Friday, 20 July 2012

Nectanebo Points

Old John from 20mm Nostalgic Revival and Richard from Vintage 20Mil are coming up for a wargames weekend in early September. Hopefully we'll get to fight a couple of large battles. The first will be the clash between Antigonus and Eumenes at Paraetecene in 317BC. Pondering what the second will be has occupied many hours of dog walking.

Initially I had thought of some equivalent of Grant's Mandubian Hills scenario in which Germans were replaced by Galatians, Romans by Seleucids. I imagined the latter force being made up of mercenary hoplites and peltasts, supplemented by Persian cavalry and Syrian archers. Such a scheme would have meant diverting from my attempts to finish the Egyptian Army, however, and turning instead to painting Gaulish chariots. Since one thing tends to lead to another when it comes to painting figures I could foresee that such a step would mean not getting back to the Egyptians until 2022, probably with the Franco-Austrian War in between.

It was fortunate then, that the other day, I picked my copy of HW Parke's Greek Mercenary Soldiers (1933) off the shelf with a view to looking up something else entirely, and found myself reading the details of - or rather lack of them - Artaxerxes Ochus' ill-fated first attempt to reconquer Egypt, a campaign that occurred some time around 350BC. The fighting apprently went on for a year and culminated in a crushing Persian defeat, but - Diodorus being reticent on the topic - not much is known about what actually happened.

Parke surmises the following:-

a) That the Egyptian Army of King Nectanebo II featured a large number of Greek mercenaries, including contingents commanded by Diophantus of Athens, Lamias the Spartan and Mentor of Rhodes

b) That the Persian Army in all likelihood did not include Greeks - Artaxerxes having attempted to secure his position as Emperor by disbanding the Greek mercenary contingents of his satraps to minimise the potential for revolt.

This is not much to go on, which from my point of view is a distinct advantage. I propose a battle in which the Egyptian Army of the 30th Dynasty supplemented by Greek mercenary hoplites, takes on an army of Persians, Medes and assorted satrapies on the banks of the Nile.

Any suggestions for the troop types employed in the Egyptian Army of this period gratefully recived - though only if they are something I already have, obviously.


  1. Initial rather obvious thoughts - chariots have gone from the Egyptian army. Possibly 4 horse chariot for Pharoah? Cavalry increased, possibly say 10-15% or so of the Egyptian infantry, as 'replacements'. Egyptian infantry probably mainly unarmoured.Not convinced many of them would be archers. Probably same for Greek mercenaries of this era. I would assume only limited numbers of Nubians in this army as they were independent kingdoms and I can't see anything to suggest military help from them. Also, mention of Greek mercenaries, no mention of Nubians or Kushites.

  2. This comes from Wipipedia so you know its true.
    For the 2nd Egyptian War Nectanebo is said to have had:
    60,000 Egyptians, 20,000 Libyans and as many Greek mercenaries
    (for the 2nd expedition the Persians also had lots of Greeks as well making it a fair fight)

    Xenephon's Egyptian Hoplites with tall shields come to mind. (with linen armour if memory serves which it often doesn't.)

    Sounds to me like a lot of spearmen backed by better spearmen and perhaps Libyan & Egyptian javelinmen and a few cavalry and archers? Perhaps some improbably Arab camels for colour? or a handful of Cretan mercenaries?

    Wasn't there some archeological find of Persian bones in the desert a few years ago? Perhaps a Persian army marching on an oasis finds the way blocked by Greeks and then finds itself flanked by Libyans and Egyptians?

  3. That would be the 'lost army ' of Cambyses:

    1. ...Which was part of the inspiration behind the truncated Xerxes invades Carthage campaign.