Hannibal of Carthage

          As said before, Hannibal was not able to be reinforced from Spain due to Roman victories over Hanno, and his brother Hasdrubal in that theater of the war. Roman influence had spread south of the Ebro river because of these set-backs. The Roman presence had lasted for seven years without a failure and both Scipio brothers and their army were able to gather many Spanish recruits. As Hasdrubal gathered and trained recruits to off-set his defeat at the Battle of Dertosa at the hands of the Scipio brothers in 215 B.C., the Romans sent military advisers and trainers in Africa to train the armies of the Western Numidian King  Syphax, whom they were able to persuade to rebel against Carthage and was planning to attack Carthage in Africa.  Syphax had gathered a force that was said to number around 60,000 strong and after Roman training was completed, set off towards Carthage. Massinissa, king of the Eastern Numidians, and an ally of Carthage was able to warn Carthage which caused the city to order Hasdrubal to sail from Spain to Numidia to quell the revolt. Leaving his brother Mago and Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, in charge of Spain, Hasdrubal landed an army of around 25,000 troops and marched for Syphax (213/212 B.C.). The rebellion of Syphax took no more than one battle to quell. In the battle, the Roman-trained Numidians were annihilated by Hasdrubal, with only Syphax and several hundred of his army escaping. After his success, Hasdrubal returned to Spain (late 212 B.C.) and brought with him Massinissa and 3,000 of his Eastern Numidians.


          While Hasdrubal was in Africa, the Scipio brothers had hired 20,000 Spanish mercenaries to reinforce their army of 30,000 Roman foot and 3,000 horse with the intent of renewing their offensive against Carthage armies in Spain. They were determined to make every effort to end the war in Spain. By doing so they would be able to cut off much of the revenue that Carthage was using to fund the war, as well as denying them the vast resources of manpower that was available for hire in Spain.  During this time, Mago and Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, had split their army so that each numbered 10,000 strong, with Mago operating near Gades, and Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, near Cartagena. Observing that the Carthaginian armies were deployed separately from each other, and with Hasdrubal Barca and 15,000 troops re-entering Spain near  near Amtorgis, the Scipio brothers planned to split their forces and strike before the three Carthage armies could unite. . Publius Scipio decided to take 20,000 Roman and allied soldiers and attack Mago Barca who was now moving near Castulo, while Gnaeus Scipio took 10,000 Roman troops and the 20,000 Spanish mercenaries to attack Hasdrubal Barca. Once both Carthage armies were defeated, the Roman brothers planned on uniting and then destroying Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, and his 10,000 strong army. This stratagem would lead to 2 battles, the Battle of Castulo and the Battle of Ilorca to take place within a few days of each other. The Roman generals decision to first battle the two Barca brothers was due in part to the fact that they thought these were the better generals of the three. Which once the two brothers were defeated, they would have no problem with Hasdrubal, son of Gisco.

          Gnaeus Scipio arrived at his objective first. However, Hasdrubal Barca, eager to protect his younger brother,  had already ordered the armies of Hasdrubal Gisco, Massinissa and Indibilis, a friendly Spanish chieftain with 7,500 men, to join Mago near Castulo. Hasdrubal Barca held his ground against Gnaeus Scipio, staying within his fortified camp, then managed to bribe a large amount of the Spanish mercenaries to desert Gnaeus Scipio. This led to Hasdrubal's army outnumbering that of Gnaeus Scipio. Hasdrubal preferred to  bid his time, avoiding any battles with the Romans.

                                                                       Battle of Castulo

         As Publius Scipio neared Castulo, he was harassed by the Numidian light cavalry under Massinissa day and night. It did not take long for Scipio to realize that Mago's army had increased from his original 10,000 men and this caused great concern for the Roman general.  Mago wasted little time forcing action. Putting into play what he had learned from his brother, Hannibal,  while he was with him in Italy, the youngest Barca brother first offered battle. From his fortified camp, Mago ordered his Spanish ally, Indibibls, and his 7,500 recruits to move beyond the Roman flanks and take up a position against the Roman rear. When informed that Indibilis with his Spanish troops were moving across his line of retreat and he was still being harassed by Massinissa, who Mago had ordered to attack the flanks of the Roman army,  Publius Scipio decided not to face Mago. Instead, he decided to remain in camp throughout the day and during the cover of darkness, attack the Iberian chieftain, fearing that he would be surrounded by Carthaginian forces. He left 2,000 soldiers under a legate, Tiberius Fonteus, in his camp, and marched out to attack the Iberians at night, hoping to secure an avenue which would allow his retreat the next day.  Scipio marched all night and caught Indibilis and his men by surprise just before morning, and with an 18,000 to 7,500 advantage, began to gain the upper hand in the ensuing action. However, the Iberians managed to hold off the Romans in the confused night battle just long enough for Masinissa to arrive, whom Scipio had hoped to evade undetected, but had failed to do so.

          Massinissa resumed his attacks upon the flanks of the Roman army, also hitting them from behind as well. With the confusion of the Numidian horse attacking from the flank, the Roman assault on the Spanish troops began to falter. A short time later Mago and Hasdrubal Gisco arrived with their combined armies and clashed upon the rear of the Roman lines. The Romans were now surrounded and outnumbered and were nearly completely slaughtered.  Publius Scipio and most of his troops had perished. Mago gave the Numidians enough time to loot the dead before force marching the army towards his brother, Hasdrubal's, position. A few handful of Roman survivors managed to reach their fortified camp.

                                                                              Battle of Ilorca

         Gnaeus Scipio had lost the advantage of numbers against Hasdrubal with the desertion of the mercenaries to the Carthage army. Although unaware of his brother, Publius Scipio's fate, Gnaeus decided to withdraw towards northern Spain after Mago and Hasdrubal Gisco arrived with their armies. The sight of these additional Carthage armies arriving without word from his brother forced his action. He feared that fortune had turned against his brother and he desired to get as far north as he could,possibly making a crossing to the north side of the Ebro where he would be safe for the time being. After conferring with his officers, the Romans moved out of their camp leaving the camp fires burning and made for Ebro at night. The Numidians, under Massinissa, located them the following day, their attacks forcing the Romans to take position on a hilltop for the night near the city of Ilorca. During the evening the Romans did the best they could to fortify the hill,however, they were unable to make progress as the hill was very rocky and could not be dug into. The main Carthaginian army arrived during the night, now made up of the forces of Hasdrubal Barca, Hasdrubal Gisco and Mago Barca. In desperation, the Romans tried to create a defensive wall with baggages and saddles. At daylight the next morning, Hasdrubal ordered his forces to attack the hill from all sides and the Romans were easily destroyed. Almost all of the 12,000 Roman troops perished alongside of Gnaeus Scipio.

        The complete defeat of the two Roman armies in the separate battles are often referred to as the Battle of the Upper Baetis as well. These battles represent the only major Carthage victories against the Romans that did not involve the leadership of Hannibal. The several thousand Romans who fled their fortified camp were able to retreat across the Ebro where they were able to gain recruits among the tribes who were still friendly to them, until their force had increased to 8,000. The Carthage commanders did not cross the Ebro and finish their conquest of Roman forces in Spain, instead, they split their armies again and returned to southern Spain. Why they did not act is a curious one as Hannibal needed troops in a bad way in Italy. The next year Rome would reinforce their army in Spain with another 10,000 men led by the consul Nero.  

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