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  • #31
    Elephants at Zama?

    They were almost certainly at Zama, although numbers are likely to be exaggerated. One element of the battle that is overlooked is what happened once they 'rout'. We can safely ignore the lanes said to have been used, since lanes are used against chariots not elephants. Those that do not use the lanes are said to have routed to the right, onto the noble Carthaginian cavalry, disordering them in turn.

    One of the more successful uses of elephants is as an anti cavalry deterrent. During the battle of Ipsus in 301BC, Antigonus's cavalry routed their opponents but were unable to exploit this tactical success due to the presence of elephants guarding the allies infantry flank.

    After the initial clash, a reasonable proportion of Hannibal's pachyderms indeed move to the same flank where the equites Romani would attack. Unlike the Numidian cavalry, Roman horses would have had little chance to familiarize themselves with elephants, thus Hannibals right flank is now protected from enemy cavalry.

    Scythed Chariots at Zama?

    An unsubstantiated hunch of mine, it is plausible they were there. Scythed chariots were still native to the area over 2 centuries later, Hannibal chose the battlefield, and lanes are said to have been used to counter elephants, when there correct use is to counter charioys. One of the problems of Zama is that the account of the battle does not work with the numbers normally stated. Once you realise that 10 legions equivalent are present (12k Hastati, 30k heavy infantry total on both sides), the battle essentially pans out as stated, allowing for the winners bias, with one exception. Roman Velites would have numbered 12k, plus additional Numidian equivalents, more than doubling Hannibal's mercenary skirmishers. For enough elephants to survive the initial assault, and then retire to protect Hannibals right flank, each pachyderm would have had to kill or otherwise neutralise at least 100 Velites each, an impossible number I suspect.

    While it is extremely easy to dismiss scythed chariots being at Zama, something did happen to neutralise Roman superiority of numbers in this area, not yet discovered.
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    • #32
      I've found historians on another History site willing to state why I am incredibly wrong. If you don't want to reply here, please reply there. My name is the same on both sites.
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      • #33
        Is it really over 3 months that any input on this particular forum has been made, and that was myself? What happened to ACG being the best forums in history?

        Anyway, welcome to the benefits of my wisdom, or depths or my hubris, depending on your POV.

        To understand the battle of Zama, one of the important elements is determining the size of relevant armies. For good reason, Polybius is considered the most reliable source concerning the battle, and he gives the Carthaginian side a total of 40,000. Given that the Scipio family won that battle, and providing the information, we can safely assume that this is the absolutely maximum figure for Hannibalís force, those particular Romans are not going to diminish their victorious accomplishment after all.

        Polybius was writing his histories to prove the inevitability of Rome as a superpower, and if Hannibalís army was the larger he would have said this. He had two chances to do so. The first when he stated Hannibal lost with 40k soldiers. The second was when the Hastati faced 12k mercenaries. In both instances, if the Romans were outnumbered, it would have underscored his point about why Rome won. By remaining silent in both cases we can be sure Scipios army was larger, despite some modern historians using Appianís figures used for Rome, simply because they are all that are overtly stated . Given that he increases Hannibalís army by 10k men, it already points to a massaging of figures.

        It appears that Appian lies are one of omission. He states Scipio leaves Italy with 7000 volunteers, picks up two legions in Sicily, and arrives in Africa with 16000 infantry and 1600 cavalry. On initial viewing, this is wrong, simply because the proportions are incorrect. If we are talking about 4 standard legions we are short 800 infantry, but with 400 additional cavalry. OTOH, if we are talking two legions and attached alae, we are short 800 infantry and 800 cavalry. Itís unlikely that a general of Scipioís calibre would make such an organisational mistake.
        Fortunately, Appian mention that the two legions, the 5th and 6th, were at Cannae, and oversized. At 5300 men apiece, these exactly fit the additional troops Scipio is said to have picked up on route from Italy to Africa. 600 of these are cavalry, useful, since it means we can calculate that the initial volunteers consisted of 1000 cavalry and 6000 infantry. Velites do not have seem to have been volunteers in the legionary system much of the time, thus we are looking at 2 standard Roman legions plus 400 additional noble close colleagues. Thus Appian states Scipio had 2 standard and 2 larger Roman legions, plus 400 volunteers, which made up the stated force. These figures would not include the alae that would also accompany the legions. 4 standard alae consists of 16800 foot and 3600 cavalry, although 2 could have been oversized, to mirror the 5th and 6th. This should give us a Scipio army of a minimum of 40k+ foot and 5200 cavalry.

        The cavalry figure is obviously too large. If the victor of a battle states on the importance of an ally general for his additional cavalry, and no one usually places Hannibalís mounted troops greater than 4000 total, Scipio almost certainly did not arrive with far more than the stated 1600. The cavalry element consists of nobles, and the Sicilian aristocrats clearly did not want to be part of Scipioís endeavour. The 5th and 6th legions that were garrisoned in Sicily may not have had their full compliment of cavalry, some of the noble element having escaped censure, such as Scipio himself. It is possible that the 1600 cavalry, perhaps with an additional 300 upgraded foot is about right.

        Scipioís army would have been reduced in number even after a successful campaign by the time of Zama, but it is almost certain the Hastati equalled the number of mercenaries in Hannibalís first infantry line. 12000 mercenaries means c12000 Hastati.

        Hannibalís army is easier to understand. We have figures of 12000 mercenaries and 80 elephants in a total of 40000. We also know that Carthage was able to field 10000 citizen infantry for campaigns. The later is reminiscent of the Persians Immortals, and if so, also implies 1000 cavalry, supposition on my part. This Ďlevyí would most likely be guardsmen of various types, disciplined and well armoured to look the part, but green. However, the Italian campaign veterans would not be at the battle for several reasons. If Carthage was unable to supply Hannibal troops by sea, Hannibal will be unable to send troops in the other direction. Even if there was a truce, the Italian army is tying down around a score Roman legions, and leaving the Ďtoeí would free nearly 100k Roman soldiers to wage war on Carthage direct, not a real option. One stated opinion is a successful naval battle that allowed Hannibal to escape with his vets. This is very silly for many reasons. The real give away is that during the battle, the veterans are said to lower their spears to prevent the first two lines from retreating through their lines. By the time of Zama, Hannibalís European troops were fighting in the Spanish style (short sword and javelin), while it was the Africans who were still using the Greek style (long spear and Hoplon). The Carthaginianís 3rd line troops were likely Africans. The fact that Hannibalís 3rd line was so far back in relative terms reminds me of Alexanderís use of sarissophoroi to inspire fear of retreat among his own troops. The fact that non Carthaginian troops are used in this way is not surprising, given how green the 2nd line probably was, and the fact that these troops were technically a higher Ďcasteí, and thus if not hated, at least partially despised. The Citizens knew they would have to fight.

        The army of Hannibal at Zama, thus consists of 80 elephants with 3-4k escorts, 12k mercenaries, 10k levy and 10k Ďveteransí, with 2k Numidian cavalry and 1k guard cavalry, for about 38-39k total. Both armies have around 30k heavy infantry, and that is what really determines the battle's 'flavour' until Scipio's cavalry returns.
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        • #34
          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
          Elephants at Zama?

          They were almost certainly at Zama, although numbers are likely to be exaggerated. One element of the battle that is overlooked is what happened once they 'rout'. We can safely ignore the lanes said to have been used, since lanes are used against chariots not elephants. Those that do not use the lanes are said to have routed to the right, onto the noble Carthaginian cavalry, disordering them in turn.

          One of the more successful uses of elephants is as an anti cavalry deterrent. During the battle of Ipsus in 301BC, Antigonus's cavalry routed their opponents but were unable to exploit this tactical success due to the presence of elephants guarding the allies infantry flank.

          After the initial clash, a reasonable proportion of Hannibal's pachyderms indeed move to the same flank where the equites Romani would attack. Unlike the Numidian cavalry, Roman horses would have had little chance to familiarize themselves with elephants, thus Hannibals right flank is now protected from enemy cavalry.

          Scythed Chariots at Zama?

          An unsubstantiated hunch of mine, it is plausible they were there. Scythed chariots were still native to the area over 2 centuries later, Hannibal chose the battlefield, and lanes are said to have been used to counter elephants, when there correct use is to counter charioys. One of the problems of Zama is that the account of the battle does not work with the numbers normally stated. Once you realise that 10 legions equivalent are present (12k Hastati, 30k heavy infantry total on both sides), the battle essentially pans out as stated, allowing for the winners bias, with one exception. Roman Velites would have numbered 12k, plus additional Numidian equivalents, more than doubling Hannibal's mercenary skirmishers. For enough elephants to survive the initial assault, and then retire to protect Hannibals right flank, each pachyderm would have had to kill or otherwise neutralise at least 100 Velites each, an impossible number I suspect.

          While it is extremely easy to dismiss scythed chariots being at Zama, something did happen to neutralise Roman superiority of numbers in this area, not yet discovered.
          It has been pointed out to me that elephants by this period invariably had 40-50 escort infantry each, thus a far more effective force than 80 pachyderms alone.
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          • #35
            Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
            Is it really over 3 months that any input on this particular forum has been made, and that was myself? What happened to ACG being the best forums in history?

            Anyway, welcome to the benefits of my wisdom, or depths or my hubris, depending on your POV.

            To understand the battle of Zama, one of the important elements is determining the size of relevant armies. For good reason, Polybius is considered the most reliable source concerning the battle, and he gives the Carthaginian side a total of 40,000. Given that the Scipio family won that battle, and providing the information, we can safely assume that this is the absolutely maximum figure for Hannibalís force, those particular Romans are not going to diminish their victorious accomplishment after all.

            Polybius was writing his histories to prove the inevitability of Rome as a superpower, and if Hannibalís army was the larger he would have said this. He had two chances to do so. The first when he stated Hannibal lost with 40k soldiers. The second was when the Hastati faced 12k mercenaries. In both instances, if the Romans were outnumbered, it would have underscored his point about why Rome won. By remaining silent in both cases we can be sure Scipios army was larger, despite some modern historians using Appianís figures used for Rome, simply because they are all that are overtly stated . Given that he increases Hannibalís army by 10k men, it already points to a massaging of figures.

            It appears that Appian lies are one of omission. He states Scipio leaves Italy with 7000 volunteers, picks up two legions in Sicily, and arrives in Africa with 16000 infantry and 1600 cavalry. On initial viewing, this is wrong, simply because the proportions are incorrect. If we are talking about 4 standard legions we are short 800 infantry, but with 400 additional cavalry. OTOH, if we are talking two legions and attached alae, we are short 800 infantry and 800 cavalry. Itís unlikely that a general of Scipioís calibre would make such an organisational mistake.
            Fortunately, Appian mention that the two legions, the 5th and 6th, were at Cannae, and oversized. At 5300 men apiece, these exactly fit the additional troops Scipio is said to have picked up on route from Italy to Africa. 600 of these are cavalry, useful, since it means we can calculate that the initial volunteers consisted of 1000 cavalry and 6000 infantry. Velites do not have seem to have been volunteers in the legionary system much of the time, thus we are looking at 2 standard Roman legions plus 400 additional noble close colleagues. Thus Appian states Scipio had 2 standard and 2 larger Roman legions, plus 400 volunteers, which made up the stated force. These figures would not include the alae that would also accompany the legions. 4 standard alae consists of 16800 foot and 3600 cavalry, although 2 could have been oversized, to mirror the 5th and 6th. This should give us a Scipio army of a minimum of 40k+ foot and 5200 cavalry.

            The cavalry figure is obviously too large. If the victor of a battle states on the importance of an ally general for his additional cavalry, and no one usually places Hannibalís mounted troops greater than 4000 total, Scipio almost certainly did not arrive with far more than the stated 1600. The cavalry element consists of nobles, and the Sicilian aristocrats clearly did not want to be part of Scipioís endeavour. The 5th and 6th legions that were garrisoned in Sicily may not have had their full compliment of cavalry, some of the noble element having escaped censure, such as Scipio himself. It is possible that the 1600 cavalry, perhaps with an additional 300 upgraded foot is about right.

            Scipioís army would have been reduced in number even after a successful campaign by the time of Zama, but it is almost certain the Hastati equalled the number of mercenaries in Hannibalís first infantry line. 12000 mercenaries means c12000 Hastati.

            Hannibalís army is easier to understand. We have figures of 12000 mercenaries and 80 elephants in a total of 40000. We also know that Carthage was able to field 10000 citizen infantry for campaigns. The later is reminiscent of the Persians Immortals, and if so, also implies 1000 cavalry, supposition on my part. This Ďlevyí would most likely be guardsmen of various types, disciplined and well armoured to look the part, but green. However, the Italian campaign veterans would not be at the battle for several reasons. If Carthage was unable to supply Hannibal troops by sea, Hannibal will be unable to send troops in the other direction. Even if there was a truce, the Italian army is tying down around a score Roman legions, and leaving the Ďtoeí would free nearly 100k Roman soldiers to wage war on Carthage direct, not a real option. One stated opinion is a successful naval battle that allowed Hannibal to escape with his vets. This is very silly for many reasons. The real give away is that during the battle, the veterans are said to lower their spears to prevent the first two lines from retreating through their lines. By the time of Zama, Hannibalís European troops were fighting in the Spanish style (short sword and javelin), while it was the Africans who were still using the Greek style (long spear and Hoplon). The Carthaginianís 3rd line troops were likely Africans. The fact that Hannibalís 3rd line was so far back in relative terms reminds me of Alexanderís use of sarissophoroi to inspire fear of retreat among his own troops. The fact that non Carthaginian troops are used in this way is not surprising, given how green the 2nd line probably was, and the fact that these troops were technically a higher Ďcasteí, and thus if not hated, at least partially despised. The Citizens knew they would have to fight.

            The army of Hannibal at Zama, thus consists of 80 elephants with 3-4k escorts, 12k mercenaries, 10k levy and 10k Ďveteransí, with 2k Numidian cavalry and 1k guard cavalry, for about 38-39k total. Both armies have around 30k heavy infantry, and that is what really determines the battle's 'flavour' until Scipio's cavalry returns.
            in the first year after my last thread on this matter (2016-17), there were 22000+ views on the subject. In the 6 months of this thread a mere 400 or so. No one seems to read this section anymore, nevermind posting on it.
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            Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

              in the first year after my last thread on this matter (2016-17), there were 22000+ views on the subject. In the 6 months of this thread a mere 400 or so. No one seems to read this section anymore, nevermind posting on it.
              Their loss.

              Please do not confuse silence for disinterest. I have not your knowledge of the subject, so I read, and learn. Now if you're teaching me something wrong . . . .

              I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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              • #37
                Originally posted by slick_miester View Post

                Their loss.

                Please do not confuse silence for disinterest. I have not your knowledge of the subject, so I read, and learn. Now if you're teaching me something wrong . . . .

                The number of views is disappointing in this particular forum, not just this particular topic, and no one is posting here anymore.

                Please note I could very well be wrong. I'm trying to combine several different histories into one decent narrative. My hypothesis is logical, mathematically correct, and internally consistent, but based on circumstantial and even dubious information. It could very well be totally flawed as a result.

                I'll write about how I think the battle occurred, and its aftermath shortly.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                  [*]Why not destroy Carthage when you can? Forget tribute when you could have a whole capital cityís worth of slaves and plunder. However, not even a garrison is left.
                  The most obvious reason would be because you can't enter without a costly and lenghty seige I imagine, as had happened in Italy on several occasions earlier.

                  But Polybius says nothing about the state of defence of the city as far I can see.

                  2.Lanes against elephants donít work. Never used before, and never used again. Lanes are used against scythed chariots, which rely on speed for momentum. Elephants rely on mass, and are quite manoeuvrable. Indians found caltrops to be the effective counter.
                  Isn't Alexander said to have used a similar tactic ?

                  If nothing else, it may explain why it was attributed Scipio - even if not actually used.

                  To be likened to Alexander in an historical account would have been great PR for any Roman general.




                  For those, like me, have to read polybius again to follow most of what is discussed here :

                  http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...ybius/15*.html

                  Interesting stuff - looking forward to your conclusion
                  Last edited by Snowygerry; 12 Mar 19, 09:22.
                  High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                  Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                    The most obvious reason would be because you can't enter without a costly and lenghty seige I imagine, as had happened in Italy on several occasions earlier.

                    But Polybius says nothing about the state of defence of the city as far I can see.



                    Isn't Alexander said to have used a similar tactic ?

                    If nothing else, it may explain why it was attributed Scipio - even if not actually used.

                    To be likened to Alexander in an historical account would have been great PR for any Roman general.




                    For those, like me, have to read polybius again to follow most of what is discussed here :

                    http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...ybius/15*.html

                    Interesting stuff - looking forward to your conclusion
                    I have always been dubious about scythed chariots, usually written about long after the events in question. Without the horse collar, a western European innovation of the medieval period, chariots had to be light as otherwise the horse would tend to strangle and the impact/shock of hitting bodies with the scythe blades would also have a cumulative throttling effect.
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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                    • #40
                      Reading Polybius account again I noticed the Battle of Zama wasn't fought at Zama, but a place called Naragara ?

                      After a few days [Hannibal] shifted his camp from the neighbourhood of Adrumetum and advancing encamped near Zama. This is a town lying five days' journey to the west of Carthage.
                      14 [Scipio] then broke up his camp and on reaching a town called Naragara encamped there, selecting a spot which was favourably situated in other respects and had water within the throw of a javelin. 6 1 From here he sent to the Carthaginian general saying that he was now ready for the meeting. 2 When Hannibal heard this he broke up his camp and on getting within a distance of not more than thirty stades of the Romans encamped on a hill which appeared to be convenient for his present design, but was rather too far away from water, and indeed his men suffered considerable hardship owing to this.
                      On the following morning at daybreak they led out their armies and opened the battle.
                      So it appears that Scipio rather then Hannibal chose the ground of the battle and Hannibal marched towards him, apparently Scipio also had the advantage of being between the enemy and the nearest source of water.
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                      Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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                      • #41
                        Polybius has Hannibal say "keep before your eyes the battle of the Trebia fought against the father of the present Roman general, bear in mind the battle of the Trasimene against Flaminius, and that of Cannae against Aemilius, battles with which the action in which we are about to engage is not worthy of comparison either in respect to the numbers of the forces engaged or the courage of the soldiers." and adds 'He bade them, as he spoke thus, to cast their eyes on the ranks of the enemy. Not only were they fewer, but they were scarcely a fraction of the forces that had formerly faced them'.

                        Polybius wrote his Histories not long after the second Punic war so ...

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                          Polybius has Hannibal say "keep before your eyes the battle of the Trebia fought against the father of the present Roman general, bear in mind the battle of the Trasimene against Flaminius, and that of Cannae against Aemilius, battles with which the action in which we are about to engage is not worthy of comparison either in respect to the numbers of the forces engaged or the courage of the soldiers." and adds 'He bade them, as he spoke thus, to cast their eyes on the ranks of the enemy. Not only were they fewer, but they were scarcely a fraction of the forces that had formerly faced them'.

                          Polybius wrote his Histories not long after the second Punic war so ...
                          Apologies for the tardiness of my reply. Keyboard had stopped working. Now have a new one

                          Many people are cynical of Polybius's account of Zama, both due to his remit of his work, and his close association with the Scipio family. However, we only have to look to more recent events to realise that even genuinely honest modern historians getting details wrong, due to limited available information.

                          For example, let's take the Battle of Prokhorovka. The main details have not changed. We knew who fought each other, when the battle took place, and who eventually won. However, it has recently come to light that the details of the battle were wrong. The Soviets were hammered, and in the short term a tactical German victory, not the draw as almost every source appeared to state. It should be noted that the clues were there, especially given that local German commanders wanted to continue the southern thrust.

                          The devil is in the detail.
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                          Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                            Reading Polybius account again I noticed the Battle of Zama wasn't fought at Zama, but a place called Naragara ?

                            So it appears that Scipio rather then Hannibal chose the ground of the battle and Hannibal marched towards him, apparently Scipio also had the advantage of being between the enemy and the nearest source of water.
                            This is the sort of information that almost proves that the battle is not a fake, just as with the 'routing' elephants moving to the one spot they can be most effective.

                            Hannibal should have better sources of terrain knowledge than Scipio, and if Hannibal chose to meet him there, then there is a plan, one we can only speculate about. What it does mean is that my hunch about scythed chariots is even less likely. Thanks for the post.
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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                              The most obvious reason would be because you can't enter without a costly and lenghty seige I imagine, as had happened in Italy on several occasions earlier.

                              But Polybius says nothing about the state of defence of the city as far I can see.



                              Isn't Alexander said to have used a similar tactic ?

                              If nothing else, it may explain why it was attributed Scipio - even if not actually used.

                              To be likened to Alexander in an historical account would have been great PR for any Roman general.




                              For those, like me, have to read polybius again to follow most of what is discussed here :

                              http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...ybius/15*.html

                              Interesting stuff - looking forward to your conclusion
                              I have a couple of ideas how the battle actually went, and will post them soon, hopefully soon.
                              How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                              Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                                I have a couple of ideas how the battle actually went, and will post them soon, hopefully soon.
                                Eh, take your time, this IS ancient history after all, it's not urgent

                                High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                                Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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