The casualties at Hydaspes River
Tue Aug 11 22:56:08 2009
Hydaspes River was the most difficult and costly battle that Alexander fought. Plutarch tells us that “their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. W. W. Tarn (Alexander the Great, 1948), J. R. Hamilton (“The Cavalry Battle at Hydaspes” Journal of Hellenic Studies 76, 1956) and Peter Green (Alexander of Macedon, 1991) all believe the reported casualty numbers for Alexander have been intentionally reduced. Careful analysis by Tarn of the individual units involved suggest that the number of infantry that crossed the river with Alexander was much larger and later minimized to hide the extent of their losses. Based on this analysis Peter Green suggests that Alexander’s actual infantry losses at Hydaspes River might be closer to 4,000. If Plutarch is right about the terrible effect on morale, it is easy to see why Alexander might attempt to hide just how severe those losses were.