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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Ticinus, continued ...

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The rescue of the consul by his son

It was in this setting that the consul's 18-year-old son, the future Scipio Africanus, evidenced his first aptitude for the res militaris, military matters.

Livy says only that he rescued his father, that Coelius Antipater, chronicler of the second Punic war, attributes the rescue to a Ligurian slave, but the general belief and opinion of most historians identifies the rescuer as the young Scipio.

Polybius reports that Gaius Laelius, a close friend of the young Scipio since boyhood, "narrated" (apparently in person) that his friend, "Having, it is likely, his 17th year" (age 16 if one does not count the birth year) and "having entered the field for the first time" (that is, on campaign or on expedition) and "his father having assigned to him a turma of top cavalrymen" (about 30 veterans) performed his first "remarkable exploit" in the "cavalry engagement" against Hannibal "in the vicinity of the Po".

Seeing that his father was in danger with only two or three to defend him, Scipio the younger "called upon those with him to go to the assistance of his father".

The words for "call upon" are unfortunately not clear; they could mean "to give a military order to" or just "to exhort".

The interpretation of this passage to those outside the time and place is problematic.

On the one hand, it could portray the young Scipio as an honored guest of the consul roaming about the battlefield under the protection of a whole troop with nothing else to do but guard him.

This is an unlikely scenario in the Roman Republic, which did not pamper the sons of generals.

These sons were looking to get a start by occupying the lowest ranks of the military and the government.

The interpretation most in keeping with the culture is that the young Scipio was under military discipline; he was in the army, and this was his first command as a junior officer.

When the troop failed to respond to the order, fearing, Polybius speculates, the large number of enemies around the consul, Scipio drove his horse into the enemy.

The others "were forced to charge" and opened a path through the "frightened enemy" to the consul.

They escorted him off the field, which would have been to the fort.

The younger Scipio was subsequently publicly honored by the consul, which was the beginning of public confidence in him.

According to Pliny, he was offered a civic crown before the men in camp at Piacenza, but for some reason turned it down.


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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Ticinus, concluded ...

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Hannibal scattered the Roman forces, but he did not press his victory that day, perhaps because his forces were far outnumbered by the Roman infantry still in the fort.

He left the field and Scipio's men gradually returned to base.

Scipio had discovered the intelligence he wanted to know.

He knew Hannibal would be back the next day with his whole army, would interpose himself between the Roman fort and the bridge and Scipio and all his men would be trapped, a set-up for another massacre.

He therefore broke camp in the night, hastened to get over the bridge before dawn and was in Piacenza before Hannibal knew he had left camp.

Finding the camp empty the next morning, Hannibal followed the Roman trail to the river, capturing the 600-man guard over a torn-up bridge.

He decided not to force a subsequent crossing of the Po under hostile fire at Piacenza, but turned, went up its left bank, found a convenient crossing and descended the right bank to camp before Piacenza two days later.

After Hannibal's arrival in the early morning, before first light, some 2,200 Gallic allies in the Roman camp attacked the Romans closest to them sleeping in their tents, took the heads of the slain and crossed to the Carthaginian camp, where they were well received.

Hannibal subsequently sent them as emissaries to raise all the Celts in Italy.

Meanwhile, Scipio, again anticipating the consequences, immediately broke camp before dawn on that same night (or the next, in Livy) and slipping up the right bank of the Po to the west in the same direction from which Hannibal had come crossed the Trebia River, a right-bank tributary of the Po.

Then he headed south along its left bank to the hills from which it flows, keeping the river between him and Hannibal.

The Numidian cavalry sent in pursuit made the mistake of burning the camp first, giving all but Scipio's rear guard time to cross the river.

A day's march to the south, Scipio reached the hills, fortified the slope of one of them and settled down to rest and wait for the arrival of the second consul, Tiberius Sempronius Longus.

The most likely site is a 4.5 km (2.8 mi) ridge on the left bank across from Rivergaro some 20 km (12 mi) south of the Po.

The locality was called ripa alta, "high bank", by the Romans, becoming Rivalta Trebbia.

It is noted for the Castello di Rivalta, built over a permanent Roman castra of unknown origin.

South of Rivalta, the mountains offer no opportunity for cavalry to deploy or armies to march or fight in the open.

Hannibal camped at a distance in the plain below, enthusiastically supplied by the Gallic population.

Fortune did not smile on the Romans that year.

The result of Longus' arrival would be the Battle of the Trebia, another Roman disaster.

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Post by thelivyjr » Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Cissa

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The Battle of Cissa was part of the Second Punic War.

It was fought in the fall of 218 BC, near the Greek 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.

Strategic situation

After the successful conclusion of the Siege of Saguntum, Hannibal Barca had rested his army.

Then, in the summer of 218 BC, he had started out for Italy with either 90,000 foot and 12,000 cavalry (according to Polybius), or with 26,000 foot and 10,000 horse.

He had spent the summer conquering the area north of the Ebro River.

After subduing the Iberian tribes, but leaving the Greek cities unmolested, Hannibal crossed over into Gaul to continue his march to Italy, leaving a contingent to guard the newly conquered territories and sending 10,000 less reliable troops home.

Roman preparations

The Roman navy had been mobilized in 219 BC, fielding 220 quinqueremes for the Second Illyrian War.

Consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus received 4 legions (2 Romans and 2 allied, 8,000 Roman and 16,000 allied infantry and 600 Roman and 1,800 allied horse) and instructions to sail for Africa with 160 quinqueremes.

Publius Cornelius Scipio received 4 legions (8,000 Roman and 14,000 allied infantry and 600 Roman and 1,600 allied horse) and was to sail for Iberia escorted by 60 ships.

However, the Gallic Boii and Insubre tribes in northern Italy had attacked Roman colonies, causing part of Scipio’s force to deploy there and fresh legions were raised to replace them, delaying his departure.

While Hannibal was marching through Gaul, Scipio had landed with his army at the allied Greek city of Massilia.

He then sent a cavalry patrol north, up the eastern bank of the Rhone River, which clashed with a similar force of Numidian light cavalry and, after a hard fought skirmish, drove off the Carthaginians.

Scipio marched north from his base, while Hannibal marched east towards the Alps.

Arriving at the deserted Carthaginian camp, Scipio learned that Hannibal was three day's march away and decided to send his forces to Iberia under the command of his elder brother Gnaeus, who had been consul in 221 BC, while he himself returned to Northern Italy to organize the defences against Hannibal.


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Post by thelivyjr » Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Cissa, continued ...

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Hasdrubal Barca, the younger brother of Hannibal, had 12,650 infantry, 2,550 cavalry and 21 elephants to guard the Carthaginian possessions south of the Ebro.

Hannibal had left a certain Hanno with 10,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry to garrison the newly conquered territory north of the Ebro.

This Hanno has been identified by various authors as Hannibal’s nephew (son of Hasdrubal the Fair), a brother or no Barcid relation.

Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus, with 20,000 infantry (2 Roman and 2 allied legions) 2,200 cavalry and 60 quinqueremes, sailed from Massilia and landed at Emporiae in Iberia.

The Greek cities of Emporiae and Tarraco welcomed the Romans, and Gnaeus began to win over the Iberian tribes north of the Ebro.

Hasdrubal Barca, after being warned of the Roman expedition, marched north with an army of 8,000 foot soldiers and 1,000 cavalry to join Hanno.

The battle

Hanno had been completely surprised by the Roman arrival in Iberia.

Seeing the grip of the Carthaginians on the newly conquered Iberian tribes loosening because of the activities of Scipio, he decided to offer battle.

Hanno marched and attacked the Romans just north of Tarraco, near a place called Cissa or Kissa.

There were no brilliant manoeuvres or ambushes, the armies formed up and faced off.

Being outnumbered two to one, Hanno was defeated relatively easily, losing 6,000 soldiers in battle.

Furthermore, the Romans managed to capture the Carthaginian camp, along with 2,000 more soldiers and Hanno himself.

The camp contained all the baggage left by Hannibal.

The prisoners also included Indibilis, an influential Iberian chieftain who would cause severe trouble for the Romans later.

The Romans also stormed the town of Cissa, though to the frustration of the Romans it did not contain any valuable booty.


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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Cissa, concluded ...

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Gnaeus became master of Iberia north of the Ebro.

Hasdrubal, arriving too late to aid Hanno and not being strong enough to attack the Romans, still crossed the river and sent a flying column of light cavalry and infantry on a raid.

This force caught some Roman sailors foraging and inflicted such casualties that the effectiveness of the Roman fleet in Iberia was reduced from 60 to 35 ships.

The Roman fleet, however, raided the Carthaginian possessions in Iberia.

Roman prestige was established in Iberia, while the Carthaginians had suffered a significant blow.

After punishing the officers in charge of the naval contingent for their lax discipline, Scipio and the Roman army wintered at Tarraco.

Hasdrubal retired to Cartagena after garrisoning allied towns south of the Ebro.

If Hanno somehow had won the battle, it might have been possible for Hannibal to get reinforcements from Barcid Iberia as early as 217 BC.

This battle brought the same results for Scipio in Iberia as the Battle of Trebia would bring for Hannibal in Italy: securing a base of operation, and winning over some of the native tribes as a source of provisions and recruits, also cutting off the overland communication of Hannibal from his base in Iberia.

Unlike Hannibal, Scipio did not immediately launch a major campaign on enemy territory south of the river.

Nor would he cut loose from his base like Hannibal did in the near future.

Scipio took time to consolidate his holdings, subjugate or befriend Iberian tribes and raid Carthaginian territory.

These activities laid the foundation for the future Roman operations in Iberia.

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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Ebro River

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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.

The Carthaginian naval contingent was totally defeated after a surprise attack by the Roman ships, losing 29 ships and the control of seas around Iberia.

The reputation of the Romans was further enhanced in Iberia after this victory, causing rebellion among some of the Iberian tribes under Carthaginian control.


After Hanno's defeat in the Battle of Cissa in the winter of 218 BC, Gnaeus Scipio had spent his time consolidating his hold on the Iberian regions north of the Ebro and raiding the Iberian territory of Carthage south of the Ebro from his base at Tarraco.

He had received no major reinforcements from Rome to augment his forces.

Meanwhile, Hasdrubal Barca, the Carthaginian commander in Iberia, had raised a number of Iberian levies to expand his army substantially.

The Punic naval contingent in Iberia contained 32 quinqueremes and 5 triremes in 218 BC when Hannibal had departed from Iberia.

During the winter of 218 BC, Hasdrubal had added a further 10 quinqueremes to this fleet and trained additional crews to man them.

In the Spring of 217 BC, Hasdrubal mounted a joint expedition towards the Roman territory north of the Ebro.

Hasdrubal himself commanded the army, the exact number of which is unknown, and his deputy Himilco led the fleet.

The expedition followed the coastline, with the ships beaching beside the army at night.

Gnaeus Scipio, fearing that the Carthaginian army outnumbered his own, resolved to fight a naval battle.

Although he could only man 35 quinqueremes (25 ships were sent back to Italy after a Carthaginian raid in late 218 caused severe casualties among the crews, and some sailors may have been posted in garrisons), the allied Greek city of Massilia had provided 20 ships for his fleet.


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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Ebro River, concluded ...

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After reaching the Ebro River, the Carthaginian fleet anchored near the estuary.

The sailors and crew left their ships for foraging, as the fleet lacked transports carrying provisions.

Although Hasdrubal had posted scouts to detect the activities of the Romans, Himilco had no ships out at sea scouting for Roman ships.

A pair of Massalian ships located the Punic fleet as it lay at anchor, and slipped away undetected to warn Gnaeus of the Carthaginian presence.

The Roman fleet sailed from Tarraco and was positioned only 10 miles to the north of the Carthaginian position when the warnings reached Gnaeus Scipio.

Gnaeus manned his ships with picked legionaries, and now sailed down to attack the Punic fleet.

Hasdrubal's army scouts detected the approaching Roman fleet before the Punic navy and warned their fleet of the coming danger through fire signals.

Most of the crews had been foraging, and they hastily had to man their ships and sail out in a disorderly manner.

There was little coordination and some ships were undermanned because of the surprise achieved by the Romans.

As Himilco sailed out, Hasdrubal drew up his army on the shore to give encouragement to his fleet.

Not only did the Romans have the advantage of total surprise and numbers (40 Carthaginian against 55 Roman and Massalian ships), but the combat effectiveness of the Carthaginians is not reflected in the number of ships as one-quarter of their fleet had newly trained crew.

The Romans formed 2 lines with the 35 Roman ships in front and the 20 Massalian ships behind them, with the formation and the naval skill of the Massalians nullifying the superior manoeuverability of the Carthaginian fleet.

The Romans engaged the Carthaginian ships as they came out of the river, ramming and sinking four of them and boarding and capturing two more.

The Carthaginian crews then lost heart, beached their ships and sought safety among the army.

The Romans grappled and hauled away 23 of the beached ships.

Aftermath and importance

The defeat proved to be decisive in the long run.

Hasdrubal was obliged to march back to Cartagena, fearing seaborne attacks on Carthaginian territories.

With the Iberian contingent of the Carthaginian navy shattered, Hasdrubal was forced to either call Carthage for reinforcements or build new ships.

He did neither.

The performance of the Iberian crews had been poor in the battle, and their dismissal would spark a rebellion in the Turdetani tribe, forcing Carthage to send 4,000 infantry and 500 cavalry to Hasdrubal.

Hasdrubal would spend all of 216 BC subduing the rebels.

In 217 BC, the main Carthaginian fleet captured a supply fleet headed for Iberia off Cosa in Italy.

Publius Cornelius Scipio arrived in Iberia with 8,000 soldiers in the fall of that year with instructions from the Roman Senate to prevent any help from reaching Hannibal in Italy from Iberia.

This is the only reinforcement the Roman Republic would send to Iberia before 211 BC.

The Scipio brothers would raid Carthaginian Iberia, and meet Hasdrubal at the Battle of Dertosa in 215 BC.

Gnaeus Scipio had ensured that Roman seaborne supplies would not be intercepted by Carthaginian ships based in Iberia, and that the Roman fleet in Iberia could raid the Carthaginian domain at will.

The only major naval expedition against the Romans from Iberia would be that of Mago Barca to Italy in 204 BC.

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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Lilybaeum

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The Battle of Lilybaeum was the first naval clash between the navies of Carthage and Rome 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.


Carthage and the Roman Republic had peaceful, if not friendly, relations since signing the first treaty in 509 BC, which had detailed the rights of each power.

Treaties were signed in 348 and 306 BC that further established the spheres of influence of each state.

Carthage and Rome cooperated against King Pyrrhus and signed a treaty of cooperation in 279 BC.

However, Roman involvement in Messina in Sicily in 264 BC led to the First Punic War, which cost Carthage her Sicilian holdings, naval supremacy and a large indemnity.

The Roman actions during the Mercenary War favoured Carthage, but they seized Sardinia and Corsica after that war concluded.

Carthage rebuilt her fortunes by conquering parts of Iberia under the leadership of Hamilcar, Hasdrubal and Hannibal during 237-218 BC.

Rome, at the instigation of Massalia, signed a treaty with Hasdrubal the Fair in 226 BC, which established the Ebro as the limit of Carthaginian power in Iberia.

The city of Saguntum, located south of the river, became an ally of Rome some time after 226 BC.

When Iberian allies of Hannibal Barca came into conflict with Saguntum, Rome warned Hannibal not to intervene.

Faced with the alternative of backing down and losing face, Hannibal opted to attack Saguntum.

This was the start of the Second Punic War.


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Post by thelivyjr » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Lilybaeum, continued ...

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Strategic Situation

The Roman Senate had declared war on Carthage after Hannibal Barca had attacked, besieged and finally taken the city of Saguntum in Iberia in 219 BC.

Rome had declared Saguntum an ally but had done nothing to help the city during the eight-month-long siege.

Once the siege was over, the combatants started to make ready for the coming struggle, which was to last 18 years.

Roman preparations

The Roman navy had been mobilized in 219 BC, fielding 220 quinqueremes for fighting the Illyrians.

Publius Cornelius Scipio received four legions (8,000 Roman and 14,000 allied infantry and 600 Roman and 1,600 allied horse) and was to sail for Iberia escorted by 60 ships.

However, Gauls of the Boii and Insubre tribes in northern Italy attacked the Roman colonies of Placentia and Cremona, causing the Romans to flee to Mutina, which the Gauls then besieged.

Praetor L. Manlius Vulso marched from Ariminium with two Roman legions, 600 Roman Horse, 10,000 allied infantry and 1,000 allied cavalry towards Cisalpine Gaul.

This army was ambushed twice on the way, losing 1,200 men.

Although the siege of Mutina was raised, the army itself fell under a loose siege a few miles from Mutina.

This event prompted the Roman Senate to send one of Scipio's legions and 5,000 allied troops to aid Vulso.

Scipio had to raise troops to replace these and thus could not set out for Iberia until September 218 BC.

Consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus received four legions (2 Roman and 2 allied, 8,000 Roman and 16,000 allied infantry and 600 Roman and 1,800 allied horse) and instructions to sail for Africa, escorted by 160 quinqueremes.

Sempronius had set sail for Sicily, where he was to complete his preparations for invading Africa.

Punic preparations

Hannibal had dismissed his army to winter quarters after the Siege of Saguntum.

In the summer of 218 BC, Hannibal stationed 15,000 soldiers and 21 elephants in Iberia under his brother Hasdrubal Barca, and sent 20,000 soldiers in Africa with 4,000 garrisoning Carthage itself.

The army that marched for Italy from Cartagena is supposed to have numbered 90,000 foot and 12,000 cavalry, and 37 elephants.

Hannibal divided his army into three columns before crossing the Ebro River, and attacked the Iberian tribes of Ilergetes, Bergusii and Ausetani in Catalonia.

In a two-month-long campaign, Hannibal subdued parts of Catalonia between the Ebro, the Pyrenees and the Sicoris river in a swift, if costly campaign.

The Iberian contingent of the Punic navy, which numbered 50 quinqueremes (only 32 were manned) and 5 triremes, remained in Iberian waters, having shadowed Hannibal's army for some way.

Carthage mobilized at least 55 Quinqueremes for immediate raids on Italy.


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Post by thelivyjr » Thu Dec 05, 2019 1:40 p

Battle of Lilybaeum, concluded ...

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The Carthaginian navy struck the first blow of the war when a fleet of 20 quinqueremes, loaded with 1,000 soldiers, raided the Lipari Islands.

Another group of eight ships attacked Vulcano island, but was blown off-course in a storm towards the Straits of Messina.

The Syracusan navy, then at Messina, managed to capture three of the ships, which surrendered without resistance.

Learning from the captured crew that a Carthaginian fleet was to attack Lilybaeum, Hiero II, who was at Messina awaiting the arrival of Sempronius, warned the Roman praetor Marcus Amellius at Lilybaeum about the impending raid.

The battle

The Carthaginian fleet was hampered by bad weather and had to wait before commencing their operation.

Although the Romans only had 20 ships present at Lilybaeum, the praetor, after receiving the warning from Hiero, provisioned his ships for a long sail and put a proper contingent of Roman legionaries on board each ship before the Carthaginian fleet appeared.

He also posted lookouts along the coast to watch out for the Carthaginian ships, giving him early warning and minimizing the risk of surprise.

The Carthaginians had broken their journey at the Aegates Islands, and when they sailed for Lilybaeum on a moonlit night, they intended to make their approach coincide with the dawn.

The Roman lookouts spotted them well before they reached the harbour.

As the Romans sallied forth, the Carthaginians lowered their sails for battle and moved to the open sea.

The Carthaginians outnumbered the Romans, but their ships were undermanned and the Romans had the advantage of containing a larger number of soldiers aboard their ships.

Playing to their individual strengths, the Roman ships tried to close with the Carthaginian ships and grapple them, while the Carthaginians tried to evade the onrushing Roman ships and ram them if possible.

In the melee, the Romans managed to board and capture seven Carthaginian ships and take 1,700 prisoners.

The remaining Carthaginian ships managed to retreat.

The Roman losses are unknown.


The Romans had managed to thwart the Carthaginian attempt to establish a base in Sicily.

The Consul T. Sempronius Longus soon arrived with his army and fleet in Sicily.

He sailed with his fleet to Malta, where he captured the island and collected 2,000 prisoners, along with the Carthaginian garrison commander, Hamilcar Gisco.

He then sailed to intercept a Carthaginian naval contingent raiding the Vulcan islands.

The Carthaginian contingent had sailed and raided the Roman territory around Vibo in Bruttium.

Sempronius received the news of the Battle of Ticinus and was summoned by the Roman senate to aid Scipio.

He posted 50 ships at Lilybaeum under Marcus Amellius, another 25 in Vibo, then sent his army via land and sea to Ariminium.

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