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Old January 5th, 2017, 08:23 AM   #11
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Hmm good question, while the legions had more manpower then the republic era, Alexander still might've had a chance as he too had an empire to draw upon with vast amounts of soldiers and resources at his disposal.

Rome once again would've mainly relied on their flexibility of heavy infantry with only a small amount of cavalry to fight their battles, while Alexander would stick with the usual Combined arms and his large amounts of cavalry and light infantry, Alexander would've probably showed up with a force of something like 100,000 infantry and 30,000 cavalry.

the Roman legions while doing well against barbarians and loose formations, did not always fair well against professional armies with more mobile formations and lightning fast campaigns. Evident by the Gauls sacking Rome in 387 B.C and Hannibal defeating several Roman Legions as did Pyrrhus of Epirus. Allied auxiliary cavalry isn't enough against the speed of the Companion Cavalry. Hastati's would have been chewed up by the Phalanx as Alexander crushes their flanks. Alexander arrives in Italy with his army of 130,000. He then makes an alliance with some of the Greek cities in southern Italy. Rome responds by sending a force of 50,000 to intercept him.

The Latins and samnites side with Alexander after Alexander promises them self rule from Roman aggression. Lending him another 10,000 allied troops.

The battle is at dawn near Cannae. Rome using triple line formations attack. Alexander pins the frontlines with his Phalanx as his cavalry make quick work of the Equites and numidians. Alexander deceives the Legionaries by moving his cavalry into a flanking position then charges straight into the Roman gap.

Peltasts and Shieldbearers follow through harassing the running Legionaires after sustaining huge casualties.

Macedon wins with minimal casualties.

Last edited by TheMilitaryHistoryAddict; January 5th, 2017 at 08:28 AM.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 08:38 AM   #12

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The point is just this: real history has told us that the empire of Alexander was an episode connected with a particular context and his great skills as commander.

While Rome was a system built to last and to resist also to phases of defeats against other powers
I fully agree, with the addition that most of Alexander's greatness was knowing where and when to deploy orthodox armies against inferior enemies (some vastly so). Against the tactical flexibility of Roman legions, he'd encounter serious issues.

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Alexander arrives in Italy with his army of 130,000
Logistics is possibly his main strength, but he'd not get an army that size through the Balkans and Dalmatia. Cultivation there then was minimal; infrastructure was literally dirt-poor, and forage opportunities would be few and far between.

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Old January 5th, 2017, 09:00 AM   #13
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I fully agree, with the addition that most of Alexander's greatness was knowing where and when to deploy orthodox armies against inferior enemies (some vastly so). Against the tactical flexibility of Roman legions, he'd encounter serious issues.



Logistics is possibly his main strength, but he'd not get an army that size through the Balkans and Dalmatia. Cultivation there then was minimal; infrastructure was literally dirt-poor, and forage opportunities would be few and far between.
You say that but Alexander was said to have crossed the Hindu Kush mountains into India with 150,000 men. So if he can go such a distance with a great army like that then he sure as hell would be able to march into Italy. And not just in logistics, he was an excellent tactician, strategist etc, he was literally the best at studying enemies formations and advantages and timing his attacks. Alexander could think of situations light years ahead of his enemies, and the thing that made him so great was that even if his planned strategy failed contact with the enemy he could literally think on his feet and quickly devise a new one based on circumstances. There were plenty of great tacticians in history who lost battles when their plans failed and they could not adapt like Alexander could.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 09:20 AM   #14

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Hmm good question, while the legions had more manpower then the republic era, Alexander still might've had a chance as he too had an empire to draw upon with vast amounts of soldiers and resources at his disposal.

Rome once again would've mainly relied on their flexibility of heavy infantry with only a small amount of cavalry to fight their battles, while Alexander would stick with the usual Combined arms and his large amounts of cavalry and light infantry, Alexander would've probably showed up with a force of something like 100,000 infantry and 30,000 cavalry.

the Roman legions while doing well against barbarians and loose formations, did not always fair well against professional armies with more mobile formations and lightning fast campaigns. Evident by the Gauls sacking Rome in 387 B.C and Hannibal defeating several Roman Legions as did Pyrrhus of Epirus. Allied auxiliary cavalry isn't enough against the speed of the Companion Cavalry. Hastati's would have been chewed up by the Phalanx as Alexander crushes their flanks. Alexander arrives in Italy with his army of 130,000. He then makes an alliance with some of the Greek cities in southern Italy. Rome responds by sending a force of 50,000 to intercept him.

The Latins and samnites side with Alexander after Alexander promises them self rule from Roman aggression. Lending him another 10,000 allied troops.

The battle is at dawn near Cannae. Rome using triple line formations attack. Alexander pins the frontlines with his Phalanx as his cavalry make quick work of the Equites and numidians. Alexander deceives the Legionaries by moving his cavalry into a flanking position then charges straight into the Roman gap.

Peltasts and Shieldbearers follow through harassing the running Legionaires after sustaining huge casualties.

Macedon wins with minimal casualties.
Well, this is Alexander versus a Roman army from the Republic, even from his own time, which I suspect has been done to death. Sure, he was good, he might very well have won. However, the Romans DID beat organized professionals, including Macedonian phalanx armies, repeatedly.

The original post, however, was wondering about Alexander versus an *Imperial* Rome. A very different animal, much bigger and better trained, with more teeth.

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Old January 5th, 2017, 09:39 AM   #15
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Well, this is Alexander versus a Roman army from the Republic, even from his own time, which I suspect has been done to death. Sure, he was good, he might very well have won. However, the Romans DID beat organized professionals, including Macedonian phalanx armies, repeatedly.

The original post, however, was wondering about Alexander versus an *Imperial* Rome. A very different animal, much bigger and better trained, with more teeth.

Matthew
Ok, well erm in that case it probably would've been a very long war. Yes they did, but the difference is they never faced a proper competent veteran Macedonian army commanded by Alexander all of those defeats to the Romans, were down to two things, lack of cavalry and infantry support and poor generalship, Alexander had neither of these so of course its a much bigger challenge for Rome. When you have a Lion who overcame odds before and leads an army of lions you better have something equal to or something better to defeat it. Truth is nothing in the world at that time was close to him and his forces.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 09:40 AM   #16
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The defeat of Varus brought a series of campaigns by larger armies under Tiberius and Germanicus that crushed every German force they met.
But they didn't again try to annex Germania.

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Boudica defeated (part of) Legio IX at the start of her revolt, but was then destroyed by Paulinus with XIV Martia and XX.
It was one thing to crush a revolt another to deal with remote, external enemies with large and dangerous forces.

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The Jewish revolt of 66 started with the destruction of Legio XII.
Cestius's force was mauled by not destroyed, whereas in the later bar Kockba revolt the Romans may have lost a legion--possibly Deotariana .

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Vespasian and Titus responded with 5 legions and a campaign of several years, ultimately leveling Jerusalem. The next revolt in the 130s under Bar Kochba was similar, but was followed by the Jews being driven out of their homeland. Until 1948.
No, some jews remained in Palestine, but weren't allowed to return to Jerusalem until the third century.


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Hopefully you aren't suggesting that they'd just let Alexander waltz halfway across the Empire and stroll into Rome?
It's interesting that as far back as the second century the Marcomanni, after penetrating the frontier defenses got as far as Aquilaia (sp?). Rome itself seemed in danger. One problem with the Empire's defenses was that the upper Danubian limes were "uncomfortably close to the head of the Adriatic" as one writer put it.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 12:21 PM   #17
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Mid Republic period: Macedonians would have won the battle, but Alexander himself would have died, thereby losing the war.

Every major pitched battle Alexander fought as general had him directly attacking directly at the enemy commander's position. It worked very well against the Persians, because their king was a wimp for scampered off at first sign of danger. The Roman consul would likely be stationed with the Extraordinaire of the Dexter Ala, nearby to the leading ranks. Alexander would lead the cavalry charge using horses that didn't have stirrups or even a saddle, and no shield, against the best infantry in the entire Roman army, all armed with body shields, swords, and numerous pila.

When fighting Romans Pyrrhus was smart enough to take off his armor and make a subordinate wear it (who was then promptly killed). Alexander's pride wouldn't have allowed that. He'd have gone down fighting, possibly breaking the right wing, more likely not though, either way he'd likely die or be seriously wounded in the process, his army and kingdom would fall apart from noble infighting, while Rome just levies another army, and another, and another. Until they win the war.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 01:58 PM   #18
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Romans were nothing if not versatile; they cherished their victories and embraced their defeats - they learned quickly and rarely made the same mistake twice. The Romans were also good at ascertaining their opponents' strengths and weaknesses and exploiting them.

Alexander was a great commander who made good use of finite resources; he couldn't really afford to lose too many men. Romans on the other hand could afford to send one army to weaken Alexander flanked by 2 more to finish him off
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Old January 5th, 2017, 02:25 PM   #19
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Mid Republic period: Macedonians would have won the battle, but Alexander himself would have died, thereby losing the war.

Every major pitched battle Alexander fought as general had him directly attacking directly at the enemy commander's position. It worked very well against the Persians, because their king was a wimp for scampered off at first sign of danger. The Roman consul would likely be stationed with the Extraordinaire of the Dexter Ala, nearby to the leading ranks. Alexander would lead the cavalry charge using horses that didn't have stirrups or even a saddle, and no shield, against the best infantry in the entire Roman army, all armed with body shields, swords, and numerous pila.

When fighting Romans Pyrrhus was smart enough to take off his armor and make a subordinate wear it (who was then promptly killed). Alexander's pride wouldn't have allowed that. He'd have gone down fighting, possibly breaking the right wing, more likely not though, either way he'd likely die or be seriously wounded in the process, his army and kingdom would fall apart from noble infighting, while Rome just levies another army, and another, and another. Until they win the war.
They might not have had stirrups, but Alexander's horses were Macedonian, which were the best breed of that time and the fastest of the ancient world, only the most noble and skilled soldiers rode them, even if the infantry had shields and swords, the full force of his shock cavalry, peltasts and hypaspists crashing down on the Romans flanks would have surely broken them up and the Phalanx would have drove them off the field. The Phalanx under ingenuity of Macedon were designed to fight great numbers of troops, the Legions were not. Legion's did well against similar sized armies and against the inflexibility of those said armies.

Yes he did charge into battle himself, but Alexander was also well known for his deception, look at how he took his royal cape off and gave it to one of his soldiers to make Porus think it was him at the Battle of Hydaspes. Whats to say he doesn't do something like that?

The thing is to defeat Alexander, you'd have to trap him and thats a feat to far to reach. If a Roman generals gets killed on the field, the Roman legions are leaderless, if Alexander dies there are other generals who can take command quite easily.

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Old January 5th, 2017, 04:36 PM   #20

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They might not have had stirrups, but Alexander's horses were Macedonian, which were the best breed of that time and the fastest of the ancient world, only the most noble and skilled soldiers rode them, even if the infantry had shields and swords, the full force of his shock cavalry, peltasts and hypaspists crashing down on the Romans flanks would have surely broken them up and the Phalanx would have drove them off the field.
It's nice to be confident, but if every battle were so predictable, eventually people would stop fighting them, eh? This all sounds like it depends on the Romans being flanked, but I'm not sure why the Romans couldn't flank the Macedonians? They had a well-rounded army with a good mix of heavy infantry, light infantry, and cavalry, and they often hired or enlisted archers and other troop types from allied nations for short-term use.

And the Romans *always* had a perfectly good amount of perfectly reasonable cavalry--heck, originally they used the entire Roman upper class for cavalry, just like the Macedonians did! Obviously they recognized that cavalry wasn't their strong point, so they made a point of having allies supply a larger proportion. By the time of the Empire, fully half of all auxiliary units were cavalry, and *half* of the auxiliary infantry cohorts were "mixed", having both foot and horse. That made any legion-based army somewhere between a quarter and a third cavalry.

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The Phalanx under ingenuity of Macedon were designed to fight great numbers of troops, the Legions were not. Legion's did well against similar sized armies and against the inflexibility of those said armies.
What? Roman armies were designed to fight whatever was in front of them! They often fought outnumbered, and even in the Republic could be surprisingly well-led.

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The thing is to defeat Alexander, you'd have to trap him and thats a feat to far to reach.
No, you don't. You beat him like you do any other army or general! This guy wasn't superhuman. Remember, the Romans beat Hannibal, and he was a lot more level-headed than Big Al.

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If a Roman generals gets killed on the field, the Roman legions are leaderless, if Alexander dies there are other generals who can take command quite easily.
Actually, in a Republican army there were often *two* consuls, so if you kill one the other is in charge. Failing that, there are 300 more Senators waiting for a turn. Note that when Alexander died, ALL his generals took command, leading to a couple generations of warfare among them.

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