We followed up our previous set of games with a second set using the Bactrian all cavalry option. Historically, such a force would most likely counter the nomadic incursions of the northern regions of the kingdom but an unlikely encounter against the Mauryan Indian seemed too good to pass up. The Graeco-Bactrian are invading the tropical region of the Mauryan kingdom which in this case had woods and marshy ground. Army composition can be found below.
After reading the Byzantine treatises Strategikon by Maurice I decided to impress the Mauryan with a bit of fancy deployment. The Mauryan placed their troops in the ‘hammer and anvil’ formation which had served them well in the past.
The Bactrian began the battle with a left hook by the cavalry wing with the Iranian lancers in support. The Mauryan were prepared for such a maneuver and countered the assault with their chariot corps supported by their cavalry.
Unfortunately, the Iranian lancers fell foul of the Mauryan archers leaving the Bactrian spearhead powerless to continue with their assault. Blunted and broken, this was a fine example that some treatises should remain on the book shelf. Score 4 – 0 Mauryan Indian.
The Bactrian humbled, now deployed in one large group with Iranian lancers in front flanked by cavalry and to its right a small column of light horse archers formed up to support them. The Mauryan infantry formed the center with the mounted troops evenly divided on both flanks.
In successive waves, the Bactrian assaulted the Mauryan left flank committing two-thirds of its total force to the effort.
The Mauryan countered this threat by wheeling the archers left to pelt the supporting lancers with arrows.
This action developed into a desperate struggle with both sides losing heavily. The gods smiled on the Bactrian as they were able to claim a narrow victory in the final moments of the game. Score 4 - 3 Bactria.
With a victory for each, both sides were eager for the final engagement. The Mauryan anchored their right near the marshland area leaving the open ground for the infantry and elephant corps. Facing them in one long extended line were the Bactrian with lancers in center flanked by their cavalry. Bactrian light horse formed to the far right beyond the wood. Their task was to encircle the Mauryan force and immobilize the elephant corps.
The battle opened with the light horse executing their orders prompting the Mauryan to drop troops back to cover their exposed left. The remainder of the army wheeled right and closed the distance between the two armies.
Bactrian cavalry on the left effectively neutralized the Mauryan chariot corps isolating the archer group of its right wing support. The havoc created by the Bactrian light horse forced the Mauryan commander to feed more troops to hold the Bactrian threat to its flank.
Mauryan archers moved close enough to inflict damage among the lancers, but this was poor compensation for the heavy loss to the right wing forcing the Mauryan to abandon the field. Score 4 – 2 Bactria.
II/36a Graeco-Bactrian (all cavalry option)
1 x General (Cv), 3 x Arachosian/Saka horse archers (LH), 4 x Iranian lancers (3Kn), 4 x Bactrian (Cv).
II/3a Classical Indian 500 BC – 175 AD
1 x General (El), 2 x elephants (El), 2 x 4 horse chariots (HCh), 2 x cavalry (Cv), 3 x archers (4LB), 1 x javelinmen (4Ax), 1 x wild tribal archers (Ps).
The latest edition of Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars by Duncan Head has rejected the Iranian lancer figure as being Graeco-Bactrian but possibly a Chionite Hun or similar of a later period. The figure originally thought to have come from a Bactrian Silver cup was wrongly dated and is actually from the 3rd to 5th century AD. This begs the question who were the lancers and what did they look like?