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mikew

This Month in the Second Punic War April 219-202 BC

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April 219 - Siege of Saguntum. Hannibal took 8 months to take this Spanish city, so some of it was probably going on in April

 

April 218 - Hannibal crosses the Pyrenees with his elephants. (Not the Alps, that's later)

 

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Carthaginian Goddess

 

April 217 - Battle of Lake Trasimene. Carthaginians under Hannibal thrash the Romans. 30000 Roman casualties including their commander Flaminius.

 

April 216 - Delaying tactics by the Roman Dictator Fabius allow time to raise an army of 80000. This gets destroyed in the famous Battle of Cannae which unfortunately doesn't occur in April. A pity, since that's the best bit of this war.

 

April 215 - War enters a stalemate phase as the armies face each other in Campania, but Romans under Marcellus win Second Battle of Nola. Philip V of Macedon enters into an alliance with Hannibal.

 

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Carthaginian Priestess

 

April 214 - Not much happening. Maybe the Third Battle of Nola was fought in April. The result was indecisive, so I can't be bothered to find out.

 

April 213 - Starting to regret picking such a long war...Anyway, the Siege of Syracuse was going on. The Romans broke through eventually thus ruining Archimedes' day.

 

April 212 - After Hannibal captures the port of Tarentum, the Romans besiege Capua. Plenty of things happen around these events.

 

April 211- Carthaginians defeat the Scipio brothers in Spain. Still plenty of Action around Capua.

 

April 210 - The town of Salapia changes sides, annoying Hannibal somewhat.

 

April 209 - Tide starting to turn in favour of the Romans. Tarentum recaptured after a siege.

 

April 208 - Battle of Baecula in Spain. Battle a bit inconclusive but tactical victory for the Romans under Scipio as Hasdrubal (Hannibal's brother) moves from Spain to try and reinforce Hannibal in Italy.

 

April 207 - Hasdrubal in Italy but comes a cropper at the Battle of the Metaurus (but that's in June).

 

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The sort of thing the Romans might have looted from the Greeks during the Republic period.
A search for Roman Republic babes came up short. :(

 

April 206 - Hannibal's ragtag army have numerous skirmishes.

 

April 205 - Groundhog year. Probably similar to April 206.

 

April 204 - Scipio invades Africa to take the war onto Carthaginian home soil despite Hannibal still being in Italy.

 

April 203 - Romans start to gain the upper hand near Utica. Hannibal decides to return.

 

April 202 - Battle of Zama (well, it might have been in April). Romans win. War over.
 

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Why couldn't my History classes have been like this? Hell of a lot more fun!

Thanks, Mikew.

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Thanks!

 

Well it started as an April 1st thing, but it took ages to get the facts, and I was disappointed at the lack of babes from that era. I should have done something with the Roman Empire around 50-100AD where there were  a lot more saucy mosaics and wall paintings.

 

Anyway, I'm now in awe of how the Donster gets these done properly every day. :thumbsup:

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Thanks for posting that, Mikew.  I had pretty much forgotten about the Punic Wars and you presented the major bits of the Second Punic War in an informative and yet entertaining way.  History can be dull and boring,  it can also be quite interesting and even exciting, it just depends upon how it it presented.  I was fortunate to have history teachers who made it interesting.

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Well done Mikew and thanks for putting that together! I have found that history timelines are difficult to find, and when you do, they can vary dates of events by days or even weeks. It does take time to sort dates out. Especially when dealing with international date lines, especially in WWII.

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Can you imagine how it must have been after the massive battle 30,000 casualties.. The suffering of the wounded and all the dead

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When dealing with ancient battles (and some more recent examples) I usually reduce the reported casualties by at least half.  The Carthaginians claimed to have killed 55,000 Romans.  The Greeks put the number at 70,000.  Roman accounts usually refer to about 40,000 killed and around 5,000 captured.

 

In the course of reading military history I've learned a great deal about logistics, that important element that gets overlooked by historians, especially ancient chroniclers.  For instance, Lee at Gettysburg could not adequately supply 75,000 men in a fixed position for more than 3 or 4 days.  Wagons sent on scavenging missions could only go out for about a 1-1/2 to 2 days before they had to turn around and return.  Otherwise, the amount of food and fodder they could carry over primitive roads would largely be consumed by the foraging troops.  Whether Lee actually had 75,000 men "present for duty, equipped" is another issue. 

 

In the years leading up to Cannae, Fabius had, as is pointed out above, developed a strategy of denying the Carthaginians necessary supplies, making him dependent on supplies from Africa and Spain.  While he undoubtedly managed to obtain food and feed for animals at sword point, his ability to supply his army was seriously constrained.  The Romans, too, had supply difficulties.  The presence of major armies in the peninsula had a damaging effect on crops and the number of food animals.  Moving supplies in carts was also an inefficient way to keep an army supplied.  To the extent possible, I suspect both armies used coastal cities and rivers to move goods. 

 

Taken together, these difficulties had to have an effect on the size of both forces.  Given that ancient writers always had in mind the attitudes of their audience, it is obvious that each had reason to inflate the numbers. 

 

Modern historians generally put the number of Roman dead at Cannae at around 20,000.  Personally, I think that's still too high, but because we have no reliable writings from the time, I have to say that's just a kind of educated guess.

 

Anyone interested in the logistics of ancient armies should read a supremely dull book called: Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army, by Donald Engels.  It has excellent information about the carrying capacity of various draft animals (the most efficient beast of burden is  . . . drumroll, please . . . a man).  :)

 

There is also good deal of information relating to supply problems faced by armies in the era before mechanization.  Some of that info is useful right up to the present day.  Analyzing Wehrmacht supply problems during WW2 is clarified once you understand that this force that more or less invented mobile, mechanized warfare, continued to carry large portions of their supplies using horses and wagons. 

 

Sorry for the long-winded post.  It's snowing here and I didn't have anything else to do.  ;)

 

Jim

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Good point! Too much emphasis is put on the big battles and not the circumstances that led to them.
I assume it's the usual squabbling over resources that's the underlying cause though.

 

Family planning probably wasn't a big thing in those days, and the population would likely grow quickly in a well organized society with plenty of food and room to expand.
The problem comes when two roughly equal such societies came up against each other. The result is inevitably going to be a huge loss of life...as that's what always happens.

 

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5 hours ago, mikew said:

Family planning probably wasn't a big thing in those days, and the population would likely grow quickly in a well organized society with plenty of food and room to expand.
The problem comes when two roughly equal such societies came up against each other. The result is inevitably going to be a huge loss of life...as that's what always happens.

 

Hmmmmm. Does China and the US of A come to mind?

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I was thinking in terms of any colonies of lifeforms whether it's humans, insects or bacteria.

...and it's probably best to avoid discussing specific modern day countries on the internet. especially if you live in one of them.

 

Going back to ancient wars and while I agree with Old Guy that the casualty numbers are likely high, we don't really have much idea of population levels.

If there are more people than needed to service the wants and needs of the Elite, then they become a problem and using them to deal with an external threat is one way of dealing with it with both fighting and logistic support.

The question is just how many people were involved?

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Back in my youth . . . yes, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth . . . I studied Military history with an eye on the exciting stuff.  Advances, withdrawals, mistakes, accidents of fate, all the eye candy of war fighting.  Only later did I begin to appreciate the importance of logistics.

 

On some levels, logistics aren't particularly important.  Custer's problem at the Little Big Horn had mostly to do with a failure of leadership and poor tactical decisions.  Logistics didn't count for much unless you factor in long-term errors such as the Cavalry Board mandating rolling block single-shot carbines instead of some kind of reliable repeater.  The Winchester '66 Yellowboy or the '73 Winchester carbine spring to mind.  Any number of other, generally small battles would have similar characteristics.

 

The campaigning in Italy during Punic Wars would have required a good deal of logistical support for both sides.  Over the years both the local population and locally available forage would have been severely drawn down.  As Mike points out the overall effect would have depended on population levels at the start.  One would have to evaluate probable levels of surplus supplies as well, though both armies probably took what they needed and to hell with the local population.  That also would have degraded available assets over the years.  I strongly suspect that non-military population would have suffered far more casualties than the armies did in all their battles combined.  Later history bears that out.

 

A year or so ago I read Erikson's Malazan fantasy series and enjoyed it.  Later, on second reading, I realized the author had severely underestimated the damage done to local towns and cities during the military campaigning.  Several large island locations were depicted as enduring the depredations of not one but two or three ravaging armies.  The time span was too short for more than partial recovery of the areas concerned.  While some attempt was made to depict fairly reasonable methods of bringing in outside supplies, the events occurring on the very dangerous oceans and along the sort-of-magical pathways made it difficult to account for all the goods needed even by relatively primitive armies. 

 

Probably no one else would be bothered by such a situation.  Otherwise the books were damn good. 

 

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  He's bored.

 

Jim

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Logistics definitely gets more complicated when gunpowder starts being used, but in 200BC I assume the main problem would be food as soldiers would carry their own weaponry.

 

If it was anyhing like the wars between the Greek city states a century or so earlier, there tended to be fighting seasons where the action stopped when the harvest was due and the soldiers/farmers went home. I think the Spartans sent an army to Thebes every year for a decade or so until the Thebans got fed up with it and stopped them once and for all.

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Two problems that plagued Napoleon in his invasion of Russia was a lack of food and a lack of proper clothing.  Napoleon's Grande Armee invaded Russia on June 24, 1812.  The Russians, as they retreated from Napoleon's army, used the tactic of scorched earth to deny Napoleon shelter and foraged food.  The tactic of scorched earth and retreat, rather than lengthy engagements, also allowed the Grande Armee to penetrate deeply into Russia, stretching their supply line.  Napoleon entered Russian during the summer, which is rather hot in Russia, by the middle of October, when the Grande Armee was in Moscow, winter was setting in.  Napoleon expected that Alexander would capitulate and beg for peace, Alexander did no such thing.  Napoleon began his retreat, realizing that his supply line was too long to sustain his troops.

 

Two days shy of exactly 128 years later, Adolf Hitler would make the same attempt, expecting Stalin to capitulate, and, although able to better supply troops, the supply line was not adequate for such a long ranged war.

 

Interesting how history's mistakes are repeated.

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7 hours ago, Stans said:

[…] Napoleon began his retreat, realizing that his supply line was too long to sustain his troops.

 

Two days shy of exactly 128 years later, Adolf Hitler would make the same attempt, expecting Stalin to capitulate, and, although able to better supply troops, the supply line was not adequate for such a long ranged war.

 

Interesting how history's mistakes are repeated.

 

It actually is a running gag in Germany, and it re-surfaced during the Ukraine crisis :)

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