Thoughts On The Battle Of Yarmuk 636. Heraclitus Vs. Khalid Ibn Al Walid.

by Daniel Russ on February 16, 2010

Yarmuk

Yarmuk was a raging 6 day battle between forces of the Rashidun Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire. The Muslim Arabs had made inroads into Syria and Palestine and the Byzantine Emperor Heraclitus meant to take some of the lands back. This was a major battle because not only did the Arabs win against  a numerically superior force, but it began the fist of many waves of Islamic conquests and a new era of conflict between Christians and Muslims.

The Byzantine army Heraclitus raised was comprised of Franks, Slavs and Georgians and Armenians, and organized as mostly heavy infantry against mostly armed cavalry from the Arab side. It is said the Byzantines had 100,000 men to the Arab’s 24,000. Khalid held defensive lines and used his strength wisely while Heraclitus had his men make forward thrusts, and struggle against a superior cavalry that took Byzantine casualties by the thousands  with an endless stream of arrows. All with little to show for it. When Khalid ibn al Walid did in fact charge the Byzantines on the sixth day, he did it smartly, using only the force that he could commit. Khalid kept the pressure on the Byzantines and could change the course of the day in an instant with a cavalry that was well trained and responded quickly. Also, Khalid had chosen battlefield and the Byzantines were fighting on a mesa surrounded by steep ravines. Not exactly maneuver territory.

Six days of full on skirmishes and the Arab lines held against heavy infantry and arrows,  and a contingent of knight-like heavy cavalry. Eventually, the Byzantines were driven from the field and Heraclitus accepted the loss as a result of his sinning.

Source: Battles, R.G. Grant, 2008

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