Battle of the Bagradas River (255 BC)
The Battle of the Bagradas River known as the Battle of Tunis, was a Carthaginian victory over Rome in the spring of 255 BC during the First Punic War. The superior cavalry of the Carthaginians and their allies permitted a pincer attack on the Roman infantrymen, provoking a rout and slaughter; the mercenary Spartan general Xanthippus was hired by the city of Carthage following heavy-handed negotiations by Rome. He made the Romans fight on open ground, which allowed him to maximise the effect of the excellent Carthaginian cavalry and elephants; the Roman army under Marcus Atilius Regulus was based at Tunis. Faced by the resurgent Carthaginian army, Regulus was keen to gain another victory rather than risk the chance that someone else would get the glory of eventual victory. Xanthippus deployed the Carthaginian phalanx in the centre, mercenary infantry on the right, a line of elephants in front of the infantry, the elite Carthaginian cavalry split between the two flanks; the Carthaginians had 12,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, 100 war elephants.
The Romans had 500 cavalry. The Romans were formed in their normal formation, with the legionary infantry in the centre and the outnumbered cavalry on the flanks; the Carthaginians started the battle with an attack by the elephants. This tied up the main force of Roman infantry; the Roman cavalry, outnumbered eight to one, was defeated. Only on their left did the Romans have any success, when 2,000 troops allied troops, defeated the mercenaries facing them, chased them back past their camp. Meanwhile, in the centre the elephant attack had been withstood, but only a few isolated units of Roman infantry managed to get past them to attempt to attack the Carthaginian phalanx, those were defeated; the Carthaginian cavalry charged the shaken Romans from both sides, destroying what cohesion was left. Only the 2,000 troops successful earlier in the battle escaped to be rescued by the Roman fleet; the Romans lost 12,000 killed and 500 captured, while the Carthaginians lost only 800 mercenaries killed. Regulus was taken prisoner.
Some Roman writers claim that his eyelids were cut off and he was trampled to death by an enraged elephant. However Polybius does not mention it and Diodorus suggests he died from natural causes; the defeat, serious disasters in storms at sea, ended any chance that Rome would defeat Carthage in Africa, ensured that the rest of the war was fought in Sicily and at sea. Battle of the Bagradas River, other battles in antiquity Lazenby, John Francis; the First Punic War: A Military History. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2673-6. OCLC 34371250. Rankov, Boris. "A War of Phases: Strategies and Stalemates 264–241". In Hoyos, Dexter. A Companion to the Punic Wars. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-405-17600-2
The Medjerda River, the classical Bagrada, is a river in North Africa flowing from northeast Algeria through Tunisia before emptying into the Gulf of Tunis and Lake of Tunis. With a length of 450 km, it is the longest river of Tunisia, it is known as the Wadi Majardah or Mejerha. The Medjerda River originates in the Tell Atlas, part of the Atlas Mountains, in northeastern Algeria and flows eastwards to Tunisia entering the Gulf of Utica of the Mediterranean Sea, its course has a length of 460 kilometres. It is the most important and longest rivers in Tunisia and is dammed in several locations, being a major supplier of water to the country's wheat crops; the Gulf of Utica was formed during the postglacial transgression about 6,000 years ago. Over time, fluvial deposits from the Medjerda filled up the northern part of the gulf; the succession of events during historical times has been inferred from ancient documents and archaeological evidence. Besides morphological ground observations and satellite photographs have been used to analyze how the landscape has evolved over the past 3,000 years.
The gulf's southern part was filled up in late ancient times. The sea withdrew from the northern part during the Middle Ages and modern times; the Ghar el Melh lagoon is the last vestige of. Following the last big flood in 1973, the Medjerda shifted, once again, its course, it now flows through a canal dug to evacuate the overflow of flood waters. The Medjerda is Tunisia's crucial waterway providing water to the country supply facilities, it is vital to the people living near the river. Water from the Medjerda is pivotal to the region's agriculture. A strategic river in North Africa, it was fought over and settled many times in history by the Berbers, Punics, Vandals, Byzantines and the Ottomans. Several major cities, such as Utica and Tunis were founded on or in close proximity to it; the former ports of Utica and Ghar el-Melh were, however closed off from the sea due to the silting of their harbors. Sidi Salem Dam