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his offensive weapons were the bow and arrow, light darts, and the sling.
The cavalry was likewise divided into light and heavy. Alexander the Great formed a body of cavalry similar to the original dragoons, who fought equally on foot or horseback.
The heavy cavalry wore coats of mail, helmets, and brazen greaves,—their offensive weapons were a short thrusting pike and a sword.
The light cavalry carried lances about sixteen feet long, and were chiefly employed in outpost duty.
The phalangite heavy infantry of 4096 men was divided into eight battalions, or pentekosiarchys, of 512 men each, and descending the scale we arrive at the successive subdivisions of the demi-battalion, or syntagma, of 256 men; and the lochos, of 16 men.
The lochos, the basis of the phalangite formation, was simply one file extending from front to rear of the phalanx, which was drawn up in sixteen ranks.
The syntagma was the lochos squared; that is to say, it consisted of sixteen files as well as sixteen ranks, and was the smallest body which could conveniently act independently, because a smaller body would have more ranks than files, and in marching to a flank it would move on a wider front than when advancing to its proper front. The syntagma is the natural unit of the Greek military organisation.
The unit of light infantry was the hicatontarchy, or company, of 128 men; the light infantry of the phalanx (2048 men) was drawn up in eight ranks only, in place of sixteen, and its successive subdivisions corresponded to those of the phalangite heavy infantry, but were only half the strength of the latter. The light troops were sometimes drawn up behind the phalanx, whence it shot darts or arrows over the heads of that body; sometimes on the flanks, and sometimes incorporated in the phalanx itself.
The formation of the phalangite heavy infantry was by double battalions, or chiliarchys, numbering 1024 men each, drawn up in line with intervals of 10 paces.
These bodies were commanded by officers called Chiliarchs, the battalions by Pentecosiarchs, and each further subdivision by its appropriate subordinate officer.
This formation by double battalions in line, was that always practised by Hannibal during the second Punic war.
The formation of the cavalry was occasionally in the figure of arhombus, or of a wedge; but the prevailing order was in eight ranks. The cavalry unit was the square of eight files, or sixty-four men, which may be regarded as a troop. Two of these troops formed a squadron, or epilarchy; and four squadrons composed a regiment, or hipparchy, of 512 men. And the complement of a phalanx was, as we have seen, two of these hipparchys, numbering 1024 men and horses, and bearing the proportion of one-sixth of the total infantry of the phalanx.
The grand phalanx was composed of four of these single phalanxes, and may be considered as the command of a general-in-chief.
The double phalanx, composed of two single phalanxes, formed the command of a lieutenant-general; while the single phalanx may be looked on as the command of a general of division.
It was its compact order which rendered the Macedonian phalanx so formidable in a charge; but such a body, though well calculated to resist cavalry attack, would be unsuited to the present day, when its dense mass would present so favourable a mark to our gunners.
The principal weapon of the phalangite was the pike, of twenty-four feet in length. The sarissa, as the pike was called, protruded eighteen feet beyond the man who presented it, so that one file of the front rank had a hedge of five bristling spears, besides his own, to protect him from an enemy.
The formation of the phalanx which was peculiar to itself, was the synapism, in which the soldiers were so closely jammed together that they could not move, excepting all together in the same direction; the leading files held their bucklers in front of them, the other ranks held their bucklers over the heads of those immediately in their front. By this means the protection afforded by the bucklers was like that afforded to the tortoise by its shell, so that it is said a man could run on the surface of the bucklers as on a roof. The Romans named one of their military machines "the tortoise," after the synapism.
The Greeks practised most of the formations in use among ourselves, —the line, column, square, echellon; and they, as well as the Romans, recognised in their tactics several different orders of battle, which may, however, all be classed under the head of the parallel or the oblique order.*
Philip of Macedon commenced, and his son Alexander completed, the organisation of the Macedonian army, on a system not much less elaborate than exists at the present time in the best armies of Europe.
They formed a complete ordnance corps, consisting both of siege and of field artillery.
They established also a transport corps under military officers, furnished with its train of carts, horses, and mules.
It is not to be supposed that the soldiers commanded by Hannibal in the second Punic war were organised precisely in the manner above described. Doubtless the Spaniards and Africans who accompanied him to Italy had been trained to a great extent on that system. But the unwieldy pike had been given up; and after the battle of the Trebbia Hannibal armed his African soldiers in the Roman fashion. The general formation of the phalanx in sixteen ranks, and its various divisions, were still retained; but a greater rapidity of movement was necessarily communicated to it to enable it successfully to oppose the Roman legion.
* For definition of oblique order of battle, see "Theory of War." Maxim 19. p. 151.
See also the chapter on Manoeuvres, p. 261. to end of chapter.
The Second Punic war was termed by the historian Llvy, the most memorable of all wars that ever were carried on. And there is no exaggeration in the expression, for a parallel to its incidents and achievements, as well as to the great importance of its results, is only to be found in modern history. That great struggle was to determine whether the world was to be ruled by Rome or Carthage.
On this subject the French historian Michelet, in his "Histoire Romaine," has the following passage: —
"It is not without reason that so universal and vivid a remembrance of the Punic wars has dwelt in the memories of men. They formed no mere struggle to determine the lot of two cities or two empires; but it was a strife, on the event of which depended the fate of two races of mankind, whether the dominion of the world should belong to the Indo-Germanic or to the Semitic family of nations. Bear in mind, that the first of these comprises, besides the Indians and the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Germans. In the other are ranked the Jews and the Arabs, the Phoenicians, and the Carthaginians. On the one side is the genius of heroism, of art, and legislation; on the other,