The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

Main Index
Chapter 21: The Hell of Walaja

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 5

And the warriors of Khalid agreed.

The day before the Battle of Walaja was fought, Khalid had sent for two of his officers, Busr bin Abi Rahm and Saeed bin Marra. 1 He made each of them the commander of a mobile striking force of about 2,000 cavalry and instructed them as follows:

a. They would take their horsemen out during the night and move wide round the south of the Persian camp.
b. On arrival on the far side of the ridge which stretched behind the Persian camp, they would conceal their men but keep them ready to move at short notice.
c. When battle was joined in the morning, they would keep their men mounted behind the crest of the ridge and position observers to watch for the signal of Khalid.
d. When Khalid gave the signal, the two striking forces would charge the Persian army in the rear, each group echeloned a bit to one flank.

Necessary orders were issued by Khalid to those who had to be in the know of the plan, so that the organisation and preparation of the striking forces could be carried out without a hitch; but the utmost secrecy was maintained and the Muslim rank and file knew nothing of the planned manoeuvre. In the morning, the cavalry comprising these striking forces was nowhere to be seen; and Khalid formed up the rest of his army, about 10,000 men in front of the Persians.

This was the plan of the Battle of Walaja, fought in early May 633 (third week of Safar, 12 Hijri). It was a frontal holding attack combined with a powerful envelopment. The operation went, down to the smallest detail, as planned by Khalid. Only a master could have done it.

This is not the first time in history that this brilliant manoeuvre was carried out. It had been done before. The most famous example of this type of manoeuvre was the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, at which Hannibal did much the same to the Romans. After Hannibal's battle this type of manoeuvre became known as a Cannae.

But Khalid had never heard of Hannibal. With Khalid this was an original conception. 2

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 559.
2. There is a difference between Walaja and Cannae in that Hannibal's cavalry moved out on both flanks, drove off the Roman cavalry, and then, at the appropriate time, fell upon the rear of the Romans, while Khalid's cavalry moved (as we reconstruct the battle) round one flank. But this is a matter of pre-battle movement. The pattern of battle was the same.