I am not too sure how far it would be practicable either, plains apart, in any broken terrain one risks defeat in detail or columns getting lost, no GPS then, though a system better than AppleMaps
Ah, I see that you interpret "in parallel columns" differently to the meaning I intended to convey. The parallel columns, each say 8 abreast ( so that a simple left turn meant the files of 8 were in phalanx formation ) would march just a few metres, or tens of metres apart. Perhaps a single "broad column" should be envisaged. If you have Connolly's 'Greek Armies', p.54 depicts such close parallel columns negotiating a defile, swelling and narrowing as necessary. (alternately p.46 'Greece and Rome at War' for the same illustration )
I was going to skip Alexander's marches, Engels has a good analysis, whereas the other evidence is largely unexplored with a sole focus on the marches.
Skip Alexander's marches ? On a website about Alexander ? One of the reasons I never bought Engels is that sometimes his methods and presumptions are badly flawed, according to reviewers and other historians, so that is a disappointment.
Still let us by all means jump from Xenophon's Anabasis, the most complete and detailed description of an ancient army's march that we have, so providing a good base, to Diodorus XVIII-XX, and leave Alexander for another day, then.
There is nothing to say that the wagons stuck at I 5 vii are ox carts but the fact that Xenophon advised the 10,000 to abandon its cattle shows that they had ox transports in camp and they must have come on the march.
I agree - in view of what I said earlier, that ox-carts would not have accompanied the Army itself, but likely formed part of the 'Supply Train', and that it would take an awful lot of nobles to help heave a laden ox-wagon out of the mud, let alone several, I believe the wagons in question were likely lighter mule or donkey carts, that we know typically accompanied ancient armies.
At the point when Xenophon gave that advice, in the aftermath of Cunaxa, the Greeks had lost all
their own baggage, and the 'emergency reserve' of 400 wagons had also been captured by the Great King (whose provender Xenophon naively believed was intended for the Greek forces only!) From its presence, these must must mean mule carts; ox-wagons would not have kept up with Cyrus' final dash, nor handled the many ditch/canal crossings in the irrigated area approaching Babylon).
However the Greeks had also captured part at least of the King's baggage train, and it is these wagons that Xenophon wants to burn. ( I gave the reference, II.1.5-7/Penguin p.104, for the capture of abandoned Persian gear - where Warner again is somewhat loose in his translation altering 'wagon'/acharma to 'chariot'/arma, though even if there is any ambiguity, Xenophon's speech a little later makes it plain that ox-carts were what was captured)
Digression: This reminds me of a further point. Agesilaos, estimating Cyrus' army to be as 'lean' as Philip of Macedon's (which I would doubt) reckoned that split 50-50 the 'Supply Train/Lydian market would consist of 200 wagons making up half the capacity.
X's reference to 400 wagons demonstrates :
a) The basic accuracy of Agesilaos' calculations that this is what it would take to replenish the army ( although mule carts at around 1200 lbs/500 kg did not have the same capacity as ox-wagons which latter Xenophon gives elsewhere as 25 talents/1450 lbs/650 kgs )......and....
b) Since the 'emergency reserve' probably would have included pack animals as well, and not solely wagons, the likelihood is that Cyrus' army was indeed not as lean as Philip's, which is what we would expect, given that Philip was cutting down 'the norm'.
Digression 2: Knowing that Cyrus marched several days until the immediate rations were running out, then waited several days for the 'Lydian Market/Supply Train' to catch up ( it moved at "oxen pace") - see tables for pauses- so he could re-provision will give us a very useful yardstick for the next phase of examining the marches of the Diadochi....we should be able to tell, for instance, whether the army is marching with or without its 'Supply Train'......
As X. said, and I quoted earlier, ( I.5.3/p77 Penguin ) Cyrus was pushing on at all speed ( without 'forced marching' )
"Generally speaking, it was obvious that Cyrus was pressing on all the way with no pause except when he halted for provisions or some other necessity."