Battle of the Rhyndacis, 73 B.C.

The battle of the Rhyndacis of 73 B.C. was the first of a series of disasters that befell the army of Mithridates VI of Pontus when it attempted to retreat from the siege of Cyzicus (Third Mithridatic War). After defeating the consul Cotta at Chalcedon earlier in the year, Mithridates had moved west to besiege the port of Cyzicus. Cotta's colleague Lucullus had abandoned his planned invasion of Pontus, and with five legions moved west to come to his aid. Finding that Mithridates had moved on, Lucullus followed him to Cyzicus, but rather than risk a battle against Mithridates's much larger army had instead blockaded the Pontic army. As winter approached Mithridates realised that his army was close to starvation, and decided to abandon the siege.

Learning that Lucullus was absent from his main camp attacking a Pontic outpost, Mithridates decided to send his cavalry and the wounded and sick infantry on a march east into Bithynia. Lucullus gave chase with ten cohorts of infantry and his cavalry (Plutarch), and despite a snow storm caught Mithridates's troops while they were crossing the River Rhyndacus, quite some way to the east of Cyzicus. According to Appian and Plutarch the Romans captured 15,000 men and 6,000 horses in the fighting.

The rest of Mithridates's army attempted to escape to the west, in the hope of reaching Lampsacus, from where they could have been evacuated by the fleet, but most of the army was destroyed while crossing the rivers Aesepus and Granicus. Mithridates was soon forced to abandon his position in Bithynia, and the focus of the war moved east into Pontus.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 December 2008), Battle of the Rhyndacis, 73 B.C. , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_rhyndacis_73_bc.html

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