The advanced post thus attacked by the
Athenians was at once put to the sword, the men being scarcely out of bed
and still arming, the landing having taken them by surprise, as they fancied
the ships were only sailing as usual to their stations for the night.
As soon as day broke, the rest of the army landed, that is to say, all the
crews of rather more than seventy ships, except the lowest rank of oars,
with the arms they carried, eight hundred archers, and as many targeteers,
the Messenian reinforcements, and all the other troops on duty round Pylos,
except the garrison on the fort.
The tactics of Demosthenes had divided them into companies of two hundred,
more or less, and made them occupy the highest points in order to paralyze
the enemy by surrounding him on every side and thus leaving him without any
tangible adversary, exposed to the cross-fire of their host; plied by those in his rear if he attacked in front, and by those on one
flank he moved against those on the other.
In short, wherever he went he would have the assailants behind him, and
these light-armed assailants, the most awkward of all; arrows, darts, stones, and slings making them formidable at a distance, and
there being no means of getting at them at close quarters, as they could
conquer flying, and the moment their pursuer turned they were upon him.Such was the idea that inspired Demosthenes in his conception of the
descent, and presided over its execution.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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