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Chapter 2 Continued: Carchemish

December 5, 2014 0 Comments

The signal for which they had been waiting finally came. Mag, the commanding Babylonian scout clapped his hands and shouted to his companions, “Look, the Egyptians are on the move!” The rest looked up. In the distance, the advance patrol signaled from its hiding place on Mt. Tadmor the impending advance of the Egyptians. One, two, three, four. Each flash representing a cohort of 5,000 men at arms. A force of 20,000. He turned to the youngest of their band. “Ride and take word of the news to King Nebuchadnezzar and Lord Naaman while we signal receipt of the message,” Mag said as he positioned his mirror. “The rest of us will split up and tell the other patrols to prepare for the advancing scouts. The trap has been sprung!” The small band of scouts gathered themselves to go their separate ways, setting in motion the plan which Nebuchadnezzar and Naaman had devised. Like all great plans, its beauty was its simplicity.

 

A cohort of 5,000 troops had camped out on the southern side of Mt. Tadmor to await its “discovery” by the Egyptian scouts known to be in the area. Once certain they had taken the bait and sent a corps to engage the Babylonians, the cohort moved north toward Carchemish. Babylonian forces had divided into three armies of forty thousand men each; one at the garrison at Carchemish which they had already over run. One to the east near the Euphrates, and the third to the west in the foothills of the Amanos Mountains. A fourth force of 5,000 men – the “bait” – would be encamped near the glen within sight of the garrison. If, as was likely, the Egyptians split their forces in the hope of making sure the Babylonians did not “escape,” their annihilation would be made all the more easy.

* * *

 

“I think it only fitting that we present the Egyptians with this gift, don’t you, Naaman?” asked Nebuchadnezzar with a sweeping wave of his arm indicating a mound in the center of the battlefield before them. “Ironic, isn’t it, that the very people they came to assist should be the inspiration for this gesture!”

 

Naaman regarded the prince, who was clearly pleased with himself. At twenty-two, Nebuchadnezzar had proven to be a superb military tactician. While his father, Nabopolasser, had been conservative in his tactics, the son was calculatingly aggressive. A week ago they had overrun the Egyptian garrison at Carchemish – something King Nabopolasser had never attempted. Then, Naaman had been dispatched to Mt. Tadmor with a force of 5,000 to serve as bait for the advancing Egyptians. As Nebuchadnezzar had anticipated, an advance force had been dispatched. Like fools, the Egyptian commander had divided his force of 20,000. The Babylonians had diverted a tributary of the Euphrates, built an earthen dam and then released the flood gates to mire the Egyptian chariots as they advanced over the flood plain near the river. Unable to move, they were easily destroyed by the Babylonian corps dispatched to meet them. The Egyptian archers sent to the western flank had been ambushed in the foothills of the Amanos Mountains. The main Egyptian force had emerged from the wooded glen a quarter league from the garrison. There, Naaman had stood ready with his command, the palace guard. Behind him rose up 40,000 soldiers under the command of Nebuchadnezzar. Other elements of the Babylonian army burned the glen behind the advancing Egyptians. It had been a slaughter. Within an hour, not one Egyptian remained alive.

 

“Your gift is as ingenious as it is magnanimous. You have taken the lives of an entire Corps of their army, but have graciously provided the Egyptian commander with their heads!” They both laughed at Naaman’s sarcasm. Their laughter faded as the first lines of the advancing Egyptians appeared two furlongs away.

 

“This is the moment we have waited for,” said Nebuchadnezzar with a gleam in his eyes. “Today begins the downfall of the Egyptian hegemony. A new world order is about to dawn and I, Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolasser, will be the one who brings it about!”

 

“Our scouts report about 80,000 soldiers compared to our 120,000. They do not know our strength, and are likely unaware of the two corps we have waiting on the eastern and western flanks,” said Naaman. Between themselves and the advancing Egyptians stretched a relatively flat plain three times as long as it was wide. The Babylonians held the higher ground, which sloped gently down for about 400 yards before leveling out on the grassy field where the impending battle would be fought. A series of basalt pillars standing one hundred feet high served as the boundary on the western edge of the battle field. Hidden there was a full corps of Babylonian soldiers, including 3,000 chariots. A dried river bed lay at the eastern edge of the field. Hidden there was another corps of infantry. In the middle of the field stood the mound of which Nebuchadnezzar had been so proud.

 

A rider broke from the Egyptian ranks and approached the mound of heads. The Babylonians had chosen a depression in the field in which to place them. Like the Assyrians before them, Nebuchadnezzar’s army had left the heads of their fallen enemy in full view to serve as a warning to their countrymen. Moments after the rider rejoined the front of the Egyptian line, the Babylonians witnessed a ripple effect as the news passed down the ranks of the opposing force.

 

Nebuchadnezzar raised his arm, sword in hand. “For the glory of our God, Marduk, advance! Drummer, one quarter beat!” The drummer began a slow beat as the army advanced across the field. On the wings of the advancing army were two battalions of chariots. The center consisted of three battalions of foot soldiers. Behind them stood two battalions of archers. The Babylonians began to advance down the slope toward the Egyptians. With this geographic advantage, the archer’s arrows could provide a withering air attack before the chariots, followed by the infantry, advanced. “The Egyptians don’t appear to be advancing with the same assuredness we have seen them in previous campaigns,” Nebuchadnezzar observed to those around him. “Only the Greek mercenaries appear to be holding formation.”

 

Naaman looked at the Greek mercenary battalion. Little more than a bow shot away, the Greek banner came into clearer view. Professional soldiers all, breaking their unit would be the key to victory. Further back, the banner of Osiris – signaling the location of the Egyptian commander – could be seen. Their intelligence indicated that Lord Amhose led them. No doubt Amhose would be indignant over the fact that Pharaoh Necho remained safely away from the battle.

 

“We are now in range for the archers. Give the order to launch their volleys,” commanded Nebuchadnezzar.

 

The king’s Sergeant at Arms gave the order. “Loose arrows!” A corporal waived a flag with the emblem of arrows embroidered onto it. In a deft display of archery, the bow men drew arrows from their quivers, notched their bows and fired in unison while marching forward. Three volleys of arrows were on their way and buried in the chests of Egyptian warriors before they countered with their move. The middle parted and their chariots advanced. Like the Babylonians, each chariot carried a driver and an archer.

 

“Chariots, advance!” commanded Nebuchadnezzar. Again, the Sergeant at Arms gave the order, and the Babylonian chariots surged forward to meet the challenge in the middle of the field separating the two armies. “Order the reserves on the right and left flanks to advance,” Nebuchadnezzar called out to his aides. An archer, standing near by lit his arrow and pointed it skyward, and loosed the shaft. He immediately drew, notched and lit a second arrow, launching it skyward in the direction of the other flank. After a few moments delay, Babylonian calvary advanced onto the field from both the eastern and western edges of the battle field. Behind them marched the accompanying infantry.

 

Nebuchadnezzar smiled as he watched the opposing armies merge in a deadly dance. “Naaman, it is time to join the battle in full,” he said. “Drummer, sound full advance. Head for the center of their line!” With that command, the main force of the Babylonian army advanced at a trot. It was the assignment of the Palace Guard to protect Nebuchadnezzar. Unlike his father, this was a difficult task, for the prince enjoyed the heat of battle.

 

Naaman scanned the Egyptian line as he jogged forward to battle. The Greeks were clearly trying to angle toward the Banner of Marduk, signaling the location of Nebuchadnezzar in the Babylonian ranks. With a clash, the lines of warriors were engaged. A spear lunged for his gut. He parried and then spun inward toward his opponent wheeling his sword in an arch which met with the head of the enemy. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw three guards defending Nebuchadnezzar against four Greeks. The Prince could not be kept from the fray, but weighed in with his double handed sword. Naaman slashed his way toward the prince’s side. At that moment, one of the Greeks smashed the Babylonian closest to Nebuchadnezzar and was upon the prince. Wielding his sword above his head, he brought it down with a speed which seemed impossible for a man of his girth. Nebuchadnezzar, able only to partially deflect the blow, took the side of the sword against his head. As he crashed to the ground, Naaman bellowed for help and charged the Greek.

 

At six feet, he was not a small man, yet still gave up fifty pounds and several inches to his new adversary. Charging him from the side, Naaman smashed his shield into the Greek’s sword arm. Quickly, Naaman swung at his opponent’s legs only to have his blow blocked by his sword. Immediately, the Greek brought his sword up in a 360 degree arch over his head and down at Naaman’s skull. To avoid the blow, he tucked his head and rolled somersault fashion forward under the brute’s left arm.

 

Now behind the Greek, he sprang to his feet and ran his sword into the man’s back up to the hilt. The warrior slumped to one knee. Naaman ripped his sword from the man’s body as the warrior collapsed, face forward into the dirt. Chest heaving, Naaman looked around him. Nebuchadnezzar was conscious, kneeling to gather his strength. His men had pushed the Greek mercenaries back. Their Egyptian masters were in complete disarray and running away from the field of battle. Naaman, though dizzy, was on his feet and cheering his men to pursue them. There would be much celebrating this night!

The Brotherhood of the Scroll

About the Author:

David Lantz is a self-published author, adjunct college professor and leadership consultant. Visit my online courses at https://generationselfemployed.zenler.com/ and like my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wisejargon and

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