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that they terrified the horses of the chariots, and occasioned such a disorder and confusion among them, as often made them turn about and run upon their own forces. a At other times they would render the chariots useless and incapable of acting, only by marching over the space which separated the two armies, with an extraordinary swiftness, and advancing suddenly upon the enemy; for the strength and execution of the chariots proceeded from the length of their course, which was what gave that impetuosity and rapidity to their motion, without which they were but very feeble and insignificant. It was after this manner, that the Romans under Sylla, at the battle of Charonea, defeated and put to flight the enemy's chariots, by raising loud peals of laughter, and crying out to them, as if they had been at the games of the Circus, to send more.
4. THEIR DISCIPLINE IN PEACE AS WELL AS WAR.
Nothing can be imagined more perfect than the discipline and good order of the troops in Cyrus's reign, whether in peace or war.
The method used by that great prince, as is fully related in Xenophon's Cyropædia, in order to form his troops by frequent exercises, to inure them to fatigue by keeping them continually employed in laborious works, to prepare them for real battles by mock engagements, to fire them with courage and resolution by exhortations, praises, and rewards; all this, I say, is a perfect model for all who have the command of troops, to which, generally speaking, peace and tranquillity become extremely pernicious; for a relaxation of discipline, which usually ensues, enervates the vigour of the soldiers; and their inaction blunts that edge of courage, which the motion of armies, and the approach of enemies, infinitely sharpen and excite. A wise foresight of the future ought to make us prepare in time of peace whatever will be needful in time of war.
Whenever the Persian armies marched, every thing was ordered and carried on with as much regularity and exactness, as on a day of battle; not a soldier or officer daring to quit his rank, or remove from the colours. It was the custom amongst all the nations of Asia, whenever they encamped, though but for a day or a night, to have their camp surrounded with pretty deep ditches. This they did to prevent being surprised by the enemy, and that they might not be forced to engage against their inclinations. They usually contented themselves with covering their camp with a bank. of earth dug out of these ditches; though sometimes they
a Plut. in Syl. p. 463.
fortified them with strong palisadoes, and long stakes driven into the ground.
By what has been said of their discipline in time of peace, and of their manner of marching, and encamping their armies, we may judge of that which was observed on a day of battle. Nothing can be more wonderful than the accounts we have of it in several parts of the Cyropædia. No single family could be better regulated, or pay a more speedy and exact obedience to the first signal, than the whole army of Cyrus. He had long accustomed them to that prompt obedience, on which the success of all enterprises depends. For what avails the best head in the world, if the arms do not act conformably, and follow its directions? At first he had used some severity, which is necessary in the beginning, in order to establish a good discipline; but this severity was always accompanied with reason, and tempered with kindness. The example of their leader, who was the first upon all duty, gave weight and authority to his injunctions, and softened the rigour of his commands. The unalterable rule he laid down to himself, of granting nothing but to merit only, and of refusing every thing to favour, was a sure means of keeping all the officers attached to their duty, and of making them perpetually vigilant and careful. For there is nothing more discouraging to persons of that profession, even to those who love their prince and their country, than to see the rewards, to which the dangers they have undergone, and the blood they have spilt, entitle them, conferred upon others. Cyrus had the art of inspiring even his common soldiers with a zeal for discipline and order, by first inspiring them with a love for their country, for their honour, and their fellow-citizens; and, above all, by endearing himself to them by his bounty and liberality. These are the true methods of establishing and supporting military discipline in its full force and vigour.
5. THEIR ORDER OF BATTLE.
As they were but very few fortified places in Cyrus's time, all their wars were little else but field expeditions; for which reason that wise prince found out, by his own reflection and experience, that nothing contributed more to decide victory, than a numerous and good cavalry; and the gaining of one single pitched battle was often attended with the conquest of a whole kingdom. Accordingly we see, that having found
a Dux cultu levi, capite intecto, in agmine, in laboribus frequens adesse: laudem strenuis. solatium invalidis, exemplum omnibus ostendere. Tacit, Annal. 1. xiii e. 35.
cecidisse in irritum labores, si præmia periculorum soli assequantur, qui nericulis non affuerunt. Tacit. Hist. p. iii, §. 53,
the Persian army entirely destitute of that important and necessary succour, he turned all his thoughts towards remedying that defect; and so far succeeded by his great application and activity, as to form a body of Persian cavalry, which became superior to that of his enemies, in goodness at least, if not in number". There were several breeds of horses in = Persia and Media; but in the latter province, those of a place called Nisea were the most esteemed; and it was from Ethence the king's stable was furnished. We shall now examine what use they made of their cavalry and infantry.
The celebrated battle of Thymbra may serve to give us a just notion of the tactics of the ancients in the days of Cyrus, and to show how far their ability extended either in the use of arms, or the disposition of armies.
They knew, that the most advantageous order of battle was to place the infantry in the centre, and the cavalry, which consisted chiefly of the cuirassiers, on the two wings of the army. By this disposition the flanks of the foot were covered, and the horse were at liberty to act and extend themselves, as occasion should require.
They likewise understood the necessity of drawing out an army into several lines, in order to support one another; because otherwise, one single line might easily be pierced through and broken; so would not be able to rally, and consequently the army would be left without resource; for which reason, they formed the first line of foot heavily armed, 12 men deep, who, on the first onset, made use of the half-pike; and afterwards, when the fronts of the two armies came close together, engaged the enemy body to body with their swords, or scymitars.
The second line consisted of such men as were lightly armed, whose manner of fighting was to fling their javelins over the heads of the first. These javelins were made of a heavy wood, were pointed with iron, and were flung with great violence. The design of them was to put the enemy into disorder, before they come to close fight.
The third line consisted of archers, whose bows being bent with the utmost force, carried their arrows over the heads of the two preceding lines, and extremely annoyed the enemy. These archers were sometimes mixed with slingers, who slung great stones with a terrible force; but in after-time, the Rhodians instead of stones, made use of leaden bullets, which the slings carried a great deal farther.
A fourth line, formed of men armed in the same manner as those of the first, formed the rear of the main body. This line was intended for the support of the others, and to keep a Herod. l. vii. c. 40. Strab. 1. xi. p 530,
b Before Cyrus's time it was of 24 men.
them to their duty, in case they gave way. It served likewise for a rear-guard, and a body of reserve to repulse the enemy, if they should happen to penetrate so far.
They had, besides, moving towers, carried upon huge waggons, drawn by 16 oxen each, in which were 20 men, whose business was to discharge stones and javelins. These were placed in the rear of the whole army behind the body of reserve, and served to support their troops, when they were driven back by the enemy, and to favour their rallying when in disorder.
They made great use, too, of their chariots armed with scythes, as we have already observed. These they generally placed in the front of the battle, and some of them they Occasionally stationed on the flanks of the army, when they had any reason to fear their being surrounded.
This is nearly the extent to which the ancients carried their knowledge in the military art with respect to their battles and engagements: but we do not find they had any skill in choosing advantageous posts; in seasonably possessing themselves of a favourable spot; of bringing the war into a close country; of making use of defiles and narrow passes, either to molest the enemy in their march, or to cover themselves from their attacks; of laying artful ambuscades; of protracting a campaign to a great length by wise delays; of not suffering a superior enemy to force them to a decisive action, and of reducing him to the necessity of preying upon himself through the want of forage and provisions. Neither do we see, that they had much regard to the defending of their right and left with rivers, marshes or mountains; and by that means of making the front of a smaller army equal to that of another much more numerous, and of putting it out of the enemy's power to surround or take them in flank.
Yet in Cyrus's first campaign against the Armenians, and afterwards against the Babylonians, there seem to have been some beginnings, some essays, as it were, of this art; but they were not improved, or carried to any degree of perfection in those days. Time, reflection, and experience, made the great commanders in after-ages acquainted with these precautions and subtleties of war; and we have already shown, in the wars of the Carthaginians, what use Hannibal, Fabius, Scipio, and other generals of both nations, made of them.
6. THEIR MANNER OF ATTACKING AND DEFENDING STRONG PLACES.
The ancients both devised and executed all that could be expected from the nature of the arms known in their days, as also from the force and the variety of engines then in use, either for attacking or defending fortified places.
1. THEIR WAY OF ATTACKING PLACES.
The first method of attacking a place was by blockade. They invested the town with a wall built quite round it, and in which, at proper distances, were made redoubts and places of arms; and between the wall and the town they dug a deep trench, which they strongly fenced with palisadoes, to hinder the besieged from going out, as well as to prevent succours or provisions from being brought in. In this manner they waited till famine did what they could not effect by force or art. From hence proceeded the length of the sieges related in ancient history; as that of a Troy, which lasted 10 years; that of Azotus, by Psammeticus, which lasted 29; that of Nineveh, where we have seen that Sardanapalus defended himself for the space of seven. And Cyrus might have lain a long time before Babylon, where they had laid in a stock of provisions for 20 years, if he had not used a different method for taking it.
As they found blockades extremely tedious from their duration, they invented the method of scaling, which was done by raising a great number of ladders against the walls, by means whereof a great many files of soldiers might climb up together, and force their way in.
To render this method of scaling impracticable, or at least ineffectual, they made the walls of their city extremely high, and the towers where with they were flanked still considerably higher, that the ladders of the besiegers might not be able to reach the top of them. This obliged them to find out some other way of getting to the top of ramparts; and this was, building moving towers of wood still higher than the walls, and by approaching them with those wooden towers. On the top of these towers, which formed a kind of platform, was placed a competent number of soldiers, who with darts and arrows, and the assistance of their balista and catapultæ, scoured the ramparts, and cleared them of the defenders; and then from a lower stage of the tower, they let down a kind of draw-bridge, which rested upon the wall, and gave the soldiers admittance.
A third method, which extremely shortened the length of their sieges, was that of the battering-ram, by which they made breaches in the walls, and opened themselves a passage into the places besieged. This battering-ram was a vast beam of timber, with a strong head of iron or brass at the end of it; which was pushed with the utmost force against the walls. There were several kinds of them; but I shall give a more ample and particular account of these, as well as of other warlike engines, in another place.
a Homer makes no mention of the battering-ram, or any warlike engine.