An early blueprint for tactics was the battle of Kadesh, a strategically important city in northern Syria. In 1274BC the pharoah Rameses II took an army of four formations into the area, each of 500 chariots and 5,000 men.
Facing them was a smaller Hittite force of 15,000. However, in an early touch of tactical brilliance, a 2,500 strong force of Hittite chariots swung south behind the advancing Egyptians. Using woods as cover – even crossing a river undetected – they attacked the Egyptian rearguard from the rear, destroying it.
Such a brilliant piece of tactics should have won the day, but with determination, Rameses counter-attacked, eventually claiming victory. Though, in actual fact, the battle was a draw, from then on, both the Egyptians and Hittites gaining a grudging respect for each other and tending to leave each other alone.
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