2006-08-09

Luring the Enemy

Update: $ perl Meta/wc.pl Inaros_more_20060809.txt 2>/dev/null
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gilgamesh@uruk:~/personal/Inaros/2006$


Almost at the 100,000 words boundary... :-)

And, yes, how do you, as a general, manage to lure your enemy into battle? Because the enemy wants not to go, he's not, after all, silly, uh? ;-)

OK, this is the dilemma that Megabyzos is facing at the moment. And the solution he has found is, if I'm allowed to say so, pretty clever.

Pharaoh (Inaros) doesn't want to get out and face the might of the Persian army that routed his siege army at Pelusion, which has managed to surprise them by arriving at Memphis much faster than anyone would think possible, and has joined forces with the army inside the sieged White Castle of Memphis, which is comprimed by the remnants of the Persian army raised to fight at Papremis, and some reinforcements arrived from Upper Egypt (mainly a squadron of Jew fighters from Elephantine).

Pharaoh, therefore, refuses to fight. With the Greek camp by the river, on the North of Memphis, and the main camp set slightly to the Southwest of the town, he can easily counter any attempts to assault any of the sites, to intercept arrivals from the South (for example grounded troops, not by river, as he only controls the Nile from Memphis). And what happens when you, as a young, fiery soldier, who's walked from Tyre, Syria, to Memphis, Egypt (about 800 km according to googleearth) fighting Canaanean rebels, then bandits, desert dwellers, rebel Egyptians, Libyans and Greeks, and then some (real, sand-only) desert travel for over half a year, just to arrive to your destination with your comrades and find out that the enemy doesn't want to fight?

You get angry.

Very angry.

:-)

Tomorrow (if not today) I'll start writing the first games before the Big Clash.

The Battle of Memphis is about to arrive. Rejoice! (sortof)

BELLISSIMÆ

5 comments:

Pacal said...

Not What I would have written but then I'm not writing the novel. My prefernce would have been Megabyzus arriving unexpectidly and the Greeks and Egyptians being lured into the desert, (they think its only a small force amd then Megaybyzus turns on them and caught beteween Magabyzus and the garrison sorting from the White Castle the Greeks and Egyptians / Lybians are torn to pieces and routed.

On another note I got recently a copy of Pierre Briant's From Cyrus to Alexander, a English translation of his massive book of the Persian Empire (almost 1200 pages). Its amazingly MUCH cheaper than the French original! Its mega excellent. Lets just say that his reading of Greek sources is very fasinating. Oh and his opinion of Ktesias is not very high in fact its quite low. He describes Ktesias' description of of the Egyptian has a collection of literary motifs not worth very much. In fact he regards much Greek writing about the Persian Empire has sttreotypes and cliches of little value unless properly reinterpreted.

Just my thoughts.

Pierre

Excalibor said...

Pierre,

I thought about what you propose, by your earlier suggestion. But there are some problems for chosing that path, and I'm going to explain them (because I can be wrong!).

The Libyan/Egyptian/Greek army and fleet defeated at Pelusion retreated up the Nile, and set a stronghold at Bubastis. In the meantime, the Persian army secured the town and the area, and set itself to work on the recovery of Egypt.

When the Persian army walks towards Memphis, they must do so along the Eastern side of the Nile, because the Greeks still have control of the river up to Memphis (but not beyond) and trying to move the army en force through the swamps, with the Rebels fortified in Bubastis would be very difficult.

Thus they moved through the desert, and when the arrived to Memphis, they were sighted, of course, and crossing the army to the Western side of the Nile, where the White Castle and the sieged ary are is a delicate operation.

That's my point. Feasibility of a real surprise in a situation where the Rebels are still in cntrl of most of the country, with lookouts and posts everywhere. Megabyzos did surprise them by arriving so early (way before the floods), and Inaros is trying to gain time by denying the battle and waiting for the Nile to do its job.

Does it, at least, sound good enough? I still have several surprises on my pockets, though :-)

The book may be cheaper in English than in French, but still... The University Library is closed in August, but I have located the French version. I may try to get the "cheaper" version later on anyway...

thanks for all!

Pacal said...

Thanks for the explaination.

What I was thinking about was the garrison of the White Castle using the bridge of boats, fort on the otherside to sortie behind the Greeks, either that or using their own boats. Perhaps all this in response to signals given by Megabyzus' forces.

Of course Megabyzus by crossing the desert may have surprised the Greeks, Egyptians and Lybians by avoiding the blocking forces they had placed up the most eastern branch of the Nile. Thinking that Megabyzus whould have to travel down along the Nile. If instead of doing that Megabyzus advances across the desert he arrives at Memphis with the Greeks, Egyptians and Lybians someplace else, i.e., up the Nile waiting to block his move south along the Nile. Well guess what he is not where they expected him. He has achieved strategic surprise, because aside from a relatively small Greek, Egyptian and Lybian force, there is no one to oppose him. Further most of the Greek fleet is also further north to deal with the naval forces Megabyzus has brought with him. So Megabyzus crosses over the river with relatively little hassle. The Greek, Egyptian and Lybian force left to surrond the White Castle falls back rapidly (a little panic), to the north, The bulk of the Greek, Lybian and Egyptian forces stationed further north march south has fast as they can go unite with the forces left near Memphis and march south to confront Megabyzus. They are faced with a difficult situation because at Memphis on the west side of the river Megabyzus threatens communications with Inaros' bases of Pharus and Maira. So falling back north is not an option. In other words Megabyzus is in a position to have a battle in a situation where he has the advantage. Further at the same time that Megabyzus is marching across the desert he sends a force from Pelisium,across the swamps etc., of the eastern delta. This serves the purpose of fixing the attention of the Greeks, Egyptians and Lybians and serving a wider strategic purpose. After the Greeks, Lybians and Egyptians fall back to Memphis from their blocking position along the Nile one of the pressures incouraging them to fight a battle is the belief that this force is going to unite with Persian forces near Memphis. Thus a desire by some to have a battle before it arrives, so has to defeat Megabyzus and then turn on it. Unfortunately they are wrong the purpose of this force is to get between the Greeks, Lybians and Egyptians and Inaros' bases of Maira and Pharus.

I strongly suspect that letting Megabyzus relieve the White Castle is something that the otherside definetly did NOT want to happen.

However I like your suggestion that Inaros wanting to delay the battle until the Nile flood forces a suspension of operations thus giving him more time to figure out how to deal with Megabyzus. It could be nothing but a vague feeling that a battle is dancing to Megabyzus' tune and the need to be very cautious. (Like the Romans with Hannibal). A few hotheads say some of them being Greeks force his hand and or Megabyzus pulls a neat tactical trick and a battle is joined.

As for the feasibility of surprise. Well armies historically have been often surprised despite having reams and reams of outposts and lookouts and acres of control of the country side and tons of intelligence. The problem is sorting out all the intelligence for the lump of accurate info through tons of dross. Further if a army leadership is fixed on or believes that a enemy will do something and or will not do something it may not be looking or discount any intelligence that suggests a enemy is doing what it is not expected to do.

After all Hannibal despite roaming for years a country under enemy control dotted with myriad Roman outposts, with large number of Roman scouts etc., repeatidly surprised the Romans by his movements and appeared where they did not expect him. I suspect Megabyzus likely did something similar. A classic example is when before the battle of lake Trasimine Hannibal crossed a mountain range and went through a swamp and got between a Roman army and Rome and then destroyed it at lake Trasimine. This despite the fact there where Roman scouts, outposts, fortified settlements all over the area and Hannibl'as army literally only controled the land it marched and camped on.

AS you can see I'm modeling Megabyzus after Hannibal to a certain extent.

Another example is Prince Rupert's relief of York during the English Civil war, in which the other side thought that Rupert would march directly on York and force a battle to relieve the city. So fixed was the Parlimentary forces on this idea that Rupert was able to ouflank them march 70 miles through enemy controled territory and relieve York. The Parliamentary forces had reams of scouts and outposts all around York but they only knew Rupert was approaching York when he was less than 10 miles away and by then it was too late to do anything. After this brillant start Rupert then threw away his achievement with a egerious tactical mistake and lost the battle of Marston Moor after which York surrendered to Parliament. Megabyzus avoided this it seems.

Oh and one of the interesting tidbits I learned from Briant's book is that apparently the Persians may have invented the catapult, not a Engineer employed by Dionysius the tyrant of Syracuse. if that is the case perhaps you can have the garrison of the White Castle employing them.

Just my thoughts

Pierre

Excalibor said...

Pierre, your ideas are sound and enticing, indeed!

My reasoning is this one: the difference between Hannibal and Megabyzos is that Italy was fairly benevolent for armies marching accross it, but Egypt was not. The swamps are full with animals, ambushing places, lots of small towns that are annoying to deal with, and it's hard to get food unless you start plundering everything around... That's for the Delta army; the one who crossed the desert is just the opposite!

Therefore, I settled for something in between: I got Megabyzos arriving to Memphis the day after the main blocking forces returned from Bubastis and Leontopolis to prepare for the flooding: they didn't expect Megabyzos arriving before the flood, and therefore didn't think that leaving anything bigger than a reinforced garrison and some fast boats was worth.

Thus I have this situation: the rebel army finds the White Castle relieved by surprise, and has lots of wounded to take care of; it's a bit disorganized before the flooding, but most of its forces are there in Memphis, divided in two big blocks: one with the Greek fleet and the other one near Giza and Saqqara...

OTOH, Megabyzos is trying to get them to fight before the flooding, because it would be an inconvenience: the much wider river, despite the places where the depth would be a problem, would only favour the Greek fleet; and considering the Phoenician fleet is taking care of Naukratis and the other cities, things would be better before the flooding, of course :-)

Fortunately for the Persians, Artabazos, due to bad health and stuff, stood at Pelusion and is starting to spread almost half the Army through the Delta, while Megabyzos is dealing with the main forces, and keeping them busy. This is the way they will be able to force the Greeks into Prosopitis when they are trying to reach Naukratis... :-)

Thus: Megabyzos took a smaller army, appeared by surprise, joined forces with the ones that had been sieged, and is disguising a mutinee in order to lure the Rebels into battle (because they think the army is weak in morale and smaller in numbers); while Inaros is waiting so they have time to weakend them to starvaion (trying to block them, now they have many more mouths to feed, specially horses!).

It's a battle of minds and wills before a battle of iron and muscle... Who will win? Hehe, OK, we know, but we don't really know how, and that's what I'm trying to display in here: Inaros may lose, but he was no fool, surely, and this must show through this whole chapter, despite his ultimate demise.

thanks, I'll keep you updated!

Pacal said...

Rather clever Megabyzus staging a fake mutiney. Thats a neat tactical trick to get the other side to accept battle. In otherwords deluding the enemy into thinking his army is weaker than it is. Perhaps you can add Megabyzus faking starvation of men and horses, illness etc. Have Inaros think this may be a trap of somekind but get pressurred by his subordinates, (Greeks, Lybians and Egyptians) into accepting battle.

As for Inaros trying to blockade Megabyzus, that he would try makes sense, however given that Persian and loyal Egyptian forces conrol Egypt south of Memphis I suspect that getting supplies for his army would be no particular problem for Megabyzus.

As for Inaros being no fool. I agree. I just think that has a general Inaros is simply not in Megabyzus' league and unlike some of his subordinates has enough sense to realize it.

As for supplies well parts of Egypt are like you described however the Delta has at least 45% of the population of Egypt so I suspect food would be available. The Egyptians,Lybians and Greeks just don't expect Megabyzus to march through desert, where their is literaly no food and away from using the Nile to transport supplies. This would seem suicidal. I suspect the logistical planning would be forminable and difficult but if Megabyzus was has clever has I think he was perfectly dooable.

Just my thoughts.

Pierre