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About This Quiz
You might think Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world by having a massive, well-equipped army, but he was outnumbered at most of his battles. Still, he never lost a single battle. How much do you know about his military tactics?
When Thessaly revolted in the wake of Alexander's father's death, Alexander outflanked their army, holding a difficult mountain pass. How did he do it?
He marched his army 60 miles (97 kilometers) around the mountain range. Because of the soldiers' excellent training and loyalty, they did it far faster than the Thessalians expected.
He had his troops cut a path into Mount Ossa and sent them directly over the mountain, emerging behind the Thessalians.
He used a decoy army to draw them out of the pass, then moved the real army in behind them.
The path Alexander's army cut into Mount Ossa can be seen today, and is known as Alexander's Ladder.
While battling a Thracian tribe called the Getae (sometimes known as Getai), Alexander faced a difficult battle — the Getae held strong positions on the opposite side of the Danube River. How did he successfully attack across the river?
His archers rained so many arrows on the Getae that they were forced to retreat from the river.
He stole the Getae boats and ferried as many of his troops across at night as possible, unknown to the Getae.
He had his troops build a temporary bridge while shield-bearers protected them from arrows.
Crossing the river at night let Alexander make a surprise attack in the morning, routing the Getae despite their superior numbers.
Alexander had difficulty taking Tyre, a walled island city nearly impervious to attack. He accomplished it with a long siege, a naval blockade and massive siege towers. How did he get the towers close enough to the walls to attack?
He had the towers built tall enough so that they could be rolled along the sea floor.
He had his troops construct a stone causeway from the mainland to the city walls.
He built massive barges that could float the towers close enough.
The causeway couldn’t quite reach the walls, but they got the towers close enough to attack. The causeway was still visible in the 20th century, but today the land bridge between mainland Lebanon and Tyre is covered in houses and streets.
Alexander could be brutal and ruthless. When Philotas was found guilty of conspiring to kill him, Alexander had him executed. He then had Philotas' father, Parmenion, killed as well. Why did Alexander do this?
because Alexander wanted their family's wealth, which would be transferred to him if Parmenion died
because Parmenion had been a key part of the conspiracy
to prevent Parmenion from seeking vengeance for his son's death
Parmenion was assassinated without a trial or any evidence he'd been part of the plan to kill Alexander, solely because Alexander feared he would seek a reprisal for his son's death.
Alexander used his presence on the battlefield to inspire his troops and lead important charges, and he also was able to "fake out" opposing forces. How did he do this?
He had a "double" who looked very much like him and acted as a decoy.
He could shout false orders to his troops that deceived his opponents.
By moving to different points in his battle line, he could make his enemies think he was planning a charge there.
Alexander would often move to a flank to make his enemies think he would lead a charge there. This would draw some of their troops in that direction as a response, often opening up a gap or weak point for Alexander's forces to exploit (there are rumors that he used a double at Hydaspes, to make it appear he was still at his main camp).
How did Alexander respond when his troops were ambushed by Ariobarzanes in the narrow pass called the Gate of Persia?
He had his phalanxes raise their spears and the reserves raise their shields until the Persians had exhausted themselves.
He urged his troops into a sudden charge straight up the walls of the pass.
He retreated, regrouped and eventually found a way through the mountains to outflank Ariobarzanes.
Alexander's discovery of a path through the mountains (possibly by treachery) mirrors in some ways the famous battle of Thermopylae about 150 years earlier. In that case it was an outnumbered band of Greeks defending a pass against Persians who learned of a secret way through the mountains.
The Battle of the Hydaspes brought all of Alexander's tactical skill as a general to bear. It featured a difficult river crossing, a much larger enemy army and a brilliant outflanking maneuver. How did Alexander cross the river this time, even though his opponent, Porus, was closely watching him?
He used captured elephants from an earlier battle to establish a foothold on the other side of the river.
He had his strongest phalanx simply ford the river in formation.
He left the bulk of his army downriver, deceiving Porus with false troop movements while crossing quietly upriver.
Alexander forced Porus to divide his attention by leaving part of his army at camp while he crossed upriver.