Hannibal of Carthage

              The Carthage High Tide 

                                   Roman Statue Depicting Hannibal

          After his success at Cannae, Hannibal never marched to the gates of Rome as Maharbol had pleaded with him to do.  Instead he sent his chief of intelligence, Carthalo, to Rome as an emissary, with a number of noble Roman prisoners with the intent to ransom for their freedom and to ask what terms of surrender that Rome would agree to. There must have been no doubt in Hannibal's mind that Rome would ask for terms after their disaster at Cannae. Unlike the senate of Carthage, which after the defeat at the Aegean Islands precipitated their surrender to end the first Punic war, Rome would have no such talk of this. The word surrender was immediately "outlawed" by the senate and was forbidden to be spoken. The senate would not allow Carthalo to meet with them inside the city. Instead, he was ordered to wait for them in the nearby countryside until Rome would meet with him at their own choosing.  When the Roman delegation finally came forth and met Carthalo, they refused to surrender and ordered Carthalo to immediately leave Roman soil. The senate also forbade any citizen who had a family member or loved-one taken prisoner by Hannibal the option of paying him a ransom to gain their freedom. 

          The battle had cost Rome dearly. The consul, Aemilius, had perished along with numerous ex-consuls, two Questors, twenty-one military tribunes, aediles and praetors, and eighty of the three hundred Roman senators. Hannibal at once, despite needing funds in the worst way to support his army, allowed all the Roman allies that he had taken prisoner, the freedom to leave and return to their homes without ransom. The Roman prisoners, he offered to Rome for ransom, however, as said before, Rome would not allow this. Hannibal then sold these men in the slave market to boost his war-chest. 

          Immediately after Cannae, Varro fled with seventy horsemen to the city of Venusia not far from Cannae. Here he waited as Roman stragglers, in complete shock, stumbled into the city. Others, in more numerous numbers, led by Sempronius, found their way to the walled-city of Canusium and set about to defend the city. Eventually close to eight thousand Romans would find their way here. Soon these men became aware that Varro had made his way to Venusia and they sent word to him asking what were his orders. Varro quickly marched to Canusium and joined forces with Sempronius. At once Varro took actions to reverse the demoralization that was plaguing the Roman survivors. He fortified the city and waited. The Romans here were not easily uplifted by Varro. A group of noblemen had met inside Canusium and had determined to leave Rome to her agony and escape to a foreign king where they might be welcomed, taking with them any who would follow. When another young nobleman, Scipio the younger, the same Scipio who had saved his father at the Battle of the Ticinus, heard about this plot, he came forth and met with the potential deserters.  He met them with sword in hand and demanded that they swear to never desert Rome. This sudden act by Scipio prevented the desertion and restored order among the survivors.

          As Rome had become aware of the disaster the city was stunned beyond disbelief. Thousands of newly-widowed Roman women wailed throughout the streets. Terror spread throughout the city. Surely Hannibal would soon be at the gates. Mass hysteria spread everywhere. How could their splendid army be no more, as if it had been swallowed by the earth. The senate, reduced to 220 after the 80 had perished at Cannae, ordered the women confined to their homes. One person was able to soon restore some sort of order. He being Fabius Maximus. The senate restored to him his previous powers immediately. With the women confined to their homes, Fabius was able to assemble an army of around 20,000 strong to man the cities walls. Young boys, slaves, and men in advanced age, were assembled and armed, and they waited for the son of Hamilcar to unleash his hatred upon them. As said before, it never came. 

          Many military historians often lay blame to Hannibal for not taking the advice of Maharbol and marching to Rome after Cannae. They point out that Hannibal wasted his splendid victory by this failure.  They point out that Hannibal would never again have the opportunity that was bequest to him following the Battle of Cannae. Hannibal, however, would not have been able, in all likelihood, to have stormed the city. He possessed no siege machines to batter the walls of Rome. His army numbered less than 50,000 and many were wounded from Cannae. As said before, Fabius had raised an army of 20,000 strong to man the walls. Take into account as well the hundreds of thousands of citizens that would oppose his army. So even if he was able to take the city, his losses would have been extremely high and he would not have been able to hold the city from the onslaught of Roman reinforcements. This also was never his strategy from the start.  The fact that he never brought siege machines through the Alps in the first place would prove this. The strategy that Hannibal had hoped to implement to defeat Rome was to defeat them in battle and procure the defection of Rome's subjects from the Republic. By doing so Rome would gradually be deprived of their manpower to field armies as well as the severe financial implications that would arise from the loss of the tributary that she extracted from these people. Gradually, Rome would lose power and eventually fall into the class of a "secondary city" without the necessary power to ever again threaten Carthage. 

          Hannibal, immediately after Cannae, was hard pressed to focus upon diplomatic issues that arrived from his success. After the return of Carthalo from his diplomatic mission to Rome, Hannibal knew, even if his generals did not, that the days that lay ahead would be even darker that before. He was most likely very surprised that Rome remained defiant and  refused his offer to allow them to set the terms of their surrender.  

          The fruits of Hannibal's victory at Cannae came quickly to Carthage. Hannibal's war chest, as said, was bolstered by selling the unransomed Roman prisoners at the slave market at Delphos.  There was also great wealth from the slain Romans. Gold and silver armor and weapons were found throughout the battlefield. Over 6,000 gold rings were taken from slain Romans and taken by Mago to Carthage  where he poured them from a basket upon the tables of the Carthage senate. Mago informed the senate that Hannibal was master of all Italy and had defeated the Romans in three large-scale battles. He pleaded for them to send money and troops as soon as possible to assist their cause. Hanno "the elder", as said before the enemy of the Barca clan and opposed to war with Rome, asked Mago why, if Hannibal was undefeated and the master of all Italy, he would need assistance. What would he need from them if he was defeated by the Romans? More men and even more money? He argued against any regards to assist Hannibal and asked them to recall Hannibal at once. The senate, however, was compelled, at the sight of the gold rings and the information that Mago relayed from Hannibal, to disregard Hanno and reinforce their generals. The way that the Carthage senate went about this, however, was slow and full of self induced ignorance fueled by selfishness.  Hannibal was reinforced with only 4,000 Numidian cavalry and a somewhat large amount of elephants. Little money or grain was sent. Another force, however, numbering 20,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry was sent to Hasdrubal in Spain, showing that they cared more about their silver and gold mines than the fate of their nation that was being decided in Italy.  This disregard to Hannibal by the Carthage senate would end up being the salvation of Rome. Had Carthage fully supported their great general after Cannae, Rome would have certainly fell. Hannibal, however, was left to his own resources to continue the struggle. The inability of his city to fully support his cause was more damning than the tactics that Fabius would re-implement. 

          As news of the battle spread, Hannibal sent delegations to many of the cities of Italy offering protection and salvation from Rome.  Much to his delight, almost all the cities of southern Italy rebelled against Rome and joined him as they were confident that Carthage would prevail. In almost all of these cities, the rich and noble citizens were compelled to remain loyal to Rome, however, the average citizens were quick to offer Hannibal their assistance. In many of the cities the wealthy were slain for arguing to remain loyal to Rome. Cities in the Roman provinces of Apulia, Messapia, the Bruttians and Lucanians, the Samnite cities, the Hirpini and, most importantly, the city of Capua. The latter was the "second city" of Italy, and after Rome, the most important city. The city was very wealthy and could field an army of 30,000 infantry and 4,000 horse. Here, as well,  the wealthy opposed the Roman defection and were slain by the populace.   Only the cities in central Italy remained loyal to crippled Rome. Overseas, Hannibal sent a delegation to King Phillip V of Macedonia with authority to enter into an alliance with him against Rome. Phillip immediately declared war upon Rome and pledged strong support. Phillip immediately began building a fleet of war and began recruiting for an army for the eastern invasion of Italy.   On Sicily, the city of Syracuse, rebelled against Rome as well, and joined Carthage promising strong support. Unrest soon followed upon the island of Sardinia as the island entered into rebellion against the Roman army that garrisoned the island. The leaders of the revolt sent to Carthage pleas to send an army to support their cause, and of which you will read of later, Carthage would act upon such.  


          Hannibal pledging protection to his new allies from their harsh rule by the Romans 

             Before Cannae, Hannibal stood alone. After, he was the leader of a potentially powerful coalition with one common goal, the defeat of Rome.  Had all these people fueled their resources that they had at their disposal together, Rome and the few cities left loyal to her would have surrendered or perished. The opportunity for victory was ripe, however, as you will soon understand why, they would eventually fail and their armies, navies, cities, people and beliefs would soon be destroyed. 

          As all the windfalls were arriving to Hannibal, Varro, after securing the survivors from Cannae, left for Rome, to offer himself at their mercy for the disaster that he had induced. Arriving before the senate, he was instead honored for not despairing the city in their time of need and sent back into the field in an officers role. The fact that Varro offered himself to what he thought would be certain death speaks highly of his character. Also the character of the Roman senate and the populace was bolstered by their gratitude for their defeated leader.   

          Looking at the situation that Rome was now under holds high regards to their resolve and stubborn nature. Securing only central Italy, they had Hannibal to contend with from the south, the Gauls from the north, any reinforcements that Carthage could send from Spain, King Phillip V from the east, and from the west, Carthage had made great strides again at sea and could potentially land an army from Africa or Spain on her western shores. Sicily was ripe for the taking as Syracuse allied with Carthage, and Sardinia and Corsica were in revolt. With any type of resolve by the Carthage senate, Hannibal would have won the war. Instead, they wasted valuable troops led by inept generals in Sardinia and Sicily. Troops that should have been sent to Hannibal. Also a large amount of troops were allocated, as said before, to Hasdrubal in Spain. Hasdrubal was ordered by the Carthage senate to gather additional troops with funding that they had provided and eventually make his way to Italy. Before he left Spain, however, as you will later read, he was badly defeated by the Romans and was forced to remain in Spain. The Gauls were undisciplined at best and without Hannibal effectively leading them in his own army, they were no match for the Romans. Finally, King Phillip V would drag his feet and when he was finally ready to march against Rome, he was badly defeated by the Romans and their allies.  But what perhaps hurt Hannibal's cause the most was the fact that he was put into a situation where he was no longer the aggressor, instead he would be forced to fight a defensive war. With the defections of so many cities and towns in Italy to his cause, he was forced to garrison these cities with troops from his army to prevent the Romans from retaking the cities.  He as well would leave his better generals in charge of these garrisons, which hindered his armies ability in the field.  So even though his total army would soon swell to around 80,000, the most he was able to field at any single time would be around 40,000.   Even this amount would never be at full force as often a large amount of these men were used to constantly forage for food and supplies.  It was when these foragers were searching for food that Fabius would attack and then flee, causing constant casualties to Hannibal's army. What also would hurt Hannibal was that when his veterans fell, they were replaced by men who were not of their quality. At sea, as well, Carthage would squander several opportunities where they were inferior to the Roman fleets and would instead disregard any engagements. This would all play itself out during the next several years, however, for now, Carthage was indeed at her "high tide". Hannibal was aware of this, much to his dismay of his cities lack of support, and went into winter quarters at Capua. No city in Italy was as wealthy as Capua. Hannibal had entered into a treaty with the cities new leaders which stated that he would protect them from Rome, however, Carthage was not to garrison the city with troops unless so requested by Capua. Hannibal also gave strict orders to his men that any disregard to the Capuan laws would be punished by death, particularly any harm against the women and children from the city. After the long, bloody campaigns that his troops had fought against the Romans, the winter there was one well deserved for his veterans. With plenty of gold and silver at their disposal, there was plenty of food, wine, and women to occupy their time. Some historians argue that because of wintering in Capua, Hannibal's army lost the edge that had carried him to his earlier, unexpected victories. They point out that they would never again regain that razor-sharp edge that they previously had shown.  Capua, they say, was Hannibal's "Cannae". But the real reason was as to what was mentioned before, the fact that he was forced to change the entire character of the war and fight a defensive war. Instead of plotting where he would next be able to surprise the Romans, what ambush he could utilize, what ground he could use to his advantage, he was instead forever marching to and from cities under his protection to prevent their recapture by Rome.

          Hannibal had no choice but to react to defend his new allies. He felt strong loyalty to these cities as they offered their support to him. It was his duty to protect them from the harsh retribution that awaited them should Rome retake their cities by force. It was also in his interest to protect his allies if he ever hoped to sway Romes remaining allies to rebel and join his cause.

Instead of entering into another large-scale battle with Hannibal, Rome would put into policy the re-taking of cities that had be-friended Hannibal as well as focusing on other theatres of the war such as Spain. 

          As Hannibal wintered in Capua, he was intent to take upon only one operation during the rest of 216 B.C. This was an attempt to take the port city of Nola by treachery or force in at attempt to gain direct communication with not only Carthage by sea, but also Macedonia and Syracuse as well. While in Capua, Hannibal received an emissary from the popular party in Nola offering the city to him. The city was garrisoned by Roman troops and the aristocrat party had sent word to Rome that the city was being offered to Hannibal. Rome sent a small army led by the general Marcus Claudius Marcellus to prevent the desertion of the city. Marcellus entered the city shortly before Hannibal arrived and Hannibal was forced to abandon his plans at the time. Marcellus, however, was soon in a difficult situation as the entire population of the city, save the small amount of aristocrats, was, as said, in strong favor of Hannibal. The leader of this faction, was a young nobleman named Bantius, who had fought with the Romans against Hannibal at Cannae. He was wounded and captured by Hannibal and was cared for very well by the Carthaginian general. After his wounds had healed, Hannibal returned him to Nola, from which he was born and lived. Because of this act of kindness, he was ready to desert Rome and and offer the city to Hannibal. Marcellus, however, aware that he had to act quickly, showered Bantius with gifts and kindness and was able to persuade him to remain loyal to Rome.

          The spring of 215 B. C. brought about another attempt by Hannibal to secure the city of Nola. However, success was not achieved. Hannibal , upon reaching the city, set up his battle lines and waited throughout the day for Marcellus to leave the walls and give battle, however, Marcellus refused and Hannibal broke camp for the evening, hoping that the next day he would be able to force an engagement. The following day Hannibal again set his army in formation to offer battle, but did not see any Roman forces upon the wall as in the previous day. He sensed that perhaps the populace that was favorable to his cause was in revolt over the Romans and that Marcellus had abandoned the walls to quell an uprising. Instead, as Hannibal waited, the gates were flung open and Marcellus led out the entire Roman army, save a small force left to guard his baggage and enforce the order that all remaining citizens remain in their homes,  along with loyal citizens of Nola in support. The battle was contested for several hours which saw heavy combat and along with this many casualties on both sides, until the Romans retreated back inside the city, leaving Hannibal rejected again in his attempt to gain entry into the city. 

          Soon after Hannibal had once again failed to take Nola, battles would rage in other theatres of the war. A Roman force of 25,000 men, led by the conul-elect, Posthumius, was completely destroyed by the Gauls in northern Italy in late spring of 215 B. C. The first large-scale naval battle was fought off the coast of Sardinia, with Rome being victorious. Carthage, as said before, was slowly reacting to theatres of the war beyond Hannibal. The Carthage senate sent an army led by a general named Hasdrubal the Bald  to assist the Sardinian's with their revolt against Rome. They also sent orders for Hasdrubal, in Spain, to march for Italy with the bulk of his troops, to aid Hannibal, sending a general named Himilco to replace him in Spain. Also the main Carthage fleet, led by the admiral Bolmicar, made safe passage from Carthage to Italy, and as said before, with the only reinforcements from Carthage to reach Hannibal. These 4,000 Numidian horseman, along with a large amount of trained elephants, led by Hanno, was able to make their way to Hannibal's army, where they were well-received, causing mass celebrations with-in the Carthage army. Mago, after leaving the Carthage senate following his request for them to assist his brother after Cannae, was sent to the Balearic Islands with a large amount of gold to recruit fresh troops. Another force of Numidians was sent to Sicily led by the able general Muttines to assist Syracuse and a bevy of other cities that had rebelled against Rome. 

          The first operation to fail proved to be Hasdrubal marching to Italy to assist Hannibal. The two Roman armies in Spain, led by the Scipio brother's, united and met Hasdrubal at the Battle of Dertosa.   


                Hasdrubal had been on the defensive since the defeat of his fleet at Battle of the Ebro River in the spring of 217 BC. and he made no effort to force the issue with the Romans. He had left Bostar, a subordinate commander, with a force of unknown quantity to guard the Ebro line against any Roman encroachment. Bostar had retreated when he became aware that the the Romans had crossed the Ebro in force and was making their way to his smaller army. Most likely Bostar's force was to primarily keep their allies from rebelling and joining the Romans.   Furthermore, he was tricked into surrendering the Iberian tribal hostages held at Saguntum to the Romans by an Iberian chieftain named Abylix. This caused revolts in Barcid Iberia, especially among the powerful Trudetani tribe near Gades in 216 BC. Hasdrubal had received 20,000 foot and 4000 horsemen, with orders to march to Italy, but first he would need to re-secure his holdings in Iberia and the proccess was both costly and time-consuming. The better part of 216 BC was spent in subduing the Iberian tribes.

          Meanwhile, Gnaeus Scipio had received 8,000 reinforcements under his brother Publius Scipio after the battle of Ebro River. The brothers enjoyed proconsular rank, and exercised joint command. The brothers adopted an aggressive naval strategy given the destruction of the Carthaginian navy, raiding Barcid possessions in Iberia and in the Balearic Islands. The Scipios also recruited auxiliary troops from Iberian tribes, garrisoned towns to expand their operational sphere, consolidated their hold north of the Ebro River and also had to deal with tribal unrest there, just as Hasdrubal was doing the same, south of the Ebro. They also encouraged Iberian tribes friendly with the Romans to raid tribes loyal to Carthage beyond the Ebro.

          In early 215 BC , as said before, the Romans crossed the Ebro River in force and laid siege to Ibera, a small Iberian town allied to Carthage. Leaving Himilco in charge at Cartagena, Hasdrubal marched north with his field army to the Ebro. However, he chose not to cross the Ebro to raid the Roman possessions nor did he attack the Roman army besieging Ibera. The Carthaginian army besieged a town allied with the Romans across Dertosa instead. The Scipios lifted their siege and moved to engage Hasdrubal. Thus, Hasdrubal had gained the strategic initiative. He had aided his allies by forcing the Romans to lift their siege and face the Carthaginian army on a site of his own choosing. The opposing armies encamped on a plain between Ibera and Dertosa within five miles of each other. After five days of skirmishing, the commanders drew out their armies for battle.          

          The Roman infantry consisted of two Roman legions with a total of 10,000 soldiers, and 18,000 allied Italian troops. The cavalry was made up of 600 Roman and 1,800 Italian heavy horsemen. The Romans also had recruited an auxiliary force of 2,000 Iberian footmen and 400 heavy horsemen, for a total of 32,800 troops.

          Hasdrubal had 15,000 Libyan spearmen, 1,000 mercenaries (mostly Ligurians from Italy) and 8,000 Iberian troops for his infantry. The Carthaginian cavalry was made up of 450 Libyan/Punic and 1,200 Iberian heavy horsemen and 2,300 light Numidian horsemen. The Carthaginian army also had 20 elephants and 1,000 Balearic slingers, for a total of just under 29,000 men.         

          The Romans posted their troops in their traditional manner, with the cavalry on the wings and the infantry in the center. The Roman and Iberian horse was placed on the right wing, the allied Italian horse on the left wing. The infantry line had the Italian troops on the wings next to the cavalry, and the Roman legions were posted in the center. Two thousand Roman/Italian troops and the Iberian infantry guarded the Roman camp.

          Hasdrubal placed the Libyan and Iberian horse on his left wing facing the Roman/Iberian horse, and the Numidian light horse on his right wing facing the allied Italian horsemen. Next to the Iberian cavalry contingent, Hasdrubal placed a phalanx of Libyan infantry, backed up by mercenaries, facing the Italian foot, and another phalanx of Libyan foot was placed next to the Numidian horsemen on the Carthaginian right wing, also facing Italian foot. Between the Libyan infantry phalanxes in the center of the Carthaginian infantry line, facing the Roman legions, was a thinned out Iberian infantry line. The elephants were divided into two groups of 10 and placed in front of the cavalry on both of the wings. The Balearic slingers formed a skirmish line in front of the infantry. Two to three thousand troops were left to guard the Carthaginian camp.         

          After a brief skirmish between light troops, the Roman legions in the center charged the thinned out line of Iberian infantry opposite them, and having the advantage of both number (10,000 against 8,000) and formation depth, drove back the Iberians almost instantly. However, this is an integral part of the double envelopment tactic Hasdrubal was trying to implement. The Carthaginian elephants placed on both the wings charged the Roman and Italian cavalry opposite them. The charge proved ineffective, the Roman and Italian horsemen were not disrupted, and the elephants played no further role in the battle. The Italian infantry formations closed with the Libyan formations opposite them in support of the Romans attacking the Iberians.

          The Libyans and mercenaries placed on the flanks of the hard pressed Iberians charged the Italian infantry opposite them, and despite their advantage in numbers (16,000 against 18,000), the Italians were pushed back. Unlike Cannae, the Libyans did not outflank the Romans. The Carthaginian cavalry placed on the wings, on the flank of the Libyans closed with the Roman and Italian horsemen opposite them. Despite having the advantage in numbers on both wings (1,600 Libyan/Punic and Iberians faced 1,000 Roman/Spaniards on the left of the Carthaginian line and 2,300 Numidians faced 1,800 Italian horsemen on the right of the Carthaginian line), the Carthaginian horsemen were unable to drive the Romans from the battlefield. An indecisive skirmish developed on the both wings of the armies between the opposing cavalry, with neither side gaining any advantage. At this point, the Iberian infantry on the Carthaginian center line collapsed, and began to flee the battle.

          At Trebbia, the center of the Carthaginian infantry line had also collapsed under Roman infantry assault. But Hannibal had managed to win the battle as his infantry had outflanked the Romans on both sides, and his cavalry, after driving their Roman opponents from the field, had attacked the Roman infantry from the rear along with Mago's ambushing troops. Hasdrubal had no ambush in place at Dertosa, but the Libyans had been driving the Italian infantry back when the Iberians at the center had collapsed.

          The Carthaginian cavalry, seeing their infantry center break and run, broke off their skirmishing with their Roman counterparts and also fled the battlefield. The Roman infantry, after scattering the Iberians, returned to help the Italian infantry. The Libyan infantry managed to put up a hard resistance, inflicting and suffering heavy casualties before being routed. Total losses in the battle are only recorded as being heavy for the Roman's and severe for the Carthaginian's.         

          Hasdrubal survived the battle with most of his elephants and cavalry, and a few infantry (mostly Iberians). The Roman pursuit was not vigorous enough to repeat their total success after the Battle of Cissa as they had suffered heavy casualties as well. The Romans managed to storm the Carthaginian camp, after Hasdrubal had hastily evacuated his soldiers. The provisions and booty fell into the hands of the victorious Romans. The shattered Carthaginian army retired to Cartagena, leaving the Romans firmly established south of the Ebro for the first time. His defeat would immediately deny Hannibal the reinforcements that he desperately needed in Italy.

          Carthage would respond to the disaster and Hasdrubal would be reinforced by two armies under Mago Barca and Hasdrubal Gisco to keep the Romans in check and keep the Carthaginian possessions in Iberia under control. The before mentioned Hasdrubal Gisco was the son of the Gisco who was killed by the mercenaries during their revolt following the First Punic War. He had been Hamilcar Barca's second-in-command in Sicily. During his childhood, he was frequently with Hannibal, Hasdrubal, and Mago and his appointment to lead one of the armies would end the Barca domination in Spain that had taken place since Hamilcar had first arrived. The Carthaginians would not mount any effective campaigns north of the Ebro again, and would be fated to battle the Romans until 205 BC for the control of Iberia with varying success.

          The Scipio brothers did not mount a vigorous pursuit or an immediate campaign against the Carthaginians immediately after their victory. They chose to follow their strategy of mounting raids, instigating Iberian tribes to rebel, and building up their power base. The Scipios would receive no reinforcements from Italy for the remainder of their command in Iberia. They would fight the Barca brothers and Gisco with varying results until 212 BC, when they launched a major campaign leading to the Battle of the Upper Baetus.

          Hasdrubal had tried to imitate the tactics used by Hannibal at Cannae during the Battle of Dertosa, however, his attempt to double envelope the Romans would fail.  The Libyans certainly played their part in the battle but the other wings of the Carthage army failed to due their part, primarily the Carthage horse who had failed to drive the Roman horse from the field. Had they been able to due this, then the battle would have played out as Hannibal had done at Cannae. The officers that Hasdrubal had in his army were also inferior to those in Hannibal's army.


                                                                                             Gold coin thought to depict Hasdubal Barca

             Meanwhile, as said before, Carthage had raised an army led by Hasdrubal the Bald to aid the Sardinians in their revolt of Roman authority as they were eager to return the island to their empire and secure a naval base to support Hannibal in Italy. Not much is known about this Carthage general. There seems to be little doubt that he never took part in any of the Spanish campaigns that precipitated the second war. He may have fought against Carthage rivals in Africa and had limited success. His appointment to this position points more to the fact that the best generals that Carthage had after Hannibal had followed him to Italy. Hasdrubal, his second-in-command, Hanno, son of Bolmicar, Maharbol, his cavalry commander, and Carthalo, his chief security officer. Also Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal was in Spain, and Mago, also to be sent to Spain, would have been a better choice. Hasdrubal the Bald's second-in-command was another general named Mago and was said to have been a very close relation to Hannibal, possibly a cousin. Before  sending this army, Carthage had sent another general, also named Hanno, to collaborate with the Sardinians and entice them to revolt. The Romans had fought off and on with the natives since obtaining Sardinia  illegally from Carthage in 237 BC. By and by, the populace did not support the Roman occupation of their island. By 216 BC, the situation in the island was ripe for revolt. The single Roman legion posted there was understrength from sickness. The praetor, Q. Mucius Scavola, was also sick. Payment and provisions from Rome were irregular as they contended with Hannibal. Hampsicora, a native Sardinian chieftain, had been the individual to ask for aid from Carthage and was being assisted by Hanno.  

          Before the Carthaginian expedition sailed for Sardinia, the strategic situation following Cannae had changed. As you will later read, as we shift back to the operations of war in Italy, Hanno, the cavalry commander at Cannae,  had been sent by Hannibal after Cannae with a force to Bruttium( southern Italy) to raise new levies among these people. He was successful in raising an army of 17,000 infantry and 1,400 horse and while he was marching north to join Hannibal he was defeated by Titis Sempronius Longus and his army of slaves in Lucania, and Hasdrubal Barca, as read, lost most of his field army at Dertosa. The Carthaginian senate ordered Mago to Iberia, instead of Italy, but the Sardinian expedition sailed as planned. However, a storm blew the fleet off course to the Balearic Islands, where many ships had to be hauled ashore and repaired.  This delayed the arrival of the Carthaginians to Sardinia. During which time, Rome had reinforced her legion upon Sardinia. While repairing his ships, Hasdrubal took initiative and recruited another 1,000 men from the Balearic Islands to join his army. 

          Hampsicora was busy raising an army and collecting provisions near the city of Cornus on the western coast of Sardinia. The delay of the Carthaginians gave the Romans, as said before,  the opportunity to send fresh forces under the praetor Titus Manlius Torquatus, who had served as consul in Sardinia in 235 B.C. and was familar with the island. Total Roman forces in Sardinia rose to 20,000 infantry and 1,200 horse with his arrival.

          Manlius managed to draw Hiostus, the son of Hampsicora to rashly attack the Romans when Hampsicora was absent on a recruiting mission into the mountains of Sardinia. In the ensuing battle, 5,700 Sardinians were killed and the rebel army scattered. Hampsicora responded by leading recruits down from the mountains and gathered the remnants of his defeated army and set up camp that was easy to defend, while awaiting the Carthage force.  Hasdrubal the Bald, having repaired his fleet at the Balearic Islands, arrived in Sardinia in the fall of 215. He landed near Cornus with 15,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry, and gathered what forces of Sardinians he could find, and marched towards Caralis and joined Hampsicora and Hanno. In response Manlius marched out with an army.

          The opponents did not immediately engage with each other. They encamped close to each other and spent some days skirmishing. When neither sides gained any advantage, the respective commanders decided on battle. The Carthaginians offered battle first and the Romans responded.

                    The armies formed up traditionally, with cavalry on the wings and infantry in the center. It is not known if the Carthaginians had elephants with them. The battle was hotly contested for four hours, with neither side gaining an advantage. The decisive moment came when the Roman detachment facing the Sardinians on one of the wings of the Carthaginian line managed to drive them from the field. The victorious Roman wing then wheeled inward and attacked the Carthaginian flank, which was now exposed and gave way and was slaughtered. Hasdrubal, Mago and Hanno were captured and Hiostus killed. Hampsicora fled the field, and then committed suicide to avoid capture by the Romans after learning of their total defeat and the death of his son. The survivors took refuge in Cornus, which was taken by assault a few days later. The Punic fleet managed to extricate some of the survivors.

          The evacuation expedition was carried by an unknown number of transports and escorted by 60 Carthage war ships. These took the remnants of the expedition and sailed to Africa. On the way they encountered the Sicilian contingent of the Roman fleet returning from a raiding mission in Africa. The Roman fleet, 100 quinquereme strong and commanded by the Roman admiral Titus Ocatilius Crassus, attacked and captured seven Carthaginian ships, while the rest scattered and made for Africa, only to have most sink at sea during a terrible storm before they reached their mainland. Roman losses in the sea battle are not known. Nearly the entire Carthage army had perished in the battles and storm.


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