• Saturday, August 24, 2019

BATTLE REPORT #9 - Battle of Yarmuk 636 .

Discussion in 'Military History & Tactics' started by AUSTERLITZ, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. AUSTERLITZ

    AUSTERLITZ SENIOR MEMBER

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    BATTLE OF YARMUK 636.

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    BACKGROUND -

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    The world in the early years of the 7th century AD.After death of mohammad,prophet of islam his followers have united the arabian peninsula under the banner of the new religion.
    Meanwhile,the 2 great superpowers of the eastern world-The byzantines of constantinopole and sassanid persians have waged a relentless and devastating conflict nearly continously from 572 AD for 50 yrs severely depleting their resources,devastating each others manpower base in population and veteran soldiers as well as exhausting the treasury.After early persian victories,a byzantine counterattack under Emperor heraclius has finally revived byzantine power and control over syria and egypt and ends the war at the battle of nineveh.A peace is finally signed in 628 AD.
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    Preoccupied in their mortal struggle,both sides ignore the rising new power in the arabian peninsula-which both empires regard with contempt as a backward desert of barbarians.This was to prove a serious error.
    The new caliph Abu bakr,after subduing rebels in arabia invades Iraq under the sassanids exploiting the internal political chaos in persia resulting from continous change of rulers in aftermath of the war.Under the brilliant general Khalid ibn Al walid they defeat the persian forces there and occupy the province.Emboldened by his success Abu bakr now launches a dramatic invasion of byzantine Syria in 634 by four rashidun divisions.
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    However faced by a byzantine defence-in-depth based on fortresses,these forces are found insufficient and are unable to make much headway.Abu bakr now reinforces the Muslim armies in syria with khalid's veteran army from iraq.Khalid makes a daring march from iraq to syria,entering from the north-east and undermining the whole byzantine defensive position takes them by surprise.The united arab army under khalid then crushes the bulk of the byzantine field army in syria of around 10,000 men at the Battle of Ajnadayn which make the mistake of committing to a pitched battle against a superior force.[possibly underestimating the arabs as savages].
    Now fortress after fortress begins to surrender to the advancing rashidun forces.Damascus,the main city of Syria is besieged .
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    Seventh-century Muslim armies had no Siege equipment, and typically employed siege tactics only when there were no other options. Without the necessary siege equipment, armies would surround a city, denying it supplies until the city's defenders surrendered. Meanwhile any chance of breaking into the city would be availed, if possible, using stealth and espionage. Muslim armies would usually isolate the city from the rest of the region and deploy scouts along vital routes.

    To isolate Damascus, Khalid cut the lines of transportation and communication to northern Syria. To the west, a detachment of cavalry at Fahal occupied the attention of the Byzantine garrison.This detachment also protected the Muslim supply lines to Madinah. Thus this cavalry detachment functioned as the rearguard of the Muslim forces on the Syrian front. Another detachment was sent on the road to Emesa to take up a position near Bait Lihya, approximately 10 miles (16 km) from the city. Its instructions were to reconnoiter for any Byzantine relief columns. If unable to defeat or repel a Byzantine rescue effort, the detachment commander was instructed to send for reinforcements from Khalid.

    Having isolated Damascus, Khalid ordered his army to surround the city on August 21, 634 . The corps commanders were instructed to repel any Byzantine attack from the respective gates, and seeking assistance in the case of heavy attack. Dharar bin al-Azwar commanded 2.000 horsemen from the Mobile guard cavalry to patrol in the empty areas between the gates at night and to reinforce any corps attacked by the Byzantines.

    The following Muslim generals held the siege of the six gates of the Damascus. Each commander at the gate had 4,000–5,000 forces under his command:

    • Gate of Thomas: Shurabil
    • Jabiya Gate: Abu Ubaidah
    • Gate of Faradis: Amr
    • Keisan Gate: Yazid
    • Small Gate: Yazid
    • Eastern Gate: Rafay bin Umayr
    The aged emperor heraclius now in Antioch,sends a hastily raised relief force of 10,000-12,000 men.These are however intercepted and repulsed piecemeal by khalid's detatchments.Sensing no reinforcements coming, Thomas the garrison commander launches 2 powerful sallying attacks on the muslim besiegers,both are however contained and beaten back by the numerical superiority of the arabs and khalid's excellent handling of his Mobile cavalry to neutralize each threatened sector.Finally Damascus falls in September 18,the surviving garrison being allowed to depart as violation of the terms the muslim commanders understood meant no city would ever surrender to the arabs again,making the conquest of syria very difficult.With the Fall of damascus,bulk of syria was in arab hands.At this juncture Abu bakr died,being succeeded by Caliph Umar who was intent on continuing the expansionist policy of his predecessor.He however had Khalid sacked from his position as commander of forces in Syria for fear of his growing popularity.He was replaced by Abu Ubaidah.

    Byzantine Counterattack -

    Seriously alarmed at the Arab advance, unable to accept the loss of the rich province of Syria and the land route to Egypt,Heraclius made preparations for a major riposte.The byzantines concluded an alliance with their arch-rivals - the sassanid persians.It was planned that a co-ordinated two front assault was to be undertaken-The byzantines in syria and the Sassanids in Iraq.However the exhausted persians are unable to keep their part of the timetable.The Byzantine counteroffensive consisted of 5 Divisions-
    1]The allied Christian arabs under Jabalah.
    2]The Slavs under Qanateer or Buccanator.
    3]The Greek Contingent under Gregory.
    4]Another mixed force under Dairjan.
    5]The Armenians under the armenian prince,Vahan.

    Among these the armenians were generally considered the best soldiers except for the emperor's household troops.
    Faced with this massive counteroffensive Abu Ubaidah consulted Khalid who was now officially only a cavalry contingent commander.On khalid's advice the rashidun forces are united and retreat towards the plains of yarmuk to avoid their line of retreat being cut off.
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    Vahan in overall charge of the Byzantine army was instructed by Heraclius to avoid pitched battle unless absolutely necessary,and attempt diplomacy initially.Meanwhile Caliph Umar instructs his generals in Iraq to make diplomatic overtures to the sassanids to buy time, while he sends 6000 reinforcements to the army in syria including many of the top ranking muslim elite.
    The soldiers arrive in small bands giving the impression of a continous flow of reinforcements.To prevent the muslims from from further augmenting their strength,the anxious byzantine commanders now resolve on a pitched battle.Furthermore there is friction and tension between the various ethnic factions in the byzantine camp,the local christian arabs being largely ignored despite their knowledge of the terrain.The decisive clash was now certain on the plains of yarmouk.
     
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  2. jaibi

    jaibi RETIRED MOD

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  3. AUSTERLITZ

    AUSTERLITZ SENIOR MEMBER

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    The Byzantine Army and Tactics -

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    Strength - ~45,000
    Commander - Vahan.


    The Byzantines Called themselves 'the romani' or Romans,a remnant of imperial glory of ages past for the Byzantine empire was infact the Eastern Roman Empire centred at Constantinopole,renamed and made his capital from its previous name Byzantium in 330 by Constantine the great,emperor of Rome.That was however the end of its similarities with the Roman empire of old,2 centuries before Rome itself had fallen but the Byzantine empire continued to be a great power.The empire was multiethnic,but ruled essentially by a Greek and Armenian elite.

    The army of the byzantine empire during this period was essentially a Mercenary force backed up by a small elite core of imperial household troops based at constantinopole,.The long devastating wars with persia had taken their toll in men,commanders and veterans and the empire could no longer field armies in number that it could a century ago.
    There is a debate about the size of Byzantine forces in this battle,from records though its clear the byzantine's Total armed forces at the peak of the empire never exceeded 130,000-140,000 including garrisons.The number had fallen due to the demands of the 50 yr war with persia.
    At the eve of the muslim invasion of Syria,Byzantium could most possibly field -
    10,000 guarding the Balkan Frontier.
    10,000-20,000 of the best troops around Constantinopole.
    25,000 Second rate troops in Egypt.
    10,000 in North Africa.
    5-10,000 in parts of byzantine-held Italy.
    5,000 in mediterranean islands.
    12,000 in armenia[5-8000 available as field army,rest garrisons]
    10,000 in syria and Palestine.
    8,000 in mesopotamia
    6,000 christian Arab allies.

    A total of around 100,000-115,000.

    Of these the field army of syria and palestine was more or less wiped out in Battle of Ajnayden and then the sieges caused further attrition.The troops in Egypt,italy,Africa,Mediterranean islands were not involved.Provisioning for levies raised by Heraclius to make good losses during the rashidun advance, the total Byzantine force that could be mustered would be no larger than 40,000-50,000, and thus a midway figure is taken.
    30,000 was the standard size of a byzantine expeditionary force during the persian wars and a quite large one would roughly be around the figure assumed.

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    3 kinds of Byzantine troops shown.An irregular levy swordsman,a Elite heavy cavalryman light cataphract and a heavy infantry guardsman.Heavy cavalry was the elite arm of the byzantine army.

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    A standard Byzantine infantryman of this era called Skoutatoi,armed with a round shield/kite shield,mail armour and spear.The byzantine infantry were a far shadow of the old roman legionaries.The gladius,pilum and rectangular scutum had been abandoned from the late empire itself.Discipline was not comparable with the legions whose designations they still carried,but they were nonetheless stout fighters.

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    A byzantine armoured infantry swordsman[possibly armenian] from anatolia.These Solid heavy infantry would be among Vahan's best troops at yarmuk.
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    With eastern influence,Archery had emerged as the main killing weapon for the byzantine infantry,and with the introduction the avar bow the byzantines were excellent at both foot and horse archery.

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    Byzantine horse archers.Byzantines employed large amounts of horse archers which co-operated with the infantry,harassed the enemy but needed space to operate properly.

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    The standard cavalry of the byzantines would be the BUCELLARI,who could function as mounted archers as well as shock troops.These were complemented by cataphracts.[note cataphracts during this era weren't as heavily armoured as after,stirrup was not yet common]

    Add to these were lightly armed christian arab auxillaries who were mostly levies but mobile forces.

    TACTICS -

    The byzantines during this era by and large avoided pitched battles,prefering to grind an enemy down through a chain of fortresses by raids and ambushing.The cavalry was powerful but less mobile than the arabs.The byzantine cavalry prefered to wear and enemy down with arrows before closing with lances.Stirrup was not yet common,so cavalry was not yet undisputed master of the battlefield and couldn't charge a unbroken heavy infantry line frontally like later knights.
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    Tactically the byzantines were highly sophisticated,having succeeded to the rich heritage of roman military thought.However practical usage of many of the complex formations/drills were limited by the discipline of the troops and initiative/ability of commanders.[Byzantines didn't have the standardized centurions of the roman legions ]
    On top is the standard Byzantine Mixed cavalry group tactics.The Light horse archers are called Cursores and the heavier cavalry the Defensores.4 ranks of horse archers shower the enemy moving forward from the flanks with arrows then retreat on being charged.The defensores then intercepted the charging enemy force,while the horse archers regrouped and wheeled in from the flanks.
    At yarmuk the byzantine cavalry was mostly misused.The more mobile muslim light cavalry also disrupted the orchestrated byzantine manuevering by making sudden surprise flanking attacks,instead of head on encounters.
    Below are 3 commonly used Byzantine Infantry formations-

    1]The phalanx -
    The old greek hoplite overlapping shieldwall formation with projecting spears launching a general broadfront frontal assault,required little training or discipline and used throughout the battle of yarmuk by the byzantine infantry.The only byzantine addition was a supporting force of archers at the rear to soften up the target.Phalanx was usually 8 man deep.

    2]Pig's Head Or Wedge
    - A deadly assault formation pioneered by the Roman legions,required high discipline for troops to not break formation and keep relative pace with his preceeding unit.A properly used wedge on an opposing line formation usually broke through.This formation was not used at yarmuk.

    3]Parentaxis
    - A highly flexible formation.4 ranks of heavy infantry in front in close order and 4 ranks in the rear,sandwiching 4 ranks of archers.The archers bombarded the enemy formation as the front ranks of heavy infantry made contact.a]If the attack progressed,the rear ranks of 4 infantry could extend their line and outflank the enemy.b]If the front ranks were being pushed back,the archers could move out to the sides and allow the rear 4 ranks to close ranks and join the front 4 ranks,providing greater depth to halt the enemy pressure.It required moderate discipline and may have been used occasionally by the greek or armenians at yarmuk.

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    The final Byzantine tactical formation - The Foulkon or Fulcum.A variation of the earlier Roman Testudo.Though much less impenetrable than the rectangular shield Testudo, the fulcum still provided excellent protection against missiles while advancing on a enemy battle line.Required moderate discipline and was regularly used by the greeks at yarmuk.

    Next: Arab Army and tactics.
     
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  4. AUSTERLITZ

    AUSTERLITZ SENIOR MEMBER

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    The Rashidun Army -

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    Strength - 20,000-24,000.[16,000 infantry+8,000 cavalry?]
    Commander
    - Khalid-Ibn Al walid & Abu Ubaida[nominal]

    The muslim arab army at yarmuk was small and outnumbered nearly 2 to 1 by the byzantines.However the force was battle hardened,highly confident from a string of succesive victories and fired by religious fervour.And importantly unlike the byzantine force they had gained much valuable experience in fighting and winning pitched battles.While it possesed a core veteran army,the main weakness of the Rashidun caliphate was manpower at this stage,if the arabs were to lose bulk of their main field army at yarmuk they wouldn't have enough to recoup the losses and make another attempt at syria or hold on to iraq.

    Another strong advantage of the arab armies was they were organized on tribal basis in general,and thus each man was likely to know others from his unit from a long time.This fostered mutual trust,unity,morale and greater unit cohesion.

    The byzantines by and large held the arabs in low regard as backward savages from the desert and were ignorant of their particular style,however arab tactics was surprisingly advanced.Favouring mobility and finesse over brute force.This approach had developed from years of bedouin warfare,the cornerstone of which was raiding that required mobility and quick thinking.Arabs were also familiar with both byzantine and sassanid tactics-many arabs served as mercenaries in their armies and these 2 empires had set the benchmark for military thought in middle east for centuries.
    The arab invasions were thus not huge mass migrations of the steppe horde style but rather well co-ordinated and planned offensives with limited forces.

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    Arab infantry essentially composed of Spearmen,swordsmen and archers.The spearmen composed the standard normal rank and file,the swordsmen usually the elite troopers and the infantry archers supporting them.Armour was usually mail or lamellar,same as the byzantines.
    Contrary to popular belief Arab armies were deficient if not devoid in mounted horse archers.However they had large numbers of effective infantry archers whose massed volleys could halt cavalry attacks in their tracks.The range of the arab bow was lower than hat of byzantine ones,but had more penetration.

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    Elite arab swordsman.The rashiduns had a unit of champions called Mubarizun,specially trained swordsmen , with the objective to slay as many enemy commanders in duels as possible to damage their morale.Again contrary to popular belief,most arab infantry used straight short swords not the later curved scimitars.

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    Arab spearmen,archer and light cavalry lancer.

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    Arab light cavalry.Stirrups were not yet common,arabs used camels as well as horses due to shortage of the latter.

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    Cavalry such as these would have formed khalid's famous Mobile guard unit.

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    Muslim Commander.Arabs usually wore a loincloth or headress over mail armour.

    Tactics -

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    Standard arab-islamic battle formation.Arabic field tactics were essentially defensive,favouring a counterattack on an enemy weakened by arrow fire and attrition on the line of spears and swords.
    Infantry in 3 lines,swordsmen and spearmen covered by archers.2 cavalry divisions guarded the flanks with a smaller force ready to flank enemy cavalry in co-operation with the larger divisions.
    Infantry line was supported by small mounted reserves to counterattack any breakthrough a final larger reserve for emergencies or a final assault.
     
  5. AUSTERLITZ

    AUSTERLITZ SENIOR MEMBER

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    BATTLE OF YARMOUK -

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    With battle imminent Abu Ubaida hands over temporary command to Khalid,recognized asthe best general of the rashidun forces.The 2 armies face each other on the plains of yarmuk with the river yarmuk bounding the west,its tributary the north.The surrounding hillside has ravines and both sides establish fords as crossing points as they establish their camps and face each other.
    Rashiduns in BLACK,Byzantines in RED.Infantry in pointed edge rectangle and cavalry smooth edged ones.

    DAY 1:

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    1.Vahan deploys his army in 4 divisions,each with its support cavalry division.From left to right-Gregory leads the greeks on his right flank,Dairjan the other contingents in right center,qanateer the slavs and jabalah the christian arabs.Vahan stays back in the centre surrounded by armenian bodyguards.
    2.Khalid too deploys his army in 4 divisions stretching the infantry to match the length of the byzantine infantry line.Amr,Shrabil,Abu Ubaidah and Yazid-all veteran campaigners command the four corps.Both flanks and center have a cavalry contingent to repulse any breakthrough.
    3.Khalid stations himself deep behind the centre with a final reserve of 4000 picked cavalry called the 'Mobile Guard'.
    4.The battle begins with champions from rival sides dueiling each other which the byzantines mostly lose.Halting the slaughter of his officers,Vahan launches a probing attack with about a third of his infantry to test the arab strength and strategy.This attack is not pressed with any determination and after an inconclusive brawl both sides retreat at sunset with minimal losses.

    DAY 2 -

    On 16 August 636, Vahan decided in a council of war to launch his attack just before dawn, to catch the Muslim force unprepared as they conducted their morning prayers. He planned to engage his two central armies with the Arab centre in an effort to stall them while the main thrusts would be against the wings of the Rashidun army, which would then either be driven away from the battlefield or pushed towards the centre.Khalid however expected such a situation and his strong outpost line delays the byzantines long enough for the arabs to deploy.Khalid knows that he must stand firm against byzantine attacks and exhaust the enemy before even thinking of launching an attack of his own.
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    1.Jabalah and dairjan launch pinning attacks against the rashidun centre.
    2.Qanateer/Buccanator leading the slavs launches a powerful frontal assault on arab right flank which is pushed back by brute force.
    3.The cavalry contingent of the right wing attacks and halts the momentum of the byzantine advance for a while but is repulsed when the local byzantine cavalry intervenes.
    4.Gregory launches a similar heavy attack against Yazid and forces him back.This attack comes slower but steadier,gregory's troops are said to have bound each other with chains.But the modern interpretation is that they were using the testudo like Fulcum formation which could make them appear as if they were tied due to close packing.
    5.The fleeing arab warriors retreating towards the camp on their right are confronted by their womenfolk who grab the tentpoles ,abuse and physically assault their husbands.Shamed at this they rally and return to the battlefield.
    6.On the left wing the situation is more serious as despite heavy resistance,Yazid's line collapses from the pressure and they too retreat towards the other camp.

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    1.Amr rallies his troops,fired up by the insults of their women who counterattack the advancing byzantines.
    2.Khalid sees the critical moment and releases his mobile guard. which smahes into the slavs open right flank.
    3.Assaulted by this 3 prong attack the slavs retreat back and cede all ground they have gained.The threat on this sector is thus neutralized.
    4.Meanwhile the first stream of Arabs fleeing back to the camp,among them the aged Abu Sufaiyan
    [companion of mohammed] are met at the entrance by their women led by the formidable Hind Bin Utba-Abu Sufyan's fat fifty year old wife.Singing improvised battle songs,throwing insults and rocks they charge the men with tentpoles.The arabs recoil and return to the battlefield in a hurry,unable to withstand his wife's wrath-Abu sufyan at their head.
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    5.Yazid counterattacks and stems the byzantine advance temporarily with his rallied forces.

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    1.Situation restored on right flank of muslim line.
    2.Khalid now shifts his mobile guard to the other flank.
    3.He splits up the mobile guard and sends a detatchment under Dharar to fix the byzantine right center,this would prevent them from interfering or sending reinforcements to the byzantine right under Gregory and also make gregory feel as if he was being outflanked.
    4.Dharar's detatchment launches a few harassing attacks,but more importantly they manage to kill Dairjan who was ahead of his main body with a few bodyguards.
    5.Khalid now joins the assault and the 3 prong attack puts the byzantines in chaos.
    6.Unable to withstand the assault,Gregory retreats.Due to the fulcum formation being slow they suffer heavier casualities than the slavs under qanateer.This flank is thus also stabilized by khalid's timely intervention.

    DAY 3 -
    Vahan pondered over his failures and mistakes of the previous day, where he launched attacks against respective rashidun flanks, but after initial success, his men were pushed back.Deciding on a less ambitious plan, Vahan now aimed to press upon the relatively exposed right flank, where his mounted troops could maneuver more freely as compared to the rugged terrain at the arabs' left flank. And it was decided to charge at the junction between the Muslim right center and its right wing held by Qanateer's Slavs, to break the two apart and to fight them separately.

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    1.Vahan's Centre launches a pinning attack on Abu Ubaida's corps.Gregory's division suffering heavily the other day is unengaged but ready to utilize any opening on the mulsim left flank.
    2.Qanateer's slavs assault the Amr's position.
    3.Jabalah's christian arabs supported by other contingents attack shurabil.The byzantines aim to seperate and crush amr and shurabil's divisions.
    4.Amr's division falls back followed shortly by Shurabil.
    5.Again the women folk confront ,abuse and rally the retreating arabs.
    6.Khalid watches the developing crisis even as the right flank of jabalah's advancing force is exposed.

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    1.Amr rallies his forces and re engages.
    2.Shurabil's force having manages to reorganize itself now counterattacks.
    3.At this critical moment,khalid's mobile guard falls upon Jabalah's flank .
    4.Jabalah retreats in disarray having suffered a mauling.
    5.Seeing their neighbouring corps retreating and knowing if they maintain their position they will be outflanked,Qanateer also conducts a orderly retreat.

    The flank now restored,the days battle comes to an end.With both sides having suffered heavily,though the byzantines had taken much more casualities in their frontal assaults.

    Next: Day 4 and 6 and battle analysis.
     
  6. RAMPAGE

    RAMPAGE SENIOR MEMBER

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  7. asad71

    asad71 PROFESSIONAL

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    Wonderful. Chalte jao. Riko ma't. I was waiting for your post.
     
  8. AUSTERLITZ

    AUSTERLITZ SENIOR MEMBER

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    BATTLE OF YARMUK

    DAY 4 -

    Vahan decided to persist with the previous day's battle plan as he had been successful in inflicting damage on the Muslim right.

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    1.Qanateer leads a assault by the slavs on amr's division.
    2.Jabalah's christian arabs now reinforced by vahan's own armenians launch a second assault on Shurabil.
    3.Seeing his right hard pressed,Khalid now was anxious of a general byzantine assault with full force all along the line-his worst fear.He understood he would be unable to repulse a simultaneous broad front attack as the mobile guard could not reinforce both flanks at the same time.To prevent such an impending disaster he orders abu ubaidah and Yazid's divisions to launch a spoiling attack on the byzantine right and buy time.This attack initially presses home.
    4.Meanwhile the arab right again buckles and retreats before the byzantine attack.
    5.As the rashidun attack on the byzantine right progresses,the byzantine horse archers enter the fray.The arabs are subjected to a ceaseless barrage of archery and take heavy losses.700 muslim soldiers were blinded to archery fire incluidng Abu Sufiyan and this became known as the 'day of lost eyes'.
    6.Meanwhile khalid divides his mobile guard into 2 divisions,one under him and another under Dharar.
    7.Unable to withstand the arrow storm and taking mounting casualities, Yazid and Abu ubaidah retreat their forces out of bowshot range and back to their original positions.They refrain from making further advances.

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    1.Amr rallies his forces and reengages the forces of qanateer.
    2.Khalid rallies shurabil's forces which reenter the battle.
    3.Khalid's mobile guard now divided in 2 divisions under khalid and dharar attack the armenians and christian arabs from both flanks.The battle is bloody as armenians give ground slowly.
    4.Meanwhile while this was happening on the right flank,on the muslim left Gregory sensing that the arabs had taken heavy losses from the archers advances for a general assault.Khalid's worst fear is now realized-The mobile guard is tied down on the other flank and no reserves remain to reinforce this flank.
    5.The rashidun left wing is battered back and retreats.However one sole division under Ikrimah,khalid's childhood friend with a force of 400 chosen volunteers make a heroic stand to cover the retreat of the arabs and buy time.By the time the day would be over every man in this unit would be killed or wounded,with ikrimah fallen in battle.
    6.Seeing the inexorable byzantine advance and the rashidun left on the verge of total collapse,the arab women pick up weapons and enter the fight for a final stand.This action saves the day.
    7.On the right finally the byzantines retreat but this process has taken the arabs the whole of the day and no forces were available to reinforce the faltering left.
    8.Seeing the women fighting,the arabs counterattack the byzantines in desperate fury.The combined actions of ikrimah and the women inspire the muslims to hold their ground against all odds.Finally the byzantines fall back as evening approaches.

    Day 4 had been the bloodiest day for the arabs who had suffered numerous casualities particularly the left wing.They had however against all expectations managed to hold back the byzantines.

    Day 5 -

    During the four day offense of Vahan, his troops had failed to achieve any breakthrough and had suffered heavy casualties, especially during the mobile guard's flanking counterattacks.Vahan now sends an emissary to buy time to reorganize his demoralized forces.Khalid refuses and knowing byzantines no longer keen on battle prepares for his own counterblow.
    Khalid planned to trap Byzantine troops, cutting off their every route of escape. There were three natural barriers, the three gorges in the battlefield with their steep ravines, Wadi-ur-Raqqad at west, Wadi al Yarmouk in south and Wadi al Allah in east. The northern route was to be blocked by Muslim cavalry. There were however, some passages across the 200 metres (660 ft) deep ravines of Wadi-ur-Raqqad in west, strategically the most important one was at Ayn al Dhakar, a bridge. Khalid sent Dharar with 500 cavalry at night to secure that bridge. Dharar moved around the northern flank of Byzantines and captured the bridge with the aid of a christian arab deserter Abu Juaid.
    Both armies rest their battered forces on the fifth day and no action takes place.

    DAY 6 -

    Khalid put into action a simple but bold plan of attack. With his massed cavalry force he intended to drive the Byzantine cavalry entirely off the battlefield so that the infantry, which formed the bulk of the imperial army, would be left without cavalry support and thus would be exposed when attacked from the flanks and rear. At the same time he planned to push a determined attack to turn the left flank of the Byzantine army and drive them towards the ravine to the west

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    1.Gregory challenges the overall muslim commander to a duel.Abu ubaidah accepts and in the duel,gregory is killed.
    2.Khalid now orders a general attack with his depleted left wing launching pinning attacks.
    3.Khalid masses all the available cavalry into one large strike force of around 8000 horsemen and moves towards the byzantine left.
    4.Amr's infantry surges forward to engage the byzantine left wing.
    5 and 6.Khalid divides his cavalry and sends a contingent to pin down the local byzantine cavalry reserve on the left of their line and prevent it from interfering with his main attack on the Slavs under quanteer which is already attacked frontally by amr's division.
    7.Unable to withstand this huge mass of horsemen smashing into their flanks the slavs are shattered and dissolve into a disorderly mass falling back on the armenians,which also disorganizes them.
    8.Vahan spotting the huge rashidun cavalry manuevre hurriedly summons all his cavalry to concentrate but a little too late.

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    [Note : Ignore the writing Phase 3-this is phase 2]
    1.With the slavs broken amr can now flank the armenians with his division.But the stubborn armenians stand their ground.
    2.After routing the slavs,khalid concentartes his cavalry on the local byzantien cavalry reserve which was already engaged and crushes it.
    3.Vahan has meanwhile collected a sizeable body of horsemen but before they are able to fully organize themselves khalid's united cavalry falls on them.The more mobile arab cavalry flank them from both sides and rout the main byzantine cavalry force piecemeal.
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    4.The byzantine cavalry break and flee taking vahan with them.
    5.The last remaining byzantine cavalry are routed as well.

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    1.2.3.With the byzantine cavalry departed from the field,khalid swings round and attacks the armenians from the rear.Assaulted from the front,flank and rear they finally break and retreat in total confusion towards the ford and bridge.The north eastern route being blocked by khalid's cavalry forces.
    4.The remaining byzantine forces see that the battle is lost and conduct an orderly retreat towards the ford.

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    1.The arab infantry pursues with vigour.
    2.The byzantines flee en masse towards the bridge only to find it blocked by dharar[also spelled zarrar].
    3.Jabalah manages to flee with a portion of his forces.
    4.The rest of the surviving byzantine army is cornered and annhilated from all sides.The arabs having suffered apalling losses didn't take many prisoners.Many falling from the ravines with no space to retreat.Qanateer is killed here.

    Vahan too was killed in the pursuit in a skirmish.

    Losses- 45% of the byzantine army was killed.It was a catastrophic defeat .All the senior commanders save Jabalah were dead.
    Arabs too had suffered heavily.4000 were killed included many of the senior elite from the time of muhammad.Nearly the whole army was wounded.
    Khalid-Ibn -al walid had won his and islam's greatest victory on the battlefield.

    Aftermath :
    When the news reached Heraclius,he was devastated.Being told by the christian clergy that the defeat was a result of his sins,he left Syria on a ship lamenting the loss of the beautiful province.Khalid in a humane gesture returned his daughter who had been captured without ransom.A ironic figure,he had fought all his life to recover the byzantine territories from the persians only to lose them to a new enemy who had emerged out of nowhere.The empire exhausted by the persian wars and now this massive defeat,meant that he no longer had the manpower or financial resources to renew the offensive.The byzantines retreated into anatolia and this would henceforth be the boundary between the Arab caliphates and the Byzantine Empire.

    Yarmuk was one of the most decisive battles in human history.It paved the way for the emergence of islam as a world religion rather than a local creed.The arabs soon overran Byzantine Egypt and the sassanid empire.That egypt and syria are today part of the islamic world is largely due to the fallout of this battle.
    The byzantines recovered their strength and unlike the sassanids continued to be a great power in the East for centuries,outlasting even the arab caliphates until the fall of constatinopole in 1453 to the turks.But they were never to recover egypt or syria.


    BATTLE ANALYSIS
    :

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    Reasons for Byzantine Defeat and Arab Success -

    1]Mobility - Mobility was the key feature of the rashidun success.Yarmuk is a classic example of a Mobile defense by a inferior force to defeat a larger one .In many ways this battle is similar to Von manstein's masterpiece at the Third battle of kharkov 1943-considered THE elastic defense manuevre battle of WW2.The mobility of the rashidun cavalry also allowed them to engage the powerful byzantine horsemen from the flanks rather than head on.

    2]Concentration of Force - A key principle of warfare,khalid managed to concentrate his mobile assets at threatened sectors to gain a local superiority even though he was outnumbered overall.Khalid was thus able to temporarily concentrate sufficient forces at specific locations on the field to defeat the larger Byzantine army in detail.On the other hand the byzantine attacks were done piecemeal and never were all the available troops deployed and engaged simultaneously.Bulk of the byzantine cavalry remained as static reserves throughout the battle and were never used to utilize breakthroughs that were achieved on multiple occasions.Finally khalid 's final mass concentration of cavalry also surpassed the similar effort on part of vahan.

    3]Intelligence - Arabs had excellennt intelligence and reconssaince throughout the campaign.First intercepting Heraclius's reinforcements before damascus,then preventing vahan from taking them by surprise at dawn.The byzantines let the rashidun commanders choose the battlefield and even failed to detect dharar's force seizing the bridge which cut off their escape route.
    They also displayed that they had failed to learn anything from sassanid defeats to the muslims in Iraq and expended their commanders on duels against the specially trained Mubarizun swordsmen.The arabs also managed to decieve the byzantines to the size of their reinforcements and forced them into a pitched battle.

    4]Leadership and Co-operation - Muslim leadership was first rate,all commanders being battle tested and led by khalid,one of the great cavalry commanders of history.The byzantine commanders on the other hand were hesitant and passive and never committed their full force in a determined concentrated assault.There appeared to be a decided lack of resolve among the Imperial commanders, though this may have been caused by difficulties commanding the army because of internal conflict.Co-operation between muslim divisions was very good unlike the byzantines who suffered from internal tensions.Abu ubaida voluntarily surrendered his position to khalid,a rare decision.

    5]Morale and Unit Cohesion - The arabs despite their smaller numbers were far more battle hardened and their excellent morale allowed them to reform again and again after being beaten back.A part of the byzantine forces on the other hand were newly raised due to the ravages of the persian wars and losses in earlier battles.

    6]Religious Zeal - The unifying bond of islam provided a great morale booster and a major factor in the resilience of the rashidun forces.

    7]Failure to exploit Success - A significant reason of the byzantine failure was to commit their cavalry reserves en masse on a breakthrough.That the arabs were allowed to reform and return to the battle time and time again was a major failure on part of the byzantine cavalry,and passive byzantine leadership.

    8]Role of Women - The role of the arab women was invaluable.Without them despite khalid's best efforts the muslims would have undoubtedly lost much earlier.On multiple occasions they rallied the fleeing arab forces and at the critical hour with no reinforcements coming on the 4rth day joined the battle themselves.[this shocked the more conservative byzantines]

    9]Absence of Heraclius - Heraclius didn't take the field himself as he was presumably sick from Hydrophobia and dropsy.Unless this had incapacitated him,this proved to be a serious error.With decades of conflict and experience of several pitched battles behind him,heraclius was the best commander the byzantines had and his presence would certainly have improved their passivity.
    Also the presence of the emperor would have calmed tensions between the various factions.

    Thanks all for the response,hopefully u enjoyed this.It took a while from the last report due to time issues.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  9. Evil Flare

    Evil Flare SENIOR MEMBER

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  10. asad71

    asad71 PROFESSIONAL

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  11. AUSTERLITZ

    AUSTERLITZ SENIOR MEMBER

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    Lol,ok.:-)My general aim is one per week minimum.But i'll try to do the next one in 2-3 days.
    As per my plan i'm going to focus on classic masterpieces for now and slowly move to modern warfare.
     
  12. Horus

    Horus ADMINISTRATOR

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    @AUSTERLITZ | Friend, what is the source of this information?
     
  13. AUSTERLITZ

    AUSTERLITZ SENIOR MEMBER

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    I collect the data and diagrams/pics from various sources.Mostly military history magazines like osprey publishing series,armchair general,strategy and tactics,military history monthly etc.Apart from this u have open net sources most basic of which is wikipedia but if u search deeply for 4-5 pages of search results and image search promising sites u can get information.
    After collecting information on the battle itself u also have to do similar gathering on tactics and opposing armies of that time period,pictures and maps from net image search or magazines.
    Once all is ready u make a gist of it.
    Then the battle tactics or formations and progress of battle itself i illustrate via microsft word diagrams,take a screenshot,crop and post via imageshack.[Thanks to alpha1 for telling me this method without which these reports would not be possible].
    Then finally posting compressed info and diagrams.
     
  14. Chak Bamu

    Chak Bamu RETIRED MOD

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    Excellent effort @AUSTERLITZ I really appreciate seeing the battle about which I have read since my childhood. A lot of the material, especially the role of women, actually comes from Judge Waqidi who spoke to the sons of the soldiers and perhaps aged soldiers themselves when he wrote "Futuh Al Sham" dealing with Syrian campaign.
     
  15. p(-)0ENiX

    p(-)0ENiX FULL MEMBER

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    I always knew that the Byzantine Empire wasn't much of a successor to Ancient Rome. Apart from the military aspect of the empire, it differed in language (Greek vs Latin), culture, demographics (Greek dominance), etc. So the Byzantine army seems to be superior to the Arab army while being slightly inferior to Ancient Rome in my opinion apart from the cataphracts. Anyway, it was still a hard fought battle for both sides, but the Byzantines appear to have made silly mistakes. Khalid bin Walid made great use of his cavalry, something that the Byzantines failed to do. It kind of reminded me of King Alexander III of Macedonia.

    I knew that women were present in this war, but I had no idea they played such an important role. It must have been humiliating to see the women fight while the rest of the army routes. That sounds similar to Gaius Marius's fight with the Germanic Cimbri & Teutone tribes if I am not mistaken. The barbarian women had such a strong sense of honor that they would rather come and fight against the Romans and die instead of facing humiliation after defeat. All in all, this was an interesting read, thanks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013