Battle of Lake Trasimene
The Battle of Lake Trasimene was a major battle in the Second Punic War. The Carthaginians under Hannibal defeated the Romans under the consul Gaius Flaminius. Hannibal's victory over the Roman army at Lake Trasimene remains, in terms of the number of men involved, the largest ambush in military history. In the prelude to the battle, Hannibal achieved the earliest known example of a strategic turning movement; the Romans alarmed and dismayed by Tiberius Sempronius Longus’ defeat at Trebia made plans to counter the new threat from the north. Sempronius returned to Rome and the Roman Senate resolved to elect new consuls the following year in 217 BC; the new consuls were Gaius Flaminius. The latter was under threat of recall from the Senate for leaving Rome without carrying out the proper rituals after being elected consul; the Senate commissioned Servilius to replace Publius Cornelius Scipio and take command of his army, while Flaminius was appointed to lead what remained of Sempronius’s army. Since both armies had been weakened by the defeat at Trebia, four new legions were raised.
These new forces, together with the remains of the former army, were divided between the two consuls. After the battles of Ticinus and Trebia, Flaminius' army turned south to prepare a defence near Rome itself. Hannibal followed, but marched faster and soon passed the Roman army. Flaminius was forced to increase the speed of his march in order to bring Hannibal to battle before reaching the city. Another force under Servilius was due to join Flaminius. Before this could happen, Hannibal lured Gaius Flaminius' force into a pitched battle, by devastating the area Flaminius had been sent to protect. Polybius wrote that Hannibal calculated that he could draw out Flaminius into battle and that "no sooner had he left the neighbourhood of Faesulae, advancing a short way beyond the Roman camp, made a raid upon the neighbouring country Flaminius became excited, enraged at the idea that he was despised by the enemy: and as the devastation of the country went on, he saw from the smoke that rose in every direction that the work of destruction was proceeding, he could not patiently endure the sight."
At the same time, Hannibal tried to sever the allegiance of Rome's allies, by proving that the Republic was powerless to protect them. Flaminius remained passively encamped at Arretium. Unable to goad Flaminius into battle, Hannibal marched boldly around his opponent's left flank and cut Flaminius off from Rome, providing the earliest record of a deliberate turning movement in military history. Military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge describes the significance of this maneuver and its intended effects on the campaign: We are told nothing about it by the ancient authors, whose knowledge of war confined them to the description of battles, but it is apparent enough to us By this handsome march Hannibal cut Flaminius off from Rome... as he was apt to move by the flank past the Roman camp to taunt the Roman general. Here is shown...the clear conception of the enemy’s strategic flank, with all its advantages Nor by his maneuver had Hannibal recklessly cut himself loose from his base, though he was living on the country and independent of it, as it were.
A more perfect case of cutting the enemy from his communications can scarcely be conceived.... If he fought, it must be materially worse conditions than if his line was open. Still, Flaminius stubbornly kept his army in camp. Hannibal decided to march on Apulia, hoping that Flaminius might follow him to a battlefield of his own choosing. Flaminius, eager to exact revenge for the devastation of the countryside, facing increasing political criticism from Rome marched against Hannibal. Flaminius, like Sempronius, was impetuous and lacking in self-control, his advisors suggested that he send only a cavalry detachment to harass the Carthaginians and prevent them from laying waste to any more of the country, while reserving his main force until the other consul, arrived with his army. It proved impossible to argue with the rash Flaminius. Livy wrote that "Though every other person in the council advised safe rather than showy measures, urging that he should wait for his colleague, in order that joining their armies, they might carry on the war with united courage and counsels...
Flaminius, in a fury... gave out the signal for marching for battle." As Hannibal passed Lake Trasimene, he came to a place suitable for an ambush, hearing that Flaminius had broken camp and was pursuing him, made preparations for the impending battle. To the north was a series of 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, 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 sally out and close the entrance, blocking the Roman route of retreat. 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.
The night before
Battle of Baecula
The Battle of Baecula was a major field battle in Iberia during the Second Punic War. Roman Republican and Spanish auxiliary forces under the command of Scipio Africanus routed the Carthaginian army of Hasdrubal Barca. According to Polybius after Scipio’s surprise attack and capture of Carthago Nova, the three Carthaginian armies in Iberia remained separated, their generals at odds with each other, thus giving the Romans a chance to deal with them one by one. Early in 208 BC, 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. On learning of the Roman approach, Hasdrubal shifted his camp to a strong defensive position — a high and deep 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, 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, he himself scaling the left.
Hasdrubal, was under the impression that the Roman attack was only a skirmish 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 unmolested with his elephants, main baggage train, some of his Carthaginian troops, it appeared that his main losses in the battle were the majority of his light troops and Iberian allies. This was due to the legionnaires' choice to plunder the Carthaginian camp rather than pursue Hasdrubal with any earnestness. After the battle, Hasdrubal led his depleted army over the western passes of the Pyrenees into Gaul, subsequently into Italy in an attempt to join his brother Hannibal. Scipio's failure to stop Hasdrubal's march to Italy was criticized by the Roman Senate. Scipio did not exploit his victory at Baecula to drive out the Carthaginians from Spain, instead choosing to withdraw to his base at Tarraco, he secured alliances with many of the Spanish tribes, who switched sides after the Roman successes at Carthago Nova and Baecula.
Carthaginian reinforcements landed in Iberia in 207 BC, would soon launch a final attempt to recover their losses at the Battle of Ilipa in 206 BC. Polybius. Ian Scott-Kilvert. Mastering the West: Rome and Carthage at War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-986010-4. Nigel Bagnall. Antonia Nevill. H. Liddell Hart.
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 of Pavia county on the right bank of the Ticino River, not far north from its confluence with the Po River; the battle is named from the river, not the nearby contemporaneous settlement of Ticinum. Although the precise location is not known, it is accepted that a settlement known today as Vigevano is mentioned in Livy's text and that Scipio's camp was to the south at Gambolo, whose coordinates are given on the map; the conflict would have been west of there. It was the first battle of the war against the Romans, fought on Italian soil and the first battle of the war to employ legion-sized forces, its loss by the Romans, the temporary disablement of Scipio's command, set the stage for the Roman disaster at the Battle of the Trebia in December. This battle was a cavalry engagement.
It was so fast-moving that the javelin-throwers deployed by the Romans had no chance of throwing a single volley and milled around on the field, a major cause of the Roman defeat. Scipio was wounded and escaped with his life, he was in fact rescued on the field by his 18-year-old son, the Scipio Africanus. The two main sources on the battle are the History of Rome by Histories of Polybius. Polybius makes it clear in his account that he visited the places and monuments and looked at documents; the two vary in some of the details. After crossing the Alps, Hannibal arrived in northern Italy with 12,000 African infantry, 8,000 Iberian infantry and 4,000 cavalry. Few of the elephants had survived. Polybius is sure of these numbers because, he reports, he read them in an inscription on a column erected by Hannibal himself at Lacinium. Polybius says that they had begun the Alpine venture with 8,000 cavalry; the survivors were emaciated and without supplies, having lost most of them in the mountains. Obtaining supplies wherever he could, Hannibal rested his men.
The northern tribes, being bound to Rome by treaty, knew that sooner or they would be required to answer to Rome for their behavior regarding the hostility of the Boii and the Insubres. Intending to march on Rome, Hannibal knew, he had entered Italy between the Insubres and a Ligurian tribe called the Taurini, after whom the Romans were to name their colony of Turin. The two tribes were at war; the Taurini were not friendly to Carthage. 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, but it caused the immediate announcement of his presence throughout Italy, rendering further surprise impossible. Hannibal looked. Livy adds that he believes the ranks of the Carthaginians were expanded by contingents of Ligurians and Gauls to reach 80,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry.
Receiving news of the massacre, Publius was incredulous that Hannibal should have crossed the Alps and be in Italy so soon. Decamping, he marched upstream on the left bank looking for him. Receiving intelligence of Publius' impending arrival, Hannibal was 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. They sent orders posthaste to the second consul, Tiberius Sempronius Longus, conducting leisurely operations in Sicily, that he was to abandon his current project and proceed to the assistance of Publius. Sending his fleet in advance, Tiberius determined that individuals could travel more swiftly than armies, he released his men from service, having exacted an oath that they would present themselves at Ariminum south of the mouth of the Po on a certain day. However, despite these measures, events moved too swiftly for Tiberius to be of any assistance to Publius in the coming battle.
Livy and Polybius both give accounts of the battle, which agree on the main events, but differ in some of the details. On the day before the battle, Scipio was encamped in the base at Piacenza, where the colonists had planned to build; this settlement being in a loop on the right bank of the Po river, he had to construct a bridge to access it from the left bank, confused in Livy with the bridge constructed over the Ticinus some miles away. Polybius makes it clear that there were two bridges, one from the right to the left bank of the Po at Piacenza and one from the left to the right bank of the Ticinus, location unknown, but the best crossing is at Pavia, founded by Roman colonists as Ticinum at the site of the fortifications Publius threw up to protect his new bridge. A fine permanent bridge stands there today; the ground on the right bank of the Ticinus north of there was swampy, no place for an army to become bogged down. After building the bridge over the Ticinus and crossing it, Scipio entered the level plain and camped five miles from Victumulae, in the country of the Insubres, believed to be Vigevano now.
There is a town to the south of Vigevano, between Pavia and it, Gambolò, which still has some of the features of a large Roman camp, such as t
Siege of Capua (211 BC)
The Siege of Capua was fought in 211 BC, when the Romans besieged Capua. It is described by Polybius at 9.4-7, by Livy at 26.4-6. Capua had defected to Hannibal after the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC. Hannibal had made Capua his winter quarter in 215 BC and had conducted his campaigns against Nola and Casilinum from there; the Romans had attempted to march on Capua several times since its defection but were thwarted by the return of Hannibal's army rushing to its defence. By 211 BC, Hannibal was busy in the south of Italia and the Romans were ready to try again, banking on taking it before Hannibal's army could return to Capua. Hannibal feared that if he approached Capua, the Romans would withdraw, as they had done on other occasions, only to return to lay siege again once he had left, he thus tried to break the siege by marching on Rome itself, hoping that that 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 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, his feint having failed, Hannibal was forced to retreat south and Capua unrelieved fell to the Romans shortly afterwards. Polybius - The Rise of the Roman Empire, pp 387–394
Siege of Syracuse (213–212 BC)
The Siege of Syracuse by the Roman Republic took place in 213–212 BC, at the end of which the Magna Graecia Hellenistic city of Syracuse, located on the east coast of Sicily, fell. The Romans stormed the city 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. Sicily, wrested from Carthaginian control during the First Punic War, was the first province of the Roman Republic not directly part of Italy; the Kingdom of Syracuse was an allied independent region in the south east of the island and a close ally of Rome during the long reign of King Hiero II. In 215 BC, Hiero's grandson, came to the throne on his grandfather's death and Syracuse fell under the influence of an anti-Roman faction, including two of his uncles, amongst the Syracusan elite.
Despite the assassination of Hieronymus and the removal of the pro-Carthaginian leaders, Rome's threatening reaction to the danger of a Syracusian alliance with Carthage would force the new republican leaders of Syracuse to prepare for war. Despite diplomatic attempts, war broke out between the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Syracuse in 214 BC, while the Romans were still busy battling with Carthage at the height of the Second Punic War. A Roman force led by the proconsul Marcus Claudius Marcellus laid siege to the port city by sea and land in 213 BC; the city of Syracuse, located on the eastern coast of Sicily was renowned for its significant fortifications, great walls that protected the city from attack. Among the Syracuse defenders was the scientist Archimedes; the city was fiercely defended for many months against all the measures the Romans could bring to bear. Realizing how difficult the siege would be, the Romans brought their own unique devices and inventions to aid their assault.
These included the sambuca, a floating siege tower with grappling hooks, as well as ship-mounted scaling ladders that were lowered with pulleys onto the city walls. Despite these novel inventions, Archimedes devised defensive devices to counter the Roman efforts including a huge crane operated hook – the Claw of Archimedes –, used to lift the enemy ships out of the sea before dropping them to their doom. Legend has it that he created a giant mirror, used to deflect the powerful Mediterranean sun onto the ships' sails, setting fire to them; these measures, along with the fire from ballistas and onagers mounted on the city walls, frustrated the Romans and forced them to attempt costly direct assaults. The siege bogged down to a stalemate with the Romans unable to force their way into the city or keep their blockade tight enough to stop supplies reaching the defenders, the Syracusians unable to force the Romans to withdraw; the Carthaginians realised the potential hindrance a continuing Syracusian defense could cause to the Roman war effort and attempted to relieve the city from the besiegers but were driven back.
Though they planned another attempt, they could not afford the necessary troops and ships with the ongoing war against the Romans in Hispania, the Syracusians were on their own. The successes of the Syracusians in repelling the Roman siege had made them overconfident. In 212 BC, the Romans received information that the city's inhabitants were to participate in the annual festival to their goddess Artemis. A small party of Roman soldiers approached the city under the cover of night and managed to scale the walls to get into the outer city and with reinforcements soon took control, but the main fortress remained firm. Marcus Claudius Marcellus had ordered that Archimedes, the well-known mathematician – and equally well-known to Marcellus as the inventor of the mechanical devices that had so dominated the siege – should not be killed. Archimedes, now around 78 years of age, continued his studies after the breach by the Romans and while at home, his work was disturbed by a Roman soldier. Archimedes coarsely told the soldier to leave.
The Romans now controlled the outer city but the remainder of the population of Syracuse had fallen back to the fortified inner citadel, offering continued resistance. The Romans now put siege to the citadel and were successful in cutting off supplies to this reduced area. After a lengthy eight-month siege which brought great hardship onto the defenders through hunger, with parleys in progress, an Iberian captain named Moeriscus, one of the three prefects of Achradina, decided to save his own life by letting the Romans in near the Fountains of Arethusa. On the agreed signal, during a diversionary attack, he opened the gate. After setting guards on the houses of the pro-Roman faction, Marcellus gave Syracuse to plunder. Frustrated and angered after the lengthy and costly siege, the Romans rampaged through the citadel and slaughtered many of the Syracusians where they stood and enslaved most of the rest; the city was thoroughly looted and sacked. The city of Syracuse was now under the influence of Rome again, which united the whole of Sicily as a Roman province.
The taking of Syracuse ensured that the Carthaginians could not get a foothold in Sicily, which could have led to them giving support to Hannibal's Italian campaign, this allowed the Romans to concentrate on waging the war in Spain and Italy. The island was used as a vital gathering point for the final victorious ca
Publius Cornelius Scipio
Publius Cornelius Scipio was a general and statesman of the Roman Republic and the father of Scipio Africanus. A member of the Cornelia gens, Scipio served as consul in 218 BC, the first year of the Second Punic War, he sailed with his army from Pisa with the intention of confronting Hannibal in Hispania. Stopping at Massalia to replenish his supplies, he was shocked to discover that Hannibal's army had moved from Hispania and was crossing the Rhône. Scipio marched to confront Hannibal, who, by now, had moved on. Returning to the fleet, he entrusted the command of his army to his brother Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus and sent him off to Hispania to carry on with the intended mission. Scipio returned to Italy to take command of the troops fighting in Cisalpine Gaul. On his return to Italy, he advanced at once to meet Hannibal. In a sharp cavalry engagement near the Ticinus, a tributary of the Po river, he was defeated and wounded. In December of the same year, he again witnessed the complete defeat of the Roman army at the Trebia, when his fellow consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus insisted on fighting against his advice.
Despite the military defeats, he still retained the confidence of the Roman people. He continued the Iberian campaigns until 211, when he was killed during the defeat of his army at the upper Baetis river by the Carthaginians and their Iberian allies under Indibilis and Mandonius; that same year and his army were destroyed at Ilorci near Carthago Nova. The details of these campaigns are not known, but it seems that the ultimate defeat and death of the two Scipiones was due to the desertion of the Celtiberians, who were bribed by Hasdrubal Barca, Hannibal's brother; the son of Lucius Cornelius Scipio, he was the father of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus. A Publius Cornelius Scipio, son of Scipio Africanus the elder and Aemilia Paulla, grandson of the consul of 218 BC, was the adoptive father of Scipio Aemilianus Africanus; this latter Scipio served as praetor in 174 BC. Scipio-Paullus-Gracchus family tree
Hannibal's crossing of the Alps
Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in 218 BC was one of the major events of the Second Punic War, one of the most celebrated achievements of any military force in ancient warfare. Bypassing Roman and allied land garrisons and Roman naval dominance, Hannibal managed to lead his Carthaginian army over the Alps and into Italy to take the war directly to the Roman Republic. After the final Carthaginian naval defeat at the Aegates Islands, the Carthaginians surrendered and accepted defeat in the First Punic War. Hamilcar Barca, a leading member of the patriotic Barcine party in Carthage and a general who operated with ability in the course of the First Punic War, sought to remedy the losses that Carthage had suffered in Sicily to the Romans. In addition to this, the Carthaginians were embittered by the loss of Sardinia. After the Carthaginians' loss of the war, the Romans imposed terms upon them that were designed to reduce Carthage to a tribute-paying city to Rome and strip it of its fleet. While the terms of the peace treaty were harsh, the Romans did not strip Carthage of her strength.
The Carthaginian Barcine party was interested in conquering Iberia, 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 coffers. In addition, it was the ambition of the Barcas, one of the leading noble families of the patriotic party, to some day employ the Iberian peninsula as a base of operations for waging a war of revenge against the Roman military alliance; those two things went hand in hand, in spite of conservative opposition to his expedition, Hamilcar set out in 238 BC to begin his conquest of the Iberian peninsula with these objectives in mind. Marching west from Carthage towards the Pillars of Hercules, where his army crossed the strait and proceeded to subdue the peninsula, in the course of nine years Hamilcar conquered the south-eastern portion of the peninsula, his administration of the freshly conquered provinces led Cato the Elder to remark that "there was no king equal to Hamilcar Barca."In 228 BC, Hamilcar was killed, witnessed by Hannibal, during a campaign against the Celtic natives of the peninsula.
The commanding naval officer, both Hamilcar's son in law and a member of the Patriotic party – Hasdrubal "The Handsome" – was awarded the chief command by the officers of the Carthaginian Iberian army. There were a number of Grecian colonies along the eastern coast of the Iberian peninsula, the most notable being the trade emporium of Saguntum; these colonies expressed concern about the consolidation of Carthaginian power on the peninsula, which Hasdrubal's deft military leadership and diplomatic skill procured. For protection, Saguntum turned to Rome; the conclusion of the treaty and the embassy were sent to Hasdrubal's camp in 226 BC. In 221 BC, Hasdrubal was killed by an assassin, it was in that year that the officers of the Carthaginian army in Iberia expressed their high opinion of Hamilcar's 29-year-old son, Hannibal, by electing him to the chief command of the army. Having assumed the command of the army that his father had wielded through nine years of hard mountain fighting, Hannibal declared that he was going to finish his father's project of conquering the Iberian peninsula, the first objective in his father's plan to bring a war to Rome in Italy and defeat it there.
Hannibal spent the first two years of his command seeking to complete his father's ambition while putting down several potential revolts that resulted in part from the death of Hasdrubal, which menaced the Carthaginian possessions conquered thus far. He attacked the tribe captured their chief town of Althaea. A number of the neighbouring tribes were astonished at the vigour and rapacity of this attack, as a result of which they submitted to the Carthaginians, he received tribute from all of these subjugated tribes, marched his army back to Cartagena, where he rewarded his troops with gifts and promised more gifts in the future. During the next two years, Hannibal reduced all of Iberia south of the Ebro to subjection, excepting the city of Saguntum, under the aegis of Rome, was outside of his immediate plans. Catalonia and Saguntum were now the only areas of the peninsula not in Hannibal's possession. Hannibal was informed of Roman politics, saw that this was the opportune time to attack, he had Gallic spies in every corner of the Roman Republic within the inner circles of the Senate itself.
The Romans had spent the years since the end of the First Punic War tightening their grip on the peninsula by taking important geographical positions in the peninsula in addition to extending Rome's grip on Sicily and Sardinia. In addition to this, the Romans had been at war with the Padane Gauls off and on for more than a century; the Boii had waged war upon the Romans in 238 BC, a war that lasted until 236 BC. In 225 BC, the natives of northern Italy, seeing that Rome was again moving aggressively to colonize their territory, progressed to the attack, but were defeated; the Romans were determined to drive their borders right up to the Alps. In 224 BC, the Boii submitted to Roman hegemony, the next y