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By the time of Alexander, the fighting force that took him across both Greece and Persia had been perfected. You have Alexander, they Darius. Sort by. Yet others believe Alexander simply made a mistake in his logistical planning. To be successful he needs the support of a well-trained army who will follow him regardless of the cost whether it be a stunning victory or hopeless defeat. Alexander now sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran) with his general Craterus, and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest of his forces back to Persia by the southern route through the Gedrosian Desert (now part of southern Iran and Makran now part of Pakistan). Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. Alexander appointed Coenus, one of his generals, to supervise the rebel's activity while the Macedonians rested for the winter of 328 B.C. As with the previously abandoned hoplite phalanx, the new army was designed to attack and remained a purely offensive weapon. Alexander had expected his army to be supplied by the navy, commanded by Nearchus, as it made its way along the coast. He is quoted as saying, “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” One of his remarkable abilities was to anticipate the strategy of his opponent, often drawing him onto the terrain of his choosing, once again, this is most visible at Gaugamela. To begin with, he increased the size of the army from 10,000 to 24,000, and enlarged the cavalry from 600 to 3,500; this was no longer an army of citizen-warriors. Consequently, Alexander found himself continuously tasked with ensuring his army maintained sufficient supplies. Also the violence he saw in Alexander Ancient History Encyclopedia. His army mutinied. Once finished, they not only aided the speed of Alexander’s march but they also greatly increased communication and feasibility of overland travel throughout his spear-won territory – most notably to his new cities spread throughout Asia. This forced Alexander to acquire supplies via land. How the Battle of Himera Signalled the Start of the Sicilian Wars, The 7 Bodyguards Who Outlived Alexander the Great. Alexander’s Empire after His Death . The Wars of the Diadochi: Gabene and Paraetacene. Philip and Alexander were able to do this because: 1. Greece was emerging from a dark period in its history - the troubling times of the poet Homer. Yet as Alexander’s campaign went on reinforcements from Macedon ended and the number of his foot-companions slowly dwindled. Alexander the great is a hero because he took his fathers place and continued what his father started. While Athens would become a naval power, Sparta easily emerged as the atypical military city, initiating a strict code of conduct with intense military training for every male citizen. Engels, D. W. (1976), Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army, Berkeley. Eventually, his empire was divided among various generals, the two most important being Seleucus and Ptolemy. In his lifetime this Macedonian changed the whole nature of the Ancient World, forming one of the greatest empires yet seen. Why was the Macedonian Army so good? Your letter should include the following: • Sensory details and concrete language about your experiences. For a weapon he carried a thrusting spear of five to eight feet in length. Yet he would also incorporate another animal to carry supplies. Greek armies used oxcarts and wagons in their logistics system and this inevitably impeded an army’s speed and mobility further. Check out the video below and read on for the accompanying article. Alexander employed bullocks and oxen (young and old castrated bulls) to carry the supplies, and the tactical range of his army was eight days, the maximum length of time in which an ox can carry supplies and food for itself. Battle of Chaeroniaby US Military Academy (Public Domain). [The king compared the two armies - that of Macedon and that of Persia] …and what, finally, of the two men in supreme command? On one side of a wide river lay the Greeks, on the other side lay the Indians. Lv 7. When Heph – aestion fell sick and died in 324 BC, Arrian says that Alexander’s grief was so great that “he flung himself upon the body of his friend and lay there nearly all day long in tears.” Why Polyperchon Is the Unsung Hero of the First Successor War. Alexander the Great was born in 356 BCE in a small place called Pella in Macedonia. Alexander the Great is considered the greatest military genius of the ancient world, and with a good reason. Alexander the Great - Alexander the Great - Evaluation: Of Alexander’s plans little reliable information survives. Introduced into Alexander’s army in either Syria or Egypt, the camel played a critical role in Alexander’s conquests. We will never share or sell your email address. 24 Dec 2020. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/676/. He was too eccentric for many, including those close to him. Together, Alexander and his father would create an army unlike anything the ancient world had even seen. A great battle was fought. Not only did they dramatically reduce the speed and mobility of these armies, but every follower meant an extra mouth to feed. We will … Author: Tristan Hughes Twitter Facebook Did you enjoy this article?Signup today and receive free updates straight in your inbox. Also the violence he saw in Alexander How Did Alexander the Great Sustain His Army? Old Tyre held no strategic importance - it was undefended and the T… The Greeks in the East: How a Powerful Greek Kingdom Arose in Afghanistan, How the Bosporan Kingdom Became the Jewel of the Black Sea, How a Wealthy Greek Kingdom Descended Into Fratricidal Civil War. During his time of leadership, he united Greece, reestablished the Corinthian League and conquered the Persian Empire. The force that under the command of Alexander the Great invaded and conquered the Persian Empire, thus ensuring the extension of the Hellenistic culture to most of the world known at that time, was composed in total from 40,000 Experienced and well-armed fighters.. a) Cavalry. The detail of the Alexander Mosaic showing Alexander the Great. Heavy Cavalry: from 1,700 to 2,100 riders In Alexander’s army there were 2 elite groups, the Agrianes (javelinmen) and the Kretans (archers), but also units of Thraikians and Illyrians. They were thus ideal baggage animals for Alexander’s marches into the Persian heartlands and beyond – lands where the need for speed across harsh deserts was critical. By the Age of 16, he had Already Won his First Battle and Established his First City. Alexander the Great was lucky to have very supportive women at his side throughout his life. No military commander in history has ever won a battle by himself. Besides the obvious, there was logic behind what they did; each soldier would no longer be loyal to a particular province or town as now he would be loyal only to the king. How did Alexander the Great feed his army? Alexander the Great, a Macedonian king, conquered the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, the Middle East, and parts of Asia in a remarkably short period of time. Around 700 BCE the cities of Corinth, Sparta, and Argos created a close-ordered battle formation that became known as the phalanx. The tent was guarded at all times by a special detachment of hypaspists. He would not advance into the region with the entirety of his force. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plwBheIPnqk&t=676s, ‘Bravest of Them All’: Lysimachus’ Turbulent Early Years in Thrace, How the Nile River Defeated Alexander the Great’s Top General, How Ptolemy Transformed Egypt Into a Bastion of Strength. It was the birth of the citizen-warrior. Consequently, many of the remaining Persian officials soon surrendered to Alexander – even before the Macedonian army had reached their territory. His memory would live on and his determination brought the Hellenic culture to Asia. Each soldier would also have to carry rations, utensils, blankets, road-building tools, medical supplies, a thirty-day supply of flour and any personal possessions in a backpack. Throughout his conquest of Persia, Alexander didn’t necessarily want to bring Darius to his knees; he only wanted to conquer. Answer Save. Alexander realised he could use this to solve his supply problem. Children soon followed, and the baggage train swelled in size. What Alexander did value and perhaps what kept his army smaller, was the mobility and speed gave military advantage. While Athens would become a naval power, Sparta easily emerged as the atypical military city, initiating a strict code of conduct with intense military training for every male citizen. In almost every campaign the formation of Alexander’s army remained the same; however, due to the nature of the field of battle, some changes were made at Hydaspes where archers led the field against Porus’ elephants. Its consistently hot climate, countless deserts and extensive barren lands would have been extremely taxing for any Macedonian, burdened with arms, armour and a heavy pack. Alexander the Great served as king of Macedonia from 336 to 323 B.C. Submitted by Donald L. Wasson, published on 04 April 2014 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Yet monsoon winds delayed the fleet from leaving the harbour in India for months. Yet the Macedonian soldiery did not live solely off grain products. The far-reaching schemes for the conquest of the western Mediterranean and the setting up of a universal monarchy, recorded by Diodorus Siculus, a 1st-century Greek historian, are probably based on a later forgery; if not, they were at once jettisoned by his successors and the army. Alexander the Great Alexander of Macedon Biography. Alexander’s charismatic leadership and brilliant use of cavalry secured his immortality, and signalled the end for his wily foe, the Persian ruler Darius III. The cavalry was the army’s main strike force and would make the decisive breakthrough of the enemy lines - this was evident at the battles of Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela. Tactics remained simple - the pezhetairoi would hit the center of the opposing army in an oblique angle while the cavalry would attack and punch holes on the flanks. On 1 October 331 BC, Alexander the Great won a definitive victory at Gaugamela against the Persian empire. It is possible Philip’s reforms were the inspiration for Marius but that is for another article. As for a camel, although the animal could survive multiple days with barely any water, the animal was most efficient if the Macedonians gave it ten gallons (38 litres) of water a day. Later, Alexander would use these siege towers with devastating effect at Tyre (6,000 would be killed and 30,000 enslaved). While the army that crossed the Hellespont in 334 BCE was mostly Macedonian, there were others from all over Greece: Agrianians, Triballians, Paeonians, and Illyrians. He was also very eager to learn. He sent messengers ahead of his army to meet the officials to secure arrangements for the army’s supply through their territory – on some occasions taking hostages to ensure the officials stuck to their side of the bargain. Alexander died in 323 B.C., and his death plunged his empire into a civil war that lasted for the next 20 years. However, all three of these men must pay homage to a single individual and his army. Consequently, the requirement for sufficient calories and water was critical. He therefore decided to round his troops up to make one great … It was remarkable, mainly, because it was a standing army. Two powerful city-states rose to dominate Greece. It is also possible the Macedonians consumed grains in the form of biscuits and porridge. Yet his untimely death at Babylon in 323 BC, aged only 32, brought a swift end to these bold plans. Alexander therefore reversed one of Philip’s keystone logistical decisions and permitted women once more to travel with the baggage train. His use of the phalanx and cavalry, combined with an innate sense of command, put his enemy on the defensive, enabling him to never lose a battle. The wars of Alexander the Great were fought by King Alexander III of Macedon ("The Great"), first against the Achaemenid Persian Empire under Darius III, and then against local chieftains and warlords as far east as Punjab, India (in modern history). For the animals too, scholars have calculated the daily ration of food and water to be considerable. Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. The leadership Alexander had influenced home to be a leader. While he was on campaign, these rations would usually be enough for ten days. In 340, when Philip assembled a large Macedonian army and invaded Thrace, he left his 16 years old son with the power to rule Macedonia in his absence as regent, which shows that even at such young age Alexander was recognized as quite capable. Write a letter home to a friend or family member in Macedonia. While well-trained soldiers are always essential for success, an army needs capable leadership, and besides Alexander, the force that crossed the Hellespont had several capable officers, namely Parmenio, Perdiccos, Coenus, Cleitus, Ptolemy, and Hephaestion. Permitted booty was fair and significant -- thus his soldiers were well motivated to win battles. This was the exception in a campaign epitomised by many episodes of logistical brilliance. Alexander began his reign by subduing rivals in the Greek and Macedonian regions. ( Public Domain ) In order for Alexander to afford this army, he had to either disband a portion of it to save money, risking much in doing so, or go on the march to salvage his kingdom. Just as with the temporary reintroduction of wagons and the use of camels, Alexander would make one other critical change to the Macedonian baggage train as he advanced deeper into Asia. Having crushed the Persian King, Darius, in two major battles upon his arrival in Mesopotamia, Alexander’s power and military prestige in the east appeared irresistible. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. However he ensured they were well-fed. Besides the sarissa, each man possessed a smaller double-edge sword or xiphos for close-in-hand fighting. Although Alexander’s baggage train experienced alteration during his conquest, the primary tasks of the skoidos remained the same. The fundamental fighting unit became the taxes which usually comprised 1,540 men and commanded by a taxiarch. They were mostly from the peasantry of Macedon and, thereby, had no tribal or regional affiliation meaning they loyal only to the king himself. They provided uniforms - a simple idea that gave each man a sense of unity and solidarity. Yet transporting supplies overland was fraught with difficulty: there were few carts and pack-animals available in many of these regions and there was also the constant threat of banditry. Books He immediately initiated a series of military reforms. In all the battles he participated, Alexander the Great led from the front of the battle. Alexander had intended for instance, to build a coastal road with intermittent ports stretching from Egypt to the Straits of Gibraltar to supply his future campaign in the west. How did they supply tens of thousands of soldiers with food? Luckily, this tension was kept to a minimum. There was only one drawback to the phalanx - it worked best on flat, unbroken country; however, despite this disadvantage, Alexander used it with amazing success. Alexander the Great. After the defeat of Darius III at Gaugamela in 331 BCE, Alexander realized it was necessary to replace his force’s depleted numbers, welcoming new recruits into his army among which were a number of Persians whilst some of his veterans were sent home. of grain products – the equivalent of nearly 1 ½ kilograms of bread – as well as half a gallon of water to supply the troops in these conditions daily – some 3,600 calories. Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world of his time. Not only was the throat and girth harness, used by the Ancient Greeks for horses and mules pulling these wagons, severely damaging for the animals, but carts could easily be hindered in rough terrain. At Persepolis, following a dare from an Athenian courtesan, Alexander burnt the great palace of Xerxes which he claimed was in revenge for the razing of Athens 150 years earlier. How did Alexander the Great feed his army? There was the emergence of the polis or city-state and the expansion of colonies founded as near as Ionia and as far away as Sicily. Yet none of this would have been possible if Alexander had not skilfully organised his forces throughout the campaign and so this article will cover the logistics of his Macedonian army. He could erupt like a volcano, and it was best not to get to close so you wouldn’t get any fallout. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Her birth name was Myrtle, and she was a daughter of Neoptolemus, the king of Epirus. On both the right and left flanks were the cavalry. There was however, one occasion when this forward planning of provisions failed the Macedonian king. Alexander was a fearless young boy, and even as a child he always wanted to be the king. And Alexander was extremely popular with his army. In particular, the Persian army lacked archers and slingers, so it could not engage at a distance. Why Alexander did not marching eastern to conquer India was an interesting question that fascinated readers for a millennium. With this newly-reformed logistics system supporting and supplying his army, in 334 BC Alexander set forth for Asia. Why Was Alexander the Great's Corpse so Important to His Successors? We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. Alexander the Great - Alexander the Great - Evaluation: Of Alexander’s plans little reliable information survives. Yet Alexander could not maintain this highly-mobile baggage train during the entirety of his campaign. Wasson, Donald L. "The Army of Alexander the Great." A taxis was composed of three lochoi (each commanded by a lochagos) or 512 men apiece. He crossed Asia into India, often fighting a force that outnumbered him. Near the end of his Campain, he marched his army through the "impassible" desert, thought to be compleatly impossible for an army to cross, Many many soldiers were dieing every day from lack of water, they found a tiney bit of water in the desert and put it in a helmet to give to Alexander, but he pourd it in the sand and said if his soldiers cant drink, then he wont either. It was the birth of the citizen-warrior. Alexander's Army of Invasion. Although a Spartan boy learned enough to be literate, more importantly, he learned how to endure pain and to conquer in battle, in essence to fight as a unit not as an individual. On the way back they traveled through several jungles, and while in there Alexander came down with the flue. (2010), Philip II of Macedonia: Greater than Alexander, Lincoln. Log in or sign up to leave a comment Log In Sign Up. He may have gained world-wide fame as a victorious army commander, but Alexander the Great was also a very competent expert in finances. Alexander included botanists and scientists in his army to study the lands he conquered. From their ration, each soldier would use the grinding mills carried by the servants to create flour and, after that, make bread. Alexander’s campaign in both Asia and India required precise and advanced logistical planning unlike any yet-seen in antiquity. Alexander Knew How to Crush a Rebellion. These could be the answer. When he entered Asia, the young king brought with him 12,000 phalangists -  9,000 pezhetairoi and 3,000 hypaspists. Eventually Darius III fled, along with his army. Web. 32 dekas (a line of ten men – later sixteen) made up each lochoi. Recently, a ground-breaking study by Donald Engels concluded how the Macedonian king most likely achieved this. Weaknesses of Alexander The Great. -- Anonymous, October 16, 2004 Answers When coming back to Susa after conquering India he travelled through modern Iran in the Gedrosian desert near the sea coast and Alexander's troops ran out of food. (136 kg) of supplies over a long distance. Battle Strategy. His temper was well-known. And Alexander didn't forget his geography lessons when he marched his army across the known world. There were three distinct classes of hypaspists -  the “royal” who served as the bodyguards of the king as well as guards at banquets and official events, an elite force known as the argyraspids, and finally the actual hypaspists corp. A special band of veterans within the hypaspists would become known as the Silver Shields. It was Philip’s reforms to the logistics situation that provided his son with the most efficient supply system of its time. This greatly increased the speed and mobility of his force and was no doubt critical to the success of his march to the sea. Nevertheless, even with this change, Alexander always prioritised having his army as light as possible throughout his campaigns. The far-reaching schemes for the conquest of the western Mediterranean and the setting up of a universal monarchy, recorded by Diodorus Siculus, a 1st-century Greek historian, are probably based on a later forgery; if not, they were at once jettisoned by his successors and the army. It would also require ten pounds (4.5 kg) of grain and twenty-five pounds (11.3 kg) of straw. Likely influenced by Xenophon’s success, Philip forbade the use of ox-carts and wagons in his army. For him, speed and mobility was key. For most of his campaigning life, Alexander and his army traversed the various terrains of inland Asia – lands on many occasions hostile to him and far away from seas and navigable rivers. Camels were also well-suited for traversing arid terrain, having barely any limitations on what they could eat and drink if necessary. Fortunately for him, Philip had a suitable precedent in the Greek commander Xenophon. Thanks to his forward planning and charisma, Alexander was able to find solutions to the lingering threat of supply problems throughout his conquests. The reason for this development was due in part to a changing Greece. Signup today and receive free updates straight in your inbox. Perhaps surprisingly, the size of his army never went over 40,000. ( CC BY SA 3.0 ) Olympias wasn't lucky in her marriage. Two powerful city-states rose to dominate Greece. Like his predecessor, he, too, carried a shield or aspis - similar to the hoplon, but due to the size of the sarissa (one had to use both hands); it was carried by a sling over the shoulder. Acquiring supplies was therefore far from easy for Alexander in inland Asia. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. One other area that truly epitomised this brilliance was Alexander’s road building. After Philip's death, his successor, Alexander the Great, used the army to conquer the Achaemenid Empire. Battles of the Ancients by Tristan Hughes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. These attendants would carry hand mills that were used for grinding grain as well as guy ropes for both bridge building and rock climbing and their own bedding and rations. Yet Alexander evidently found a solution. Where Alexander’s Macedonian Army was a highly-trained, professional standing army, Darius’s army – apart from his core infantry (The Immortals) – was a conscript army of farmers and levies from the satrapies. How Close Was Alexander to Conquering Southern Italy? One such area that gradually experienced improvement and alteration was the baggage train. A statue of Alexander and Olympias, Schönbrunn, Vienna. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. 1 decade ago. She was a woman who fought like a lion to protect her son and even sacrificed her husband, king Philip II of Macedonia, to support Alexander. Why the Wars of the Successors IS the Real Game of Thrones. Exploring the Essential Question: How did Alexander build his empire? It proved the greatest logistical error of his life, costing thousands of lives. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. As Alexander and Coenus were secured more cities, Spitamenes was left without bases and means of provisioning. No other Greek city-state other than Sparta was able to keep an army permanently mobilised. How did Alexander the Great motivate his army.? Whenever possible, they would also eat dried meat, salted fish and shellfish to supplement their diet. This was the end of his campaign. But Alexander's soldiers were far better drilled and far stronger than the Indians. In the festival procession Philip was assassinated by a young Macedonian noble, Pausanias. While Alexander worried that his father would leave him "no great or brilliant achievement to be displayed to the world", [197] he also downplayed his father's achievements to his companions. This was why his beasts of burden were essential. He was not slow to take advantage of this. It soon provided dividends as it gave his army more mobility. Truly they were more of a nuisance than an aid. The result proved devastating for Alexander’s men. Standards, he still was loved by his army smaller, was the son of Philip s... 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