JOHN THURSTON wrote:
Much thanks to you for mentioning this pivotal battle.
Epaminondes whipped the Spartans at Leuctra.
Very pivotal Battle. Very.
Leuctra showed that a Military GEnius i (Epaminondes) could beat the Agoge Trained Phalanx by use of a new battle formation.
If I recal correctly the Spartans deployed in their ages credited three main Phalangial Division.
Their basic tactic was time honored, engage the enemy, secure your flank, pin him and PUSH until something gives.
Epaminondes, however, loaded the dice with his DEEP Phalangial battle order.
I am flyimg from memory, but I beleive the overloaded Oversized Phalanx was perhaps 4 to 6 times deeper tham the Traditional Spartan Phalanx.
This formation later proved to be vurnerable to The Legions in a far distant battle in which the Legions proved that their flexible Manipular Legion Formation provided tactical flexibility and allowed the Legion to flank the Theban/Alexandrian Phalanx.
The reason that the Roman legions cut it to pieces had as much to do with the decay that had set in amongst the Successors as it had to do with their mobility. Most authors on Roman AND Greek tactics such as Peter Connolly and Adrian Goldsworthy agree that the Macedonian phalanx under an Alexander or Philip would not have been so rigid that they could be taken in the flank and/or rear as the Romans had done to them and not be able to respond. After all, raising your sarissa and turning part of a phalanx to the right or left or even completely around is not all that hard if the men can hear and obey.
Philp Of Macedon was not a stupid man. Nor was his son Alexander.
(You''ll have to pardon me but I am on a little role and have not taken the time to research the exact formations and time of battle)
Phillip veritably adopted Epaminondes tactic of the deep fixing Phalanx---but he improved on it.
Tyrpically Phillip would deploy:
On his far right flank from right to left=
1. Peltasts-'rock throwers carrying a crescent shaped shield and lighlty amored, this type of unit could and did literally pick up anyhting handy to "Pelt" the enemy disorganizing his left flank.
2. Perhaps Light Cavalry or Hypapists, the latter a 6' amed medium infantry also capable of attacking at the pivotal fixed point.
3. The Heavy Amored Cavalryy of the "Companions" intended to smite the joint of the enemy's right flank when it was harrased by the Peltasts and fixed in plae by the huge Epamoninondes type overload 16 deep at a minimum. Rhe Companiof were armed witht the Lancea type "Xyston" a double ended spear.
Phillip also to oayed succesafully here. The 16" Sarissa replaced the 8 foot Dory. From the Pictures the Shields of this Phalanx were more or less permanently attachet to the fighters' left arm, allowing the Macedonian Phalangite to use the powerful double handed thust when advancing.
I beleive this type of double handed thrusting is mirrored in the Kobudo Bo Kata "Tokumne No Kun".
Very powerfull killing blow available despite the blunt ends of the Kobudo Bo.
Now imagine if this Bo had two bronze ends!!!
I believe that the sarissas had iron points and butt stakes.
From the Spartans (according to Julian) came the "Phyrric Beat" Perhaps, according to Julian=Boom, Boom Boom---Pause/step=Boom, boom boom, pause/step accomanied by the Macedonian battle "paaen".
This modified phalanx fixed the enemy's left flank inexorably. Allegedly the Greeks used the Paean from the time of Marathon thru the end of Greek Phalangial Supremecy.
The Persians allefedly advanced in silence at both Marathon and the Gates of Fire. (allowiung for considerable noise I guess from the almost a rabble levies??)
4. The two or three "normal" Phalanxes, normally commanded by Parmenion in Persia. Here Greek Phalngites from the 'Allied" States could be used.
5. More Peltasts and/or Hypapists.
The enemy is fixed and flanked then crushed btween the Companions and the Macedonian Phalanx.
Now Skipping back to the 300,
Aristemos at Themopylae.
Arsitemos was a true Spartan warrior raised in the ways of the Agoge since age twelve, traiined, as noted , and kept in separate barracks with other boys of his age.
Only up to a certain point. The seven to twelve year olds were kept segregated into their own groups but after that, they were sent into the larger barracks and taken individually under the wings of older soldiers for training and, uhmm, other things.
But at Thermoplylae, Arisdemos and anothed Phalangite were stricken with an eye infection.
Leonidas knew that Aristodemos could literally, not see a damned thing, and he ordered Aristedemos and onme other Spartan to "stand down".
In typically and wonderfully Spartan ways, Aristedemos' companion, also stricken blind left Aristedemos and died in the Battle.
Aristedemos stood down as ordered. However when he tried to return to Laconia, he was shunned by all except his immediate famiily.
Such was the disgrace, despite the devil's choice, of heeding Leonda's Order, or die with the others, that Aristedemos in "Uriah the Hittite" fashion, "thrust himself forward into the forefront of the Battle"
of Platea , Spartans vs. Persians again, and was killed.
The story of hjis shunning because of followng a lawful order of one of the two Kings and war leader of the Apsrtans, entitled to only 300 men at his command while Sparta and the other Greek City States dithered about how to meet the Persian Threat.
This is not true. The other states were massing at the Isthmus of Corinth to protect the Peloppenesus, particularly Sparta as was part of the deal that sent Leonidas and his guard to Thermopylae, and the Athenians, less the idiots who stayed to defend Athens, were massing the Greek navies in the Salamis Channel to keep the Greeks from being outflanked by the Persian Navy. As we know, that is where the second of the crucial battles of the 2nd Persian War was fought.
I recall, I think, that Athens itself was temporaily overun by the Persians in the interim beteen Thermopyla and Platea.
Athens was overrun between Thermopylae and Salamis. After Salamis, Xerxes, a large part of his army, and what was left of his navy retreated back into Asia and left the the rest of the army under Mardonius to fight on unsupported. They retreated up into the Attic Plain, but not before several efforts to turn Athens to their side. Athens and others made many efforts to bring Sparta back into the war, but Sparta ducked it, claiming religious festivals, a favorite tactic of their's. When the Persians finally left Athens, they razed it to the ground much as Rome later razed Carthage. Sparta FINALLY sent their entire army out and joined the rest of the Greeks at Plataea. And even then, the historians report that the Athenians had to insult the Spartans into finally fighting the battle. It was, as history records, a massacre by the Greeks.
The story is typically and heroically Spartan.
I can't evn begn to fill in all the details just now.
I am, Hugh, a bit humbled by this thread.
Don't be. The image of Sparta has been much built up by romantics who ignore the truth. Read Tom Holland's Persian Fire
and you might see things a bit differently. I know that I did. Of course, i had long ago stopped worshiping Sparta's memory. For me, the city-state of Greece to honor is Athens, warts and all. Themistocles is THE hero of the 2nd Persian War IMO. Leonidas, while certainly a hero who gave Athens time to evacuate and to organize the Greek navies, was a martyr hero while Themistocles was the one who organized, led, and made possible the Persian defeat at Salamis.
I certainly do recall Epamindondes victory at Leuctra. I WILL post on this pivotal battle.
Suffice it to say that, primarily. Phillip and Alexander adapted Epaminondes' "Right Hook" with the 1 or more deep Phalanx.
Phillip is the partially understated devoper of the Crushiingly effective Macedonian Phalanx.
Alexander wielded the Army Phillip had forged.
Alexander's role in crushing the Theban "Sacred Band
at Charonea will throw more light on the devasting Macedonian tactic which were, in part, an adaptation of Epaminondes' tactics at Leuctra.
I hope I can get to Amazon for the recommended reading. Truly, thank you again my friend.