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Old November 7th, 2017, 10:37 PM   #31

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Originally Posted by nuclearguy165 View Post
Well, they were separated into 2 wings, with perhaps more on the Persian left. I could totally see 18-20,000 on their left and perhaps 10-12,000 on their right. That way, it is not in one huge mass. 50,000 seems too low, due to the vastness of the Persian Empire and that this was the last great field army they could put together, as well as having 2 years between Issus and Gaugamela in which to do it. Do you think it was not possible for any ancient army to be larger than 50,000 men? Everything I've read suggests to me that what the Persians had there WAS the largest army ancients could possibly put together onto one field. Besides, if cities of hundreds of thousands could exist, then how would an army of 100,000 be impossible?
There was also cavalry in the center of the Persian line as well, intermixed with infantry quite oddly. Delbruck views this as a sign of weakness in infantry, which I personally agree with. The number one response that pops up is ... how? The Persian Empire was massive, surely it would be able to field adequate amounts of infantry. Well, there's no doubt that it couldn't. But I think Darius and others were smart enough to realise that mass infantry levies were nothing but a negative to bring to the field. It would be far safer to focus more on the Persian strengths, their cavalry and archers, whilst upgrading their equipment. I don't believe mass infantry levies were present.

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What do you think were the respective strengths of the combatants at Pharsalus?
Here's an excerpt that I've written previously:

Quote:
Also, now that I've considered it more, I think Caesar had something amounting to 30,000 legionaries. Our most trustworthy sources give a total of 70,000 Italian soldiers in the battle; this assumedly means the legionaries. I've already explained that Pompey had 40,000 legionaries. To get to this, we find Caesar providing 110 cohorts in Pompey's battle line. He leaves in the 15 absent cohorts that couldn't have been there, contradicting himself. We find Pollio, a subordinate of Caesar, whom Plutarch uses, as well as Orosius, give 88 cohorts for Pompey, which is coincidentally the result of taking away 15 cohorts plus the 7 Caesar has Pompey leave in the camp. So, we have pretty good reasoning from the sources to believe Pompey had 88 cohorts drawn up in his main battle line. Subsequently, we should use the Pollio-Orosius number for Pompey's infantry, 40,000, since Caesar's 45,000 would be adjusted to make sense for the 110 cohorts he posits. So, 40,000 men divided into 88 cohorts give us a standard cohort of 455 men. This is not unlikely, Caesar himself tells us that Pompey filled his legions with levies from Greece (3.4). Appian, as you admit, our best source, and himself using only the best sources, puts the total for Italian troops at 70,000. This means that if Pompey had 40,000, then Caesar consequently must have had the other 30,000 legionaries.

Regardless, we can back this up using Caesar's own account. According to him, his army had 80 cohorts for a total of 22,00 men, an average of 270 men per cohort. As the lighter antesignani were part of the first lines that were drawn out of the battle line and mixed with the cavalry, and assuming they numbered some 2,000 or close to that, that gives a total of 24,000 legionaries, or 300 men per cohort on average. Orosius (6.15) and Eutropius (6.20) give Caesar's infantry as something under 30,000 men. Appian (2.76) and Plutarch (in Pompey) give the fourth line as 3,000 strong, which would make the cohorts 500 men if there was 6 of them, not 300. However, we can't assume that every cohort was 500 men, that would make Caesar's infantry some 40,000 strong. It may be that Caesar drew the strongest 6 cohorts in his back line, and they themselves may have been uneven. Even then, if Caesar could pull cohorts of 500 out, the average for his cohorts can't really have been any lower than 300. Plutarch in his Antony has Antony bring over 4 legions, along with 800 cavalry, amounting to 20,000 in legionaries. Even considering extreme losses for Caesar at Dyrrachium, it's impossible that the 80 cohorts at Pharsalus would have been only 24,000 strong when 4 months earlier 40 cohorts were 20,000 men strong. That is essentially saying that Caesar's forces (the ones who came over with him) were reduced to 4,000 legionaries from a total of around 15,000 (Goldsworthy, Caesar).

What Caesar is saying is, is that from the total of around 35,000 legionaries that Caesar and Antony had brought over, to get to 22,000 plus the 2,000 lights, so 24,000, Caesar lost 11,000 legionaries. And it's doubtful such a massive amount of these troops would have been left as garrisons or killed. Caesar is clearly lying by a massive factor here. So it's inconceivable that Caesar only had 24,000 legionaries at Pharsalus, that's inferring that he lost 30% of his infantry force at Dyyrachium and skirmishes, which is impossible. A force of 30,000 or under makes more sense. Of a total of 35,000, he would lose maybe 900-2,000~ at Dyrrachium, plus the little garrisons he detached would leave an infantry force of around that number. Unless you don't find Plutarch's 20,000 infantry reinforcements from Antony reliable ?


From the unreliability in Caesar's own words at this point plus input from Plutarch about the reinforcements Antony brought over, I think Pollio, a general of Caesar's, when he says something like 30,000 or less, was correct.

Caesar says that the 8th and 9th legions were that weak that combined they made the full strength of a single legion. That means that together, they formed 6,000 legionaries or about that, making each cohort about 300 strong. Using now the number for the weakest cohorts in Caesar's army (300) and his strongest ones (500), we can get an average for his 80 cohorts as some 400 men on average. This makes his heavy infantry some 32,000. If we take away the 2,000 antesignani, we get 30,000, which is exactly what Pollio reports.

The only sources I'm not relying on completely and distrusting is Caesar himself. My thoughts here are entirely in concert with Plutarch and Appian, our other two arguably best sources for the battle. Appian has 70,000 legionaries fighting. I've proved using our best sources as well as Caesar's general that Caesar maybe had 30,000 in his front line, and also having shown Pompey to have 40,000 legionaries, we get the number Appian gives us in total, 70,000.
This is only about the infantry.
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Old November 7th, 2017, 10:54 PM   #32

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Originally Posted by Duke Valentino View Post
There was also cavalry in the center of the Persian line as well, intermixed with infantry quite oddly. Delbruck views this as a sign of weakness in infantry, which I personally agree with. The number one response that pops up is ... how? The Persian Empire was massive, surely it would be able to field adequate amounts of infantry. Well, there's no doubt that it couldn't. But I think Darius and others were smart enough to realise that mass infantry levies were nothing but a negative to bring to the field. It would be far safer to focus more on the Persian strengths, their cavalry and archers, whilst upgrading their equipment. I don't believe mass infantry levies were present.



Here's an excerpt that I've written previously:



This is only about the infantry.
Well, I'll have to concede on that for now. I certainly have nothing with which to currently dispute those numbers or your post on the Pharsalus strength as a whole. That's quite impressive.
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Old November 8th, 2017, 10:40 AM   #33

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I don't have much to say about Caesar at this point. I feel that Nuclearguy tackled the issue quite well. Though I will say that unlike Alexander and Hannibal, Caesar took some extraordinary precautions to ensure his success. For example his fortifications at Alesia or Pharsalus or his use of diplomacy to strengthen his position in Gaul, or his maneuvers and marches that allowed him to catch many opponents off guard as well as when he called in Mithridates before even departing for Alexandria. There is also his conduct at the sieges of Avaricum and Alesia as well as his fortifications at Pharsalus, which for me gives even Alexander a run for his money in siege craft, which the Romans had perfected down to a science.

With regards to the Battle of Hydaspes I am more referring to the conduct of the operation in itself. While the idea to send a detachment upriver and carry out a crossing was risky my main criticism is in how Alexander carried out the crossing, without taking into consideration the river itself and without performing the appropriate intelligence gathering. Yet again Alexander shows the deficiencies that he displayed in the Issus campaign. Luckily his opponent was Porus who was forced to meet Alexander under unfavorable terms (which Alexander did account for) but a general like Hannibal or Caesar would not at all have allowed Alexander to get away with that maneuver. It likely would have gone down like the Battle of Trebbia. Any delay in carrying out the crossing would have been the death of Alexander in such an engagement. I could almost guarantee that Hannibal would have allowed Alexander to plan for that maneuver and in addition would have allowed him to continue with a disinformation campaign. But what Hannibal would have done, unlike Porus, he would have made it appear that he had his force across in the camp but would have probably planned an ambush up ahead and then come up in full force to wipe out Alexander's detachment.
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Old November 8th, 2017, 02:40 PM   #34

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Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
I don't have much to say about Caesar at this point. I feel that Nuclearguy tackled the issue quite well. Though I will say that unlike Alexander and Hannibal, Caesar took some extraordinary precautions to ensure his success. For example his fortifications at Alesia or Pharsalus or his use of diplomacy to strengthen his position in Gaul, or his maneuvers and marches that allowed him to catch many opponents off guard as well as when he called in Mithridates before even departing for Alexandria. There is also his conduct at the sieges of Avaricum and Alesia as well as his fortifications at Pharsalus, which for me gives even Alexander a run for his money in siege craft, which the Romans had perfected down to a science.

With regards to the Battle of Hydaspes I am more referring to the conduct of the operation in itself. While the idea to send a detachment upriver and carry out a crossing was risky my main criticism is in how Alexander carried out the crossing, without taking into consideration the river itself and without performing the appropriate intelligence gathering. Yet again Alexander shows the deficiencies that he displayed in the Issus campaign. Luckily his opponent was Porus who was forced to meet Alexander under unfavorable terms (which Alexander did account for) but a general like Hannibal or Caesar would not at all have allowed Alexander to get away with that maneuver. It likely would have gone down like the Battle of Trebbia. Any delay in carrying out the crossing would have been the death of Alexander in such an engagement. I could almost guarantee that Hannibal would have allowed Alexander to plan for that maneuver and in addition would have allowed him to continue with a disinformation campaign. But what Hannibal would have done, unlike Porus, he would have made it appear that he had his force across in the camp but would have probably planned an ambush up ahead and then come up in full force to wipe out Alexander's detachment.
So in other words, you think Alexander should have sent a small scouting force to probe the river islands itself before crossing himself? Though I honestly can't remember whether or not Porus actually detected Alexander's mistaken delay on a river island. I thought he only noticed anything by the time the mistake had been corrected and Alexander was fully across.

Last edited by nuclearguy165; November 8th, 2017 at 02:44 PM.
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Old November 8th, 2017, 03:37 PM   #35

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Porus just sort of sat there. He didn't dispatch a detachment to halt Alexander's advance until after Alexander had already started moving onto his own position.
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Old November 8th, 2017, 10:08 PM   #36

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He dispatched a detachment under his son after he heard of Alexander's crossing but, of course, it was too late to stop him by that point anyway and so the detachment got up up and his son was killed before the main battle started.
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Old November 9th, 2017, 01:18 AM   #37

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Well, I'll have to concede on that for now. I certainly have nothing with which to currently dispute those numbers or your post on the Pharsalus strength as a whole. That's quite impressive.
Thank you. I think it's quite obvious that Caesar deliberately lied about Pharsalus. He also lied about the events of the battle. It's also reasonable to assume that he exaggerated at Alesia. Though some want to accept 100,000+ Gallic warriors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
I don't have much to say about Caesar at this point. I feel that Nuclearguy tackled the issue quite well. Though I will say that unlike Alexander and Hannibal, Caesar took some extraordinary precautions to ensure his success. For example his fortifications at Alesia or Pharsalus or his use of diplomacy to strengthen his position in Gaul, or his maneuvers and marches that allowed him to catch many opponents off guard as well as when he called in Mithridates before even departing for Alexandria. There is also his conduct at the sieges of Avaricum and Alesia as well as his fortifications at Pharsalus, which for me gives even Alexander a run for his money in siege craft, which the Romans had perfected down to a science.
Indeed, even Philip was a lot more careful and less of a gambler, using his diplomatic abilities and preferring them over military ability. Alexander was quite reckless. Yet at times he was also patient and demonstrated this on multiple occasions.

Again, I don't necessarily find it fair to compare the sieges of Roman generals to those of Alexander/Philip without applying the context of time. [300 year approx. gap between Alexander and Caesar].

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
With regards to the Battle of Hydaspes I am more referring to the conduct of the operation in itself. While the idea to send a detachment upriver and carry out a crossing was risky my main criticism is in how Alexander carried out the crossing, without taking into consideration the river itself and without performing the appropriate intelligence gathering. Yet again Alexander shows the deficiencies that he displayed in the Issus campaign. Luckily his opponent was Porus who was forced to meet Alexander under unfavorable terms (which Alexander did account for) but a general like Hannibal or Caesar would not at all have allowed Alexander to get away with that maneuver. It likely would have gone down like the Battle of Trebbia. Any delay in carrying out the crossing would have been the death of Alexander in such an engagement. I could almost guarantee that Hannibal would have allowed Alexander to plan for that maneuver and in addition would have allowed him to continue with a disinformation campaign. But what Hannibal would have done, unlike Porus, he would have made it appear that he had his force across in the camp but would have probably planned an ambush up ahead and then come up in full force to wipe out Alexander's detachment.
I'm pretty sure Alexander was confident of his own opponent's abilities, especially in the way Porus reacted to Alexander's movements on the other bank.
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Old November 9th, 2017, 01:41 AM   #38

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Thank you. I think it's quite obvious that Caesar deliberately lied about Pharsalus. He also lied about the events of the battle. It's also reasonable to assume that he exaggerated at Alesia. Though some want to accept 100,000+ Gallic warriors.
What events of the battle do you feel he lied about? The tactics used by either side? The timing of just when Pompey fled?
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Old November 9th, 2017, 01:43 AM   #39

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What events of the battle do you feel he lied about? The tactics used by either side? The timing of just when Pompey fled?
At the writing of his account, the tenth legion was mutinied. Coincidentally, Caesar gives the victory to his cavalry and reserve cohorts, not the tenth legion. This is backed up by Cassius Dio.
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Old November 9th, 2017, 03:04 AM   #40

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No one lied about Hannibal's fantastic victory at the River Tagus against more than 100,000 Iberian tribesmen with an army way smaller than Caesar's at Alesia, no sir. I'll not stand for any doubters!
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