The news of the debacle
at the River inflamed Ctesiphon. A second Persian army had been
cut to pieces by this new and unexpected force emerging out of the
barren wastes of Arabia. Each of the two Persian army commanders
had been an illustrious imperial figure, a 100,000 dirham-man. And
not only these two, but two other first-rate generals had been slain
by the enemy. It was unbelievable! Considering that this new enemy
had never been known for any advanced military organisation, these
two defeats seemed like nightmares-frightening but unreal.
Emperor Ardsheer decided to take no chances.
He ordered the concentration of another two armies; and he gave
this order on the very day on which the Battle of the River was
fought. This may surprise the reader, for the battlefield was 300
miles from Ctesiphon by road. But the Persians had a remarkable
system of military communication. Before battle they would station
a line of men, picked for their powerful voices, at shouting distance
one from another, all the way from the battlefield to the capital.
Hundreds of men would be used to form this line. Each event on the
battlefield would be shouted by A to B; by B to C; by C to D; and
so on. 1 Thus every action on the battlefield
would be known to the Emperor in a few hours.
Following the orders of the Emperor, Persian
warriors began to concentrate at the imperial capital. They came
from all towns and garrisons except those manning the western frontier
with the Eastern Roman Empire. In a few days the first army was
The Persian court expected the Muslims to
proceed along the Euphrates to North-Western Iraq. The Persians
understood the Arab mind well enough to know that no Arab force
would move far from the desert so long as there were opposing forces
within striking distance of its rear and its route to the desert.
Expecting the Muslims army to move west, Ardsheer picked on Walaja
as the place at which to stop Khalid and destroy his army. (See
Map 10.) 2
The first of the new Persian armies raised
at Ctesiphon was placed under the command of Andarzaghar, who until
recently had been military governor of the frontier province of
Khurasan and was held in high esteem by Persian and Arab alike.
He was a Persian born among the Arabs of Iraq. He had grown up among
the Arabs and, unlike most Persians of his class, was genuinely
fond of them.
Andarzaghar was ordered to move his army
to Walaja, where he would soon be joined by the second army. He
set off from Ctesiphon, moved along the east bank of the Tigris,
crossed the Tigris at Kaskar, 3 moved south-west
to the Euphrates, near Walaja, crossed the Euphrates and established
his camp at Walaja. Before setting out from the capital he had sent
couriers to many Arab tribes which he knew; and on his way to, Walaja
he picked up thousands of Arabs who were willing to fight under
his standard. He had also met and taken command of the remnants
of the army of Qarin. When he arrived at Walaja he was delighted
with the strength of his army. Patiently he waited for Bahman who
was to join him in a few days.
Bahman was the commander of the second army.
One of the top personalities of the Persian military hierarchy,
he too was a 100,000 dirham-man. He was ordered by the Emperor to
take the second army, when ready, to Walaja where Andarzaghar would
await him. Bahman would be in over-all command of both the armies,
and with this enormous might would fight and destroy the Muslim
army in one great battle.
1. Tabari: Vol. 3, p. 43.
2. No trace remains of Walaja. According
to Yaqut (Vol. 4, p. 939), it was east of the Kufa-Makkah road,
and a well-watered region stretched between it and Hira. Musil (p.
293) places it near Ain Zahik, which, though still known by that
name to the local inhabitants of the region, is marked on maps as
Ain-ul-Muhari and is 5 miles south-south-west of Shinafiya. The
area of Walaja, now completely barren, was then very fertile.
3. This was the place where Wasit was founded
in 83 Hijri. In fact Kaskar became the eastern part of Wasit.
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