Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Battle for Miletopolis: Blood in the Sand

The breeze settled in from the south bringing more fine dust into the camp, King Fartous Bhesamia waved away the food his servant offered him. He was impatient to get on with the battle, firstly his libido was up even for a man of his age the prospect of marriage and all that came with it to Queen Iola was enough to make him hot under the linen armour he was wearing. Secondly his treasury Minister had made it clear the country could not afford to maintain a large army in the field for more than a couple of weeks, the harvest had not been good and the prices of imported grain were increasing by the day.

The army of Bithynia had been marching for two weeks now and although the going was good King Fartous needed a desisive battle. That very morning his son Prince Tutak had been sent on a scouting mission to the river crossing of the Rhyndacus close to the ancient city of Miletopolis. After a short but desisive skirmish Tutak had returned to camp, he had failed to secure the crossing which was now held by a small force of light troops under the command of General Kleitos. This all seemed like bad news to Fartous, more delays....however, his mood brightened when Tutak reported a large force of infantry where on the other side of the river. Ha thought Fartous no more delays he could cross with the bulk of his army further up stream. Finally he would be able to force a land battle which he was sure his army could win.

The route of adavance of the Bithynian army to Miletopolis 
The main bridge over the Rhyndacus, now held by Kleitos with a small force of Mysians infantry, in the distance the main Mysian army.
Ha thought the old King Pelopidas the old 'Fart' thought he could just walk in a take what he wanted did he ! He raised his spear and with a rousing shout his army slowly moved forward.
A 'period' view from behind the Mysian lines, looking east to the river. There are three objectives in the battle, the Bridge, the Olive Grove Hill and the statue of Achilles which marks the entrance to the town of Miletopolis.
The river which is deep and fast flowing is impassable other than by the bridge, so Pelopidas has sent Kleitos to guard the crossing, having failed in the previous battle It is his last chance to prove himself, he can be seen to the far left on the bridge.
The bulk of the Bithynian army, a mixed and exotic force including war elephants, cavalry, horse archers and camels
A view across the river to the main battlefield in the distance
King Fartous has immediately taken the initiative and pushed his forces forward, capturing the key objective of the Olive Grove Hill, the rest of his forces sweep around the sides, but with the river restricting movement it is not ideal for large cavalry manoeuvres 
The war elephants move forward deliberately, whilst a hail of arrows flys from the Bithynian lines
As is their tradition the Mysian army is predominantly infantry based, Pelopidas places his mercenary forces close to the river limiting their chances to run away, but with an army this size he is unable to get all his troops into line between the river and the town.
With Sparabara units captuirng the hill Pelopidas has no choice but to launch a frontal assault a huge infantry unit pushes up the hill, only to be attacked in the flank by mounted camel archers
The first clash on the slopes of Olive Grove Hill, in the distance troops have not yet met.
An eagle eye view of the struggle for the hill, King Fartous himself can be seen on the hill urging his troops to hold this first assault.
Eventually the elephants charge forward, crashing into a unit of infantry, they hold the initial charge but are severely battered.
In the foreground infantry are locked in combat
If the combatants survive the day they will tell stories to their children of the epic battle they had been part of...
Huge numbers of Bithynian spearmen come upto the front and charge in under the watchful eye of Achilles 
The infantry unit attacking the hill alters its line of advance slightly and is able to beat at least one of the Sparabara units but they are them selves then thrown back down the hill
 Whilst one of the elephants tramples the infantry, the second is wounded
Forces closer to the river have now clashed, each unit and each man now locked in their own combat not really aware of the rest of the battle
After what seemed like hours, the tide of the battle swings back and forth, the initial assault on the hill has failed and although the defenders are weakened they are bringing up reserves, by the river things are evenly matched, across the river small units of skirmishes continue to exchange slings and javelins to control the bridge.
By the town it is anybodies guess what is happening, the elephants have been killed or fled, infantry is locked in combat while cavalry of all types circles around the edges, is Pelopidas running out of troops to take the objectives ?
A final assault on the Olive Grove Hill, by the Elite Mysian guard, King Fartous has remained in the hill throughout the battle guiding his forces
By the river the mercenaries are eventually getting the better of the combats and the last pike block is struggling to hold them back!
Throwing everything in at the end Pelopidas charges the royal cavalry into combat
Take the hill.....take the hill...Pelopidas urges the Guard forward against the remaining Sparabara unit
The tide has turned and the Mysian troops are now getting the better of the combats, as spaces open up across the battlefield they are able to turn onto the flanks of the larger Bithynian infantry units
The last stand at the river by the pikemen as they are charged by heavy cavalry and mercenary Thracians
The hill is ours ! The guard have made it onto the hill, in the distance Bithynian cavalry is riding in the wrong direction, dam it howls King Fartous with his army in tatters or worse he chooses to turn tail.......and fight another day.
  King Fartous leading his remaining cavalry from the field, Prince Tutak has thankfully survived and is able to join in the flight. In the distance Pelopidas stands atop the Olive Grove Hill, he will later erect a trophy to the battle on the hill which is renamed for posterity as The Hill of Pelopidas will be some time before the Blood has been washed from the sand !

We had a lot of fun with this battle, it was pretty epic, the forces were pretty even to start with but solid infantry was the eventual winner for the Mysians.  For those with a technical interest and who have reached this far. We used Kings of War slightly amended, we had roughly 23 units each not including the general etc.. we played the initial skirmish as a separate battle to start with to see who got the advantage of the bridge.


  1. Brilliant prose and a good looking battle. Great job!

    1. Thanks Jonathan a fun time had by all πŸ˜€

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Michal a fun time πŸ™‚

  3. It was an epic day, gimme more

    1. Thanks....we are only limited by our own ambition.........more to come πŸ™‚

  4. Nice report, a beautiful battle on a beautiful terrain...and with beautiful armies!

    1. Thanks Phil you're very kind πŸ˜€

  5. A good read with loads of pictures, what's not to like? Enjoyed that!

    1. Thanks David...we had fun but as we all know it just makes us want more. We need a bigger table really ! So we can have a bit more space for the cavalry. Next time perhaps....πŸ™‚

  6. Epic indeed, I like the B&W nostalgia shots.

    1. Thanks my mind they taken by Cecil b demille as he creates another epic Sand and sandels film πŸ™‚

  7. Great looking game and great back story, I also like the pre Christian photos which as we all know are in black and white!
    Best Iain

    1. Cecil b demille at his best.....πŸ˜€

  8. The return of King Fartuos! Sadly not his day this time. Great stuff once again, Matt!

    1. Yes he has returned home frustrated ! In more sense than one πŸ˜€