Category Archives: Successor

The Road to Magnesia

The defeat of the Seleucid fleet at the Battle of Myonessus in September 190 BC opened the way for the invasion of Asia Minor by the Romans under Lucius Cornelius Scipio. Soon after the landing Antiochus dispatched his trusted general Zeuxis to engage the Roman invaders while he assembled the main army.

Aware that only a portion of the Seleucid army was advancing on him Lucius Cornelius dispatched Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus to deal with it. The two armies converged in late October. Zeuxis deployed on what was a relatively open plain resting his left on a steep and rocky slope with his army extending to the right. The infantry of the phalanx, some 8,000 in number, were massed in two blocks interspersed by around 2,000 Galatians. To the right of the phalanx elephants, scythed chariots and cavalry extended the Seleucid line. Opposite the Romans deployed in their usual manner.

As the two armies moved forward Lucius Cornelius began to expand his line transferring his reserves to each flank. His strategy clearly focused on a double envelopment of the now shorter Seleucid line. Despite this Zeuxis pressed forward against the enemy centre. Soon the deep formations of phalangites and Galatians were locked in combat with the Roman hastati and principes. The Roman centre soon began to buckle under Seleucid pressure.

On the Seleucid right cataphracts and scythed chariots advanced, pressing the Roman line further. While much importance was placed on the success of the scythed chariots their attacks proved a failure.

Above the Scythed Chariots advance, while below they crash into the Roman lines.

Yet, as the fighting on the flanks slackened that in the centre intensified. As the phalangites and elephants pushed their opponents back the Galatians surged forward breaking portions of the Roman line. Now with no Roman reserve, it having reinforced the Roman flanks, the Galatians overwhelmed the flanks of those Romans engaged frontally by the phalangites. Seleucid success was complete.

Shocked by the defeat Lucius Cornelius reinforced Gnaeus Domitius and ordered him to engage the Seleucids once again. Advancing down the coast it was not long before the forces clashed.

Zeuxis, buoyed by his recent success, again prepared for battle. The coastline was separated from the mountains on the Seleucid right buy a large plain, though broken by a rocky hill near the coast. Unable to deploy his phalangites here Zeuxis deployed his thureophoroi and Galatians on the slopes while deploying his phalangites, pachyderms and mounted to the right.

He reasoned that his lighter troops deployed on the slopes were well able to pin much of the Roman infantry while his phalangites and superior mounted would shatter the Roman left.

The Romans again deployed their infantry traditionally while massing their cavalry on the more open left.

As was to be expected the Romans opened the battle with velites intent on frustrating the Seleucid elephants. Yet, as some velites pressed rashly forward they were ridden down by a body of Seleucid cataphracts. Zeuxis sensed victory.

Yet his hopes were soon tested. His plan called for his cataphracts to be reformed after their initial charge. He had calculated incorrectly as Roman triarii, and unforeseen cavalry swept forward catching the disordered cataphracts. Shaken they fled in panic at this determined counterattack.

Undeterred Zeuxis reinforced his line and pressed forward with his right. Elephants and phalangites were soon engaged, the pachyderms advancing ever further forward. Seleucid scythed chariots were now unleashed. Yet again instead of breaking the enemy to their front the machines failed to achieve a breakthrough.

Now with his elephants surrounded and his only reserve that of his own companions Zeuxis charged forward, determined to secure a final victory.

Above and below the moment of decision on the Seleucid right flank.

Alas, his massed heavy cavalry were neutralised by the numerically superior Roman cavalry and soon Zeuxis, previously so confident of victory, now watched as his army collapsed.

With Roman victory achieved and his army concentrated, Lucius Cornelius Scipio prepared to advance on the road to Magnesia. That critical battle still lays ahead.

These two battles formed the second pair of battles from our themed Seleucid weekend which, like the other battles, proved both entertaining and challenging. The Seleucids are mostly from Tin Soldier’s 15mm range supplemented by Xyston. My opponent’s Romans are mostly from Essex Miniatures supplemented by a scattering of Museum Miniatures to provide figure variety.

Campaigning with Seleucus Nicator

The shifting alliances of Alexander’s Successors are best described as complex. However, with the recent defeat of the Antigonids it was now that Lysimachus and Seleucus fought the brief yet critical campaign in 300 BC. It comprised two great battles.

The first battle was in the Spring of 300 BC when the cunning Lysimachus moved rapidly against the Seleucids. Seleucus offered battle on an open plain where he deployed traditionally. His mounted were mostly concentrated on his right while extending his phalanx with contingents of pachyderms which he reasoned would otherwise be countered too easily by his enemies Thracians. Yet soon after deploying Seleucus was faced with the reality that the cunning Lysimachus had weighted his deployment against the Seleucid right. Further, he now advanced generally in echelon with his left leading and his right withdrawn.

Above the Seleucid right is overlapped by the advancing Lysimachid left. Seleucid light cavalry, not shown, provided a degree of protection.

Simultaneously Lysimachid light infantry are thrown forward to slow the Seleucid centre. Yet, these were unsupported and countered. Now the Seleucid centre advanced. Below, the Lysimachid centre comes under pressure as the Seleucid elephants press forward.

The battle now hung in the balance as Seleucus sought advantage in the centre while fighting a delaying action on his right. However, with his line under pressure Seleucus ordered forward his companions who, with great valour, drove back the treacherous Greek. Yet these manoeuvres had created a hole in the Seleucid line which Lysimachus was able to exploit. Soon the Seleucid right collapsed with Seleucus himself narrowly escaping death. Lysimachus had secured a decisive victory.

Yet, Seleucus was not deterred. By the Summer of 300 BC Seleucus, having reformed his army, struck at Lysimachus. This time Lysimachus was caught relatively unprepared and as the Seleucid host advanced Lysimachus deployed his army with his right resting on the walled town Colophon.

Effectively ignoring Colophon and it’s high walls Seleucus massed his elephants and phalanx in the centre and his mounted on his right before ordering an advance.

Above, the Seleucids advance with a number of pachyderms supported by phalangites. Below, a view from behind the Lysimachid lines.

Lysimachus now dithered first moving his companions near the walls of the city in one of his overly complex plans. Finally he realised the threat posed by unfolding disaster that would soon envelope his left. Yet, repositioning his xystophori was almost impossible and while he desperately tried first his left and then his centre would collapse.

Above, a view of the centre, while below the Lysimachid left is about to collapse.

With this stunning victory Seleucus had bought the campaign of 300 BC to an end. Yet victory can be fleeting and even as this campaign season is complete we can be sure Lysimachus will be plotting his revenge and another campaign will not be far away.

As to the miniatures the Seleucids are mostly 15mm miniatures from Tin Soldier’s ranges. The Lysimachid forces in contrast are from Essex Miniatures. The battles form part of a four game series fought between myself and my son during a weekend visit.

Paraetacene Refought

Friday evening found three of us play testing an historical scenario for the Successor battle of Paraetacene, fought in 317 BCE. The Wars of the Diadochi are a particular interest of mine and given this battle has been the focus of a Society of Ancients Battle Day in 2018 it has been on my radar for a while. After some research, considering orders of battle, reviewing frontages, pondering of various interpretations and even a little painting, I felt my almost DBA sized scenario was ready for the table.

For the evening I was joined by fellow Society of Ancients member Andrew and by another local, Ben. During the course of the evening we managed to refight Paraetacene three times, with each player taking command of either Antigonus or Eumenes once. Therefore after the miniatures were deployed in their historical positions, and the small number of special rules explained, our refights began.

In the first Eumenes seemed overly concerned for his right flank and as a result dithered somewhat first reinforcing his left and then moving troops back as other threats developed. Further, while concerned for his right he order an advance with his left, in an effort to pin the Antigonid right and neutralise this flank using his pachyderms. Simultaneously he advanced with the centre. Somewhat caught off guard by Eumenes actions on the left Antigonus threw caution to the wind and advanced. However the arguably rash actions by Antigonus against Eumenes left would leave him exposed.

Above, the view from Eumenes lines, though not all of his forces are shown. Below, Antigonus is caught off guard by Eumenes cavalry and is wounded.

Meanwhile, Eumenes was pressing forward with his centre where he hoped to breakthrough with his veteran Silver Shields and Hypaspists. His aspirations were rewarded, below the Silver Shields secure a breakthrough in the centre.

With the breakthrough achieved the Antigonid centre would soon collapse – the valour of the Silver Shields in the centre clearly carried the day for Eumenes, while Antigonus was carried from the field wounded.

In the second game Antigonus focused his attack against Eumenes left and reluctantly pressed his phalanx forward. Eumenes, cunning as always, deployed light troops in the nearby hills which somewhat frustrated Antigonus’ advance. However, undeterred Antigonus pressed forward and with great personal valour encouraged his Xystophoroi onward. His victory was secured when Eumenes’ left broke and his centre became dangerously exposed.

Above and below photos from the second refight. Above the light cavalry of Antigonus’ left flank. While below Eumenes’ Silver Shields advance while Eumenes’ more numerous light troops attempt to delay the Antigonid phalanx.

Another view of the Silver Shields pressing forward. Antigonus’s was reluctant for his mercenaries to clash with these veterans.

In our final refight of the evening a new Antigonus tested his theory of the strength of his own left flank, or Pithon became overly aggressive, when Eumenes pressed forward with his own right. However, in doing so Pithon greatly over stretched himself and soon Antigonus’ left flank was crumbling.

This left Antigonus desperately trying to hold off defeat here, while gaining some form of advantage elsewhere. Calm heads prevailed and eventually Antigonus steadied his left flank and found an opening. Indeed, success seemed possible when the flank of Eumenes’ phalanx became exposed following pursuit in part by the Silver Shields enthusiam and the caution of Greek mercenary infantry. As a portion of Eumenes’ phalanx collapsed the pendulum seemed to swing in Antigonus’ favour.

Above the centre, viewed from behind the Antigonid lines, while below the another view later after a portion of the Antigonid left centre has reoriented to halt Eumenes’ advancing phalanx.

Yet while progress was made by Antigonus, it was insufficient and soon with casualties growing Antigonus’ proud army was forced to retire.

By the end of the evening we had been rewarded with three very successful games. All illustrated the characteristics of Paraetacene which of course was particularly pleasing. Further, each had provided much debate among the players around commander’s options and key elements of the battle. However, now armed with these play tests I will consider a few additional refinements to my Paraetacene scenario.

The Revenge of Peucestas

Since the death of Alexander a number of his generals had been locked in deadly campaigns each attempting to decide the future of Alexander’s legacy. Two, of these were Peucestas and Lysimachus. Each had recruited armies and despite having a similar core, built around the Macedonian phalanx, differed in several areas.

Peucestas phalanx was bolstered by a strong contingent of mercenary hoplites that ensured superiority in the open against Lysimachus’ army which, though having a similar sized phalanx, lacked the quantity of heavy mercenaries. Instead Lysimachus had recruited a range of lightly armed infantry more suited to broken ground. While both armies comprised xystophoroi and light cavalry, Peucestas supplemented them with a considerable number of eastern heavy cavalry.

Determined to destroy Lysimachus in battle Peucestas had selected a battlefield that he hoped would favour him rather than his devious opponent. The battlefield he selected was relatively open with two gentle hills breaking up what was otherwise a featureless plain. Peucestas planned his main attack with his centre while his mounted would protect his left flank and his light troops the right. Lysimachus however, having seen his enemy deployed, extended his own right and was clearly determined to attack Peucestas’ left.

Lysimachus quickly seized the initiative and advanced rapidly against Peucestas’s left . Peucestas now undertook a realignment moving his centre some distance to the left. In the process of undertaking this complex manoeuvre a significant gap opened in Peucestas line.

Above, the massive gap in Peucestas’ line while below his cavalry engaged on his left flank.

Attempting to exploit this Lysimachus charged forward against Peucestas phalanx at the head of his own xystophoroi, supported by his phalanx.

Alas, in the resulting melee Lysimachus was badly wounded and the attack faltered. Now as Lysimachus was carried from the field Peucestas phalanx pressed forward. Victory was clearly now within Peucestas grasp.

Unfortunately Peucestas left was under pressure and despite his cavalry having the advantage against the Lysimachid light infantry, his eastern cavalry broke. Now Peucestas, at the very moment of victory, was enveloped by enemy light infantry. In the ensuing melee, at the head of his own xystophori, Peucestas was wounded and like his opponent carried from the field.

Above, Peucestas is engaged in the flank and from the front by peltasts and psiloi.

Tragically it was too much for Peucestas veterans who now fell back, surrendering the field to the Lysimachids. Fortunately, their enemy was almost exhausted and leaderless. As such they made no attempt to pursue, thus allowing the bulk of Peucestas army to retire in good order.

Several weeks now passed until both commanders recovered. Both determined to face each other again. Peucestas again selected an open plain. Again he deployed his light troops on his right and massed all his cavalry opposite Lysimachus mounted on his left.

Again the armies advanced towards each other. Initially Lysimachus’ left was most aggressive, a reverse of the previous engagement. Below, Lysimachus peltasts are visible on the right.

However, Lysimachus soon realised that a number of his peltasts would face Peucestas’ phalangites and ordered his advance to halt while he ordered forward his phalanx. The heavy foot of both armies closed for the fateful push of the phalanx. Again Lysimachus hesitated, while Peucestas’ veterans pressed forward driving portions of Lysimachus’s left flank back. Meanwhile, Peucestas mercenary hoplites on his left centre faced Lysimachus’ phalanx and Greek mercenaries. They awaited in well drilled ranks as their opponents moved forward. All soon were locked in combat.

The fateful decisions of the battle however occurred not in the centre but on each flank. Lysimachus right comprised both mounted and additional peltasts. The peltasts here were overwhelmed by Peucestas eastern cavalry, who had previously performed so badly in the proceeding battle. First Peucestas’ cavalry cut down the fleeing enemy foot then turned and engulfed Lysimachus xystophori, who were themselves engaged in a deadly melee against Peucestas’ own xystophori. Lysimachus was mortally wounded despite his personal bravery.

Above, the view of the deciding combat between Peucestas xystophori and this of Lysimachus.

Simultaneously, a body of Lysimachus’ peltasts gave way to Peucestas’ phalangites. As these peltasts routed they exposed the flank of Lysimachus’ phalanx which was now overwhelmed, being engaged to both front and rear.

Above, a view from Peucestas lines with a portion of the Lysimachid phalanx turned 90 degrees and attacked in the front and rear.

With Lysimachus now mortally wounded, and his army attacked on both flanks, it collapsed. Peucestas, had finally secured a decisive victory and with it his hold on his fledgling empire.