6. A Desperate Battle, and a Bronze Age Propaganda Campaign to Paint it as a Glorious Victory
The Hittites hid behind Kadesh when Ramses II neared the city, and nomads falsely informed the pharaoh that his enemies were nowhere near. An emboldened Ramses hurried with the Amon Division to Kadesh, and left the rest of his army behind. As Ramses advanced, the Hittites circled around the city, and took care to keep Kadesh between themselves and the Egyptians. As Ramses and the Division of Amon made camp, the Division of Re straggled up the road behind. That was when 2000 massed Hittite chariots charged directly across the Egyptian line of march. They wrecked the Division of Re, then surrounded Ramses in his camp.
The pharaoh gathered his personal guards, and led a desperate charge that drove some Hittite leaders into the river. Fortunately for Ramses, the Hittites behind him abandoned their chariots to loot the Egyptian camp. That was when the Division of Sutekh arrived, and slaughtered the looters. As King Muwatalli sent in the rest of his chariots, the last Egyptian Division of Ptah arrived, and the battle lasted until sunset. After prolonged slaughter, the Hittites finally withdrew into Kadesh and left the field – and victory – to Ramses. Upon his return, the warrior pharaoh littered Egypt with monuments and murals that detailed the engagement and in which he described himself as “Ramses, the Great, Conqueror of the Hittites“. It is thanks to that bragging that know so much about the battle.