Tuesday 5 November 2019

The Umayyad vs. Sogdiana

From 650 AD, Umayyad contact beyond the ‘land of the beyond the river’ (Oxus) were primarily executed by raiding parties. To improve their control, the systematic pacification of Transoxiana was solved by the relocation of warriors and their families to key locations across the river Oxus. In 676, Sa’id-ibn Uthman, military governor of Khurasan, led an expedition into Sogdia defeating a coalition of city states and Turks. After securing their allegiance, Uthman marched further east and captured Samarkand.

The composition of forces for the confrontation are listed below. The region between the Oxus and Jaxartes is described as the ‘Hungry Steppe’ until one reaches the fertile region near the Jaxartes River.

Game one
The Umayyad met the Sogdian in battle formation, archers holding the high ground on the left, cavalry in centre followed by light troops on the right. Umayyad formed up placing spearmen in the centre and archers evenly deployed on either flank. Jund cavalry were positioned to support the infantry line. Displaying contempt for the desert dwellers, the Sogdian launched a cavalry charge at the Umayyad shieldwall supported by the archers on both flanks. In three quarters of an hour the shieldwall was shattered and supporting troops on either flank were broken from the rain of arrows. The Umayyad were sent fleeing the field, score, Sogdia 4 – 1.

Game two
The Sogdian army caught the Umayyad on a featureless plain. Deployed in a similar formation, the Sogdian positioned all their cavalry in centre placing all their archers on the left flank. Confident of a repeat victory, the Sogdian cavalry charge the Umayyad infantry who offered stubborn resistance. After an hour, the conflict was still in doubt as casualties were falling evenly on both sides. Redoubling their effort, the Sogdian broke the centre and following the death of the Umayyad commander the army fled the field. Score Sogdia 7(gen) – 4.

Game three
Under new command, the Umayyad were deployed in a similar formation as the Sogdian forces. The Umayyad spearmen opened the battle by advancing against the Sogdian right.

Under a hail of arrows, the line of spearmen engaged the archers and at that moment, the Jund cavalry launched their attack on the Sogdian centre.

The cavalry fight swung back and forth with Sogdian archers picking off isolated Umayyad cavalry. The Umayyad spearmen had destroyed the Sogdian infantry holding the left and were now moving to join the cavalry action in centre. Their well-timed presence turned the battle by eliminating the Sogdian commander. Still defiant, the Sogdian moved off the field to make preparations for their next conflict. Score Umayyad 5(gen) - 4

A side note
Although listed below, the Türgesh allies would be deployed in case of a Sogdian defeat. As events developed, they were not needed.

1 x general (Cv), 3 x Jund cavalry (Cv), 3 x spearmen (Sp), 3 x archers (3Bw), 1 x Bedouin (LH), 1 x Dailami (4Ax). 

Sogdian coalition   
1 x general (3Kn), 2 x chakars (3Kn), 3 x diliqun (Cv), 1 x horse archer (LH), 4 x archers (3Bw), 1 x archers (Ps).
Türgesh allies
1 x Cv, 2 x LH

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