Battle of Kadesh: Ramses II's Military and the Wars of the Hittites.

Relations with the Hittites on Egypt's Syrian frontier were far from friendly during the first part of Ramses' reign. In Seti's time, Egypt had kept her influence on the southern Phoenician coastline ports while the Hittites retained the northern city of Kadesh. In Year 4 of Ramses' reign, however, there was a revolt in the Levant and in the spring of Year 5 (1275 BC) the new king was forced to mobilize his army.
Ramses gathered together one of the greatest forces of Egyptian troops ever seen, 20,000 men basically in four divisions of 5000 each, named respectively after the gods Amun, Re, Ptah and Seth.

Following virtually in Tuthmosis Ill's footsteps of some 200 years earlier, ramses moved up through the Gaza Strip and was few miles from Kadesh in early May. With such a large army, plus all the necessary ancillary elements of baggage trains and camp followers progress was slow and extended over a vast area. Two spies captured and interrogated on the approach to Kadesh indicated that the Hittite army was over 100 miles to the north. ramses therefore moved forward confidently with the first division, Amun, crossed the river Orontes and camped to the west of Kadesh, a city that had created strong defences by diverting water through a canal from the river, making the city virtually an island. ramses' complacency was soon shaken, however, when a forward patrol captured two more spies who
revealed under torture that the previous pair had been a 'plant' - The Hittite army was in fact just the other side of Kadesh, waiting in ambush.
The Hittite king, Muwatallis, had assembled an army even greater than the Egyptian one. In two sections each of about 18,000 and 19,000 men, plus 2500 chariots, it was a formidable force - and it struck almost immediately at the Re division, coming up to join Ramses. The Chariots swept through the Egyptian ranks, scattering the soldiery like chaf and then plunged into the recently made camp. Confusion reigned and Ramses found himself isolated, abandoned by all except his personal guard and shield-bearer, Menna. Nevertheless, as a quick-witted comander, he rallied his few forces to resist the attack. He was saved from annihilation or, worse, capture by his elite guard which, having taken a different route from the main army, came up rapidly and made a flank attack on the Hittites. Forced to fight on two fronts, Muwatallis retreated and the quiet of night settled over the battlefield, which Ramses occupied.

Battle of Kadesh: Ramses II's Military and the Wars of the Hittites.

Relations with the Hittites on Egypt's Syrian frontier were far from friendly during the first part of Ramses' reign. In Seti's time, Egypt had kept her influence on the southern Phoenician coastline ports while the Hittites retained the northern city of Kadesh. In Year 4 of Ramses' reign, however, there was a revolt in the Levant and in the spring of Year 5 (1275 BC) the new king was forced to mobilize his army.
Ramses gathered together one of the greatest forces of Egyptian troops ever seen, 20,000 men basically in four divisions of 5000 each, named respectively after the gods Amun, Re, Ptah and Seth.

Following virtually in Tuthmosis Ill's footsteps of some 200 years earlier, ramses moved up through the Gaza Strip and was few miles from Kadesh in early May. With such a large army, plus all the necessary ancillary elements of baggage trains and camp followers progress was slow and extended over a vast area. Two spies captured and interrogated on the approach to Kadesh indicated that the Hittite army was over 100 miles to the north. ramses therefore moved forward confidently with the first division, Amun, crossed the river Orontes and camped to the west of Kadesh, a city that had created strong defences by diverting water through a canal from the river, making the city virtually an island. ramses' complacency was soon shaken, however, when a forward patrol captured two more spies who
revealed under torture that the previous pair had been a 'plant' - The Hittite army was in fact just the other side of Kadesh, waiting in ambush.
The Hittite king, Muwatallis, had assembled an army even greater than the Egyptian one. In two sections each of about 18,000 and 19,000 men, plus 2500 chariots, it was a formidable force - and it struck almost immediately at the Re division, coming up to join Ramses. The Chariots swept through the Egyptian ranks, scattering the soldiery like chaf and then plunged into the recently made camp. Confusion reigned and Ramses found himself isolated, abandoned by all except his personal guard and shield-bearer, Menna. Nevertheless, as a quick-witted comander, he rallied his few forces to resist the attack. He was saved from annihilation or, worse, capture by his elite guard which, having taken a different route from the main army, came up rapidly and made a flank attack on the Hittites. Forced to fight on two fronts, Muwatallis retreated and the quiet of night settled over the battlefield, which Ramses occupied.

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