The battle of the Granicus River took place in May 334 BC and it was the first great victory of Alexander the Great during his campaign against the Persian Empire. Alexander defeated the army of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor complemented by a large troop of Greek mercenaries on this place near the mythical Troy.
Alexander the Great put 30,000 infantrymen and 5,000 cavalrymen in this battle. Persians gathered a total of 10,000 Persian infantrymen, 8,000 Greek mercenaries and 15,000 Persian cavalrymen. Various sources report different numbers, but they usually agree in number about 30-35,000 men on the Alexander’s side and 25-33,000 men on the Persian’s side.
The Granicus River (modern day the Biga River) was only 20 meters wide on the battlefield. Persians deployed their troops on the west bank of the river on the hill. This position was very advantageous because of very marshy ground and steep rise of the bank. It should make the supposed Macedonian attack blunt. In addition, the nearness of the sea should prevent Alexander from circumvention of this Persian position.
Course of the battle of the Granicus
Alexander is said to come across the Persians during his movement from Abydos (Abdju). It is hard to say, how exactly the battle took place, because various ancient sources contradict each other. Persian cavalry is said to be deployed on unsuitable terrain on the river bank, while the infantry together with Greek hoplites were placed in reserves.
Alexander seems to have immediately noticed the enemy’s irrational battlefield arrangement. There are different opinions of the further course of the conflict. According to them Alexander either attacked the enemy immediately or he at first crossed the river upstream at night and didn’t attacked Persians till the dawn the next day (as suggested by Alexander's general Parmenion).
The battle began with a deceptive attack of Macedonian cavalry and light infantry on the left wing that was led by Parmenion. The Persians responded immediately and moved the reserves on that side of their line. Macedonians were forced back. At the same time Alexander and his crew in a classic wedge-shaped formation penetrated into the centre of the Persian order.
Macedonian cavalry turned left then and began to slowly push the Persians, who were still busy with the left side of the Macedonian line. The Macedonian infantry used this to attack the less quality Persian infantry standing in the rear of the Persian line. The collapse of the middle battle line caused panic in the lines of the Persian cavalry that fled from the battlefield then. Abandoned Persian infantry turned to flee then, but many Persian soldiers were killed.
Battle of the Granicus - Alexander x Dareios III.