Battle of Plataea
Posted on 25th December 2020
This was the final land battle in the 2nd Persian Invasion of Greece. It would take place in 479BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia.
The Persians, led by King Xerxes had gained much advantage the previous year with victories at Thermopylae and Artemisium; this was to change following the decisive Greek victory at Salamis.
After the defeat at Salamis, King Xerxes returned to Asia Minor, taking much of his army with him. He left his military commander Mardonius with an elite army, to hopefully accomplish the successful conquest of Greece.
There is much dispute over the size of the armies at the battle of Plataea, with the Persian army being anything from 110,000 to 350,000 even being supported by some Greek city-states including Thebes. The Greek army was anything from 40,000 to 108,000. What is not disputed is that the Greek army were again heavily outnumbered.
The Persian army created a fortified camp near the Asopus river in Boeotia. The Greek army decided to camp on higher ground above the Persians.
Neither side was willing to attack, although Mardonius did tried to lure the Greeks further down the plain. Both sides stayed in their camps for eight days; a stalemate was in force. For two more days Mardonius continued to infiltrate the supply lines of food and water to the Greek army; resulting in the Greek army, under cover of darkness retreating on the eleventh day. This retreat caused chaos and the Greek army ended up scattered and out of formation.
As dawn approached the Persians discovered this retreat and decided to attack. Mardonius set off in pursuit with his elite infantry. The rest of the Persian army followed suit, even though they had not been ordered to do so.
A long battle ensued. The Persian army with their inferior weapons were no match for the Greek army. They fired masses of arrows at the Greeks, but the light arrows could not penetrate the bronze shields and the Persian wicker shields were no match for the spear and swords of the hoplites. The Greek army had gained the advantage.
During the battle, legend has it a Spartan soldier, Arimnestus, spotted Mardonius on his white horse. Arimnestus picked up a rock and threw it at Mardonius hitting him squarely on the head, killing him.
The Persian army, now without their leader, started to retreat back to camp. They were pursued by the Greek army and slaughtered.
What little was left of the Persian army, under the command of Artabazus (military general), retreated back to Asia Minor, although many were to die of hunger, fatigue and further attacks.
The Greek army were victorious in battle and the 2nd Persian Invasion of Greece was over.
Tagged as: Junior Ancient Greece
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