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Inaccuracies about Tactics

Again, he says that Alexander was marching in line when he was about forty stades from the enemy. A greater blunder it is difficult to conceive. For where could one find a ground, and especially in Cilicia, twenty stades broad by forty deep, for a phalanx armed with sarissae to march in line? It would not be easy to count all the impossibilities in the way of such an arrangement and such a movement. One that is mentioned by Callisthenes himself is sufficient to establish the point. For he remarks that the winter torrents which descend from the hills make so many gullies in the plain, that, in the course of the flight, the chief part of the Persians are said to have lost their lives in deep places of that kind. But, it may be urged, Alexander wished to be ready for battle as soon as the enemy were in sight. But what could be less ready than a phalanx in a disordered and straggling line? Is it not much easier to form up a phalanx from a proper column of route, than to bring a disordered and straggling line back into the same alignment, and get it into order of battle on a broken and woody ground? It was, therefore much better to march twice or four times the ordinary depth of a phalanx1 in good order, for which sufficient ground could possibly be found. And it was easy to deploy his men quickly into the line of the phalanx, because he was able by means of scouts to ascertain the presence of the enemy in plenty of time. But in this case, beside other absurdities, while bringing his men in line across the level, he did not even (we are told) put the cavalry in front, but marched with them in the same alignment.

1 That is, sixteen or thirty-two deep.

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