20 ALEXANDER'S CAMPAIGN IN THE PANJAB [Chap. I
right light, and others which appear to have been reconstructed on grounds far too conjectural. Still less need an opinion be expressed here to what extent the fresh views advanced as to the ultimate decision of the battle and its immediate results may claim acceptance.
From the point of view of ancient topography the essential fact is that whatever interpretation we put upon the disposition of Poros's army before and during the battle, its location in the confined space about Sarai Naurangdbdd opposite to Jhelum town, as assumed by Professor Breloer, is incompatible with the natural features of the ground. I have already had occasion to point out that the wide torrent beds of the Suketar, Bandar Kas, and Jabba Nâlâs are quite impassable whether on horseback or foot after rain, and remain so during the whole `hot weather' season. However great our opinion must be of the marching capacity of Alexander's war-hardened veterans, it is impossible to assume that after the difficult crossing made only at dawn, and the delay caused by the fording of the unexpected deep channel, his troops could have been brought across such forbidding obstacles as are presented by the extremely broken ground at the foot of the hills eastwards, or made the great detours needed to avoid them, in time to fight a long protracted battle on the same day. Equally conclusive is what both Ptolemy and Aristoboulos record of Alexander's force having been met soon after that channel had been forded by a considerable detachment of Indian horse and chariots sent by Poros on having received the first news of the crossing of the river.32 It is obvious that, however rapidly the crossing had been reported to Poros by his mounted scouts, no cavalry, still less chariots, detached by him could have covered such ground in time to meet Alexander's force where Professor Breloer would locate the encounter, about 14 miles from Naurangâbâd.33
To these, to my mind conclusive, topographical objections there can be added others of a similar nature. Taking the assumed starting-point for the crossing at the mouth of the Pothawdla Kas, it must be pointed out in the first place that neither of the two small islets to be found there, scarcely 2 furlongs long each, could furnish an effective screen for the passage, such as Arrian's description and Curtius's distinct reference to `an island greater than the rest',34 plainly indicate. Then it deserves to be carefully noted that any such extensive preparations as the building of many rafts and boats, &c., could be easily observed from the dominating height occupied by the present fort of Mangla, fully 200 feet above the river and only 2.i miles away on the opposite side. It commands a complete
32 Cf. Arrian, v. xiv. 2-6. observes, p. 140, that in view of the local conditions
33 See Alexander's Kampf, pp. 42 sqq. at this point no serious change in the character of
34 See above, p. 12. Professor Breloer rightly these islands can be assumed since Alexander's time.