Most Overrated General

Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,327
Australia
Absolute nonsense. I've literally never seen anybody claim that The Macedonians and Persians were even equal in number, let alone the Macedonians outnumbering the Persians. This is actually so daft it's laughable. I would be very interested to see what his sources are for reaching such a ridiculous conclusion.
He's talking about the Persian infantry.
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
Analysis of the sources. And he doesn't give specific numbers.
It seems his "analysis" involves an enormous amount of guesswork, conjecture and just making things up to be contrarian. Without him giving specific numbers anything he says is worthless. He's basically just inventing his own narrative of the battle and expecting us to believe him. There is no reputable source that claims or even vaguely suggests that the Persians had less infantry than the Macedonians did.
 

Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,327
Australia
You've literally read one phrase from the book and you are making huge assumptions based on that.

Delbruck isn't a random nobody either.
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
You've literally read one phrase from the book and you are making huge assumptions based on that.
You just straight up said he doesn't refer to any numbers when he makes his claim that the Persians had less infantry than the Macedonians, so how are we even supposed to take that claim seriously? It could be any number at all for all we know, since he didn't give any. That's not the way that army compositions are discussed seriously. You don't just say "yeah one side had a lot more" and give no numbers.

Delbruck isn't a random nobody either.
I don't care who he is. Appealing to authority is not an argument. Either what you say is true or it isn't. Who you are doesn't change that.
 

Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,327
Australia
You just straight up said he doesn't refer to any numbers when he makes his claim that the Persians had less infantry than the Macedonians, so how are we even supposed to take that claim seriously? It could be any number at all for all we know, since he didn't give any.
Are you serious? Historians are capable of making rough estimates similar to what Delbruck did. They do it all the time. There's plenty of battles and campaigns where numbers are extremely inflated, and guesswork, based on some sort of reality is used. This isn't some new revelation either.

Delbruck doesn't definitively say that the Persian infantry was equal or less than the Macedonian infantry. His deductions and analysis lead him to what he finds as most likely, and this is for a variety of reasons, not just because he felt like it.

That's not the way that army compositions are discussed seriously. You don't just say "yeah one side had a lot more" and give no numbers.
Military historians make such distinctions all the time, there's no way of knowing specific numbers, nor is there ways of deducting from the sources to get specific numbers that we know are 100% true. It's quite ironic that you're accusing Delbruck of not discussing army compositions properly when he was one of the most influential military historians exactly BECAUSE he shifted the way historians assess the strength and compositions of armies in antiquity and the middle-ages.
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
Are you serious?
Did you see a laughing emoji after my comment?

Historians are capable of making rough estimates similar to what Delbruck did. They do it all the time.
This isn't some new revelation either.

Delbruck doesn't definitively say that the Persian infantry was equal or less than the Macedonian infantry. His deductions and analysis lead him to what he finds as most likely, and this is for a variety of reasons, not just because he felt like it.
But the thing is he didn't make a rough estimate - that would imply he actually gave a figure of some sort - he just said that there not more infantry on the Persian side, but he did not give number to put it into context. So, it could be anything from a few hundred less or a few thousand less. We'll never know, because he never expanded on it. He's apparently - according to you - such an amazing military historian and he can make vague statements like this, and yet he won't give any figures? Is it because he knows he can't support them with evidence? Because literally every reputable source that talks about the battle says that the Persians significantly outnumbered the Macedonians, and they do not specify in terms of infantry or cavalry to any degree of great accuracy. What source is he using that says this isn't so? How you can go from a variety of near-primary sources - and basically every respectable source afterwards (with reference to actual numerical figures) claiming this - to now suddenly the Persians were outnumbered in terms of infantry? You say the numbers were heavily inflated in the ancient sources, and that's true, but how do you then come to an extremely controversial and contrarian assessment and expect it to be taken seriously? So now suddenly you do have enough information to make that claim? But apparently before the sources were not very good? In Delbruck's statement, which you quoted, he says things like "it is hard to imagine", "it is quite possible"... this is not evidence. This is his conjecture. Conjecture based on extremely scant credible information. He is playing a guessing game just like everyone else, except the difference is he is making bold and contrarian claims, and you seem to take it as fact and dismiss every other claim as false. I don't believe there is sufficient evidence to support his claims.

Military historians make such distinctions all the time, there's no way of knowing specific numbers, nor is there ways of deducting from the sources to get specific numbers that we know are 100% true
Which is exactly why I find it hard to believe that he can somehow come to his conclusion. You can't simultaneously dismiss other sources as being false but then also somehow have enough information from sources to defend your own assertion. That's being hypocritical and being extremely selective with what you personally choose to believe because it fits with your own preconceived biases. How do you go from every source claiming the Persians vastly outnumbered the Macedonians - and even being conservative and cutting down the highly inflated numbers to more reasonable numbers - to them now suddenly being outnumbered in infantry? His arguments justifying this are conjecture and guesswork, pure and simple. No numbers involved at all. Anyone can do what he did. He molded his own narrative of the Persian Empire's strength at the time. His assessment of how the archers would be drawn up is correct, but that doesn't mean that they didn't have other large continents of non-archer infantry, and he does not provide any evidence to justify his claim about the lack of any significant other infantry forces. We do not know the exact composition of Darius' infantry, and yet he somehow has enough information to make an assessment on it? How would he know? He provides absolutely no numbers whatsoever.

It's quite ironic that you're accusing Delbruck of not discussing army compositions properly when he was one of the most influential military historians for that exact reason.
And yet he provides no numbers.

To be honest I'm done with this argument. All I'm asking for is acceptable evidence as to why the Persians did not have more infantry than the Macedonians - which, by the way, he claims to be a certainty - and yet neither you nor him have supplied any numbers so any further discussion is completely meaningless because there is literally no way to end this argument. The very nature of the extreme uncertainty and ambiguity of Darius' infantry is why I do not believe his or your claims. I have yet to see sufficient evidence to change my mind on it. If he gives numbers, or sources for the numbers, I would be very happy to see them. Until then, I'm gonna conclude it's just a case of plain old contranianism and arm-charm-generalism.
 

Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,327
Australia
Yeah, you're beating a dead horse here. Again, you're taking concluding sentences and judging them out of context without reading his actual analysis. Historians don't have to give a new number or simply accept the sources at face value. It's not an A or B scenario. The Persians were not incompetent in the art of war. They aren't going to raise mass levies of worthless infantry that only serve to be an unnecessary burden. Roman historians later claim that Mithridates fielded hundreds of thousands of infantry, Delbruck is quick to note "It goes without saying that a man like Mithridates was wise enough not to lead into the field incompetent masses, which would have to be supplied and would accomplish nothing worthwhile on the battlefield." The same is true, perhaps even more so, for the Achaemenid Empire. Darius was no fool, and our sources give emphasis on how he focused on his cavalry and chariots. Clearly, he would have levied infantry, but the peoples he drew from were not particularly warlike people, or easily trained to be so. His only reliable infantry were the royal guard and whatever mercenary Greeks he retained after Issus. Apart from these, he had no other reliable heavy infantry, and so the remainder would have naturally been missile units. And of course, we know that missile units are restricted in their deployment relative to the frontage of the army, and an army can only be deployed so thin without seriously hampering the chain of command. As I said, I'm not strictly following Delbruck here, but the idea that Darius raised such large masses of worthless infantry just "for show" - with no actual, practical purpose yet added problems in supply, chain of command and tactical flexibility - is extremely old school. We see the same sort of insane inflation of infantry throughout our sources when it comes to eastern armies. Millions for the Persians in their invasion of Greece, for example. At Marathon. Granicus and Issus, the Persian infantry certainly numbered well below 100,000, and this is the same at Gaugamela as well.

I'm not able to give you a single number, but I'm not going to accept that the Greek historians were in the ballpark AT ALL regarding either the Persian cavalry OR infantry. What's more, if the Persian army was more than moderately stronger numerically than Alexander's, we get into pretty dicey territory in regards to how Darius was keeping such a vast force in the field.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2018
56
New Jersey
Napoleon. while great not near as great as many think. Gets a pass for Russia in 1812. One of the biggest diasters in military history. Which was solely Napoleon's fault. Was fortuanate to have many advantages, better reformed and organised army (he helped but most of that predated Napoloen) , better commanders (not his doing eitehr, the Amry of itlay was pre Napoloen and the French Leadership got worse not better under Napoloen), very indept opposing Generals (he generally faced some of the great nauces of the age, abnd despite that masisve porpganda nad popularly belief to contray normally had the numbers firmly on his side.
I’d agree TBH.