THE MACEDONIAN PIKE PHALANX Alexander's army as we know was comprised of The Companions, The Hypaspists, The Pike

Phalanx, and large numbers of allied and mercenary troops. Many modern accounts relate that the Phalanx consisted of six units each 1500 men strong and drawn up 16 ranks deep. Now having said this I should like to add a few ideas on the Phalanx which members of the group might like to discuss. 1. If we assume that the 2000 Cimpanions were drawn from the Macedonian Nobles, and that the 3000 Hypaspists were the professional infantry menat-arms, then it is logical that the Pikemen in the Phalanx must have been recruited from the lower classes of Macedonian society at least initially. 2. After encountering elephants for the first time, Alexander included a special corps of Axe-bearers among the ranks of pikemen in the phalanx, as a counter-measure. These men carrying double blade axes would charge the beasts and hit them at their weakest point - the forehead - to bring them down. Later, Alexander observed another weakness of the animal, that it easily panicked and fled to the opposite direction of the presumed threat. Thus, he instructed his axemen to strike the beasts low, only to cause them pain. The paniced elephants would then retreat out of control, charging through the ranks of their friendly forces, thus breaking the lines and causing havoc. Miltos 3. How was the phalanx kept up to strength in view of the need to leave various detatchments and garrisons behind at towns and cities? Could it be that tribal allies and mercenaries were recruited into the ranks under Greek Officers. Alexander must surely have appreciated that it would be better to have these people in organized units rather than under their own warlo rds. There would have been no shortage of volunteers given that it is going to b e more beneficial in pay and conditions of service to be in a regular unit. I tend to be a little sceptical about the modern image of the Phalanx as depicte d in the Photos section. Ancient chroniclers would tend to submit the view that the sixteen deep formatio n was in fact with a spacing of three feet between files. This would be fine for the advance march but would leave the files very vulnerable to an enemy with shorter weopons in a melee. What happened in reality was that when close enough to the enemy, the rear eight ranks would fill the gaps in the files thus creating a (presumably stationery) shield wall. I am also a little dubious concerning the depiction of the use of shields in all ranks of the phalanx. The late Charles Grant in an article published in Battle magaazine (mid 1975) di d some experiments in his garden which in which he maintained that although it was possable to handle both a pike and a shield simultaneously, this was only possable if the shield was either slung on the sol diers back, or was a small 'buckler' strapped to the forearm. I can not see that that the use of the large hoplite shield, as depicted, would have been at all possable. It may be that shields were only carr

Afghan. if we suppose that the phalanx was actually only eight ranks deep in melee. and must have been double tha t which Professor Marsden presents. IMPORTANT-PLEASE DO NOT EDIT . Much more likely that after years of campaigning on Alexancer's 'advent ure' they would more or less have been indistinguishable from any of the other Persian. Did the Phalanx really look like that which is shown in the pictures? All very m uch dressed in the Greek fashion. Would Alexander have had the means to provide sufficient shields to the lower cl ass phalangites? It seems unlikely. and would also be more in keep ing with the tactics used by other ancient peoples.ied by shield bearers in the front rank of the phalanx who were then supported by the points of the pikes in the ranks behind. rather than as a 'Napoleonic' style column. then obviously the frontage assessed by E W Marsden is incorrect. Also. Now. can you really imagine this force trek ing around the deserts of the middle east every day with a 20ft pike on their shoulder? Much more likel y the pikes were carried with the baggage train and issued out to the men only in the event of imminent b attle. Scyth ian or other peoples that they encountered on their way. This would give credence to the proposition that the phalanx w as used as a shield wall.

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