Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/57

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Persian horse. This extension involved the weakening of his line. Instead of an uniform reduction of its strength, he determined on detaching principally from his centre, which, from the nature of the ground, would have the best opportunities for rallying, if broken; and on strengthening his wings so as to insure advantage at those points; and he trusted to his own skill, and to his soldiers' discipline, for the improvement of that advantage into decisive victory.[1]

In this order, and availing himself probably of the inequalities of the ground, so as to conceal his preparations from the enemy till the last possible moment, Miltiades drew up the eleven thousand infantry, whose spears were to decide this crisis in the struggle between the European and the Asiatic worlds. The sacrifices, by which the favour of heaven was sought, and its will consulted, were announced to show propitious omens. The trumpet sounded for action, and, chanting the hymn of battle, the little army bore down upon the host of the foe. Then, too, along the mountain slopes of Marathon must have resounded the

  1. It is remarkable that there is no other instance of a Greek general deviating from the ordinary mode of bringing a phalanx of spearmen into action, until the battles of Leuctra and Mantineia, more than a century after Marathon, when Epaminondas introduced the tactics which Alexander the Great in ancient times, and Frederic the Great in modern times made so famous, of concentrating an overpowering force to bear on some decisive point of the enemy's line, while he kept back, or in military phrase, refused the weaker part of his own.