Lincoln Blogs

Brains and Brawn
November 29, 2006, 8:40 pm
Filed under: History

In the Persian War, the Persians had more then 5 million soldiers, including cavalry, infantry, and a navy with 1,207 ships. The Greeks, however, had far fewer troops, and a navy with but 271 ships. But the Greeks won the war. How, you may ask, did they do it? The Greeks won with brave and skillful fighting, but mostly with an excellent military strategy. Two important battles of the war illustrate this perfectly.

The first battle is the Battle of Marathon, in which the Persians fought the Athenians. In this battle, the Athenians were outnumbered three to one. So, to make up for their size, they made their line thinner and longer, with extra men on the flanks, so they would not be surrounded by the many Persians. This minimized the Persians’ size advantage by not allowing them to have more then one man fighting an Athenian at one time. The Athenians’ plan worked extremely well; although the Persians killed most of the Athenians on the inside of the line, the Athenians controlled the outside. They surrounded the remaining Persians, and went on to a great victory, killing 6,400 Persians, and losing only 192 men.

The next battle is the Battle of Salamis, a navy battle. The Greeks were on the island of Salamis, and had planned that they should fight in the narrow strait between the island of Salamis and the mainland of Greece. Fighting in a small area was to the Greek advantage, for the Persian ships did not have room to spread out and use all their ships, and they were not able to use their superior speed. The Greeks, now almost evenly matched with the Persians, won the battle easily, which was the “knockout punch” of the war.

The wise Greeks figured out how to minimize the size advantage of the Persians, and proved their skill in battle. They should be praised for their bravery and skill, but most of all, their brains.


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