Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Ancient History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Ancient History Ancient History Forum - Greece, Rome, Carthage, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and all other civilizations of antiquity, to include Prehistory and Archaeology discussions


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old January 10th, 2017, 09:08 AM   #11
Historian
 
Joined: Jul 2016
From: USA
Posts: 3,801

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMilitaryHistoryAddict View Post
The group that defended were the Thespians wasnt it? I thought they all died holding off the immortals, never heard about them running off where does it say they deserted
Phocians guarded the path, they ran off when the Immortals approached. Herodotus is the source.

Quote:
I know that but i meant in the open field as well, ok let's make a more interesting scenario, let's say those 7,000 greeks and 300 spartans have a rear guard of 3,000 veteran hypaspists and 10,000 javelin men, slingers and archers. Could a force like this have possibly stopped the immortals in their path?
You're talking about having a reserve force nearly double the size as the main effort guarding the narrow pass? 7,000 facing off against hundreds of thousands, and 14,000 to guard a goat path that the enemy might or might find and exploit?

The Greeks didn't have the luxury of the numbers you are proposing, the reality of their strength is what dictated their battle plan and the location of the battle. Its nearly impossible to fight a defensive battle at Thermopylae and have it be truly decisive, its not the choice spot to fight to destroy the enemy because they can only be attacked frontally, so it comes down to a war of attrition. Whereas if the Greeks had a total of 21,000 infantry, 10,000 of them heavy infantry, they wouldn't need to station themselves at Thermopylae to begin with (they only went there because it was one of the few natural choke points they could exploit with the small force Leonidas commanded). Instead they could have picked a proper spot for a pitched battle.

A better battle plan if they had the numbers would be to attempt a pitched battle in the plain just past the Asopos River. Their rear would be secure, if everything went back they could easily fall back through the pass and block it with a rear action. Meanwhile, with their greater strength they could have fought a larger scale battle against the Persians in terrain that would allow more enemy casualties while still not being wide enough that they would guaranteed to be outflanked by Persian cavalry.

Last edited by aggienation; January 10th, 2017 at 09:10 AM.
aggienation is offline  
Remove Ads
Old January 10th, 2017, 09:25 AM   #12

Matthew Amt's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: MD, USA
Posts: 2,008

Quote:
Originally Posted by aggienation View Post
Phocians guarded the path, they ran off when the Immortals approached. Herodotus is the source.
Hey, now, be fair! The Phocians didn't run, they put their backs to the wall and were ready to die at their posts. Not their fault that the cowardly Persians marched RIGHT ON PAST them without fighting...

Off-topic, sorry...

Matthew
Matthew Amt is offline  
Old January 10th, 2017, 01:01 PM   #13

PMBardunias's Avatar
Academician
 
Joined: Aug 2014
From: FL USA
Posts: 66

We know what would have happened with a full Spartan army. At Plataea, 5,000 Spartans, backed by 5,000 Lakedaimonians, 1,500 tegeans, and some 35,000 helots as psiloi, crushed Mardonios's Persian host.

With an army of this size, and hindsight showing us the dominance of hoplites in ground control, I would have formed south of the pass. I doubt that Xerxes would even attempt to meet me due to the limitations on moving men through the pass, but if he did, I would let his vanguard debouche, then slaughter them. Then, rinse and repeat for whatever else he sends through piecemeal. Better still, I would put some of my own force on the mountain passes to divide his force in the pass.
PMBardunias is offline  
Old January 10th, 2017, 01:23 PM   #14

Salaminia's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 294

Quote:
Originally Posted by PMBardunias View Post
Prior to Iphicrates, the only place you would see infantry spears longer than dory is on ships, like the Egyptians, alongside exotica like the dorudrepanon or glaive. So I am not seeing the "they could not use long spears on ships" argument. Am I missing something in your thought process?
You misunderstand the nature of the action Paul. Uda Sarson, back in Slingshot, posited that Iphikrates' reforms related to the Athenian marines - the longer spear (Diodorus is probably correct at half as long again) being far more effective in ship to ship engagements. This is not a ship to ship engagement; rather Alexander forces breaches in the wall and throws a gangway from the transport into the breach. It is on these that his hypaspists and asthetairoi force a way onto the battlements. This is no place for a sarisa. If anything, this is a place for either the spear or longche.

Arrian, Anabasis, 2.22.1-6 describes the action and it is clear that both units are attempting to mount the wall through the breach. Arrian describes this as not too steep and sturdy in comparison to previous attempts but it is plain these men are attacking over rubble from the collapsed curtain wall after which they then move to take control of the wall and towers themselves. This is not work conducive to a sarisa I'd have thought.

Just what Themopylai has to do with the hypaspists, though, is beyond me!
Salaminia is offline  
Old January 10th, 2017, 02:38 PM   #15

PMBardunias's Avatar
Academician
 
Joined: Aug 2014
From: FL USA
Posts: 66

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salaminia View Post
You misunderstand the nature of the action Paul. Uda Sarson, back in Slingshot, posited that Iphikrates' reforms related to the Athenian marines - the longer spear (Diodorus is probably correct at half as long again) being far more effective in ship to ship engagements. This is not a ship to ship engagement; rather Alexander forces breaches in the wall and throws a gangway from the transport into the breach. It is on these that his hypaspists and asthetairoi force a way onto the battlements. This is no place for a sarisa. If anything, this is a place for either the spear or longche.
As to ships and spears, I figured there was more to it than simply the fact they are onboard ships.

As to sarissa in a siege, Geez, its like you have never seen the siege of Helms Deep! Where pikes were great in a siege and useless against a cavalry charge...d'oh!

Actually, I am agnostic on the use of sarissa in a siege. Obviously, moving over broken ground with a long spear is awkward, but I think we both agree that this notion has been far overblown. On the other hand, the reach could be quite an advantage in area denial. We know they were used in sieges at least under some conditions, or else Cleonymus could not have had his front ranks drop their weapons and grab them at Edessa. This one I would defer to someone examining siege reports.
PMBardunias is offline  
Old January 10th, 2017, 05:53 PM   #16

Salaminia's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 294

Ptolemy famously used a sarisa at the Camels' Fort but that was a particular usage against the elephants. I'm thinking more the normal siege scenario where troops eventually have to climb through destroyed curtain walls or climb ladders (Malli town in India). These scenarios are no place for a 16-18 foot sarisa. I've no doubt that, for example, Pyrrhos used sarisa armed troops assaulting the larger gaps at Sparta but I severely doubt those troops used a sarisa at Eryx! I can't see either the asthetairoi or hypaspists using sarisai at Tyre.
Salaminia is offline  
Old January 11th, 2017, 05:06 AM   #17

Matthew Amt's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: MD, USA
Posts: 2,008

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salaminia View Post
You misunderstand the nature of the action Paul. Uda Sarson, back in Slingshot, posited that Iphikrates' reforms related to the Athenian marines - the longer spear (Diodorus is probably correct at half as long again) being far more effective in ship to ship engagements. This is not a ship to ship engagement; rather Alexander forces breaches in the wall and throws a gangway from the transport into the breach. It is on these that his hypaspists and asthetairoi force a way onto the battlements. This is no place for a sarisa. If anything, this is a place for either the spear or longche.

Arrian, Anabasis, 2.22.1-6 describes the action and it is clear that both units are attempting to mount the wall through the breach. Arrian describes this as not too steep and sturdy in comparison to previous attempts but it is plain these men are attacking over rubble from the collapsed curtain wall after which they then move to take control of the wall and towers themselves. This is not work conducive to a sarisa I'd have thought.
If it were me, I'd leave the poles in camp and just use my sword! From a ship to a throw-down plank to a rubble pile, I'd DEFINITELY want my right hand as free as possible for as long as possible. Shield and sword, friends, shield and sword.

I've never been happy hearing these ideas of troops swapping pikes for spears back and forth at will, it just seems odd logistically, to me. BUT I don't know the sources like you guys do, so please keep it coming!

I will say that I don't see the use of sarissas as impossible if troops are moving into a breach of any significant size from solid ground. There will be a lot of places where that kind of reach is just the thing for getting a point into guys who are waiting above you. But it would be a mistake to think there were any hard and fast rules. Sometimes you have to just use what you've got.

Matthew
Matthew Amt is offline  
Old January 11th, 2017, 09:58 AM   #18

PMBardunias's Avatar
Academician
 
Joined: Aug 2014
From: FL USA
Posts: 66

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salaminia View Post
I'm thinking more the normal siege scenario where troops eventually have to climb through destroyed curtain walls or climb ladders (Malli town in India). These scenarios are no place for a 16-18 foot sarisa.
Going up a ladder with a sarissa is surely easier than with an aspis! Just hold it close to the head and climb, while dragging it along. (As a kid I often had to climb on my roof with a hose-end in hand to clean the gutters) If the ladder was not much more twenty feet, just climb it and have your friend hand it to you at the top. Not saying this is what happened, just that it seems it could be done.

Sorry for crossing the streams, but in looking up Cleonymus I came across the chapter of Mathew's Invincible Beast on sarissaphoroi vs hoplite combat...ugh.
PMBardunias is offline  
Old January 11th, 2017, 10:34 AM   #19
Historian
 
Joined: Jul 2016
From: USA
Posts: 3,801

Quote:
Originally Posted by PMBardunias View Post
Going up a ladder with a sarissa is surely easier than with an aspis! Just hold it close to the head and climb, while dragging it along. (As a kid I often had to climb on my roof with a hose-end in hand to clean the gutters) If the ladder was not much more twenty feet, just climb it and have your friend hand it to you at the top. Not saying this is what happened, just that it seems it could be done.

Sorry for crossing the streams, but in looking up Cleonymus I came across the chapter of Mathew's Invincible Beast on sarissaphoroi vs hoplite combat...ugh.
Wouldn't it just be easier to sling the aspis on the back, keep the sword sheathed, and climb with both hands, or maybe at most a lance in one hand, than trying to manhandle a giant pike up a ladder?
aggienation is offline  
Old January 11th, 2017, 11:56 AM   #20

Matthew Amt's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: MD, USA
Posts: 2,008

Quote:
Originally Posted by aggienation View Post
Wouldn't it just be easier to sling the aspis on the back, keep the sword sheathed, and climb with both hands, or maybe at most a lance in one hand, than trying to manhandle a giant pike up a ladder?
*I* would think so. Sure, you can lug a sarissa with one hand, but you can't really *use* it that way. If you know you'll have time and space at the top of the ladder to deploy the sarissa, sure. But if you have to fight your way over the wall, heck, I'd be inclined to just bash the other guy with my shield rim until I could get a leg up!

In my younger and stupider days I might have grabbed a bunch of friends and Dad's ladder, and tried some of this out on the roof, ha!

Matthew

Matthew
Matthew Amt is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Ancient History

Tags
hypaspists



Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The Silver Shields: Philip's and Alexander's elite Hypaspists Polynikes Ancient History 1 May 30th, 2014 04:28 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.