Best Military Tactics In History.

Oct 2014
24
Britain
How valuable are the works of Polyaneus and Frontinus to military history. I am aware that In essence they are a mixture of personal experience mixed with the literary works of other Ancient authors but at the same time bring together what would have been disparate anecdotes about ancient tactics and stratagems


For example Diodorus Siculus (<<Diod. Sic. 15.41.5 ) speaks of iphicrates. Diodorus lived between 25 - 40 bc in the 1st century and drew on the works of Hecataeus of Abdera, Ctesias of Cnidus, Ephorus, Theopompus, Hieronymus of Cardia, Duris of Samos, Diyllus, Philistus, Timaeus, Polybius, (146bc)

Polyaneus(2nd century) talks of Iphicrates drawing on the works of Xenophon Plutarch Pausanais and Diodourus Siculus while polyaneus also drew on the work of frontinus who drew upon a similar list as Diodorus Siculus.

Cab one work be said to be more relevant than the other.??
 
Oct 2018
1,695
Sydney
I found Caesar's tactic of hiding infantry with orders to use their pila as spears amongst his cavalry in order to make up for the fact Pompey had much more cavalry a pretty neat trick. Definitely not something to use every time, as doing so really limits the mobility of the cavalry until they are free to detach, but a good way to turn a disadvantage into an advantage.
At Strasbourg in AD 357, the Alemannic High King Chnodomar notably used a similar trick to defeat Julian's cataphracts.
 
Oct 2018
1,695
Sydney
How valuable are the works of Polyaneus and Frontinus to military history. I am aware that In essence they are a mixture of personal experience mixed with the literary works of other Ancient authors but at the same time bring together what would have been disparate anecdotes about ancient tactics and stratagems


For example Diodorus Siculus (<<Diod. Sic. 15.41.5 ) speaks of iphicrates. Diodorus lived between 25 - 40 bc in the 1st century and drew on the works of Hecataeus of Abdera, Ctesias of Cnidus, Ephorus, Theopompus, Hieronymus of Cardia, Duris of Samos, Diyllus, Philistus, Timaeus, Polybius, (146bc)

Polyaneus(2nd century) talks of Iphicrates drawing on the works of Xenophon Plutarch Pausanais and Diodourus Siculus while polyaneus also drew on the work of frontinus who drew upon a similar list as Diodorus Siculus.

Cab one work be said to be more relevant than the other.??
I don't know enough about how these authors tend to be assessed, but the fact that they reference feats that can be found in other literary works points to some level of reliability, and Frontinus had served as a general and thus had some understanding of military tactics. It is however a bit disconcerting that a few of Polyaenus' anecdotes about Iphicrates are duplicates with slight variations in the story. It's also unfortunate that both authors tend to provide no context for the described events, or provide a very basic context of (e.g.) 'when he was fighting the Thracians'. By shortening the feats of Iphicrates into a couple of sentences each, the resulting description can also be rather misleading or confusing, as a comparison with corresponding descriptions in Xenophon's Hellenika can reveal.
 
Sep 2017
770
United States
At Strasbourg in AD 357, the Alemannic High King Chnodomar notably used a similar trick to defeat Julian's cataphracts.
I wonder, if at all, putting some of his infantry off for that hindered their performance elsewhere as IIRC he lost the infantry battle to the legionaries. Might not have anything to do with it but something to think about.
 
Sep 2017
770
United States
It was a repeat of Alexander at Gaugamela. He also mixed infantry into cavalry.
Do you know what kind of infantry he mixed in?

I wouldn't think mixing in phalangites would work too well given the size of a pike and the reliance of it on tighter formations (not that other weapons weren't reliant in tight formations, but a pike outside of one is much more useless than a spear outside of one).
 
Oct 2018
1,695
Sydney
I wonder, if at all, putting some of his infantry off for that hindered their performance elsewhere as IIRC he lost the infantry battle to the legionaries. Might not have anything to do with it but something to think about.
Maybe, but the Alemannic infantry were probably going to have a hard time no matter what against the more disciplined and better organized Roman units. To their credit, a decent amount of Alemannic warriors managed to pierce the first line of Romans, probably thanks to their numbers and determination. On the other hand, the Alemannic cavalry needed a way of defeating Julian's heavily armoured cataphracts. Failure to do so would have meant their infantry being outflanked. Unfortunately for the Alemanni, for whatever reason their cavalry failed to capitalize on having driven away the cataphracts.
 
Sep 2016
1,324
Georgia
Do you know what kind of infantry he mixed in?

I wouldn't think mixing in phalangites would work too well given the size of a pike and the reliance of it on tighter formations (not that other weapons weren't reliant in tight formations, but a pike outside of one is much more useless than a spear outside of one).
Alexander didn't only have phalanx. He had plenty of light infantry as well. What made Macedonian army so powerful was ,, Combined arms tactics '' and not just the phalanx. Alexander mixed light infantry with his light cavalry at Gaugamela.

Here is how Arrian describes it : ,, Next to the royal squadron on the right wing, half of the Agrianians, under the command of Attalus, in conjunction with the Macedonian archers under Briso's command, were posted angular-wise (i.e. in such a way that the wings were thrown forward at an angle with the centre, so as to take the enemy in flank). Next to the archers were the men called the veteran mercenaries, whose commander was Cleander. In front of the Agrianians and archers were posted the light cavalry used for skirmishing, and the Paeonians, under the command of Aretes and Aristo. In front of all had been posted the Grecian mercenary cavalry under the direction of Menidas; and in front of the royal squadron of cavalry and the other Companions had been posted half of the Agrianians and archers, and the javelin-men of Balacrus who had been ranged opposite the scythe-bearing chariots. Instructions had been given to Menidas and the troops under him to wheel round and attack the enemy in flank, if they should ride round their wing. Thus had Alexander arranged matters on the right wing. On the left the Thracians under the command of Sitalces had been posted angular-wise, and near them the cavalry of the Grecian allies, under the direction of Coeranus. Next stood the Odrysian cavalry, under the command of Agatho, son of Tyrimmas. In this part, in front of all, were posted the auxiliary cavalry of the Grecian mercenaries, under the direction of Andromachus, son of Hiero. Near the baggage the infantry from Thrace were posted as a guard. ''

Infantry ( Hypaspists and phalangites ) also participated in Alexander's famous charge with Companion cavalry at Darius, after the gap in Persian line was opened. Arrian : ,, But when the Persians had made a break in the front line of their army, in consequence of the cavalry sallying forth to assist those who were surrounding the right wing, Alexander wheeled round towards the gap, and forming a wedge as it were of the Companion cavalry and of the part of the phalanx which was posted here, he led them with a quick charge and loud battle-cry straight towards Darius himself. For a short time there ensued a hand-to-hand fight; but when the Macedonian cavalry, commanded by Alexander himself, pressed on vigorously, thrusting themselves against the Persians and striking their faces with their spears, and when the Macedonian phalanx in dense array and bristling with long pikes had also made an attack upon them, all things at once appeared full of terror to Darius. ''

Not to mention, that Epaminondas mixed light infantry with his cavalry before Alexander or Philip. Epaminondas mixed infantry into cavalry at Mantinea in 362 BC.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,212
Sydney
Napoleon Dynamic pressure , Bedford forrest "to be the first with the most" , the German concept of shwerpunkt
same thing
to exert superior pressure at one point , creating a weakness which is then made to spread
there is no need to beat ALL the opponent forces ,
only to unravel them at the right time and the right place then dynamically exploit the resulting defeat to make it spread , destroying their internal cohesion , confusing their command
 
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Oct 2011
474
Croatia
Janos Hunyadi adopted Hussite wagon tactics and expanded on them, creating extremely effective combined-arms force capable of either offensive or defensive setup. Wagons could be set up 1) in a circle or a square for defense and encampment, 2) in a three-sided square so that Ottomans cannot outflank Hungarian heavy infantry, 3) at flanks of infantry, connecting infantry with heavy cavalry, thus making their separation less likely and preventing the infantry from being outflanked if they did separate. This also served to force Ottomans to send Sipahis against Hunyadi's own heavy cavalry, which... rarely ended well for Ottomans.

Both infantry and cavalry utilized combined-arms tactics, in terms of supporting each other but also in terms of different types of cavalry and infantry working together. Heavy cavalry lancers were supported by light cavalry, which included lancers and mounted crossbowmen. Infantry included crossbowmen, pavis carriers and heavy infantry (armati). In initial stages, crossbowmen would shower the enemy with projectiles. Once enemy infantry approached the pavis wall, crossbowmen would retreat while armati took up positions behind the wall.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,562
Las Vegas, NV USA
Reversing the old saying that the best defense is a good offense at Gettysburg. On the third day Union forces held their position on Cemetery Ridge and let the Confederates come to them with disastrous results for Robert E Lee.