The states of Ancient Greece fought many battles with both themselves and other neighboring powers. The Greeks formed many unique styles of warfare and their innovations spread to many nations. Greek tactics included the phalanx infantry formation, and later the use of combined arms…
The total weight of a hoplite's equipment and armor was 50-60 pounds. Generally, only the wealthy and upper-middle class served as hoplites due to the high costs of the equipment. At first, the spears were about seven feet long, and the formation was about six to seven ranks deep. In combat the phalanx would move towards the enemy in unison, forming a thick wall of spears. When two phalanxes fought, one would attempt to either break the formation of the other or occasionally push the soldiers in the opposing phalanx over. Eventually some more advanced tactics were developed, such as sudden attacks on a certain point in a phalanx. The phalanx was a strong formation that had high shock power and could defend against charging heavy cavalry. However, the formation was also slow, and it needed to be set up before battle.
Light infantry was also used often by Greek city-states. Types of light infantry included peltasts, or javelin throwers; archers; and slingers. Peltasts were the most common type of light infantry. They fought with swords and javelins, and they wore only light armor and shields. Archers carried a bow and arrow, and slingers carried a sling that could be used to hurl small stones or lead slugs at an enemy. The equipment carried by the light infantry was cheaper than that carried by the hoplites, and many poorer citizens fought as light infantry. While light infantry could not withstand a charge of heavy infantry if it was trapped, it was more mobile, and could wear down the enemy from afar. Cavalry was also occasionally used by the Ancient Greeks. Originally light cavalry that threw javelins was used, but the Macedonians developed a type of heavy cavalry known as The Companion Cavalry. These cavalrymen carried nine to twelve foot lances and wore heavy armor. Light cavalry was used for reconnaissance and harassment, and the companions were used to make a decisive charge that would overrun an enemy force and win the battle.
Ancient Greek naval forces used a type of warship called the trireme. This ship was propelled by three rows of oars. The rowers were slaves in many states, and poor citizens in Athens. Triremes carried marines for boarding an enemy ship, archers, a battering ram and some small ballistae and catapults. One common tactic that was used was ramming, which is where a ship would speed up and try to collide with another ship with its battering ram so that a hole would be broken in the other ship. The other major tactics were boarding and a tactic where a ship would brush against another to try to break the oars in the other ship.
The first major battles that the Greeks fought against opponents from outside Greece were in the Persian Wars. These wars lasted from 499 BC to 448 BC. The Persians used different tactics than the Greeks. Persian forces were mostly made up of light infantry that used bows, spears, and swords. Persian infantry had only light armor and wicker shields. Persian tactics involved the use of large amounts of archery. Usually, only the front ranks of the Persian infantry would engage in melee combat, while the other ranks showered the enemy with arrows. The Immortals were an elite unit that consisted of only the best warriors. Only Medians, Elamites, or Persians could serve in this unit. The Immortals always kept their strength at 10,000 men, and they served as the ...
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