts opposite him as part of the general advance, and then did what so many cavalry forces did- thus he went for the baggage.

In the end we would have to dismiss outright events that Xenophon describes first hand:

Quote:Then Cleanor the Arcadian, being the eldest of the generals, made answer that they would die sooner than give up their arms. And Proxenus the Theban said: “For my part, Phalinus, I wonder whether the King is asking for our arms on the assumption that he is victorious, or simply as gifts, on the assumption that we are his friends. For if he asks for them as victor, why need he ask for them, instead of coming and taking them?5 But if he desires to get them by persuasion, let him set forth what the soldiers will receive in case they do him this favour.” [11] In reply to this Phalinus said: “The King believes that he is victor because he has slain Cyrus. For who is there now who is contending against him for his realm? Further, he believes that you also are his because he has you in the middle of his country, enclosed by impassable rivers, and because he can bring against you a multitude of men so great that you could not slay them even if he were to put them in your hands.”

Doesn't sound like a King that won a tactical victory to me. I am reluctant to believe that Xenophon is making up the sentiment, even if he made up the words.
Paul M. Bardunias
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#57
Quote:... As for water, Greece has a lot of water, many streams and rivers in regular distances ...

Perhaps - but in August? I still think this water issue needs greater examination. Remember the whole manouevring around prior to Plataia revolved around two issues:

(a) the total lack of allied Greek cavalry

and

(b) the need for reliable water supplies

Access to the lower Gargaphia Spring, motivated by the Persians keeping the allied Greeks away from the River Asopos, played a major part in dispositions. Both Plataia and Thermopylai were fought in August.
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#58
I won't hazard a guess as to what the real size of the Persian army was, but some people seem to give the impression that it would be impossible for 300,000 people to be in the same place at all. Certainly there were cities with that many people, people who aren't being ordered to live together, are not receiving huge quantities of free food and pay from their king, and these cities are not temporary.


It is also entirely possible that back then keeping everyone perfectly supplied and well-fed was not a "number one" priority. If an army's logistics weren't good enough keep everyone completely healthy and its numbers began suffering attrition due to starvation, then that might just be another statistic to toss upon the already appalling losses due to things like illness, injury, and desertion.

Ultimately the campaign in Greece was a failure, so arguing logistics might as well be like a future historian saying, "There is no way Napoleon's Grand Armee had 450,000 men because it would have been impossible for him to keep them all fed during the Russian winter."



But getting back to the main topic. I think an interesting question would be why were ancient armies, even from disorganized confederations like Gual or city-states like early Republican Rome, in most accounts multitudes larger than almost anything seen in dark age or medieval europe?
Henry O.
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#59
Just to add another dimension to the numbers "game" in ancient battles, Greek or otherwise, there is also the vexed qustion of the number of dead after battles and what happened to them too. The accounts of slaughter rarely includes the administration of the aftermath but it presents its own logistic questions:

Bodies piled up and burnt? Fairly hygenic in the scheme of things but would need a decent wood supply (more logistics).

Dead equids used for fresh rations? A possibility. (May have to draw the line at eating elephants , but its meat afterall).

Bodies buried in pits? Needs someone to do the digging - prisoners? - and someone to guard them. But perhaps not an option in some places due to terrain (too rocky) or the potential contamination of water tables.

Left to rot? Very unhygenic and disrespectful but saves a lot of time, effort and unpleasantness unless prisoners were used.

And the collection of arms and armour from the battle field? Another logisitic requirement and possibly essential to re-equip/replace the victorious army's damages.

Sea battles of course avoid a lot of this except for those bodies washed up on shore.
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#60
Quote:
Macedon post=306609 Wrote:... As for water, Greece has a lot of water, many streams and rivers in regular distances ...

Perhaps - but in August? I still think this water issue needs greater examination. Remember the whole manouevring around prior to Plataia revolved around two issues:

(a) the total lack of allied Greek cavalry

and

(b) the need for reliable water supplies

Access to the lower Gargaphia Spring, motivated by the Persians keeping the allied Greeks away from the River Asopos, played a major part in dispositions. Both Plataia and Thermopylai were fought in August.

True, but these were armies standing immobile for many days and the Greeks had problems due to harassment from the enemy cavalry. What is most important is that in such a limited ground, there were simple springs and streams that were enough to water a huge Greek army and another, even greater Persian army. And when the Greeks wanted to relocate, they would only do so for a short distance, which shows that in the proximity there was abundant water, not controlled by the Persians, for at least twice their numbers. And, believe you me, these places are much more arid than those in the north...

Regarding the initial invasion, I would (actually have done above) propose that for a number of reasons, the initial host of Xerxes would march in divisions at intervals hours or days distant and thus secure abundant watering and bearable marching speeds.
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