Chapter 40: Hellish Encirclement and Annihilation (I)
“What do you mean…” Xanthicles thought about it and asked, “After passing through the valley, we will immediately start the formation and fight the Persians that came chasing us.”
“Moreover, the path in the valley is narrow and will delay their retreat, which will make it easier for us to catch up with them. The more Persians that come chasing, the slower their retreat from the valley, and the more Persians we could kill!” Timasion excitedly said.
“But the Persians are not fools, why will they risk and cross the valley if they saw that we are ready?” Xenophon’s question stunned everyone.
Cheirisophus said with confidence, “That’s why we won’t attack them near the entrance of the valley. Once the Persians catch up with us, then we will attack! Therefore, we need to lure them to chase us!”
“Right! Anyway, the Persians won’t dare to fight us head-on, and we have the slingers and cavalry, which will surely give the Persians an unexpected surprise! At that time, the whole troops will attack them together and drive them to the entrance of the valley, and the narrowness of the valley will delay their retreat and help us catch up with them!…”
Everyone said their opinions and soon the plan was perfected.
Suddenly someone said, “We should ambush the Persian army on this side of the valley and immediately block it after they cross it.”
Everyone was stunned and abruptly turned around, it was Davos, he had been sitting in the corner and was seriously listening to them.
“…Do you want to annihilate them all?!” Cheirisophus looked at Davos, as he tried to suppressed his astonishment and said slowly.
Davos extended his left five fingers, then squeezed it into a fist and forcefully slammed it, “Of course! If we just defeated them, then they will surely return to once more attack us, after they retreated and regroup. Only by surrounding and annihilating them can we give the greatest deterrence to the Persians!”
The Greeks advocates strength and preferred head-on clash, this characteristics was further emphasized by the fact that their mercenary troops mainly consist of hoplites. The same is true for the Spartans who are the best at fighting, the Battle of Marathon, the Battle of Platea… not to mention that these big battles were won by Greeks through their strength and head-on collision. Even the countless small battles were seldom roundabout, outflanking, ambushing, surprise attack, and surround and annihilation… Everyone in the later generations knows some of these most common military terms well, and even though they seem simple, but it’s almost blank in this era, throughout the military history of the Greek city-states, the hoplites were their main fighting force. Of course, such battles occasionally occured, but few people paid attention to it and was just skimmed. Hundreds of years later, Hannibal, the commander of Carthage, killed half of the men in Rome with repeated battle of annihilation, which have force Rome, the overlord of the Mediterranean, to learn from their enemies and finally take the military tactics of the classical West to a great level.
Davos, whose soul had came from later generation, is certainly won’t be restricted by this era. Although his military experience is still immature, but he is two thousand years ahead with his military thoughts. What he was thinking at this time was a sentence often said in later generation, It is better to cut off one finger than to injure ten.
Cheirisophus looked calmly at this young man with an immature face, but he was shocked by his courage and concept. He admit that Davos’ proposal was tempting and feasible, but he still asked cautiously, “There is a dense forest not far from the valley, but if we have too many soldiers for ambush, then they will be easily spotted by the cavalry scout of the Persian. But if there are too few soldiers and if there are too many Persians that comes, then how can they stop the Persians from retreating? What if the Persians doesn’t come chasing tomorrow? You should know that they didn’t come today.”
Davos had already thought about it and answered seriously, “There is no plan in the world that is perfect, there are risks in any military actions, therefore we should consider all possibilities as thoroughly as possible. First of all, I want to ask you, Cheirisophus, how far is this forest from the entrance of the valley?”
“About 3 miles.” Cheirisophus blurted out as if the terrain had been imprinted in his mind. This made Davos admire him very much. Surveying the topography is a necessary skill for a qualified commander, and he also need to study it!
At the same time, Cheirisophus’ words cleared his biggest concern about the plan, he said it with his analysis, “According to what has been said before, when the whole mercenary troops sets out before dawn, then the troops for the ambush will be able to arrive at the forest, and the enemy cavalry scout should still be sleeping. We only need 300~400 soldiers for the ambush, therefore the chance for them to be discovered will be small, and the Persians will only think of fleeing and won’t have the time to organize resistance, although we won’t be able to wipe them out, but the results won’t be too bad!”
‘Surrounding the three sides was theorized by Sun Tzu, a military strategist and the first one to raise the ancient art of war to a new height, and should be living in the same era!’ Davos’ inexplicable sense of pride made him more relaxed, “As for the Persians not coming, then you don’t have to worry. If the enemy hasn’t yet appeared after noon, the troops that is task for the ambush could withdraw on their own initiative, and their actions will be more swift since they don’t have any baggage, and our main force will also be at the entrance of the valley, so there won’t be any big problems…” (note: it is about surrounding a place, but only 3 sides have troops and leaving 1 side unguarded in order to give the enemy hope of escape, and then take advantage of the situation to surround them and gradually annihilate them.
Davos’ detailed thoughts eventually conquered all the other leaders that are present and they all agreed with his suggestion: Adding an ambush force.
Cheirisophus, who had always been unable to get used to Davos because of his youth, couldn’t help but treasure his talents, but the way the Spartans treasure their younger generation is different, “Davos, are you willing to command this ambush force?”
Davos was stunned, he saw trust and expectation in the gaze of Cheirisophus. He carefully thought about it and despite the obstruction of Philesius, and faced with the complicated gaze of everyone, he nodded, “I can!”
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The next day, before dawn, the Greeks got up at the urging of the bugle, they packed up their baggage and equipment, and departed with sleepy eyes.
There is only a glimmer of light appearing on the horizon when they arrived at the entrance of the valley.
Davos led three hoplite units and one peltast unit, and separated from the main mercenary force. The leaders then sent their blessings one after another.
“Zeus will be with you!” This is what Cheirisophus had said.
“May Ares give you strength!” This is what Timasion had said.
“May Athena give you good fortune!” This is what Xenophon had said.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
In order to fight with the Persians, the whole mercenary troops are united.
“Take care of the leader! Come back safely!” Philesius said seriously.
“Do not worry, Philesius, we will take care of the leader!” Antonios interrupted.
“You take care as well!” Davos said while giving Philesius a powerful hug. Then, in the gazes of the remaining soldiers and officers had begun to change into admiration, as he led the troops along the foot of the mountain and rushed to the forest on the left side…
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
In fact, Artaozus acted earlier than the day before, because his troops had grown so large that there were around 4,500 archers and 1,500 mounted archers, which doubled his confidence and made him eager to crush the Greek mercenary troops as soon as possible in order for him to get the adjutant position that was promised by Tissaphernes earlier.
The scout reported back that the Greeks had long left their camp and crossed the valley, and the distance was 20 miles away from the Persian army.
He took it for granted and thought that the Greeks acted so quickly in order to avoid their attacks, and felt anxious thinking about the oath that he had pledge to Tissaphernes, ‘They must not be allowed to run away, we must crush them today!’
So he urged the troops to speed up the march. When they passed through the valley, they did not stop because the scout had told him that the Greeks were 5~6 miles away from the mouth of the valley.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Leader Davos, the Persians have entered the valley!” Asistes ran back to the forest and reported it to Davos.
“How many people?” asked Antonios on the side.
“Their troops is very long, I am afraid that there are thousands of people!” Asistes said as he gasped.
“This is really a big fish!” Amintas whistled.
“Then we will immediately implement the second plan that we had discussed last night.” Davos was nervous, but he manage to control his facial expression.
“Brothers, start working hard!” Kapus shouted in a low voice.