Alexander and Military Matters

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Key points
  • Alexander's army
  • The Battle of Granicus
  • Campaigns in Asia Minor
  • The Battle of Issus
  • The Siege of Tyre
  • Conquest of Egypt
  • The Battle of Gaugamela
  • Bactria and Sogdiana
  • The Battle of the Hydaspes
  • Conquest of the Mallian People
  • The Gedrosian Desert


This theme examines Alexander as a general, with respect to the various battles and campaigns that he waged in Persia. For much of this theme you will work with at least one other student and become the 'teacher'. This will involve becoming experts in one event of your choice and then presenting this information in some form (again you have a choice) for the rest of the students to learn from.

Before we get into that we need to start with a more traditional approach in examining what Alexander inherited from Philip. The following work should only take one hour + homework time.

Lesson: Alexander's army

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To gain a clear understanding of what Alexander gained from his father Philip

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  • Artus pages 36-42 (Alexander the General - Persian Troops)
  • Study Guide pages 17-18 (Alexander's military conquests and genius)

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Read through the page references given and study the slideshow on the Macedonian army

Philip's legacy

What was the most important legacy that Philip left Alexander?

  • The army
  • The tactics learnt from Thebes
  • The unification of Macedon
  • Securing Greece (including the League of Corinth)

Pick one defining legacy that Philip left Alexander and carefully argue for your choice in the course forum – do this under the thread entitled “Philip's legacy”. Make sure you have read page 38 (The legacy of Philip) in Artus and weighed up the different points. Please don't write a one sentence answer – you should aim to write a considered paragraph. If someone else uses some of your ideas, quickly summarise what they have said and elaborate on it. Don't be worried about comparing your answer with what other write. The idea is to build knowledge and understanding together, not to compete.

Alexander's army

Read through the text and diagrams over-viewing Alexander's army. Make a note of the role of the following parts of his army (it would also be worth copying out the basic set up of his army as it will help you remember the different parts)

  • The Companion Cavalry
  • The phalanx
  • The Hypaspists
  • The Sarissa
  • The Somatofylakes
  • Hetairoi

Write an answer to these questions in your notes, but be prepared to share your view/answer in the next video conference

  1. What was the most important aspect of Alexander's army and why?
  2. Explain the basic tactic that Philip and Alexander used in battle.

Battle Plans Group Activity



Objective| To gain an understanding of Alexander's main battles and how they demonstrate his ability as a general

In this activity you are going to become the teachers. We will split the major battles (and the siege of Tyre) up amongst groups of three or two. You choose the battle that you are most interested in and work with the other students who have also chosen your topic to thoroughly research your topic, produce a visual battle plan with an accompanying narration (written or narrated) and an activity that the other students have to complete.

What my group has to complete:

  • Some research and reading on your battle
  • A battle plan
  • A presentation of the battle plan. That is, the battle plan is put into something (slideshow for example)
  • An activity for the other students to complete. The activity could be a series of questions for students to answer, or a quiz (you could send me the questions and I could turn it into a quiz in the course, or a forum discussion or something else suitable.


  • Communication with the rest of your group will be very important and will be the first major challenge. Getting yourself organised won't be easy
  • Use our course forum to post questions. You will encounter difficulties and will need help. Post your questions
  • Don't procrastinate on this type of group activity - get on with it
  • Division of labour will be important. Decide who will do what early. It may be that you all work together on everything or each member does a different aspect of the task (e.g. battle plan, presentation, activity)

Each group will need to take the rest of the students through their battle plan in the video conference lesson


What is a battle plan?

A battle plan is a visual way of producing an outline of the main stages of a battle. So rather than a detailed written outline you are going to produce something that is very visual. Follow this link to look an example (of the battle of marathon) If you google your battle you will probably find quite a few images that will be useful. There are a few key things to consider when doing this.

  • You must show the stages of the battle so it should include two to three separate diagrams / drawings.
  • The battle plan is your own work not diagrams/plans you have found on the web. Use these in helping you design your own interpretation
  • Each diagram should be accompanied by a written (or narration using podcasting)outline of each stage. Just keep it brief though.

What would we use to design the battle plan?

The plan will need to be presented electronically so pen and paper won't necessarily be the best option. You could do it this way and scan the plan onto computer, but most of you live miles away from each other so this will not be an option. This is where the web comes into play. If I haven't got our own version of Google Apps up and going then go to and create an account. This will allow you to use Google docs which has slideshow, document and drawing tools. These enable you to create your plan and presentation together no matter how far away you live. All you need is an internet connection.

Presenting your plan

It is not enough to just create your plan. It must be put in something that enables the other students to see it. You have choices that I have outline below (under "Ways I could present the plan")


Resources that I can use



Ways I could present the plan

The battle plan can be presented in a few ways

  • In a slideshow (using Google Slideshow)that can then be placed in the course wiki
  • Straight into a new page you create on the course wiki
  • Into a Voicethread (which would allow you to voice over a description of the battle without having to write it. It would even mean you wouldn't really have to do a talk in the video conference lesson). Voicethread is free and allows you to upload images and add comments, voice overs (including a webcam view) and also allows you to draw over the top of the images so it could be a good way of getting those tricky arrows into your battle plan. Have a look at an example of a voicethread in the Greek Vase course from last year - follow this link - . Again, it is something you can do with others. Se the "Resource" section here to learn how to use it.
  • Into a Google Document that can then be placed in the course wiki

The Battle of Granicus

The Battle of the Granicus River in May 334 BC was the first of three major battles fought between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire. Fought in Northwestern Asia Minor, near the site of Troy, it was here that Alexander defeated the forces of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor, including a large force of Greek mercenaries led by Memnon of Rhodes.

The battle took place on the road from Abydos to Dascylium (near modern day Ergili, Turkey), at the crossing of the Granicus River


The Battle of Issus

The Battle of Issus (or the Battle at Issus) occurred in southern Anatolia, in November 333 BC. The invading troops, led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia. After Alexander's forces successfully forced a crossing of the Hellespont (the Dardanelles) and defeated the Persian satraps in a prior encounter, the Battle of the Granicus, Darius took personal charge of his army, gathered a large army from the depths of the empire, and maneuvered to cut the Greek line of supply, requiring Alexander to countermarch his forces, setting the stage for the battle near the mouth of the Pinarus River and south of the village of Issus.


The Siege of Tyre

The Siege of Tyre was a siege of the city of Tyre, a strategic coastal base on the Mediterranean Sea, orchestrated by Alexander the Great in 332 BC during his campaigns against the Persians. The Macedonian army was unable to capture the city through conventional means because it was on an island and had walls right up to the sea. So Alexander blockaded and besieged Tyre for seven months.

Alexander the Great ordered his engineers to use the debris of the abandoned mainland city to build a causeway and once within reach of the city walls, he used his siege engines from both the causeway and his ships to batter and finally breach the fortifications. It is said that Alexander was so enraged at the Tyrians' defense and the loss of his men that he destroyed half the city. According to Arrian, the Tyrian losses were about 8,000, while the Macedonians lost 400. Alexander granted pardon to the king and his family, whilst the 30,000 residents and foreigners taken were sold into slavery.


The Battle of Gaugamela

The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle, which is also called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the Macedon and led to the fall of the The Battle of Gaugamela. On the face of it Alexander should never have one. His forced were vastly outnumbered and the setting for the battle was a long open plain where Darius could use his superior number sot outflank Alexander.


The Battle of the Hydaspes

The Battle of the Hydaspes River was fought by Alexander the Great in 326 BC against the Hindu king Porus (Pururava in Sanskrit) on the banks of Hydaspes River (the Jhelum) in the Punjab region near Bhera now in Pakistan. The kingdom of Paurava of King Porus was situated in the part of Punjab which is now part of modern day Pakistan (Pakistani Punjab). The Hydaspes was the last major and most costly battle fought by Alexander.[15] King Porus and his men put up a fierce resistance against the invading Macedonian army which won the admiration and respect of Alexander.[16]

Although victorious, Alexander's exhausted army mutinied soon after, when he made plans to cross river Hyphasis, and refused to go further into India