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Battle of the Bridge
Part of the Muslim conquests
Date October 634
Location At the Euphrates near Kufa, Iraq
Result Sassanid victory
Belligerents
Rashidun Caliphate Sassanid Empire
Commanders
Abu Ubaid † Bāhman (a.k.a. Mardan Shah)
Strength
9,000 10,000
Casualties and losses
4,000 600

The Battle of the Bridge was fought in 634 between Arab Muslims led by Abu Ubaid and the Sassanid Empire forces led by Bahman. The Sassanids were victorious.

The Muslim campaign to Iraq consisted of an army of seven thousand men. ‘Umar wrote to Abu ‘Obaidah (the military commander in Al-Sham) to send those soldiers in Khalid Bin Al-Walid’s regiment who had seen action on the Iraq front. Hence, Abu ‘Obaidah prepared an army of ten thousand troops and placed them under the command of Hashim Bin ‘Utbah. ‘Umar sent another battalion of four thousand men under the command of Jarir Bin ‘Abdullah Al-Bajali to Kufa (in Iraq). Upon reaching Iraq, the Muslims found the Persian Empire beset with instability and political turmoil.

The Muslims had won a few initial successes against the Persians [at Al-Namariq, Barosma and Kaskar] which emboldened Abu Ubaid. In response the Persians sent a force led by veteran general Bahman [also called Dhul Hajib: the one with artificially accentuated eyebrows], marching towards Hira. The army camped at Quss Natif on the east bank of the Euphrates some distance north of Hira and a little below Kufa.

When Abu Ubaid learned of the movements of the Persians, he marched the Muslim army from Hira and camped with 9,000 men on the west bank of the Euphrates at the village of Marauha. They sent a message to the Muslims, “Either you come across to us, or shall we come across the bridge?” The troops advised their commander, Abu ‘Ubaid to ask them to cross the bridge. However, he said, “They are not as dauntless in the face of death as we!” Despite the advice of his advisor Saleet bin Qais, Abu Ubaid ordered a bridge of boats thrown over the river and the Muslim army marched along the bridge on the morning of November 28, 634. And then he crossed the river with his army.

The Persian elephants, assisted by their infantry advanced against the enemy cavalry and routed the Muslim forces in the subsequant battle after Persian cavalry charged. After the death of Abu Ubaid, Muslim commanders fell one by one and the army panicked and routed. 3,000 of the survivors rallied to Muthanna on the other side of the Euphrates, while 2,000 fled to Medina and the desert. Of the remainder, 4,000 were killed by the Persians, or drowned in the river trying to escape.


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