Gedrosian Campaign

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Ambrosia
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Gedrosian Campaign

Post by Ambrosia »

Hello Everyone, I have some question concerning the march through the Gedrosian Dessert.

1) The numbers of soldiers and such estimated to have traveled with Alexander, Craterus, and Nearchus's fleet?

2) How many people are said to have died in the march?

Thanks

Ambrosia
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dean
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Post by dean »

Hi there,

The wander through the Makran or Gedrosian was not really a campaign although he lost more men there, ironically than at any battle.

Just looking at Green's book- he says that 85000 went in with Alexander - most noncombatants and not more than 25000 came out alive.
Companion cavalry was reduced from 1700 to 1000. :cry:

Have to fly but will try to post the other details later. :wink:
Best regards,
Dean
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kennyxx
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Post by kennyxx »

I would say the numbers going into the Makran have to be treated sceptical at least. We have many theories and no one knows why he did it some say to teach his mutinous soldiers a lesson. We do know that he seperated his numbers and sent many thousands back the safer way they had come.

As I said before I believe Alexander was trying to carve out a more direct rout between the East and West Im sure he must have known the danger but not how dangerous it really was. I believe it an expeditionary force and doubt he took 80000 plus soldiers etc. How risky was it for anyone to take such a huge force through unchartered territory with such risk. I must assume he sent a greater force the safer way with a trusted commander to meet him at the other end and ensure a safe arrival for Alexander. to not do so would be idiotic. Let me explain, Were Alexander to cross the Mkran as he did with a huge host and lots of soldiers and as he did arrive in such a bad state anyone with the mind would only need a small body of soldiers fed watered and healthy to meet Alexander bedraggled lot comming out of the desert and quite easily anhialate him. He would have been easy meat.

I guess Im arguing with the sources and would probably be ignored but I doubt Alexander had anywhere near those numbers and would say it was only a fraction. There plan was only to hug the coast and dig wells and supplies for the fleet, I would say a few thoasand at the most. Maybe to exagerate these numbers adds again to the Alexander myths and Romance. Sometime as spock says its gotta take logic.

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Post by kennyxx »

Just to Echo some arguments in the past. Some Porthonians argue that the huge numbers of hundreds of thousands at Issus and Gaugamela couldnt be sustained in theopen plains cities etc of the Persian Domains. So with that reasoning how on earth could Alexander with a host of 80 000 plus be sustained in a bloody desert?

tHE ONLY resources we read about are the so called fish eaters I doubt they had hardly the resources to feed themselves let alone 80 000 Greeks. For Alexander to consider marching 80 000 into a desert we must question his sanity. I dont and argue nowhere near those numbers were there.

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Post by kennyxx »

Sorry to revisit this topic but it just gets more complicated for me and contrary to logical thinking. Indeed had this marh gone wrong then it would have been catastrophic for Alexander. Only if he had such an enormous force and it was all lost. Could anyone put more light into the army he sent back on the other rout and who was in command.

I would have to guess it was somebody he really trusted to pull him out at the other end Was Hepheastion on that march. I cant reread the sources Im too busy.If as I suspect he took a a much smaller force where tactically he could afford to lose it tyhen that makes much more sense or that he was loosing his marbles.

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marcus
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Post by marcus »

kennyxx wrote:Were Alexander to cross the Mkran as he did with a huge host and lots of soldiers and as he did arrive in such a bad state anyone with the mind would only need a small body of soldiers fed watered and healthy to meet Alexander bedraggled lot comming out of the desert and quite easily anhialate him. He would have been easy meat.
Which is almost exactly what Curtius says:
In this way the army spent seven days on a drunken march, an easy prey if the vanquished races had only had the courage to challenge riotous drinkers GÇô why, a mere 1,000 men, if sober, could have captured this group on its triumphal march, weighed down as it was from seven days of drinking [Curtius 9.27]
Admittedly he's actually talking about the drunken revel in Carmania, which I believe less than I do the numbers in the Makran Desert; but the principle is almost exactly as you said it. Still, at the end of the day Craterus was already back with his portion of the army, and there wasn't anyone around to challenge Alexander ... and as some of the satraps allegedly thought he was already dead they probably weren't looking out for him.

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jan
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Missing the point!

Post by jan »

The percentage of numbers that survived with Alexander is greater than those who crossed with The Queen or Cyrus the Great. Alexander was well aware of the risks he took and had even been well prepared for them, but the incident when all his goods were washed away in a flood cost him dearly. But Semiramis and Cyrus had taken this route which made it a challenge for Alexander to top them, which finally he did. So for that part of the legend, he was most successful.

The total numbers are meaningless as they are probably incorrect, inflated, and full of error. The important losses were those at the rear,which were mostly the camp followers, mostly women. That fact that nearly 25% survived is quite an impressive number when you think about it!
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dean
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Post by dean »

Hello,

I am aware of the part of Alexander's personality that would have loved to compete with Cyrus, etc. as he did on the Aornos- competing with Hercules and in this case excelling but I think that the Makran represents a blunder that nearly cost Alexander his life. The losses are appauling.

The digging of wells for the fleet could have been one practical idea and also to provide another route around the persian gulf from India- I find now this to be the most likely idea. Craterus also went another way- with elephants but a much easier route. As Kenny pointed out anything to avoid going through Afghanistan!!!! :lol:

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Dean
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marcus
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Post by marcus »

dean wrote:... but I think that the Makran represents a blunder that nearly cost Alexander his life. The losses are appalling.
The losses were bad, it's true. But actually I think it's a bit unfair to call it a "blunder". The original idea was probably perfectly sound, but it was external forces that caused the problems, by which time the army was in a position where it might as well go on as turn back - they were in trouble as it was. One could indeed argue that Alexander failed on his contingency planning; but in such a situation what contingency plan could one have? Therefore, the fact that he brought so many out alive is astonishing, and a testament to his leadership and courage.

Disaster? Quite probably.
Avoidable? With hindsight, of course.
Blunder? Too harsh a judgement, in my view.

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Post by dean »

Hi Marcus,

Maybe I used the wrong word. However throughout the whole expedition, logistics and planning had been nothing less than flawless.

Traversing the Hindu Kush- there too had been losses- justifiable losses considering altitude, terrain, and temperatures etc. which undoubtedly were as adverse as the Makran.

The libyan desert too had presented its problems and admittedly Alexander didn't have his R.A.C map to hand yet with his small entourage and local guides he reached Siwah.

At the Persian gates ,again with local guides, a miracle in logistics took place.
With hindsight obviously it's so easy to see what would have been best- possibly marching alongside Craterus and thus avoiding decimating two thirds of the army.

Alexander was no stranger to finding his way around foreign lands- his experts could undoubtedly find a needle in a haystack, geographically speaking, so I just find the disaster most surprising looking at the Macedonians' track record.

Concluding, to Alexander's credit, that it is amazing he managed to make it through "saving" so many, in my opinion, whitewashes Alexander's questionable leadership on this particular occasion,

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Dean
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marcus
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Gedrosia = Siwah, just with more men ...

Post by marcus »

Hi Dean,
dean wrote:Maybe I used the wrong word.
That's just my opinion, and I hope I sufficiently explained why I think so. By all means talk of it as a blunder if you believe it to have been one! 8)
The libyan desert too had presented its problems and admittedly Alexander didn't have his R.A.C map to hand yet with his small entourage and local guides he reached Siwah.
My experiences of the RAC - at least, their online directions service - suggest that it's a good thing Alexander didn't have it, or he'd never have got to Siwah ... probably wouldn't have got to the Hellespont, even. :lol: (somewhat unfair, really, but hopefully worth it for a bit of comedy ...)

As for getting to Siwah - don't forget that he also had to rely on a divinely-inspired rainstorm, and some divinely-sent avian guides, too (or talking serpents, depending on which version you believe). The road to Siwah was hairy, and could have ended up with the army never getting near Gedrosia, while Alexander's bones bleached in the Libyan desert!
:cry:
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jan
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Total number of soldiers in Gedrosia

Post by jan »

I read that he took 80,000 soldiers and approximately 25,000 survived, and that 700 of his closest companions died in this march.
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azara
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Post by azara »

Hi, all.
Reading Arrian, one wouldn't be surprised if the number of noncombatant in the Gedrosian expedition had been unusually high. He begins the description of Gedrosia quoting Aristobulos:
In this desert myrrh trees grow larger than anywhere else, and the Phoenician merchants who followed the army, picking the juice (which was abundant, because it came from huge trunks and had never been picked before) carried it away on the beasts of burden... [...] There were also plants of nardon (?) with sweet-smelling roots, and these were picked by the Phoenicians as well; during the march the army trod on these plants and the broken nardon exhaled a pleasant smell that spread all around.
Considering that myrrh in antiquity cost more than its weight in gold, that was the country of which fairytales talk, where gold coins hang almost literally from the trees. If we assume Alexander had gathered detailed information about what lay ahead (only Nearchus said he had not), great expectations must have arisen among the camp-followers.
All those merchants, traders, suppliers and adventurers (and their families) were allowed to follow the army at their own risk but had to look after themselves and normally had no access to the troups' provisions. There is in Arrian another episode, when Alexander ordered some soldiers to carry some provisions to the coast, where he hoped the fleet would find them: the starving soldiers broke the seals and ate the provisions," distributing them also among those who most suffered from hunger". I think (but of course I may be wrong) the latter were desperate civilians; there was no need to mention them if they had been soldiers as well.

In another point Arrian states clearly enough that the army found water everyday, but if they did not find it at dawn, after their march during the night, they had to go on marching under the scorching sun until water was found, and it was then that they became severely dehydrated. He says also that GÇ£most of themGÇ¥ died from excessive drinking when water was found in abundance.

In conclusion, Arrian may be considered too apologetic, but in any case the situation must have been very complicated indeed. Alexander had underestimated the dangers of Gedrosia, but, as he hadnGÇÖt finished with deserts and army-fleet joint operations, I think he meant to test his acquired knowledge in the Arabian expeditionGǪ and later on the coasts of North Africa, and then who knows where.
With my best regards Azara
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