The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 35: Al-Yarmuk

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq


Page: 12

Gregory had hardly gone a few hundred paces when Abu Ubaidah caught up with him. Now Gregory, who had deliberately controlled the pace of his horse to let the Muslim overtake him, turned swiftly and raised his sword to strike at Abu Ubaidah. His apparent flight had been a trick to throw his opponent off guard. But Abu Ubaidah was no novice; he knew more about sword play than Gregory would ever learn. The Roman raised his sword, but that is as far as he got. He was struck at the base of his neck by Abu Ubaidah, and the sword fell from his hand as he crashed to the ground. For a few moments Abu Ubaidah sat still on his horse, marvelling at the enormous size of the Roman general. Then, leaving behind the bejewelled and gold-encrusted armour and weapons of the Roman, which he ignored with his habitual disregard for worldly possessions, the saintly soldier turned and rode back to the Muslim front.

On the return of Abu Ubaidah, Khalid galloped off to join the cavalry which had been positioned behind the corps of Amr bin Al Aas. As he arrived at his place he gave the signal for the general attack and the entire Muslim front surged forward. The Muslim centre and left engaged the Roman armies on their front but did not press the attack. On the right the cavalry galloped round to the flank of the Roman left. From here Khalid despatched a regiment to engage and hold the Roman cavalry of the left, and with the rest of the Muslim cavalry struck at the flank of the Roman left wing (the Slavs) at the same time as Amr assaulted their front with extreme violence. The Slavs were stout fighters, and for some time defended themselves courageously, but getting no support from their cavalry and assailed from front and flank, they at last gave way. Recoiling from the blows of Khalid and Amr, they fell back into the centre -the Armenians.

As the Roman left wing crumbled, Amr moved his corps forward, swung it to the left, and came up against the left and now exposed flank of the Armenians, in whose ranks there was considerable disorder as a result of the disorganised arrival of the broken Slavs. Meanwhile Khalid wheeled his cavalry and engaged the Roman cavalry of the left, which had been held in check by the regiment he had detached a little earlier. The second phase of the Muslim offensive began with Sharhabeel attacking the front of the Armenians while Amr assailed their flank. Then Khalid struck at the Roman cavalry of the left and drove it back from its position. This cavalry group, having got a severe mauling from Khalid, galloped away to the north and to safety. It had had enough of battle. (See Map 24 below)

map 4 chapter 35

I shall not attempt to explain Khalid's plan as it will become evident to the reader as we proceed with the course of the battle. But one point that needs especial mention is Khalid's intention with regard to the enemy cavalry. He had determined to drive the Roman cavalry off the battlefield so that the infantry, which formed the bulk of the Roman army, would be left without cavalry support and thus be helpless when attacked from flank and rear. In fast-moving operations the cavalry was the dominant partner, and without it the infantry would be at a great disadvantage, unable to move fast or to save itself by a rapid change of position.