In BC 331 this battle was fought between Alexander the Great of Macedonia and Dairus-III, the last king of the Achaemenid of Persia.
Dairus had the biggest army; the world had ever seen that point of time at his disposal and still lost the battle. According to some ancient sources, the estimates of armies’ sizes were one million at Dairus side and mere fifty thousand that of Alexander. At the end of the battle, Persians lost around four hundred thousand of its men while Alexander lost less than one thousand hundred people and emerged victorious.
With less how Alexander achieved more?
Alexander knew his army was clearly outnumbered, unless and otherwise he thinks and acts differently he could not succeed. He devised a brilliant strategy, explained it to his front-line commanders and ensured they all understood it well. The essence of it was to break the Persian line of defense and kill Darius as soon as possible so that the Persian army will lack direction, lose their morale and give up.
Then, he got into action, at the battlefield he lined up his army in a different and never seen before formation in front of the Dairus Army. His army was divided into two. Right side was commanded by him and the left side by his chief Parmenion. The entire formation was at an angle inclined to the right of the Center to that of Dairus formation.
In the opposite side Darius and his army were just facing the Macedonians with straight-line formation. Darius placed himself at the center with best of his cavalry and infantry protecting him.
The battle began and the Macedonian army started moving sideways. This unusual movement of sideways instead of moving front caused confusion in Darius mind, and he ordered his army to move sideways as well as to the front, to counter the Macedonians.
As the soldiers started to move, Darius ordered his chariots in the front line to attack the Macedonians and within no time Alexander’s men countered it effectively with their shower of Javelins. It shook and broke the confidence of the charioteers. While this was happening, Alexander kept moving his army sideways (rightward march) and Darius ordered his men to stay parallel to Macedonians. This led to a sudden opening of the front-line in the Persian formation giving Alexander direct access to Darius.
Alexander took immediate advantage of that moment and with his companion cavalry started approaching Darius, who had only few small contingents of troops around him at that time. All his other troops were either busy marching sideways or ahead as per his earlier instruction.
Alexander knew that was his moment and ordered his men to crush that weak line of defense in front of his target – King Dairus. They killed the charioteer of Dairus. It shattered Dairus’s confidence; he jumped out of his chariot and fled the battle field to save himself. Soon this news spread among the Persian army. As expected, it disheartened them, and they surrendered to the Macedonians.
As we reflect on the Battle of Gaugamela, there are many things to learn.
Key things I learned
1. Have a Strategy/Plan before action.
2. Importance of Aligning the team to the Strategy/Plan.
3. Importance of Communication at Crucial times.
4. More with less is possible.
5. Surprise your Competitor – Do the unexpected.
6. Begin with the end in mind.
7. Be different.