Battle of the Bridge
|Battle of the Bridge|
|Part of the Muslim conquests|
|Rashidun Caliphate||Sasanian Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Abu Ubaid †
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of the Bridge was fought between Arab Muslims led by Abu Ubaid Thaqfi, and the Persian Sasanian Empire forces led by Bahman Jaduya. It is traditionally dated to the year 634, and was the only major Persian victory over the invading Muslim armies.
The Muslim forces had already taken Hira and pillaged the surrounding Arab-inhabited areas of Mesopotamia, on the banks of the Euphrates. The fall of Hira shocked the Persians, as the "youthful Yazdgard, began to take the business of the Arabs more seriously." Yazdgard sent forces to the Arab border areas, and looked to be gaining the upper hand, as Al-Muthanna had to call for reinforcements from Medina.
The new Caliph, Umar, sent Abu Ubaid to Mesopotamia to take command from Al-Muthanna. He encountered the main Persian force under Bahman Jaduya, near what is the present site of Kufa. The two forces faced each other on opposing banks of the Euphrates. As it was crossed by a bridge, the battle came to known as the Battle of the Bridge.
Abu Ubaid took the initiative, and crossed the river. According to accounts, the sight of the elephants in the Persian army frightened the Arab's horses. A white elephant apparently tore Abu Ubaid from his horse with its trunk, and trampled him under foot. At this, and the inability of the Arabs troops to push back the Persians who had formed a rigged line close to the bridge, the Arabs panicked and fled.
According to tradition, Al-Muthanna refused to flee, and remained to fight, losing 4,000 men - although any accurate estimates of the figures involved in this and other contemporaneous battles are not known. But sources agree that for whatever reason, Bahman Jaduya did not pursue the fleeing Arab army.
- Sykes, Percy, History of Persia, Vol.1, (Routledge and Kegan Paul:London, 1969), 493
- Parvenah Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire, (I.B.Taurus & Co.Ltd., 2011), 217.
- Richard Nelson Frye, The Cambridge History of Iran: The period from the Arab invasion to the Saljuqs, (Cambridge University Press, 1975), 8-9.