Diary entry from an Egyptian Solider
Year 5 of his majesty’s reign, the third month of the inundation season, on the seventeenth day
The past few days have been exhausting. We marched on without much resistance from the foreign lands. My division marched behind the Amun division and ahead of the Ptah division following his majesty into Kadesh. I thank Amun that I am still alive at this very moment. Many of my fellow men have either fallen or wounded. They will be quickly replaced by eager young men. Who can resist the wondrous offers from the army? A talented individual like me can rise through the ranks quickly and have no concerns at all about wealth. Gifts of lands and slaves are frequent from his majesty in return for bravery or courage. My wife is now the owner of two such slaves. Home seems so far away now.
Three nights ago, the priests performed a ceremony in our camp to curse the wretched Khatti chief whom we were to do battle with. The priests wrote the chief’s name on a rough figurine along with some curse texts. They flung down the figurine on ground and shattered the wretched chief’s life along with the figurine. Everyone’s spirits were raised by this ritual and the fact that Kadesh was almost within sight after a long march.
We passed the camps of men of Sardis early in the morning. These people are like the fatted bullocks of the army. They, motivated by gold alone, are no better than the sea people we just captured. Those sea people are truly fools. Their ships, outfitted with masts, were made for the sea but they sailed into the Nile anyway, never suspecting that we were waiting for them. Our ships, more advanced than theirs in design, could be rowed or sailed at the same time. That gave us some advantage since the Nile has so little wind to power their masts! Our ships blocked their passage and our arrows pierced through their hearts. We destroyed their ships and captured these people in hordes. Instead of slavery, these captured men are handed arms! Can’t Egypt find more capable soldiers than these fools? Who can trust their loyalty? Who knows that they won’t turn against us in the battlefield?
Not long after we passed the Sardan camp we received the vizier who in a state of shock told us that the pharaoh is in danger and we must hurry. Hurry we did, speeding toward the north. I never thought we would be ambushed. Shortly after the vizier left, enemy men in chariots appeared suddenly out of the forests on our right. They covered the grounds like grasshoppers in their multitude. They were more than the grasshoppers and they were innumerable. I never even managed to fire a single arrow. There was no time, they came too quickly. Our leather jackets with metal scales are no match for their arrows. Many of us fell to their arrows. The infantry abandoned us, running for their dear life at the sight of the enemy chariots. Our division, the glorious division of Re, the very division that stands for Abounding in Valor, scattered.
I told my driver to bring us to safety and he drove the horses wild, heading north. Behind us, it was a slaughter. Men who couldn’t run fell by spears of the wretched Khatti chariots. Those who run often fell to arrows. I covered myself and the driver with my shield, praying to Amun that all would be well. The chariots in front of us tipped but the horses never stopped; the men were dragged to death. My driver swung violently to the left to avoid hitting the tipped chariot. I had to grasp the sides of the chariot to avoid falling but my bow fell out of my hands. There was no time to pick it up. The enemy dust cloud was right behind us. Armed with only a number of spears and my arrows, I was useless as an infantry without his axe.
Behold! We arrived at the Amun division camp. There were shields all around it, protecting the camp. I thought we were saved. My driver drove the horses straight toward the camp entrance. Behold! The men inside the camp started to run! Those cowards are fleeing before even engaging the enemy! What madness! I had no choice but to run with them. The blinding lights bouncing off my necklace of golden flies seemed to insult me. I had received this very necklace from his majesty for valor. Where was my valor? I seem to have lost it in the confusion of the battle. It was no use to stand and fight, the enemy was too strong.
So we fled, not daring to look at our back. We went northward and only stopped when the horses were exhausted. There were no enemy chariots in sight. We returned back to the way we came, not wanting to be labeled as deserters. We saw no more enemy chariots on the way back, everything was quiet. The sky was dark when we returned to the Amun camp. Behold! The camp was still there! The camp was surrounded by camps of other divisions! Amun most have protected us! We weren’t defeated! Feeling ashamed, I quietly located my division’s camp and slipped in. I learned later from those who survived that the wretched Khatti chariots broke down at the Amun camp. The enemy stopped to plunger the loots! His majesty led a furious charge, aided by the newly arrived Nearin support division. Together they crushed the enemy chariots and sent them swimming back to the river. I slept restlessly that night. I remembered what his majesty told me the day I received the necklace: “The name of the brave man will last because of what he has done. It will never disappear from this earth.” I wasn’t brave. I, a captain of the chariotry, fled the battle like a worthless pig.
The next morning, we attacked wretched Khattis again. This time we had the surprise and we were able to push them back during our first initial assault. Our battle tactic worked well this time. I let loose my volley of arrows before letting the runners and infantry run in. They took advantage of the chaos and slaughtered the enemy ranks. After the infantry assault my squad of ten chariots was able to drive the enemy before us, spearing them left and right. The enemy was pushed back but there were so many of them. We were called back after a period of little advancement in ground. Three chariots in my squad were lost, the enemy still innumerable. The enemy didn’t chase us; their chariots were mostly destroyed the day before.
An envoy from the enemy camp arrived at his majesty’s camp. Soon after the Ami-Re-sesemut told us to pack up and get ready for the journey away from the oppression of the enemy sword. I guess peace with the wretched Khattis has been reached.