Thursday, January 16, 2003

In my study of the Romans and the four Macendonian Wars, I was a bit surprised that the Macedonians didn't appear to modify their battle tactics after repeated defeat by the Roman Legions. Polybius, although himself a Greek, described the superiority of the maniple formation since he felt so many Greeks were incredulous about the shortcomings of the phalanx that had been used so successfully in centuries past:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/polybius-maniple.html

I also found this extensive site explaining the legion formations:

http://webpages.charter.net/brueggeman/legions.html

Dr. Richard Gabriel, Professor of Political Science in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U. S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in his treatise on tactical flexibility (http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/gabrmetz/gabr000c.htm) , points out that "Alexander's tactical contribution was to reduce the role of infantry as the primary striking and killing arm of the army. He used his heavy infantry formations to anchor the center of the line and to act as a platform for the maneuver of his primary striking arm, the heavy cavalry armed with the javelin."

If heavy cavalry had been deployed imaginatively, you would think this would have counteracted the effectiveness of the maniple. Did King Philip V of Macedon forget this important aspect in the use of the phalanx?