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The Macedonian War (Athenian Legacy)

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The Macedonian War
Ancient-greek-warfare-1
Date 340 BCE-335 BCE
Location Macedonia
Result Athenian Victory
Territorial
changes
Athens annexes Macedonia
Belligerents
The Athenian Republic (eventually: The Kingdom of Athens) The Kingdom of Macedonia
Commanders and leaders
Alexander the Great

Helmetrus

King Amyntas IV
Strength
Unknown Unknown

3,000 Allies

Casualties and losses
Unknown: Heavy Unknown: Moderate-Heavy
The Macedonian War was the final engagement of the classical Greek era, ending with the final victory of Alexander the Great and therefore the ushering in of the Hellenic Period. The Macedonian War, though contained, was the climax of the wars between the Athenian Republic and the quickly growing Macedonian Kingdom, which had been previously restricted after a crushing defeat several years earlier against the Strategos, Helmetrus. Following a crippling civil war, the Kingdom of Macedonia was able to recover, eventually driving the Athenians to near collapse before they were defeated by the newly crowned King of Athens, Alexander.

Background

The Macedonian War was a clear result of the continued Macedonian resistance against Athenian influence and rule, which had already began colonizing much of the Thrace and Southern Macedonia. Initially, the king of Macedon, Phillip II (who had seized power from Amyntas IV), successfully battled against the Northern Athenian cities for many years, until finally he was checked and put down by the Athenian General, Helmetrus at Volo, where the majority of Phillips army was destroyed.

As a result, Amyntas was able to successfully return to Macedonia, and lay claim to Phillip's throne. Despite his sustainable support from the people, Phillip's endless years of war and turmoil, eventually turned the people against him. ten years after Volo and five years after Amyntas's return, Phillip was removed from power after being clearly defeated in a long civil war. The return of Amyntas was marked by dramatic reform and the recruitment of a large Mercenary army which was paid by the old king's many assets and treasuries. With the execution of Phillip in 342 BCE, Amyntas' position was secure, though not solid.

In order to rally the people against Macedon's increasing allies, Amyntas moved against the Kingdom of Thrace, uniting together the Macedonian people against their rivals. In 341 BCE, following the refusal to return Alexander to Macedon for execution (as a possible claimant), Amyntas moved indisputably against Athens, effectively wiping most of the remaining colonies from Macedon. The move greatly enraged the Athenian Generals and Politicians, though many reluctantly turn away from the war in fear of another Helmetrus victory. The Archon of Athens, Krolpols, was able to convince the people against Helmetrus' desires for another war, but effectively surrendered all opposition to Amyntas' throne in such a move.

Amyntas was convinced that the Athenians reluctance to wage war, was an opening signal for the Macedonian armies. He desired to re-unify the kingdom of Macedonia, which had been brutally colonised by Athens. Krolpols however, was no fool, and was forced to pay continual tribute to Amyntas to avoid open conflict. The Proedroi and the Bouletai, unanimously moved against the tribute once it had been discovered by the Epistates, Unamen. In truth, the Epistates had been giving Krolpols the access to the treasury, and simply used his "discovery" to further advance his position. The Assembly was not convinced, and motioned a replacement of the main magistrate positions as dictated by the people with Helmetrus's signature. In a sudden shift of power, the 500 Boule was completely re-organized, puppetizing the council to Helmetrus.

With the government re-shuffled, Helmetrus was convinced that the Assembly would vote for war. However, with the Archon still firmly in power, the people were unwilling to budge. Instead, a collapsing effect unraveled. With Unamen replaced, money did not leave Athens to Macedonia, therefore breaking the agreement that had previously maintained the peace. As a result, Amyntas prepared for war.

Capture of Kisos

Using the dissolution of his tributary treaty with Athens as an excuse for war, the Macedonian King marched into the Athenian stronghold in Macedon with 10,000 mercenary troops. In the city, an Athenian Phylarch (military magistrate), had assumed command of Kissos with 1000 troops and 700 peltasts. Kisos was heavily defended, with advanced fortifications and weaponry, able to resist a lasting siege. The defenses made no difference however, when the Macedonian army arrived in the dead of night, capturing the city before dawn. Massive amounts of wealth and treasure that had been stored in Kisos was seized by Amyntas, who then used the extra sum to pay off his mercenary forces.

The Athenian Reaction

News arrived in the capital just a few days later from an Athenian fleet that had recently left Pallene to raise a defensive force. Initially, the Archon pledged to take action, though in truth, his power was limited to festive celebrations and could only use his astounding influence as an Athenian citizen. With most of his supporters already removed from the Councils and Magistrate positions, the Archon was left in a helpless situation. Helmetrus took immediate advantage of the situation, and stormed into the Assembly to prepare a declaration of war. The Assembly resoundingly agreed with Helmetrus, once again granting him his Fist General wartime powers, and initiating decrees to send the Athenian army off to war.
Macedonian Kingdom

The Macedonian War's Theatre

The Start of the War (340 BCE)

Helmetrus initially was concerned about the size of the Athenian army, as it was now very much reliant on the colonies and states manpower reserves. Helmetrus estimated nearly a two month waiting period before the Athenian army could march at a 20,000 man force, levying most of Athens male population along with the neighboring states. However, Helmetrus was under no position to allow Amyntas breathing time, and sent the navy to blockade the peninsula.

The Athenian Blockade

With most of the navy previously destroyed in earlier wars, Amyntas was left with little choice but to rely heavily on land. Despite the presence of the Athenian Navy, it bare little effect on either side other then a few scattered droughts and famines. This is one of the first Ancient Greek wars, where the navy lacked significance in the conflict.

The Athenian Navies dominance on the sea, did however allow for quick transportation to Macedonia, which most of the Athenian armies in the war used to their easy advantage.

Conquest of Strepsa, Dikia, and Rhekaios

Following the seizure of Kissos, Amyntas moved to the southern city of Strepsa, in an effort to cut off Athenian supply lines from the east. The native Athenian army, composed of 5000 Hoplites, 1000 peltasts, and 500 cavalry, was forced away from the supply routes and into the direct line of engagement. The Athenian army put up light resistance in Strepsa, being pushed out by the numerically superior force. The Greeks then retreated east, to a position between Strepsa and another city, Dikia and fortified themselves. The Athenians held their position for more then a week, until the main Macedonian force arrived. The Athenians were forced to fight conventionally, where they were overwhelmed by the mercenary force. The Battle at Dikia allowed the Macedonians to freely march into the actual city, while simultaneously opening a road to the port of Rhekaios. The remaining Athenian's (now numbering around 2000) fled from a third engagement, allowing Amyntas to create a clear stronghold in the west.
MW1

340 BCE- Blue Line: Macedonian Movement- Red X: Macedonian Victory- Green X: Athenian Victory

Arrival of Helmetrus and First Offensive

Helmetrus arrived with 19,000 troops in October of 340 BCE, intent on wiping out the Macedonian Army. After days of studying the Macedonian position, Helmetrus came to the realization that Amyntas was protected by a series of mountain ranges, that covered his bases in the tri-cities. Helmetrus ordered the navy to sail into Aineia, intent on getting an entry point into the enemy system.

The Athenian navy sailed into the city in mid-October, a few days prior to the Macedonian arrival. They quickly realized that holding it was impossible, and evacuated its Athenian citizens and wealth. With the next few days, Amyntas marched into the city with his Mercenary army, reinforced by newly arriving Macedonian troops. He forced Helmetrus march into a Thermopalaye like terrain sequence, with mountains on one side, and water on the other, though much wider. Helmetrus welcomed the idea, as he fervently believed that the Athenian army was composed of superior troops. He marched into the Battle of Aineia (several miles south of the city), prepared for victory. Instead, he was met with a tactical draw, with strategic moves favorable to the Macedonians. Amyntas had used the terrain to grind down the Athenian advance, until eventually the Athenians, though winning the battle, would not be able to successfully campaign on.

The Arrival of the Macedonian Army (339 BCE)

During the civil wars of Amyntas and Phillip, the majority of military structures were composed of mercenaries, as the main Macedonian army had been close to obliterated in the initial war with Athens. However, during the civil war, the Macedonian forces had slowly repaired themselves to pre-war strength, finally making its full recovery in 341 BCE. Amyntas still held his mercenary troops as a main fighting force, in order to allow his regular army to prepare itself, but with the large casualty rate during the first offensive the King was forced to order his army to the front. The main Macedonian army arrived in mid-spring, following a halt of military actions in the winter.

Second Offensive

Following the arrival of the main Macedonian Force, Helmetrus called for reinforcements from home. He received another 10,000 men from the Aegean Islands and then divided his forces into two. The first army moved north, fortifying Anthemous and Kalindoia, enveloping Amyntas's forces. The Second army secured the path that had locked the two armies in Aineia. From this profitable position, Helmetrus planned to starve out Amyntas, who only could be supplied by a single route.

Macedonian Counter Offensive

While the Second Offensive was a clear success to Helmetrus, it gave Amyntas a perfect opportunity. Leaving only half of his mercenary troops behind, the Macedonian marched daringly through the central mountain passes with his entire army, arriving just several miles north of the Athenian base in Spartalos. The second army raced to counter Helmetrus's momentum, calling on a series of reinforcements from nearby cities to even out the numerical unbalance. Though historians do not know the full quantity of the armies, it is assumed that both numbered around 20,000, maybe less.

Amyntas did not attack, but rather allowed the second army to march up the mountains, tiring themselves. When finally the two armies met on the field of battle, high in the mountains, Amyntas had already prepared himself. Such ignited the Battle of Indoplon, and the destruction of the second army, ushering fear of a possible military defeat.

The Sithonia Campaign

The defeat of the Second Athenian Army brought the Athenian advanced to a total halt. As Amyntas had disabled the enveloping maneuver, Helmetrus retreated south to re-draw war plans. He was pursued by the Macedonian army most of the time, refusing them battle and keeping several day's marches ahead. Eventually, Helmetrus abandoned the main-land, and decided to fortify the Sithoian Peninsula in the south east. Helmetrus was able to build defenses along the narrow strips of land, restricting the Macedonian advance and eventually bringing the war to a complete halt in winter. The actual march had been costly, and the skirmishes that had occurred had dreadfully strained the Athenian army, who were now enclosed in a narrow peninsula.

Destruction of the Athenian Army (338 BCE)

By the second year of the war, the conflict had already become the most costly war in Athenian history, slowly draining the coffers to a mere one million gold drachmas. As the war continually dragged on, the people became less encouraged to fight, and slowly reinforcements and supply lines became weak and deserted.

The Torone Revolt

Following the second winter of the war, Helmetrus had slowly rebuilt his forces through a series of reinforcement and supply shipments from Anatolian colonies. However, the presence of the Athenian Army in the peaceful Athenian colony of Torone had begun to upset the Macedonian population, who had begun a massive surge in nationalist fervor. Along with the universal taxes to fund the unpopular war, and the prospect of a free Macedonia, the people of Torone took to the streets of the city, burning the Athenian government building in the city and proclaiming its independence from Athens. Helmetrus was confident of victory, and marched his army south to quell the revolt. Indeed, he was able to quiet the routers, and restore order, but his march south had provided Amyntas with an opportunity. Suddenly, without proper support, the Macedonian army poured across the defenses and set a straight path for Torone.

Siege of Torone

Helmetrus now realized that a proper battle would be a disaster, resulting in a total military defeat. Instead, the Athenian ordered his armies to withdraw to Torone. He organized a brief fortification effort, preparing for a siege. With assistance from the cities port, he would be able to shuttle in troops and supplies, until eventually he could sally forth and crush the Macedonian army. Initially, the plan functioned as planned, with the Athenian navy shuttling in all the supplies and troops Helmetrus required. However, when Amyntas caught word of this maneuver, he ordered a 7,000 man detachment to march along the shore and disrupt the movements.

Instead, the small army arrived at the port, and burned it to the ground with a third of the Athenian fleet still in it. As the fire raged across the cities, Helmetrus rushed to the ports aid, but by the time he had marched across, the Macedonians had left. The destruction of Torone's port initiated a standard siege, with no help on its way. After three months of a brutal urban standoff, Amyntas launched a full scale assault on three sides of the city, dividing it into two parts. The city fell entirely a week later, effectively destroying the Athenian army.

Around 1,000 men (including Helmetrus), were able to escape the siege on fishing boats, eventually sailing south east in order to return home.
Macedonia III

Red: Battle Blue: Macedonian Army Green: Athenian Army Brown: Fortification

The Collaspe of Helmetrus's Order (337 BCE)

Helmetrus returned to Athens in winter of 337 BCE, along with his 1,000 companions. They were received silently, with little welcome and pompous. Instead, Helmetrus returned home a failure to all the people of Athens, including his own son, Alexander. Krolpols, the former Archon, had gained substantial powers, and had gained near total control of the Popular Tribune, most importantly, the Juries of Athens. Only Helmetrus's companion, and the only other First General, Eurphanes, stood in the way of a total political coup, reminding the people of Helmetrus's sacrifices to the city. In the end though, Eurphanes was ordered away by the popular assembly to resume his post in Sicily.

Fall of the Assembly

Early Spring gave Helmetrus the opportunity to maintain his support of the war and spread his ideas, though his perspective was quickly vanishing. Opposition to Helmetrus had gained such momentum, that in March of 337 BCE, with Amyntas in total control of Macedon, the Assembly motioned to revoke the First General titles as a "unlawful" act of violating democracy. The law passed with little opposition, eventually being sent to the Tribunal which was firmly under the control of Krolpols, now presiding over the Nomothetai. The juries, puppets of Krolpols, passed the law proposition, revoking the authority of Helmetrus and Eurphanes, and demoting them both to one of the ten citizen generals.

War in the North

King Amyntas, aware of the political downfall of the Helmetrus regime, moved swiftly to crush remaining opposition. As the Athenian fleet retreated from the area, the King seized control of the situation, conquering Thasos, and marching his army east. With no military opposition, Amyntas secured the entirety of Macedonia in a single year, famously saying:

They came once with melted swords and battered shields, with great seahorses and Iron sails. They came upon the coast like a vomit of waves, and stained the land. But we! Oh great Macedonia! We! We have come back! Reunited as a people! Reunited to fight the stain!

In the entire 13 months of campaigning, Macedonia lost less then 500 men, reuniting the broken kingdom in the fall of 337 BCE.

The call for peace

With total defeat in near sight, Eurphanes and Krolpols agreed to unite their followers in the assembly and call for peace. The Athenians were careful in outlining the terms, allowing a reunited Macedonian Kingdom with a regular tribute to the mother city. Amyntas was initially skeptical of this plan, and outright refused a monetary payment to Athens. Instead, with the war on his side, he demanded that Alexander be handed over immediately for execution, as a false heir to his throne.

Helmetrus outright refused this option, and insisted that he "would rather die", then give up his own son. As giving away a hostage who had become a legal citizen of Athens was illegal, nonetheless the son of a ex-General, the peace talks came to a halt. Finally, Amyntas sent a ultimatum, demanding Alexander and his independent Kingdom, or a Macedonian invasion of Athenian Thrace and Thesally. With no legal standpoint to accept his ultimatum, Athens was plunged back into chaos.

The Crisis of 336 BCE

Resuming the War (336 BCE)

As the streets of Athens calmed from half a year of chaos, King Alexander called together his newly created military generals, and organized them into a small council (known as the οι άνδρες του πολέμου or in English as: War men). The First Council, was not designed to make peace, but rather to formulate plans to crush Amyntas and his marauding armies.

The King of Macedon had wasted no time, and had increased his army size profoundly, already have seized the capital of the Thessaly Province, Larissa. It became quite clear that if Alexander did not move quickly enough, the Macedonian army would reach Pharsalus, paving a path to invade Boeotia, right on the doorstep of Athens.

By the end of the summer, the Athenian council had unanimously agreed to block the road to Thebes, and march the army headlong into Thessaly. Gathering support from veterans in the west and east, Alexander gathered a force of 23,000 and marched onto Melitaea, just a few miles east of the clear marching path to Boeotia. From Melitaea, the Athenian army marched towards Coronea, where Amyntas was preparing to strike.

Alexander, using quickly timed marches and tactics, arrived at Coronea four days ahead of the Macedonian army. He set up basic defenses, intended at cutting off the Coronea pass supply chain, that was imperative to hold. The Macedonian army arrived two days after the completion of the defenses, igniting the Battle of Coronea.

Through a master stroke of strategy, Alexander shattered Aymntas's forces at Coronea, forcing the Macedonian army to retreat out of Thessaly. As Amyntas scrambled to exit without losing his forces, Alexander calmly took Larissa back, threatening Macedonian territory once more.

In November Alexander rallied the support of local warlords, promising them gold and land to commit to his forces. The Warlords gleefully accepted, bring a new army of horses into Alexander's Athenian Force. At the same time, Amyntas had successfully exited Thessaly, rushing back into Macedon with 25,000 men left. Now concerned for his own safety, he sent a emissary to Alexander in December, asking Alexander to come to the table of peace.

The diplomats were executed on the spot by Alexander.

Athenian Victory (335 BCE)

Amyntas, now increasingly disturbed at the prospect of another Athenian invasion, decided to ride out and meet Alexander. Amyntas believed that Alexander's forces were the last Athens could offer after many years of war. Indeed, the Athenian manpower was draining, and it soon became clear that few Athenians of true blood would be able to sustain the war effort. The situation became dire for both sides, with all cards on the table. Amyntas rushed to purchase more mercenaries, spending several chests on 4,000 Thracian Warriors. These warriors were to be the force that could smash the battle-hardened Athenian veterans, and ignite a Macedonian Attack.

Amyntas was wrong, however, underestimating the strength of the Athenian Army with its newly purchased cavalry and the tactical genius of the young king. By late winter, Alexander had already arrived near Edessa, the capital of the Macedonian Kingdom. Amyntas elected to ride out to confront Alexander has he moved north, intending to make battle at the crossing of the Haliacmon. Alexander welcomed the opportunity, receiving news of the Macedonian attack plan when Amyntas marched through the river city of Beroia. On the 8th of March, the two armies engaged at the final Battle of Haliacmon.

Alexanders immediate attack across the river with his cavalry caught the Macedonian force completely off guard, throwing Amyntas and his forces into chaos. As his army routed, Amynas ordered a fellow soldier to kill him, which the soldier executed as ordered.

Leaving no immediate heirs, and with the pressure of total extinction, the Macedonian Generals and Nobles offered Alexander the throne. Alexander deceitfully accepted, marching his army through Edessa, and then Pella, the government capital of the Macedonian Kingdom. Alexander sacked both cities, burning half of Edessa and massacring the Macedonian Nobles at Alexander's official coronation.

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