Battle of Gaugamela
The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan, possibly near Dohuk, and resulted in a decisive victory for the Macedonians. After the Siege of Gaza, Alexander advanced from Syria towards the heart of the Persian empire, crossing both the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers without any opposition. Darius was building up a massive army, drawing men from the far reaches of his empire, and planned to use sheer numbers to crush Alexander. Though Alexander had conquered part of the Persian empire, it was still vast in area and in manpower reserves, and Darius could recruit more men than Alexander could dream of. Also present in the Persian army, a sign that the Persians were still very powerful, were the feared war elephants. While Darius had a significant advantage in number of soldiers, most of his troops weren’t as organized as Alexander’s.
The battle began with the Persians already present at the battlefield. Darius had recruited the finest cavalry from his eastern satrapies. Darius placed himself in the center with his best infantry as was the tradition among Persian kings. The Macedonians were divided into two, with the right side of the army falling under the direct command of Alexander, and the left to Parmenion. Alexander began by ordering his infantry to march in phalanx formation towards the center of the enemy line. Darius now launched his chariots, which were intercepted by the Agrianians, and quickly rendered useless. Alexander, while leading the charge, formed his units into a giant wedge, which quickly smashed right into the weakened Persian center. Darius’ charioteer was killed by a spear, and chaos rang out as everyone thought it was Darius who had been killed. The Persian line then collapsed, and Darius fled. Darius escaped with a small core of his forces remaining intact, although the Bactrian cavalry and Bessus soon caught up with him. The remaining Persian resistance was quickly put down. In all, the Battle of Gaugamela was a disastrous defeat for the Persians, and possibly one of Alexander’s finest victories.