the punic wars

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Information about the punic wars

Published on October 31, 2007

Author: Rafael


The punic wars:  The punic wars Maneuver and Command LEARNING OBJECTIVES:  LEARNING OBJECTIVES Be able to explain the legionary system in detail. Know the major battles of the Second Punic War. Be able to discuss Fabius’ approach to the conflict with Carthage. Be familiar with the key military leaders of the period. Politics and Roman Military:  Initially an Italian City-State, Rome was at a position of advantage geographically. The vast majority of Romans were fiercely patriotic, conservative, and willing to serve. Most people were farmers and thus owned land which gave them the right (and duty) to serve Politics and Roman Military Politics and Roman Military:  Politics and Roman Military Politically, the two senior senators (elected every year) had joint control of the army. When they did not agree, stalemate ensued. Designed to prevent military dictatorship. Politics (cont):  Politics (cont) When conquering another city-state: Allowed autonomy, built roads, allowed citizenship, and promoted allegiance to Rome. First Punic War (265-241 BC) began with dispute over Sicily and Roman expansion. Led Rome to become a sea power. Warriors on the sea; not sailors…. Second Punic War (281-202 BC) due to lingering hostility and punitive terms of end of first war. THE LEGION:  THE LEGION Based on the “maniple” 120 men per (12x10) subdivided into two centuries of 60 Three lines (20 maniples each) were used in the legion Hastati - 25-30 yr olds Principles - 30-40 yr olds Triarri - Veteran reserves (pikes) Velites - 17-25 yr olds (boots) (Javelins) LEGION (cont):  LEGION (cont) Total legion strength was between 4k & 6k (approximately 30 maniples) depending on the amount of cavalry and admin Romans were not big on cavalry. The second line filled gaps in first line, and third line became reserve. Had greater flexibility than PHALANX. Tossed javelins, then attacked. Substituted MANEUVER for MASS. Legions always dug in at night. Battle Formation of the Legion:  1200 feet 635 feet 250 feet 250 feet HASTATI PRINCIPLES TRIARII & VELITES Battle Formation of the Legion BASIC EQUIPMENT:  BASIC EQUIPMENT Wooden Shield (convex) 4 ft by 2.5 ft Iron rim/edges Abandoned the spear as principle weapon and went to a short thrusting sword (gladii) Javelin called a “pilum” ( 2 per man) Point broke on impact so enemy could not throw it back at Romans. Threw pilum to keep enememy’s heads down, then attacked with sword and shield Combined arms??? Hannibal:  Hannibal Son of Hamilcar, and brother Hasdrubal Deep hatred for Rome. 25 yrs old when first moved against Rome Sought to remove Romans strength – their alliances. Crossed the Alps and numerous occupied territories to get to Italy (218 BC) Boldness caught the Romans off guard “War Elephants” (??!!) Hannibal:  Hannibal Trebia, 218 BC Crossed river in unexpected spot Deception Attacked from rear instead of across river Resulted in new support from Gallic Tribes. Lake Trasimene, 217 BC Hannibal surprised and ambushed Romans Leaders’ actions/professionalism Won battles, but not the war…. ______ victories vs. ______ victories FABIUS (217 BC):  FABIUS (217 BC) Rome’s many defeats left her in bad shape. Fabius Maximus engaged Hannibal in a cat and mouse game. Primarily defensive Raids Hannibal eventually destroys enough of the countryside to turn the Romans against Fabius. Fabian policies reinstated following defeat at Cannae. What Level of War? Who had the initiative? Cannae (216 BC):  Cannae (216 BC) Varro, an overconfident and militarily inexperienced leader, had a numerical advantage (80k to 50k) Hannibal used his advantage in cavalry/combat power (10k to 6k) and economy of force measures (positioning himself w/ weakest troops, all heavy cav on one flank) to overcome the Romans numerical advantage. “Fire sack” “Crossing the T” Three-fourths of Romans were casualties. Defeat of Hasdrubal:  Defeat of Hasdrubal Hasdrubal en route to join Hannibal Messengers intercepted Hasdrubal’s forces defeated near Metaurus River Use of interior lines Interior lines or envelopment Scipio Africanus:  Scipio Africanus Developed cohort Smaller and more maneuverable than the Legion. Battle-tested and victorious in Spain (206 BC). Transition from “D” to “O”. Given command until Carthage defeated. Given title “Africanus” in honor of land he conquered. Zama, 202 B.C.:  Zama, 202 B.C. Romans formed with lanes Elephants backfired Romans had more cavalry for a change, and won the cav battle, but lack of discipline limited impact initially. Cannae in reverse. Hannibal’s army slaughtered. Zama (cont):  Zama (cont) Both sides planned for and used reserves. Both leaders supervised and directed instead of directly participating. Flexibility/adaptation Carrhae, 53 BC :  Carrhae, 53 BC Romans (Crassus, Publius) v. Parthians Parthian tactics Terrain Surface or gap for Romans? Surprise Combined Arms “… Which were upon them with a rush, striking down some and at least scattering the others; and if they extended their ranks to avoid this, they would be struck by arrows.”(Jones, p 38)

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