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Great Battles #4 - Cannae 216 Bc (hannibal In Italy)

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Austerlitz, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    CANNAE 216 BC -HANNIBAL IN ITALY

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    BACKGROUND :

    The First Punic War -
    As Alexander's successors and their dynasties intermittently fought amongst themselves in the eastern mediterranean,the western mediterranean was dominated by the maritime empire of Carthage - originially a phoenician colony in modern day Tunisia in North africa.Carthage had dominated the western mediterranean with her great wealth(trade and grain) until she was challenged by the rising power of the Roman Republic in Italy.Over the preceeding centuries Rome has unified italy under her control,showing her early potential by repulsing the Invasion of Pyrrhus of Epirus -the greatest Hellenistic warlord of his day.The conflict begins over sicily - the central trading node of the mediterranean and a bread basket,the region where Roman and Carthaginian spheres of influence overlapped.The resulting 23 year war is one of the most devastating in antiquity with nearly 400,000 military deaths on both sides and ends in the defeat of Carthage and the loss of sicily.

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    In Sicily,the Carthaginian general Hamilcar had fought a lone battle for carthage remaining undefeated and earning the nickname 'Barca'(lightning) for the speed of his movements.Abandoned by the senate he returned to carthage after the war to crush the rebellion of unpaid mercenaries and peasants in Africa who had nearly besieged Cartahge itself.Rome meanwhile had added insult to injury by seizing sardinia and corsica and imposing a further indemnity on carthage when it protested.This kick in the back in Carthage's moment of weakness would not be forgotten or forgiven by the Barcids,who swore revenge.Eager to get the powerful general out of carthage the carthiginian politicians send him to spain to consolidate their holdings there.

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    (Hamilcar Barca)

    Meanwhile,the new superpower of the mediterranean - Rome believes she is invincible.And there is solid ground for such confidence,having united all italy(one of the most populous and prosperous regions of the entire world at that time)she possesed the largest strategic manpower base in the world by far.Combined with its conscription policy and irrestible legions meant Rome had no peer on land.On sea,the romans had seized primacy from carthage after the 1st punic war and now controlled the western mediterranean.As Rome revels in her strength,hamilcar before leaving for iberia(spain)takes his 9 yr old son Hannibal deep into the temple of carthage,and on a blood sacrifice asks him to swear that as long as he lived he would be an Enemy of Rome.He would keep his word.

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    Carthage Recovers -
    Hamilcar marched his veteran army to Iberia where Carthage already had a small foothold. Iberia (Spanish peninsula),a land whose variety of natural resources would fill its coffers with sorely needed revenue and replace the riches of Sicily that, following the end of the First Punic War, were now flowing into Roman hands. In addition, it was the ambition of the Barcas to some day employ the Iberian peninsula as a base of operations for waging a war of revenge against the Romans.Hamilcar rapidly expanded the Carthaginian coastal enclave in Spain into a continental empire,the gold and silver from spanish mines repleneshing carthaginian strength.However he is killed in an ambush and succeeded by his son-in-law Hasdrubal the Handsome.Hasdrubal consolidates Hamilcar's conquests with diplomacy as much as war -a steady trickle of gold and silver to Carthage keeping the politicians at home pacified and leaving him largely independent.Expansion of Carthaginian power in spain concerns the romans,but they are busy dealing with a gallic invasion and make a deal with Hasdrubal where south of the Ebro river would be Carthage's sphere of influence..but north of it he wouldn't move.At hasdrubal's assasination,the army unanimously proclaims Hannibal,now 26 as their commander.

    ''The old veterans thought Hamilcar restored to them.The same piercing eyes,the same determined expression and the same cast of features'' - Historian Livy

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    (Hannibal in his youth on the coin,and at a later age in marble bust)

    HANNIBAL IN SPAIN :


    Hannibal spent the first two years of his command seeking to complete his father's ambition while simultaneously putting down several potential revolts that resulted in part from the death of Hasdrubal, which menaced the Carthaginian possessions already conquered thus far.Hannibal's first campaign was directed
    against the Olcades, a Celtic Spanish tribe whose lands lay to the south of the Ebro. After routing the Olcade levies,Hannibal stormed and sacked Carteia, their capital. The weaker neighboring tribes quickly submitted, and the Carthaginian army returned to winter quarters laden with booty.In 220 BC Hannibal set his sights on the Vaccaei and Carpetani the only major tribes south of the Ebro that had not yet bowed to Carthage. These were also Celtic tribes that had settled in Spain He probably led no more than 20,000 foot and 6,000 horse,
    considering the large kingdom that had to be garrisoned.Hannibal attacked and sacked the Vaccaei capital Arbacola headed back to New Carthage to regroup before moving against the Carpetani.It had become clear that all the Spanish tribes would be sequentially subjugated by Hannibal if each tribe acted alone. So the Carpetani made common cause with the Olcade, Vaccaei and neighboring lessor tribes to march against Hannibal.

    Battle of Tagus River -
    While still north of the Tagus, Hannibal's scouts brought word that a large tribal army was in pursuit twice his size. Hannibal was in a precarious position. If he abandoned his booty, his fast moving army could easily leave the barbarian host behind. But a mercenary army fought for its booty, and any delay in the conquest of Spain would affect his long-term plans for war with Rome. Yet, to accept battle in the open field with a force nearly double his in size would be extremely risky.Hannibal took a manuever out of Hamilcar's book.His army raced south, in apparent fear. The Spanish pursued eagerly.Hannibal crossed the Tagus River in great haste, further baiting the tribesmen.Covered by a screen of skirmishers,the Carthaginian army moved in four columns. On his flanks, Hannibal placed his elephants in the van, followed by the cavalry. In the center he formed two columns, first the light infantry, then the medium and finally the phalanx. Therefore the slowest troops were nearest the river, the quickest were farthest away. The Spanish tribal forces streamed on in pursuit. However, once across the river, Hannibal's army executed a retrograde wheeling movement that brought the African phalanx, auxiliaries, cavalry and elephants back to the riverbank even as the rebels were wading across. The Punic cavalry charged first, cutting down thousands of rebels struggling up the bank through mud and slime. Here the elephants proved invaluable, crushing Spanish warriors scrambling up the bank with their massive feet. Hannibal's Spanish auxiliaries showered the enemy with javelins. When the rebel assault was completely halted and thrown into confusion, Hannibal ordered his phalanx to re-cross the river and finish them off. Hannibal had converted a danegerous situation into a dramatic victory.Hannibal followed up his victory by pursuing the Carpetani into their homeland,completing the subjugation of all tribes south of the Ebro.

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    Sack of Saguntum -
    Saguntum,the only remaining major city south of the ebro not under carthage's aegis had allied itself with rome and Rome sent a delegation to Hannibal to warn him against any attack.In the past after the first punic war Carthage had always capitulated to roman demands,to the Romans surprise Hannibal attacked Saguntum and sacked the city after a 8-month siege.Rome demanded the carthaginian assembly hand Hannibal over ,but this was refused.It would be war.The Second Punic War had begun.

    HANNIBAL'S STRATEGY :

    Hannibal had no intention to sit and recieve the romans in spain.Hannibal clearly considered the nature of roman power-and came to the conclusion that Rome could only be defeated in Italy.The cornerstone of Rome's power was a strategic manpower base that in theory could produce 7,00,000 infantry and 70,000 cavalry.More than half of this manpower base (4,00,000) was provided by rome's Italian allies,who paid no taxes but had to render military service to rome's armies.Not all were content.Carthage on the other hand rarely used its own citizens for war,bulk of its army being mercenaries.In any case its manpower could never even come close to Rome,the fact that had aided roman victory in the 1st Punic war.Hannibal thus understood that Rome could afford to raise and send army after army to spain and take losses. Meanwhile any carthiginian losses in spain would encourage the recently conquered iberian tribes to defect.
    The only way to defeat Rome,was to fight in italy itself.By winning battle after battle on italian soil and demonstrating to the italian allies rome's inability to protect them and weakness,he could encourage them to break free of Rome eroding Rome's manpower to sizeable proportions.

    But there was one problem,his fleet was tiny and Rome ruled the seas.By land,the coastal route would be blocked by Roman forces and her ally-the great walled city of massalia.Hannibal thus resolved to think and do the impossible - move thousands of miles by land through the pyranees mountains,uncharted territory inhabited by the fierce gauls ,then through the Alps mountains and invade italy.

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    (Beginning of the Second Punic War)

    Hannibal's preparations -
    Even before the siege of Saguntum had concluded,Hannibal had set things in motion.Having sent a number of embassies to the Gallic tribes in the Po valley with the mission of establishing a safe place for Hannibal to debouch from the Alps into the Po valley. He did not desire to cross this rugged mountain chain and to descend into the Po valley with exhausted troops only to have to fight a battle.Additionally the fierce gauls would provide a source of manpower for Hannibal's army.The romans had recently conquered much territory from the gauls in this area,brutally subjagating them ,seizing their land and redistributing it to roman colonists.Thus securing an alliance proved to be easy.

    After the sack of Saguntum he dismissed his troops to their own localities. He did this with the hope of cultivating the best possible morale in his army for the upcoming campaign, which he knew was going to be difficult. He left his brother,Hasdrubal in charge of the administration of Carthaginian Iberia, as well as its defense against the Romans. In addition to this, he swapped the native troops of Iberia to Africa, and the native troops of Africa to Iberia. This was done in order to minimize desertion and assure the loyalty of the troops while he was himself busy with the assault on Rome.

    Roman Preparations -
    Leaving aside its garrisons,in 218 BC the Roman Senate mobilized a first wave of 64,000 infantry and 6,200 cavalry for a planned 2-front assault on Carthage.
    >One force of 8,000 roman infantry(2 legions) plus 14,000 Italian allied infantry and 2200 cavalry were sent under Consul Publius scipio the elder to invade Spain
    >A Second army under Consul Sempronius Longus of 2 roman legions(8000 foot and 600 horse),plus 16,000 allied infantry and 1800 cavalry in sicily was to invade Carthage in North Africa.
    >A Third army 2 additional roman legions,plus 10,000 allied infantry and 1,000 cavalry was sent to north italy to keep the gauls under the heel.And this was just the tip of the iceberg as far as roman manpower was concerned.

    HANNIBAL'S EPIC MARCH :

    Hannibal mobilized his Polygot Multiethnic armies at New Carthage for his War of Retribution.
    He dispatched 15,000 spanish infantry and 1200 cavalry to reinforce Carthage in Africa.
    He left behind Hasdrubal with 13,000 infantry and 2500 cavalry in Spain to defend against a roman attack.
    He then began his epic march from Carthago Nova(New Carthage) with over 75,000 men .

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    Lightning Campaign In Catalonia -
    Hannibal foresaw problems if he left Catalonia as a bridgehead for the Romans. They had a number of allies in this country, and he could not allow the Romans a place to land in his base unopposed. As he was relying upon contingents of forces coming to him in Italy via the land route he was about to head out upon, he must take and conquer this country. He had no intention of leaving Iberia to its fate once he was in Italy. Hannibal opted to take the region in a swift campaign, and to that effect he divided his army into three columns, in order to subdue the entirety of the region at the same time.
    The principal column was the right column, and with it was the treasure chest, the cavalry, with baggage, all the other necessities of war and Hannibal himself. This was the critical column. As long as Hannibal had no ships to keep himself abreast of the exact movements of the Romans, he wanted to be present in person in case the Romans should make a landing in an attempt to attack his army on its ascent or descent through the Pyrenees. This column crossed the Ebro at the town of Edeba, and proceeded directly along the coast through Tarraco, Barcino(later Barcelona), Gerunda, Emporiae and Illiberis.Each of those were taken and garrisoned in turn.

    The second, or central, column crossed the Ebro proceeded through a number of valleys in this country, and had orders to subdue any tribes that resisted its advance. It eventually rejoined the principal column when it had completed its task.

    The third, or left, column crossed the Ebro where it touches with the Sicoris River and proceeded along the river valley and into the mountain countries. It performed the same task as the second and the first columns did. When planning each of these marches, Hannibal ensured that the Rubracatus river was athwart each of the columns' paths, so if any of the columns should be placed in a disadvantageous situation the other columns could march up and down the river in support of each other should one be placed in a perilous position.The campaign was conducted over the course of two months,Hannibal lost 13,000 men.

    Hannibal garrisoned the region with 10,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry under his brother Hanno.He further let go another 10,000 spaniards who were reluctant to leave thir homeland.Hannibal reportedly entered Gaul with 50.00 foot soldiers and 9,000 horsemen.
    NEXT : HANNIBAL'S EPIC MARCH ACROSS THE ALPS
     
  2. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    MARCH ACROSS THE ALPS

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    ''We will either find a way or make one'' - Hannibal

    FROM PYRANEES TO THE ALPS :

    From the Pyranees to the Rhone river the march was somehwat inconspicous .Despite hostility of the gallic tribes,by gifts of gold mostly the carthiginians were allowed to pass.On arriving at the rhone hannibal's army numbered 38,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry and 37 elephants ,rest having been let go or left behind to protect Lines of Communication.

    Battle at the Rhone River -
    While Rome had been idle and leaving her allies in Catalonia to their fate at the hands of the Carthiginians, the Massilians, the Allies of the Romans, were busy rousing the tribes on the left (eastern) bank of the Rhone against the Carthaginians . Massilia (modern Marseille), a successful Greek trade emporium had for some time been under the influence of the Romans, and the Romans had even settled colonists there. Massilia feared the arriving Carthaginian army and aroused the local celts against them.Awaiting the Carthaginian army on the left bank of the Rhone was the Volcae tribesmen This tribe had fortified a camp on the far side of the river, and was awaiting Hannibal's army to cross,so as to attack them as they crossed.Hannibal was well read about Alexander's crossing of the Jhelum at the battle of Hydaspes and employed a similar tactic.Hannibal ordered his men to purchase all available canoes and craft from the Celts living on the west bank, and set about constructing even more boats.

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    On the third night after reaching the river, he secretly dispatched a detachment of his army, under the command of
    Hanno
    , led by native guides on a 25-mile forced march upriver to a suitable crossing point. Gathering a few boats, the column rapidly crossed the river. Many of the Iberians swam across, assisted by inflating the leather bags in which they carried their gear: Hanno pitched a camp on the far shor'e and allowed his men a day of rest.Meanwhile. Hannibal openly prepared his army for an assault river crossing, fixing the attention of the Volcae Celts. On the morning of the fifth day, he observed the prearranged smoke signal he had been awaiting from Hanno and sent his men into the water. The largest boats were stationed upstream, to break the force of the current The cavalry horses swam behind the boats, troopers in the stern of each craft holding their reins. Infantry crossed in canoes and other small craft.Even with the large number of boats Hannibal had collected, only a fraction of his army could cross in the first wave. As the armada surged toward the opposite shore, the Volcae swarmed out of their camp to occupy the beach. Just then Hanno's detachment stormed into the rear of the Volcae host while a few of his units set fire to the Volcae camp.Some of the Celts rushed to the defense of their camp, but the majority remained at the location where they had been awaiting the arrival of what they had thought was all of Hannibal's army. Hannibal, who was on one of the first boats, landed his men on the left bank of the Rhone amidst the dazed and confused enemy and attacked ,surrounded on 2 sides pandemonium took control of the volcae ranks and they fled.

    Rhone posed special problems for the Carthaginians elephants. The animals refused to board boats or small rafts for thecrossing. Hannibal directed his pioneers to construct a number of large rafts. 25 feet square. These were lashed together in pairs, and eight pairs were attached to the bank, lorming a pier 50 feet wide and extending 200 feet into the river. Two additional rafts were attached to this pier and connected with towlines to boats. The rest of the elephants had refused to venture onto boats in the riiver, so the pier was disguised as dry land, covered with dirt. The elephants were led by two compliant females across the pier and onto the raft. Then the rafts were cut free and towed across the river. The elephants panicked at first but eventually crowded toward the center of the raft and made the crossing safely. The process was repeated a number of times, and though a few of the frightened elephants fell into the water, even they managed to swim across.

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    Encounter with the Romans :
    Publius Scipio was delayed by an attempted gallic uprising,then recieved alarming news that hannibal had crossed the pyranees and was advancing on italy! He sailed to the great coastal allied city of massila with a force of 25,000 intent on using it as a secure base to halt the carthaginian advance along the coast.
    On reaching massila he was shocked to hear that hannibal was only a few days away.He sent a recon force,which surprised a detatchment of carthiginian cavalry.Hannibal now knew the romans had arrived.However he didn't give battle as he had to get across the alps before winter ,the coastal road was blocked by massila and a frontal assault against superior roman forces would be suicidal.By the time scipio came to attack the carthiginian camp hannibal had slipped away .Scipio sent most of his force onto spain and hurried towards north italy to gather the troops there,in case some of hannibal's troops survived the alps.

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    (The coastal road and the white line denoting hannibal's most possible route)

    CROSSING THE ALPS :

    Battle at Mt.Du Chat Pass -
    From the Rhone the carthiginians reached the foot of the alps in mid-october.Here they were opposed by the Allobroges celts who held the higher ground that led to trail into the mountains.Hannibal's spies found that the tribals only maintained their position at the camp during the day, and left their fortified position at night. In order to make the Allobroges believe that he did not deem a night assault prudent, he ordered that as many camp-fires be lit as possible, in order to induce them into believing that he was settling down before their encampment along the mountains. However, once they left their fortifications, he led his best troops up to their fortifications and seized control of the pass.Hiding his men in the mountain brush on a cliff that arose immediately above and to the right off Hannibal's route of march, about 100 feet or so above the path, Hannibal stationed his slingers and archers there. This overhang was an excellent place from which to attack an enemy while it was marching in column through the pass.The descent from this pass was steep, and the Carthaginians were having a hard time marching down this side of the pass,especially the baggage animals. The Allobroges, seeing this, attacked anyway, in spite of their disadvantageous position. More baggage animals were lost in the confusion of the attack, and they rolled off of the precipices to their deaths.This put Hannibal in a difficult situation. However, Hannibal, at the head of the same elite corps that he led to take the overhang, led them against these determined foes. Virtually all of these celts died in the ensuing combat, as they were fighting with their backs to a steep precipice, trying to throw their arrows and darts uphill at the advancing Carthaginians.

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    Ambush at Little St.Bernard Pass -
    The Carthaginians were able to march on unmolested for the next three days. Then the elders of another mountain tribe came out to meet Hannibal with gifts and promises of aid. The general remained suspicious, but some of his fears were allayed whenthe Celts provided him food, hostages and guides to lead them through the next portion of the mountains.At first all seemed well, bul the treacherous guides led the Carthaginians into a steep ravine where their warriors waited in ambush. Hannibal, having foreseen that possibilily, had placed all his cavalry and baggage at the head of the column, while his inlantry brought up the rear: When the ambush was sprung, the cavalry and baggage column got through with few losses. The infantry had some hard fighting, but it was the terrain itself, and the bouldersrolled down from above, that resulted in lhemost casualties. Hannibal eventually brought his army through the ambush.This proved to be the last major' attack the Carthaginians faced, as the higher mourntains were sparsely populated.

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    Descent from the Alps -
    From here on nature became the enemy.Snow began to fall heavily and the africans and spaniards used to sunny weather suffered grieviously.On the 9th day the carthiginians reached the summit of the mountain.Then the downhill journey began,slopes were steeper and fresh snow made extremely treacherous footing.Many fell and died,others were too tired to ever rise again.To compound problems a landslide had blocked the route and no detour could be discovered.Again with ingenuity,the great boulder was heated with bonfires then soaked in wine and vinegar to crack it open.After days of labour to widen the path,hannibal's army went through.
    After 140 miles through the alps,5 Months after leaving spain and a 1000 mile journey later-Hannibal's survivors could finally see the lush valleys of Italy as they emerged from the Alps,late october.Hannibal and his army had accomplished the unthinkable.


    (Great video to get the feel)
    NEXT : OPPOSING ARMIES
     
  3. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    THE ROMAN WAR MACHINE

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    EVOLUTION OF THE ROMAN MILITARY UPTO THE PUNIC WARS :

    The wars fought by early Rome consisted of small-scale raids.The 'armies' were warrior bands formed by an aristocrat, his kin and dependants. The leaders were not commanders with formal powers but heroes who led by personal example, fighting as conspicuously as possible in advance of their followers in Homeric fashion. The leader fought for personal glory, the followers out of loyalty to the leader who provided for them.A major development came with the adoption of the hoplite phalanx, probably some time in the sixth century. Hoplite warfare developed in early seventh-century Greece and spread to Italy via the Greek colonies of the southern peninsula.The phalanx warfare of the hopliites changed the individualistic nature of italic combat and also led to the formation of city-states.Hoplites were drawn from those able to afford the necessary equipment, and as cities developed and prospered this came to include a much higher proportion of the population, consisting primarily of farmers. Such men were expected to fight harder for the state, since as men of property they had an interest in its preservation. They gained increased political power within the city, earning these rights through their obligation to fight to protect the community.This was the ideal of the citizen soldier, the man who fought not for pay, booty or glory, but out of civic duty.The first roman military reforms came under King Servius Tullius in the 6th century to this effect.

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    Above - The warband army to the left and the reformed Serviian army to the right.The Servian constitution divided the population into classes based on an assessment of their property, each class providing itself with a specified set of equipment - a full hoplite panoply for Class I, to just a sling for Class V.At this time Rome was still ruled by kings.​

    The Republic and the Manipular Legion -
    With the expulsion of the Kings and the rise of the Republic,roman power grew slowly but methodically,even as the city itself was growing in size.The great shock to Rome came in 390 BC when a Gallic invading army routed the Roman army on the banks of the River Allia outside Rome.The Gauls sacked Rome, forcing the few defenders of the
    Capitol to buy their safety with a colossal bribe of gold.This event engraved in Rome's collective memory the long-lasting hatred for the northern gauls and proved the vulnerabilities of the solid phalanx if flanked or penetrated at any point.Either the aftermath of this humiliation or the long struggle with the Samnite Confederation(343 BC -290 BC),the roman's greatest enemies in italy served as the catalysts to the formation of the manipular legion(described in detail later).The phalanx was extremely vulnerable in the mountanous terrain of Samnium and the romans suffered several embrassments -with their army surrendering and having to pass under yoke in 321 bc,and then having to accept a peace on unfavourable terms.It would be the last time the Romans would do so.The Manipular Reforms are attributed to Camillius ,though its doubtful that it was an overnight process.Camillius however did introduce some important changes - introduction of a daily cash allowance for soldiers; the adoption of the rectangular scutum shield instead of the round hoplite clipeus, while the pilum throwing-spear/heavy javelin replaced the hasta spear.

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    (3-line system and posterior cenury lining up alongside prior one,just before contact)​

    The legion was essentially a development of the phalanx. The Romans articulated the single block into three lines, triplex acies, with each line in turn broken up into small blocks capable of independent manoeuvre, with enoughspace between the soldiers to allow them to use their weapons effectively deployed in checkerboard formation. By the time of Hannibal most soldiers were armed with pilum and gladius, but the third line retained the longer hasta. These blocks of 120 men (manipuli) were each madeup of two centuriae (centuries of 60 men each,10 ranks 6 deep during this period), the administrative sub-units of the legion, but the manipulus was the basic tactical unit in the Roman battle line. It was under the command of the centurio prior, the senior of the two centurions, who could be replaced at need by the junior, the centurio posterior.The Romans thus sacrificed the depth and cohesion of the phalanx for mobility and flexibility. They sent the three lines of maniples into the attack in turn, the legionaries of the first two casting their pila and running to meet the enemy head-on with their scuta and gladii. In their combined use of pilum and gladius the Romans had partly solved the age-old dilemma of choosing between missile- and shock-attack.The new manipular system showed its power in the defeat of the samnites,then in repulsing pyyrhus's invasion and against the gauls of north italy and the mercenaries of Carthage in the first punic war.


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    ''The Romans are like the Lernaean Hydra to fight against'' -Cineas,Advisor of Pyyrhus of Epirus
    NATURE OF THE ROMAN WAR MACHINE :

    Inexhaustible Manpower -
    It was during this era that the romans began to grow into a truly formidable war-making entity.Alongside the new manipular system Roman success also owed to its succesful alliance system.Romans showed a willingness to absorb outsiders into the community, an attitude quite unlike that of most Greek city states who were highly jealous of the privileges of citizenship. Slaves, most of whom at this period were warcaptives, received full citizen rights when they gained their freedom. Some entire Latin communities were absorbed into the citizen body, while others received more limited rights of commerce with Roman citizens without gaining the full franchise. This produced a steady increase in the available citizen manpower and fostered military success. Defeated enemy communities were turned into allies who provided troops to serve Rome in future campaigns. In some cases conquered territory was settled with colonies.Uniquely Roman allies paid no tribute,but had to send soldiers to serve in Rome's wars for which they recieved a share of the spoils.The roman elite also established strong commercial and even matrimonial relations with the upper classes of other italian cities in a sort of mutually beneficial patron-client relationship.The romans cemented these bonds by building a network of highways throughout Italy and giving the allies complete internal autonomy.These factors,combined with the roman lure of citizenship meant that while her allies were not equal partners,they were not unwilling ones entirely.It was this reason that would ultimately save the Romans,and lead to Hannibal's failure.

    The steady growth in Rome's military manpower gave her great advantages over other peoples, so that a sizeable field army needed to consist of only a proportion of the available citizen manpower. Such an army could afford to stayin the field for a longer period without this causing catastrophic damage to the community's economy and bringing on famine,and also afford huge losses and fight on.From 311 BC there were normally four legions raised in each year, so that the standard consular army consisted of two legions.By the time of Hannibal Rome had command theoritically over a strategic manpower reserve of 700,000 infantry and 70,000 cavalry(adult males possible for recruitment).It was the greatest ready military manpower reserve in the ancient world.(Population might be greater in other empires,but their populations were not regularly conscripted and trained as militia on a yearly basis)

    To better understand,a greek soldier was daily paid 4-8 Obols plus food.A Roman republican legionary(before marian reforms) was paid 2 obols a day and had to arrange for his own food and equipment.Basically the Romans took Civic militarism to a state of perfection in the ancient age.

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    (Maniple of 120 men if century of 60 men,160 if century of 80 men)

    Recruitment ,Discipline,Motivation -
    Roman army was based on the principle of personal service by the citizens defending their state. It was not yet a professional army.All citizens between 17 and 46 years of age who satisfied the property criteria were required by the Senate to attend a selection process - The Dilectus.Citizens were liable for 16 years' service as a legionary.A man was normally expected to serve up to six years in a continuous posting, after which he would be released from his military oath. Thereafter he was liable for enlistment, as an evocatus, up to the maximum of 16 campaigns or years. Some men might serve for a single year at a time, and be obliged to come forward again at the next dilectus, until their full six-year period was completed.Thus the romans always had a pool of trained manpower available.

    At the dilectus, height and age arranged the citizens into some semblance of soldierly order. They were then brought forward four at a time to be selected for service in one of the four consular legions being raised that year. The military tribunes of each legion took it in turns to have first choice, thus ensuring an even distribution of experience and quality throughout the four units. They then ordered the soldiers to take a formal oath,while enrolled in the army, citizens werepaid and fed by the state and agreed to subject themselves to a draconian system of discipline,bound by oath.If a whole unit disgraced itself in battle it was liable to decimation, the execution of one man in ten.The army's discipline was reflected in one of its most famous practices, the construction of a marching camp at the end of each day's march.It is said that Pyrrhus first realized that he was not facing mere barbarians when he saw a Roman army camped for the night.The soldiers were drawn from the same citizen body that elected the army's commanders and there existed a strong sense of shared duty amongst the soldiers( much different from the warlordism of the empire days).At the end of a campaign, or after a great battle, a parade was held by the army at which the individuals who had displayed conspicuous gallantry were decorated and acclaimed by their comrades which served as further motivation.Such honours could do much advance one's political career.

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    'No people are more willing to adopt new customs and to emulate what they see is better done' - Polybius on Romans

    Training -
    The Romans obviously attached a great deal of importance to training, and it is this that largely explains the formidable success of their militia army.They also took great pride in their ability to learn from their enemies too, copying war gear and tactics from successive opponents and often improving upon them. The scutum and pilum was copied from their samnite opponents and improved .The Gladius from Carthage's Iberian mercenaries in the first punic war,also improved.The Gallic helmet was later adopted.As were greek siege machines,again improved.Rome's navy was created by reverse engineering captured carthaginian vessels and improving them.

    '' They made round wickerwork shields, twice the weight that a government shield normally was. They also gave the recruits wooden swords, likewise of double weight, instead of real swords. So equipped, they were trained not only in the morning but even after noon against posts. Indeed, the use of posts is of very great benefit to gladiators as well as soldiers.... Each recruit would plant a single post in the ground so that it could not move and protruded six [Roman] feet [i.e. 1.8m]. Against the post as if against an adversary the recruit trained himself using the wickerwork shield and wooden sword, just as if he were fighting a real enemy. Sometimes he aimed as against head and face, sometimes he threatened the flanks, and sometimes he tried to cut the hamstrings and legs. He gave ground, came on, sprang, and aimed at the post with every method of attack and art of combat, as though it were an actual opponent. In this training care was taken that the recruit drew himself up to inflict wounds without exposing any part of himself to a blow.

    Further, they learned to strike not with the edge, but with the point. For the Romans not only easily beat those fighting with the edge, but also ridicule them, as a slash-cut, whatever its force, seldom kills, because both armour and bones protect the vitals. But a thrust driven two inches in is fatal; for necessarily whatever goes in penetrates the vitals. Secondly, while a slash-cut is being delivered, the right arm and flank are exposed; whereas a thrust is inflicted with the body remaining covered, and the enemy is wounded before he realizes it.... The wickerwork shield and wooden sword of double weight they gave out so that when the recruit took up real and lighter arms, he fought with more confidence and agility, as being liberated from the heavier weight.'' - Roman historian Vegetius.


    Sword drill of this kind was alternated with running, jumping, swimming and the felling of trees. Additionally, three times a month, there were long route marches where the pace was varied from the normal marching rate to a rapid trot . Once the recruit, now bulked out with muscle and bursting with stamina, had attained a proper proficiency with the dummy weapons, he would begin training with the real thing. Formal training culminated in individual combat, with each recruit being assigned another as adversary.

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    (Principe,Hastati,Velite)

    Despite this overall apparent awe-inspiring power the romans of this period did have some flaws.The very conscription laws that made these enormous armies possible also meant that legions were not yet,full time professionals of the Caesarean or Empire era.They were however still drilled and disciplined.Another flaw was the Senior leadership,roman low level leadership of centurions was excellent-But higher up armies were led by consuls.Elected magistrates who were politician cum generals-not full-time military men.On the other hand,the carthiginians while didn't make up any significant part of their armies with citizens-retained all command positions for mercenary armies to native carthiginians.The carthiginian senior leadership were mostly professionals.Finally the roman cavalry was mediocre and was a somewhat neglected arm.In the days before the stirrup,only very disciplined cavalry could go head on with heavy infantry.Roman battle tactics during this period was also relatively straight forward and predictable with a frontal assault on he enemy line and crush it with the brute force of the legions.Overall these limitations were more than made up by her enormous manpower and the finest tactical battle system in the world in the manipular legion which would soon eclipse the macedonian phalanx.When the Second Punic war began,the Romans may not have been at their all-time historical peak but the Republic was already a superpower - the Roman steamroller had begun to roll in earnest.

    NEXT : ROMAN ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS
     
  4. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    THE ROMAN ARMY - PART II

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    THE ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS OF A ROMAN LEGION :

    The hastati contained the younger men and also the relatively poorer.Their usual position was the first battle line.Usually wore light armour.Principes were men in the prime of their lives who were fairly wealthy, and could afford decent equipment. They were the heavier infantry of the legion of the 2nd line who carried large shields and wore good quality armour.Both fought as swordsmen after casting their pilum javelins.The Triarii were the oldest and among the wealthiest men in the army, and could afford high quality equipment. They wore heavy metal armor and carried large shields, their usual position being the third battle line. They were equipped with spears and fought in the old phalanx style.

    The Manipular legion was typically composed of 10 maniples of Hastati,10 maniples of Principe and 10 maniples of triarii.The Hastati and Principe maniples consisted of 2 centuries - 60 men each for 120 men total per maniple.The Triarii had only one century per maniple.The typical legion thus would have 1200 hastati,1200 principe and 600 triarii.3000 heavy infantry supported by 1000 velite light infantry for a total strength of 4000 men approximately.Each legion was also supported by a cavalry detatchment of 300 men -150 cavalry on each flank.

    From the late republican era centuries came to be of 80 men.The maniple was replaced by the heavier cohort (480 men or 4 maniples together).The cohort was composed of six 80-men centuries in checkerboard formation.However these changes would only take place from the end of the 2nd punic war.

    The legions were officered by six military tribunes -elected magistrates with prior military experience.
    There was an optio behind each century to hold the men in place, and a centurion in the front rank to urge them onwards.A centurion was supposed to be selected for his determination and skill as a leader rather than prowess in individual fighting, and stubbornness was especially important - they formed the basic sinew that held the army together .

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    BATTLE TACTICS - INITIAL MOVEMENTS & DEPLOYMENT

    The Approach march. Once the legion was deployed on an operation, the marching began. The approach to the battlefield was made in several columns, enhancing maneuverability. Typically a strong vanguard preceded the main body, and included scouts, cavalry and light troops. A tribune or other officer often accompanied the vanguard to survey the terrain for possible camp locations. Flank and reconnaissance elements were also deployed to provide the usual covering security. Behind the vanguard came the main body of heavy infantry. Each legion marched as a distinct formation and was accompanied by its own baggage train. The last legion usually provided the rear force, although several recently raised units might occupy this final echelon.

    Construction of fortified camps. Legions on a campaign typically established a strong field camp, complete with Palisade and a deep ditch, providing a basis for supply storage, troop marshaling and defense. Camps were recreated each time the army moved, and were constructed with a view to both military necessity and religious symbolism. There were always four gateways, connected by two main criss-crossing streets, with the intersection at a concentration of command tents in the center.Everything was standardized, from the positioning of baggage, equipment and specific army units, to the duties of officers who were to set up sentries, pickets and orders for the next day's march. Construction could take between 2 to 5 hours with part of the army laboring, while the rest stood guard, depending on the tactical situation. The shape of the camp was generally rectangular, but could vary based on the terrain or tactical situation. A distance of about 60 meters was left clear between the entrenchments and the first row of troop tents. This gap provided space for marshaling the legionnaires for battle and kept the troop area out of enemy missile range.No other ancient army persisted over such a long period in systematic camp construction like the Romans, even if the army rested for only a single day.

    After a regimented breakfast at the allocated time, trumpets were sounded and the camp's tents and huts were dismantled and preparations made for departure. The trumpet then sounded again with the signal for "stand by to march". Mules and wagons of the baggage train would be loaded and units formed up. The camp would then be burned to the ground to prevent its later occupation and use by the enemy. The Trumpets would then be sounded for a final time and then the troops asked three times whether they were ready, to which they were expected to shout together "Ready!", before marching off.

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    (Hastati back,Principe front left and Triarii)​

    During deployment in the Republican era, the maniples were commonly arranged in Triplex Acies(triple battle order): that is, in three ranks, with the Hastati in the first rank (that nearest the enemy), the Principes in the second rank, and the veteran triarii in the third and final rank asbarrier troops, or sometimes even further back as a strategic reserve. When in danger of imminent defeat, the first and second lines, the Hastati and Principes, ordinarily fell back on the Triarii to reform the line to allow for either a counter-attack or an orderly withdrawal. Because falling back on the Triarii was an act of desperation, to mention "falling on the Triarii" became a common Roman phrase indicating one to be in a desperate situation.Within this triplex acies system, contemporary Roman writers talk of the maniples adopting a checkered formation called quincux when deployed for battle but not yet engaged. In the first line, the hastati left gaps equal in size to their cross-sectional area between each maniple. The second line consisting of principes followed in a similar manner, lining up behind the gaps left by the first line. This was also done by the third line, standing behind the gaps in the second line. The velites were deployed in front of this line in a continuous, loose-formation line.

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    (On top the phases of roman manipular battle.Below depicts the skirmish line of velites throwing their javelins and then retreating through gaps in the line between the centuries of the hastati )

    CONDUCT OF THE BATTLE :

    1 and 2 .Battle would be opened by the screening velites, who attempted to disorganize and unsettle enemy formations with a scattering of missiles, each individual carrying a clutch of javelins to be thrown in very quick succession. This done, they retired through the gaps in the maniples of the hastati and made their way to the rear. The maniples of the hastati now re-formed to close the gaps the posterior century would move to the left and forward, thus running out and forming up alongside the prior century on the battle line.The first line now walked slowly forward in an eerie silence until some 15m - the effective range of a pilum - from the contact point. Immediately and without due warning the hastati then let fly their missile weapons, throwing first their light and then their heavy pila.During the confusion caused by this pila storm, which could be devastating, the hastati drew their swords and 'charged the enemy yelling their war cry and clashing their weapons against their shields as is their custom'.

    3.Ideally, the Hastati fought the main enemy line to a standstill, but if they were rebuffed or lost momentum an entire second formation, the succeeding line of principes, surged forward into the combat zone, casting their pila overtheir comrades' heads in the melee, and the entire process of well-drilled butchery could begin anew with fresh troops. The hastati would fall back either by the rear centuries disengaging and opening gaps during lulls in the fighting through which the forward centuries of the principes would take up their position,or if the fighting was frenzied with no scope for such methodical manuever by filtering to the rear by individual troop rotation as will be described below.

    4.If even the Principes failed to break the enemy they would similarly fall back behind the triarii and the whole army could now launch a final all-out assault led by the triarii or withdraw in good order behind the barrier of spears of the third line.

    ADVANTAGES OF ACES TRIPLEX -

    1. Flexibility and Manueverability - It can more easily flow around obstacles and maneuver and control is much superior.Reforming and recovery is also very much easier,as well as reacting to flank attacks.

    2. Stamina and Relentless Pressure - Another unique feature of the Roman infantry was the depth of its spacing.The advantage of the Roman system is that it allowed the continual funneling or metering of combat power forward over a longer period—massive, steadily renewed pressure to the front—until the enemy broke under the relentless assault of fresh troops.This troop rotation system is one of the key advantages of the roman battle system.

    "When the first line as a whole had done its best and become weakened and exhausted by losses, it gave way to the relief of fresh men from the second line who, passing through it gradually, pressed forward one by one, or in single file, and worked their way into the fight in the same way. Meanwhile the tired men of the original first line, when sufficiently rested, reformed and re-entered the fight. This continued until all men of the first and second lines had been engaged. This does not presuppose an actual withdrawal of the first line, but rather a merging, a blending or a coalescing of both lines. Thus the enemy was given no rest and was continually opposed by fresh troops until, exhausted and demoralized, he yielded to repeated attacks."

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    ACTUAL CLOSE COMBAT :

    The front ranks usually cast their pila and the following ranks hurled theirs over the heads of the front-line fighters. After the pila were cast, the soldiers then drew their swords and engaged the enemy. Emphasis was on using the shield to provide maximum body coverage, while attacking that exposed by the enemy. In the combat that ensued, Roman discipline, heavy shield, armor and training were to give them important advantages.If a battle was prolonged in ancient warfare,intense trauma and stress of hand-to-hand combat meant that the contenders did not simply hack at one another continuously until one dropped. Instead, there were short periods of intense, vicious fighting. If indecisive, the contenders might fall back a short distance to recuperate, and then surge forward to renew the struggle.In short battles which were decided by the initial charge this would not happen however.

    The legionary essentially fought as an individual fighter, a swordsman within a collective system.His equipment was designed to operate as a whole.The pilum was designed to 1.Kill the enemy at range and create gaps in the enemy line which could be exploited or 2.If the enemy took the javelin on his shield it would bend and get stuck,and due to its weight force him to discard his shield and face the roman infantry without it - a decisive advantage for the roman infantryman still with his shield.

    His long oval shield covered his whole body,he wore body armour and metal helmet with reinforced mail straps on the shoulders against a downward blow.Legs covered by greaves for better equipped men and hobnailed spiked boots so that they could walk forward over the enemies they kill without slipping.'According to the Roman methods of fighting each man makes his movements individually: not only does he defend his body with his long shield, constantly moving it to meet a threatened blow, but he uses his sword both for cutting and for thrusting' -Polybius.​

    The shield acted both as a offensive and defensive weapon.The standard drill for the legionary was to punch the enemy in the face with the metal shield boss and then jab him in the belly with the razor-sharp point of the gladius short sword.(If an enemy lacked a shield he would be near defenceless in the press of close combat against such an attack).The first picture of this post shows the sequence.

    ''On the other hand, the Romans' defence and counter manoeuvring against the barbarians was well practised and afforded greater safety. For while their foes were still raising their swords aloft, they would duck under their arms, holding up their shields, and then, stooping and crouching low, they would render vain and useless the blows of the others, which were aimed too high. The Romans, on the other hand, holding their swords straight out, would strike their opponents in the groin, their sides, and drive their blows through their breasts into their vitals. And if they saw any of them keeping these parts of their bodies protected, they would cut the tendons of their knees or ankles and topple them to the ground'' - Dionysiois(on roman fighting over Gallic style)

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    (Above is a later era imperial legionary,but basic technique of punch and thrust is clearly shown.Opponent is disbalanced with the shield punched in his face,and then gladius rips out his intestines)

    Legionary battle posture -
    Having drawn his gladius the legionary now adopted a very slight crouch, with the left foot forward, holding the scutum horizontally in front with the left hand and using it to cover the upper legs, the torso, and lower face. By keeping the scutum close to his body, the legionary not only gained optimum protection but also increased the range of the punch. His body would have been slightly turned in profile to his opponent in order to present as small a target as possible, with his elbows tucked close to the torso so as not to expose the vulnerable underarm. His feet were roughly a shoulder width apart. In this balanced position he could put all his body weight, which rested on the back leg, behind a punch with his scutum.Two methods could be employed -offensive or deffensive.The first necessitated striking the first blow, perhaps through overwhelming his opponent with the scutum: here its sheer size was a premium. The second method involved taking the opponent's sword strike on the scutum. This would entail moving the shield a relatively short distance to meet the incoming blow: here the metal binding on its upper edge was a premium. The advantage here was that the parry and punch could be combined, the legionary moving in closer all the while to deliver the deadly thrust.It was a simple,yet brutally efficient method.

    ''The order of battle used by the Roman army is very difficult to break through, since it allows every man to fight both individually and collectively; the effect is to offer a formation that can present a front in any direction, since the maniples that are nearest to the point where danger threatens wheels in order to meet it. The arms they carry both give protection and also instill great confidence into the men, because of the size of the shields and the strength of the swords, which can withstand repeated blows. All these factors make the Romans formidable antagonists in battle and very hard to overcome.'' - Polybious,greek-roman historian

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    Spacing -
    The legionary required much more individual space to wield his shield and sword than a spearman in a phalanx.The centuries of a maniple deployed either 3-man deep when greater frontage was required or more commonly 6 man deep with 10 ranks frontage.Above is depicted the 2 centuries of a roman maniples 10 ranks wide,6-ranks deep.To its right shows the individual spacing of roman legionary.The spacing varied between 3 feet and 6ft as shown above.When 6 ft the century was in open order ,when 3ft in close order and actively engaged in close combat.This unit spacing was very necessary for the roman sword-shield warrior to be effectively able to wield his weapons and also to use troop rotation via the 'filtering' method.


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    Troop Rotation
    The romans rotated their troops via 2 methods.Against methodical opponents who also fought in blocks like the greek phalanx ,rotation by centuries as was seen earlier in the diagram with hastati and principe interchanging places would be carried out.Against more loose but aggressive dynamic ,particularly gallic,iberian,german tribal forces the 'filtering' method was more practical as gaps created by rotation with centuries could be quickly exploited by these individualistic enemies.Above video shows how this troop rotation took place.The picture also shows how by using the available spacing between the individual legionaries,a legionary in the first line could step to one side opening enough gap for an individual in the second line to come forward and take his place while he then withdrew to the rear,this process could be repeated with the whole century.During the maelstrom of battle it is also possible that as the units merged into line, the general checkerboard spacing became more compressed or even disappeared, and the fighting would see a more or less solid line engaged with the enemy. Thus gaps at the beginning of the struggle might tend to vanish in the closing phases.In this case legionaries from rear lines could rotate in small groups like this.if a century was six ranks deep,every man would probably fight for 5 mins once every 30 minutes.

    NEXT : TROOP TYPES AND EQUIPMENT
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2016
  5. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    THE ROMAN ARMY -PART III

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    ROMAN TROOP TYPES :

    The roman army of the manipular era typically included the heavy infantry - Hastatii,Principe and Triarii collectively called legionaries.The light infantry velites and the supporting cavalry called Equites.Each roman legion was supported by an equivalent number or sometimes even larger contingent of allied troops who were called socii - a mixture of cavalry and infantry.Above is the ingame representation of a roman acies triplex.

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    Velites -
    Velites were the youngest and usually the poorest soldiers in the legion, and could rarely afford much equipment. They were armed with hastae velitares, light javelins with tips designed to bend on impact to prevent it being thrown back, similar to the heavier pila of other legionaries. As backup weapons, they also carried gladius for close-quarter protection.They fought in a very loose, staggered formation like most irregular and carried small round shields, 90 cm (3 feet) in diameter.These skirmishers were useful in broken terrain,and against elephants but if caught by cavalry in open ground would be slaughtered.They wore a headdress made from wolf skin to allow officers to differentiate between them and other heavier legionaries. Velites did not form their own units; a number of them were attached to each maniple of hastati,triarii and principe. Typically used as a screening force, driving off enemy skirmishers and disrupting enemy formations with javelin throws before retiring behind the lines to allow the heavier-armed hastati to attack.There were usually 1000-1200 velites in a manipular legion.Wore no armour.

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    Hastati & Principe -
    The Hastati appear to have been originally remnants of the old third class of the servian constitution,based on wealth.By the time of the Punic wars however,infantry were sorted into classes according to age and experience rather than wealth, the hastati being the youngest and least experienced and fought in the first line.Even though they were still named hastati( spearmen) they fought in typical legionary fashion with galdius and scutum,after throwing their piulm.The hastati were in number 1,200 per legion, and formed 10 maniples of 120 men each.These hastati once battle hardened and more older would join the ranks of the principes.Their main difference with the principes in terms of equipment was in lighter armour -usually they wore only a square shaped heart protector rather than the expensive mail armour worn by the priincipes.However if such armour was available they would make good use of it.

    Principes were real punch of the roman manipular legion.Older veterans with a greater degree of experience,equipped similar to hastati but with mail armour protection they fought in the second line in 10 maniples of 120 men each.These were men in the prime of their lives.It was on the mail-clad principe that the later roman professional legions were modelled and standardized under Marius,when the hastati and triarii were done away with.

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    Triarii -
    These were the oldest and among the wealthiest men in the army, and could afford high quality equipment. They wore heavy metal armor and carried large shields, their usual position being the third battle line. They were equipped with spears - the final remnant of the old phalanx.They had 2 functions .To either act as barrier troops or as a final assault reserve.10 half-maniples of 60 men each for a total of 600 triarii were present in each legion.In most battles triarii were not used because the lighter troops usually defeated the enemy before the triarii were committed to the battle. They were meant to be used as a decisive force in the battle, thus prompting an old Roman saying: 'It comes down to the triarii' , which meant carrying on to the bitter end.During the battle the Triarii usually rested on their knees with their spears pointed upwards.When it came for them to enter action it often appeared to the enemy after a prolonged fight with the first 2 lines that another 3rd army had literally risen up from the ground to face them anew.If the first 2 lines failed to break the enemy they presented a barrier of spears behind which the rest of the army could withdraw in order.

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    Equites -
    These socially constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of Rome, ranking below the patricians.They were liable to cavalry service in the manipular legion. Equites originally provided a legion's entire cavalry contingent, although from an early stage, when equites numbers had become insufficient, large numbers of young men from the First Class of commoners were regularly volunteering for the service, which was considered more glamorous than the infantry. They were required to pay for their own equipment and horse, but that the latter would be refunded by the state if it was killed in action.Cavalrymen in service were paid a drachma per day, triple the infantry rate, and were liable to a maximum of ten campaigning seasons' military service, compared to 16 for the infantry.

    Each Manipular legion contained a cavalry contingent of 300 horse, which does not appear to have been officered by an overall commander.The cavalry contingent was divided into 10 turmae(squadrons) of 30 men each. The squadron members would elect as their officers three decuriones , of whom the first to be chosen would act as the squadron's leader and the other two as his deputies.They usually fought as charge cavalry and were equipped with mail armour,metal helmet,spear and round shield.Cavalrymen would often dismount to fight.

    While the roman cavalry of the period are often depicted as poor,this was not necessarily so.While they were nowhere near the relative power of their infantry counterparts on many occasions roman cavalry proved itself capable of holding their own against the best western cavalry of the time.Against Pyyrhus at Heraclea gaining the advantage in a bitterly contested melee against his thessalian cavalry, then regarded as the finest in the world, and were only driven back when Pyrrhus deployed his elephants, which panicked the Roman horses. Other examples include the Equites' victory over the vaunted Gallic horse at Telamon, against the Germanic cavalry of the Cimbri and Teutons at Vercellae, andthe seleucid cataphracts at magnesia.Their repeated defeats to Hannibal's cavalry were down to 2 causes - 1>being outnumbered by them and 2>being unable to effectively answer the hit and run tactics of the numidian cavalry with their simple charge tactics.

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    Above -The testudo formation offered the romans near immunity to missiles on the approach and during siges.Roman tactics was not still refined and fully developed in to seperate formations like wedge during this era,the testudo would have been in use if under heavy missile attack.

    NEXT : ROMAN ALLIES AND EQUIPMENT
     
  6. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    ROMAN ARMY -PART IV

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    ROMAN ALLIED FORCES :

    The Roman allies did not pay tribute but were obligated to send troops to fight for Rome.They recieved a part of the spoils,total internal autonomy and occasional citizenship.Military and foreign policy lay entirely in the hands of the Roman executive authorities, the consuls and the policy-making body, the Senate.More than half of rome's avilable manpower came from these italian allies.Each roman legion was accompanied on the field by equal levy of allied italian troops.

    The confederation did not maintain standing or professional military forces, but levied them, by compulsory conscription, as required for each campaigning season. They would then be disbanded at the end of a conflict. To spread the burden, no man was required to serve more than 16 campaign seasons.The Roman and allied levies were kept in separate formations. Roman citizens were assigned to the legions, while the Latin and Italian allies were organised into alae (literally: "wings", because they were always posted on the flanks of the Roman line of battle). A normal consular army would contain two legions and two alae, or about 20,000 men (17,500 infantry and 2,400 cavalry).
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    (An Italian Infantryman)

    The Italian allies fought in the roman manner in maniples,but they didn't possess the uniform organization,standard equipment,training or dsicipline of the roman legionaries.

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    More than half of roman horsemen came from the allies,particularly the Campanian cavalry were excellent.Above is a south Italian cavalryman armed with javelins and spears.

    ROMAN EQUIPMENT AND ARMS -

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    Pilum -
    The Pilum was the deadly heavy javelin of the legionary that gave him his ranged firepower.It could also be employed as a spear to keep cavalry at bay.It was generally about 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) long overall, consisting of an iron shank about 7 millimetres (0.28 in) in diameter and 60 centimetres (24 in) long with pyramidal head. The shank was joined to the wooded shaft by either a socket or a flat tang.The iron shank was the key to the function of the pilum. The weapon had a hard pyramidal tip but the shank was made of softer iron. This softness would cause the shank to bend after impact, thus rendering the weapon useless to the enemy who might throw it back. However, there are many cases where the whole shank was hardened, making the pilum more suitable as a close quarters melee weapon, which also made it useful for enemy soldiers to pick it up and throw it back. More importantly, if the pilum struck a shield it might embed itself and thus the bending of the shank would force the enemy to discard it as they might waste time trying to pull it out in the middle of combat. Even if the shank did not bend, the pyramidal tip still made it very difficult to pull out.

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    Most other javelins of the time were unable to penetrate a shield. By contrast, since the pyramidal tip of a pilum was wider than the rest of the shank, once it penetrated a shield, it left behind a hole larger than the rest of the shank, and it could move through the shield with little resistance, stabbing the soldier. The length of the shank and its depth of penetration also made it hard to pull out of a shield even if it failed to bend. If the bearer of the shield was charging and a Pilum penetrated the shield, the end of the heavy shaft of the Pilum would hit the ground, holding the shield in place. On some pila there was a spike on the end of the shaft which made it easier to dig into the ground.Pila were divided into two models: heavy and light. Recent experiments have shown pila to have a range of approximately 33 metres (100 ft), although the effective range is up to 15–20 m (50–70 ft).Pila storm in action in the first picture.

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    Gladius Hipaniensis -
    The classic roman short sword,it was adopted from the spanish swords(earlier romans used swords similar to greek xiphos) that the romans came into contact with during the first punic war against carthage's mercenaries.The Pilum would be thrown to disable the shields and disrupt the formation of the enemy before engaging in close combat, for which the gladius would be drawn. The soldier generally led with his shield and thrust with his sword.Gladii were two-edged for cutting and had a tapered point for stabbing during thrusting. A solid grip was provided by a knobbed hilt added on, possibly with ridges for the fingers. Blade strength was achieved by welding together strips, in which case the sword had a channel down the center, or by fashioning a single piece of high-carbon steel, rhomboidal in cross-section.Stabbing was a very efficient technique, as stabbing wounds, especially in the abdominal area, were almost always deadly. However, the gladius was also used for cutting or slashing,the Macedonian soldiers for example were horrified to see dismembered bodies during their wars with Rome. Though the primary infantry attack was thrusting at stomach height, they were trained to take any advantage, such as slashing at kneecaps beneath the shield wall.The original Hispanic sword, which was used during the republic, had a slight "wasp-waist" or "leaf-blade" curvature.At least 3 more variants of the galdius would be produced over the course of the roman empire.The gladius remains one of the deadliest weapons in human history.Along with the Ak-47,Maxim machine gun,Turco-mongol composite bow one of the weapons responsible for most deaths in human history.The legionaries also carried a small dagger Pugio as a weapon of last resort.

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    Scutum -
    The scutum was a 10-kilogram (22 lb) large rectangle/oval curved shield made from three sheets of wood glued together and covered with canvas and leather, usually with a spindle shaped boss along the vertical length of the shield.The scutum is light enough to be held in one hand and its large height and width covered the entire wielder, making him very unlikely to get hit by missile fire and in hand-to-hand combat. The metal boss, or umbo, in the center of the scutum also made it an auxiliary punching weapon as well.The aspis round shield it replaced was heavier and provided less protective coverage than the scutum but was much more durable.However it couldn't form the testudo like the scutum and was also more costly.

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    Lorica (Armour) -
    The hastati wore a bronze pectoral, which was a square, to protect the heart and upper chest, although those who could afford it would wear instead an iron mail shirt (lorica hamata).The lorica hamata would later become standard issue.Mail armour was invented by the gauls and rapidly became popular.It was normally made of iron rings, on average about 1mm thick and 3-9mm in external diameter, it took some 10,000-20,000 rings to make a mail shirt. The wearer's shoulders could be reinforced with 'doubling'.
    Extremely popular with the soldiers. A mail shirt was flexible and essentially shapeless, fitting more closely to the wearer's body than other types of armour. In this respect it was comfortable, whilst the wearing of a waist belt helped to spread its considerable weight, which would otherwise be carried entirely by the shoulders. Mail offered good melee protection, but could be penetrated by a strong thrust or an arrow fired at effective range.It was near impervious to slashing attacks.Its main drawbacks were weight(10-15kg) and that it was very time consuming to manufacture.The Roman officers and trairii also wore bronze breastplates.

    NEXT : HANNIBAL'S ARMY
     
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  7. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    THE CARTHAGINIAN ARMY

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    (Above is the Carthaginian command staff.Senior Leadership was one great advantage Hannibal's army had over the Romans.These were full-time professionals with years of experience working with each other in Iberia and with complete mutual trust.In contrast the roman commanders were soldier cum politicians.)

    The most distinct feature of the Carthaginian army was its composition. Contrary to most other states in the Mediterranean at the time, the army was composed almost exclusively of foreign mercenary units while its navy was manned by citizens.The early carthaginian armies were composed of citizen hoplite militia ,but this practice was gradually abandoned due to heavy losses in the wars in sicily and requirements for the navy.Carthage regularly began employing Iberian infantry and Balearic slingers to support Carthaginian spearmen.Punic recruiters toured all corners of the Mediterranean, attracting mercenaries and fugitive slaves.Gauls,Numidians,Greeks,Libyans and especially Iberians (Spaniards) were extensively recruited by Carthage. Troops were recruited both by simple monetary contracts and through partnerships established through treaties with other states and tribes.

    Carthage's armies faced heavy defeats in the First Punic war on land to the roman legions.The Carthaginians recruited the Spartan mercenary captain Xanthippus, who was charged with retraining and restructuring the Carthaginian army.Xanthippus split his cavalry between his two wings, with mercenary infantry screening the cavalry, and a hastily raised citizen phalanx in the center screened by a line of elephants in front of the spearmen. Previously, Carthaginian generals have placed the elephants behind the central phalanx.Xanthippus also realized the mistakes that the Carthaginians were making by avoiding open ground battles against the Romans, instead seeking only uneven terrain. This was done out of fear of the Romans' superior infantry. Such a strategy, however, restricted Carthage's strongest elements: its cavalry and elephants. The uneven terrain also disrupted the phalanx and favored the more flexible legion. By seeking battles on open plains, Xanthippus was able to make the fullest use of Carthage's strengths, where Roman formations broke under attack from the elephant and cavalry charges.Under Xanthippus's leadership Carthage was able to repulse a roman invasion of Africa.The reforms of Xanthippus were expanded upon and improved by Hamilcar and it would be under his son -Hannibal that carthaginian tactical finesse reached its peak.

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    (Spanish infantry)

    The army Hannibal led was probably the best carthage had ever fielded.It had its origins in the veteran force hamilcar had brought with him to spain 2 decades earlier,where it was greatly expanded.It was battle hardened,the commanders and men were thoroughly familiar with each other and largely professional mercenary force.The Alps march had weeded out the weak and left a hardened force of veterans.Despite this however it remained a polygot mercenary force of many nationalities,lacking the unity and cohesion of the romans.In the second punic war whenever hannibal was not present carthaginians suffered series of defeats to the roman legions and even in hannibal's battles,face to face the romans often broke through the carthaginian infantry lines in a contest of brute strength.It was ultimately Hannibal's generalship and force of character that held it together.There was no standard carthaginian tactic as such.It all depended on the commander's ability and the troop types available.

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    SPANISH INFANTRY :
    Hannibal entered Italy with 8000 Iberian infantry.Above are light and medium spanish infantry.The spanish light infantry were adept at ambushes and fighting in broken terrain which hannibal would employ to full extent.The spanish medium infantry equipment-wise were similar to the hastati,minus the discipline.The spaniards fought with their national close-quarter weapon - The Falcata short sword,which was very similar to the greek kopis but had developed in parallel.They used shields and spears as well -there being no standardized equipment.Light infantry would carry javelins.Light infantry wore no armour,while the medium infantry would wear a circular breastplate.The spanish light infantry were often called -Caetrati.

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    Above are spanish heavy infantry -the Scuttarii .Equipped with shields,scale or mail armour(taken from romans often) and armed with javelins and the falcata these were solid close quarters infantry.The carthaginian counterpart to the Roman Principes ,minus the discipline and formations.The spanish tactics were similar to the romans,to shower the enemy with javelins and then close with the falcata short sword.

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    GALLIC INFANTRY :
    The gauls of north italy joined Hannibal enmasse after his invasion and formed a significant part of both his infantry and cavalry at trebbia,trasimene and cannae.The typical gallic warrior carried a shield,a spear and a longsword for close combat.Only the wealthy warriors and chieftains could afford mail armour.Many gauls fought naked to prove their manliness.Their method of war consisted of savage warcries followed by a massive charge designed to crush the enemy line with brute force and then hack at it with their longswords.The romans hated and feared the gauls,who were known for their physical stature and ferocity and considered them the stereotype 'barbarians'.The gauls fought uder their own chieftains.

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    Gallic warriors often painted their bodies to intimidate their foes.Despite their immense bravery,
    The gauls lacked discipline and tended to become dispirited if their charge was withstood.The gallic individualistic style of fighting,and slashing with the longsword was at a distinct disadvantage against the romans organized formations and punch and thrust swordplay,especially if they lost their shields to pila shower.Hannibal considered these troops fickle and unreliable and used them as expendable manpower- 'Pila-fodder' in his own words to takethe brunt of the roman initial attacks.Nearly half of hannibal's army at Cannae was gallic.It is his immense credit that he was able to keep such troops under his command for 16 years in a hostile land without a single instance of mutiny.

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    (Hannibal's African Infantry)


    AFRICAN INFANTRY & BALEARIC SLINGERS :

    The elite of Hannibal's army were his heavy african infantry -the Liby-phoenecian Spearmen.Superbly drilled and armed in the hoplite fashion they were equipped with round or oval shields ,mail/linothorax armour,metal helmet and greaves and a short sword.Many of these veterans were from Hamilcar's time and they would play a crucial role in each of Hannibal's battles.The Libyans were the native subjects of Carthage and supplied the core of the Carthaginian army. They had served in Carthaginian armies from a very early date. During the sixth century, Carthage had stopped relying on a citizen levy and began to hire mercenaries and employ allied troops, many whom would have been Libyan.

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    Hannibal entered Italy with 12,000 african troops of which 8,000 were heavy infantry.The rest would have constituted the libyan/numidian javelineers shown to the right.These fought as skirmishers.The light Libyan infantry carried javelins and a small shield, the same as Iberian light infantry.
    Also brought from the Balearic islands of spain would be the famed Balearic slingers(to the left) -famed mercenaries of the mediterranean they would be later employed by the romans against parthian horse archers in particular.Hannibal brought with him at least 2,000 balearic slingers -light troops of very high quality.They employed different types of bullets for their slings.The accuracy and volume of firepower produced by these elite slingers made them superior to archers.

    NEXT : HANNIBAL'S CAVALRY & ELEPHANTS
     
  8. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    THE CARTHAGINIAN CAVALRY

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    SPANISH CAVALRY :

    The one significant area where Hannibal held an edge -both in numbers and quality was in cavalry and he would exploit this advantage to the hilt.Hannibal's cavalry was composed of iberian,african and gallic components.Hannibal entered Italy with 6000 cavalry,maybe half of which was spanish.Spanish cavalry was generally shock cavalry,both armoured and non- armored.Above is a heavy iberian cavalryman -probably a chieftain.Only richer warriors could afford horses and armour.

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    Representation of an iberian horseman of the era.He wears a sinew cap and a white tunic trimmed with crimson.Carries a central handgrip round shield,a spear and a falcata.Horsemen would often dismount for combat.

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    GALLIC CAVALRY :
    The gauls provided Hannibal with good shock cavalry.The gallic mounted horsemen were composed of the nobility and their retainers and had excellent equipment.Mail armour,gallic iron helmet,long lance,longsword and shield.They would fight as shock charge cavalry.Gallic cavalry would be used as auxillaries by the romans for centuries during the late republic and empire era.The 4-horned gallic saddle provided excellent balance and was adopted by the romans.

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    AFRICAN CAVALRY :

    Hannibal's african cavalry would have composed of 2 types.The Liby-phoenecian heavy citizen cavalry which would have been the mounted retainers of the carthagianian commanders.Armed with lance,linothorax armour as typical hellenistic horsemen of the day,they would have been small in number.

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    Numidian cavalry - Hannibal's elite light cavalry were the numidians and it was these troops that provided him with the quality advantage in cavalry.These were berber horsemen recruited from Numidia,present day algeria mounted on ponies.Small compared to other horses of the era, these were well adapted for faster movement over long distances.Numidian horsemen rode without saddles or bridles, controlling their mounts with a simple rope around their horse' neck. They had no form of bodily protection except for a round leather shield, and their main weapon were javelins in addition to a short sword.Due to their expert horsemanship and agility, as well as their lack of armoror heavy weaponry, they were most suitable for harassing tactics, charging in loose formation and lobbing their javelins before wheeling off to escape the enemy's counterattack.(tactic shown above) This harassing tactic, while rarely decisive, could be extremely frustrating to a less mobile enemy,their presence certainly contributed greatly to the effectiveness of Hannibal's reconaissance and intelligence.Scipio's victory at Zama was caused by the defection of the numidians which finally robbed hannibal of his last remaining advantage and was decisive in winning the battle.The romans employed numidians for centuries as auxillaries.Later during the muslim conquest of north africa,the arabs recruited large numbers of berber or moorish horsemen into their armies who served in spain.

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    WAR ELEPHANTS :

    War elephants as a battle weapon had been introduced to the carthaginians by Pyyrhos of Epirus.However the elephant carthage used was not the african savannah elephant,but the now extinct North african forest elephant which was smaller than the indian elephants present in the hellenistic armies.Nonetheless these beasts were employed as a shock weapon and usually deployed in front of the battle line.They could cause unaccustomed horses to panic and in the first punic wars initially had caused great terror amongst the romans.By this time however the romans were prepared to deal with these animals.Hannibal emerged from the alps with an incredible 37 elephants still alive.They carried 2 riders and a mahout with missiles and were employed to plough through enemy ranks and create gaps which could be exploited . Hannibal was only able to employ them at Trebbia in italy.The elephants contributed much in impressing the gauls to join with Hannibal.

    NEXT : TICINUS AND TREBIA.
     
  9. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    HANNIBAL IN ITALY -TICINUS AND TREBIA

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    HANNIBAL ENTERS ITALY :

    When news reached of Hannibal's crossing of the alps,In rome the senate was stunned.They had expected a leisurely war in africa and iberia.And now a carthaginian army was in italy!Hannibal had seized the initiative.In a hurry,the romans cancelled the invasion of africa and recalled sempronius from sicily to move quickly to reinforce scipio.

    Hannibal meanwhile took stock of his forces-He had a mere 20,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry left (out of 38,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry he entered the alps with)to challenge the full might of Rome on its own soil.These were however his finest,veterans of conflict with man and nature.The survivors were emaciated, exhausted, and without supplies, having lost most of them in the mountains. Obtaining supplies wherever he could, Hannibal rested his men.The sight of this army instilled scant confidence in the gauls initially.He had entered Italy between the Insubres and a Ligurian tribe called the Taurini.After the army's recovery, Hannibal offered them peace by formal alliance. When it was refused, he surrounded their chief settlement, levelled it and executed all his opponents as an object lesson to the other tribes in the north. This act of terror was effective for the time being in securing a nominal alliance with the other Gauls.Receiving news of the massacre, Publius was incredulous that Hannibal should have crossed the Alps and be in Italy so soon. Decamping, he crossed the Po and marched upstream on the left bank looking for him. Receiving intelligence of Publius' impending arrival, Hannibal was equally incredulous that he should have made the difficult voyage from Marseille and now be at hand with an army. The most astounded of all at the news that both Hannibal and Publius were in Italy, when they were believed to be in Spain, were the Roman Senate and People.
    [​IMG]

    BATTLE OF TICINUS :

    Looking for Hannibal,Scipio(elder) moved from Piacenza/Placentia(See map),built a bridge over the Po and a second oen over the Ticinus.As a consul, Scipio superseded the praetors Manlius and Atilius. He could therefore have commanded three legions, about 12,000 infantry and several thousand allies, possibly around 20,000 men. The regular cavalry of three legions amounted to 900. In addition, there were some 2,000 Gallic cavalry, which fought in this battle but later defected, and 1,000 allied cavalry attached to Manlius at Rome, a total of about 4,000 cavalry.At the same time as Scipio was making camp, Hannibal was camping upstream along the Po. The two were unknown to each other but making the discovery through scouts the next day both commanders decided on the same tactic: a reconaissance in force to discover and test the strength of the enemy. Hannibal probably took the majority of the 6,000 cavalry that remained after crossing the Alps, while Scipio took all of his cavalry and a small number of velites.

    Finally coming within observation distance of each other, the two armies stopped to form ranks. Hannibal offered his strongest motivations to the troops if they would fight to win: tax-free land in Italy, Spain or Africa, Carthaginian citizenship to allies. He then placed his heavycavalry in the center and the light and swift-moving Numidian cavalry on the wings: a classic formation in which the wings would break off to ride around and attack the enemy rear. Scipio's less effective technique used the cavalry more like the infantry in a fixed line. The Gallic cavalry would be out front screening a line of javelin-throwers, who would cast volleys into the front of the advancing enemy and then retreat through the ranks to the rear.

    Hannibal, seeing the infantry beginning to form, ordered an immediate, all-out charge, which rode down on the javelin-throwers before they could cast a single volley and sent them running for their lives through the ranks behind them. The main cavalry ranks then fought until the Numidian cavalry performed their planned envelopment and attacked the rear. Unable to maneuver because of the infantry milling about them, the Roman cavalry broke into small groups, some dismounting and fighting as infantry. Scipio was wounded and soon found himself surrounded, with only a few to defend him.The younger scipio(scipio africanus later) managed to rescue his father by breaking through with his cavalry turma and escorting him off the field.

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    Aftermath -
    Hannibal scattered the Roman forces, but he did not press his victory that day, perhaps because his forces were far outnumbered by the Roman infantry still in the fort.Scipio now knew knew Hannibal would be back the next day with his whole army, would interpose himself between the Roman fort and the bridge and Scipio and all his men would be trapped, a set-up for another massacre. He therefore broke camp in the night, hastened to get over the bridge before dawn and was in Piacenza before Hannibal knew he had left camp. Finding the camp empty the next morning, Hannibal followed the Roman trail to the river, capturing the 600-man guard over a torn-up bridge. He decided not to force a subsequent crossing of the Po under hostile fire,but turned, went up its left bank, found a convenient crossing and descended the right bank to camp before Piacenza two days later.

    After Hannibal's arrival in the early morning, before first light, some 2,200 Gallic allies in the Roman camp attacked the Romans closest to them sleeping in their tents, took the heads of the slain and crossed to the Carthaginian camp, where they were well received. Hannibal subsequently sent them as emissaries to raise all the Celts in Italy. Meanwhile, Scipio, again anticipating the consequences, immediately broke camp before dawn on that same nightand slipping up the right bank of the Po to the west in the same direction from which Hannibal had come crossed the Trebia, a right-bank tributary of the Po. Then he headed south along its left bank to the hills from which it flows, keeping the river between him and Hannibal. The Numidian cavalry sent in pursuit made the mistake of burning the camp first, giving all but Scipio's rear guard time to cross the river. A day's march to the south, Scipio reached the hills, fortified the slope of one of them and settled down to rest and wait for the arrival of the second consul,Hannibal camped at a distance in the plain below, enthusiastically supplied by the Gallic population.Meanwhile the Gauls now began to join Hannibal en masse,bolstering his depleted ranks.

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    BATTLE OF TREBIA :

    The second consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus,now arrived and joined forces with scipio.Hannibal meanwhile was taking punitive action against some gauls of whom he suspected treachery.These gauls appealed to the romans.
    Tiberius sent some cavalry across the river with 1,000 infantry. They caught the Carthaginians pillaging there and drove them into Hannibal's camp . The Carthaginians acquired reinforcements and sallied out to push the Romans back across the river, where the Romans sent for reinforcements from their camp.Hannibal stopped the Carthaginian attack because this was not the time and place of his choosing, but was happening spontaneously. Tiberius, however, concluded he had won a victory with the very arm in which Scipio had been beaten, the cavalry.Hannibal now knew that he could provoke Tiberius and made plans to entice him across the river, where his troops could be slaughtered without assistance from the camp.The cavalry action of the preceding day had inspired the Romans with confidence. Sempronius resolved to seek "a decisive battle as soon as possible" against scipio's advice,whose confidence had evaporated after his near death experience.

    The December of 218 BC was cold and snowy. Scipio was still recovering from his wounds but Sempronius was eager to come to blows with Hannibal to remove the barbarian from italian soil and to win glory – and especially as the time for the election of new consuls was drawing near.Hannibal's force was camped across the cold and flooded Trebbia River.Aware of the roman eagerness for battle he set his trap.'He had long ago noticed a place between the two camps, densely overgrown with brambles and other thorny plants, and here he proposed to lay a stratagem to surprise the enemy'.Hannibal put a detatchment of his best 1100 cavalry and 1100 infantry in ambush position behind the underbrush under cover of night and then set his plan in motion.

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    Numidian Provocation -
    On the following morning, Hannibal sent the rest of the Numidian cavalry beyond the Trebbia to harass the nearby Roman camp and retreat, so as to lure the Romans into a position from which Mago's hidden detachment could strike at the opportune moment. They rode up to the gates and discharged missiles at the men on duty. In response, an enraged Sempronius sent out the Roman cavalry to drive them off, and shortly afterwards sent out 6,000 javelin-throwers, the light-armed infantry, to cover the formation of the main line of battle behind them.The Roman army numbered 42,000 men .12,000 roman heavy infantry and 6,000 velites.Plus 20,000 Italian allied infantry -bulk of it heavy infantry.Supported by 4,000 cavalry.

    As snow was falling; the troops had not yet eaten their morning meal as they went across the fords of the Trebia, with the water breast-high and icy-cold. Arrived on the farther side, many Roman soldiers were so chilled that they could scarcely hold their weapons. Hannibal was ready to receive them. His men had eaten, rubbed themselves with oil before their camp-fires.The Numidian cavalry wheeled suddenly and attacked the Roman cavalry, strung out in pursuit. Sempronius withdrew them to the flanks. The Numidians then harassed the Roman light infantry screen of velites causing them to expend most of their missiles.They then withdraw to the flanks.

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    Deployment and Skirmish -
    Meanwhile Hannibal deployed his army with his light infantry and balearic slingers in front.Hannibal had total 40,000 men.20,000 medium and heavy infantry and 8,000 light infantry in his main battle line.2000 infantry and cavalry in ambush.10,000 cavalry divided on both flanks -5000 each.Plus the war elephants deployed on the flanks of the infantry.Behind his main infantry line of spaniards and celts who were outnumbered and outclassed by the roman heavy infantry he placed his elite african veteran pikemen on the wings.Mago's force lies in ambush.

    The light infantry of the lines skirmish ,but the velites lose definitively.Sempronius withdraws them and sends forward his legions.Hannibal also withdraws his light infantry to the flanks.Sempronius had placed his 4 roman legions(2 from scipio,2 from him) in the centre in triple line formation flanked by allied heavy infantry on the flanks.His left wing is covered by 3000 allied cavalry and right wing by a mere 1000 roman cavalry.He however has an overwhelming qualitative and quantitative superiority in heavy infantry.

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    Battle lines clash -
    1.Hannibal's cavalry attacks the roman and allied cavalry both from front and flanks.The numerically inferior roman horse is routed swiftly on both flanks in the face of this 2 pronged assault.

    2.Hannibal sends forward his elephants on each flank to mow through the ranks of the allied infantry on the flanks.They cause considerable damage and panic before most of them are killed by light-infantry detachments was sent out to stop them.These they dealt with by volleying darts and jabbing under the tail..The elephant attack however disrupts the infantry lines and creates significant gaps by trampling through the packed ranks.

    3.The Roman infantry juggernaut presses forward and engages the carthaginian centre.

    [​IMG]
    Trap is sprung -
    1.After routing the roman cavalry the carthaginian cavalry attack the roman rear and flanks,surrounding them.
    2.The african pikemen swing inwards and attack the exposed flanks of the allied italian infantry.They are already under attack from front and rear,and have been mauled by the elephant attack and begin to collapse.
    3.Mago's hidden force emerges from its ambush position and strikes at the roman rear,completing the envelopment from all sides.
    4.Sempronius and 10,000 veteran roman infantry seeing their flanks collapsing form themselves up in a hollow square and cut through the carthiginian centre,in a vindication of the power and discipline of the roman legions in a straight contest.They move east and recross the trebia at a distance and rejoin scipio at piacenza.Due to the heavy snow and rain reducing visibility and ,engagement with the remaining surrounded roman army the carthaginians do not pursue effectively.Hannibal surrounds the rest of the roman army on all sides and proceeds to annihilate them.

    Aftermath -
    The romans suffered huge casualities ,particularly in allies.28,000-32,000 men were killed.But 10,000 veteran roman infantry in the centre made it out.Hannibal suffered the loss of 4000 -5000 men -mostly infantry and some elephants.
    For a time, the Romans were spared attacks by the Carthaginians, as the latter were now suffering from exposure. A cold snap had set in and the precipitation had turned from rain to snow and ice. All the elephants but one died along with many men and horses.Hannibal was down to less than 20,000 men as his seasonal gallic allies had returned home for a period.An indecisive engagement was fought trying to take the roman camp ,followed by a roman counterattack on the carthaginian camp which ended in stalemate as the year came to an end and the Romans elected new consuls and raised new armies to Hannibal once and for all.

    The recipes for Hannibal's success at Trebia were surprise,deception,excellent use of terrain and an understanding of the enemy. Acc. to Walter Raliegh Sempronius lost because - First he engaged hannibal on flat ground while inferior in cavalry , Second he didn't properly reconnoiter the ground he fought in ,leading to being ambushed and finally he let his men fight half-frozen and hungry.

    NEXT: BATTLE OF LAKE TRASIMENE AND FABIAN STRATEGY
     
  10. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    BATTLE OF LAKE TRASIMENE

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    When news of trebia reached Rome,the alarmed senate mobilized its second wave of troops by raising four new legions. As hannibal and his army went into winter quarters,the romans elected their Consuls for the new year-Servilius geminus and Gaius Flaminius.The Senate commissioned Servilius to replace and take command of his army, while Flaminius was appointed to lead what remained of Sempronius’s army. These new legions, together with the remains of the former army, were divided between the two consuls.The majority of the recently conquered italian states were in the south,were hannibal expected to find allies.However to realize his aim of disintegrating the roman confederacy he had to invade southern italy.The Romans set about to prevent this.Two consular armies were stationed as blocking detatchments.Geminus was at Ariminium blocking the coastal road with 2 fresh legions and remnants of scipio's legions ,plus allied troops.Gaius Flaminius was at Arretium or Arezzo,blocking the path west towards Rome.The roman plan was Pin Hannibal down with one army and have another arrive and crush in between the 2,the same plan had worked against the Gauls at Telamon seven years earlier.
    There are about half a dozen possible routes over the mountains into the Arno valley into Etruria which is why Hannibal chose this route.Hannibal eluded Flaminius by marching through the presumably impassable Arno valley marshes and swamps.He contracted a disease in the swamps that cost hannibal his left eye.All the surviving elephants also died.Hannibal intended to lure Flaminius' force into a pitched battle and destroy it before he could link up with Geminus.
    To accomplish this he proceeded to ravage the rich countryside in full view of flaminius and even had the temerity to march right past his camp.Even then however Flaminius would not be goaded into battle even though he was enraged.
    Unable to goad Flaminius into battle, Hannibal marched boldly around his opponent’s left flank and effectively cut Flaminius off from Rome.Now as Hannibal was between him and Rome and no force standing between him and the city,Flaminius was forced to move.This was not an impulsive move as to crush Hannibal the Romans needed to follow him but at a distance to avoid a premature battle.Flaminius has been sometimes portrayed as rash,but this is most likely because he was a populist and a non-patrician.He had infact won a great victory over the gauls a few years earlier and was a noted roman commander of the time.

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    (Terrain of ambush site)

    BATTLE OF LAKE TRASIMENE :

    As Hannibal passed Lake Trasimene, he came to a place very suitable for an ambush, and hearing that Flaminius had broken camp and was pursuing him, made preparations for the impending battle. To the north was a series of heavily forested hills where the Malpasso Road passed along the north side of Lake Trasimene. Along the hill-bordered skirts of the lake, Hannibal camped where he was in full view of anyone entering the northern defile, and spent the night arranging his troops for battle. Below the camp, he placed his heavy infantry upon a slight elevation. Here, they had ample ground from which they could charge down upon the head of the Roman column on the left flank, when it should reach the position.His cavalry and gallic infantry were concealed in the hills in the depth of the wooded valley from which the Romans would first enter, so that they could quickly sally out and close the entrance, blocking the Roman route of retreat. Then he posted his Light troops at intervals along the heights overlooking the plain, with orders to keep well hidden in the woods until signalled to attack.

    In addition, the night before the battle commenced, Hannibal ordered his men to light campfires on the hills of Tuoro, at a considerable distance, so as to convince the Romans that his forces were further away than they actually were.

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    The morning of June 21, the Roman troops marched eastward along the road running near the northern edge of the lake,the deep morning mist and wooded hills obscuring the carthaginians from roman view.Flaminius pushed his men hard and hurried up the column in the rear. He had over 30,000 men.

    Hannibal then sent a small skirmish force to draw the vanguard away from the front of the line, in order to split the Roman forces. Once all the Romans had at last marched through the foggy, narrow defile and entered the plains skirting the lake, trumpets were blown, signalling the general attack.

    The Carthaginian cavalry and infantry swept down from their concealed positions in the surrounding hills, blocked the road and engaged the unsuspecting Romans from three sides. Surprised and outmanoeuvred, the Romans did not have time to draw up in formation, and were forced to fight a desperate hand-to-hand battle in open order. The Romans were quickly split into three parts. The westernmost was attacked by the Carthaginian cavalry and forced into the lake, leaving the other two groups with no way to retreat. The centre, including Flaminius, stood its ground, but was cut down by Hannibal's gauls after three hours of heavy combat.

    In less than four hours, most of the Roman troops were killed.The lake trasimene ran red with blood. The Roman advance guard saw little combat and, once the disaster to their rear became obvious, fought their way through the skirmishers and out of the forest. Of the initial Roman force of about 30,000, about 15,000 were either killed in battle or drowned while trying to escape into the lake including Flaminius himself, who was slain by a Gaul with an old vendetta. Another 10,000 are reported to have made their way back to Rome by various means, and the rest were captured. Hannibal's losses were 1,500. About 6,000 Romans escaped, under the cover of fog, only to be captured by the numidian cavalry under Maharbal the following day.In just four hours of fighting hannibal had dealt a total defeat on the roman army in one of the greatest ambushes in military history.Furthermore 4,000 Roman cavalry reinforcements from Geminus were also intercepted and destroyed just a couple days later to add to the pain.Again the chief causes of Hannibal's success had been deception,surprise and an eye for terrain while the romans had yet agains underestimated their enemy and failed to recon properly.It cost Flaminius his army and his life.

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    THE ROMAN RESPONSE - DICTATORSHIP :

    Terror and panic gripped Rome at the news of Trasimene.The senate appointed Fabius Maximus Dictator by suspending the constitution for 6 months.Fabius was 60 years old,had been consul twice.A veteran of the first punic war and had celebrated a triumph of the gauls.Fabius put into practice the 'Fabian strategy'-To avoid pitched battle at all costs and follow and harass hannibal's supply lines and grind him down through attrition until the roman army could be rebuilt.He correctly appreciated that Rome's huge manpower reserves would ensure she could not be defeated if a such a strategy could be employed successfully. Meanwhile he also raised four new legions and took over Geminus's legions.With a grand total of 47,000 infantry and 2500 cavalry(romans had suffered massive losses in this department) and began to shadow Hannibal.

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    While Hannibal was close to Rome the city still had a garrison and large forces available on the field and Hannibal didn't have the manpower to besiege and take rome while under a potential 2-front attack.So he had crossed the Apennines mountains again and moved to eastern half of Italy while moving south.Fabius kept his force on the mountanous terrain shadowing Hannibal's line of march while sending out raiding parties to harass the carthaginian foragers.Trying to goad Fabius into battle,Hannibal ravaged the countryside.When it became clear he wouldn't oblige,Hannibal intended to create a provocation which would compel him to fight.Crossing the Apennine mountains again into western Italy he passed via Beneventum and into Campania ,dominated by Capua -the second largest city in Italy,and the very fertile agricultural region which served as a bread basket.(See map)

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    BATTLE OF AGER FALERNUS : MASTER OF DECEPTION
    Hannibal had entered Campania through Beneventum, alongTelesia and into the Falernian fields.After going through Allifae, Callifae, across the Volturnus River to Cales and then down on the plain the Carthaginians finally arrived near Casilinum.Hannibal let loose his soldiers on the rich land,seeking to goad Fabius who remained immovable,staying on the mountanous terrain above but refusing to descend into the plains.Hannibal had tried all kinds of provocations to get Fabius to fight, he had even spared the property of Fabius while devastating all else, to cast doubts about him.However the Carthaginian army couldn't be sustained in the winter in the area indefintely.Hannibal had entered the region to prove Rome's inability to protect her allies and on news that Capua might defect.But this had not taken place.Now he was in a potential trap.Being positioned north of the Volturnus River, and with all the bridges in Roman hands, there were only three that Hannibal could take to leave the river plain.(See map)
    Fabius first reinforced the Roman garrison at Casilinium, which guarded one such bridge, and Cales on the south of Ager Falernus. His second in command Minucius took up position to the north of the plain to watch both the via Latina and via Appia with a detachment, while Taenum was also garrisoned. The main Roman army camped near Mount Massicus, north of the plain to the west of Minucius, ready to support his position. A detachment of 4,000 troops was sent to watch the passes of Mount Callicula to the east of the plain near Allifae, one of the possible passes through which Hannibal might choose to leave the plain.Having covered all possible routes Hannibal could take to leave the plain, Fabius sat tight wait until the Carthaginians ran out of supplies and then were forced to launch a direct attack on unfavourable terrain where their cavalry would be unuseable.Finally Fabius thought he had the fox trapped,but just as he thought he had his man - Hannibal totally fooled the romans once again.

    The Carthaginian army finally moved east towards the pass beside Mount Callicula through which they had originally entered the plain. Fabius, anticipating the move, had blocked the pass with 4,000 troops, and encamped on a nearby hill with the main army.Minucius then joined this army with his contingent.Hannibal made careful preparations to break out of the trap, but not through a pitched battle as the Romans had hoped. The day before Hannibal put his plan in motion, he had most of his men eat a hearty supper and go to bed early while leaving the campfires burning. 2,000 oxen from the captured herds were selected, along with 2,000 camp followers to drive the cattle and 2,000 spearmen to guard the whole gang, cattle and all. Dry wood and fagots were tied on the horns of the oxen. An officer called Hasdrubal, in charge of army supplies oversaw the whole operation. Once the preparations were complete, this group was to move towards the pass being guarded by 4,000 Romans. However, combat with the Romans or capturing the pass was not to be their objective. There was a saddle below the camp of Fabius to the east, and on the north west of the pass, at the foot of Mount Callicula. The Carthaginian spearmen were to capture and hold the saddle.
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    At the appointed time, after the third part of the night had ended, the Carthaginian army roused itself and made ready to march as silently as possible. The picked force with the oxen marched to the saddle, and when they approached the slopes, the wood and faggot tied to the horns were lit by the camp followers. The terrified oxen began to flee and stampede up the slopes of the saddle, creating an illusion of thousands of torches moving up the mountainside. The lights and sounds of the spectacle attracted the attention of the Romans in the camp of Fabius, and also the Roman detachment guarding the pass. The reaction of the forces were different.(Above brown arrow is feint with oxen)

    Fabius refused to move from his camp despite the pleas of his officers and the urgings of Minucius. The Roman army made ready and stood at arms but did not move out. Fabius did not want to fight a night battle, fearing a Punic trick to draw the Romans into a battle over broken, uneven ground, where Roman infantry will lose their edge as their lines would be broken, and communication would be hampered. Hannibal had previously hoodwinked and destroyed two Roman armies at Trebbia and Trasimene and the cautious Fabius did not want his army to be the third. Thus, although Hannibal still managed to trick the Romans, the Romans only suffered loss of face but not the loss of another army.

    The Roman force stationed at the pass, with no Fabius to restrain them, deserted their posts at the head of the pass to attack what they thought was the main Carthaginian army trying to outflank their position and escape across the saddle. As soon as the Romans left their position, Hannibal's main army left camp, with the African infantry leading, the cavalry, the baggage train and the cattle herds marching in line after them, and Celts and Iberian infantry guarding the rear. The Carthaginian army moved through the pass unmolested, as Fabius did not challenge them. The Roman force attacking the saddle was bewildered when they confronted the lights on the saddle. The cattle ran amok, breaking their lines, the Carthaginian spearmen ambushed them, and a wild melee ensued. As dawn broke to make matters clear, a group of Iberian infantry was seen scaling the saddle walls to join the ongoing pandemonium on the saddle. The Iberians, being experts in Mountain warfare engaged the now scattered Roman soldiers and killed over 1,000 of their number, and managed to rescue the Carthaginian camp followers, the spearmen guard and some of the cattle well before the main Roman army could intervene.

    The political clout of Fabius began to wane after this incident, as displeasure with his tactics grew in Rome. Hannibal, after escaping from the trap he had gotten himself into, marched east towards Apulia, ravaging the Roman estates at will. Fabius cautiously followed him still keeping to the Fabian strategy. He would order towns burned, and crops destroyed in the path of Hannibal. The scorched earth policy destroyed the best Roman economic assets,and the 'unroman' strategy of Fabius earned him the derisive nickname Cunctator or 'Delayer'. Hannibal marched east through Samnium into Apulia, and selected the town of Geronium as his winter base.

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    BATTLE OF GERONIUM : ROMAN NEAR -ESCAPE


    Minicius's Aggression - While the Carthaginians had been busy at Geronium, Fabius had left Minucius in charge of the Roman army with instructions to follow the ‘Fabian Strategy’ and journeyed to Rome to observe some religious duties and shore up political support.Minucius, who had always advocated a more forward strategy against Hannibal, moved down from the hills after a few days and set up a new camp in the plain of Larinum to the north of Geronium. The Romans then began harassing the Carthaginian foragers from their new camp as Minucius sought to provoke Hannibal into battle. Hannibal in response moved near the Roman camp from Geronium with two thirds of his army, built a temporary camp, and occupied a hill overlooking the Roman camp with 2,000 spearmen.The mobility of the Carthaginians was restricted at this time as their cavalry horses were being rested. This had also deprived Hannibal of his best weapon against the Romans, a fact which would come into play soon. Minucius promptly attacked and drove back the spearmen posted on the hill, and then moved his camp to the top of the captured hill.(3rd white line from top,the white lines denote position of roman camps,box is hannibal's main camp)

    Responding to the Roman move, the Carthaginians reduced the number of their foragers for a few days and kept the army in readiness within their camp situated near the Roman camp.But Hannibal was eventually forced to send out parties in increasing numbers for foraging. The Romans, seizing their chance, sent out light infantry and horsemen through the back gate of their camp to cut off and kill a large number of Carthaginian foragers, who were scattered all over the plain of Geronium, while Minucius himself led the infantry in strength towards the temporary Carthaginian camp itself, where most of the Carthaginians had taken refuge after being worsted in the initial clash. Hannibal, with his foragers under attack and his camp in danger of being assaulted, led out a sortie against the attacking Roman infantry.

    With only a third of the army present and most of their cavalry absent, the outnumbered Carthaginians fought a small-scale battle not of their own choosing, and mostly got the worst of the engagement.Carthaginians are said to have suffered 6,000 casualties, the Romans about 5,000 during the whole affair. This was the only time Hannibal had been drawn into large scale skirmishing and had surrendered the initiative to the enemy during the war.


    Hannibal's Response -
    As the Carthaginian army was divided between 2 camps while the Roman one was concentrated.Staying in the current position would lead to constant skirmishing, and regardless of the results, a war of attrition was in the Roman favour. Hannibal chose to reduce the risk to his army and fell back to the main camp at Geronium. Minucius immediately occupied the deserted Carthaginian camp.Elated by this small success the Roman senate awarded Minicius equal powers to Fabius.Minicius chose to divide the army encamped one and a half miles south of where Fabius camped rather than accept command on alternate days.Hannibal informed of this chose to bait the aggresive Minicius into a trap and destroy his forces.

    The ground between the Carthaginian and Roman camps was flat, treeless and barren, with a low ridge sitting midway between the camps. There were hollows and dead patches of land in the ground behind and beside the hill where soldiers could hide without being noticed. Hannibal selected a picked body of 5,000 infantry and 500 cavalry, and ordered them to conceal themselves in groups of 200-300 in the hollows and dead ground on the night before the battle. The skill and discipline of the Carthaginians is evident through their flawless execution of this potentially hazardous operation. At dawn, a contingent of Carthaginian light infantry took position on the hill in full view of the Romans.Minicius sent a group of velites to drive them off. In turn, Hannibal reinforced the hill with just enough soldiers to fight the Romans to a stalemate. This caused Minucius to send the Roman and Italian allied cavalry up the hill, which Hannibal immediately countered with his Numidian and heavy Carthaginian cavalry, again seeking a stalemate. With the cavalry engaged, Minucius lost his best tool for scouting the battleground and discovering the trap Hannibal had set for him. After skirmishing for a while, the Roman cavalry slowly began to give ground against their better skilled opponents.Minucius, observing the situation, now called out his four legions and marched towards and then up the hill. Hannibal had also deployed his infantry beyond the hill and now advanced to meet the advancing Romans. The sequence and timing of events, all planned and orchestrated by Hannibal, did not give the Roman general any time to examine the ground or scout the area. Fabius, who was watching the events unfold from his camp, called his army to arms but did not move out to help his fellow general.

    Just as the Roman infantry commanded by Minucius reached the hill and was moving up the slopes, the Roman cavalry broke and began to scatter. The Roman light troops, already hard pressed, were also driven back on the marching legions. The Roman battle formation was disrupted, and before the Romans could regain cohesion, the Carthaginians concealed in the hollows emerged and fell on the exposed flanks and rear of the Roman battle line. Hannibal and his infantry struck the now unbalanced Romans from the front before the shock of the ambush faded or Minucius could take corrective action. Attacked from all sides, some of the Romans broke ranks and fled, while the others became surrounded and were fighting for their lives. A disaster for Rome again loomed,but Minicius was only saved by the timely arrival of Fabius's army at which Hannibal withdrew as it was not in his original plan to fight him.The romans had suffered heavy casualities and escaped disaster by a whisker,Minicius having learnt his lesson gave up his powers to Fabius and called him 'father'.

    NEXT : CANNAE - THE ANNIHILATION BATTLE
     
  11. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    BATTLE OF CANNAE

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    ''The Senate determined to bring eight legions into the field, which had never been done at Rome before, each legion consisting of five thousand men besides allies. ...Most of their wars are decided by one consul and two legions, with their quota of allies; and they rarely employ all four at one time and on one service. But on this occasion, so great was the alarm and terror of what would happen, they resolved to bring not only four but eight legions into the field.'' -Polybius

    ROMAN MOBILIZATION :

    Unimpressed by Fabius,and feeling the economic pinch the romans didn't renew his dictatorship and instead now took an unprecedented step and ordered the greatest mass mobilization in their history.With their patience totally exasperated and fearing defection of its allies-in 216 BC Rome decided to end the hanibalic threat once and for all.To do this it raised the greatest army in its history.Eight overstrength legions(each 5000 strong), some 40,000 Roman soldiers and an estimated 2,400 cavalry, formed the nucleus of this massive new army. As each legion was accompanied by an equal number of allied troops, and allied cavalry numbered around 4,000, the army that faced Hannibal was likely no fewer than 90,000.Ordinarily, each of the two consuls would command his own portion of the army, but since the two armies were combined into one, Roman law required them to alternate their command on a daily basis.

    In the spring of 216 BC, Hannibal took the initiative and seized the large supply depot at Cannae, in the Apulian plain, placing himself between the Romans and their crucial source of supply.The consuls, resolving to confront Hannibal, marched southward in search of him. After two days' march, they found him on the left bank of the Aufidas river , and encamped six miles (10 km) away.During the approach Varro had succesfully repelled a small carthaginian ambush which greatly increased roman self-confidence.The romans camped two-thirds of the army east of the Aufidus River, sending the remainder to fortify a position on the opposite side. The purpose of this second camp was to cover the foraging parties from the main camp and harass those of the enemy.The two armies stayed in their respective locations for two days. During the second day (August 1), Hannibal, aware that Varro would be in command the following day, left his camp and offered battle, but Paullus refused.On the next day Varro accepted.(Varro is blamed sometimes,but necessary to remember Polybius was a client of the scipio family and paullus was his patron's grandfather)The sheer size of the roman army intimidated the carthaginian commanders,an officer called gisgo voiced his concerns to hannibal.Hannibal is said to have replied-"another thing that has escaped your notice, Gisgo, is even more amazing—that although there are so many of them, there is not one among them called Gisgo.''demonstrating his self-cofidence.

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    STRENGTH :

    The roman army on the field would have numbered over 90,000 - 75,000 infantry(half-roman and half allied) and 6400 cavalry on the field with a further 10,000 infantry guarding the camp.This was the greatest army rome had ever put on the field.The scale of preparations can be ascertained by the fact that between a quarter and a third of the Senate was present at Cannae, and most of the remaining senators had sons or other close relatives with the legions(among them scipio the younger).

    Hannibal's army was greatly outnumbered and could count on 50,000 men in strength.40,000 infantry in all - 8,000 veteran african pikemen, 6,000 spanish medium and heavy infantry, 14,000 gallic infantry and 12,000 more light and medium troops.He had a superiority in cavalry - 10,000 horsemen.4000 numidians,4000 gauls and 2000 spanish.

    To the Romans it seemed a perfect battle spot.Hannibal seemed to have little room to maneuver and no means of retreat as he was deployed with the Aufidus River to his rear. When pressed hard by the Romans' superior numbers, the Carthaginians would fall back to the river and, with no room to maneuver, would be cut down in panic. Bearing in mind that Hannibal's two previous victories had been largely decided by his trickery and ruse, the field at Cannae was clear, with no possibility of hidden troops being brought to bear in an ambush.The compressed battle space gave hannibal's cavalry little space for manuevre,and would be forced into frontal attacks.Romans had enormous superiority in numbers and had chosen the battlefield.The overstrength legions could be counted upon to punch through the carthaginian line as they had done in previous battles,but even more quickly and decisively.

    So why did,hannibal choose such a battlefield?He clearly understood the Roman battering ram approach.And while by densely packing their legions on the compressed space meant the carthaginian cavalry had little space for manuever it also meant roman numbers were not used to extend their own line and attempt to outflank hannibal(who due to vastly less number of troops couldn't keep up).Also the sun would be in the roman's eyes as they advanced.

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    Deployment - Romans deploy into battle formation with the 2400 Roman cavalry on the right, the Roman and allied heavy infantry in the centre and the 4000 allied horse on the left.The flanks rested on the river and the high ground around Cannae.The roman infantry deployed unusually deep in the aces triplex.The maniples themselves were overstrength at 140-150 men instead of the normal 120.but chose extra depth rather than breadth for the infantry in hopes of breaking quickly through the center of Hannibal's line. Varro knew how the Roman infantry had managed to penetrate Hannibal's center at Trebia and Trasimene, and he planned to recreate this on an even greater scale. The principes were stationed behind the hastati at lesser than normal intervals ,ready to push forward at first contact to ensure the Roman infantry proved irresistable.If the Punic centre could be crushed, then it would matter little if the Roman wings at last gave way, for on their own the Carthaginian cavalry would not be able to do much more than harass the legions.Varro commanded the allied cavalry and Paullus the Roman cavalry.The task of the roman cavalry was to delay long enough for the centre to finish the job.Geminus,the previous year's consul led the infantry in the centre.

    Hannibal deploys his spaniards and gauls in the centre in alternate units ,the veteran iberians to steady the fickle gauls.Behind the wings of his infantry line to the rear and unseen from view he places his veteran african pikemen in 2 bodies of 4000 each.He deploys his cavalry unevenly -massing all his heavy gallic and spanish cavalry on his left flank over 6000 strong to achieve local superiority there.On the right flank he leaves the Numidians with 3000-4000 light cavalry.

    Now Hannibal adopted a novel formation as the armies moved to meet each other..As the armies advanced on one another, Hannibal gradually extended the center of his line, as Polybius described -

    "After thus drawing up his whole army in a straight line, he took the central companies of Hispanics and Celts and advanced with them, keeping the rest of them in contact with these companies, but gradually falling off, so as to produce a crescent-shaped formation, the line of the flanking companies growing thinner as it was prolonged, his object being to employ the Africans as a reserve force and to begin the action with the Hispanics and Celts."


    The density of the troops greatest at the centre,then falling away towards both gently refused flanks.The main goal of this formation,was to break the forward momentum of the legionary advance and slow them down to buy enough time to allow for events on other parts of the battlefield to unfold.Mago commands the centre,and here Hannibal places himself.He intends to fight with the centre encouraging them and controlling their withdrawal,the nature of the formation is meant to suck in the roman attack like a elastic rubber band,where if overextended Hannibal intended to take the romans exposed flanks from the sides with his unseen african infantry which remained hidden.Meanwhile his cavalry would rout the roman flanks.Hasdrubal(not brother) commanded the heavy horse and Maharbal the numidian cavalry.In effect the greatest roman army ever is walking into a gigantic ambush formed in open sight,and yet invisible.

    Initial moves -
    The light skirmisher screens of both sides clashed and exchanged projectiles for a period,without any conclusive results as the main roman body approached.The dust and the skirmisher screen had prevented the romans from effectively viewing their enemy and in any case they were highly confident in their numbers and strength.Before the infantry lines clashed Hasdrubal led his Spanish and Gallic horsemen in a direct charge against the Roman cavalry on the right.

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    The cavalry fighting occurred in such a confined space, between the river and the flank of the Roman infantry, making it impossible for either side to outflank the other.Instead the Carthaginians attacked head on into the outnumbered Roman cavalry, and a brutal combat ensued.Many dismounted to fight and the romans were gradually pushed back by the weight of Hasdrubal's assault.The Roman cavalry is routed and driven off the field by Hasdrubal's cavalrymen,an injured Paullus escapes and joins the infantry in the centre.Maenwhile on the right flank Maharbal's Numidians pin down the allied Italian horsemen with their peculiar hit-and -run style of fighting.Here no side is able to gain an advantage.Both sides play for time.The numidians waiting on Hannibal's plan,and the romans on their infantry to crush the centre.

    Meanwhile in the centre the Roman infantry move forward and crash into carthaginian forward ranks after throwing their pila.Hannibal's decision to advance the middle of his line and provoke a battle first in the very centre acted to reduce even more the width of the initial contact.The hastati and the spaniard/gauls engage in fierce fighting.The roman infantry juggernaut advances rythmically.

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    Roman Assault -
    The momentum of the roman attack is slowed down by the peculiar formation.They also have to adjust to the alternate fighting styles of the celts and iberians.One fights with a slashing long sword,the other the thrusting short sword.More roman troops enter the fight.The fresh Principes reinforce the hastati and the gauls and spaniards are slwoly and inexorably driven back(in effect straightening out the carthaginian centre).

    ''at first equally matched in strength and confidence, the Gauls and Spaniards stood firm for as long as their formation held. At length the Romans, surging forward again and again on an even front and in dense array drove back the
    advanced wedge formed by the enemy which was too thin and weak to hold.'' -Livy

    Legions to the immediate sides of the centre legions are instinctively drawn inward towards the nearest enemy,that is the thrust out carthaginian centre.The compression of the romans towards the centre of the line thus begins.Hannibal fights amongst the men in the centre inspiring hem and controlling the slow withdrawal under pressure.Meanwhile Hasdrubal reforms and rallies his cavalry.He sends one contingent to keep up pursuit of the surviving roman cavalry,most of which are wiped out.

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    Trap is sprung -
    Carthaginian crescent shape changes as roman pressure on the centre builds and more and more roman reserves are pumped in to puncture the line.At first the convex shape is pounded flat,and then pushed back and back into a concave shape.Hannibal and mago move around the line shouting encouragement to resist a while longer to gain every precious second.Hannibal had turned the strength of the Roman infantry into a weakness. While the front ranks were gradually advancing, the bulk of the Roman troops began to lose their cohesion, as they began crowding themselves into the growing gap.With the enemy line and about to collapse,the romans sense victory and the overcrowded roman centre and reserves surge forward,rapidly filling the salient.Finally the carthaginian centre collapses as the gauls and spaniards begin to rout under the irresistable pressure of the roman legions.Paullus, Geminus and the other officers with the infantry see that the plan was working and redoubled their efforts to pour more of their reserves into the gap, giving the enemy no opportunity to rally. In the centre of the battlefield a great mass of Roman infantrymen some tens of thousands strong pressed forward to complete the rout of the enemy foot and pursue them. In the haste of this breakthrough however,and the heavy combat before it the formed order of the roman centre had disappeared infantry were now more like a crowd than an organized body divided into distinct sub-units closely controlled by their officers.

    As the Romans taste victory ,they suddenly face the hitherto unseen african pikemen on their exposed flanks who with excellent discipline wheel inwards,lower their pikes in a phalanx and crash into the overextended and disorganized mass from both sides as the romans are stunned.The Roman momentum is evaporated and in total surprise the advance is halted under the weight of this new attack.

    Maenwhile,in accordance with Hannibal's plan Hasdrubal leads his reformed cavalry circling around the roman rear and
    attacks the Allied italian cavalry engaged with the numidians in the rear.The Italian cavalry is routed.

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    Double Envelopment -
    The whole roman line loses its momentum,as the flanks densely packed due to the deep maniples try to unsuccesfully turn and face this new menace.The routing Celts and Iberians see the Romans under attack from both sides,Hannibal and Mago rally the survivors of the centre and the light infantry and again join the fray,thus plugging the gap in the centre.Faced with attacks from all sides,and so densely packed that they can't effectively wield their weapons-the legions begin to fall back.Hasdrubal having left the pursuit of the allied cavalry to the numidians now reform and charge into the rear of the roman army,cutting off their final escape route.Surrounded from all sides,unable to use their weapons due to lack of space-the depth of their own formations now turned against them-the romans are slowly slaugtered throughout the day as the Carthaginians tighten the noose.Paullus is cut down with his men.

    "as their outer ranks were continually cut down, and the survivors forced to pull back and huddle together, they were finally all killed where they stood." -Polybius


    The entire roman force-Rome's greatest ever field army is annihilated.Hannibal had won an unbelievable victory.

    LOSSES -
    It was the greatest battlefield victory of all time.Hannibal had successfully executed a move thought nigh-impossible - The double envelopment of an army superior in both numbers and quality.

    The roman losses had been catastrophic.55,000-70,000 infantry killed. 2300 cavalry dead. Further 4500 infantry and cavalry were captured shortly afterwards.80 roman senators,29 out of 38 military trbunes and 300 noblemen were killed in the battle,including the Consul Paullus,Minicius(same as the one from Geronium) and Geminus,the consul of last year.Cream of Rome's political leadership was completely wiped out in a single day.
    Hannibal lost 5700 killed and more wounded.4000 gauls and 1500 spanish and africans.Plus 200 cavalry.

    Reasons for Roman Defeat -
    1>Know Your Enemy - Hannibal knew exactly what the romans intended to do,their familiar battering ram assault being all too predictable to him.He turned his enemies greatest strength-the depth and weight of their infantry into their greatest weakness.

    2>Deception -
    Hannibal's deception was masterly.He kept his african reserves well hidden from Roman eyes behind his cavalry.

    3>Surprise - Hannibal once again achieved total tactical surprise with his libyan phalanxes.He knew the battlefield didn't allow for ambushes or outflanking.His unique deployment made sure that the romans ended up outflanking themselves.It was a gigantic ambush in open sight.

    4>Leadership - The carthaginian senior commanders performed very well.Hasdrubal performed a complicated cavalry manuevre as well as reorganizing his cavalry after 2 charges.Maharbal and mago too followed their instructions to the letter.The timing of the carthaginians was superb.And on top was the genius of hannibal.

    5>Concentration and economy of Force - Hannibal unlike the romans didn't split his cavalry equally,but concentrated them on his left to gain a decisive local superiority.He also kept his trump card uncommitted till the decisive moment.On the other hand,the crescent shaped formation with 2 refused flanks was the embodiment of economy of force to delay the romans with minimal forces.

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    AFTERMATH :

    Cannae sent shockwaves through Rome.It was the republic's Darkest hour.In panic the senate gathered manpower from whatever source it could- criminals,freed slaves.Forces recalled from other fronts.Full mobilization of all male manpower was declared.The walls were fortified.But hannibal never marched on rome.He sent and envoy to the senate offering moderate terms.But the senate refused to even meet him.Any other state of the ancient world would have collapsed after a series of such crushing defeats - but the romans decided to fight on.

    There has been great debate as to why hannibal didn't march on Rome immediately.Indeed maharbal urged him to saying- '' Hannibal you know how to gain a victory ,but not how to use it''.
    Later roman scholars claimed this decision saved Rome.However recent scholars on closer inspection contend that hannibal just didn't have the manpower to lay siege to massive city like Rome with its defenses while still supplying it ,and Rome still had manpower reserves left.A failed siege of Rome would have nullified the shock of cannae.However the psychological impact of Hannibal's army outside Rome's gates could well have shocked the romans into a treaty.The debate continues.

    Much of Sicily and all of Southern italy revolted from Rome after cannae.But her closest latin allies and those in the north - over 50% of Rome's manpower reserve remained loyal upsetting hannibal's calculation.He had been a hundred years too late.These had been absorbed into the roman confederacy long ago and accepted the romans over the foreign carthaginians.Rome's Hydra like ability to come up with more men manifested itself again.
    After cannae the romans never again tried to defeat hannibal in pitched battle with a single large army.Under Fabius again,they utilized several independent armies, still outnumbering the Punic forces in numbers of armies and soldiers. The war still had occasional battles, but was focused on taking strongpoints and constant fighting according to the Fabian strategy.

    When hannibal's army moved to defend one allied italian town,the several idependent armies of rome would avoid pitched battle and concentrate on another carthaginian italian ally.All the while harassing his supply lines.The carthaginian politicians abandoned hannibal in italy,prioritizing reinforcements to other sectors.
    Still there was one moment when the fate of the world hung in the balance.Hasdrubal,hannibal's brother arrived from iberia through the land route and attempted to link up with hannibal.If he succeeded hannibal would finally have enough manpower to directly attack Rome.However as luck would have it the romans intercepted hasdrubal's message to hannibal telling of his arrival in italy.Hasdrubal's force was intercepted and destroyed at the Battle of Metaurus by a desperate roman army-hannibal didn't even know he was there until it was too late and didn't move.For 16 yrs hannibal's army in italy rampaged through italy,abandoned by his home country.He reamined undefeated winning more than 20 battles - but these were battles for strongpoints and cities.Not pitched battles of the earlier scale.On atleast 2 occasions more he destroyed whole roman armies.(not of the cannae scale)

    As Roman armies defeated carthage's remaining generals in iberia and Scipio africanus invaded africa and defeated 2 more carthaginian armies,the carthaginian senate recalled hannibal from italy,without most of his veteran army which was left behind for a last hopeless battle with hastily raised levies against scipio's veterans and the now defected numidian cavalry,allied to rome at Zama.His first and only defeat.
    Hannibal remains a tragic hero of sorts.A man so brilliant that he single handedly brought the greatest superpower of his time to the brink of destruction by sheer force of will and imagination.Rome never forgot Hannibal,even hundreds of years later in the heydays of the roman empire after carthage had faded from memory-a crisis was answered with the rallying cry - 'Hannibal at the Gates'
    He remained to history Rome's greatest enemy and her worst nightmare.In this hannibal kept his oath.

    LEGACY :

    Cannae remained the holy grail for tactical perfection for future commanders.From Frederick,Moltke and as late as the gulf war all tried to recreate a modern cannae.Germany's masterplan for World war I the Schlieffen Plan was to be the german general staff's modern recreation of cannae.The scale of Hannibal's achievement can be measured by the fact that the other 2 great powers of the day - Macedon and The mighty Seleucids(who ruled over the entire middle east save egypt) capitulated to the Romans after defeat in a single major battle against a single roman army(very shortly after end of 2nd punic war and with same armies and commanders) which had landed on their territory.Yet these same Romans were so afraid of Hannibal that they let him run rampant over Italy for 16 years without support from home,with a polygot mercenary force -during this time he destroyed at least 5 whole roman armies -the greatest of them at Cannae.Hannibal remains one of history's greatest commanders, and if a man is to be measured by his enemies, arguably the greatest of antiquity.

    Sources -
    Osprey Campaign - Cannae
    Cannae - Adrian Goldsworthy
    Greece and Rome at War - Peter Conolly
    Osprey -Roman Battle tactics 390 -110 BC
    Military history Magazine
    Roman Warfare -Adrian Goldsworthy
    Osprey Warrior -Roman Republican Legionary
    Net sources


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