Alexander’s Army, July Mutiny of
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Mutiny of Alexander III the
Great’s Macedonian army
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): The mutiny took place in India.
DECLARATION: Appeal of the soldiers, July 326 B.C.E.
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: The army, exhausted by
ceaseless and far-ranging campaigning, wanted to return
OUTCOME: Without violence, the troops prevailed, and
Alexander broke off his Indian conquest.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
Alexander’s forces, 50,000–60,000 men at this time
ALEXANDER’S INVASION OF INDIA (328–326 B.C.E.) was
ended not by opposition from the enemy, but by the failure
of his soldiers to match the passion and endurance of
their leader. By July of 326 B.C.E., Alexander had penetrated
India as far as the Beas (Hyphasis) River. Here he
paused, and his army staged one of the greatest military
mutinies of ancient times. Although massive, the mutiny
was essentially nonviolent and even respectful. Alexander
III the Great understood that the force behind his conquests
was the morale of his troops. Violence was not necessary
to persuade him to accede to their demand to break
off the Indian campaign and return to Macedonia. He recognized
that, as a force, they were spent. Alexander began
the long march home.
Further reading: Peter Green, Alexander of Macedon,
356–323 B.C.E.: A Historical Biography (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1992).