Saturday, 23 June 2012

Another Battle Report from Gordon

This time, the Indians fail to hold on to the territory they have just won in Bactria.  The old Persian state still has some life left in it yet as their forces retake the province yet again.  Bactria has probably become the most common scene of battles in the campaign.  Deployment map:
The Indians are at the top of the map.  Although constrained by a stream, the terrain is relatively open, with only one low hill in front of the invading army's right.  Plan of the action:
And here is Gordon's description of the battle:

"Persians retake rebel province from Indians

In the latest round of the campaign the rump of the once mighty Achaemenid empire, now fighting as Bactrian Greek, turned eastwards to try and recapture a rebellious province now occupied by the Indians.

The Bactro/Persians deployed  from the left, a front line of peltasts with a unit of medium cavalry and two units of elephants in the second line. Then came a small phalanx unit and a companions unit with a further companion unit in reserve. Four further phalanx units filled the left centre and a unit of medium cavalry provided a flank guard. Then there was a sizeable gap. Detached on the right was a single phalanx, four horse archer units and skirmishers.

The Indians deployed in a shallow formation with infantry in the centre interspersed with elephants. The intention was to maximise firepower and give opportunities to exploit the narrower frontage of the Bactro/Persians.  Cavalry and chariots faced the Bactro/Persian left and infantry with cavalry in reserve the right. Surprisingly they had no skirmishers.

The Bactrian plan was to push up on the left, the phalanx in echelon with the right somewhat refused. The elephants would come round the flank of the Indian infantry once engaged by the phalanx. It was expected that the Indians would try to come in on the open flank of the phalanx. As a counter to this it was hoped that the horse archers would be able, using the stream on the right flank as cover, be able to shoot up the Indian cavlry and then pass over the stream and tie up the flanking forces.

Is this what happened? Of course not. The battle on the Bactro/Persian left was fairly even. The peltasts mostly died but did enough damage to allow the second line to come into action. However at this point the left most Indian infantry unit engaged by a phalanx and companions failed its morale on seeing a chariot unit break. In Tactica this does not mean an immediate rout but such failures are usually disastrous. So it proved. The phalanx and the companions flattened it and the next unit then failed its morale and was routed by the phalanx and so did the next unit and was routed and so did the elephants although they did not rout.

The Indians meantime had developed their attackon the right flankof the phalanx. One unit of elephants was drawn off by the cavalry flank guard but an Indian infantry unit was able to attack the end phalanx advantageously and rolled over it in a single turn by virtue of prodigious dice throwing.

On the right despite masses of firepower virtually no damage was done to Indian cavalry (they might as well have used rubber arrows) and the Indian infantry got in about the single Phalanx Unit which was looking a bit poorly.

By this time the disasters on the left had brought the Indian army very close to breaking and a sudden effective round of shooting finally finished of the Indian cavalry. The victorious phalanx routed the elephants and it was all over.

It cannot be emphasised how badly the Indians were let down by their dice on the morale throws. It turned what was looking like a well balanced and interesting game into a total disaster. 
The other Paul took some photos so these may be forthcoming in due course."

Despite some local success against part of the phalanx, then, the Indian army was routed as a consequence of a disastrous morale cascade.  Next up in the campaign is a Macedonian attack on the Ptolemaic forces in Syria, probably in a few weeks' time.

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