Tuesday 19 June 2012

Gaugamela - Part One, set up and forces.

(Persian battle lines. PBs Dahae horse archers in the foreground. S range Assyrian horse archers just beyond them)

On an autumn afternoon in AD331, on a featureless plain that had been specially flattened to allow full use of his chariots and cavalry, Darius the Great King awaited the arrival of Alexander and the Macedonians.

Having tired of the pitiful performance of his native foot soldiers, Darius had more or less abandoned infantry altogether, focusing instead on the more reliable and courageous horsemen from the North and East of his Empire. In his battle line were mounted Bactrians, Scythians, Armenians, Cappadocians, Hykranians, Parthians and Indians, to the front of which were arranged hundreds of scythed chariots and a small group of elephants.

A few days before Darius had made one final attempt to bring the war to a peaceful conclusion, offering the Macedonian invader all the land west of the Euphrates, 30,000 gold talents and the hand of one of his daughters in marriage. The offer had been summarily rejected. “Asia can no more support two monarchs, than the earth could survive with two suns,” Alexander had told the Persian envoys. If the king wanted to hold onto his crown, he would have to fight.

(The Macedonian battle lines from Alexander's left. Garrison 20mm Greek light cavalry and PBs mercenary peltasts in the foreground)

When Alexander arrived at the crest of a low hill that looked across to the Persian battle line he may, momentarily, have wondered if he had made the correct decision. The fading sun reflected off thousands of spear points and from the scale armour of horses and men. Darius’ cavalry outnumbered his own by at least 4-to-1.

Instead of launching an immediate attack as he had at the Granicus and Issus, Alexander spent the rest of the day reconnoitring the battlefield, then retired to his tent to draw up his plans….
The exact make-up of the Persian Army is – predictably - open to doubt. I have opted to take Peter Green as my main guide mainly because his interpretation is likely to give the best wargame.

(The Macedonian centre. PBs phalangites with Cretan archers and Agrianina javelins skirmishing ahead. Behind them Garrison 20mm Greek hoplites guard the baggage)
Macedonian Army

6 x 40 Phlangites                                 240 figs
2 x 24 Hypaspists                                48 figs
3 x 20 Peltasts                                      60 figs
2 x 12 Cretan archers                           24 figs
1 x 12 Macedonian archers                  12 figs
2 x12 Agrianian javelins                     24 figs
1 x 12 Macedonian Javelins               12 figs

6 x 24 Greek Mercenary Hoplites         144figs
2 x 16 Companions                               32 figs
4 x 16 Greek Light cavalry                   64 figs
1 x 16 Thracian cavalry                        16 figs

Total:   544 infantry
           112 cavalry

(Persian battle lines from Darius' left. The cavalry stretched from one end of the 13 foot long table to the other, though, as we shall see, this long frontage proved problematic for the Persians.)

Persian Army

1 x 40 Immortals                                        40 figs
2 x 24 Mercenary Hoplites                        48 figs
2 x 20 Mardian archers                              40 figs
2 x 12 Light archers                                   24 figs

5 x 16 Horse Archers                                    80 figs
5 x 16 Light Cavalry                                    80 figs
7 x 16 Heavy cavalry                                   112figs

3 x Indian elephants and crew

20 x Scythed chariots and crew                            

Total: 142 Infantry
           352 Cavalry
             20 Chariots
              3 Elephants
(Pbs Indian cavalry and S range Immortals)

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