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Battle of the Granicus

Conflict

Wars of Alexander the Great

Date

May, 334 BC

Place

At modern Biga Cay

Result

Macedonian victory

Combatants

Macedon
Greek allies

Persia

Commanders

Alexander the Great

Spithridates, Mithridates, Memnon of Rhodes, others.

Strength

5000 cavalry
26 000 infantry

15 000 cavalry
12 000 Persian infantry
4-5000 Greek mercenaries

Casualties

Between 80-200

4000 killed
2000 prisoners

The Battle of the Granicus River in May, 334 BC was the first major victory of Alexander the Great against the Persian Empire. Fought in Northwestern Asia Minor, near the site of Troy, Alexander here defeated the forces of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor, including a large force of Greek mercenaries.

Combatants

Macedonians and their Greek Allies, led by Alexander. With about 5000 cavalry and 26000 infantry.
Persians under a "committee" of satraps with some 12000 Persian infantry, 4000-–5000 Greek mercenaries and 15000 Persian cavalry.
The numbers involved vary according to different accounts, with the Macedonians numbering anywhere betweem 18000 to 43000 and the Persians numbering between 23000 and 50000.

Location

The battle took place on the road from Abydos to Dascylium (near modern day Ergili, Turkey), at the crossing of the Granicus River (modern day Biga Cay).

Prelude

Alexander set out into Asia in 334 BC after he finished consolidating his Greek and Macedonian positions after the death of his father Philip II of Macedon.

He crossed the Hellespont from Sestos to Abydos, and advanced up the road to Dascylium, which is the capital of the Satrapy of Phrygia. The various satraps of the Persian empire, united, and offered battle on the banks of the Granicus River. A Greek mercenary, Memnon of Rhodes suggested a scorched-earth policy of burning the grain and supplies and retreating in front of Alexander, but his suggestion was rejected.

Battle

The Battle of Granicus, 334 B.C.

According to the extant historian Arrian, the Persians placed their cavalry in front of their infantry, and drew up on the right (east) bank of the river. Alexander's army met them on the third day of march from Abydos. Accounts vary as to whether Alexander immediately attacked, or crossed the river upstream and attack at dawn the next day (as suggested by Alexander's second-in-command, Parmenio).

In any case, the Persians had some cavalry that was in contact with the first Greek units to arrive, but Alexander led the elite Companions on an outflanking charge while the Macedonian foot companions covered the rest of the battle column as it formed up against the Persians. The Macedonian line was arrayed with the heavy Phalanxes in the middle, and cavalry on either side.

The battle started with a cavalry and light infantry feint from the Macedonian left, from Parmenio's side of the battle line. The Persians heavily reinforced that side, and the feint was driven back, but at that point, Alexander led the horse companions in their classic wedge-shaped charge, and smashed into the center of the Persian line. The Persians countercharged with a squadron of nobles on horse, and accounts show that in the melee, several high-ranking Persian nobles were killed by Alexander himself or his bodyguards, although Alexander received a wound.

The Macedonian cavalry then turned left and started rolling up the Persian cavalry, which was engaged with the left side of the Macedonian line after a general advance. A hole opened in the recently vacated place in the battle line, and the Macedonian infantry charged through to engage the poor quality Persian in the rear. At this, both flanks of the Persian cavalry retreated, seeing the collapse of the center. The infantry also routed, with many being cut down in the rout.

Total casualties for the Macedonians was anywhere between 80 and 200. The Persians had 2000 infantry captured, roughly 1000 cavalry and 3000 infantry killed, mostly in the rout.

Alexander the Great in the Battle of the Granicus, Cornelis Troost

Aftermath

The Battle of Granicus was the closest that Alexander got to death in battle. It announced to the Persians that the Macedonian army was a force to be reckoned with. The immediate effects of the battle were that the Greek cities in Asia Minor were liberated by Alexander, and a beachhead was established so that further campaigns against the Persian empire could be accomplished.

Clitus "the Black"

Hegelochus, son of Hippostratus

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