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Battle Of Gaugamela Essay

1834 words - 8 pages

Battle of Gaugamela

In 331 BC, Alexander’s army of an estimated 47,000 (according to Arrian) stood before the army of Darius of an estimated 1,040,000 soldiers (according to Arrian). Alexander’s military genius and the discipline King Philip had given to his army, were the key tactics Alexander had in order to beat Darius. Alexander wanted Persia, not only as his ambition but because also as his father’s ambition. Philip had created Macedonia into a very powerful nation, said to be the most powerful in Greece at the time. But he wanted it to be stronger. And in order to do this, he needed to defeat Darius in order to get the throne to the Persian Kingdom. If he were able to ...view middle of the document...

Alexander refused to each offer, saying that Darius must meet Alexander in person and call him “King of all Asia”. Darius had no choice but to gather men and strive to defeat Alexander.
Darius chose a flat, open plain where he could easily place his larger forces, not wanting to be caught in a narrow battlefield as he had been at Issus two years earlier, where he was unable to use his huge army properly. Darius had his soldiers flatten the land much before the battle, so to give his 200 war-chariots better conditions. But in the end, this didn’t matter as Philip had taught the Macedonian army a strategy which could counter attack these war-chariots.
Alexander showed great patience in this battle. Unlike Granicus where he chose to attack immediately, Alexander decided to allow his army to rest overnight and attack the next morning. He even went as far as declining Parmenios suggestion. On the eve of the battle Parmenio suggested that they should launch a surprise attack as the Persians would never suspect it. Alexander dismissed this, proclaiming that “I will not demean myself by stealing a victory like a thief.” (Arrian). Alexander did not want to leave any excuse for Darius to use over his defeat. In Issus Darius was not able to deploy his army properly due to the lack of space. Alexander gave him all the advantages he could provide, making sure not to leave any excuses. He wanted to win in a way that would make him look more powerful and thus using it as propaganda.
This was either a lucky move or a stroke of genius: Darius, fearing a night attack, kept his army awake and on alert for the whole night, while Alexander's was allowed to sleep. Arrian suggests that this is the main reason the Persians were defeated. The next morning, Alexander over-slept. When his generals woke him, he stated matter-of-factly that the battle had already been won. This gave off a very confident vibe, helping to make his army feel more happy and confident about the battle ahead.
According to Arrian, Darius’ army contained “40,000 cavalry, 1,000,000 infantry and 200 scythe-bearing chariots and 15 elephants”. And Alexander’s army contained “7,000 cavalry, and 40,000 infantry”. However, Bosworth believes that the primary sources tend to exaggerate the numbers to use as propaganda. To make Alexander seem much stronger for defeating such a large numbered army with a small army.
Darius placed himself in the centre with his best infantry as it was the tradition among Persian kings. He was surrounded by, on his right, the Carian cavalry, Greek mercenaries, and the Persian horse guards. In the right-centre he placed the Persian foot guards, the Indian Cavalry and his Mardian archers.
The Macedonians were divided into two, with the right side under the direct command of Alexander, and the left of Parmenio. Alexander fought with his Companion cavalry. With it were the Paionian, and Greek light cavalry. The mercenary cavalry was divided into two...

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