Battle of Kadesh (1285 B.C.)
The outcome of one of the greatest battles in the history of the ancient East (fought by the Egyptians and Hittites) was indecisive.
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Ramses II marched with mighty forces against the fortress of Kadesh located on the bank of the Orontes river. Pharaoh led the corps of Amun which pitched camp near the fortress. The other three corps (of Ra, Ptah and Sutekh) were further away, but were approaching Kadesh.
The Hittite king, Muwatalli II misled Ramses by ’hiding’ his camp and army behind the hills surrounding the fortress.
Before Pharaoh and his commanders could react, the Hittites initiated the attack. 2,500 war chariots carrying 3 warriors each crossed the ford of Orontes and hit the corps of Ra.
The attack took the Egyptians by surprise. The Hittite chariots split the unprepared Egyptian unit, causing huge losses.
The Hittite war chariots’ next target was the corps of Amun. Moving extremely fast, they managed to reach the Egyptian camp within minutes.
Pharaoh made a bold and imprudent decision to engage in battle with the Hittites with a few hundred soldiers. His irresponsible act did not cause him great damage, because, in the meantime, the Egyptian elite corps made up of mercenaries arrived at the site of the battle.
Thanks to the mercenaries that had come from a different direction than the four corps, Ramses was not caught between two fires.
The situation changed: the Egyptians outnumbered the Hittites and launched the attack. A number of war chariots from the Eastern flank of the Hittite army were chased to the river. However, Muwatalli’s remaining soldiers fought assiduously.
The best Hittite chariots did not retreat. But at night, when the Egytian corps of Ptah arrived at Kadesh, it crossed the Orontes and returned to its camp, lest it be encircled.
There the Hittite infantry awaited it, not yet having taken part in battle. In the meantime, the Egyptian corps of Sutekh arrived. The situation came to a deadlock (although sources on both sides claimed victory).
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