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Military History of Art and Techniques – Ancient History

Warriors of primitive tribes first fought in an unorganized crowd, each fighting alone. With the advent of states, professional armies and organized military formations arose. Thus, in Assyria, Babylon, etc. a deep infantry formation was used, up to 100 ranks. If a country had a wealth of horses, the main part of the army was a well-trained cavalry.

In ancient Greece, all free citizens became warriors in the event of war. The main part of the army was heavy infantry – the hoplites. Light infantry, with lighter weapons, a small shield, throwing weapons and no armor, was first introduced by the Athenians based on the experience of the battle of Sphacterias, where Spartan hoplites were beaten only by throwing weapons of the Athenians who were constantly fleeing from the enemy’s close attack. Ifikrat, one of the leaders of the mercenary detachments of the Athenians, introduced the middle infantry — the Peltastes, who could act in close and loose formations.

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The tactical art of the Greeks reached high perfection in the struggle of small Greek armies with huge Persian hordes. The army of the Greeks was built in the line of phalanxes, by communities or states, and the flanks were composed of more reliable soldiers, and on the right wing, more honorable and important in battle, became the troops of the state to which hegemony belonged. The battle of the phalanges (usually in an open and flat terrain, so that the phalanx does not explode) was reduced to the collision of the first rows of hoplites; although other ranks took part in the battle, they did not have any influence on the outcome: they developed victory for the winner, and limited the results of the defeat for the defeated.

Miltiad in the battle of Marathon took advantage of favorable terrain conditions to be stronger than the enemy at the point of impact: since the Persians could not deploy their 100,000-strong hordes in the narrow space between two streams.

The same technique was later used by Leonid in the battle of Thermopylae. Xenophon during the period of the famous retreat of the 10 thousand Greeks in Asia Minor improved the phalanx, he divided it on rough terrain, making the battle formation more flexible and applicable to the situation.

In the battles of Leuktrah and Mantinea Epaminondas, they secretly transferred the best troops to their left flank, with which they intended to strike, built them deeper than those of the enemy and advanced with ledges to the left. At the same time, the rest of the front of the phalanx of Epaminondas was much thinner. He also created a holy squad of 300 selected warriors, who took part in the battle at the most decisive moment. Such a reserve has never existed before.

Philip of Macedon and Alexander of Macedon improved the phalanx. In the Macedonian battle formation, heavy infantry made up the center; right wing — medium infantry, guard and Macedonian cavalry; Left – light infantry and the best auxiliary cavalry (Thessalian). Light troops were located in the front, and in part – on the right flank. Sometimes part of the light infantry and cavalry was located in the second line behind both flanks. Part of the troops were at the wagon train and camp.

The Macedonians attacked the ledges on the right, heavy cavalry made a breach in the enemy order of battle, where the middle infantry rushed and struck with swords. If the enemy surrendered, the light cavalry began pursuit, and the heavy cavalry remained as a reserve. They chased the enemy not only on the battlefield, but also outside it.

The center rebounds provided the main blow from the flank, diverted the opposing forces of the enemy and then engaged them in battle, developing success. If the attacking right flank suffered failure, the center restrained the enemy and made up a shelter for which the injured troops recovered. The left-wing and the second line provided flank and rear coverage.

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The phalanx of the ancient Greeks and Macedonians maintained order and closeness only on level terrain, the battle was entered all at once.

Sources:

Art of War // Military Encyclopedia
Evolution of the military Miests
History of military art // Military Encyclopedia
Military Encyclopedic Dictionary

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