You have done so much work that ... take the next step - write about all this in more detail? It's great that you all analyzed and laid out so!
Greetings dear visitors of the site "IN". Immediately and honestly I confess that initially there was not the slightest desire to respond to the "requests of workers", but as it turned out that even on such a respected site as xlegio.ru, there is a significant gap in this issue, and I consider myself forced to do so.
I apologize in advance for the fact that part of the article will be a repetition of my comments on the article by the distinguished Vyacheslav Shpakovsky "Weapon India: elephants and ... armor! (Part of 2) ".
I also thank the discussion participant for the nickname abrakadabre, since it was his overall very reasonable, but, unfortunately, comments not supported by the actual material and caused the appearance of this article.
In the majority of battle descriptions where elephants were involved, they showed low efficiency, and this “almost ...” is constantly encountered. The main part of victories is the first collision, when the enemy simply never saw the elephant at all.
Unfortunately for the then military, despite the incredible strength and potential, the elephants did not become super-weapons. And more often, those turned into panic crushed their own ranks than the enemy.
Let's take and count, in how many battles of the Hellenistic era, elephants achieved victory, and in how many "crushed their own ranks." So, in order: 1) the battle of Hydaspus - although the battle of Porom is lost, but it was the elephants who caused the greatest damage to the Macedonian. After the battle, the victorious army began to demand from him to stop the march; 2) The battle of Ipsa is one of the greatest battles of antiquity and a complete triumph of the elephants of Seleucus 3-4) of the battle of Herakleia and Auskul. The role of elephants in the defeat of the Romans themselves, the Roman authors did not hide, rather, on the contrary, emphasized; 5) "Battle of the elephants" - so called because the place where it occurred, remains unknown. It is only known that a large galatian army turned the whole 16 elephants of Antiochus I to flight. With one of their kind, the elephants so terrified the barbarians that they fled in disarray. The chariots and cavalry of the Galatians were overthrown by their own infantry. Then the troops of Antioch went on the offensive and won a complete victory (addition, which was not in the commentary - according to the sources that reached us, the army of Galatians was not numerically inferior to the hordes of Cimbrians and Teutons who invaded at the end of 2. BC. Republic. The consequences of this invasion, I think, are known to everyone in the subject); 6) The battle of Pydna - it was the attack of the elephants on the left flank of the army of Perseus that was the turning point of the battle.
So, in six major battles of antiquity, elephants brought victory to their masters.
I wrote this in the comments. It is possible that there was another big battle in which the elephants played a decisive role - this is the Battle of Couroupedia. There is no coherent narration about this battle, but, given that Seleucus Nikator had the most numerous and well-trained elephant in the ancient world, it is impossible to exclude her participation in the destruction of the "great kingdom" of Lysimachus.
Now we will try to count how many battles the elephants "crushed their own ranks": 1) the battle of Gavgamela / Arbel - the battle of Darius III was lost, but not at all because of the elephants, but because of the low combat capability of his troops in general; 2) the battle of Benevento is the first example when the enemy (the Romans) managed to scare the elephants, and they trod down the ranks of their troops. But since there is no coherent description of this battle, it remains unknown how many of the soldiers of Pyrrhos were crushed by his own elephants; 3) Battle of Rafia - the elephants took part on both sides, they did not achieve much success on either side, but it’s also impossible to say that they crushed their own ranks; 4) Battle of Zama - the second example, when the Romans managed to scare the elephants and they fled from the battlefield. But the infantry of Hannibal continued to attack, and the position of the legions was extremely difficult. Only the blow of the Roman Numidian cavalry to the rear of the troops of Hannibal brought victory to the Romans and Massinissa. So the elephants are clearly to blame for the defeat of Hannibal, but rather he himself; 5) Battle of Magnesia. Now it is difficult to say whether the Romans and the Pergamians managed to scare the elephants, or the drivers themselves drove them to the rear for fear - the fact remains: it was not the elephants who ran first, but the people, but about “crushed by elephants” we can say the following: both Tit Livy and Appian writes that the losses of the royal army amounted to 50 thousand people. But almost as many Romans lost in the Battle of Cannes, in which elephants were NOT used! And such a result is characteristic of the overwhelming majority of the battles of antiquity: the losing side suffered heavy losses during the flight, regardless of whether there were elephants in the army or not. But to assess the effectiveness of war elephants of antiquity, the battle of Magnesia itself is not so important for us as its consequence, namely the Apamey Peace Treaty of 188 BC. er One of the clauses of this treaty forbade the Seleucids to have war elephants! It is significant that in relation to heavily armed cavalry and chariots with braids there were no restrictions! Doesn't this remind you of anything? In 1919, the German point of Versailles was forbidden to have submarines in Germany. The latter seem to regard no one as an ineffective means of armed struggle. Draw your own conclusions. And finally, the third in a row, a battle in which the elephants did not manifest themselves - this is the battle of Tapsa. But this is already the era of civil wars, and it is not necessary to blame only elephants for the defeat of Pompeyans. The general battle of Farsala, for example, they valiantly lost without elephants. The same can be said about the battle of Philippi.
Bottom line: on 6 (+ one question) of the battles of antiquity, in which the elephants achieved success, there are only three, in which they can be conditionally “accused” of “pressing their own ranks”. Only here the number of "crushed" is unknown, but it seems that it is not so great.
So, the situation with the elephants more or less clear. But everything is known in comparison. Therefore, we will try to compare elephantiary with other branches of the ancient forces, since there are few of them. We, a priori, exclude infantry precisely as a branch of service, since it was she 90% of the total number of troops of the Mediterranean and Europe. That is, the outcome of each battle of antiquity can be considered both plus and minus to the infantry, this is depending on the specific battle, nationality and commander. Therefore, we will try to compare the war elephants of antiquity with the ancient cavalry.
Horses in this sense are more obedient and controllable.
Horses in this sense are more obedient and controllable.
I apologize, but I am not a livestock breeder, I honestly admit that this question is incompetent and I don’t even have the moral right to say: who is more obedient and manageable there: horse, donkey, bull, buffalo, goat, ram or rabbit? For me as a loving person history Hellenistic time, more importantly: was the cavalry of antiquity, of course, if not the "god of war", then at least his right hand? Next, analyze the record of the ancient cavalry. Outwardly, he looks very impressive: at least not less than that of elephants: Heronea, Granicke, Iss, Gavgamela / Arbela, Tytsin, Zama. However (let M. Leontiev forgive me for plagiarism), after a careful analysis it turns out that more than half of the victories (if not 3 / 4) of the ancient cavalry are associated with the name of only one person! Namely Alexander the Great / III Argead. It is possible that Alexander really had a gift that is called from God, because, according to ancient legends, only he managed to tame the indomitable Bucephalus and the proud Ajax (by the way, the latter is an elephant).
But further in the ancient history we no longer find such impressive cavalry victories. It’s not clear from the well-known descriptions of Titus Livia of the Battle of Cannes that at the final stage of the battle the horsemen of Hasdrubal / Magarbala fought on horseback or on foot? Therefore, to put unequivocally + cavalry in this battle, I would not.
Next in order: the battle of Zama. Yes, the outcome of the battle decided to strike the rear of the Carthaginian troops of the Roman Numidian cavalry under the command of Massinissa. But in this lies the answer to the question: are elephants or cavalry more effective? It was not a separate branch of the military itself that decided the outcome of that war, but the success of Roman diplomacy, which managed to win the Numidians to their side.
I explain my thought: if (oh, this is a damned “if”!) Numidians fought for Carthage just as they did for themselves, the Romans would not have won (at least, the way it happened, though, to be honest I do not like "alternative").
And finally, we come to the climax of the Hellenistic era - the battles of Rafia and Magnesia. And both of these battles are inextricably linked with the fate of one of the characters of the Hellenistic history - Antiochus the Great. It was not a mediocre person. Of all the Hellenistic dynasties, only he was given the title of Great in his lifetime. That is, contemporaries understood very well why! By the way, Alexander III Argead himself was given the title of Great posthumously. But what Antiochus the Great could not compare with Alexander the Great was in the command of the cavalry. Both under Raffia and Magnesia, he was overly fascinated by the pursuit of enemy detachments opposing him personally, losing control over the general course of the battle. As a result, the enemy crushed the left flank of his troops, and then surrounded and finished off the center.
And it is the course and outcome of the battle at Magnesia that allows me to argue with respectable esteemed abrakadabre: yes, perhaps, individually, a horse and a more obedient and controlled animal than an elephant, but only horses and elephants do not fight among themselves! And people, no matter how you treat them. And, as the experience of antiquity testifies, it turned out to be extremely difficult to command the cavalry units. And the elephant, I apologize to both the abrakadabre and the site administration, but to write that the elephant is smarter than a horse is PERFECTLY EXCESSABLE. This is even the horse itself is understandable! I apologize for such a small digression. The battle of Magnesia was not just one of the battles of the Hellenistic era, it became a disgrace to cavalry. The entire left flank of the tsarist army, which included chariots, armored horsemen, and horsemen on camels, was swept away by someone who did not understand it.
And finally, the battle of Pydna. Alas, but in the description of Titus Libya his part relating to the first phase of the battle was not preserved. But in military matters, Plutarch is so incompetent and chaotic that one should be extremely careful in relying on his testimony. Therefore, the moment remains unknown, when did the valiant Macedonian cavalry take to flight? Whether seeing an attack of elephants on the left flank of the Macedonian army, or even earlier?
And the last battle of the Hellenistic era, in which the cavalry covered itself with indelible shame, was the battle of Tigranokert. In the context of this article, it doesn’t matter how many troops Tigran had: 250 thousand or 80 thousand. What matters is its outcome. And when you read about this battle, for some reason you immediately recall the words from V. S. Vysotsky: "If it is true, well, at least a third, one thing remains - just lie down-die." It does not even matter how many cataphracts the legionnaires of Lucull beat, it is important that only two legions beat a much larger number of cataphracts.
So, the facts tell us that the war elephants of the Hellenistic era cannot be considered ineffective. None of the ancient authors wrote mockingly about elephants. But about cavalry such writings of ancient authors are.
So where was the myth about the inefficiency of war elephants of antiquity born? I answer: in Prussia of the XIX century. Everyone knows that Engels is a classic of Marxism. But the fact that he was an officer of the Prussian cavalry, few remember. And when the American encyclopedia asked him to write a series of articles on military affairs, Mr. Friedrich Engels, naturally, accepted him. But he only wrote his articles the way he wanted, which, incidentally, was also natural. Therefore, he made the “battles of Gaugamelah / Arbelah and Cannes” with the “classics” of ancient warfare. Although what these battles are more “classic” than the battles of Issus, Ipsa, Raffia, Kinoskefalah, Pydna and the same notorious Magnesia, remains incomprehensible. That is, F. Engels has done everything possible in order to maximally promote his kind of troops, and defame all, real and imaginary competitors.
And the second, very well-known German, who made a considerable "contribution" to the creation of the myth of the ineffectiveness of war elephants of antiquity. This is Hans Delbrück. Personality is extremely ambiguous, but I now focus only on issues related to the topic of the article. Even Wikipedia tells us that “Delbrück was more interested in general trends and didn’t always penetrate in particular. The researcher himself was aware of this and recognized it.” Therefore, his conclusion "In no reliable description of the battle, we find nothing substantial, accomplished by elephants, on the contrary, the side that had more elephants at its disposal, suffered in most cases defeat ... There is not a single example where elephants break through the closed front infantry "or obviously evil, or simply ignorant, or both, together.
As was shown above, the elephants performed no less feats than the horsemen. But it's not only that. I suggest grateful readers to focus their attention on the phrase: "There is not a single example where elephants would break through the front of the closed infantry." I apologize for the plagiarism, but a respected discussion participant, nickname Riv, definitely noted: “In fact, no one ever threw elephants onto infantry”. It remains only to guess at the coffee grounds what logic Hans Delbrück was guided by when writing his “pearl”. For according to this very logic, the microscope is absolutely useless, because it is inconvenient for them to hammer in nails, and the hammer is just as useless, because it is unsuitable for studying microorganisms. The tank is absolutely useless, since it cannot carry out underwater attacks, and the submarine is no less useless, because it is not suitable for the occupation of land territories. Funny Well, maybe on 15 minutes you can be like horses and neighing! And then what? And then you still have to "take up your head" and follow in the footsteps of the Roman Senate, in which non-idiots sat. And to prevent the enemy, even if only probable, from having such effective weapons, similar to the war elephants of the Hellenistic era.
PS If the article will be positively received by the audience "IN", I will try to write more articles about the myths about the Macedonian phalanx and the "commander-in-chief art" of Hannibal.