Efstathios wrote:Only that it didn't have to be this way, they could have gone a safer road, with maybe no casualties as from the harsh conditions of a desert. But he wanted to do another glorius achievement and that is why he chose to cross the Makran, and i believe this decision was heavily influenced by his decaying character at that time. So yes, it was a mistake, and a terrible one, because he didn't think enough about the wellfare of the army, including the women and children and all that, and that this wasn't just another battle in this campaign.
He could indeed have gone along a safer road - he had already sent Craterus along that very route.
I suppose it should be argued that, in order to 'complete' his conquest of the former Persian empire, he had to take the Gedrosian route. Now, that argument would only hold a certain amount of water, because there were other parts of the empire that he never visited - Armenia, for a start! However, that might have worked as his justification, especially when one considers that the sea voyage was actually the more important, strategic part of the journey - establishing a sea-based trade route from India to the mouths of the Tigris/Euphrates was a damn good idea. And, in order for the fleet to make its journey, they needed a land force to shadow them, in order to provide supply dumps.
And that is where the problem came, through lack of preparation, guides getting lost, etc. So I wouldn't say that, from a logistical point of view, the journey through the Gedrosian was a pure mistake. What the greatest problem was, was Alexander's taking so many people into the desert. There was no need to take so many thousands of non-combatants - nor, indeed, so many thousands of troops - simply to support the fleet. Had he taken a much pared-down military force, then the disaster might not have been so great. As it was, things went wrong and they lost contact with the fleet - essentially, their raison d'etre for being in the godforsaken place was removed; and, when things went wrong, so many thousands more suffered than needed to.
Ultimately, I can think of very good strategic and logistical reasons for going into the Gedrosian desert; but it was handled very badly, and perhaps that was the fault of the shade of Semiramis? (I don't mean by that, that Alexander was not at fault, but that he was too absorbed in the idea of emulating/surpassing these mythical figures.)