After the conquest of the Persian Empire and its fragments, Alexander began to organize his own state. However, the glory of the conqueror of the whole world uncontrollably attracted the young king further east. Having firmly established his authority in Bactria, Alexander led his motley army to India: the king's army, having crossed the Hindu Kush, passed through Afghanistan and invaded the territory of modern Pakistan. Fortunately for Alexander, the two strongest sovereigns of India on this side of the Ganges — Taxil and Por — were irreconcilable enemies. Taxil's lands stretched from the Indus to Hydasp, and it is time, respectively, from Hydasp to the Ganges. Taksil, having learned about the invasion of Alexander, hurried to show him submission and concluded an alliance. Immediately, embassies from local kings with a smaller rank reached for Alexander - they all came with gifts and recognized the power of the Macedonian ruler.
But King Por was completely different. While Alexander was at Taxila, Por actively gathered strength and was preparing to resist the Greeks. The Macedonian king offered Pore to pay tribute and to meet him at the border of his possessions on the bank of Hydasp. Since then, according to historian Kurtsy Ruf, he promised to fulfill the king’s demand: to meet him on the shore, but not with gifts, but with a weapon in his hands. Alexander left the garrison in the capital of Taxila, strengthened the troops, led by the Indian rulers, and moved to Hydasp.
Forces of the parties
Alexander led to the coast of Hydasp about 30 thousand army (5-6 thousand cavalry and 6 thousand heavy infantry), recruited from all parts of the huge empire of the Macedonian king: there were both Macedonians and Greek mercenaries, Bactrians, Scythians, Persians and even indians. The core of the troops, as before, was a phalanx (but, in contrast to previous campaigns, there were relatively few sarisophor pikemen) and heavy cavalry.
Por gathered an impressive army, which he concentrated in the camp opposite the camp of the Greeks. In his army there were more than 30 thousand infantry, 7 thousand cavalry, more than 400 chariots and elephants. These "tanks of antiquity" Por collected more than a hundred. In the military art of Indians, elephants were common: these large and powerful animals are amenable to training, and the psychological effect of meeting elephants can be compared with meeting the first tanks in the fields of the First World War.
Previously, the Greeks did not have to meet with elephants on the battlefield, especially in such numbers. And the upcoming battle was supposed to be a real test of the strength of the military system of Alexander the Great.
On the banks of a nameless river
Alexander with the army is located on the same bank Hydasp, Por with the army on the other. The Indian king was determined to dump into the river anyone who tried to cross over Hydasp. Alexander resorted to military tricks: he divided his army into small detachments and showed crossings here and there, while spreading rumors that the Macedonian army would remain in the camp while the flood was on Hydasp. These rumors reached Pora, and the constant false crossings only dulled the vigilance of the Indians.
At this time, Alexander decided to act. The king left a significant part of the troops in the camp, ordering to prepare for the crossing as soon as Por and the army left the camp. With the rest of the forces, Alexander left the camp and moved up the river. On the way, he left a large detachment (about 10 thousand), which was supposed to hit the rear of the Indians when Alexander with selected troops would start a fight. With the remaining forces, he made a 25-kilometer march and began to prepare for the crossing. All night it was pouring rain with a thunderstorm, which helped to hide the Macedonian preparations, but made it difficult to cross, as the water in the river rose even higher overnight.
Alexander skillfully chose a place for the crossing - the other shore was hidden from Indian travels by a wooded island, so that the Greeks were able to start the crossing imperceptibly. Nevertheless, the crossing was difficult for the troops themselves: they were exhausted by heavy training and crossing over a fast-flowing river. When Por learned of the enemy’s attempt to cross, he immediately dispatched a flying squad of 2,000 horsemen and 100 chariots under the command of the ruler’s son in order to prevent Alexander from landing on this bank of Hydasp. However, at this point, Alexander has already completed the crossing. Under him, there were 5 thousand cavalrymen (including the Guard of the Gethire) and 6 thousand infantry, mostly “shield-bearing” phalangites. The Greeks attacked the detachment Por sent and seriously damaged him. The son of the Indian king was killed.
As soon as it became known about the defeat of the flying squad, Por, hesitating, decided to attack Alexander with all his might. For the attack, he collected 30 thousand infantry, 4 thousand cavalry, 300 chariots and 100 elephants. Opponents met on a sandy plain on the shore of Hydasp. In the first line, Por built elephants, put light infantry in the intervals between them, the remaining infantry built in the second line. Located on the flanks of the cavalry, in front of the cavalry - chariots. Alexander also concentrated the infantry in the center, built infantry on the flanks, and he decided to strike the main blow with his right flank against the weakest cavalry of the Indians. On the left flank of the Greeks, the cavalry under the command of Ken was to attack the cavalry of the Indians, as soon as she decided to pounce on Alexander's cavalry with all his might. The infantry, according to the plan of the Macedonian king, was only introduced when the enemy’s ranks were already upset.
Start of battle
First, Alexander sent a thousand horse archers against the left flank of the Indians, in order to upset the ranks of the cavalry of Time. Then he personally led heavy cavalry against the same left flank. Seeing this, Por really threw all the cavalry (both left and right) on Alexander's detachment, and at that moment Ken's cavalry found itself in the rear of the right wing of the Indian cavalry, which came into confusion and pulled back to the center of its ranks and elephants. At the same time, the elephants moved forward to attack the Macedonian cavalry, and Alexander's infantry, in turn, moved on the elephants. This is how the ancient historian Arrian describes the battle: “It was a battle, unlike any previous one. The elephants broke into the ranks of the infantry, turned, and in this place of the dense formation of the Macedonians as it did not happen. "
Reflection of the strike Time and Alexander counterattack
Alexander was able to maintain a more organized and disciplined army. The enemy's cavalry was put to flight, and thanks to the joint actions of the throwers and the phalangites, they managed to push back the elephants, where they began to crush their own and others as indiscriminately, as many charioteers were killed and the elephants were wounded: and on their own, and on their enemies, they pushed people, trampled and killed them, ”writes Arrian. The Macedonians, for the most part, succeeded in avoiding the blows of elephants, while the Indians, concentrated in the intervals between the elephants, got completely off their hands. When the elephants were exhausted, Alexander closed the ranks and began to step forward methodically.
At this time, the detachment left by Alexander on the other side was already finishing the crossing to the other side of Hydasp. The Macedonian forces doubled, and the outcome of the battle became apparent. Most of the Indian army was hacked (according to ancient writers, about 2/3). Por was forced to surrender to the mercy of the winner. The Macedonians probably lost about a thousand people — selected troops and veterans of Alexander's campaigns.
Under Hydaspe, Alexander won one of his most brilliant victories, which was destined to be the last major battle of the great commander. He was reduced to submission, and Alexander hoped, using the resources of the conquered countries, to cross the Ganges and continue the conquest of India. However, his warriors, impressed by the encounter with the elephants, weary of incessant showers and the unusual climate, flatly refused to move on. Opposition to Alexander himself appeared in the army, and eventually he had to abandon his plans of conquest and return to Babylon, where he died two years after returning from India in 323 BC. er
On the other hand, for the history of military art, Alexander’s campaign in India did not pass without a trace. Diadohi - the heirs of Alexander the Great power - were so impressed by the elephants that they began to use them en masse in their armies. In the Hellenistic era, there were 23 major battles with elephants, the end of which was dominated by the Romans, first during the war with the empire king Pyrrhos, and then during the so-called “Hannibal war” with Carthage (218-202 g. Oe.) , finally the elephants disappeared from the battlefields only in the time of Caesar.