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Old January 5th, 2017, 05:44 PM   #21
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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. 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.
I mention the stirrups and lack of saddle not to conclude that they werent good cavalry but that if they tried to frontal ride through heavy infantry in formation they'd lose their seats and die.

Alexander switched his cloak so he could take part of his army, steal a march downriver to hit Porus' flank unexpectedly. But in battle he did the same thing he did every battle, he led the first troop of the royal squadron, which in turn was the point squadron of the decisive cavalry attack against the enemy's commander (done at Granicus, Issus, Gaugamela, Hydapses).

Which means he would have been riding a largely unarmored horse (besides peytral and a skin as a saddle blanket), with no shield, nothing to keep him in their seat besides gripping with their legs, against formed infantry who have 18" shanks on their pilum, body length shields, and two foot long swords they like using.

The only chance Alexander has is to rout the 600 Roman cavalry next to the Socii infantry on the Roman right and then turn the flank the infantry, kind of like what happenred at Magnesia, but the opposite side. But the multiple independent lines and reserves of Roman infantry would make that hard to execute, likely ending the same way it did against Seulucid cataphracts, partial rout anf not causing the line to crumble.

Roman consuls had at least one legate, one quaestor, twelve tribunes, twelve socii prefects, all of whom had the authority (and did in practice) to take command of leaderless armies. Besides which, to fight an army the size of Alexander's they would have combined at least two consular armies, which means double the total number of replacements for command.

So in summation, Alexander launches his phalanx forward to pin the Roman line, his cavalry on his right pin the more numerous Italian cavalry on the Roman left, and Alexander stages on the left in order to go for the Roman weaker right wing cavalry, and to kill its leaders, as Roman Consuls and senior legate traditionally fought with the Roman citizen cavalry or farthest right infantry, there to watch the vulnerable flank. But his attack runs into more trouble then ant orevious battle because he charged into heavy infantry armed with heavy, armor piercing pila that can also be used for thrusting. The attack breaks the first line of hastati, routs them, but then is stopped by the princeps maniples of the second line, and the Triari of the third line. In the mean time, as the guy furthest stuck in, riding point in the point wedge, a guy who frequently was severely wounded in personal combat, fighting against a people whose officers (centurion on up) had a habit of seeking out senior officers to kill in single combat, Alexander loses his seat and goes down hard after his horse is killed by pila, then they him kill by swords hacking off his limbs, head and helmet get stuck on a spear and waved around.

Rest of battle doesn't matter, Romans just won that war and created the Diodochi War.

Last edited by aggienation; January 5th, 2017 at 05:51 PM.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 05:54 PM   #22
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You say that but Alexander was said to have crossed the Hindu Kush mountains into India with 150,000 men.
Said by Who? Where? You got source to back that up?

I'd be shocked if was more than 50,000. Alexander took quite small army into persia.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 06:05 PM   #23

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I agree. He'd probably win 2-3 battles but the Romans would be back. Eventually he'll run out of good troops and he'll be fighting battles with green untrained boys.... then it's over.
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Old January 6th, 2017, 05:08 AM   #24
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I mention the stirrups and lack of saddle not to conclude that they werent good cavalry but that if they tried to frontal ride through heavy infantry in formation they'd lose their seats and die.

Alexander switched his cloak so he could take part of his army, steal a march downriver to hit Porus' flank unexpectedly. But in battle he did the same thing he did every battle, he led the first troop of the royal squadron, which in turn was the point squadron of the decisive cavalry attack against the enemy's commander (done at Granicus, Issus, Gaugamela, Hydapses).

Which means he would have been riding a largely unarmored horse (besides peytral and a skin as a saddle blanket), with no shield, nothing to keep him in their seat besides gripping with their legs, against formed infantry who have 18" shanks on their pilum, body length shields, and two foot long swords they like using.

The only chance Alexander has is to rout the 600 Roman cavalry next to the Socii infantry on the Roman right and then turn the flank the infantry, kind of like what happenred at Magnesia, but the opposite side. But the multiple independent lines and reserves of Roman infantry would make that hard to execute, likely ending the same way it did against Seulucid cataphracts, partial rout anf not causing the line to crumble.

Roman consuls had at least one legate, one quaestor, twelve tribunes, twelve socii prefects, all of whom had the authority (and did in practice) to take command of leaderless armies. Besides which, to fight an army the size of Alexander's they would have combined at least two consular armies, which means double the total number of replacements for command.

So in summation, Alexander launches his phalanx forward to pin the Roman line, his cavalry on his right pin the more numerous Italian cavalry on the Roman left, and Alexander stages on the left in order to go for the Roman weaker right wing cavalry, and to kill its leaders, as Roman Consuls and senior legate traditionally fought with the Roman citizen cavalry or farthest right infantry, there to watch the vulnerable flank. But his attack runs into more trouble then ant orevious battle because he charged into heavy infantry armed with heavy, armor piercing pila that can also be used for thrusting. The attack breaks the first line of hastati, routs them, but then is stopped by the princeps maniples of the second line, and the Triari of the third line. In the mean time, as the guy furthest stuck in, riding point in the point wedge, a guy who frequently was severely wounded in personal combat, fighting against a people whose officers (centurion on up) had a habit of seeking out senior officers to kill in single combat, Alexander loses his seat and goes down hard after his horse is killed by pila, then they him kill by swords hacking off his limbs, head and helmet get stuck on a spear and waved around.

Rest of battle doesn't matter, Romans just won that war and created the Diodochi War.
I've never known Alexander to charge into infantry when their still in a tight formation, the cavalry was always usually the finishing blow to they infantry when their lines were all scattered by the Phalanx trouncing them, i think Alexander would have only attacked the Romans if there was a gap that was created in their ranks. He wasn't that stupid.

Haha very imaginative, it looks like we both have have a cool imagination on how a battle would've went down between both sides, but i still feel in my opinion that Alexander might've smashed them. I think he would've realised that the main strength of the Roman army was their legionary infantry, so he would try to neutralise the Roman cavalry.

Alexander would probably deploy his Phalanx first to pin the Romans down, then following that he'd order his Thessalian and Thracian cavalry and some peltast battalions to charge the Roman cavalry, he would probably screen his skirmishers like he did at gaugamela sending his cavalry at them and then suddenly having his peltasts appear behind them hurling their javelins and showering the enemy cavalry with missile fire. Alexander would also use his Cretan archers to deal with the Romans attempting to throw their Pilums at the advancing Phalanx.
While the Phalanx and Hypaspists is doing it's job pushing the Romans back in the centre, he would do something new and send his hired Scythian horse archers to circle around the flanks and shoot arrows at the Romans infantry, this way they would be pinned down on 3 sides by not only the cavalry and peltasts, but his horse archers and heavy infantry as well, at that point they would be faced with too many attacks to deal with at once, and it would be hard to get back into formation with so much chaos going on. once the Roman cavalry is wiped out, their flanks would be swarmed by heavy cavalry, horse archers and peltasts, as soon as he sees that the Romans are panicking falling back, he would then gather a cohesion of his allied greek hoplites and his Companions swing around and plunge into the Roman rear, from there the Roman army would get slaughtered on a scale as bloody as Cannae.

Last edited by TheMilitaryHistoryAddict; January 6th, 2017 at 05:58 AM.
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Old January 6th, 2017, 05:22 AM   #25
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I agree. He'd probably win 2-3 battles but the Romans would be back. Eventually he'll run out of good troops and he'll be fighting battles with green untrained boys.... then it's over.
I dont think so, because Alexander had a massive empire when he was alive, his military force was not only Macedon and Greece, but practically all of Persia, the Balkans,Central Asia and even parts of India, he would've had hundreds of thousands of troops to summon for war. He was not like Hannibal and Pyrrhus who had virtually nothing. Alexanders was a war machine. and a lot of Alexanders army were all veterans as well, and all of them trained in the Macedonian style of fighting. Alexander never ran out of good troops. an army of sheep led by a lion is better then an army of lions led by a sheep.

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Old January 6th, 2017, 07:50 AM   #26
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I've never known Alexander to charge into infantry when their still in a tight formation, the cavalry was always usually the finishing blow to they infantry when their lines were all scattered by the Phalanx trouncing them, i think Alexander would have only attacked the Romans if there was a gap that was created in their ranks. He wasn't that stupid.

Haha very imaginative, it looks like we both have have a cool imagination on how a battle would've went down between both sides, but i still feel in my opinion that Alexander might've smashed them. I think he would've realised that the main strength of the Roman army was their legionary infantry, so he would try to neutralise the Roman cavalry.

Alexander would probably deploy his Phalanx first to pin the Romans down, then following that he'd order his Thessalian and Thracian cavalry and some peltast battalions to charge the Roman cavalry, he would probably screen his skirmishers like he did at gaugamela sending his cavalry at them and then suddenly having his peltasts appear behind them hurling their javelins and showering the enemy cavalry with missile fire. Alexander would also use his Cretan archers to deal with the Romans attempting to throw their Pilums at the advancing Phalanx.
While the Phalanx and Hypaspists is doing it's job pushing the Romans back in the centre, he would do something new and send his hired Scythian horse archers to circle around the flanks and shoot arrows at the Romans infantry, this way they would be pinned down on 3 sides by not only the cavalry and peltasts, but his horse archers and heavy infantry as well, at that point they would be faced with too many attacks to deal with at once, and it would be hard to get back into formation with so much chaos going on. once the Roman cavalry is wiped out, their flanks would be swarmed by heavy cavalry, horse archers and peltasts, as soon as he sees that the Romans are panicking falling back, he would then gather a cohesion of his allied greek hoplites and his Companions swing around and plunge into the Roman rear, from there the Roman army would get slaughtered on a scale as bloody as Cannae.
Alexander might not wanted to charge infantry but he ALWAYS charged directly at the leader of the enemy force. So if he does what he always did in past battles (and Alexander was a creature of habit with a little too much desire to lead from the front) then what his battle plan would have been would have been more or less easy to decipher.

The Consul (or Dictator) commanding the Romans would likely station himself immediately behind (or in) the first line of maniples of the Extraordinaire Socii Dexter Ala (equivalent to a Roman legion, just called another name). To reach him means attacking through the maniples of formed infantry, there is no other way to get him. Alexander attempting this might sound far fetched but its not beyond what Alexander might attempt, some say he had done it at Chaeronea, attacking frontally against the Theban Band (though that is just one interpretation).

The other option to reach the Roman general, besides frontally charging through the infantry is to attack the seam between the Socii Dexter Ala and the 600 Roman Citizen cavalry stationed on the Right. That seam was highly vulnerable, and if this supposed battle would happen before the cavalry reforms of the 2nd Punic War, the Roman cavalry weren't even all that well equipped (taking Polybius' description of flimsy spears and thin shields at face value). So Alexander could ride straight into the Roman cavalry, rout them, turn and then attack the flank of the Socii Dexter Ala right. This would be similar to what happened at Magnesia, though in that battle it was the Roman left that got partially rolled up from a heavy cavalry attack. But the similarities are different enough, the Seulucids had catraphacts, with specially designed saddles and highly armored bodies and mounts, Alexander's Companions did not.

Furthermore, there comes to the problem of whether or not Alexander would be willing to leave the place of Honor, the right side of his own force. In all battles besides Hydaspes, he staged his grand cavalry attacks from the right, against the enemy's left. But this was against an enemy (Persians) who stationed their commander in the center of the line, whereas the Roman commander would have been on their own Right. Had Alexander done his normal thing he would have been facing off not against 600 poorly equipped Roman cavalry, but 1,200-2,400 better armed cavalry (better than Alexander's Companions for that matter). The Roman heavy left cavalry was specifically designed to counter the massive heavy right cavalry attacks of their enemies.

Cannae was only possible because Hannibal had fought the Romans enough to completely understand their tactics. That they were a steamroller force, that because of their camp annihilating the army in a rout wasn't possible, that the only way to eliminate the army entirely would be to encircle it completely and then massacre those stuck in the kill zone. It was a very unique tactic, one only known because he had spent years studying the Roman battles of the 1st Punic War (where his dad was a general), and from his earlier battles against the Romans when they kept repeating the same tactics and battle formations over and over again.

But Alexander never did that. He never even really fought an enemy who had a highly organized and defended camp to fall back to if the battle went sour. He could defeat the enemy's army and then scatter it and chase them down at his leisure, because the enemy would have nowhere to run to. To defeat the Romans, means besides killing the Roman general (which wouldn't actually defeat the Romans, someone else would take command), but also taking their camp (which was defended). Or else he would have to encircle the Roman army, but those tactics were not Hellenic, nobody had every done a true double envelopment in a large scale pitched battle until Hannibal. Plus Alexander didn't have the decades of knowledge of the Romans, Hannibal's ONLY true enemy were the Romans, he prepared his whole life to fight them and would have game played battles from the age of a little boy onward. Alexander had better things to do, had too high of an ego to ever take seriously a small confederation of Italian city states, and like Pyrrhus would have approached the situation with little to no knowledge of the Romans besides what the Greeks of Magna Graecia would have told them, which is little.

So Alexander's primary goals: Kill the Consul, Capture the Camp, Rout the Roman infantry with flank attacks, force them to surrender enmass or slaughter them.
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Old January 9th, 2017, 09:29 PM   #27
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So let's say, for a purely hypothetical scenario, the Romans were at their level of technological and martial skill around 180 AD, around the time of Aurelius' death, and Alexander had already proven himself as one of the greatest commanders of all time with the Persian and Indian campaigns. So Alexander takes the mighty Macedonian infantry and invades Italy.

Keep in mind there is no Julius Caesar to command the Roman legions, but many people still say the Roman legions were superior to the Greek and Macedonian armies.

What say you on this?

Personally I think that the Romans might just win, since they showed with the Second Punic War that even though they faced one of the greatest commanders of all time and suffered constant crushing defeats, the might of their war machine was such that they kept fighting and would never give up. Another possible negative for the Macedonians was that if Alexander was killed in battle (a fairly likely possibility, since he insisted on fighting in the thick of it every time) they'd pretty much be screwed. One thing that's very impressive about the Roman war machine was that they were perfectly capable of raising multiple great generals and not just relying on one great one. The Macedonians needed Alexander, just like the Carthaginians needed Hannibal, whereas the Romans had proven they could win without relying on just one general.
I'm having a hard time picturing what you imagine the situation is.

Are the Balkans, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, etc. supposed to be duplicated, so that one set of those lands is in the Roman Empire and the other set is in Alexander's realm?

Or does Alexander rule the Balkans, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, etc. and the Roman Empire rule the other lands it ruled about 180 AD, plus sufficient other lands to have the area, population and wealth they gained from the Balkans, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, etc. in 180 AD?

Or are the Romans supposed to rule only the lands they ruled in 323 BC but with the military technology and training and generalship they had in 180 AD 412 years later?
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Old January 10th, 2017, 06:31 AM   #28
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Alexander might not wanted to charge infantry but he ALWAYS charged directly at the leader of the enemy force. So if he does what he always did in past battles (and Alexander was a creature of habit with a little too much desire to lead from the front) then what his battle plan would have been would have been more or less easy to decipher.

The Consul (or Dictator) commanding the Romans would likely station himself immediately behind (or in) the first line of maniples of the Extraordinaire Socii Dexter Ala (equivalent to a Roman legion, just called another name). To reach him means attacking through the maniples of formed infantry, there is no other way to get him. Alexander attempting this might sound far fetched but its not beyond what Alexander might attempt, some say he had done it at Chaeronea, attacking frontally against the Theban Band (though that is just one interpretation).

The other option to reach the Roman general, besides frontally charging through the infantry is to attack the seam between the Socii Dexter Ala and the 600 Roman Citizen cavalry stationed on the Right. That seam was highly vulnerable, and if this supposed battle would happen before the cavalry reforms of the 2nd Punic War, the Roman cavalry weren't even all that well equipped (taking Polybius' description of flimsy spears and thin shields at face value). So Alexander could ride straight into the Roman cavalry, rout them, turn and then attack the flank of the Socii Dexter Ala right. This would be similar to what happened at Magnesia, though in that battle it was the Roman left that got partially rolled up from a heavy cavalry attack. But the similarities are different enough, the Seulucids had catraphacts, with specially designed saddles and highly armored bodies and mounts, Alexander's Companions did not.

Furthermore, there comes to the problem of whether or not Alexander would be willing to leave the place of Honor, the right side of his own force. In all battles besides Hydaspes, he staged his grand cavalry attacks from the right, against the enemy's left. But this was against an enemy (Persians) who stationed their commander in the center of the line, whereas the Roman commander would have been on their own Right. Had Alexander done his normal thing he would have been facing off not against 600 poorly equipped Roman cavalry, but 1,200-2,400 better armed cavalry (better than Alexander's Companions for that matter). The Roman heavy left cavalry was specifically designed to counter the massive heavy right cavalry attacks of their enemies.

Cannae was only possible because Hannibal had fought the Romans enough to completely understand their tactics. That they were a steamroller force, that because of their camp annihilating the army in a rout wasn't possible, that the only way to eliminate the army entirely would be to encircle it completely and then massacre those stuck in the kill zone. It was a very unique tactic, one only known because he had spent years studying the Roman battles of the 1st Punic War (where his dad was a general), and from his earlier battles against the Romans when they kept repeating the same tactics and battle formations over and over again.

But Alexander never did that. He never even really fought an enemy who had a highly organized and defended camp to fall back to if the battle went sour. He could defeat the enemy's army and then scatter it and chase them down at his leisure, because the enemy would have nowhere to run to. To defeat the Romans, means besides killing the Roman general (which wouldn't actually defeat the Romans, someone else would take command), but also taking their camp (which was defended). Or else he would have to encircle the Roman army, but those tactics were not Hellenic, nobody had every done a true double envelopment in a large scale pitched battle until Hannibal. Plus Alexander didn't have the decades of knowledge of the Romans, Hannibal's ONLY true enemy were the Romans, he prepared his whole life to fight them and would have game played battles from the age of a little boy onward. Alexander had better things to do, had too high of an ego to ever take seriously a small confederation of Italian city states, and like Pyrrhus would have approached the situation with little to no knowledge of the Romans besides what the Greeks of Magna Graecia would have told them, which is little.

So Alexander's primary goals: Kill the Consul, Capture the Camp, Rout the Roman infantry with flank attacks, force them to surrender enmass or slaughter them.
Most of the Romans had to rely on Auxiliaries, because there own cavalry wasn't the best, besides the Praetorian royal cavalry, the Equites weren't that good, the Companions and Thessalians would still be a formidable enemy to their own cavalry, plus Alexander's cavalry would be backed up as usual by his elite Hypapists, who are equipped to basically fight heavy cavalry, if you were to put Alexanders best cavalry plus 1,000 of his silver shields and some peltasts the Roman cavalry would get destroyed easily. heavy cavalry, hypaspists and peltasts is a excellent combined force that is not to be underestimated.

And if Alexander has his special units with him like the Scythian horse archers, maybe he could use them to try and take out the Roman commanders.

I think Alexander was more then capable of encircling the Roman forces, just look at what he pulled off at the Jaxartes and the Hydaspes.

and Alexander definitely would chase down the Romans into their camp, he was the sort of person who would never give his enemy a chance to regroup, he would destroy all of their armies until they have to fall back to Rome.

Last edited by TheMilitaryHistoryAddict; January 10th, 2017 at 06:34 AM.
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Old January 10th, 2017, 06:44 AM   #29

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However it is likely Roman auxillary cavalry he would have been fighting would have had units that would have been very heavy indeed, fully encased man and horse in steel scale.

I think the difference in time is some of the most telling here. Roman cavalry of the time would have been armored in high grade iron/steel armor, using similar weapons. Troops would have been in iron mail and helmets.

Their opponents were still using cloth and bronze for armor.

Last edited by zincwarrior; January 10th, 2017 at 06:47 AM.
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Old January 10th, 2017, 06:53 AM   #30

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I don't think he could have against Rome of Hannibal's day, let alone at the height of their power.
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