Table of content:
- II. The SECOND Punic War
- II.001 Carthaginian Economy
- II.002 Carthaginian Army
- II.003 Hannibal – Military Genius (247~182[*]BCE)
- II.004 To Achieve the Impossible (218[*]BCE)
- II.005 Hannibal’s Invasion of Italy (218-201[*]BCE)
- II-218BCE-A Battle of Lilybaeum
- II-218BCE-B Capture of Malta
- II-218BCE-C Battle of the Rhone Crossing
- II-218BCE-D Battle of Ticinus
- II-218BCE-E Battle of the Trebia (Trebia River)
- II-218BCE-F Battle of Cissa
- II-217BCE-A Battle of the Ebro River
- II-217BCE-B Battle of Lake Trasimene
- II-217BCE-C Battle of Ager Falernus
- II-217BCE-D Battle of Geronium
- II-216BCE-A Battle of Cannae
- II-216BCE-B Battle of Silva Litana
- II-216BCE-C Battle of Nola (First)
- II-215BCE-A Battle of Ibera
- II-215BCE-B Battle of Nola (Second)
- II-215BCE-C Battle of Decimomannu
- II-214BCE-A Battle of Nole (Third)
- II-214BCE-B Battle of Beneventum
- II-214BCE-C Battle of Castrum Album
- II-213BCE-A Siege of Syracuse
- II-212BCE-A Battle of Tarentum (First)
- II-212BCE-B Battle of Beneventum (Second)
- II-212BCE-C Battle of Capua (First)
- II-212BCE-D Battle of the Silarus
- II-212BCE-E Battle of Herdonia (First)
- II-211BCE-A Siege of Capua (Second)
- II-211BCE-B Battle of Upper Baetis (Hispania)
- II-211BCE-C Siege of Leontini (Sicily)
- II-210BCE-A Battle of Herdonia (Second)
- II-210BCE-B Battle of Numistro
- II-210BCE-C Battle of Sapriportis
- II-209BCE-A Battle of Cartagena (Hispania)
- II-209BCE-B Battle of Canusium
- II-209BCE-C Battle of Tarentum (Second)
- II-208BCE-A Battle of Baecula (Hispania)
- II-208BCE-B Battle of Petelia
- II-208BCE-C Battle of Clupea
- II-207BCE-A Battle of Grumentum
- II-207BCE-B Battle of Metaurus
- II-207BCE-C Battle of Uttica
- II-206BCE-A Battle of Ilipa (Hispania)
- II-206BCE-B Mutiny at Sucro (Hispania)
- II-206BCE-C Battle of Carteai (Hispania)
- II-205BCE Scipio prepares his African Campaign
- II-204BCE-A Siege of Utica (Africa)
- II-204BCE-B Battle(s) of Crotona
- II-203BCE-A Battle of Insubria
- II-203BCE-B Battle of Utica (Africa)
- II-203BCE-C Battle of the Great Plains (Africa)
- II-203BCE-D Battle of Cirta (Africa)
- II-203BCE-E Battle of Castra Cornelia (Africa)
- II-202BCE-A Battle of Zama (Africa)
II. Punic Wars / Second Punic War (218-201[*]BCE)
VID-001: Punic Wars – Countdown to Battle (280 – 264 BC)
VID-002: The Punic Wars – (300 – 225 BC)
VID-003: Lecture 4.4: The Punic Wars
VID-004: The 2nd Punic War in 3 Battles
VID-005: The Second Punic War and Carthage (Garrett Fagan)
POD-001: The Punic Wars
The Second Punic War, [218 BCE – 201 BCE], was the second of three wars fought between Carthage and Rome, the two main powers of the western Mediterranean in the 3rd century BC.
For seventeen years, the two states struggled for supremacy, primarily in Italy and Iberia, but also on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia and, towards the end of the war, in North Africa.
After immense material and human losses on both sides, the Carthaginians were defeated.
Macedonia, Syracuse, and several Numidian kingdoms were drawn into the fighting; and Iberian and Gallic forces fought on both sides. There were three main military theaters during the war: Italy, where the Carthaginian general Hannibal repeatedly defeated the Roman legions, with occasional subsidiary campaigns in Sicily, Sardinia and Greece; Iberia, where Hasdrubal, a younger brother of Hannibal, defended the Carthaginian colonial cities with mixed success until moving into Italy; and Africa, where the war was decided.
In 219 BC Hannibal besieged, captured and sacked the pro-Roman city of Saguntum, prompting a Roman declaration of war on Carthage in spring 218 BC.
That year, Hannibal surprised the Romans by marching his army overland from Iberia, through Gaul and over the Alps to Cisalpine Gaul (modern northern Italy). Reinforced by Gallic allies, he obtained crushing victories over the Romans at the battles of Trebia (218) and Lake Trasimene (217). Moving to southern Italy in 216, Hannibal defeated the Romans again at the Battle of Cannae, where he annihilated the largest army the Romans had ever assembled.
After the death or capture of more than 120,000 Roman troops in less than two years, many of Rome’s Italian allies, notably Capua, defected to Carthage, giving Hannibal control over much of southern Italy. As Syracuse and Macedonia joined the Carthaginian side after Cannae, the conflict spread. Between 215 and 210 BC the Carthaginians attempted to capture Roman-held Sicily and Sardinia, but were unsuccessful.
The Romans took drastic steps to raise new legions, enrolling slaves, criminals, and those who did not meet the usual property qualification and so vastly increasing the number of men they had under arms. For the next decade the war in southern Italy continued, with Roman armies slowly recapturing most of the interior in north-east Iberia and the Carthaginians repeatedly attempted and failed to reduce it.
In 211 BC the Romans took the offensive in Iberia and were decisively defeated, while maintaining their hold on the north east. In 209 BC the new Roman commander Publius Scipio captured Carthago Nova, the main Carthaginian base in the peninsula. In 208 BC Scipio defeated Hasdrubal, although Hasdrubal was able to move most of his troops into Gaul and then northern Italy in spring 207 BC. This new Carthaginian invasion was defeated at the Battle of the Metaurus.
At the Battle of Ilipa in 206 Scipio permanently ended the Carthaginian presence in Iberia. Scipio then invaded Carthaginian Africa in 204, compelling the Carthaginian Senate to recall Hannibal’s army from Italy. The final engagement of the war took place between armies under Scipio and Hannibal at the Battle of Zama in 202 and resulted in Hannibal’s defeat and in Carthage suing for peace.
The peace treaty imposed on the Carthaginians stripped them of all of their overseas territories, and some of their African ones.
An indemnity of 10,000 silver talents was to be paid over 50 years. Carthage was prohibited from waging war outside Africa, and in Africa only with Rome’s express permission. Many senior Carthaginians wanted to reject it, but Hannibal spoke strongly in its favour and it was accepted in spring 201 BC. Henceforth it was clear that Carthage was politically subordinate to Rome.
Scipio was awarded a triumph and received the agnomen “Africanus”.
II.001 Carthaginian Economy
VID-001: The Rise and Fall of Carthage
VID-002: Carthage – The Rise and Fall
VID-003: The Punic Empires of Phoenicia and Carthage
VID-004: The History of Carthage
VID-005: Why did Carthage Collapse?
VID-006: Carthage Explained in 10 Minutes
VID-007: Carthage 3D
VID-008: Ancient Phoenician Ports and Colonies
VID-009: The Life of a Carthaginian Merchant
VID-010: The Mysterious Carthaginian Empire
VID-011: Silver Coins of the Second Punic War Era
VID-012: The Carthaginian 1 1/2 Shekel Gold and Silver Coin
POD-001: Carthage and the Mediterranean
POD-002: The Punic Empire
POD-003: In the Wake of the Phoenicians
Carthage’s commerce extended by sea throughout the Mediterranean and perhaps as far as the Canary Islands, and by land across the Sahara desert.
According to Aristotle, the Carthaginians had commercial treaties with various trading partners to regulate their exports and imports. Their merchant ships, which surpassed in number even those of the original Phoenician city-states, visited every major port of the Mediterranean, as well as Britain and the Atlantic coast of Africa.
These ships were able to carry over 100 tons of goods.
Archaeological discoveries show evidence of all kinds of exchanges, from the vast quantities of tin needed for bronze-based civilizations, to all manner of textiles, ceramics, and fine metalwork. Even between the punishing Punic wars, Carthaginian merchants remained at every port in the Mediterranean, trading in harbours with warehouses or from ships beached on the coast.
The empire of Carthage depended heavily on its trade with Tartessos and other cities of the Iberian peninsula, from which it obtained vast quantities of silver, lead, copper and – most importantly – tin ore, which was essential to manufacture the bronze objects that were highly prized in antiquity.
Carthaginian trade relations with the Iberians, and the naval might that enforced Carthage’s monopoly on this trade and the Atlantic tin trade, made it the sole significant broker of tin and maker of bronze in its day. Maintaining this monopoly was one of the major sources of power and prosperity for Carthage; Carthaginian merchants strove to keep the location of the tin mines secret.
In addition to its exclusive role as the main distributor of tin, Carthage’s central location in the Mediterranean and control of the waters between Sicily and Tunisia allowed it to control the eastern peoples’ supply of tin.
Carthage was also the Mediterranean’s largest producer of silver, mined in Iberia and on the Northwest African coast; after the tin monopoly, this was one of its most profitable trades. One mine in Iberia provided Hannibal with 300 Roman pounds (3.75 talents) of silver a day.
II.002 Carthaginian Army
VID-001: The Carthaginian Army
VID-002: Roman Legion Against Carthage and Hannibal
VID-003: Carthaginian War Elephants
VID-004: Numidian Cavalry
VID-005: Secret Tactics of Numidian Cavalry
VID-006: The Sacred Band of Carthage
VID-007: The Balearic Slingers
VID-008: Iberians in the Army of Hannibal Barca
VID-009: Carthaginian Heavy Infantry
VID-010: Hannibals War with the Romans
POD-001: Carthage and The Punic Wars (Dr. George Grant)
The core of the Carthaginian army was always from its own territory in Northwest Africa, namely ethnic Libyans, Numidians, and “Liby-Phoenicians”, a broad label that included ethnic Phoenicians, those of mixed Punic-North African descent, and Libyans who had integrated into Phoenician culture.
These troops were supported by mercenaries from different ethnic groups and geographic locations across the Mediterranean, who fought in their own national units. For instance, Celts, Balearics, and Iberians were recruited in significant numbers to fight in Sicily.
Greek mercenaries, who were highly valued for their skill, were hired for the Sicilian campaigns
Carthage employed Iberian troops long before the Punic Wars; Herodotus and Alcibiades both describe the fighting capabilities of the Iberians among the western Mediterranean mercenaries.
Later, after the Barcids conquered large portions of Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal), Iberians came to form an even greater part of the Carthaginian forces, albeit based more on their loyalty to the Barcid faction than to Carthage itself. The Carthaginians also fielded slingers, soldiers armed with straps of cloth used to toss small stones at high speeds; for this they often recruited Balearic Islanders, who were reputed for their accuracy.
The uniquely diverse makeup of Carthage’s army, particularly during the Second Punic War, was noteworthy to the Romans; Livy characterized Hannibal’s army as a “hotch-potch of the riff-raff of all nationalities”. He also observed that the Carthaginians, at least under Hannibal, never forced any uniformity upon their disparate forces, which nonetheless had such a high degree of unity that they “never quarreled amongst themselves nor mutinied”, even during difficult circumstances.
Punic officers at all levels maintained some degree of unity and coordination among these otherwise disparate forces. They also dealt with the challenge of ensuring military commands were properly communicated and translated to their respective foreign troops.
Carthage used the diversity of its forces to its own advantage, capitalizing on the particular strengths or capabilities of each nationality.
Celts and Iberians were often utilized as shock troops, North Africans as cavalry, and Campanians from southern Italy as heavy infantry. Moreover, these units would typically be deployed to nonnative lands, which ensured they had no affinity for their opponents and could surprise them with unfamiliar tactics. For example, Hannibal used Iberians and Gauls (from what is today France) for campaigns in Italy and Africa.
II.003 Hannibal – Military Genius (247~182[*]BCE)
VID-001: Hannibal Barca – Nemesis Of Rome
VID-002: Hannibal – Rome’s Worst Nightmare
VID-003: Hannibal vs. Rome
VID-004: Hannibal – Rome’s Greatest Threat
VID-005: Hannibal’s March on Rome
VID-006: Hannibal Against Rome – Will Durant
VID-007: Hannibal – Rome’s Mortal Enemy
VID-008: Carthaginian War Elephants
VID-009: Why was Hannibal Barca Abandonned by Carthage?
POD-001: Nepos – Hannibal Barca
Hannibal [247 BCE ~ 182 BCE] was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage in their battle with the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in history.
Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barca, was a leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War. His younger brothers were Mago and Hasdrubal; his brother-in-law was Hasdrubal the Fair, who commanded other Carthaginian armies. Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the western Mediterranean Basin, triggered by the emergence of the Roman Republic as a great power with its defeat of Carthage in the First Punic War. Revanchism prevailed in Carthage, symbolized by the pledge that Hannibal made to his father to “never be a friend of Rome”.
In 218 BC, Hannibal attacked Saguntum (modern Sagunto, Spain), an ally of Rome, in Hispania, sparking the Second Punic War.
Hannibal invaded Italy by crossing the Alps with North African war elephants.
In his first few years in Italy, he won a succession of victories at the Battle of the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae, inflicting heavy losses on the Romans. Hannibal was distinguished for his ability to determine both his and his opponent’s respective strengths and weaknesses, and to plan battles accordingly. His well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer several Italian cities that were allied to Rome.
Hannibal occupied most of southern Italy for 15 years.
The Romans, led by Fabius Maximus, avoided heavy confrontation with him, instead waging a war of attrition. Carthaginian defeats in Hispania prevented Hannibal from being reinforced, and he was unable to win a decisive victory. A counter-invasion of North Africa, led by Roman General Scipio Africanus, forced him to return to Carthage. Hannibal was eventually defeated at the Battle of Zama, ending the war in Roman victory.
After the war, Hannibal successfully ran for the office of sufet. He enacted political and financial reforms to enable the payment of the war indemnity imposed by Rome; however, those reforms were unpopular with members of the Carthaginian aristocracy and in Rome, and he fled into voluntary exile. During this time, he lived at the Seleucid court, where he acted as military advisor to Antiochus III the Great in his war against Rome.
Antiochus met defeat at the Battle of Magnesia and was forced to accept Rome’s terms, and Hannibal fled again, making a stop in the Kingdom of Armenia.
His flight ended in the court of Bithynia. He was betrayed to the Romans and committed suicide by poisoning himself.
Hannibal is often regarded as one of the greatest military tacticians in history and one of the greatest generals of Mediterranean antiquity, together with Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus and Pyrrhus. Plutarch states that Scipio supposedly asked Hannibal “who the greatest general was”, to which Hannibal replied “either Alexander or Pyrrhus, then himself”.
II.004 To Achieve the Impossible (218[*]BCE)
VID-001: Hannibal Goes to the Alps
VID-002: Hannibal Crosses the Alps
VID-003: How Hannibal Crossed the Alps
Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in 218 BC was one of the major events of the Second Punic War, and one of the most celebrated achievements of any military force in ancient warfare.
Hannibal managed to lead his Carthaginian army over the Alps and into Italy to take the war directly to the Roman Republic, bypassing Roman and allied land garrisons and Roman naval dominance.
II.005 Hannibal’s Invasion of Italy (218-201[*]BCE)
VID-001: Trebia – Hannibal’s First Great Victory in Italy
VID-002: Road to Rome
VID-003: Hannibal’s Plan in Italy
VID-004: Battle of the Trebia
VID-005: Time Commanders – Battle of River Trebia
VID-006: Punic Wars from the Carthaginian Perspective
The snow on the southern side of the Alps melts and thaws to a greater or lesser extent during the course of the day, and then refreezes at night. In addition, the Italian side of the Alps is much steeper; many men lost their footing down this side of the Alps and died.
At an early point in their descent, the army came upon a section of the path that had been blocked by a landslide.
This section of the path was broken for about 300 yards. Hannibal attempted to detour, by marching through a place where there was a great deal of snow – the Alps’ altitude at this point retains snowpack year around.
They made some headway, at the cost of no small portion of the pack animals that were left, before Hannibal came to appreciate that this route was impossible for an army to traverse. Hannibal marched his men back to the point in their path prior to their detour, near the broken stretch of the path and set up camp.
From here, Hannibal ordered his men to set about fixing the mule path. Working in relays, the army set about this labour-intensive task under the eyes of Hannibal, who was constantly encouraging them. Both the sick and the healthy were put to this.
The next day the road was in sufficient condition to permit the cavalry and pack animals to cross the broken stretch of road; Hannibal ordered that these should instantly race down below the foliage line (2 miles below the summit of the Alps) and should be allowed access to the pastures there.
However, Hannibal’s remaining elephants, which were completely famished, were still unable to proceed along the path. Hannibal’s Numidian cavalry carried on working on the road, taking three more days to fix it sufficiently to allow the elephants to cross. Getting the animals across this stretch of road, Hannibal raced ahead of the rearguard to the part of the army that was below the pasture line.
It took the army three days to march from this place into “the plains which are near the Po” according to Polybius. Hannibal then focused on, according to Polybius, “[the] best means of reviving the spirits of his troops and restoring the men and horses to their former vigour and condition.” Hannibal ordered his men to encamp, at a point which is near modern Ivrea.
This effectively marked the end of their crossing of the Alps, but the beginning of their campaign in Italy and their role in some of the decisive battles of the Second Punic War.
II-218BCE-A. Battle of Lilybaeum
The Battle of Lilybaeum was the first clash between the navies of Carthage and Rome in 218 BC during the Second Punic War.
The Carthaginians had sent 35 quinqueremes to raid Sicily, starting with Lilybaeum.
The Romans, warned by Hiero of Syracuse of the coming raid, had time to intercept the Carthaginian contingent with a fleet of 20 quinqueremes and managed to capture several Carthaginian ships.
II-218BCE-B. Capture of Malta
The capture of Malta was the successful invasion of the Carthaginian island of Malta (then known as Maleth, Melite or Melita) by forces of the Roman Republic led by Tiberius Sempronius Longus in the early stages of the Second Punic War in 218 BC.
II-218BCE-C. Battle of the Rhone Crossing
The Battle of the Rhône Crossing was a battle during the Second Punic War in September of 218 BC.
Hannibal marched on the Italian Alps, and an army of Gallic Volcae attacked the Carthaginian army on the east bank of the Rhône. The Roman army camped near Massalia. The Volcae tried to prevent the Carthaginians from crossing the Alps and invading Italy.
Before they crossed the river, the Carthaginians sent a detachment to cross upriver, under Hanno, son of Bomilcar, and took up position behind the Gauls.
Once the detachment was in place, Hannibal crossed the river with the main contingent of his army. As the Gauls massed to oppose Hannibal, Hanno attacked his army from behind and routed the Volcae army.
This was Hannibal’s first major battle (victory) outside of the Iberian Peninsula. It gave him an unopposed path to the Alps and into Italy.
II-218BCE-D. Battle of Ticinus
The Battle of Ticinus was a battle of the Second Punic War fought between the Carthaginian forces of Hannibal and the Romans under Publius Cornelius Scipio in late November 218 BC.
The battle took place in the flat country on the right bank of the River Ticinus, to the west of modern Pavia in northern Italy. Hannibal led 6,000 Lybian and Iberian cavalry, while Scipio led 3,600 Roman, Italian and Gallic cavalry and a large but unknown number of light infantry javelinmen.
War had been declared early in 218 BC over perceived infringements of Roman prerogatives in Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal) by Hannibal.
Hannibal had gathered a large army, marched out of Iberia, through Gaul and over the Alps into Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy), where many of the local tribes were at war with Rome.
The Romans were taken by surprise, but one of the consuls for the year, Scipio, led an army along the north bank of the Po with the intention of giving battle to Hannibal.
The two commanding generals each led out strong forces to reconnoitre their opponents.
Scipio mixed a large number of javelinmen with his main cavalry force, anticipating a large-scale skirmish.
Hannibal put his close-order cavalry in the centre of his line, with his light Numidian cavalry on the wings.
On sighting the Roman infantry the Carthaginian centre immediately charged and the javelinmen fled back through the ranks of their cavalry.
A large cavalry melee ensued, with many cavalry dismounting to fight on foot and many of the Roman javelinmen reinforcing the fighting line. This continued indecisively until the Numidians swept round both ends of the line of battle, and attacked the still disorganized velites; the small Roman cavalry reserve, to which Scipio had attached himself; and the rear of the already engaged Roman cavalry, throwing them all into confusion and panic.
The Romans broke and fled, with heavy casualties.
Scipio was wounded and only saved from death or capture by his 16-year-old son.
That night Scipio broke camp and retreated over the Ticinus; the Carthaginians captured 600 of his rearguard the next day.
After further manoeuvres Scipio established himself in a fortified camp to await reinforcements while Hannibal recruited among the local Gauls.
When the Roman reinforcements arrived in December under Tiberius Sempronius Longus, Hannibal heavily defeated him at the Battle of the Trebia.
The following spring, strongly reinforced by Gallic tribesmen, the Carthaginians moved south into Roman Italy.
II-218BCE-E. Battle of the Trebia
The Battle of the Trebia (or Trebbia) was the first major battle of the Second Punic War, fought between the Carthaginian forces of Hannibal and a Roman army under Sempronius Longus on 22 or 23 December 218 BC.
It took place on the flood plain of the west bank of the lower Trebia River, not far from the settlement of Placentia (modern Piacenza), and resulted in a heavy defeat for the Romans.
War broke out between Carthage and Rome in 218 BC.
The leading Carthaginian general, Hannibal, responded by leading a large army out of Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal), through Gaul, across the Alps and into Cisalpine Gaul (modern northern Italy).
The Romans went on the attack against the reduced force which had survived the rigours of the march and Publius Scipio personally led the cavalry and light infantry at the Battle of Ticinus where he was beaten and wounded.
The Romans had retreated to near Placentia, fortified their camp and awaited reinforcement.
The Roman army in Sicily under Sempronius was redeployed to the north and joined with Scipio’s encamped forces.
After a day of heavy skirmishing in which the Romans gained the upper hand, Sempronius was eager for a battle.
Numidian cavalry lured Sempronius out of his camp and onto ground of Hannibal’s choosing.
Fresh Carthaginian cavalry routed the outnumbered Roman cavalry, and Carthaginian light infantry outflanked the Roman infantry.
A previously hidden Carthaginian force attacked the Roman infantry in the rear.
Most of the Roman units then collapsed and most Romans were killed or captured by the Carthaginians, but 10,000 under Sempronius maintained formation and fought their way out to the safety of Placentia.
Recognizing the Carthaginians as the dominant force in Cisalpine Gaul, Gallic recruits flocked to them and Hannibal’s army grew to 60,000.
II-218BCE-F. Battle of Cissa
The Battle of Cissa was fought in the fall of 218 BC, near the Celtic town of Tarraco in north-eastern Iberia.
A Roman army under Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus defeated an outnumbered Carthaginian army under Hanno, thus gaining control of the territory north of the Ebro River that Hannibal had just subdued a few months prior in the summer of 218 BC.
This was the first battle that the Romans had ever fought in Iberia.
It allowed the Romans to establish a secure base among friendly Iberian tribes and due to the eventual success of the Scipio brothers in Spain, Hannibal looked for but never received reinforcements from Spain during the war.
II-217BCE-A. Battle of the Ebro River
The Battle of Ebro River was a naval battle fought near the mouth of Ebro River in the spring of 217 BC between a Carthaginian fleet of approximately 27 quinqueremes, under the command of Himilco, and a Roman fleet of 55 ships, under Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus. Hasdrubal Barca, the Carthaginian commander in Iberia, had launched a joint expedition to destroy the Roman base north of the Ebro River.
II-217BCE-B. Battle of Lake Trasimene
VID-001: Trasimene – History’s Greatest Ambush
VID-002: Battle of Lake Trasimene
The Battle of Lake Trasimene was fought when a Carthaginian force under Hannibal ambushed a Roman army commanded by Gaius Flaminius on 21 June 217 BC, during the Second Punic War. It took place on the north shore of Lake Trasimene, to the east of Cortona, and resulted in a heavy defeat for the Romans.
Following the end of the First Punic War in 241 BC, in 219 BC Hannibal, ruler of the Carthaginian territories in south-east Iberia, besieged, captured and sacked the Roman protected town of Saguntum.
The following spring Rome issued a declaration of war and Hannibal left Iberia, crossed the Alps, and arrived in Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy) in autumn 218 BC. The Romans rushed reinforcements north from Sicily but were defeated at the Battle of the Trebia.
Next spring the Romans positioned two armies, one on each side of the Apennines, but were surprised when the Carthaginians crossed the mountains by a difficult but unguarded route.
The Carthaginians moved south into Etruria, plundering, razing the villages and killing all adult males encountered. Flaminius, in charge of the nearest Roman army, set off in pursuit. Hannibal arranged an ambush on the north shore of Lake Trasimene and trapped the Romans, killing or capturing all 25,000 of them.
Several days later the Carthaginians wiped out the entire cavalry of the other Roman army, who were not yet aware of the disaster.
This ambush and destruction of an entire army by another is widely considered a unique occurrence.
The Carthaginians continued their march through Etruria, then crossed to Umbria and marched south into Apulia, in the hope of winning over some of the ethnic Greek and Italic city states of southern Italy.
News of the defeat caused a panic in Rome and led to the election of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus as dictator, but, impatient with his “Fabian strategy” of avoiding pitched conflict and relying instead on guerrilla tactics, the next year the Romans elected Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro as consuls.
These more aggressive commanders engaged Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE, a third disaster for Rome that was followed by thirteen more years of war.
II-217BCE-C Battle of Ager Falernus
The Battle of Ager Falernus was a skirmish during the Second Punic War between the armies of Rome and Carthage.
After winning the Battle of Lake Trasimene in Italy in 217 BC, the army commanded by Hannibal marched south and reached Campania. The Carthaginians ultimately moved into the district of Falernum, a fertile river valley surrounded by mountains.
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, who had been elected Roman dictator and commander of the Roman field forces after the disastrous defeat at Lake Trasimene, had dogged Hannibal and stuck to a strategy to fight only under favourable conditions. He now occupied all the river crossings and mountain passes leading out of the valley, thus blocking the Carthaginians inside.
After stripping the area of grain, cattle, and other supplies, Hannibal displayed brilliant tactics to provoke the Roman guard to leave one of the passes.
Despite the protests of his staff officers, Fabius, who was camped near the pass with his main forces, refused to attack the Carthaginian army and it escaped the trap unscathed.
II-217BCE-D Battle of Geronium
The Battle of Geronium or Gerunium took place during the Second Punic War, where a large skirmish and battle took place in the summer and autumn of 217 BC respectively.
After winning the Battle of Ager Falernus, the army of Hannibal marched north then east towards Molise through Samnium.
Hannibal was cautiously followed by the Roman army under the dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, keeping with the Fabian strategy. This policy was becoming unpopular in Rome, and Fabius was compelled to return to Rome to defend his actions under the guise of observing religious obligations.
Marcus Minucius Rufus, left in command, managed to catch the Carthaginians off guard near their camp in Geronium and inflict severe losses on them in a large skirmish, while losing 5,000 Romans killed.
This action caused the Romans, disgruntled with Fabius, to elevate Minucius to the equal rank of the dictator.
Minucius took command of half the army and camped separately from Fabius near Geronium.
Hannibal, informed of this development, laid an elaborate trap, which drew out Minucius and his army in detail, and then attacked it from all sides.
The timely arrival of Fabius with the other half of the army enabled Minucius to escape, but with a substantial number of Romans killed.
After the battle, Minucius turned over his army to Fabius and resumed the duties of Master of Horse.
II-216BCE-A. Battle of Cannae
VID-001: The Battle of Cannae
VID-002: Battle of Cannae
VID-003: Rome’s Greatest Defeat
VID-004: History Marche (50+ Videos on Battles)
VID-005: The Battle of Cannae (Hannibal vs Rome)
The Battle of Cannae was a key engagement of the Second Punic War between the Roman Republic and Carthage, fought on 2 August 216 BC near the ancient village of Cannae in Apulia, southeast Italy.
The Carthaginians and their allies, led by Hannibal, surrounded and practically annihilated a larger Roman and Italian army under the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. It is regarded as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history and one of the worst defeats in Roman history.
Having recovered from their losses at Trebia (218 BC) and Lake Trasimene (217 BC), the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, with approximately 86,000 Roman and allied troops.
They massed their heavy infantry in a deeper formation than usual, while Hannibal used the double envelopment tactic and surrounded his enemy, trapping the majority of the Roman army, who were then slaughtered. The loss of life on the Roman side meant it was one of the most lethal single days of fighting in history; Adrian Goldsworthy equates the death toll at Cannae to “the massed slaughter of the British Army on the first day of the Somme offensive in 1916”.
Only about 15,000 Romans, most of whom were from the garrisons of the camps and had not taken part in the battle, escaped death. Following the defeat, Capua and several other Italian city-states defected from the Roman Republic to Carthage.
As news of this defeat reached Rome, the city was gripped in panic. Authorities resorted to extraordinary measures, which included consulting the Sibylline Books, dispatching a delegation led by Quintus Fabius Pictor to consult the Delphic oracle in Greece, and burying four people alive as a sacrifice to their gods.
To raise two new legions, the authorities lowered the draft age and enlisted criminals, debtors and even slaves.
Despite the extreme loss of men and equipment, and a second massive defeat later that same year at Silva Litana, the Romans refused to surrender to Hannibal. His offer to ransom survivors was brusquely refused.
With grim determination, the Romans fought for 14 more years until they achieved victory at the Battle of Zama.
Although for most of the following decades the battle was seen solely as a major Roman disaster, by modern times Cannae acquired a mythic quality, and is often used as an example of the perfect defeat of an enemy army.
II-216BCE-B. Battle of Silva Litana
The Battle of Silva Litana was an ambush during the Second Punic War that took place in a forest 75 miles northwest of the Roman city of Ariminum in 216 BC.
The Gallic Boii surprised and destroyed a Roman army of 25,000 men under the consul-elect Lucius Postumius Albinus.
Only ten men escaped the ambush, few prisoners were taken and Postumius was killed, decapitated and his skull covered with gold by the Boii.
News of the military disaster, coming either several days or months after the defeat at Cannae, triggered a renewed panic in Rome and the Romans postponed military operations against the Gauls until the conclusion of the Second Punic War.
II-216BCE-C. Battle of Nola (First)
The First Battle of Nola was fought in 216 BC between the forces of Hannibal and a Roman force led by Marcus Claudius Marcellus. Hannibal was attempting to seize the town of Nola: but failed to do so, and would make two more unsuccessful attempts on the city over the next two years.
Hannibal moved to capture the city of Nola due to some leaders in the city offering to open their gates to him.
A Roman force under the command of Marcellus arrived before Hannibal and was able to enter the city.
Hannibal camped near the city, and daily skirmishes would happen between the two armies.
Marcellus learned that the only support he enjoyed was the senators in the city.
Marcellus learned that some leaders in the city had been conspiring with Hannibal and that should he make any sortie from the town or draw up for battle outside, they’d plan on plundering the baggage and closing their gates upon him.
After this, Marcellus decided his situation was not sustainable. He took action to protect himself from a revolt, pulled his troops from the walls, and secretly organized them behind the gates.
Hannibal drew up his men in battle order in anticipation of an attack or at least another skirmish.
When nothing happened, Hannibal concluded that Marcellus had discovered his plan and would not dare attempt sortie with the threat of betrayal. Confident of this, he marched his soldiers forward to attempt an assault on the central gate. The Carthaginian forces approached with ladders and machines useful for an assault. When they did this, Marcellus sprung his trap and ordered his forces to charge out of the gates and personally lead the center.
Hannibal troops found themselves caught off guard. Hannibal made attempts to change the tide of the ensuing battle; however, when the second line of the Roman troops charged from the gates, it became clear he couldn’t win the battle.
After sustaining heavy losses, Hannibal ordered an organized retreat from the field to save his army from further losses.
Hannibal gave up hope of capturing Nola and withdrew to a camp near Acerræ.
The victory, while not decisive enough to end Hannibal’s fighting potential, was a boost to Roman morale.
II-215BCE-A. Battle of Ibera
The Battle of Ibera, also known as the Battle of Dertosa, was fought in the spring of 215 BC on the south bank of the Ebro River near the town of Ibera and was part of the Second Punic War. A Roman army, under the command of the brothers Gnaeus and Publius Scipio, defeated a similarly sized Carthaginian army under Hasdrubal Barca.
The Romans, under Gnaeus Scipio, had invaded Iberia in late 218 BC and established a foothold after winning the Battle of Cissa.
This lodgement, on the north-east Iberian coast, between the Ebro and the Pyrenees, blocked the route of any reinforcements from Iberia for the army of Hannibal, who had invaded Italy from Iberia earlier in the year. Hasdrubal attempted to evict the Romans in 217 BC, but this ended in defeat when the Carthaginian naval contingent was mauled at the Battle of Ebro River.
Hasdrubal spent the rest of 217 BC and all of 216 BC subduing rebellious indigenous Iberian tribes, largely in the south.
Under pressure from Carthage to reinforce Hannibal, and having been strongly reinforced, Hasdrubal marched north again in early 215 BC.
Meanwhile Scipio, who had also been reinforced, and joined by his brother Publius, had crossed the Ebro to besiege the Carthaginian-aligned town of Ibera.
Hasdrubal approached and offered battle, which the Scipios accepted.
Both armies were of similar sizes, about 25,000 men.
When they clashed, the centre of Hasdrubal’s army – which consisted of locally recruited Iberians – fled without fighting. The Roman legions pushed through the gap, turned to each side against the remaining Carthaginian infantry and enveloped them. Both sides are reported to have suffered heavy casualties; the Carthaginians’ may have been very heavy.
The Carthaginian camp was sacked, but Hasdrubal escaped with most of his cavalry.
The Scipio brothers continued with their policy of subjugating the Iberian tribes and raiding Carthaginian possessions.
Hasdrubal lost the opportunity to reinforce Hannibal when he was at the peak of his success and an army that was ready to sail to Italy was diverted to Iberia. This effect on potential reinforcements for Hannibal has caused the historian Klaus Zimmermann to state “the Scipios’ victory … may well have been the decisive battle of the war”.
II-215BCE-B. Battle of Nola (Second)
The Second Battle of Nola was fought in 215 BC between Hannibal’s army and a Roman Army under Marcus Claudius Marcellus.
It was Hannibal’s second attempt to seize Nola after a failure the year before.
He was again repelled and would make one more, also unsuccessful attempt the next year.
II-215BCE-C. Battle of Decimomannu
The Battle of Decimomannu (Caralis) took place in Sardinia when a Carthaginian army sailed to the island to support a local revolt against Roman rule.
The Romans destroyed the Carthaginian army and then scattered their fleet in a sea battle south of Sardinia.
214-BCE-A. Battle of Nole (Third)
The Third Battle of Nola was fought in 214 BC between Hannibal and a Roman army led by Marcus Claudius Marcellus.
It was Hannibal’s third attempt to take the town of Nola.
Once again, Marcellus successfully prevented the town’s capture.
214-BCE-B. Battle of Beneventum
The Battle of Beneventum was fought in 214 BC near modern Benevento during the Second Punic War. Roman legions under Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus defeated Hanno’s Carthaginian forces, denying Hannibal reinforcements.
Livy gives a brief description of the battle, which was part of the Roman campaign to subdue the southern Italian city-states that had joined Hannibal after the Battle of Cannae.
II-214BCE-C Battle of Castrum Album
Following the defeat at Iliturgi, the Carthaginians made an unsuccessful attempt against Intibili, and then withdrew to the south.
Early in the spring (214) they dealt with a major Iberian uprising, crushing the rebel army and re-imposing Punic authority.
Many more Roman allies would have defected if Publius Scipio had not hurried south with one legion, about 10,000 men.
Scipio camped near Castrum Album, famous as the site of Hamilcar Barca’s death fourteen years earlier.
Hasdrubal, Mago and Hamilcar infiltrated the surrounding area undetected. They brought only fast-moving light infantry and mounted troops.
When Publius Scipio advanced from Castrum Album towards his brother Gnaeus’ camp, he was beset by Punic skirmishers and Numidian horsemen.
The light Carthaginian forces showered the slow moving Roman column with javelins, sling-stones and arrows. Whenever, the Romans charged, their opponents melted away. Publius’ command was in danger of annihilation, and he just barely cut his way through to the safety of his brother’s camp.
Over 2,000 Romans were left dead along the route of his march, and many of the survivors were wounded.
It was a clear Carthaginian victory.
Hasdrubal, however, was unable to exploit the superiority of his Numidians for long, as a major revolt broke out in Africa and many of his elite cavalry deserted.
213-BCE-A. Siege of Syracuse (213-212[*]BCE)
The siege of Syracuse by the Roman Republic took place in 213–212 BC.
The Romans successfully stormed the Hellenistic city of Syracuse after a protracted siege, giving them control of the entire island of Sicily.
During the siege, the city was protected by weapons developed by Archimedes.
Archimedes, the great inventor and polymath, was slain at the conclusion of the siege by a Roman soldier, in contravention of the Roman proconsul Marcellus’ instructions to spare his life.
II-212BCE-A. Battle of Tarentum
II-212BCE-B Battle of Beneventum (Second)
The Battle of Beneventum was fought between Carthage and Roman republic in 212 BC.
During this conflict Hanno, son of Bomilcar was defeated by Quintus Fulvius Flaccus.
Livy gives a short account of this battle at 25.13-14.
II-212BCE-C. Battle of Capua (First)
The First Battle of Capua was fought in 212 BC between Hannibal and two Roman consular armies.
The Roman force was led by two consuls, Quintus Fulvius Flaccus and Appius Claudius Pulcher.
The Roman force was defeated, but managed to escape.
Hannibal temporarily managed to raise the siege of Capua.
A tactical Carthaginian victory, it ultimately did not help the Capuans.
II-212BCE-D. Battle of the Silarus
The Battle of the Silarus was fought in 212 BC between Hannibal’s army and a Roman force led by centurion Marcus Centenius Penula.
The Carthaginians were victorious, destroying the entire Roman army and killing 15,000 Roman soldiers in the process.
II-212BCE-E. Battle of Herdonia (First)
The first Battle of Herdonia was fought in 212 BC during the Second Punic War between Hannibal’s Carthaginian army and Roman forces led by Praetor Gnaeus Fulvius Flaccus, brother of the consul.
The Roman army was destroyed, leaving Apulia free of Romans for the year.
II-211BCE-A. Battle of Capua (Second)
Hannibal, having made Capua his winter quarter in 215 BC, conducted his campaigns against Nola and Casilinum from there.
The Romans had attempted to march on Capua several times since its defection towards Hannibal but were thwarted by the return of Hannibal’s army rushing to its defence.
212 BC saw them investing the city for a siege, undeterred by the loss of some 16,000 men to Hannibal at the Battle of Herdonia.
The siege continued into 211 BC, while Hannibal was busy in the south of Italia, the Romans employing innovative use of light-armed troops (velites) to ward off forays by the Capuan cavalry.
Hannibal attempted to relieve Capua by breaking through the Roman siege-lines; and when this failed, he tried to break the siege by marching on Rome itself, hoping that the threat would force the Roman army to break off the siege and march back to Rome to defend it.
Once the Roman army was in the open, he would then turn to engage it in a pitched battle and defeat them once again, freeing Capua from the threat.
However, Hannibal found the defences of Rome too formidable for an assault and as he had only planned this movement as a feint, he lacked both the supplies and equipment for a siege.
The Roman besiegers of Capua, knowing this, ignored his march on Rome and refused to break off their siege, though Livy reports that a select relief force did march from Capua to Rome.
His feint having failed, Hannibal was forced to retreat south and Capua unrelieved fell to the Romans shortly afterwards.
II-211BCE-B. Battle of Upper Baetis (Hispania)
In 212 BC, the Scipio brothers captured Castulo, a major mining town and the home of Hannibal’s wife Imilce. They then wintered at Castulo and Ilugia.
The brothers hired 20,000 Celt-Iberian mercenaries to reinforce their army of 30,000 Romans.
The Romans strength had been reduced by losses sustained against the Carthaginians and Iberian tribes since 218 BC and the need to garrison the main Roman base at Tarraco.
Observing that the Carthaginian armies were deployed separately from each other, with Hasdrubal Barca’s army near Amtorgis; and, further to the west, Mago Barca with 13,500 men alongside Hasdrubal Gisco’s army, the Scipio brothers decided to divide their forces.
Publius Scipio led Roman and allied soldiers to attack Mago Barca near Castulo, while Gnaeus Scipio took one-third of the Roman army in Spain and the mercenaries to attack Hasdrubal Barca.
This stratagem would lead to two battles, the Battle of Castulo and the Battle of Ilorca, which took place within a few days of each other.
II-210BCE-A. Battle of Herdonia (Second)
The second battle of Herdonia took place in 210 BC during the Second Punic War.
Hannibal, leader of the Carthaginians, who had invaded Italy eight years earlier, encircled and destroyed a Roman army which was operating against his allies in Apulia.
The heavy defeat increased the war’s burden on Rome and, piled on previous military disasters (such as Lake Trasimene, Cannae, and others), aggravated the relations with her exhausted Italian allies.
For Hannibal the battle was a tactical success, but it did little to slowdown the tenacious Roman advance.
Within the next three years the Romans reconquered most of the territories and cities lost at the beginning of the war and pushed the Carthaginian general to the southwestern end of the Apennine peninsula.
The battle was the last Carthaginian victory of the war; all battles which followed were either inconclusive or Roman victories.
II-210BCE-B. Battle of Numistro
The Battle of Numistro was fought in 210 BC between Hannibal’s army and one of the Roman consular armies led by consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus.
It was the fourth time they met in a battle.
Previous encounters were located around the walls of Nola (Campania) in 216, 215, and 214 and had been favourable for the Roman side.
According to Livy, the fight started early in the morning.
Marcellus put his “I Legion” and “Right Alae Sociorum” in the front line.
During combat both units were relieved by the “III Legion” and “Left Alae”.
Punic forces described by Livy included Balearic slingers and Spanish infantry, as well as elephants.
The battle lasted one day but after a hard fight the result was inconclusive, since it ended due to nightfall, with Hannibal retreating to Apulia the next day.
Marcellus left his injured soldiers at the town to recover and followed Hannibal to hunt him in that territory, having minor engagements until the end of that year’s campaign.
II-210BCE-C Battle of Sapriportis
II-209BCE-A. Battle of Cartagena (Hispania)
The Roman commander Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus sailed to Spain (Iberia) in middle 210 BC, and spent the early part of the winter organizing his army (the total force in Spain was approximately 30,000 men) and planning his assault on New Carthage.
Opposing him were the three Carthaginian generals (Hasdrubal Barca, Mago Barca and Hasdrubal Gisco), who were on bad terms with each other, geographically scattered (Hasdrubal Barca in central Spain, Mago near Gibraltar and Hasdrubal near the mouth of the Tagus river), and at least 10 days away from New Carthage.
The Roman campaign was conducted in winter to capture new Carthage using the element of surprise.
Livy mentions that the city garrison comprised 1,000 Carthaginian soldiers under the command of a certain Mago (not Mago Barca), who picked out a further 2,000 men from the city to defend the front gate and be ready for a sally, and an unspecified amount of townsmen to watch for sudden emergencies.
Setting up camp across the isthmus with 27,500 men, Scipio isolated the town on the landward side, and with the Roman fleet (commanded by Gaius Laelius) blockading the town from the sea, the town was isolated from outside help. The Romans did not set up lines of circumvallation, intending to take the city by storm before help could arrive from the Carthaginian armies that were only 10 days away.
The 2,000 Carthaginian armed citizens launched a sortie through the narrow east gate of the city. Their purpose was to delay the progress of Roman siege works or assaults.
They got close to the Roman camp, where Scipio had been expecting such an attack.
Despite possessing every advantage over the Carthaginians in numbers, training, weapons, and leadership, the Romans had to fight long and hard against the fearsome militia. Scipio ordered additional maniples from his reserve to join the battle and the Carthaginians broke and fled back to the city.
To conquer the city Scipio launched an assault over the isthmus, while the fleet attacked from the southern side.
A hail of Carthaginian missiles beat back every Roman assault with heavy casualties.
Scipio renewed his attack later in the day, with the added surprise of roman units attacking through the lagoon on the northern side.
Aided by a wind squall (which drained some of the lagoon into the Mediterranean, reducing the depth of the lagoon so the Roman troops could easily cross it), the roman units attacking from the north managed to scale the undefended northern wall and attacked the rear of the defenders defending the isthmus while at the same time, unrelenting naval forces managed to penetrate the town from the south.
Polybius gives a short description of how Scipio Africanus stormed New Carthage:
…directed [his soldiers], according to the Roman custom, against the people in the city, telling them to kill everyone they met and to spare no one, and not to start looting until they received the order. The purpose of this military custom was to strike terror in the hearts and minds of those about to be put to the sword, while deterring any remaining fighting units from actively opposing the onslaught.
The massacre of Carthagenian citizens was halted when Mago agreed to surrender, after which the victorious Romans sacked the city.
II-209BCE-B. Battle of Canusium
The Battle of Canusium (also known as the Battle of Asculum) was a three-day engagement between the forces of Rome and Carthage.
It took place in Apulia during the spring of 209 BC, the tenth year of the Second Punic War.
A larger Roman offensive, of which it was a part, aimed to subjugate and to punish cities and tribes that had abandoned the alliance with Rome after the Battle of Cannae, and to narrow the base of the Carthaginian leader, Hannibal, in southern Italy.
The battle of Canusium also symbolized another important episode in the years-long contest between Hannibal and the Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus for control over that territory.
As neither side gained a decisive victory and both suffered considerable losses (up to 14,000 killed overall), the outcome of this engagement was open to differing interpretations by both ancient and modern historians.
While Marcellus took a heavy blow at Canusium, he nevertheless checked for some time the movements of the main Punic forces and thus contributed to the simultaneous Roman successes against Hannibal’s allies in Magna Graecia and Lucania.
II-209BCE-C. Battle of Tarentum
The Romans, led by Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, recaptured the city of Tarentum that had betrayed them in the first Battle of Tarentum in 212 BC.
This time the commander of the city, Carthalo, turned against the Carthaginians, and supported the Romans.
II-208BCE-A. Battle of Baecula
According to Polybius, after Scipio’s surprise attack and capture of Carthago Nova, the three Carthaginian armies in Iberia remained separated, and their generals at odds with each other, thus giving the Romans a chance to deal with them one by one.
Early in 208 BC, Scipio, with 30,000 Roman and Italian troops and 10,000 Spanish auxiliaries, moved against Hasdrubal Barca, whose 30,000-strong force had wintered at Baecula, on the upper reaches of the river Baetis (modern day Guadalquivir).
On learning of the Roman approach, Hasdrubal shifted his camp to a strong defensive position – a high and steep plateau south of Baecula, protected by ravines on the flanks and the river to the front and rear. Moreover, the plateau was formed into two steps, on which Hasdrubal posted his light troops on the lower one and his main camp behind.
After his arrival, Scipio was at first uncertain as to how to attack such a formidable position, but concerned that the other two Carthaginian armies might take advantage of his inaction and join with Hasdrubal, he took action on the third day.
Before his main attack, Scipio sent one detachment to block the entrance to the valley separating the two armies and one to the road leading north to Baecula, thus providing security to his main force, while harassing any Carthaginian attempt to retreat.
After these preliminary deployments were done, the Roman light troops advanced against their Carthaginian counterparts on the first step. Despite the steep slope, and under a shower of missile attack, the Romans had little difficulty driving back the Carthaginian light troops once they got into hand-to-hand combat.
After reinforcing his leading force, Scipio derived a pincer attack on the flanks of the Carthaginian main camp by ordering Gaius Laelius to lead half of the remaining heavy foot to the right of the enemy position, and he himself scaling the left.
Hasdrubal, meanwhile, was under the impression that the Roman attack was only a skirmish (Scipio had hidden his main army in camp until the final attack) and failed to properly deploy his main force, thus his ill-prepared army was caught on three sides by the Romans.
Despite being trapped, Hasdrubal was able to retreat with his elephants, main baggage train, and some of his Carthaginian troops. His main losses in the battle were the majority of his light troops and Iberian allies. This was largely due to the legionnaires’ choice to plunder the Carthaginian camp rather than to pursue Hasdrubal in earnest.
II-208BCE-B. Battle of Petelia
In the summer of 208 BC, the Roman consuls Marcus Claudius Marcellus and Titus Quinctius Crispinus ordered a part of the Roman garrison of Tarentum to move up and assist in an offensive against the Carthaginian-allied town of Locri.
Hannibal received word from the people of Thurii of the Roman move and laid an ambush along the road from Tarentum with 3,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry.
The Carthaginian force was hidden at the foot of the hill of Petelia.
The Romans failed to conduct a reconnaissance and the Carthaginians achieved complete surprise. They killed 2,000 Romans and captured 1,500. The rest of the Roman force fled cross-country back to Tarentum.
II-208BCE-C. Battle of Clupea
The Tragic Death of Marcellus
II-207BCE-A. Battle of Grumentum
The Battle of Grumentum was fought in 207 BC between Romans led by Gaius Claudius Nero, and a part of Hannibal’s Carthaginian army.
The battle was a minor Roman victory, and afterwards Gaius Claudius Nero marched north where he defeated and killed Hannibal’s brother Hasdrubal at the battle of Metaurus.
II-207BCE-B. Battle of Metaurus
The Battle of the Metaurus was a pivotal battle in the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage, fought in 207 BC near the Metauro River in Italy.
The Carthaginians were led by Hasdrubal Barca, brother of Hannibal, who was to have brought siege equipment and reinforcements for Hannibal.
The Roman armies were led by the consuls Marcus Livius, who was later nicknamed the Salinator, and Gaius Claudius Nero.
Claudius Nero had just fought Hannibal in Grumentum, some hundreds of kilometres south of the Metaurus river, and reached Marcus Livius by a forced march that went unnoticed by both Hannibal and Hasdrubal, so that the Carthaginians suddenly found themselves outnumbered.
In the battle, the Romans used their numerical superiority to outflank the Carthaginian army and rout them, the Carthaginians losing 15,400 men killed or captured, including Hasdrubal.
Without Hasdrubal’s army to support him, Hannibal was left with no option but to evacuate pro-Carthaginian towns in much of southern Italy when faced with increased Roman pressure that would force him to withdraw to Bruttium, where he would remain for the next four years.
The Historical outcome of the battle of Metaurus would consolidate Rome’s supremacy over the Italian peninsula and assure its hard fought dominance of the Mediterranean World for centuries to come.
II-207BCE-C. Battle of Uttica
II-206BCE-A. Battle of Ilipa
The Battle of Ilipa was an engagement considered by many as Scipio Africanus’s most brilliant victory in his military career during the Second Punic War in 206 BC.
It may have taken place on a plain east of Alcalá del Río, Seville, Spain, near the village of Esquivel, the site of the Carthaginian camp.
Though it may not seem to be as original as Hannibal’s tactic at Cannae, Scipio’s pre-battle maneuver and his reverse Cannae formation stands as the pinnacle of his tactical ability, in which he forever broke the Carthaginian hold in Iberia, thus denying any further land invasion into Italy and cutting off a rich base of supplies for the Barca dynasty both in silver and manpower.
After the Battle of Baecula and Hasdrubal Barca’s departure, further Carthaginian reinforcements were landed in Iberia in early 207 BC under Hanno, who soon joined Mago Barca.
Together they were raising a powerful army by the heavy recruitment of Celtiberian mercenaries. Meanwhile, Hasdrubal Gisco also advanced his army from Gades into Andalusia.
Thus Scipio was facing two concentrated enemy forces, one of which would no doubt fall on his rear if he tried to attack the other.
After careful planning, Scipio decided to send a detachment under Marcus Junius Silanus to strike Mago first.
Marching with great speed, Silanus was able to achieve complete surprise when he fell on the Carthaginian camps, which resulted in the dispersion of Mago’s Celtiberians and Hanno’s capture.
Thus Hasdrubal was left alone in facing Scipio’s concentrated force, but the Carthaginian general was able to avoid battle by splitting his troops among fortified cities.
The Iberian campaign of 207 BC ended without any further major action.
The next spring, the Carthaginians launched their last great effort to recover their Iberian holdings.
Mago was joined at Ilipa by Hasdrubal Gisco, creating a force estimated at 54,000 to 74,000, considerably larger than Scipio’s army of 48,000 men, which was composed of a large number of Spanish allies who were not as seasoned as Roman legionaries. Livy’s figures, however, give the Carthaginian army 50,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry (where he mentioned other sources give the figure of 70,000, such as Polybius at 11.20, but Livy believes it was the lesser number), whilst he puts Scipio’s force at 55,000 men, so it was also possible Scipio outnumbered the Carthaginians by a slight margin.
Upon the arrival of the Romans, Mago unleashed a daring attack on the Roman camp with most of his cavalry, under his Numidian ally Masinissa. However, this was foreseen by Scipio, who had concealed his own cavalry behind a hill, which charged into the Carthaginian flank, and threw back the enemy with heavy losses on Mago’s side.
The two opponents spent the next few days observing and testing each other, with Scipio always waiting to lead out his troops only after the Carthaginians had advanced from their camp first.
The Roman formation always presented the legions in the center and Iberians on the wings, thus leading Hasdrubal and Mago to believe that this would be the Roman arrangement on the day of battle.
Believing his deception had taken a firm hold on the Carthaginian commanders, Scipio made his move.
First he ordered the army to be fed and armed before daylight.
He then promptly sent his cavalry and light troops (velites) against the Carthaginian outposts at daybreak, while advancing with his main force behind, all the way to the front of the Carthaginian position.
This day his legions stood at the wings and the Iberians in the centre.
Surprised by the Romans’ sudden attacks, the Carthaginians rushed to arm themselves and sallied forth without breakfast.
Still believing that Scipio would arrange his force in the earlier fashion, Hasdrubal deployed his elite Carthagenian veterans in the centre and the Spanish mercenaries on his wings; he was not able to change formation after discovering the new Roman arrangement because the opposing army was too close, as Scipio had ordered his troops to form for battle closer to the Carthaginian camp.
For the next few hours Scipio held back his Iberian infantry behind the skirmishing light troops and thus amplified the effect of the missed breakfast on his enemy.
When he finally decided to attack, the light troops were called back through the space between the maniples to position themselves behind the legions on the wings; then the main advance began.
With his wings advancing at a faster pace than the Iberians in his center, Scipio formed a concave, or reverse Cannae, battle line. Furthermore, the Roman general expanded his wings by ordering the light troops to the flanks of the legionaries, and the cavalry to the flank of the light troops, thus enveloping the whole Carthaginian line on both sides.
Still refusing to engage the Carthagenian center, Scipio’s legions, light troops, and cavalry attacked the half-trained Spaniards on the Carthaginian wings from the front, side, and rear.
The Carthaginian center, unable to reinforce its crumbling wings while faced with the looming threat of Scipio’s (Iberian) Infantry force in the near distance — present but still not attacking — found itself in a tightening battle space, gradually surrounded by Roman Infantry and Cavalery.
With the inevitable destruction of the flanks, the Carthaginian center was further demoralized and confused by a trampling of its own troops resulting from maddened elephants being driven towards the center by the pressure of Roman cavalry units bearing down on the flanks.
Combined with hunger and fatigue, the Carthaginians started to withdraw, at first in good order, but as Scipio now pressed his advantage by ordering his Iberian center into battle, the Carthaginians crumbled, and a massacre — one that may have rivaled the slaughter of Cannae in 216 BC — was only averted by a sudden downpour of rain which caused the terrain to turn muddy, severely hampering further tactical manouvering on the field, allowing the remaining Carthaginians to flee and seek refuge in their fortified camp.
II-206BCE-B. Mutiny at Sucro
The Roman army’s mutiny at Sucro, a no longer existing ancient fort in Spain, took place in early 206 BC, during the Roman conquest of Hispania in the Second Punic War against Carthage.
The mutineers had several grievances, including not having received the pay due to them and being under-supplied.
The mutiny happened when Africanus, who had a fortification of some 8,000 militants camped at Sucro, became seriously ill while occupying New Carthage.
The military revolt broke out because the rumor about Africanus’ health eventually became so exaggerated that it was reported that Africanus was either dead or very near death.
The soldiers at Sucro heard the rumor and planned a mutiny, instigated by some 35 ringleaders who propagated the alleged news.
One of the many items that caused the mutiny was that the soldiers had not been paid in a timely fashion; some had received no pay for years.
Another was that they did not receive their share of plunder.
Yet another was that they were inadequately supplied with the necessities they needed to properly function.
The soldiers were also unhappy about their long periods of inactivity, and wanted either to be sent into battle or back to Rome.
They also felt that they had not received proper credit for their part in the campaign to expel the Carthaginians from Hispania.
A major issue too was that they had been in service beyond the term normally required of Roman soldiers.
II-206BCE-C. Battle of Carteai
The Battle of Carteia, was a battle of the Second Punic War that took place in 206 BC between the forces of Carthage and the Roman Republic.
The Carthaginian forces were commanded by Hanno and the Romans by Gaius Lucius Marcius Septimus.
The battle resulted in a Roman victory.
II-205BCE. Scipio prepares his African Campaign
II-204BCE-A. Siege of Utica
The siege of Utica was a siege during the Second Punic War between the Roman Republic and Carthage in 204 BC.
Roman general Scipio Africanus besieged Utica, attempting to use it as a supply base for his campaign against Carthage in North Africa.
He launched repeated and coordinated army-navy assaults on the city, all of which failed.
The arrival of a large Carthaginian and Numidian relief army under Carthaginian general Hasdrubal Gisco and Numidian king Syphax in late autumn forced Scipio to break off the siege after 40 days and retreat to the coast.
II-204BCE-B. Battle(s) of Crotona
The battle or, more precisely, the battles of Croton in 204 and 203 BC were, as well as the raid in Cisalpine Gaul, the last larger scale engagements between the Romans and the Carthaginians in Italy during the Second Punic War.
After Hannibal’s retreat to Bruttium due to the Metaurus debacle, the Romans continuously tried to block his forces from gaining access to the Ionian Sea and cut his eventual escape to Carthage by capturing Croton.
The Carthaginian commander struggled to retain his hold on the last efficient port which had remained in his hands after years of fighting and was ultimately successful.
II-203BCE-A. Battle of Insubria
The Battle of Insubria in 203 BC was the culmination of a major war, carried out by the Carthaginian commander Mago, son of Hamilcar Barca, at the end of the Second Punic war between Rome and Carthage in what is now northwestern Italy.
Mago had landed at Genoa, Liguria, two years before, in an effort to keep the Romans busy to the North and thus hamper indirectly their plans to invade Carthage’s hinterland in Africa (modern Tunisia).
He was quite successful in reigniting the unrest among various peoples (Ligurians, Gauls, Etruscans) against the Roman dominance.
Rome was forced to concentrate large forces against him which finally resulted in a battle fought in the land of the Insubres (Lombardy).
Mago suffered defeat and had to retreat.
The strategy to divert the enemy’s forces ultimately failed as the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio laid waste to Africa and wiped out the Carthaginian armies that were sent to destroy the invader.
To counter Scipio, the Carthaginian government recalled Mago from Italy (along with his brother Hannibal, who had been in Bruttium until then).
However, the remnants of the Carthaginian forces in Cisalpine Gaul continued to harass the Romans for several years after the end of the war.
II-203BCE-B. Battle of Utica
The emergence of two large enemy armies effectively brought a prelimenary end to Scipio’s siege of Utica in 204 BC.
These enemy armies were commanded by Hasdrubal Gisgo and his son-in-law the Numidian King Syphax.
Appian stated that Hasdrubal had 20,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry, while according to the tradition passed on by ancient authors such as Polybius and Livy, the army of Hasdrubal amounted to 33,000 and that of Syphax was believed to be twice that size, but these numbers have since been refuted by modern scholars, who estimate a combined Carthaginian-Numidian strength of anywhere between 33,000–47,500.
The combined threat of these two armies forced Scipio to retreat to a promontory not far from Utica (later called “Castra Cornelia”).
He fortified the narrow neck of land and made his winter quarters, relying on supplies of corn and clothing that were being sent to him from Sicily, Sardinia and Iberia.
Hasdrubal and Syphax each built their separate camps at some distance from eachother at approximately 10 kilometers from Scipios’s winter camp at Castra Cornelia.
Throughout the winter, the Carthaginians continued the buildup of their forces.
They prepared a fleet in order to cut off Scipio’s supply routes while eagerly awaiting the arrival of newly recruted mercenaries from Iberia and Liguria.
The actual hostilities ceased for a time due to the efforts of the Numidian King Syphax, who interjected himself in the role of peace-maker in an attempt to bring about a negotiated settlement between the two bitter rivals but animosity and ambition had grown too strong to be quelled by means of mere negotiation.
Hasdrubal pretended to accept King Syphax proposed “peace” terms, which stipulated that both Rome and Carthage should recall their armies respectively from Africa and Italy, but neither side showed any real inclination towards forsaking their military preparations for the coming season.
Scipio, in turn, used the proposed “peace” negotiations as a cover for trying to convice the Numidian King to switch sides and ally himself with Rome’s war effort.
While these peace attempts would ultimately prove to be fruitless, the Roman leader nevertheless continued to send envoys to the Numidian camp.
Scipio’s primary aim in prolonging these “peace” negotiations, was to deceive his enemies into believing that he felt threatened by their combined presence and could therefore be presumed anxious or eager to conclude a peace deal, even one that may not have proven advantageous to his immediate aims, while, secondly, to scout and evaluate the position, layout and physical structure of the enemy camps.
His envoys, carefully selected for their ability to perform the latter task, informed him that both camps consisted primarily of huts built from wood, reed, and other flammable material.
On the basis of this crucial piece of stategic information, Scipio began to elaborate on a rutless plan to destroy his enemies before being forced into a two-prong battle.
Knowing full well that the Carthaginian preparations to attack his holdout at Castra Cornelia were steadily progressing, when faced with the first signs of an awakening spring he decided to launch a pre-emptive strike.
According to Livy and Polybius, Scipio placed a detachment (2,000 strong) on a hill overlooking Utica as to deceive the enemy’s scouts that he was preparing to attack the city.
Another small detachment was left to guard the Roman camp against a possible attack from the city’s defenders.
He then marched his main force under the cover of night, more than 10 kilometers, until they reached the outskirts of the camps of Hasdrubal and Syphax just before dawn.
There he divided his army into two and ordered the roman general Gaius Laelius and Massinissa’s Numidians to set fire to and destroy King Syphax’s camp.
Laelius and Massinissa left Syphax’s sleeping warriors almost no chance to escape, as they were caught utterly unprepared.
The flames that started from the huts outside the palisades spread rapidly only to engulfe the entire camp.
All the exits blocked by hardened veterans, an untold number of panick stricken soldiers, pack animals and horses were brutally slaughtered; those not put to the sword either devoured by the flames or trampled to death at the gates.
The same happened to the army of Hasdrubal.
His soldiers awakened by the news and shouts that the neighbouring camp was burning, some of them rushed to help the Numidians, forsaking their arms in the belief that the flames were the result of an unfortunate accident.
Scipio, the strategist, never to be caught off-guard, allowed for this moment of confusion to reach pitch fever before unleashing the devastating power of his deadly legions.
The Carthaginians, too surprised and shocked to act, could not offer any organized resistance and were massacred.
Only Hasdrubal (as well as Syphax), with a small body of troops, managed to escape the deadly ambuscade, that would forever change the balance of power between the two rival empires.
The battle of Uticu stands as the foremost example of Scipio’s ruthless ability to outfox and outmaneuver his opponents in a chilling calculated manner, similar to Hannibal’s near complete slaughter of Roman Legions at the battle of Cannae.
Utica brought fear to Carthage in a simular manner as Cannae had brought fear to Rome, the major difference being that Cannae tought the Romans to fight even harder whereas Uttica nearly crushed the merchants of Carthage into submission.
II-203BCE-C. Battle of the Great Plains
Hasdrubal and Syphax had both succeeded in escaping from their camps, which the Roman general Scipio Africanus and his Numidian allies, under Masinissa, had destroyed in the Battle of Utica.
Hasdrubal and Syphax fell back with what little troops had managed to escape the terrifying slaughter of Scipio’s Dawn Raid.
While these were hard times that bred hard men one can only speculate on the fearful mindset of these two commanders who had each witnessed the massacre of their entire army at the hands of what must have appeared a merciless opponent.
The fresh arrival of 4,000 ferocious Celtiberian mercenaries from Hispania reinvigorated the Carthaginians defensive stance and emboldened them to initiate one last great effort to stop the armies of the renowned Scipio Africanus from advancing across North Africa.
New levies were raised in Carthage and in Numidia, and soon Hasdrubal and Syphax found themselves at the head of an army of 30,000 men.
In 203 BC, Scipio, whose command had been extended until the end of the war, marched from his camp at Utica to meet Hasdrubal and Syphax at a place called the Great Plains.
The battle of the Great Plains was fought between a Roman army under the leadership of Scipio Africanus and a combined Carthaginian/Numidian army, supplemented by Spanish mercenaries (mainly Celtiberians), of which the Carthaginian/Celtiberian part was led by Hasdrubal Gisco and the Numidian part by Syphax.
Hasdrubal positioned the Spanish mercenaries in the center, next to them on the right were the infantry salvaged from his old army mixed with fresh recruits, flanked by his cavalry, and on the left Syphax’s Numidians.
The Roman infantry was drawn up in the “acies triplex”, that is to say, the (young) hastati formed the first line, the (seasoned) principes the second, and the (veteran) triarii formed the third line.
The battle quickly turned into a disaster for Carthage when a forceful cavalery charge led by Masinissa’s Numidians and assisted by Roman cavalery swept away their Numidian and Carthaginian counterparts in the first charge causing the Carthaginian flank troops to panick and flee from the field, leaving the Iberian mercenary center, exposed at the flanks.
This sudden loss of battlefield cohesion, combined with the deeply traumatizing effects of the massacre of both their armies at Utica may account for the fact as to why the Carthaginians and Syphax Numidian cavalery fled the battlefield while the Spanish mercenaries stood their ground.
With the Celtiberians defending themselves fiercely but lacking the necessary cavelry support on their flanks these proud Iberian warriors were doomed to fight to the death.
The number of Iberian mercenaries still fighting was about equal to the first line of the Romans, the hastati.
Once the Iberian mercenaries became fully engaged and pinned in place by the hastati, Scipio ordered his principes and triarii to emerge from behind the hastati and attack the flanks of the Celtiberians, who were gradually surrounded and cut down to the last man, with only a handful of mercenaries lucky or fit enough to escape.
Syphax fled back to his kingdom in Numidia, but was pursued by Masinissa and Laelius, who defeated him at the Battle of Cirta, as a result of which he was captured and brought back to the Roman camp a mere prisoner.
Masinissa was given command of Syphax’s kingdom, the land from which he had previously been exiled.
Following the desastrous outcome of the battle of the Great Plains, the Carthaginians were left with no option but to sue for peace with Rome.
Scipio initally proposed modest terms for the Carthaginians in a peace treaty, but whilst the Carthaginians were still in-the-midst of debating the proposed treaty, some reckless Carthaginean aristocrats ordered Hannibal and his army of elite veterans to return to Africa to fight one last do-or-die battle against the Romans.
This all-or-nothing encounter — from a Carthaginian perspective — would became known as the “Battle of Zama”, which ended the Second Punic War and would establish the enduring legend of Scipio Africanus as Rome’s Greatest General.
II-203BCE-D. Battle of Cirta
The Battle of Cirta was a battle during the Second Punic War between the forces of the Massyli King Massinissa (assisted by the Roman General Gaius Laelius) and the Masaesyli King Syphax.
On the orders of Scipio Africanus, Gaius Laelius, his most able commander and friend, and his Numidian ally king Masinissa, followed Syphax’s retreat to the town of Cirta, wherein Syphax garnered fresh forces to meet the roman general and Massyli King in the open.
Syphax attempted to organize his fresh troops in a manner similar to the Roman model, hoping to emulate Scipio’s continual success on the battlefield but his desperate ambitions would encounter a well trained war machine led by centurions known to face death with contempt in their eyes.
While Syphax certainly had a numerical force large enough to take on his enemies nearly all of his infantry soldiers were raw recruits.
The initial encounter between the two opposing cavalry units was hard-fought and seemed to be swaying towards Syphax’ cause but gradually dissolved into a route of Syphax’ Cavalery, when persistent Roman infantry support poored into the gaps between the hard pressed cavalery units, allowing the Roman and Massyli cavalery to regroup before attacking once again.
On witnessing the Corp Esprit of these Roman Legionairs and their brazen willingness to place themselves in mortal danger while fighting against any opponent, be it man, horse, king or elephant, Syphax’s green horns began to panick.
Syphax, witnessing fear spreading throughout his ranks. deperately trying to prevent a complete route, sought to inspire his men into regrouping by charging forward and exposing himself to danger.
During this gallant attempt to stir the spirit of his faltering troops, he was unhorsed and made prisoner, the downfall of their King lighting a fire whereas fear had already been smoldering.
The combined Roman-Numidian force pushed onto Cirta, and gained control of the town merely by displaying the former king in chains.
Scipio’s foothold in Africa had been secured but with Carthage’s Greatest General recalled from Italy, Scipio would need to do what no man had done before him… defeat a military genius on a battleground of his own choosing.
II-203BCE-E. Battle of Castra Cornelia
A Carthaginian fleet under Hasdrubal plunders the Roman supply convoy sailing to resupply Scipio’s army in Africa near Utica.
II-202BCE-A. Battle of Zama (Africa)
The Battle of Zama was fought in 202 BC near Zama, modern day Tunisia, and marked the official end of the Second Punic War.
A Roman army led by Publius Cornelius Scipio, with crucial support from Numidian leader Masinissa, defeated the Carthaginian army led by Hannibal.
After defeating Carthaginian and Numidian armies at the battles of Utica and the Great Plains, Scipio imposed peace terms on the Carthaginians, who had no choice but to accept them.
At the same time however, the Carthaginians recalled Hannibal’s army from Italy.
Confident in Hannibal’s brilliant battlefield skills the Carthaginians broke the armistice with Rome placing their destiny in the hands of their most famous general, Hannibal Barca, and his uncanny ability to deliver staggering victories in the face of overwhelming enemy odds, as he had done so often in the past.
Scipio and Hannibal confronted each other near Zama Regia.
Hannibal had 36,000 infantry to Scipio’s 29,000.
One third of Hannibal’s army were citizen levies, and the Romans had 6,100 cavalry to Carthage’s 4,000, as most of the Numidian cavalry that Hannibal had employed with great success in Italy had defected to the Romans.
Hannibal also employed 80 war elephants.
The elephants opened the battle by charging the main Roman line.
Scipio’s soldiers avoided being trampled by the elephants by opening their ranks and drove them off with missiles.
The combined Roman and Numidian cavalry subsequently defeated the Carthaginian cavalry and chased them from the battlefield.
Hannibal’s first line of mercenaries attacked Scipio’s infantry and were defeated.
The second line of citizen levies and the mercenaries’ remnants assaulted and inflicted heavy losses on the Roman first line.
The Roman second line joined the struggle and pushed back the Carthaginian assault.
Hannibal’s third line of veterans, reinforced by the citizen levies and mercenaries, faced off against the Roman army, which had been redeployed into a single line.
The combat was fierce and for a while appeared evenly matched.
At last, Scipio’s cavalry returned to the battlefield and attacked Hannibal’s army in the rear, breaking its cohesion and causing it to route.
The Carthaginians suffered between 20,000–25,000 casualties and saw anywhere between 8,500–20,000 of their troops captured.
Scipio lost approximately 4,000–5,000 men, with 1,500–2,500 Romans and 2,500 Numidians killed in action.
Defeated on their home ground, the Carthaginian ruling elite sued for peace and accepted Rome’s humiliating terms, ending the 17-year war that would become known to History as the “Second Punic War”; a conflict unlike any other in Human History in that it would elevate what had been a mere city centuries before to the most powerful empire the world has ever known.