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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Total War History » The Alternate History Thread
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Topic Subject:The Alternate History Thread
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Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 02-14-13 04:44 PM EDT (US)         
Ok, so i was thinking the other day about the many what-if? moments in history, and realised we dont have a thread for one. So to get the ball rolling, i will ask a question that is a popular one in alternate history.

What would have been the consequences of Rome not being sucked into the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, and maintaining a hold over Germany? Would the area have been Romanized after a time? Would it be impossible to hold the area? Could the Empire lasted longer or collapsed earlier?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
AuthorReplies:
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 04-13-13 11:56 PM EDT (US)     51 / 142       
To be honest, I can't recall number he had after the battle, and with the debate as to the numbers in this battle, I trust books over the internet. In this case, my one book on Carthage I have on my Kindle doesn't state the Carthaginian casualties.



I miss my books

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-14-13 12:10 PM EDT (US)     52 / 142       
I'd go more than a little crazy if I didn't have my books. I can go without TV, movies and video games easily, but deprive me of literature and I'll go mad out of sheer boredom

As for troop numbers, I rechecked what T.A. Dodge and John Warry wrote and they put Hannibal's army at 50,000 and 56,000 respectively. Dodge puts Hannibal's losses at 6,000 and Warry at 8,000, but both men agree that these were taken primarily by the Gauls and Iberians in the center. Going by all of this, Hannibal would have an army numbering 44-48,000 men which would, in my opinion, be more than enough to face down two Roman legions and their accompanying allied legions even if his men were a little roughed up from the previous battle.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 04-14-13 01:23 PM EDT (US)     53 / 142       
Hmmmm, now I'm wondering where I pulled that 22,000 from....

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 04-14-13 02:59 PM EDT (US)     54 / 142       
According to Polybius, Hannibal's casualties in Cannae were 4,000 Gauls, 1,500 Iberians and 200 cavalry out of an army of 40,000 infanrty and 10,000 cavalry...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 04-15-13 09:17 AM EDT (US)     55 / 142       
... which amounts to over 10% of his army. For a victor, that's quite a high rate of casualties. Most casualties of a defeated side are inflicted after one side begins to flee. The relatively heavy Carthaginian losses at Cannae are a reflection of the hard fighting and stubborn resistance put up by the trapped centre of the Roman army.

Hannibal's army would have been utterly exhausted after the battle.

Also, the figures listed above are fatalities, not all casualties (Polybius, III.117). The traditional rule of thumb is to assume about two wounded for every one fatal casualty. Out of a total of about 50,000 (10,000 cavalry, slightly over 40,000 infantry: III.114; Lazenby accepts Polybius' figures, though has some reservations as to the Roman numbers), with 5,700 killed, and, say, another 10,000 wounded, Hannibal's army would have been seriously weakened. Even reducing the wounded-killed ratio to 1:1 would still represent a serious reduction in fighting power.

Maharbal supposedly told Hannibal he could dine on the Capitol in five days; the only troops who could possibly have made it would have been his cavalry, and they would have had to travel 80 km (50 miles) per day even to get to Rome. Even assuming that the only cavalrymen out of action were the 200 dead (which seems a low figure, given the Romans had 6,000 cavalry, and the Roman right wing fought to the finish), and optimistically assuming that all of the cavalrymen still had their horses, the cavalry would arrive before Rome strung out with dead and dying horses all along the line of march, and hardly be in a fit state to fight.

J.F. Lazenby, Hannibal's War (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998), pp. 85-88:

The question whether Hannibal could have won the war by marching on Rome is unanswerable, like all hypothetical questions in history, but an examination of the circumstances at the time strongly suggests that he could not. In the first place, Cannae is over 400 kilometres from Rome, so that even marching at twenty kilometres a day, it would have taken Hannibal's army three weeks to get there, ample time for the Romans to organize the defence of the city. Secondly, despite the rhetorical exaggerations of Livy (e.g. 22.54.9), Rome still had some troops left already under arms, to say nothing of thousands she could raise from her own citizens and those of her allies, given time. Even for the immediate defence of the city, the two city legions, raised at the beginning of the year (Livy 23.14.2), would have been available, as well as the 1500 men [Marcus Claudius] Marcellus had at Ostia and the legion of marines he [later] sent to Teanum Sidicinum (Livy 22.57.7-8). Men who lived in the city could very rapidly have been armed and organized into some sort of temporary home-guard, and a very considerable force was in fact raised from the slave population (Livy 22.57.11). Thus Hannibal would certainly not have found the city defenceless, and it is very doubtful whether he could have taken it by an immediate assault: the only city of any size he did take quickly during the war, was Tarentum and that fell by treachery, something which was inconceivable in the case of Rome.

But if he had settled down to besiege the city, it is even less likely that he would ever have taken it. He had, for example, spent eight months on the siege of Saguntum, and if the Romans had been able to hold him off for anything like that length of time, they would have been able to raise overwhelming relief forces: the survivors of Cannae constituted a force of more than two legions in themselves. Postumius and his two legions could have been recalled from Cisalpine Gaul, and, with the aid of continuing superiority at sea, the legions from Sardinia and Sicily, to say nothing of those in Spain, could have been brought home. Thus Hannibal's besieging army would soon have found itself faced by forces at least as large as those he had fought at Cannae, and would have been in increasing danger of being hemmed in, just the kind of warfare he was always anxious to avoid.

If Hannibal had marched on the city after Cannae, moreover, this would have involved a complete reversal of his long-term strategy ... [T]he destruction of the city probably formed no part of his plans... What Hannibal hoped to achieve was to win over Rome's Latin and Italian allies, and he would have risked throwing away the psychological effect of his great victory, which was soon to lead to the defection of much of southern Italy, if he marched away from the areas where he might hope to gain support, into the heart-land of the Roman confederacy, largely populated by Roman citizens and by loyal allies. It is significant that the only time he ever did march on the city, in 211, it was for the purely strategic purpose of drawing the Roman armies away from Capua, his most important ally in Italy.

Thus, for Hannibal, Cannae must have seemed not so much the end of the war, to be followed by a triumphant march on the enemy's capital, as the beginning of the end, and the justification for his adherence to his original strategy [i.e. detaching Rome's allies from her allegiance] was precisely that so much of southern Italy did now begin to come over to him. Looking back on it, with the benefit of hind-sight, we can see that Cannae was the high point of his campaign, and that after it the tide began slowly to turn against him, but the years that followed were to be years of continued success, and the real turning-point only came in 212-211.

... even with siege-engines, Hannibal knew well, if only from his own experience at Saguntum, that sieges were likely to be protracted, and any such operations were bound to curtail his freedom of manoeuvre: he probably calculated that success in the field and his demonstrable ability to march at will wherever he wanted, were more likely to impress Italian communities...


Rome, though disheartened and dismayed by defeat at Cannae, does not seem even to have considered surrender, even when the first news made the Senate believe that there were no survivors of the battle, rather than the 14,500-some men Varro ultimately succeeded in re-assembling.

When Hannibal sent Carthalo with his offer to ransom the Roman prisoners from Cannae, and to tell Rome the terms for peace, "the Roman response was immediate and adamant: the newly appointed dictator, M. Iunius Pera, sent a lictor to meet the delegation and to tell Carthalo to leave Roman territory before nightfall (Livy 22.58.9)... we can well believe Polybius [6.58] when he says that Hannibal's joy at his victory was shattered by this evidence of Roman steadfastness and high courage." (Lazenby, pp. 88-89).

Hannibal's non-march on Rome bears similarities to many other incidents where we think generals should have done something different, if only because we know that they ultimately lost the war. The stop before Dunkirk is one example, as is the halting of the Jacobite march on London during the 1745 Rebellion.

What might seem like a too dangerous risk to a commander at the time can seem like a sensible gamble to us because, since they lost anyway, we can observe that they might as well have taken the chance.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

[This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 04-15-2013 @ 11:26 AM).]

DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-15-13 02:03 PM EDT (US)     56 / 142       
Also, the figures listed above are fatalities, not all casualties (Polybius, III.117). The traditional rule of thumb is to assume about two wounded for every one fatal casualty. Out of a total of about 50,000 (10,000 cavalry, slightly over 40,000 infantry: III.114; Lazenby accepts Polybius' figures, though has some reservations as to the Roman numbers), with 5,700 killed, and, say, another 10,000 wounded, Hannibal's army would have been seriously weakened. Even reducing the wounded-killed ratio to 1:1 would still represent a serious reduction in fighting power.
True, but this would still leave him with a substantial force of 34,000 who could be brought back to fighting conditioning after a few days rest. I also agree about the difficulty of riding to Rome from the distant field of Cannae.
Secondly, despite the rhetorical exaggerations of Livy (e.g. 22.54.9), Rome still had some troops left already under arms, to say nothing of thousands she could raise from her own citizens and those of her allies, given time. Even for the immediate defence of the city, the two city legions, raised at the beginning of the year (Livy 23.14.2), would have been available, as well as the 1500 men [Marcus Claudius] Marcellus had at Ostia and the legion of marines he [later] sent to Teanum Sidicinum (Livy 22.57.7-8). Men who lived in the city could very rapidly have been armed and organized into some sort of temporary home-guard, and a very considerable force was in fact raised from the slave population (Livy 22.57.11).
I have to disagree with Lazenby on this. While Rome certainly could've raised fresh forces in the form of an emergency conscription and slave soldiers, these men would only have several weeks training at most be and completely untested in battle. The Macedonian Wars, Seleucid War, and the civil war between Caesar and Pompey all highlight the significant advantage that experienced and hardened troops have over freshly trained or quickly raised soldiers. Numbers can only give so much of a psychological advantage, and it isn't beyond reason that thousands of unseasoned slaves and Roman citizens would break quickly after witnessing Hannibal's Gauls, Iberians and Libyans cut down hundreds of their comrades in the front ranks.
But if he had settled down to besiege the city, it is even less likely that he would ever have taken it. He had, for example, spent eight months on the siege of Saguntum, and if the Romans had been able to hold him off for anything like that length of time, they would have been able to raise overwhelming relief forces: the survivors of Cannae constituted a force of more than two legions in themselves. Postumius and his two legions could have been recalled from Cisalpine Gaul, and, with the aid of continuing superiority at sea, the legions from Sardinia and Sicily, to say nothing of those in Spain, could have been brought home. Thus Hannibal's besieging army would soon have found itself faced by forces at least as large as those he had fought at Cannae, and would have been in increasing danger of being hemmed in, just the kind of warfare he was always anxious to avoid.
I agree that Hannibal was lacking when it came to siegecraft, but Lazenby makes a logical but flawed assumption regarding the survivors of Cannae. These men had barely survived one of the most one-sided battles of all-time, and witnessed tens of thousands of their countrymen being slaughtered like cornered cattle. I seriously doubt that they'd be in any hurry to face a Carthaginian army, let alone the same one that massacred their greatest army. Also, while the legions in Sardinia, Sicily and Spain could've certainly returned, the time of arrival would've varied considerably especially for the forces in Spain. I seriously doubt a general of Hannibal's caliber would've allowed his enemy to unite in a single massive force again, so it isn't unreasonable to assume that he would confront the returning legions as they arrived and gradually wiped out Rome's pool of reliable soldiers.
If Hannibal had marched on the city after Cannae, moreover, this would have involved a complete reversal of his long-term strategy ... [T]he destruction of the city probably formed no part of his plans... What Hannibal hoped to achieve was to win over Rome's Latin and Italian allies, and he would have risked throwing away the psychological effect of his great victory, which was soon to lead to the defection of much of southern Italy, if he marched away from the areas where he might hope to gain support, into the heart-land of the Roman confederacy, largely populated by Roman citizens and by loyal allies. It is significant that the only time he ever did march on the city, in 211, it was for the purely strategic purpose of drawing the Roman armies away from Capua, his most important ally in Italy.
I disagree with Lazenby's assessment. I believe the besieging of the Republic's capital would've had an equal, if not greater, psychological effect on southern Italy if not central Italy as well. People are naturally inclined to be carried away by the heat of the moment and to follow someone who is both successful and audacious. It isn't unrealistic to believe that Hannibal could've induced more Italian cities to declare for him if he'd followed up on his victory at Cannae with an immediate march on the Roman capital. The Roman Republic would be at its greatest moment of weakness, with conquest or annihilation being a very real possibility. Historical events proved that the people of southern Italy were eager to throw off the Roman yoke if given the opportunity and a bold maneuver aimed at the heart of the Republic might've been enough to dispel the fears of those cities closest to Rome (and thus closer to immediate reprisal) and induce them to rebel as well.
Thus, for Hannibal, Cannae must have seemed not so much the end of the war, to be followed by a triumphant march on the enemy's capital, as the beginning of the end, and the justification for his adherence to his original strategy [i.e. detaching Rome's allies from her allegiance] was precisely that so much of southern Italy did now begin to come over to him. Looking back on it, with the benefit of hind-sight, we can see that Cannae was the high point of his campaign, and that after it the tide began slowly to turn against him, but the years that followed were to be years of continued success, and the real turning-point only came in 212-211.
The fact that he never considered this war to be one fought to the death is why I believe Hannibal's original strategy was flawed. If his goal had been to destroy Rome itself instead of converting its allies, I believe he could've won or at least guaranteed Carthage's survival. His allies in southern Italy proved themselves to be more of a burden than a boon as he was forced to rush back and forth to defend them whenever they were threatened by Rome's legions, while they barely provided replacement troops for his army. However, if he didn't protect them he risked looking weak to both them and the Romans which could've had disastrous consequences for him and his men (acts of betrayal, no secure bases for his army, being forced to live off the land due to lack of proper food & supplies, etc.).
Hannibal's non-march on Rome bears similarities to many other incidents where we think generals should have done something different, if only because we know that they ultimately lost the war. The stop before Dunkirk is one example, as is the halting of the Jacobite march on London during the 1745 Rebellion.

What might seem like a too dangerous risk to a commander at the time can seem like a sensible gamble to us because, since they lost anyway, we can observe that they might as well have taken the chance.
All too true, but I'd still like to believe that the war could've gone differently if Hannibal had changed his strategy by targeting Rome's cities and infrastructure instead of only destroying its armies. It would've been difficult as sieges weren't his strong suite, but I think Hannibal would've eventually overcome that weakness with the same vigor and energy he showed in his crossing of the Alps.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 04-15-13 03:41 PM EDT (US)     57 / 142       
The fact that he never considered this war to be one fought to the death is why I believe Hannibal's original strategy was flawed.
You can't say his strategy is flawed if you look at it from his point of view. Rome was the first state to really fight to the death in war, there was no precedent in that area. Even the First Punic War neither side fought to the death, just until they couldn't fight anymore economically. So from Hannibal's point of view, it wasn't a war to the death, merely a war to weaken each other to irrelevance.

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-15-13 04:11 PM EDT (US)     58 / 142       
You can't say his strategy is flawed if you look at it from his point of view. Rome was the first state to really fight to the death in war, there was no precedent in that area. Even the First Punic War neither side fought to the death, just until they couldn't fight anymore economically. So from Hannibal's point of view, it wasn't a war to the death, merely a war to weaken each other to irrelevance.
True, but wouldn't the most effective way to weaken an enemy be to target their bases and infrastructure rather than their allies? I'm probably thinking a bit too much in modern terms, but if Hannibal's intended goal was to weaken the Roman Republic to the point of military impotence then wouldn't the most effective way to do that be to specifically target the Romans themselves rather than their allies? If he slowly deprived the Roman army of its bases and pool of manpower and potential reinforcements, then it would only be a matter of time before he ground the Roman war machine down and neutralized the Republic's ability to make war on Carthage or anyone else.

I'm probably ranting now more than anything, so I apologize in advance if you find my argument to be confusing and self-defeating.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 04-15-13 04:35 PM EDT (US)     59 / 142       
Prying the Roman allies away from Rome would be easier than getting the Romans that didn't live in Rome to abandon Rome. So by going after their allies, it would be accomplish the goal of reducing her ability to fight, and wouldn't be near impossible. He wanted to defeat the Romans, as well as reduce their allies. A legion had Ala with them, which accounted for half the strength of the final legion, (please please please tell me I'm not screwing this up), if we were to think of the war in terms of what part of the legion Hannibal targeted, he wanted to kill half (the Romans), and make the other half go away (the Ala).

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 04-15-13 04:38 PM EDT (US)     60 / 142       
Numbers can only give so much of a psychological advantage, and it isn't beyond reason that thousands of unseasoned slaves and Roman reason that thousands of unseasoned slaves and Roman citizens would break quickly.
Well, the battle of Beneventum stands against your argument.
It isn't unrealistic to believe that Hannibal could've jnduced more Italian cities to declare for him if he'd followed up induced more Italian cities to declare for him if he'd followed up on his victory at Cannae with an immediate march on the Roman capital.
And after the first couple of weeks they would abandon him. Hannibal had an issue with sieges; Saguntum, three times at Nola etc.

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-15-13 05:10 PM EDT (US)     61 / 142       
Prying the Roman allies away from Rome would be easier than getting the Romans that didn't live in Rome to abandon Rome.
You misunderstand my intent (which is likely my fault). I didn't mean that Hannibal should try and convince the Romans living in Arretium, Ariminium and other cities to side with him. I meant that he should target and destroy/enslave them similar to what he did at Saguntum. Doing so would've eaten away at the Roman Republic's manpower, whilst also intimidating her allies into either staying neutral or willingly joining the Carthaginian invader.
A legion had Ala with them, which accounted for half the strength of the final legion, (please please please tell me I'm not screwing this up), if we were to think of the war in terms of what part of the legion Hannibal targeted, he wanted to kill half (the Romans), and make the other half go away (the Ala).
I'm aware that a Roman legion was always accompanied by one made up of its allies (I actually make my Roman armies half Roman and half Campanian, Ligurian, Estruscan, etc. in EB ) and I don't think you're screwing up your explanation of Hannibal's intended objective. I'm only saying that there's another way he might've gone about it that could've possibly produced better results.
Well, the battle of Beneventum stands against your argument.
The army that fought against Pyrrhus at Beneventum was vastly superior to the army of quickly trained slaves and conscripts that would be presented in the alternate scenario that's been described in the past few posts.
And after the first couple of weeks they would abandon him. Hannibal had an issue with sieges; Saguntum, three times at Nola etc.
As long as he defeated any relief attempts and prevented the Romans from marching on their own cities, I don't see any reason for Hannibal's Italian allies to abandon him. It took years for the Romans to grind down the loyalty of Hannibal's allies in southern Italy, and I believe many of them abandoned him only after the Romans had stormed their capital cities (unless I'm greatly mistaken).

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 04-15-13 08:38 PM EDT (US)     62 / 142       
I don't have time right now to respond to everything, so this will necessarily be brief and rather citation free.

Hannibal's first major target after Cannae was Naples. This was a sensible choice, when you consider it was only about 550 km from Carthage itself, and had a good harbour. Had he taken it, he would have gained a good base that could have received Carthaginian fleets carrying reinforcements (assuming they avoided the Roman fleet, of course). He did not succeed in taking it, and shortly after acapua defected from Rome.

The Cannae survivors were gathered at Canusium by Varro; when he informed the Senate, they recalled him to Rome and sent the energetic and aggressive praetor Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who was at Ostia preparing to head to his province of Sicily, to take over command.

Marcellus was the next Roman general to clash with Hannibal; he was appealed to by Nola to save it, and he marched to its assistance. It's not entirely clear how long after this was, but it doesn't seem to have been particularly long.

At about the same time, the dictator Junius Pera had successfully gathered an army of 25,000 men, and moved towards Campania. Two of his legions were the ones stationed at Rome, raised the year before. He also received a good-sized contingent of allies.

Hannibal withdrew from Nola when he heard of Marcellus' approach and headed to Naples again, only to find a Roman officer in command there. He then headed back to Nola, where Marcellus fought a series of skirmishes in front ofnthe town and apparently even conducted a daring sortie, though even Livy thinks the (fairly high) figures for Carthaginian losses at Nola are exaggerated.

Hannibal withdrew, then headed to Casilinum, the gateway to Campania, but the town was staunchly defended. Some sources record a defeat inflicted on Junius Pera about this time, though Livy has nothing about it. If there was a defeat, it can't have been too serious.

(Hannibal attacked Casilinum the next year, 215, and succeeded in capturing it then)

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-15-13 09:50 PM EDT (US)     63 / 142       
I don't have time right now to respond to everything, so this will necessarily be brief and rather citation free.
Not a problem Pitt, and it's quite enjoyable to have a good old fashioned historical debate with you and Punic. Reminds me of the old days when the forums were buzzing with activity.
Hannibal's first major target after Cannae was Naples. This was a sensible choice, when you consider it was only about 550 km from Carthage itself, and had a good harbour. Had he taken it, he would have gained a good base that could have received Carthaginian fleets carrying reinforcements (assuming they avoided the Roman fleet, of course). He did not succeed in taking it, and shortly after acapua defected from Rome.
I'd forgotten about his siege of Naples. I wonder if it might've been enough to convince the Carthaginian senate reinforcements to Italy if he'd succeeded? Having a major city to house new troops and a secure harbor for the Carthaginian fleet to dock at could've given his brother Mago enough clout to sway more senators to his cause during his post-Cannae meeting with the senate.
At about the same time, the dictator Junius Pera had successfully gathered an army of 25,000 men, and moved towards Campania. Two of his legions were the ones stationed at Rome, raised the year before. He also received a good-sized contingent of allies.
Adding the 15,000 survivors of Cannae under Marcellus plus an equal number of allied legions to Pera's would give a total of 65,000 troops. A much more daunting number than I originally believed. Going from that, it would seem that Hannibal's best chance of securing victory would've been to defeat Marcellus' troops before he could unite with Pera's, but Marcellus showed himself to be a shrewd commander by refusing pitched battle and instead frustrated Hannibal with a series of sorties, skirmishes and raids.

On a slightly different note Pitt, have you read T.A. Dodge's 'Hannibal'? I've only recently started rereading it, but a lot of information in your posts is quite similar to what he wrote.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums

[This message has been edited by DominicusUltimus (edited 04-15-2013 @ 09:52 PM).]

Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 04-15-13 10:06 PM EDT (US)     64 / 142       
If you are looking for anciet sources, look here.

Livy supports the argument that Hannibal's army was exhausted, he says in 22.49:
Hannibal's officers all surrounded him and congratulated him on his victory, and urged that after such a magnificent success he should allow himself and his exhausted men to rest for the remainder of the day and the following night. Maharbal, however, the commandant of the cavalry, thought that they ought not to lose a moment. "That you may know," he said to Hannibal, "what has been gained by this battle I prophesy that in five days you will be feasting as victor in the Capitol. Follow me; I will go in advance with the cavalry; they will know that you are come before they know that you are coming." To Hannibal the victory seemed too great and too joyous for him to realise all at once. He told Maharbal that he commended his zeal, but he needed time to think out his plans. Maharbal replied: "The gods have not given all their gifts to one man. You know how to win victory, Hannibal, you do not how to use it." That day's delay is believed to have saved the City and the empire.
Although most of this is suspect( especially the part about Maharbal), it does mention that his troops needed at least a day and a half of rest at the end of the battle.

What was the naval situation at this time? it often takes a back seat to Hannibal's campaigns, so i am unsure of the specifics.

Anyway, Even though Hannibal didn't besiege Rome when it seemed like he had the chance, how large of an army would he had needed to take the city, either in an assault or by siege (not including the number of men needed to keep the other Roman legions from breaking in? Might it have been possible if Hannibal had the manpower to Beige Rome, that we could have seen something like Alesia 150 years before it occured?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda

[This message has been edited by Awesome Eagle (edited 04-15-2013 @ 11:37 PM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 04-15-13 11:30 PM EDT (US)     65 / 142       
@DU

I was refering to the battle of Baneventum in 214 BC between Gracchus and Hanno, not the battle of the Pyrrhic war. I'm sorry for not being clear enough...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-16-13 00:17 AM EDT (US)     66 / 142       
I was refering to the battle of Baneventum in 214 BC between Gracchus and Hanno, not the battle of the Pyrrhic war. I'm sorry for not being clear enough...
No worries and it certainly makes a lot more sense now that it's been cleared up. I was a bit perplexed as to why you would bring up a battle that had occurred roughly 50 years beforehand

As for the Second Battle of Beneventum, Hanno wasn't commanding Iberian, Libya or Gallic veterans but freshly trained troops from Bruttium and Lucania. The two forces were evenly matched when it came to experience, but it appears from what I've read that the possibility of freedom is what gave Gracchus' slave soldiers the psychological edge to beat Hanno's troops. Dodge even writes that the slaves began decapitating soldiers in the midst of battle, which was caused Gracchus' proclamation of freedom if they defeated the Carthaginians and brought him Hanno's head. I'm sure the sight of hundreds of slaves decapitating the corpses of their countrymen and carrying them around like grizzly trophies would've been a massive blow to the morale of the untested Bruttians and Lucanians, which was strained further by the ferocious assault of the slaves themselves.
Although most of this is suspect( especially the part about Maharbal), it does mention that his troops needed at least a day and a half of rest at the end of the battle.

What was the naval situation at this time? it often takes a back seat to Hannibal's campaigns, so i am unsure of the specifics.

Anyway, Even though Hannibal didn't besiege Rome when it seemed like he had the chance, how large of an army would he had needed to take the city, either in an assault or by siege (not including the number of men needed to keep the other Roman legions from breaking in? Might it have been possible if Hannibal had the manpower to Beige Rome, that we could have seen something like Alesia 150 years before it occured?
Wonderful link AE, but my knowledge of Carthage's naval movements during the Second Punic War is nowhere near adequate enough to answer your first question. I leave it to Pitt and Punic to enlighten both of us in that regard

I don't remember it exactly, but there's a rule regarding siege assaults that the attacked must outnumber the defenders by at least 3-to-1 if they are to overwhelm the defenses and achieve victory. It wouldn't be complete out of the question for Hannibal to construct a siege wall large enough to encompass the entire city, but then again Hannibal isn't remembered for his skill in siege work since he preferred to take cities either by treachery or assault. Bear in mind that I may be wrong with regards to that last sentence since I'm basing it off what I've read of his Siege of Saguntum and his efforts at Nola and Tarentum.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 04-16-13 00:26 AM EDT (US)     67 / 142       
I don't remember it exactly, but there's a rule regarding siege assaults that the attacked must outnumber the defenders by at least 3-to-1 if they are to overwhelm the defenses and achieve victory. It wouldn't be complete out of the question for Hannibal to construct a siege wall large enough to encompass the entire city, but then again Hannibal isn't remembered for his skill in siege work since he preferred to take cities either by treachery or assault. Bear in mind that I may be wrong with regards to that last sentence since I'm basing it off what I've read of his Siege of Saguntum and his efforts at Nola and Tarentum.
The numerical superiority is known to me, but the garrison of Rome isn't, as well as a proper appraisal of the extent to which the city was defended. Hannibal, i believe was mostly always in a rush, and needed to take cities quickly. The case with Saguntum is that When he besieged it, war was effectively declared upon Rome, and he needed to be quick in order to get past Saguntum, and into the alps/ Gaul so he could take the Romans by surprise with speed, which is exaclt what he did.
Also, Once in Italy, Hannibal couldn't afford to sit down and conduct a protracted siege, as it would be like drawing flies to honey. Roman commanders would have loved to put Hannibal and his armies between them and hostile citi walls where maneuver would be very difficult. Also, his logistical situation demanded that he keep moving in order to forage for food supplies as well, maintaining an army as large as his on foreign soil with no supplies is difficult enough, but put it into the context that most of it is hostile and you have armies chasing you then we can see why he wanted to gain cities through assaults and treachery rather than by siege.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda

[This message has been edited by Awesome Eagle (edited 04-16-2013 @ 00:28 AM).]

Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 04-16-13 01:46 AM EDT (US)     68 / 142       
If only I had all my resources available to me for the naval question... My eBook on Carthage doesn't mention anything about the naval aspect in any specifics for this war, aside from what the Romans had in North Africa when Scipio landed....


I really, really miss my bookshelves of books

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 04-16-13 07:24 AM EDT (US)     69 / 142       
A note: Junius Pera's entire army, allies included, was 25,000 men when it moved into Campania. I probably expressed myself too hurriedly in my earlier post. That force initially appears to have been enough to deter Hannibal from attempting a siege on towns when Junius Pera was in the vicinity.

At the time of Cannae itself, that is, before any new forces were raised, there were three legions at Rome or Ostia, as well as at least another 1,500 marines with the fleet at Ostia. That should have been enough to defend the city, though not to conduct operations in the field unsupported by further reinforcements.

Postumius and his men (2 legions and allies; 25,000 men) in Cisalpine Gaul were ambushed and killed in Cisalpine Gaul some time after Cannae.

It's not clear how long after, but it was in the same year. It must have been at least a number of weeks, because it happened long enough after Cannae for Pera to have left the city with his new army, Varro to have been summoned to Rome from Apulia to appoint Marcus Fabius Buteo dictator (while Pera was still dictator too!) to appoint new men to the heavily depleted Senate, and then for Pera to be recalled to preside over the consular elections in which Postumius was elected in absentia.

Livy says Junius Pera called up four new city legions and 1,000 cavalry, and called for men from the Latins and other allies (22.57); Lazenby believes only two new legions were raised at this time, based on a textual analysis which seems sound (Livy, when describing the allocation of legions at the beginning of 215 BC, refers only to the two old city legions and two new city legions, not four new ones).

But before they could be raised, the urgent need to send a force to Campania prompted the dictator to recruit 8,000 volunteers from the slaves in the city (22.57), as well as 6,000 debtors and criminals (23.14). He also received allies from Picenum and Cisalpine Gaul, and marched from Rome with a force of 25,000 men (23.14).

These figures seem odd; 14,000 slaves, debtors and criminals, plus the two city legions, is not far short of 25,000. There can't have been many allies in that force; presumably most had not yet arrived.

After the consular elections in March 215 BC, Livy described the forces available in Italy (23.32):

In the division of the forces the army at Teanum, formerly commanded by Pera the dictator, was assigned to Fabius; Gracchus, the other consul, took over the slave volunteers at Teanum together with 25,000 of the allies; the praetor Valerius was given command of the [two] legions which had been recalled from Sicily, and the proconsul Marcellus was sent to the army above Suessula, to guard Nola.


The Cannae legions with Marcellus at Suessula were sent to Sicily; Marcellus was given the two newly-raised city legions in their place (Livy 23.25, 23.31).

Rome had fourteen legions in the field at the beginning of 215 BC, of which 9 were in Italy; four of these were fresh formations (Gracchus' slaves, and two new city legions). Two legions were in each of Sicily and Spain, and a further legion was in Sardinia. There were 18 legions by 214 BC.


For Hannibal, being stuck besieging Rome with large armies assembling behind him would have been a very dangerous proposition. The mere act of marching on Rome might have caused the defection of many of the southern Italian allies, but it's unlikely it would have broken the bonds with the Latins.

The southern Italians were largely millstones around Hannibal's neck; their defection while Rome was besieged wouldn't have added much to his military power, and while he was near Rome he would have been unable to protect them from Roman retribution. The southern Italian cities also seem to have been motivated to defect as much by the immediate presence of Hannibal's army as they were by ill-feeling or antagonism towards Rome.

After Cannae, the basic strategy of the Romans was to retake the Italian cities that had defected, while avoiding open battle with Hannibal himself. To that end, they deployed a number of standard-sized consular armies rather than one or two massive ones. More than a few (particularly Marcellus...) were quite willing, however, to skirmish with him.

Whether Hannibal should have marched on Rome immediately is a hypothetical that's existed since Roman times, when the question was given to students to argue as part of their training in rhetoric. In hindsight it was his best bet, but hindsight's a luxury he didn't have, and it was perfectly reasonable for him to assume Rome would sue for peace; it had lost 100,000 men so far, about 10% of the available military pool. Any other state would have given in.




The primary focus of the war seems to have been on land, rather than at sea. The Carthaginians made no effort to re-create the vast fleets of the First Punic War, so neither did Rome. In part this may have been because there were no suitable bases for a Carthaginian fleet; the capture of Naples might have changed this.

There was constant naval skirmishing around Sicily, but it didn't become a serious theatre of operations until Syracuse defected and joined Carthage.

There was a small naval battle off Spain in 217, off the mouth of the River Ebro; 35 Roman and Massiliote ships defeated 40 Carthaginian galleys, sinking 4 and capturing 25 of them.

In 215, Carthage sent an expedition to try to recapture Sardinia, but the fleet was delayed by storms and Rome reinforced the island with a second legion.

In 213, Carthage landed an army of 25,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry and 12 elephants in Sicily, and a fleet of 55 galleys entered Syracuse.

But no great battle developed; neither army was willing to force a battle, and ultimately the Carthaginian army, camped in low-lying marshy ground, fell victim to virulent disease.

A massive Carthaginian relief and resupply expedition was mounted for Syracuse in late 212, with 750 merchantmen carrying supplies and 150 galleys, but the Carthaginian commander wasn't willing to fight a naval engagement against the Roman blockaders, and ultimately withdrew.

Fighting on land continued until 210, as further Carthaginian reinforcements were sent to Sicily.

A Goldsworthy, The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265 - 146 BC (London: Cassell, 2003), pp. 267-268:

One of the reasons for the unimpressive performance of the Punic navy in the Second Punic War was its lack of bases on the Mediterranean islands. If the Carthaginians had managed to establish themselves firmly in at least part of Sicily then they might have been able to supply Hannibal with enough men and supplies to make a difference in Italy, assuming that there was the political will in Carthage to do this.

Considerable resources were committed to the war effort in Sicily, with the dispatch of Himilco's army and its significant reinforcement in spite of the loss of Syracuse, whilst the Punic fleet operated in considerable strength around the island and did much to prolong the resistance of that beleaguered city. In spite of this they failed to inflict a major defeat on the Romans either at land or sea.


The Carthaginian Senate has often been characterised as timid in its management of the war, but that's an uncharitable view. Certainly they never mobilised to the extent the Romans did, but they probably couldn't. On the other hand, Roman aggressiveness in the conduct of the war often had Carthaginians reacting rather than developing their own strategy. They did mount major expeditions to Sardinia and Sicily, and ordered Hasdrubal to move to Italy in 215, only for him to be halted by the Scipiones.

Despite Hanno's criticism, the Carthaginian Senate did vote to reinforce Hannibal after Cannae, as well as sending more men to Spain. The problem was that it was hard to get reinforcements to Hannibal: "Without a port, and some degree of control of the waters off Sicily, no sizeable reinforcement could reach Hannibal without following the land route he had taken himself." (Goldsworthy, p. 230)

Generally speaking, unlike the First Punic War, in the Second, comparatively small Roman fleets could pretty much sail at will. Scipio only took 30 warships to escort his army's journey to Africa. Regulus had had over 300 in the First Punic War.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

[This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 04-16-2013 @ 09:59 AM).]

DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-16-13 01:43 PM EDT (US)     70 / 142       
A note: Junius Pera's entire army, allies included, was 25,000 men when it moved into Campania. I probably expressed myself too hurriedly in my earlier post. That force initially appears to have been enough to deter Hannibal from attempting a siege on towns when Junius Pera was in the vicinity.

At the time of Cannae itself, that is, before any new forces were raised, there were three legions at Rome or Ostia, as well as at least another 1,500 marines with the fleet at Ostia. That should have been enough to defend the city, though not to conduct operations in the field unsupported by further reinforcements.
I see, but this would still give the combined forces in the immediate area surrounding Rome an army of roughly 41,500. A much more credible threat than I originally believed as I thought there were only two inexperienced city legions in Rome following Cannae.
Livy says Junius Pera called up four new city legions and 1,000 cavalry, and called for men from the Latins and other allies (22.57); Lazenby believes only two new legions were raised at this time, based on a textual analysis which seems sound (Livy, when describing the allocation of legions at the beginning of 215 BC, refers only to the two old city legions and two new city legions, not four new ones).

But before they could be raised, the urgent need to send a force to Campania prompted the dictator to recruit 8,000 volunteers from the slaves in the city (22.57), as well as 6,000 debtors and criminals (23.14). He also received allies from Picenum and Cisalpine Gaul, and marched from Rome with a force of 25,000 men (23.14).

These figures seem odd; 14,000 slaves, debtors and criminals, plus the two city legions, is not far short of 25,000. There can't have been many allies in that force; presumably most had not yet arrived.

After the consular elections in March 215 BC, Livy described the forces available in Italy (23.32):
I tend to apply a bit of salt when regarding Livy given his tendency to exaggerate Roman victories and embellish the number of enemy casualties, especially with his account of the Seleucid War. Nevertheless, I believe his numbers regarding the troops at Rome's disposal post-Cannae can be trusted (with the exception of his miscount of the new legions).
For Hannibal, being stuck besieging Rome with large armies assembling behind him would have been a very dangerous proposition. The mere act of marching on Rome might have caused the defection of many of the southern Italian allies, but it's unlikely it would have broken the bonds with the Latins.

The southern Italians were largely millstones around Hannibal's neck; their defection while Rome was besieged wouldn't have added much to his military power, and while he was near Rome he would have been unable to protect them from Roman retribution. The southern Italian cities also seem to have been motivated to defect as much by the immediate presence of Hannibal's army as they were by ill-feeling or antagonism towards Rome.
Agreed in that the southern Italians were far more of a liability to his campaign than they were worth, and given all the information that you've presented along with what I've learned from rereading Dodge's book it appears that Hannibal made the right call in not marching on Rome despite the pleas of his closest officers.

Judging by his actions at Nola, Hannibal recognized the importance of securing a reliable base for his army and a safe harbor for any Carthaginian ships bringing him reinforcements from Africa. Unfortunately, his siege of Nola was unsuccessful and he was repeatedly distracted by cries of assistance from his allies in Southern Italy. The defection of Capua solved his immediate concerns, but did nothing to remedy his long-term issues i.e. securing a safe avenue from where the reinforcements from Africa could arrive.

-----

With regards to the naval situation and other theaters of the war, I think the Senate made a much more sensible decision than many people today give them credit for. By tying down a significant number of legions in Sardinia, Sicily and Spain, Carthage managed to prevent the Romans from dedicating their full military might against Hannibal, whose operations in the Roman heartland could deal a far more telling blow than the potential losses of Sardinia or Sicily (though their losses would've provided crucial bases for the Carthaginian fleet as you pointed out earlier).
In 215, Carthage sent an expedition to try to recapture Sardinia, but the fleet was delayed by storms and Rome reinforced the island with a second legion.

In 213, Carthage landed an army of 25,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry and 12 elephants in Sicily, and a fleet of 55 galleys entered Syracuse.

But no great battle developed; neither army was willing to force a battle, and ultimately the Carthaginian army, camped in low-lying marshy ground, fell victim to virulent disease.

A massive Carthaginian relief and resupply expedition was mounted for Syracuse in late 212, with 750 merchantmen carrying supplies and 150 galleys, but the Carthaginian commander wasn't willing to fight a naval engagement against the Roman blockaders, and ultimately withdrew.
Given the above information, it would appear that hesitation and bad luck were as responsible for Carthaginian defeats as Roman determination. The hesitation of the Carthaginian fleet to close with the Roman fleet can be explained by defeats in the last war, but the Roman ships would not be equipped with the Corvus device as they were in the 1st Punic War unless I'm greatly mistaken. This would mean that both sides would be relying on the traditional tactics of ramming and maneuver, rather than boarding and capture which would give the Carthaginian fleet a key advantage.
The Carthaginian Senate has often been characterised as timid in its management of the war, but that's an uncharitable view. Certainly they never mobilised to the extent the Romans did, but they probably couldn't. On the other hand, Roman aggressiveness in the conduct of the war often had Carthaginians reacting rather than developing their own strategy. They did mount major expeditions to Sardinia and Sicily, and ordered Hasdrubal to move to Italy in 215, only for him to be halted by the Scipiones.
I also agree that Senate has been unfairly demonized as being cowardly by the passing of time. Still, it may have been wrong for them in the long-run to overextend their forces by attempting to reinforce several fronts rather than one or two crucial areas. It might've been best if they'd abandoned Sardinia altogether and focused instead on either securing an overland route of reinforcement to Hannibal through Spain and Gaul, or devote their attention to wresting control of Sicily from Rome and securing a reliable sea route to Italy and safe harbors for the Carthaginian fleet to dock and resupply.
Despite Hanno's criticism, the Carthaginian Senate did vote to reinforce Hannibal after Cannae, as well as sending more men to Spain. The problem was that it was hard to get reinforcements to Hannibal: "Without a port, and some degree of control of the waters off Sicily, no sizeable reinforcement could reach Hannibal without following the land route he had taken himself." (Goldsworthy, p. 230)
I was truly unaware of that. I always thought the Senate left him out to dry after Cannae. You have my thanks for curing my ignorance on this subject

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums

[This message has been edited by DominicusUltimus (edited 04-16-2013 @ 01:46 PM).]

Pitt
Daimyo
posted 04-18-13 03:26 AM EDT (US)     71 / 142       
I like these discussions, because it makes me re-read texts I may have only skimmed or glanced at years before. It refreshes my memory as to things I've forgotten, and usually leads me to learn something new as well.

There's emerged a general academic consensus that Hannibal's decision not to march on Rome was justified (Delbrück was, as far as I recall, the first to make this point, near the end of the nineteenth century; it took time to gain acceptance). But it depends on not simply taking Livy's words at face value (technically, supposedly Maharbal's words, which are probably ahistorical: Maharbal is not even named as the commander of the cavalry by Polybius).

Livy created a picture of utter disaster, that Rome was hopelessly vulnerable (reinforced by L. Caecilius Metellus supposedly talking about abandoning Italy entirely); then if you keep reading, you find that even by his own statements it was not.

It's probably calculated to demonstrate the tenacity of te Senators in the face of calamity, even with the public despair expressed by the women of Rome for the loss of their sons and husbands. It was, after all, the prestige of the Senate in conducting this war that was thought to justify its subsequently enhanced actual authority over the state, despite its limited legal authority. Whenever the people intervened (by choosing Gaius Flaminius, Minucius Rufus, Varro etc, Livy presents it as leading to disaster.
but the Roman ships would not be equipped with the Corvus device as they were in the 1st Punic War unless I'm greatly mistaken. This would mean that both sides would be relying on the traditional tactics of ramming and maneuver, rather than boarding and capture which would give the Carthaginian fleet a key advantage.
Not necessarily; Rome's final victory (and one disaster, Battle of Drepana) at sea in the first war was after the abandonment of the corvus, see e.g. Battle of the Aegates Islands. The growing experience of the Romans and the casualties suffered by the Carthaginians created, at the least, a rough parity in seamanship by the end of the war.

Rome had also maintained its fleet, and it had recent experience fighting the Illyrians, whereas the Carthaginian fleet had to be expanded. It's arguable that the Roman fleet was, taken as a whole, the more skilled in the Second Punic War. We don't know, of course, because there weren't any vast fleet engagements, and the details of most of the smaller skirmishes haven't come down to us.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

[This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 04-18-2013 @ 03:29 AM).]

DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-18-13 08:48 PM EDT (US)     72 / 142       
I like these discussions, because it makes me re-read texts I may have only skimmed or glanced at years before. It refreshes my memory as to things I've forgotten, and usually leads me to learn something new as well.
I feel the same way. I've actually started rereading Dodge's Hannibal along with Warry's Warfare in the Classical World to refresh my knowledge on the Second Punic War and the Polybian Era Roman army.
Livy created a picture of utter disaster, that Rome was hopelessly vulnerable (reinforced by L. Caecilius Metellus supposedly talking about abandoning Italy entirely); then if you keep reading, you find that even by his own statements it was not.
I'm very familiar with Livy's habit of aggrandizing certain events and omitting details that could've been inconvenient for him. His accounting of the Battle of Magnesia is particularly inconsistent as both he and Appian state the Seleucid army numbering a massive 70,000 men, yet if one adds together their proposed numbers for each of the Seleucid cavalry & infantry corps the total barely amounts to 50,000. He also brushes over Antiochus' charge on the left wing of the Roman-Pergamene army, probably because it resulted in the routing of an allied legion and part of the Roman legion stationed there since their close proximity to the Phrygios River prevented the Seleucid cavalry from simply riding around them and attacking the Roman camp.

I'm also more inclined to believe John D. Grainger's argument that the Roman-Pergamene army was much larger than either Livy or Appian would let us believe, given the fact that the Attalids had historically maintained a considerable military presence in western Anatolia since their revolt against the Seleucids and that it was likely that Eumenes II had dedicated his entire army to the command of Lucius Cornelius Scipio as there was no need for him to hold any of his forces back for defensive purposes since his kingdom was now surrounded by either friendly or Roman-allied kingdoms with the exception of the Seleucid Empire.
Not necessarily; Rome's final victory (and one disaster, Battle of Drepana) at sea in the first war was after the abandonment of the corvus, see e.g. Battle of the Aegates Islands. The growing experience of the Romans and the casualties suffered by the Carthaginians created, at the least, a rough parity in seamanship by the end of the war.

Rome had also maintained its fleet, and it had recent experience fighting the Illyrians, whereas the Carthaginian fleet had to be expanded. It's arguable that the Roman fleet was, taken as a whole, the more skilled in the Second Punic War. We don't know, of course, because there weren't any vast fleet engagements, and the details of most of the smaller skirmishes haven't come down to us.
Ah I was not aware of this. My overall knowledge of the First Punic War is shamefully lacking as I've only read of Regulus' operations and those of Hamilcar Barca's in Sicily in any sort of depth.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Angel of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 04-24-13 12:44 PM EDT (US)     73 / 142       
Ok, so I managed to gain a little info about the naval part of the war( in the beginning at least). At the break out of war apparently Rome's fleet was twice the size of the Carthaginian fleet. The Carthaginians for their part neglected to increase the size of this force, and besides some raiding activity throughout the war, not much was done. The Carthaginian fleet did support the transport mago(hannies brother) in his invasion of Italy. Alot more than that occurred, but I don't have sources atm

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
QuintusMarcellus
Ashigaru
posted 04-25-13 06:44 AM EDT (US)     74 / 142       
Well, according to a book I read, the Carthaginians were rather flaccid, and did not really make aggressive maneuvers, the exceptions being Hamilcar and Hannibal. The Roman generals were often the aggressors. I really think the Second Punic War may have ended differently if Hannibal had received suitable reinforcement. His skills as a general were considerable.
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 04-25-13 07:06 PM EDT (US)     75 / 142       
Well that does seem evident, with the Roman commanders more often then not initiating battles, mostly to their detriment. Rash roman commanders caused massive casualties throughout the history of Rome, as too often then not, the politically appointed commanders were inexperienced and lacked knowledge of how to properly handle an army, as well as misunderstood tactics and strategic thinking.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 04-26-13 08:22 PM EDT (US)     76 / 142       
Ok, so now that that discussion has ceased(sorry for double post) how about we start a new one, but still Punic war themed.

How would the Punic war have been different if Scipio was not allowed to host an invasion of Africa, but was instead forced to confront Hannibal in Italy at the Senate's urging? Would he still have won, or would Hannibal have used the urging of the senate on Scipio against him and forced Scipio to fight in on a battle field of his own choosing?
(By scipio, i mean Africanus)

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Warlod Redvig
Ashigaru
posted 04-27-13 04:00 AM EDT (US)     77 / 142       
From what I have seen about the Punic Wars {Which is considerably less than most here :P} then it would all lie on who chose the battlefield

Hannibal had a far superior army in terms of numbers in Zama but Scipio claimed the better ground and was more in control that Hannibal

If Hannibal had the chance to choose ground against a Italy based Scipio then personally I believe that Hannibal would of pulled through. The combination of his sheer skill at using the terrain and a veteran army which he had led for years would of, perhaps not as crushingly as Trebia or Lake Tras' (The name of the other one escapes me :/) pulled through

But then again Africanus was talented himself, and wasnt as much of a noob to war as previous consuls. I suppose it would all come down to the battlefield itself

It is pleasant, when the sea is high and the winds are dashing the waves about, to watch from the shores the struggles of another - Lucretius
ShieldWall
Ashigaru
posted 04-28-13 03:34 AM EDT (US)     78 / 142       
My understanding is that Hannibal's army at Zama was very inexperienced apart from a reserve of some of his Italian veterans, so although his isolated army was getting progressively weaker in Italy and the Romans were getting ever stronger I think he'd have stood a better chance there.

His only hope at Zama was his elephants causing a level of mayhem which he could exploit, and they did, but to his army not the Romans. Scipio was a different proposition though as he was effectively a student of Hannibal's and so was unlikely to fall into the same traps and could also spring some surprises of his own. If there had have been a battle between them in Italy and Scipio had lost, I don't think it would have changed much as Rome was only desperate for manpower after Cannae and so one destroyed army could be replaced. The same wasn't true for Hannibal though, one defeat and it would be over.
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 04-28-13 03:02 PM EDT (US)     79 / 142       
At Zama, Hannibal was hamstrung by having essentially 3 armies, all of different levels of proficiency. Carthaginian armies, due to the motley nature of the men that made them, needed time to become a good, cohesive force. If Hannibal would have met Scipio in Italy vs in Africa, I am confident Hannibal would have won. As I said on the other topic, Scipio wasn't stupid and wouldn't get himself in a situation where disaster was certain, but I am confident a battle would've taken place, and Scipio would've been defeated, but not spectacularly.

The differences between what Scipio had in Africa compared to what he most likely would've had in Italy comes down to cavalry. There wouldn't be any Numidians in Scipio's army to help counteract Hannibal's mastery of the cavalry fight, and at Zama that was really what tipped the battle in Rome's favor, the return of the cavalry and their charging into the Punic lines. Take away that charge, make it against the Romans, and the outcome might've been different. It must be remembered that when Hannibal's veterans went to blows with the Romans, the battle could've went either way, according to Polybius I believe.

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 05-05-13 07:59 AM EDT (US)     80 / 142       
Ok then, so since that has Stagnated, another topic:

What if CLaudius' invasion of Britannia had failed? The landing troops had been forced into battle 2 days after landing and wiped out by superior numbers. Could ther have been another invasion to get pride back? Or would the romans have taken it as a sign and left Britain alone?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
ShieldWall
Ashigaru
posted 05-05-13 12:28 PM EDT (US)     81 / 142       
The Romans were fond of reprisal missions so I'd imagine there would have been some sort of consequence for a defeat, but as the reasons for the invasion of Britain in the first place were somewhat thin I'm not so sure that they would have bothered trying again. This would make their response similar to that after their defeat to the Germans under Arminius - reprisals with a bit of devastation, but basically we're stopping west of the Rhine from now on. There was some wealth to be had in Britain, but perhaps not enough to justify the effort.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 05-06-13 02:40 AM EDT (US)     82 / 142       
Didn't Western Britain have like 10% of the known world's tin production at the time?

That alone would make it worthwhile.

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Ashigaru
posted 05-06-13 03:32 AM EDT (US)     83 / 142       
In that case an invasion of Cornwall would probably be all that was required. There were such metals available, but they could be obtained through trade.
markdienekes
Ashigaru
posted 05-11-13 06:28 AM EDT (US)     84 / 142       
I have to disagree with Lazenby on this. While Rome certainly could've raised fresh forces in the form of an emergency conscription and slave soldiers, these men would only have several weeks training at most be and completely untested in battle. The Macedonian Wars, Seleucid War, and the civil war between Caesar and Pompey all highlight the significant advantage that experienced and hardened troops have over freshly trained or quickly raised soldiers. Numbers can only give so much of a psychological advantage, and it isn't beyond reason that thousands of unseasoned slaves and Roman citizens would break quickly after witnessing Hannibal's Gauls, Iberians and Libyans cut down hundreds of their comrades in the front ranks.
Great discussion guys, just wanted to answer a few points raised by Dominicus.

Here, they wouldn't engage Hannibal in open battle, the raised forces would stand no chance, but behind defensive walls, they could put up a much better fight.

The forces that would be raised or returned to defend the city (from Sardinia, Sicily, and Spain) wouldn't need to engage Hannibal in a pitched battle, they could harass his supply lines and simply starve his army.

Hannibal's choice to consolidate his army and position in Italy probably seemed like a good idea at the time, and I generally agree with it!
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 05-22-13 02:21 AM EDT (US)     85 / 142       
Ok, here is another one to revive the thread:

What if Xerxes wasnt assasinated? WOuld could have been the possible outcomes for the Persian Empire? Hopefully people know about this, other wise i will pose a different one in a couple days

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 05-22-13 10:23 AM EDT (US)     86 / 142       
Well, Xerxes I of the Achaemenid empire was 84 years old when he was assassinated, so I don't think it made much of a difference...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 05-22-13 04:14 PM EDT (US)     87 / 142       
Umm, i believe you mean he was 53 years old when he died( born 518, died 465). In ancient terms, that is a decent age and still campaign-able.
He was outseted by a Harem plot, most likely with Artaxerxes I as the man responsible. By this time however, Xerxes had his failed campaigns in Greece, lost the Ionian Coast, BUT had incorperated new lands in the east into the empire. Could he have added more lands?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 05-22-13 05:35 PM EDT (US)     88 / 142       
I agree with AE regarding Xerxes I's age. I think Alex might've mistaken Xerxes I with a different king of the same name.

With regards to the main question, I think Xerxes would've conducted a purge of the royal court and the royal harem if he survived the attempt on his life. After that, he probably would've started a campaign to suppress the Ionian Greeks who had become emboldened after his failure to conquer Greece.

The Persian Empire itself was large and unwieldy enough as it was. Trying to add more lands beyond the Aegean or the Indus would've been dangerous (and disastrous in the case of the former), and deprived the empire of troops needed to maintain the empire's security and stamp out any rebellions in the more unstable areas of the empire like Egypt and western Anatolia. A successful punitive expedition against the Scythians or distant Indians might've been good enough to erase, or at the very least diminish, Xerxes' failure in Greece but a campaign of conquest would've taken time, resources and soldiers that could be put to better use elsewhere.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
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Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 05-23-13 02:25 AM EDT (US)     89 / 142       
Sorry guys, wrong dates...

As for Xerxes, he tried to check the success of the Delian League but was crushed at Eurymedon. So he probably had limited resources...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
QuintusMarcellus
Ashigaru
posted 05-24-13 04:04 AM EDT (US)     90 / 142       
Ok how about this: what if Flavius Aetius lost the battle of the Cataulonian plains? Would Attila have had the strength to continue devastating Gaul and Italy?
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 05-29-13 07:17 PM EDT (US)     91 / 142       
Perhaps that question was a bit late for some?

After a cursory reading, i am not sure. Attilia would have taken high casualties in the battle, but then again, Flavius' army was one of the only available, and once defeated, would have opened Gaul to plunder. Weather or not Attilia would have moved on to Italy later is another question...

Here is another one:

What could have been the consequeces of a Roman revival in 450? Say an army or two with some great leaders were found,pushed back the barbarians, solidified the Empire, re-occupied britian, Settled barbarians peacefully in the de-populated areas in exhange for tribute and troops. What could have been the possible consequences?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 05-29-13 11:11 PM EDT (US)     92 / 142       
It only would've prolonged the Western Empire. By then it was in need of major reform, and even then the weakness of provincial emperor making was still there. Perhaps if they changed to mirror the Eastern court in how they did things, and then somehow managed to revive their economy. I don't think it would've done any good besides make it last slightly longer.

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 05-29-13 11:21 PM EDT (US)     93 / 142       
This era would be good for a map game..

So without major reforms, it wouldnt have lasted. By then as well, most of the weath had been drained from the west through repeated invasions. Another source of money/ economy back on its feet would be needed as well. it really was a sad time for the Roman Empire, if it can be called Roman that is. Pretty much all soldiers were Germanic, and Auxiliaries in the form of Barbarians were also present. Would a re-militarization of the italian populace, rather than just Germanic soldiers be a positive factor? To be roughly on par in terms of numbers?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 05-30-13 00:40 AM EDT (US)     94 / 142       
The thing is, it wasn't the Germans that brought down the empire. It was the constant infighting amongst the elite that brought it down, the guys calling the shots. Plus there were the laws proclaiming that whatever profession your father/mother was, the children had to follow that profession as well. Basically they tied the people to the land they were on. The economy stagnated, people actively tried to evade the tax collectors, hiring their own private armies because the state couldn't protect them. To fix the empire at that point is too late. The cracks are too deep to fill, too wide to cross. You'd have to go earlier to solve the issues. Or perhaps abandon a province or two (Britannia was a HUGE drain on the military and economy. I believe they had 3 legions there. No way in hell Britannia was able to be a profitable region to own with that kind of expenses to pay. Sure you'll lose income, but you'd also have less military to pay for.

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 05-30-13 07:16 PM EDT (US)     95 / 142       
It was the constant infighting amongst the elite that brought it down, the guys calling the shots.
SO the rise of only one or two strongmen that were more oftern at odds? And a very weak series of Emperors that covered behind the walls and marshes of Ravenna didn't help. So a strong Emperor that could bring the generals back in line would be needed. That, and he would need an aemy to make his rule legitimate.
To fix the empire at that point is too late. The cracks are too deep to fill, too wide to cross. You'd have to go earlier to solve the issues.
Hm, so when would you see is the crisis point that the Empire is petering on the edge of destruction, or revival if strong leaders and armies are found?
Or perhaps abandon a province or two (Britannia was a HUGE drain on the military and economy. I believe they had 3 legions there. No way in hell Britannia was able to be a profitable region to own with that kind of expenses to pay. Sure you'll lose income, but you'd also have less military to pay for.
Until this point however, Brittian had been abandoned and recaptured a couple times. Not to mention the frequence saxon raids and the Province becomes not worth the effort. COuld the establishment of an automous, friendly Britian have helped the issue? Like the establishment of a Britannic Roman empire to go with the Western RE and Eastern RE? Although this could be seen as being begun after the final withdrawal, an BRE that had the support of the WRE for a few years before being pulled out?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 05-30-13 10:24 PM EDT (US)     96 / 142       
They need to find a a way to keep the generals in line. I don't know what could be done to save the West, merely what needed to be fixed. The earlier the reforms happen though, the better. The state needs to excel when it has a strong leader, but do decent if it has a weak one as well.


I'm not quite understanding your second question.

As for the Britannic Roman Empire, it might've. I do believe there was a usurper that was able to take Britannia over, and made a semi-stable state with a decent economy. So it might've. Whether making it a third part of the Empire is doubtful, because while the Eastern emperor would've liked it, as it weakened the West, the Western one obviously wouldn't. Perhaps making it a friendly vassal state?

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 07-05-13 07:24 PM EDT (US)     97 / 142       
OK, i think it is time for another Question:

What if the Carthaginians destroyed the Roman Army besieging Carthage during the 3rd Punic War? At this time the Romans were undisciplined in their siege and many problems were evident. What could have been the consequences of this besieging army was destroyed? Could there have been a Carthaginian resurgence in the Mediterranean?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 07-05-13 07:57 PM EDT (US)     98 / 142       
Highly doubtful. Rome would have simply reorganized and sent another army, if they were truly wanting to finish Carthage off. Perhaps the faction wanting Carthage to exist would've found new grounds and support for their cause, though Cato and allies would've 'proven' that Carthage is indeed a deadly foe yet and should be crushed. More likely than not they simply would've sent another army under another commander.

Carthage was basically on its own in the 3rd war. Most of the cities it had controlled abandoned it, fearing Roman attack, or were already under Numidian control, due to Roman backing. Add in that Rome was ever expanding, it would take a serious challenge on all sides for Carthage to really expand again, and even then Rome would take on Carthage first with how close it is to Italy. If Greece was being overrun by Seleucids, Iberia was in revolt, northern Italy was being rampaged by Gauls, Carthage would still be seen as one of the biggest threats, if not the biggest depending on the situation in northern Italy.

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 07-05-13 08:15 PM EDT (US)     99 / 142       
Ok, SO basically Carthage was a broken power at this point with almost no hope of a revival, and a deep hate between themselves and Romans. So even without another Hannibal to lead Carthage and destroy Roman army's in Africa when they tried to land, you wouldn't see Carthage becoming possible a regional power in Africa again?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 07-05-13 08:24 PM EDT (US)     100 / 142       
They'd definitely by a big influence in the region, but they were no longer the regional power broker they used to be. They couldn't go to war without Rome's permission, their fleet was a laughing stock, and their armies didn't fair well in the field against the Numidians. Even with another Hannibal, they would've merely stayed independent, maybe growing in some power, but they would've needed massive changes both at home and abroad to become a major power again.

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
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