Hannibal of Carthage

                Third Punic War 

           The delegation that Carthage had sent to Rome after the defeat at Oroscope was quickly dismissed by the Roman senate and ordered to return to Carthage with the Roman decleration of war. As they traveled back to their city fear must have gripped these men as being the bearer of such bad news would no doubt induce the populace into a frenzy. When they arrived they went straight to the senate, making every effort to by-pass the populace, who clamored for details of their meeting with the Romans. What started as a meeting behind the closed doors of the senate quickly turned into chaos as the populace smashed the doors into pieces and entered demanding to hear details of the Roman responce. When they were told that war was declared the city errupted into a  frenzy which resulted in a portion of the delegation being beaten to death.  The senate then decided what action next to take. Their immediate plan was to again lay all the blame upon Hasdrubal and defer as much responsibility as they could from the  city. Hasdrubal would be turned over to Rome and perhaps an additional indemnity of silver each year would cause Rome to abandon their declaration of war.

          Another delegation was sent to Rome with this offer while Rome had in near-by Utica agents working to secure this important city in their effort against Carthage. Utica had remained loyal to Carthage  during the second war, however, perhaps inclined to see the fate of her sister-city, Utica would suddenly abandon Carthage and open her walls to Rome to use as their base of operations against Carthage. Carthage, already wrought with bad news, took this defection with great pain.

        Soon after Utica defected, a massive armada of Roman ships descended upon the coast of northern Africa. 90,000 Roman troops, led by the consul Marcus Manilius, landed upon Carthage soil and marched to Utica. When news spread of the arrival of the Roman army mass hystyria erupted throughout the lands. Thousands upon thousands of people abandoned their homes and cities and made haste towards the vaunted walls of Carthage. The gates remained open as these refugees swarmed into the city, causing the population to soar. Another Carthage delegation was assembled and sent to Utica to ask for unconditional surrender terms. The leader of this delegation was a Carthaginian named Banno and he was directed by the Carthage senate to agree to any terms that Rome offered. Manilius, aware of the arriving delegation, positioned his army in a show of strength by having the entire army line both sides of the road that the Carthaginians were taking. Standing at attention in full armor, with their standards and flags whipping in the North African wind, trumpets blazing, the Carthage delegates must have been wrought with agony at the sight before them. They offered to surrender unconditionally and Manilius accepted as long as the most prominent 300 Carthaginian families surrendered one each of their son's to the Romans as an act of "good faith". Hasdrubal and his officers were also to be surrendered. Manilius then informed Banno that Carthage would be allowed to retain her African poccessions.

         As the populace anxiously awaited the return of their delegation, they would soon get the answer that they were awaiting. The prominent families, already mourning the loss of their son's from the battle of Oroscope, would each have to part with another of their son's in order to meet the Roman's demands. The Carthage senate approved the demand and the son's of Carthage were given to the Romans. The scene that involved this demand was filled with horror as the mother's refused to give their son's to the Romans until they were forced from their arms.  Amid the shrieking and crying from their mother's, these son's were boarded upon ships, never to return. The other Roman demand that entailed the surrender of Hasdrubal and his officers was not carried out as Hasdrubal, hearing of his fate, escaped from Carthage and began recruiting an army from the African countryside.

          Soon after the hostages were dealt, Rome would then make another demand for Carthage. Knowing now that the 300 most prominent families would encourage the city to abide by all Roman demands, Rome gave Carthage another order. Since Carthage was a "friend and ally" of Rome, and Rome would in the future protect their "ally" if needed, Carthage was to surrender all of her weapons of war. All shields, spears, swords, arrows, bows, and catapults were to be surrendered immediately and then the Roman army would sail back to Italy Carthage was told. This demand was not immediately met by Carthage as the senate went into session to discuss this disturbing demand. Finally, however, with strong support from the 300 families, Carthage agreed to dis-arm and sent loaded wagons to Manilius. What the Romans would soon see would leave them in total amazement. Almost 300,000 complete sets of soldier equipment was brought before them. These sets included full-body armor, shields, swords, helmets, and over 2,000 catapults which was vital in the defense on any besieged city.  Javelins and arrows numbereing near 1,000,000 were also surrendered. Their small fleet of ships were then surrendered and were burned in the Carthage commercial harbor by the Romans. The Roman army had no idea how strongly fortified  their defeated enemies were. Still the Romans would not leave. One further demand was asked of the Carthaginians. For the return trip home of her army, Rome would need a vast amount of grain to feed her troops. Carthage, hoping this the last demand, and that Rome would act with honor, agreed and the cities supply of food, to withstand a siege, was no more. When the grain was delivered, Manilius demanded that the Carthaginians delivering it return to Carthage and inform the senate that Rome had one final demand that had to be met. This demand was going to be cast at Carthage from the beginning, no matter if the other demands had not been met. Carthage,they were told, must be abandoned and the populace would need to establish another city as long as it was at least 10 miles from the sea and the new city was not allowed to have any type of fortifications. The populace could also only take with them what they could carry and the rest would be for the plunder of the Roman troops. Carthage would then be burned to the ground.

          The Romans now had Carthage where they hoped,or so they thought. Carthage would be assured to abide now that they had no weapons, army, fleet, and food. But for Carthage to abide by this demand would mean economic death followed quickly by the death of the populace. How could such a city be built to house 500,000 people? How would they be fed with no income from trade? How would they defend themselves from their enemies? Rome would surely not protect them.

         Carthage,upon hearing the ultimatum, was cast with blind fury at their hated enemies and finally these reluctant warriors stood defiant. They finally stood with stiffened backs and the majority of the populace, not just limited to the pro-Hasdrubal faction, demanded that war be declared upon Rome. All Italians and Romans were dismissed from the city. Finally Rome had pushed too far and Carthage had endured too much. They would not abandon their city, their homes, and their sacred temples. The senate met and agreed that war would be declared and that mobilization must start immediately.  A delegation was sent to Manilius informing him of the Carthaginian decleration of war arainst Rome. Manilius fully expected the initial act of defiance from Carthage and expected no less. He, however, believed that if he gave Carthage several days to "cool off", that he would soon see the battered populace forming long lines leaving the city as  he had directed. However, when several days later he rode with a contingent of his cavalry to Carthage, the sight that he saw was anything as this. He saw the massive, menacing,  Carthage wall, with gates closed,  manned  by thousands of defiant Carthage men and women.  

          So enters the final chapter of the once great city of Carthage, the mistress of antiquity. From the start this chapter would be a desperate, futile, struggle which showed their willingness to stand defiant against Roman oppression and live out their lives by their choice, or by none at all. This would be a struggle where men and women were placed into an unwanted war and was fought by a rugged, horrid, vengeance found only by people in such situations. But in this war they were no fighting for trade routes, silver mines, or to expand her empire. They were fighting for their beliefs, homes, families, and their gods. For once all their energy would be directed at resisting Rome. The only problem is that they had risen to the occasion around 55 years too late. Had they put that same dedication into effect during the second war, or even the first, they would no doubt have defeated Rome. But as the case was, their un-dedicated forefathers had left them in their current state of dire affairs.  

          Immediately after declaring war, Carthage wasted no time mobilizing for war. Fortunately, they had thousands of skilled crafstmen and shifts were organized so that the building of weapons took place 24 hours each day. When any craftsmen slept or ate, another shift took their place. The Carthaginian women cut off their hair so that bow strings could be crafted as well as catapult ropes. Every able body man was asigned to the walls. Slaves were freed to join in the defense. Urgent pleas were made to Hasdrubal to assist the city by establishing a presence in the countryside to protect the fertile farms from the Romans so that the city would not starve. Hasdrubal, patriotic to his city, was able to forget the death sentence that Carthage had given him after Oroscope, and agreed to assist their pleas. Another general, a grandson of Massinissa from a Carthaginian woman, was appointed to lead the cities defenses. Perhaps this diplomatic appointment may persuade Massinissa to return to his old allies? Carthage was aware that relations between Rome and Massinissa were cold as Rome had not asked Massinissa for assistance, angering the Numidian that Rome would recieve all the glory should Carthage fall.  Hasdrubal would set up a fortified camp near the city of Nepherus, which along with Tunis was one of the few to remain loyal to Carthage, which would protect the fertile lands in the Cape Bon peninsula. Soon his army would swell to 30,000 strong.

          There was no mistake about what kind of war Carthage must now enter upon. It would involve them fighting a defensive struggle. Relying upon their massive walls for protection against the onslaught of Roman troops that would soon arrive, and also for Hasdrubal and his army to harrass the Roman army, ambush the Roman foragers, attack and retreat, and safegaurd their food supply.  Carthage was also very aware the ramifications that a prolonged siege would have upon the army perpetrating it. Long struggles that would bring moral down. Sieges were also very costly for the city that was engaged in such warfare. If they were able to hold out long enough perhaps they would be able to eventually secure a surrender that was favorable to them which would spare their city. Ambassadors were sent to Macedonia, begging them to continue their struggle with Rome. Also a delegation was sent to Morrocco and Eygpt with pleas for aid. Carthage told them that should they fall to Rome, then Rome's appetite for further expansion in Africa would be ripe and that they would be next. Acting now to assist Carthage would be in their best interests for the future. Spain and Gual were still by no means secure for Rome and they were hard-pressed to secure these sectors of their empire. So as the Carthage mobilization ensued, with thousands of swords, shields, spears, and bows and arrows being crafted each day, there was reason for hope.  

           It was the spring (May)  of 149 B.C. and the world that was known was about to change forever. For a week after declaring war upon Rome, Carthage waited and had not yet been confronted by Rome. Finally, early one morning, a trumpet blast rose from the top of the wall facing the direction of Utica. The blast sent a chill down the spines of Carthaginians as they knew what it meant. The advance guards of the massive Roman army was now with-in sight. A further look out to sea and Carthage also saw the massive Roman Navy forming a blockade as far as the eyes cold see. Women and children were confined to their homes and the men raced to the walls. During the past week Carthage had constructed several catapults each day and these were already in place upon the wall. Massive limestone balls were constructed each day as missiles for these catapults and were in the proccess  of being brought to the top of the wall. Large containers of oil were brought to the top of the wall to be used in the defense against the wooden battering rams. Years earlier previous leaders of Carthage had dug a deep trench several hundred yards from the wall and had placed wooden supports near the top of the trench. Dirt was then replaced back into the trench upon the wooden supports, leaving a massive hole underneath. The wooden support beams were designed to hold the small amount of dirt on the top, along with the weight of most things passing over such as people, animals, and wagons. However, the support beams were designed to collapse should anything heavy pass over, such as huge, heavy, siege machines. When the Roman army began to push these machines over the trench, the support beams gave way and the battering rams collapsed into the trenches. Manilius would have to remove the rams from these traps and then wait for his engineers to fill the trenches so that his machines could safely pass over. This proccess took several days and allowed the defenders valuable time to ready for the attack.  In the meantime, Hasdubal, sent his formidable cavalry, under the command of a Himilco Phameas, to harrass the Roman army and create as much havok as they could. Phameas was perhaps the best commander that Carthage would have in this war and his name suggests that he had both Carthage and Greek heritage.    

                 The Roman Blockade of Carthage

           Meanwhile, the Roman commanders readied for a two pronged attack upon Carthage. Manilius would lead a direct assault upon the land wall and thousands of assault ladders were brought to carry his troops over the walls. The other consul, Censorinus, would lead an attack upon the sea-wall by bringing ships to the walls base and having troops scale the wall with ladders as well. All of these troops would initially be protected by thousands of archers who would direct their accurate, deadly,  arrows at anyone upon the walls.  With 90,000, hardened troops against around 25,000 male citizens that Carthage had defending the walls, Rome expected an easy ,resounding, victory. Carthage, meanwhile, assessed the advancing Roman attacks and responded with fierce defiance. They matched the Roman archers with thousands of flaming arrows of their own. As the ladders were placed against their walls and were full of Roman soldiers, long poles were used to push the ladders to the ground. Huge amounts of flaming oil was cast down from the walls onto the legionaires. Ships that were brought to the Carthage sea-wall to support the assault on that wall were suddenly burst into flames by the burning oil that tossed upon the decks. The Roman sailors tried frantically to extinguish the flames amid the onslaught of Carthage arrows being sent down upon them from the walls. The ships retreated back out to sea and the majority of the defenders upon this wall were transferred to the land wall who were still busy repulsing this Roman attack. This attack was going no better and finally Manilius ordered the assault to stop. He then conferred with the other consul and it was agreed upon that another attack should be directed only upon the land wall, utilizing a much larger portion of the army, stretched out for miles and miles, keeping in mind that the Carthage outer wall was 25 miles long. By stretching the assault over a greater length of the wall, utilizing their vast numbers over the defenders, the second assault should not fail in their directive.  

          The second assault came later that day but Carthage responded by holding firm against the onslaught of Roman troops. The Romans advances with the support of the catapults that Carthage had surrndered to them in the previous weeks. Thousands of blazing missiles from these catapults were sent at the tops of the walls in support of their advance. Many of these missiles landed in Carthage and caused great damage and fires that the populace struggled to extinguish. But as the Romans neared the wall, they were met by an onslaught of arrows, javelins, missiles, and rocks from the defenders upon the wall. As they struggled forward, Phameas suddenly appeared with his cavalry from Nepherus and joined the defenders attack upon the Romans. Manilius, shocked and hard-pressed, retreated to his fortified camp in the best order he could. Phameas would return to Hasdrubal at Nepherus . Thousands of Romans had been killed in the two defeated assaults upon Carthage. The city of Dido stood defiant with renewed confidance and payed homage to their gods for their success over their hated enemies. But success had not softened their mobilization efforts or their defiance of Rome. The surge in moral only caused renewed vigor in their war effort.   

           Rome now decided to entrench around Carthage and attempt to starve the city into surrender. The Roman consuls were fully aware that the population of Carthage had swelled with all the refugees that they had allowed to enter the city before the war had esculated. They were also aware that Carthage had given them their food reserves and that unless blockade runners were successful in getting food inside the city, Carthage would soon be forced to surrender. Furthermore, they were not overly concerned about Hasdrubal and his army near Nepherus as they were aware of his disaster at Oroscope. They also were aware that his army was made up of new recruits and that against their seasoned legions would not fare well. So the Romans dug their trenches and brought their battering rams to the Carthage wall.

          Meanwhile, Hasdrubal's second-in-command, Phameas, did much damage to the Romans during the rest of the first year of the war. He was desribed by the Romans as a young, fierce fighter who was very capable of leading his cavalry to ambushes of the Roman foraging parties. He would seemingly come from nowhere, inflict severe casualties, and leave as suddenly as he had appeared. As he kept the Romans off guard, Hasdrubal was able to send his own foraging parties throughout the Cape Bon peninsula and was able to procur large amounts of food for Carthage. Carthage was able to assemble a small fleet of "blockade runners", which were hastily created small ships. These ships were not able to remain at sea for long and during the darkness of the night were often able to slip past the Roman naval blockade and enter the city with food and supplies.

          Towards the end of the first year of the war, Manilius, with his term about to expire, decided that Hasdrubal and his army must be destroyed. Marching from Carthage with around 35,000 troops, he marched for Hasdrubal at Nepherus. A defeat ovet the Carthage army would restore a measure of glory for himwhen he returned to Rome. A subordinate general, the same Scipio who had watched the battle at Oroscope, argued against the move as he was aware of Hasdrubal's strong fortifications which guarded his camp. Manilius, however, did not listen to Scipio and marched to Hasdrubal's camp and offered battle. Hasdrubal, with his army on high grounds, decided quickly that in order to protect the fall crops for Carthage he must engage the larger Roman army. The war was to be lost here on that day should he fail. Hasdrubal, however, with Phameas playing an important part in the battle, was able to drive the Romans from the battlefield inflicting svere casualties upon the Romans. Then, as the Romans retreated without haste, Hasdrubal sent Phameas with his cavalry to attack the Romans again and greater casualties were given the Romans on that day. In all thousands of dead Roman troops covered the two battlefields. As the beaten army reterned to their base outside of Carthage, defenders from with-in the city sallied from the walls and inflicted more casualties upon the army.   Later in the month the Carthage defenders sallied forth from the walls twice under the cover of darkness and inflicted heavy casualties among the Roman's before returning to their city.

         For the rest of his term as consul, Manilius did not endevour into any more direct confrontations with Carthage. Instead, he kept his army in the camp and hoped that his siege would bring about the surrender of the city. Around this time, Scipio was leading a cavalry contingent as they protected Roman foragers against Phameas, when across the river from where he was Phameas and a group of his cavalry suddenly appeared. Scipio was said to have talked to Phamaes across the river, asking him why he did not look to his own safety and that of his families? The service that he was rendering for his country would in the end prove futile. The very city that had handed him his death sentence along with Hasdrubal after Oroscope. If he was to desert to Rome, safe passage would be given to him. Phameas then responded that why, after he had caused so many hardships to the Roman army, could he expect safe passage? Scipio then responded that because he would ensure that his word was followed. Phameas then returned to his cavalry and informed his men of his desire to save his family and asked if any others would defect with him. Several thousand others joined him and when Scipio led the defectors into the Roman camp, the army erupted into cheers. Phameas was sent to Rome where he was given untold riches and great honor for his defection to their cause.   Carthage, meanwhile, would never have another commander in his quality and his defection hurt their cause worse than if they had been defeated in battle.   Rome would then send a delegation to Massinissa, finally asking him for assistance, but when they arrived in his capitol they were told that he had died. Well into his nineties, he did not live to see the fall of Carthage.

          The next consul to be elected and transferred to Carthage was Calpurnius Piso. He arrived in the spring of 148 B.C. and decided that his main objective would be the destruction of the farms in the Cape Bon peninsula and the taking of the few cities that had remained loyal to Carthage that were in this area. First, he attacked the fortified city of Clupia, but was beaten back numerous times as the city was situated upon a rocky hill behind walls that were greatly fortified. He then turned his attention to the city of Hippagretta, the most important city to remain loyal to Carthage. It was men from this city that were in the lucrative business of running the Roman naval blockade and getting food and supplies that Hasdrubal had gathered into Carthage. Unfortunately for Piso and the Romans, the city was well-defended and he laid siege to her walls for the entire summer. Several times defenders from the city, in conjunction with Hasdrubal, sallied forth from the walls and punished the Romans. Before winter set in later that year, Piso would lift the siege and return to Utica for the winter. Another Carthage victory that demoralized the Roman army to a new low.  The war had now passed through the winter without any change. Carthage was able to bring about a stronger conviction among their populace that perhaps the war would end before the spring arrived. Spies which Carthage had in Italy brought back word that the anti-war party in Rome was gaining a voice with-in the senate. The costs affiliated with the war also were now being funded primarily from Rome. Virtually all supplies and food were being shipped to Africa. Early the next spring, Piso returned to Rome as his term had expired and his replacement, much to the demise of Carthage, sailed for Africa. He was Scipio, returning to Africa for the first time since he had brought Phameas to Rome.  Finally Rome had elected consul a man with a military background. At once he set training the army and restoring the discipline that had left the Roman army. Months passed until he felt that the army was ready to force the action once again with Carthage.      

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