Discuss the battle strategy of Rameses II at Kadesh. Was it effective? How does it compare with that used by Thutmose III at Megiddo?
Rank upon rank of Egyptian infantry marched northward, with leader to their head, to meet their enemy on the fields of battle. The great campaign could no longer be delayed, and the consequent battle, which ensued near a small town in modern day Lebanon, proved to be quite a display of arms, military deception, and it would be a magnificent trial of strength. Ramessês II, Pharaoh of Egypt, was set on repeating the successes of his father and creating a new name for himself, and his major target would be that very town, Kadesh, while his enemy, Muwatallis, King of the Hittites, would live up to his treaties of mutual defense, which were agreed to by the petty princes of the area and the royal crown. Analysis
Ramessês II marched northward with a very improved army. The Egyptian army was composed of four divisions, that of Amun, Pre, Beisan, and Ptah. The three former divisions had formerly been involved in battle in the area under Sethos I, as shown by the stelae at Beisan. These divisions, evidently, held a strong number of archers, as well as various infantry types, most probably armed with copper, or imported bronze swords and stone maces. It is known that the Egyptians were at a complete disadvantage logistically, as Egypt held no tin reserves, making it extremely difficult for the Egyptians to produce their own armaments for their military, and several documents found at Egyptian temples list armament trade between Syria and Egypt. This latter fact could have possibly been another reason for the heavy Egyptian troop concentration south of Syria, and for the repeated attacks on the area. In any case, the Egyptians also made use of a mobile cavalry force, relying heavily on chariots introduced by the Hyksos, and improved upon by New Kingdom Pharaohs. Interestingly, Ramessês also improvised a force of cavalry, which seems to be the first attempt at it until the Persian Empire in the 6th Century B.C. The New Kingdom armies also relied profoundly on foreign manpower (Dunnigan, James F, 1993).
The 'Poem', conserved by an Egyptian scribe, named Pentaur, (although he is not the author), recites the existence of a corps in the army marching north, composed of soldiers from a people called the Sherden. The Sherden had been an earlier scourge on the New Kingdom during their naval invasion, and are better known as the Sea Peoples. However, after their defeat, the survivors seem to have been incorporated by Ramessês II, as five hundred and twenty of their kind were present with Ramessês at the time of the Battle of Kadesh. However, tactics shown by the Egyptian army of the New Kingdom showed little improvement, since battles were frequently settled with archer duels, and quickly charged ...