Elephants, mercenaries and phalanxes of troops armed with sarissas take to the field in the Battle of Raphia
01 Battlelines drawn
The two armies are encamped less than a kilometre apart. After five days of waiting, Ptolemy leads his army out of the Egyptian camp and Antiochus follows suit. In the centre of his battleline, Ptolemy places his infantry phalanx and his elite infantry. The Ptolemaic left wing is anchored by a mercenary cavalry regiment under Polycrates. On the extreme right wing, Ptolemy sets more cavalry under Echecrates. The spaces between these regiments are filled with soldiers drawn from far and wide including Gauls, Thracians, Libyans, Greek mercenaries as well as native Egyptians. He places his African forest elephants ahead of his cavalrymen on each wing. Ptolemy himself takes a position on the Egyptian left wing.
02 Troops assemble
On his own right wing Antiochus places 2,000 horsemen under Antipater. Another regiment of 2,000 cavalry troopers is beside them. Directly to their fore are 60 Indian elephants. On the extreme left wing Antiochus puts another regiment of 2,000 cavalry with more elephants in front of them. The Seleucid phalanx is in the centre of the line, opposite the Egyptian phalanx. The Syrian battleline is filled out with troops from many nations, including Cardaces, Cissians, Medes, Carmanians, Arabs, as well as mercenaries from Greece and Crete. Antiochus is with his right wing because he intends to fight Ptolemy head on.
03 Pachyderm problems
Both kings deliver inspirational speeches to their troops, their phalanxes, upon whom they pin much of their hopes for victory, in particular. The battle commences, with the elephants of the Ptolemaic left wing and Seleucid right wing being the first regiments to engage in combat. Many of Ptolemy’s African forest elephants are unwilling to fight the larger Indian elephants of the Seleucids and flee. Ptolemy’s Royal Guard cavalry is compelled to retreat along with them.
04 Cavalry driven back
Antiochus circles around the retreating enemy and strikes the Ptolemaic cavalry on its left wing while his Greek mercenary peltasts mount an attack on Ptolemy’s own peltasts, who have become disordered by the retreating elephants. These are driven back. Antiochus drives off the Egyptian cavalry and sets off in headlong pursuit of the fleeing horsemen. He ends up far distant from the rest of the fighting.
“Antiochus drives off the Egyptian cavalry and sets off in headlong pursuit of the fleeing horsemen. He fighting” ends up far distant from the rest of the
05 Mercenaries attack
On the other side of the field the
Egyptian army is faring much better. The Ptolemaic commander, Echecrates, sees that his own elephants are refusing to clash with the bigger Seleucid animals. He gives up on them and orders his Greek mercenaries to attack the Seleucids in front of them while he leads a cavalry charge that flanks the enemy’s elephants. He descends upon the rear of the Seleucid cavalry on the Syrian left wing. The Seleucids here are routed and their left begins to collapse.
06 Pushing back
In the centre of the battleline, the infantry phalanxes, up until now not engaged, clash with one another. The Egyptians have the better of the fighting and push Antiochus’ best troops backward.
07 Victory achieved
Antiochus, believing himself victorious, is far away when one of his officers points to the battlefield left far behind. A dust cloud can be seen heading toward the Syrian camp. This can only mean that the Seleucids are losing the battle! The king hurries back with his Royal Squadron but only arrives in time to find his men in pell-mell flight. The battle is over. Ptolemy has won a great victory and gains possession of Raphia.