The Hydaspes 326 BC: The Limit of Alexander the Great’s Conquests

By Nic Fields

Illustrated by Marco Capparoni

FIGHTING ELEPHANTS Artwork depicting a battle from 326BC


The Macedonians naturally dreaded Indian war elephants, which were in greater numbers and quality than anything they have yet encountered, if the 15 or so they glimpsed at Gaugamela can be
counted. From their point of view, the fighting on the left bank of the Hydaspes was to become desperate and at times chaotic due to the ground made muddy by the overnight deluge, trumpeting
elephants and crowded lines of opposing foot warriors.

A tremendous struggle was soon to develop as the Macedonian phalangites were tossed about or trampled under foot by the Indian elephants as they charged headlong into their formation. These Macedonian footsloggers, harsh veterans of so many hard fights, would eventually prevail in what turned out to be the hardest fought of all their pitched battles.

In this reconstruction the mahouts and warrior crew are busily being picked off by the Agrianoi javelineers and Cretan archers. Though extremely difficult to kill, the elephants themselves are receiving many maddening pinprick wounds. The elephants have cloth caparisons or padded mantles, which give the crew a more secure seat, held in place with twisted ropes. Some elephants have bells hung on neck ropes and elsewhere, whereas others are decorated with painted leaves and flowers. Others still have their tusks reinforced with bronze casings. Each elephant crew consists of a mahout armed with a hooked goad and occasionally with javelins too, and up to three
warriors armed with bows and javelins. In the meantime, the phalangites, having recovered their wits, begin their steady advance with locked shields. Already, some of the wounded and riderless elephants are being driven back in confusion into their own foot warriors.


The US Marine Corps 1775–1859: Continental and United States Marines

By Ron Field

Illustrated by Adam Hook

Artwork depicting MARINES AT HARPERS FERRY, 1859


In the aftermath of the action on October 18, 1859, a Marine first lieutenant shows the men a pike intended for use during the slave rebellion John Brown hoped would start following his raid on the Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.

The sergeant in fatigue dress wears a Pattern 1839 fatigue cap with brass letters “USM” at front; a black leather stock; a plain sky-blue shell jacket with rank indicated by three yellow Army-pattern chevrons with points up on each arm below the elbow; and sky-blue fly-front trousers with a 1½inwide dark-blue seam stripe edged with scarlet. He is armed with a .69-caliber Model 1842 Springfield rifled musket. Accouterments consist of whitened buff leather shoulder slings, with a plain oval brass plate, supporting a black leather cartridge box with plain flap, and a double frog holding a bayonet and an NCO sword. A cap pouch is carried on his buff leather waist belt, which has a plain brass plate.

Also in fatigue dress and armed and accoutered in the same manner, minus NCO sword, the private wears a skyblue single-breasted watch coat, and plain sky-blue trousers.

The first lieutenant wears a Pattern 1839 officers’ fatigue cap with a gold embroidered wreath and anchor. Rank is shown on his plain double-breasted undress frock coat by dark-blue shoulder straps with one gold bar at each end. His trousers are plain dark blue. He carries a Model 1826 Marine
officer’s sword with “Mameluke” hilt attached to a black patent-leather waist belt, fastened by a rectangular plate with silver Old English letters “USM” within a gold wreath.


Byzantine Cavalryman vs Vandal Warrior: North Africa AD 533–36

By Murray Dahm

Illustrated by Giuseppe Rava

Artwork depicting the final charge at Tricamarum

The final charge at Tricamarum

John, Belisarius’ trusted cavalry commander, leads a third charge at the Vandal centre against the 5,000 Sardinian veterans of Tzazon, the Vandal king Gelimer’s brother. Tzazon’s men have come from the successful re-conquest of Sardinia and have not tasted defeat, unlike Gelimer’s forces at the battle of Ad Decimum. Tzazon’s forces have already withstood two charges on the banks of the Bagradas River. They have also not been duped by the feigned retreat of those two earlier charges, intended to make them cross the river and pursue the retiring Byzantine cavalry and so disrupt the Vandal line. John leads the remaining bucellarii and other heavy cavalry along with the standard of Belisarius, the strategon de autokratora (‘with supreme authority over all’ – Procopius, 3.11.18). Now the battle will be decided in a fierce contest of combat on the riverbank. The remainder of the Vandal army await the outcome of this conflict while the rest of Belisarius’ forces, 3,500 cavalry and 10,000 infantry, follow John’s advance.


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