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Lamian War (Alexandros)

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Lamian War
Part of Succession of Alexander III
Date 333 - 332 BC
Location Macedonia, Greece, Peloponnese
Result Macedonian victory
Belligerents
Thrace, Getae, Taulanti, Athens, Locris, Phocis, Argos, Thessaly, and others Vergina sun Macedon

League of Corinth (332 BC)

Sparta, Achaea, Arcadia, Elis

Persian Empire (Support)

Commanders and leaders
Memnon of Thrace

Cleitus of Illyria
Glaucias of Taulanti
Leosthenes
Antiphilus
Menon IV
Phocion

Hephaestion

Antipater
Ptolemy

Agis III

Memnon of Rhodes
Pharnabazus III

Strength
14,000 Getae

10,000 Thracians
10,000 Athenians
12,000 Aetolians
3,000 Mercenaries

Hephaestion's Initial Force:

10,000

  • 5,500 Macedonians
  • 3,000 Mercenaries
  • 1,000 Archers
  • 500 Cavalry

Antipater's Initial Force:
10,500

  • 9,000 Macedonians
  • 1,500 Cavalry

Additional Forces:
8,000

  • 5,000 Macedonians
  • 3,000 Mercenaries

10,000 Greeks

20,000 Spartans

The Lamian War was a major conflict in Greece and the surrounding region from 333 to 332 BC, primarily between the Makedon and an alliance of Greek city-states and nations. Begun following the death of Alexander III of Macedon after the unsuccessful Battle of the Granicus the year prior against the Persian Empire, the Lamian War was a major phase of the succession of Alexander III, involving many of the major nations of the Hellenic world.

In 333 BC, the nation of Sparta and its allies launched an invasion of the Kingdom of Macedon's allies in the Peloponnese, hoping to topple Macedonian influence and establish its own hegemony over the region. Supported monetarily and through naval forces by the Persian Empire, the Spartans successfully conquered much of the Peloponnese.

At the same time as the Spartan invasion, a general rebellion against Macedonian hegemony was launched by the major city states and nations of Greece, including Athens, who organized a combined military to combat Macedonian forces in Greece. At the outbreak of the war Macedonian forces were under the command of Antipater, strategos of Europe and regent, as appointed by Alexander III, who scrambled to defend the kingdom while awaiting reinforcements from Asia Minor. These reinforcements arrived under the command of Hephaestion, who had distinguished himself as one of Alexander's best generals, and was widely accepted by the military as his successor.

The combined forces of Antipater and Hephaestion managed to subdue the allied Greek city-states, and threatened by the expansion of Sparta in the Peloponnese, these states were forced to accept the reestablishment of the League of Corinth in exchange for Macedonian aid in an invasion of Sparta. In 332 BC the League of Corinth and the Kingdom of Macedon entered the Peloponnese and lifted the Siege of Argos. Agis III, king of Sparta, was killed in the assault, and after being defeated across the Peloponnese, the Spartans agreed to peace.

The Lamian War established partial Macedonian hegemony over Greece, while at the same time allowing for the expansion of Spartan hegemony in the Peloponnese, giving rise to rival alliances in the region. The mutual threat of Spartan influence would keep the newly reestablished League of Corinth intact, which helped to bring Macedon out of its period of civil war and crisis, and into recovery. The Lamian War would also lead to the rise of Hephaestion, who established himself as King of Macedon, while at the same time giving rise to the crisis between Hephaestion and Antipater over the authority of the office of hegemon, leading to the Macedonian Civil War only a few years later.

Background

Macedonian Invasion of Anatolia

With Greece and the Balkans secured under the rule of Alexander, he set out on an expedition into Anatolia, the result of years of planning, first begun by his father Philip II. Alexander crossed the Hellespont into Anatolia, with the army of Macedon being transported by over one hundred triremes. This movement was initially ignored by the Persians, who were hesitant to act. For the first three months of Alexander's invasion he was not taken seriously by the Persians, and Darius refused to mount a serious offensive against him. Scorched earth tactics were proposed by Memnon of Rhodes, a Greek mercenary aligned with the Persians, advocating for the destruction of Persian lands in front of Alexander, so that his army would starve and he would be forced to retreat back to Greece, a Scorched earth policy. But the noble satraps of Anatolia refused to pillage their own land. Alexander continued to advance into Persian territory, and eventually Darius appointed Memnon the head of an army to meet Alexander on the battlefield, hoping that a confrontation would lead to his defeat.

In May, Alexander's forces met Memnon on the battlefield, at the Granicus River in northwestern Anatolia, near the site of ancient Troy. During the battle, Alexander would be struck down and killed by the a Persian commander, ending campaign all together, and forced Macedonian leadership and troops to return to Greece.

Succession of Alexander III of Macedon

Following the death of King Alexander III at the Battle of the Granicus, the Kingdom of Macedon was left without any direct heir, as Alexander had no children, having died at a very young age. Alexander's body was carried back to Macedon, where he was to be buried in a modest tomb with his father Philip II, in Pella. Numerous generals quarreled for control of Alexander's army, with the majority of his forces recognizing Alexander's friend and general Hephaestion as leader. Under Hephaestion's leadership the army of Macedon retreated back into Greece.

When news of the Macedonian defeat at the Granicus reached Greece, almost immediately, various city-states raised their forces in open rebellion. In southern Greece the states of Thebes, Athens, and Thessaly all began mobilizing forces for war against Macedon, hoping to establish their independence from Macedonian hegemony, and control over southern Greece.  Similarly, in the north the Thracians, Illyrians and Getae, who had previously been subjugated or subdued by Alexander a few years prior, also began preparing for war against the returning Macedonians, hoping to cut off Hephaestion before he could reach Greece. Thus, the Lamian War began.

Hephaestion's advance was stalled by infighting among many of Alexander's former generals. Various sides within Alexander's former army soon formed, with the main factions either supporting Hephaestion or Alexander's older brother  Arrhidaeus, who was probably mentally disabled. After defeating several rebellious officers, Hephaestion's leadership went unchallenged. the weakened, but unified Macedonian army crossed over into Europe.

Overview

Greek Rebellion

When King Alexander III had departed for Anatolia, the general Antipater had been appointed strategos of Macedonian lands in Europe, holding a large number of forces in Greece to maintain stability in the region. During this time, Antipater was largely occupied combating the combined Persian fleets under the command of Memnon of Rhodes and Pharnabazus, who brought war to the Aegean Sea and threatened Europe itself. While keeping up with the Persians, rebellion from the Greeks soon followed, which was only intensified upon the news of Alexander III's death.

In the north, Memnon of Thrace, the Macedonian governor of the region, had begun an open rebellion against Macedonian forces. At the same time Agis III, king of Sparta, had also invaded Macedon. Sparta was not a member of the League of Corinth, and stood resilient to Macedonian dominance across virtually all of the remaining states of Greece. With the main Macedonian army now engaged in Asia Minor, Agis III sought to take advantage of Macedon's weakness and reestablish Spartan dominance over the Peloponnese.

Sparta's army was heavily funded by Persia, who sought to aid any Greek resistance to their mutual enemy of Macedon. With Persian support, the Spartans were able to raise an army of 20,000 men alone. At the same time the Spartans also established control over Crete, as part of a resistance front to Macedonian rule. Initially Sparta was also joined the entire of the Peloponnese, although with the notable exception of Megalopolis, which remained anti-Spartan above all else. In response to this Agis III surrounded Megalopolis and began a long siege, in the mean time allowing the other Greek city-states time to prepare.

In Athens the decision to declare war on Macedon was greatly debated, with notable and determined opposition from individuals such as Demades and Phocion, before resulting in a declaration of war. With monetary support from the Persians, the Athenians sent the commander Lesothenes to Taenarum to contract a large army of mercenaries to supplement Athenian forces. In total about 25,000 soldiers were raised as part of the Athenian army, including about 10,000 Athenians, 12,000 Aetolians, and various contingents of mercenary forces.

While Hephaestion marched into Greece from Anatolia in the north, Antipater continued his war against the allied Greek city-states, to little success. In 333 BC, the Greeks under the command of Leosthenes met the Macedonian army, numbering about 13,000 men, at Thermopylae. The Macedonians soon discovered that the Thessalians had joined the Greek states in rebellion, who soon occupied the pass, greatly outnumbering the Macedonian forces under the command of Antipater. The Macedonians would be defeated, and Antipater was forced to retreat, pursued by an army of Greeks.

With the support of the Thessalians, the initial Greek force in the region outnumbered Antipater, and was able to defeat him in a number of early engagements. Facing heavy resistance, Antipater was forced to flee to the fortified city of Lamia, which was promptly besieged by an allied army of Thessalians, Athenians, and other Greek forces. At the Siege of Lamia, despite their early success, the Greek army was pinned down, suffering high casualties in their attempts to take the well defended city. Its high walls were deemed impenetrable by the Athenians, whose commander Leosthenes was mortally wounded following a sallying forth from the city's defenses by the Macedonians, who had begun heavily harassing the dug-in besiegers. The Greek army was placed in the command of Antiphilus, who calls off the siege at Lamia, and retreated south in preparation to combat Macedonian reinforcements from Anatolia.

Thracian Campaign

Concurrent to Antipater's perilous campaign in Greece,in the north, the main Macedonian army, under the command of Hephaestion, was able to cross the Hellespont, with the Greek navies arriving too late to stop their cross over. Immediately Hephaestion's forces were targeted by Memnon of Thrace, who had rebelled earlier against Antipater. During the time before the main Macedonian army's cross over, Memnon had been able to assemble a large army, ready to defend his land from Macedonian retaliation. In addition to his army, Memnon was also joined by the Getae, a tribe north of the Danube which had previously been routed by Alexander III, comprised of about 14,000 soldiers. He was also joined by Cleitus of Illyria and Glaucias of the Taulanti, who each provided considerable forces to the efforts against the Kingdom of Macedon.

When Hephaestion entered Thrace his army consisted of only about 10,000 soldiers, as the majority of his forces had been killed in Anatolia, or had deserted. Memnon's army and his allies quickly marched from the Thracian campital at Bizye to surround the Macedonian army before it could reach the city, combating the Macedonians north of Selymbria.

Battle of Selymbria

In the ensuing battle, the outnumbered Macedonians under the command of Hephaestion arranged itself into a defensive position, while a section of the Macedonian army on each flank marched quickly to stale the enemy advance. The Thracians were caught off guard by the sudden attack, and were baited into combat with the main Macedonian army soon after. Cavalry under the command of Ptolemy, son of Philip, led a feint on the Macedonian left flank, which successfully entangled the main Thracian army. The Macedonians were able to flank the Thracians, engaging their lesser quality forces in the rear.

In the Thracian center Memnon himself rallied his forces, before being killed by Macedonian cavalry. This led to a general retreat among the Thracian army, allowing for an unexpected Macedonian victory. The victory proved Hephaestion's ability as a general, as well as a leader and strategist, and allowed the Macedonians to advance further into Thrace. In total about 3500 Thracian soldiers were left dead, while the Macedonians suffered about 1000 casualties. The remaining Thracian force, numbering about 5000 soldiers, retreated to Bizye, before finally signing a peace treaty with the Macedonians.

With the defeat of the Thracians, the Getae retreated north over the Danube, where they would be able to fortify in their own territory. Any remaining Illyrians still in the region were largely routed, although Hephaestion would be unable to pursue either group, while occupied with his campaign in Greece. Eventually the Macedonians would establish peace with both the Illyrians and the Getae, who remained independent of Macedonian rule.

Battle of Crannon

After the unsuccessful attempt by the allied Greek city-states to take the city of Lamia from Macedonian forces, the Greek army reorganized under the command of Antiphilus who prepared to march against Antipater before the reinforcing Macedonian army could arrive in Greece. Together the Macedonian army numbered only about 25,000 soldiers, including a number of reinforcements from Macedonia proper, and a large number of mercenaries. The Athenians under the command of Antiphilus, in combination with an army from Thessaly and its allies, almost doubled the Macedonians, giving the Greeks a high numerical advantage. The Greek army also consisted of a greater number of cavalry, giving Antiphilus a larger range of mobility in combat against Macedon.

Antiphilus and the Greek forces marched head on into Hephaestion's advance, forcing the two into combat. At the same time the army of Antipater was forced to abandon Lamia and quickly pursue Antiphilus from the rear. Initially Antiphilus sought to win the battle with cavalry, and ordered his cavalry to charge against the Macedonians, which began a engagement between each sides' mounted units. With the Macedonian cavalry now occupied, Antiphilus ordered his infantry to advance against the Macedonians. Heavily outnumbered, Hephaestion was forced to retreat, returning his forces to higher ground, where a Greek assault would be difficult.

At the same time as Hephaestion's fortification of the higher ground above the field of battle, where the initial skirmish had broken out, Antipater arrived from the south, drawing a portion of Antiphilus' forces away from the main battlefield against Hephaestion. Antipater was able to catch the enemy off guard, routing the initial skirmishers that targeted him. Eventually half of the Greek force had split off, similarly outnumbering Antipater and staling his advance.

Eventually both Macedonian armies ordered a retreat, leaving the battle a Greek victory, although a costly one for Antiphilus, who lost a large portion of his light infantry and cavalry combating both Macedonian generals. Hephaestion returned to the north, entering into Thessaly, while Antipater retreated to his fortified position at Lamia. This move forced the allied Greek army to split up, in order to protect against attack from either force. The Thessalian army departed for its homeland to protect against the eventual assault by Hephaestion, while the main army, including the continent from Athens, stayed in the vicinity of Lamia.

Spartan Conflict

After seizing the city of Megalopolis earlier this year, the Spartans under the command of Agis III began a military campaign to unite the rest of the Peloponnese under Spartan influence, officially expelling Macedon's allies. With Megalopolis now seized, many of Sparta's allies defected, allying with the city of Messene and Argos, who opposed Spartan hegemony throughout the Peloponnese. From Megalopolis, the Spartan army under Agis III, met by an army from Elis, marched against Messene.

The Messenians were easily outnumbered by the Spartans and their allies, and were defeated in their attempts to stale the Spartans on the field of battle. Instead the defending army retreated to the city of Messene, where they awaited relief from their allies Argos and other cities. Argos in turn appealed to Athens and the allied Greek army. Although Sparta had originally fought as a co belligerent to the allied Greek city-states, as both parties sought to challenge Macedonian hegemony in Greece, Sparta now combated the allied Greek cities directly, undermining their own efforts for Sparta's own gain on the Peloponnese. Athens responded by ordering the majority of its army south to aid Argos, where the combined force was being assembled to combat Sparta.

Approximately 15,000 Athenians and Aetolians met at Argos to aid in the war against Sparta, who under the command of Agis III had now secured the central Peloponnese; Arcadia, in addition to Messenia, after a failed attempt to defend the city of Messene. With the majority of the Peloponnese now united or occupied under Sparta, its army marched to the northeast, where the Athenians had begun their invasion, entering northern Arcadia. When the Spartans engaged against the allied Greeks, they withdrew into Argolis, where they were forced into combat at the Battle of Alea. Both sides were of similar size, although the Spartans were able to obtain a superior tactical advantage, decisively defeating the combined army, and forcing them to retreat to Argos.

Thessalian Campaign

After his defeat at Crannon by the combined Greek army, Hephaestion retreated north into Thessaly, which ultimately had the effect of diverting much of the Greek army, and allowing Hephaestion to escape from Antiphilus. In Thessaly Hephaestion began ravaging much of the countryside, capturing a number of towns and convincing some to join him against the main Thessalian army, which had since been absent from the region from some time. The Thessalians immediately diverged from the army in the south to respond to this threat in their territory. The Thessalians were harassed by Hephaestion's forces, unable to draw his army into direct combat for some time. Requests by the Thessalians for reinforcements from the south were also denied, as the Athenians remained in position to oppose Antipater, and later broke off to fight against Sparta in the south.

Finally Hephaestion was able to gather enough support to meet the Thessalians on the field of battle, marching an equally sized force into combat near the Thessalian capital of Larissa. At the ensuing Battle of Elone, Hephaestion was able to draw forth the exhausted and angered Thessalian forces to assault his infantry, before surrounding the Thessalians from a position of higher ground, surrounding the enemy force and chasing after the remainder of the Thessalian army with cavalry. The battle would prove a decisive Macedonian victory, practically eliminating Thessaly from the conflict, and causing Athens to prepare for an eventual attack from the north.

Peace of Corinth

Surrounded by the forces of Hephaestion and Antipater, the city of Athens and its remaining allies sued for peace with Macedon. Delegations from Macedon and the Greek city-states met in Corinth, where the former League of Corinth was essentially renewed, ending the state of hostility between Athens and Macedon, signifying Athens' acceptance of Macedonian hegemony, in exchange for Macedonian support against the alliance of Sparta. Hephaestion and Antipater's forces both agreed to the treaty, and within a fortnight, the forces of Macedon declared war against Sparta, to aid Athens and its allies, as part of the peace between the two states.

Hegemon of the renewed League of Corinth remained unclear, and would not be resolved until years later. During this time Hephaestion essentially operated under the authority of king of Macedon, having been widely accepted by the Macedonian army and many nobles. Additional claimants to the throne however made Hephaestion's claim to the throne of king of Macedon unclear. At the same time Antipater continued to rule as strategos of Europe, as appointed by Alexander III, and in his capacity attempted to operate the office of hegemon. Throughout the war with Sparta no clear leader emerged, and instead the Athenians and other Greek allies acted independently, in conjunction to both Hephaestion and Antipater.

Macedonian-Spartan Conflict

The League of Corinth was now renewed under Macedon, largely as a military alliance between Macedon and other Greek states against Sparta and Spartan hegemony and aggression across the Peloponnese. At the time of this agreement, the Spartans were on the gates of Argos, having conquered the many cities of the Peloponnese, and securing the alliances of Elis, among others. From the city of Corinth, an army of about 20,000 Macedonians, under the command of both Hephaestion and Antipater, in combination with an additional 10,000 Athenians and other Greeks marched to Argos, to relieve the allied force defending in the city.

At the Siege of Argos the combined Macedonian and Greek army greatly outnumbered the besieging Spartans, and a large battle broke out on the outskirts of the city, supported by sullying forces from within Argos. The Spartans were largely surrounded, where Agis himself was forced into combat. Ultimately Agis III would be killed in combat among his best soldiers, and the remaining Spartan forces retreated from the city.

Rather than march after the fleeing Spartans, Hephaestion chose to return north, hoping to secure his rule as king of Macedon. Antipater remained in the Peloponnese with a small force, earning the trust of the Greek city-states against Sparta. Eventually this force too would be recalled in 331 BCE, as invasion came from Epirus. That year peace was agreed upon between the League of Corinth and Sparta, with the League retaining Argolis and parts of Arcadia, with Sparta and its allies retaining the rest of the Peloponnese. Sparta would also be forced to pay a large sum of money, which helped to pay for the Macedonian army's past years at war. Although less desperately in need of funds, the lack of payment to Athens and other city-states in turn deteriorated relations slightly, although the League of Corinth remained unified for the time being in its distrust for Sparta.

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