Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Very good primer to how Alexander the Great became the Great

Isegoria has a series of posts that covers the topic in a way that I've never seen before.  If you are a military history enthusiast, then you should take a look.

The Macedonian Army

A Semi-Barbarian Upstart

Diplomacy and Logistics

That last one is particularly interesting - the old saw goes that when conflict looms amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics.  It also casts some light on the gap in time between Alexander's first two big battles with the Persians, and the final one.

I'd like to see a post about the dynamics of the Persian Empire itself.  It expanded rapidly and collapsed quickly.


newrebeluniv said...

... the old saw goes that when conflict looms amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics.

At least that what every logistician I ever met says.

The fact is that logistics is important to victory. Strategy and tactics are essential. Logistics alone will get you a warm place to die with a hot meal in your belly. Then your starving, ragged, low on ammo enemies will warm themselves at your fires and feed themselves from your stockpiles.

Professionals are professional because they know the importance of BOTH. But they let their Logisticians keep saying that and inscribing it on plaques because they don't want their feelings hurt.

Mark said...

All of three of those posts link back to the same source. Do go there. It's worth reading. She has other posts (on Napoleon) that were good too.

Goober said...

I’ve always been fascinated with the Greco-Persian wars. From the Ionian Revolts, which first placed the Greek backwater in the crosshairs of Persian conquest, to the shocking defeat of Darius’s army at Marathon (only 26 miles from Athens – the first man to ever run a Marathon , these wars are more than just clashes between men – they are clashes between civilizations.

Consider the bridge that Xerxes built across the Hellespont: what Greek could have viewed such a construction and not trembled at such an obvious example of Persian might, technology, and ingenuity?

Consider the comparatively small Greek forces at Thermopylae, and how many Persians died on their shields, breaking against the Greek phalanxes like the waves of an angry sea (setting the stage, as it were, for almost every time Persian and Greek forces met on land from that point on).

Consider the Greek naval victory at Salamis, which was a battle that the Greeks had no business winning, and won, in fact, only because of luck and ingenuity.

Many do not know that it was, in fact, the naval defeat at Salamis that turned the tides of the Persian invasion. Xerxe’s force was so strong that even the slaughter at Plataea was not enough to send them packing, but the idea that they might lose their lifelines and their ride home with their destroyed navy made Xerxes rethink his plan, and head back to Turkey, forever turning the tides of Greek and Persian relations. After Salamis and Plataea (which happened almost simultaneously), Persia was never again the aggressor in this complex relationship, and Greece followed shortly thereafter by invading and conquering the entirety of the Persian Empire, going from a little-known backwater to the most powerful force on Earth in a few generations.

It’s just fascinating.

Knucklehead said...

One can win a battle with what one brought the fight. One cannot win a war without logistics.

To me the most convincing example of that was Rommel in North Africa. Despite being nothing more than a reinforced armored division, with poorly equipped Italian infantry (some would say saddled with), and against an enemy with virtually limitless supplies and knowing every move he was SUPPOSED to make (certainly every order he received from high command) due to Enigma, he used superior tactics and strategy to confound his enemy at every turn.

What he could not overcome was the lack of supplies and replacements of equipment and men - he did not have the logistics required to win what should have been a winnable campaign/war in North Africa. It didn't help that Enigma was coughing up every planned supply convoy headed his way but the German High Command was only willing to even try to supply him with the bare minimum.

JMHO of course.

Windy Wilson said...

Stephen Ambrose's biography of Eisenhower, as well as Andrew Roberts's "Masters and Commanders" stressed how logistics drove the schedule of when the various invasions could take place, with the American planners seeking a big show down in France in 1942 and '43 with the British seeking a more roundabout method. Ultimately the invasion occurred in 1944 once the landing craft were available and in place. Masters and Commanders also noted how the Normandy invasion was able to succeed in part because a lot of German resources were tied up in Italy, a situation that would not have been the case if a southern strategy had not been pursued.

Goober said...


I think the 7 million plus that were tied up in Russia probably helped a bit too.