Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/138

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The celebrated Macedonian phalanx formed the main strength of his infantry. This force had been raised and organized by his father Philip, who on his accession to the Macedonian throne needed a numerous and quickly-formed army, and who by lengthening the spear of the ordinary Greek phalanx, and increasing the depth of the files, brought the tactic of armed masses to the highest extent of which it was capable with such materials as he possessed.[1] He formed his men sixteen deep, and placed in their grasp the sarissa, as the Macedonian pike was called, which was four-and-twenty feet in length, and when couched for action, reached eighteen feet in front of the soldier: so that, as a space of about two feet was allowed between the ranks, the spears of the five files behind him projected in front of each front-rank man. The phalangite soldier was fully equipped in the defensive armour of the regular Greek infantry. And thus the phalanx presented a ponderous and bristling mass, which, as long as its order was kept compact, was sure to bear down all opposition. The defects of such an organization are obvious, and were proved in after years, when the Macedonians were opposed to the Roman legions. But it is clear, that under Alexander the phalanx was not the cumbrous

  1. See Niebuhr's " Hist, of Rome," vol. iii. p. 466.