Granicus 334 BC

Player written historical scenarios for the Field of Glory gaming system.

Moderators: rbodleyscott, Slitherine Core, Field of Glory Moderators

Post Reply
sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Granicus 334 BC

Post by sergiomonteleone » Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:28 pm

Hi there,
for an exibition attended in November 2009, we are going to refight Granicus Battle (Alexander vs Late Achaemenid Persian) using 15mm figures.
After we will post a battle report.
Sergio

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Re: Granicus 334 BC

Post by sergiomonteleone » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:42 am

sergiomonteleone wrote:Hi there,
for an exibition attended in November 2009, we are going to refight Granicus Battle (Alexander vs Late Achaemenid Persian) using 15mm figures.
After we will post a battle report.
Sergio
Last saturday with some friends we made the battle.
Battle report is in progress to be posted as soon as possible.
Sergio

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Granicus 334 BC: SOURCES

Post by sergiomonteleone » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:33 pm

We’ve used the following sources, in particularly to make the army lists:

• Osprey - Campaign “Granicus 334 BC”
• Granikos: 334 BC - the other side of the coin - See website http://www.ne.jp/asahi/luke/ueda-sarson ... nikos.html
• WARGAMES Soldiers & Strategy, #7 2005, “Alexander the Great: The Battle of Granicus (the recreation of the battle for DBM scenario)
• Wikipedia, see website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Granicus.

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Granicus 334 BC: HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

Post by sergiomonteleone » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:35 pm

The Battle of the Granicus River in May 334 BC was the first of three major battles fought between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire. Fought in Northwestern Asia Minor, near the site of Troy, it was here where Alexander defeated the forces of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor, including a large force of Greek mercenaries led by Memnon of Rhodes.
The battle took place on the road from Abydos to Dascylium (near modern day Ergili, Turkey), at the crossing of the Granicus River (modern day Biga Çayı).

Following the assassination of Alexander's father, Philip II of Macedon, and the subsequent consolidation of Alexander's Macedonian positions, Alexander set out into Asia in 334 BC.
He crossed the Hellespont from Sestos to Abydos, and advanced up the road to Dascylium, which was the capital of the Satrapy of Phrygia. The various satraps of the Persian empire gathered with their forces at the town of Zelea and offered battle on the banks of the Granicus River. Memnon, Persian mercenary commander, suggested a scorched-earth policy of burning the grain and supplies and retreating in front of Alexander, but his suggestion was rejected by the commanding satraps.

MACEDONIAN PLANS

Philip II, Alexander’s father, formulated the plan for the invasion of Persia.
Some scholars have suggested that Philip had his 'Persian plans' firmly in mind as early as 348 BC although this is doubtful. Indeed, in the decade from 348-338 BC, Philip still had his hands full in completely gaining the support of Thessaly, pacifying the Greek states to the south, and securing the route to Asia via the Hellespont through the volatile lands of Thrace. It is more likely that he fully and finally turned his attention to Persia after the battle of Chaeronea when these objectives had been achieved. According to Diodorus, shortly before the meeting which established the League of Corinth in 337 BC, Philip was making known throughout Greece his desire to attack Persia to punish them for the profanation of the temples' in the Graeco-ersian wars.

PERSIAN PLANS

The failure of the Persians to contest Alexander's entry into Asia is perhaps not as surprising as it first appears. The newly installed king Darius had other priorities which immediately concerned him: ch as the possibility of satrapal revolts, unrest in the northern province of Cadusia, and quashing rebellion in Egypt.
Greek affairs were usually handled diplomatically, largely through bribery, and Greek military incursions could be dealt with by the western satraps and hired Greek mercenaries.
The immediate task of engaging the Macedonians was left to the Persian satraps of western Asia Minor who were best placed to deal with Alexander's expedition. In May 334 BC, these satraps and the their mercenary commander Memnon gathered at the city of Zeleia roughly 20 miles east of the River Granicus, where the Persian cavalry and the mercenary Greek infantry had assembled.
At the council, Memnon argued that it was preferable for the Persians to avoid a pitched battle with Alexander and rather adopt scorched-earth tactics. On the one hand, the Macedonians, he stated, had much greater numbers of infantry and on the other , were short of supplies. This advice was rejected by Arsites, the satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia - the territory in which Alexander had landed and where the battle would take place. Arsites would not allow his land to be burned and, it seems, the other Persian satraps agreed with his rejection of Memnon's cautious advice, either as being beneath their dignity or out of suspicion of the Greek's motives.

Alexander's army met the Persians on the third day of May from Abydos. Alexander's second-in-command, Parmenion suggested crossing the river upstream and attacking at dawn the next day, but Alexander attacked immediately. This tactic caught the Persians off guard. The Macedonian line was arrayed with the heavy Phalanxes in the middle, and cavalry on either side. Alexander was with the Companions on the right flank. The Persians expected the main assault to come from Alexander's position and moved units from their center to that flank.

Image

The battle started with a cavalry and light infantry feint from the Macedonian left, from Parmenion's side of the battle line. The Persians heavily reinforced that side, and the feint was driven back, but at that point, Alexander led the horse companions in their classic wedge-shaped charge, and smashed into the center of the Persian line. The Persians counter charged with a squadron of nobles on horse, and accounts show that in the melee, several high-ranking Persian nobles were killed by Alexander himself or his bodyguards, although Alexander was stunned by an axe-blow from a Persian nobleman. Before the noble could deal a death-blow, however, he was himself killed by Cleitus the Black. Alexander quickly recovered.
The Macedonian cavalry then turned left and started rolling up the Persian cavalry, which was engaged with the left side of the Macedonian line after a general advance. A hole opened in the recently vacated place in the battle line and the Macedonian infantry charged through to engage the poor-quality Persian infantry in the rear. At this, and with many of their leaders already dead, both flanks of the Persian cavalry retreated, seeing the collapse of the center. The infantry also routed, many being cut down as they fled.

The resulting Battle of Granicus was not only the first that Alexander the Great fought against the Persians, it was also the one in which he came the closest to being killed in.

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Granicus 334 BC: OPPOSING ARMIES

Post by sergiomonteleone » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:45 pm

From the military perspective, if one source appears militarily plausible, and the others wildly improbable, a wargamer might do better to plump for the plausible one, even if it looks less likely from an historiographical point of view.

Plutarch records that ancient estimates (Aristobulus, Ptolemy, Anaximenes) of Alexander's forces ranged from 30.000 to 43.000 foot and 4.000 to 5.500 horse; Justin records 32.000 foot and 4.500 horse; Polybios has Kallisthenes recording 40.000 foot and 4.500 horse; Diodoros, the only source to give a force composition, gives 30.000 foot and 4500 horse (though his figures actually total 32.000 foot and 5.100 horse). Some time ago Brunt proposed that the two main groups of figures (ca. 32.000 foot and 4.500 horse, and ca. 43.000 foot and 5.500 horse, can be accounted for by adding in the advance force Philip had already sent to Asia (which would therefore be about, or a bit over 10000 men in very round terms), and indeed, Diodorus states that the numbers he quotes are for those that crossed over to Asia with Alexander, rather than those with Alexander at the battle itself. Similarly, Arrian gives Alexander over 5.000 horse, and a little over 30.000 foot before crossing the Hellespont rather than at the battle itself.

Diodoros gives the breakdown of the 32.000 foot and 5.100 horse he mentions as:

12.000 Macedonian infantry
7.000 Allied infantry
5.000 Mercenary infantry
7.000 Thracians (Odryssians, Triballians) and Illyrians
1.000 Agrianians and archers
1.800 Macedonian horse
1.800 Thessalian horse
600 Greek horse
900 Thracian and Paeonian horse (the text is somewhat corrupt here, see my notes below)

The Persian numbers are even harder to estimate. Arrian gives about 20.000 horse and somewhat fewer foot, Justin a wildly exaggerated all-in total of 600.000 (!); Diodoros gives over 10.000 horse, and an improbable 100.000 foot - improbable not least because Arrian says the Persian infantry was outnumbered, but also Memnon's advised scorched-earth policy would make no sense if the Persians had far more men than the Macedonians to feed. Diodoros, the only source to give a Persian order of battle, lists the following horse:

? Memnon's Greeks
? Arsamenes' Karians
? Arsites' Paphalagonians
? Spithridates with the Hyrkanians
? Other national contingents (Kappadokians are mentioned in Diodoros)
1.000 Medes
2.000 Other horsemen under Rheomithres
2.000 Bactrians

Persian cavalry were armed and equipped in a variety of ways. However, at the battle of the Granicus, the Persian cavalry were equipped with two spears (palta) one of which, most likely, was for throwing, the other for stabbing. Mounted archers are not attested at the battle and the cavalry were not armed with shields.

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Granicus 334 BC: BATTLEFIELD

Post by sergiomonteleone » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:48 pm

The other crucial source of information we have about the battle of the Granicus is the current terrain and topography of the battlefield. The identification of the ancient River Granicus has never been in any doubt as the ancient geographer Strabo. Only one river of any significance lies between these two points, the modern Biga (which flows north from the Ida mountain range through the modern town of Biga into the Sea of Marmara via the plain known in antiquity as Adrasteia).

The Granicus, flowing northeastwards towards the Black Sea, could well have still been swollen by snow-melt, although still crossable in many places. Its bank is recorded as being muddy and slippy. The river is a narrow stream, flowing between wider dry clay banks.
We’ve considered the river as UNEVEN TERRAIN

The other important battlefield feature was the low hill/ridge to the Persia rear upon which the Persians' Greek Mercenaries made their last stand. This should count as a GENTLE HILL with smooth slopes.

The extensive plain around the river is largely flat and featureless. To the west, in the direction of Hermotus from where Alexander approached, there are low lying foothills which, for the most part,
gradually descend to the valley plain. To the south there are larger hills broken by the valleys formed by the Biga To the east, the plain, interrupted only by some low hills to the south-east, extends along the coast of the Sea of Marmora.
In the immediate vicinity of the battlefield, there was an ANCIENT LAKE, the Ece Gol, west of the river near where the battle occurred. South of the lake near the river lay some small broken hills, rarely reaching more than 50 metres in height.
To the north-east of the lake the plain is flat and devoid of significant topography or vegetation. Approximately 2.5 miles east of the river is a ridge of low hills attaining a height of approximately 100 metres, but the plain between these hills and the river is again flat.

We used a table of 2,5x1,2 m.

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Granicus 334 BC: ARMY LISTS

Post by sergiomonteleone » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:50 pm

As historical sources are very different, we’ve decided to follow DBM scenarios (based on Diodoro’s source) and Immortal Fire for number of bases per BG , kind of troops and so rounding-up/ down number of bases per BG if necessary.

Scale of figures: 15mm
All figures from Xyston, except 3 BG’s of Persian Cavalry from Essex.

We may therefore conjecture the PERSIANS order of battle, at 250 men per element as 30 Bg’S and 1.489 points:

LEFT WING Sub-commander Arsites (Satrap) TC

- 3 BG’s of Persian Cavalry (4 bases per BG): Cv, armoured, average, undrilled, light spear, swordmen
- 1 BG of Persian Cavalry - Hyrcanian (4 bases): Cv, armoured, superior, undrilled, light spear, swordmen
Sub-commander Niphates TC
- 1 BG of Persian Hoplites - Karians (8 bases): HF, protected, poor, drilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen
- 3 BG’s of Hillmen - Takabara (6 bases per BG): MF, protected, average, undrilled, light spear
Sub-commander Memnon TC
- 1 BG of Greek Cavalry (4 bases): Cv, protected, average, undrilled, light spear, swordmen

CENTRE C-In-C Spithridates(Lydia’s Satrap) FC

- 3 BG’s of Paphlagonian Cavalry (4 bases per BG): Cv, protected, poor, undrilled, light spear, swordmen
- 1 BG of Persian Cavalry (4 bases): Cv, armoured, average, undrilled, light spear, swordmen
- 3 BG’s of Other Cavalry (4 bases per BG): Cv, protected, average, undrilled, light spear, swordmen
- 1 BG of Armenian Light Horse (4 bases): LH, unprotected, average, undrilled, bow
- 1 BG of Archers (8 bases): LF, unprotected, average, undrilled, bow
Sub-commander Omares TC
- 4 BG’s of Mercenary Greek Hoplites (6 bases per BG): HF, protected, average, drilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen

RIGHT WING Sub-commander Atizyes (Phrygia’s Satrap) TC

Sub-commander Rheomithres TC
- 1 BG of Armenian Light Horse (4 bases): LH, unprotected, average, undrilled, bow
- 2 BG’s of Paphlagonian Light Horse (4 bases per BG): LH, unprotected, average, undrilled, javelins, swordmen
- 2 BG’s of Bactrian Cavalry (4 bases per BG): Cv, armoured, average, undrilled, light spear, swordmen
- 1 BG of Mercenary Hoplites - Ionians (8 bases): HF, protected, poor, drilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen
- 1 BG of Hillmen - Takabara (6 bases): MF, protected, average, drilled, light spear
- 1 BG of Hillmen - Lydian Takabara (8 base per BG): MF, protected, average, undrilled, light spear


The MACEDONIANS, again at 250 men per element, can be conjectured as 32 BG’s and 1.860 points:

RIGHT WING C-In-C Alexander IC

- 2 BG’s of Companion Cavalry (4 bases per BG): Cv, armoured, superior, drilled, lancers, swordmen
- 1 BG of Prodomoi (4 bases): LH, unprotected, average, drilled, lancers, swordmen
- 1 BG of Agranian Javelinmen (6 bases): LF, unprotected, superior, undrilled, javelins, light spear
- 1 BG of Cretan Archers (6 bases): LF, unprotected, superior, drilled, bow
- 1 BG of Greek Cavalry (4 bases): Cv, armoured, superior, drilled, light spear, swordmen
Sub-commander Nicanor TC
- 1 BG of Hypaspists (8 bases): HF, protected, superior, drilled, pikemen, pikemen
- 1 BG of Greek Hoplites (6 bases): HF, protected, average, drilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen
- 2 BG’s of Greek Mercenaries (6 bases per BG): MF, protected, average, drilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen

CENTRE Sub-commander Perdiccas TC

- 3 Sub-commanders TC
- 6 BG’s of Hypaspists (8 bases): HF, protected, average, drilled, pikemen, pikemen
Greek Ally Sub-commander TC
- 3 BG’s of Thracians (8 bases per BG): MF, protected, average, undrilled, light spear, swordmen
- 1 BG of Allied Hoplites (6 bases): HF, protected, poor, undrilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen
- 3 BG’s of Greek Hoplites (6 bases per BG): HF, protected, poor, drilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen

LEFT WING Sub-commander Parmenio FC

- 1 BG of Thessalian Cavalry (4 bases): Cv, armoured, superior, drilled, light spear, swordmen
- 1 BG of Greek Cavalry (4 bases): Cv, armoured, average, drilled, light spear, swordmen
- 1 BG of Thracian Cavalry (4 bases): LH, unprotected, average, undrilled, bow
- 1 BG of Greek Mercenaries - Illyrians (6 bases): MF, protected, average, undrilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen
- 1 BG of Macedonian Archers (6 bases): LF, unprotected, average, drilled, bow
- 4 BG’s of Greek Mercenaries (6 bases per BG): MF, protected, average, drilled, offensive spearmen, spearmen

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Granicus 334 BC: BATTLE REPORT - DEPLOYMENT

Post by sergiomonteleone » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:54 pm

Traditionally, most recreations of the battle have followed the majority of the sources, despite the seeming inherent military unlikelyness of the accounts presented.
Why defend a river bank with stationary cavalry (a force needing space to manoeuvre in), when you have a perfectly competent infantry force (Memnon's Greek mercenaries) far more suited to the task at your disposal?
The Persians of course successfully used Greek mercenaries to defend a (lesser) river bank at Issos against the Macedonian phalanxes just one year later, so saying it was a dangerous thing to do, is nonsense, and any battle reconstruction should account for why the Persians didn't defend the banks with their infantry here, but did so at Issos.
(It has been argued that the Persians had defended a river like this before, at Centrites as described by Xenophon, but in fact at Centrites, what was defended was the entrance to mountain defile that just happened to have a river running in front of it. The Persian cavalry had nowhere else to go but between the hills and the river.)

However, if we look at Diodoros' account, the Persian dispositions are perfectly reasonable - their cavalry is now stationed at the front because the battle is contested in the open plain, rather than directly across the slippery river banks, and so the infantry are more sensibly deployed to the rear on higher ground.

Arrian, Diodorus, and Plutarch all mention the battle, with Arrian providing the most detail. The Persians placed their cavalry in front of their infantry, and drew up on the right (east) bank of the river. Historians differ significantly on the effectiveness of the Persian dispositions. Some consider it a tactical mistake on the Persian side, others feel it was an attempt to take advantage of their superior number of cavalry, while the Persian leaders had in fact a very gallant plan: they meant if possible to strangle the war at birth by killing Alexander.

Photo of the deployment, very impressive: a lot of HF (pikemen and hoplites) and MF

Image

Photo of the right wing of Macedonian Army with Companions and superior LF:

Image

Photo of the left wing of Macedonian Army with Thessalians, Greek cavalry and Greek MF:

Image

Photo of the left wing of Persian Army with best quality of Cv (we’ve decided to deploy best Cv in front of Companions coherently with historical Persian plan: try to kill Alexander):

Image

Photos of the centre Persian Army with Greek mercenaries oh the hill and some Cv’s close to the river bank in front of Macedonian Pk’s:

Image

Image

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Granicus 334 BC: BATTLE REPORT - THE BATTLE

Post by sergiomonteleone » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:57 pm

As Persians decided to defend a river bank Macedonians moved first.

Macedonian plan: attack everywhere, based on superiority in terms of number and quality of BG’s, in particularly attacking on the wings, advancing with Pk’s and then charging on the flanks Greek Mercenaries on the gentle hill.

Persian plan: praying ………. I’m joking, trying to skirmish everywhere and with some BG’s deployed in the centre supporting both of the wings. With Greek Mercenaries using uphill in order to resist to Pk’s charge.

Alexander advanced with all the troops moving archers and javelinmen at distance to shoot, supported by Companions and MF:

Image

Unlikely one Persian Cv BG immediately lost a cohesion level. Persians didn’t succeed to charge Macedonian shooters, who was able to destroy a Persian Cv BG. Then the BG on the right became Fragmented. The Persian left wing became to collapse:

Image

Parmenio advanced on the Macedonian left wing with Cavalry and Greek hoplites advanced in the centre, both supported by Thracians and Greek MF, meanwhile Persian LH’s tried to skirmish Parmenio

Image

Image

One Persian Cv BG try to support LH, moving towards Thessalians:

Image

All the PK BG’s advanced in the centre and charged, so Persian Cv in front rank evaded. First impact and melee with Pk and Persian Cv in double rank:

Image

Image

Supported by a charge on the flank, Pk’s destroyed two Persian Cv BG’s:

Image

Second impact between Greek Hoplites and Thracians vs Persian Cv in double rank, who resisted for three bounds, considering HF poor and disordered by uneven river:

Image

Parmenio charged with Greek Cv and LH and destroyed a Persian LH, being charged on the rear, meanwhile Thessalians charged and destroyed a Persian Cv BG and Thracians anvanced to support Greek Hoplites in melee:

Image

Then the Persian right wing collapsed, some weak Persian footmen didn’t advance but their Sub-commander understood to be close to the death waiting a second devastating Macedonian charge:

Image

On the Persian left wing, Companions charged and unlikely a Persian Cv BG evading was contacted on the rear (he made 1 with dice!!!!!!) and so destroyed:

Image

Also the Persian left wing was close to collapse, considering the contemporary advance of Alexander HF and MF supporting Companion charge:

Image

Considering both the Persian wings collapsed some Persian MF and HF BG’s tried to defend flank hill, waiting also a devastating charge of Macedonian Phalanxes in the centre:

Image

At this point we’ve decided to stop the battle considering Alexander the winner.

CONCLUSIONS

First of all it was very happy to refight the battle with 5 friends (many thanks for all of them).
For a long time I’ve dreamed to use a lot of Xyston Persians, in particularly Satrapal Guards and Levy dressed (as MF).
The result of the refight was the same of historical battle: both of the Persian wings collapsed so Persian Greek Hoplites received a charge also on the flanks.
In fact considering the superiority of Macedonians in terms of number and quality of BG’s, the battle was taken for granted: it has been very hard to skirmish with Persian Cv’s and try to support the wings in order to kill Alexander.

Sergio

rbodleyscott
Field of Glory 2
Field of Glory 2
Posts: 22328
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:25 pm

Post by rbodleyscott » Thu Dec 10, 2009 6:52 pm

Great stuff Sergio.

mbsparta
Staff Sergeant - Kavallerie
Staff Sergeant - Kavallerie
Posts: 331
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:57 pm

Post by mbsparta » Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:02 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:Great stuff Sergio.
Yes indeed ... Great work on a difficult battle to model.

Mike B

sergiomonteleone
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Master Sergeant - U-boat
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Post by sergiomonteleone » Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:40 pm

mbsparta wrote:
rbodleyscott wrote:Great stuff Sergio.
Yes indeed ... Great work on a difficult battle to model.

Mike B
many thanks,
in fact I fought it was more easy to refight, in particularly skirmishing as Persian Commander ............. but Macedonian Army was too strong :cry:
Main remark is that considering first historical scenario FOG seems more historical than DBM.
Sergio

Post Reply

Return to “Historical Scenarios”