Battle of Gaugamela, 331 BC
By Jonathan Webb
(Ensure you hit F5 or View Show)
Darius III versus Alexander the Great: A Persian army under Darius fails to intimidate a Macedonian army under Alexander. Will Darius’ massive cavalry force overcome Alexander’s flanks before he can overcome Darius’ center? Also known as the Battle of Arbela.
This is considered Alexander’s masterpiece and with great reason. It is even more impressive that by winning this masterpiece, Alexander crushed a long-standing empire.
Alexander was forced to achieve two separate, very diverse goals in this battle: hold the Persian wings in check and crush the Persian center. He held the two Persian cavalry envelopments in check with rudimentary combined arms defence including cavalry, light infantry and the phalanx of course. Alexander was then able to crush the Persian center by concentrating a strong portion of his phalanx and the elite Companions at Darius’ center of gravity: himself.
This is a battle I always intended to animate since I began this project (it was originally termed a PowerPoint Battle Database). Looking back, I am glad I did not try and animate this battle in the early developmental stages because it is too epic of a battle in all aspects to be animated shoddily. To say the least, I was very satisfied with the end product for this battle.
While editing this animation I came across a major “plot hole” if you will in the animation sequence. The two enveloping wings of Persian cavalry appeared to severely outnumber the Macedonian wings which is fairly deceiving. In this case, I simply decreased the size of all cavalry units and increased the size of all infantry units. The reason for this original inaccuracy is the simple fact that two units, one cavalry and one infantry, are not equal in terms of quantity of soldiers. Instead each unit reflects the space it occupies; cavalry are obviously more spaced out than infantry but even this varies from era to era. I continually urge viewers to remember that this is the Art of Battle. The image is a powerful thing in modern society, and is why this method of presentation is so effective.
- Jonathan Webb
Dupuy, Trevor N. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present, Fourth Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Fuller, J.F.C. The Generalship of Alexander the Great. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1958.
Goodenough, Simon. Tactical Genius in Battle. Oxford: Phodian Press, 1979.
Livesey, Anthony. Great Commanders and Their Battles. New York: Macmillian Publishing, 1987.
United States Military Academy History Department. “Atlas for Ancient Warfare.” United States Military Academy. http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/web03/atlases/AncientWarfare/index.htm (accessed Apr. 28, 2009).
Warry, John. Warfare in the Classical World. London: Salamander, 1980.
Alexander the Great: http://www.wpclipart.com/famous/political/
Darius III: http://www.crystalinks.com/dynasty29.html
Macedonian cavalry: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_36_figure_1.htm
Macedonian heavy infantry: http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/05/21/the-macedonian-phalanx/
Macedonian light infantry: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_36_figure_1.htm
Map of the Persian Empire: Sheppard, Ruth. Alexander the Great at War. Oxford: Osprey, 2008
Map of the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections
Persian cavalry: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_33_figure_1.htm
Persian heavy infantry: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_33_figure_1.htm
Persian light infantry: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_33_figure_1.htm
Persian scythed chariots: http://jyte.com/cl/id-like-to-spend-a-half-of-my-existence-dallying-about-to-suddenly-experience-a-flash-of-inexplicable-inspiration-that-motivates-me-to-establish-my-raison-detre-2
Persian war elephant: http://pro.corbis.com/search/Enlargement.aspx?CID=isg&mediauid=%7B694F0FE7-A50F-4B6F-87FE-0D719F46E204%7D
Tags: 300s BC, Alexander the Great, Ancient Era, attack from a defensive position, attack in oblique order, cavalry, Darius III, envelopment of both flanks, infantry, land, light infantry, Macedonians, modern day Iraq, penetration of the center, Persians, Season 4, war chariot, war elephant, Western Asia
Weider History Group