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As the Egyptians March Off to Their Doom

November 21, 2014 0 Comments

Chapter 1 Continued: As the Egyptians March Off to Their Doom


          General Ptah had a reputation for being a glory hunter.  A quarry was loose and he wanted the honor of the kill.  In his late forties and the most capable military leader in Amhose’s command, Ptah would become his replacement should anything happen to the young commanding general.  Ptah examined the site of the Babylonian encampment.  He had led his men at a forced march to arrive here in less than a day since the order to proceed had been given.  According to the report he’d received from his scouts, the Egyptians were now about six hours behind the retreating  Babylonians.  They have headed north, toward Carchemish, a little over a day’s march from here.  Assuming their destination was the garrison, they would be there by mid afternoon tomorrow.


          Ptah calculated quickly.  It was now about four o’clock.  His company would arrive by nightfall tomorrow.  The garrison at Carchemish housed 10,000 warriors.  Therefore, the Babylonians would be caught between two superior forces, with the main Egyptian army two days behind.  No doubt, there were other Babylonian units in the area.  However, they would be focused on the Egyptian garrison and be unprepared for the approaching reinforcements.  Ptah’s main concern was to prevent the smaller, and therefore more mobile, Babylonian force from escaping his grasp.


          Ptah pulled out his map of the region.  Not far from the garrison stood a wooded glen, just the place where a force of 5,000 men would attempt to hide unseen from the walls of Carchemish a quarter league away.  Ptah’s main force should attack this wooded area just before dawn.  If the Babylonians were encamped in this area, he would catch them sleeping.  To the east lay the Euphrates, and a flat plain.  To the west, mountains.  Therefore, to prevent the Babylonians from escaping, Ptah decided to send his chariots to the east and his archers to the west.  As he examined the map, Ptah marked where these two battalions, because of their greater mobility, would take up positions and await the arrival of the main force in the center near the glen.


          Ptah looked at the map one more time, thinking through his plan.  The main force of nearly 10,000 warriors would approach the glen just before daybreak a day and a half hence.  That would give his foot soldiers and light cavalry about seven hours rest before engaging the enemy – which would have nowhere to run, as their backs would be to the garrison at Carchemish.  By the time Amhose and the main contingent arrived about a day later,  all should be secure.  And, should there be any other Babylonian contingents in the area, the full army would be there to make sure they did not live out the week.   Satisfied, Ptah stood up.  “Prepare to move out,” he barked to his lieutenants, who ran to him to receive his orders.  The general informed them of his plans, and then ordered that riders be sent to inform Amhose of his plans. 


Ptah waved a scout to his side.  “Take your finest men and scout the enemy position ahead.  We will rendezvous at the glen,” he commanded, and watched as he turned to obey.   Already, the camp was alive with activity, as the Third Corps prepared to move out.  With a grin Ptah contemplated the thrill of the hunt which was about to begin.


*    *    *


          “Send the signal.  Four battalions, a total of 20,000 men are on the move toward Carchemish,” a crusty old Babylonian warrior whispered to the men around him.  Near by, two scouts held a large mirror, while a third scout lifted a shield to first cover and then uncover the mirror to  flash a signal to the patrol waiting about four leagues to the north.  One, two, three, four.  The commander continued talking to the other three Babylonian scouts under his command.  “They will be sending scouting parties ahead of the main force.  And, you can be certain that this is but the advance vanguard of a still larger army – perhaps headed by Pharaoh Necho himself.”


          A thousand feet above the departing Egyptians, the four Babylonian scouts hid in a cleft in the rock.  Protected from observation from below, theirs was the last piece in a plan to trap the Egyptians.  When the expected signal confirming receipt of the message was received, the old warrior knew his job was ended until the main force was spotted.  He watched the Egyptians below him march off to their doom.

The Brotherhood of the Scroll

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David Lantz is a self-published author, adjunct college professor and leadership consultant. Visit my online courses at and like my facebook page at and

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