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he sent men upstream to block the nearest crossing points with his elephants. Alexander’s horses were scared of the elephants, which were trumpeting on the far side of the river, and he could not risk crossing the river in front of them.
As at Gaugamela, Alexander began the battle with a war of nerves
Daily, parties went onto the river by boat as if to began an attack, but always kept just out of range.
Alexander split his men, and told them to make such a noise that Porus was continually kept on the alert. He kept even his own men under a false impression, as he spread the rumour that the river was running too high and too fast to cross, and that the army would camp until autumn.
Food was ostentatiously gathered and stored in full view of Porus’ scouts.
Alexander would have his men mount up and drill on the far side of the river, shouting and moving up and down the river banks, so that Porus had to move his own men to cover their bank in case Alexander should attack.
Porus’ men were soon exhausted by living under this strain. As soon as they had the bank covered where the noise came from it would stop, only to start again elsewhere.
The Indians were lulled into a false sense of security
They had seen Alexander’s stores, they had defended against countless attacks which never came, and they trusted in the monsoon.
They stopped tracking Alexander’s movements at night, confident that he could not mount an attack until the river levels dropped.
fires were lit at Alexander’s camp to suggest that the entire army was pitched there permanently.
Craterus stayed at the camp with around 1/3 of the army, having been told that, unless Porus tried to make an escape, he was to stay on his side of the river
Alexander led the rest of his men off, as if on another search for supplies
Quietly, though, he returned to the river bank a few miles upstream.
Alexander left 3 mercenary commanders with all their hired men and ordered them to cross the river only once the Indians had been fully engaged
Alexander took some 6,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry further upstream
The cavalry (where Porus was weakest) were crucial – the Royal Squadron of the Companions would deliver the usual charge, while the Scythians, mounted archers and Iranian cavalry would pin down the enemy from longer range.
In the early evening an electric storm broke overhead
While the noise covered the sound of Alexander’s movements, the clouds blocked all light from the stars and the Macedonians had to wait for the clouds to clear – almost until dawn.
Finally, Alexander set out across the river in a 30-oared boat.
Porus’ men spotted him coming and raced back to camp 17 miles away to tell the news
Alexander’s boats had not found the opposite bank, however.
They had reached the island and unloaded before anyone realised they still had to cross the rest of the channel.
Rather than get back into their boats, Alexander set the example and waded out chest-deep into the river, leading the ageing Bucephalus.
All 5,000 cavalry crossed the river this way, and the infantry with them also managed to clamber up the muddy banks.
Speed was essential now, as Alexander needed to have his men organised by the time Porus’ troops arrived.
When they did, there were 120 4-horse chariots and 2,000 cavalry.
They were too fast for the slippery conditions and the drivers could not control them. They ran straight into the Companions and the mounted archers and were massacred. Their general (some said he was Porus’ son, some said his brother) was killed.
The cavalry waited for the infantry to move in front of them, and then all 11,000 men moved forward.
He had to be clever to make the maximum use of each element in the army.
Companions could charge down the light infantry and beat Porus’ cavalry, but had to be kept away from the elephants.
The light infantry could attack the elephants and the Indian infantry but would be vulnerable to a cavalry attack.
The Indian archers would be hampered by the conditions, and the Iranian mounted archers could attack the infantry and cavalry, but again their horses would not be able to come close to the elephants
Alexander decided to rely entirely on his cavalry
The battle would be fought in well-defined and expertly timed stages.
Because of the Indian elephants they would mass on the right and attack the Indians’ far left wing with their usual wedge-shaped angled attack.
Alexander, the mounted archers, the Iranians and 2 squadrons of Companions led by Hephaistion and Perdiccas led the attack, with two other Companion squadrons under Coenus swinging round to attack the Indian right
In the opening skirmish with Porus’ chariots, Bucephalus had been wounded, and within hours of the battle, he had died.
Alexander had already decided to found two cities on the banks of the Jhelum. The easterly one he called Nicaea, City of Victory, the westerly one, close to the site of the river crossing, was called Bucephala.
The site was marked with a grave at the town, and a huge funeral procession was led by Alexander to the tomb.
(The site was reportedly washed away, but Michael Wood seems to have found it.)