The following is a battle report from our Empire Campaign. The armies involved were Antigonid (II/16a) and Ptolemic (II/20a). The battle found the Ptolemy defending and therefore setting terrain. The following report has been supplied by the Antigonid player.
With Satraps based in Macedonia, Babylon and Aegyptus all campaigning to bring neighbouring provinces under control Antigonos Monophthalmos decided to move to extract Egypt from Ptolemaic control in 315 BC. Recent Antigonid support for the defence of Cyrenaicia and Ptolemy’s seizure of the Alexander’s body were factors in this decision.
Strong naval support helped the army move through Giza and a landing was effected on the coastal plans of the Nile Delta. A camp was established on the firm ground to the west of a major Nile distributary. Significant marshy ground to the east of the river was a major factor in siting the camp and the decision to deploy for battle along the coastal shore.
Ptolemy’s camp was sited inland of the coastal marsh. With a preponderance of mercenary peltasts and other light troops in his army Ptolemy opened the battle with a major thrust of these troops through the marshes. Antigonos and a major portion of his phalanx deployed on a strip of firm ground between the river and the marshes with light troops covering their eastern flank while his young son Demetrius commanded the mounted troops on the western bank. Consummate drill from the Antigonid veteran infantry repositioned the phalanx to cover the flanking troops whilst still remaining on firm ground.
A move by Demetrius to cross the rivers and cut the lines of communication between Ptolemy’s heavy troops and the attacking light infantry in the marshes was confounded by rising water levels in the distributary. Above, Antigonid troops can be seen expanding east and west. Below, Antigonos commands his Silver Shields while to the left Ptolemic phalangites prevent more troops crossing.
Antigonos continued to lead his phalanx on foot and eventually manoeuvred a body of Ptolemaic peltasts out of their marshy ground. An uncontrolled pursuit of the defeated peltasts (below) mired Antigonos’ foot companions in the marsh and a subsequent counter attack led to general being severely wounded.
Although dragged from the marshy ground before the defensive line collapsed the wounded Antigonos’ remained in an extremely vulnerable position. A valiant stand by the remnants of his body guard provided just sufficient time for Antigonos to escape to the banks of the river. A charge across the river by the companion cavalry, led by Demetrius himself, into the teeth of the Ptolemaic phalanx secured a crossing for the injured Antigonos.
With news arriving of a victory by Eumenes in the hills of Armenia, and unable to bring Ptolemy to battle on an open plain, the decision was made to withdraw from Egypt. The need for Antigonos to recuperate and with Demetrius still a very young man, although gifted cavalry commander, the leadership necessary for further campaigning was thin on the ground.