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  • #46
    Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
    . . . . 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.
    Tacitus related numerous instances where the soldiers either begged or compelled their generals to engage the enemy against their better judgement. Could not Hannibal's men, seeing how the Romans did not enjoy an overwhelming advantage, and viewing them contempuously on account of their many devastating encounters in Italy, have pushed Hannibal into giving battle when the conditions would not have been quite so advantageous?

    Just speculating. Like you I can't account for Hannibal giving battle at a time and place not of his choosing.

    Edited to add: didn't Pompey, against his better judgement, give battle to Caesar at Pharsalus because his senatorial allies pressured him to do so? What do we know of Hannibal's allies and superiors back in Carthage? Were they pressuring him on the eve of Zama?
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    • #47
      Certainly to move to Zama and offer battle, according Polybius,

      The Carthaginians, when they saw their towns being sacked, sent to Hannibal begging him not to delay, but to approach the enemy and decide matters by a battle. 2 After listening to the messengers he bade them in reply pay attention to other matters and be at their ease about this; for he himself would judge when it was time. 3 After a few days he shifted his camp from the neighbourhood of Adrumetum and advancing encamped near Zama.
      Why he then moved from Zama towards Naragara isn't mentioned, P. suggests it was simply on account of Scipio's request for a meeting but also mentions a "design" for which the ground was suitable.

      From here [Scipio] 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 (...…)
      Last edited by Snowygerry; 20 Mar 19, 09:14.
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      • #48
        This is interesting stuff.

        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
        Certainly to move to Zama and offer battle, according Polybius,

        The Carthaginians, when they saw their towns being sacked, sent to Hannibal begging him not to delay, but to approach the enemy and decide matters by a battle. 2 After listening to the messengers he bade them in reply pay attention to other matters and be at their ease about this; for he himself would judge when it was time. 3 After a few days he shifted his camp from the neighbourhood of Adrumetum and advancing encamped near Zama.
        So it would appear that, at least according to Polybius, that Hannibal thought the time propitious for a move to Zama -- the Carthaginian messengers' pleas notwithstanding.

        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
        Why he then moved from Zama towards Naragara isn't mentioned, P. suggests it was simply on account of Scipio's request for a meeting but also mentions a "design" for which the ground was suitable.

        From here [Scipio] 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 (...…)
        So Hannibal breaks camp and marches his army to within 6,000m (assuming that one stade is equivalent to 200m ) of Scipio's camp, presumably for their parley. Hannibal naturally chooses an elevated position for his new camp. Aside from the expected parley with Scipio, however, what do we know of Hannibal's "present design"?

        The distance that Polybius describes between the two camps intrigues me. Assuming that the ground between the Roman and Carthaginian positions is relatively flat, a cavalry charge could have covered it in about ten minutes (horses at full gallop are capable of 40kph, though in battle formation they probably don't go quite that fast, over a distance of 6,000m, assuming that 1 stade ~ 200m, of course.) Would that be enough time to assemble an appropriate defensive formation once the scouts manning the forward OPs have sounded the alarm? If it is, then that might explain, at least in part, why Hannibal chose the position at Naragara that he did.

        Or perhaps I'm just talking sht.
        Last edited by slick_miester; 20 Mar 19, 11:57.
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        • #49
          Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
          This is interesting stuff.



          So it would appear that, at least according to Polybius, that Hannibal thought the time propitious for a move to Zama -- the Carthaginian messengers' pleas notwithstanding.



          So Hannibal breaks camp and marches his army to within 6,000m (assuming that one stade is equivalent to 200m ) of Scipio's camp, presumably for their parley. Hannibal naturally chooses an elevated position for his new camp. Aside from the expected parley with Scipio, however, what do we know of Hannibal's "present design"?

          The distance that Polybius describes between the two camps intrigues me. Assuming that the ground between the Roman and Carthaginian positions is relatively flat, a cavalry charge could have covered it in about ten minutes (horses at full gallop are capable of 40kph, though in battle formation they probably don't go quite that fast, over a distance of 6,000m, assuming that 1 stade ~ 200m, of course.) Would that be enough time to assemble an appropriate defensive formation once the scouts manning the forward OPs have sounded the alarm? If it is, then that might explain, at least in part, why Hannibal chose the position at Naragara that he did.

          Or perhaps I'm just talking sht.
          Informed guesswork is all we have, given the lack of logic and mathematical errors concerning the battle itself. I think that random guesses at this point are more useful in going forward to a reasonable understanding of the battle, than quoting received wisdom.
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          • #50
            Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
            Certainly to move to Zama and offer battle, according Polybius,



            Why he then moved from Zama towards Naragara isn't mentioned, P. suggests it was simply on account of Scipio's request for a meeting but also mentions a "design" for which the ground was suitable.
            Hannibal obviously chooses to fight Scipio when he wants to. Shades of Wellington at Waterloo where the British general has chosen the ground, but Napoleon thinks Wellesley's positioning is wrong. "Never interupt your enemy when he is making a mistake'.

            Given the portrait of the Battle of Zama that follows, the total lack of manoeuver on the part of Hannibal is plainly ridiculous. It's less a complete failure to use any initiative, but almost a complete paralysis of the Carthaginian army. We can list them.

            1. The elephants charge, while the mercenaries stand still.
            2. Hannibals stationary cavalry are charged and routed.
            3. The mercenaries fight and are eventually routed while the rest of the army stands still.
            4. The levy are forced to fight and are eventually routed, while the veterans stand still.

            The stated lack of manoeuver concerning a Hannibal army is too preposterous to be credible, especially given his choice of battle site. Apart from the obligatory running away, it's almost as if the Carthaginian army is shackled to the spot.
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            • #51
              Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
              So Hannibal breaks camp and marches his army to within 6,000m (assuming that one stade is equivalent to 200m ) of Scipio's camp, presumably for their parley. Hannibal naturally chooses an elevated position for his new camp.
              But also a position lacking a supply of water apparently, from the Crusades we know that alone can spell doom for a large army in a dry environment.

              May also explain why one sides cavalry seemingly without effort routed their counterparts, which is strange considering on one flank at least, they are said to be fairly similar Numedians.

              ...but was rather too far away from water, and indeed his men suffered considerable hardship owing to this.

              Edit, there's also a remarkable passage detailing how Scipio caught a couple of of Hannibals spies, but instead of killing them, as was apparently the custom, he orders an officer to give them a tour of the Roman camp and after confirming they've seen all they needed to, he sends them back to Hannibal.

              Which also suggests a ruse de guerre was prepared or attempted, possibly on both sides...
              Last edited by Snowygerry; 21 Mar 19, 05:49.
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              • #52
                Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                But also a position lacking a supply of water apparently, from the Crusades we know that alone can spell doom for a large army in a dry environment.

                May also explain why one sides cavalry seemingly without effort routed their counterparts, which is strange considering on one flank at least, they are said to be fairly similar Numedians.
                The Battle of Hattin was a different beast.

                Its pretty clear that Hannibals cavalry was outnumbered on both flanks, by around 2:1 in both cases. It is probably that both wings were drawn off with fake routes. Whether true or not, it is clear, that it was an infantry melee for most of the battle.

                Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                Edit, there's also a remarkable passage detailing how Scipio caught a couple of of Hannibals spies, but instead of killing them, as was apparently the custom, he orders an officer to give them a tour of the Roman camp and after confirming they've seen all they needed to, he sends them back to Hannibal.

                Which also suggests a ruse de guerre was prepared or attempted, possibly on both sides...
                Imho, you don't give a tour guide to spies to reveal how weak your army actually is. Certainly, Scipio would not have had the materials to deceive the enemy as with Operation Bodyguard in 1944. Scipio wanted Hannibal to know how well prepared he was, and Scipio almost certainly had the larger army. One that had already seen victory as well.
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                • #53
                  Hannibals 'old hands' at Zama almost certainly would not be Italian campaign veterans. Rome controlled the sea, and why Hasdrubal was forced to travel overland to try to reinforce his brother. It cost Hasdrubal his life.

                  There are two stories on how these veterans arrived in Africa. The first is that they won a sea battle, most unlikely since these soldiers are heavy infantry, not marines. This also assumes they managed to suddenly acquire a fleet. The second involves a truce, whereby they are allowed to escape, so that Scipio can defeat them on foreign soil. Given the additional logistics and risk involved, this is truly silly.

                  From a more practical standpoint, Hannibals army in Italy is tying down around 20 or more legions. Returning home releases around 100k enemy troops that could be used elsewhere.

                  Lastly, Hannibals veterans would have been fighting in the Spanish style, with shortsword and heavy javelin. By lowering their spears, the last Carthaginian line is clearly fighting using the Greek style, a far more useful fighting method in N Africa at that time. Therefore, these did not fight in Italy. With their stationary pose and distance from the other infantry, I'm reminded of Alexanders Sarissophoroi, some of which were kept behind the main lines to deal with deserters, and not actually dedicated to the battle itself..
                  Last edited by Nick the Noodle; 22 Mar 19, 18:14.
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                  • #54
                    It's work in progress but here's what I believe at present:

                    Zama is one of those battles, where there is a comparatively large amount written about it by ancient historians, and yet that evidence conflicts with each other. What we can be fairly sure is that the strategic basics are correct, ie that the battle actually took place, whom it was fought between, when and where it took place, and who won. When Polybius was writing within living memory of the battle, these essential elements of the battle are unlikely to be incorrect. However, the detail of the battle is truly suspect.
                    To understand the battle of Zama, one of the important elements is determining the size of relevant armies. If you do not know the relevant sizes of the armies you cannot truly understand which tactics were actually used. By analysing the numbers, it becomes crystal clear why Hannibal did not use his larger army to simply engulf his foe. This is because his army was smaller than his opponents, although not for the first time when facing Romans.
                    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 Hannibal’s 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 Hannibal’s 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 Appian’s figures for Rome, simply because they are all that are overtly stated. This is actually lazy. Given that Appian increases Hannibal’s army by 10k men, it already points to a massaging of figures. The obvious reason for this is to make Rome’s win at Zama, and Carthage’s wins at Cannae comparable, as opposed to Polybius giving the defeat at Cannae twice as bad, as far as numbers were concerned.
                    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. It’s unlikely that a general of Scipio’s 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 Hannibal’s 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 Scipio’s endeavour. The 5th and 6th (penal) legions that were garrisoned in Sicily may not have had their full compliment of cavalry either, some of the noble element having escaped censure, such as Scipio himself. It is possible that the 1600 cavalry mentioned, perhaps with an additional 300 upgraded foot, and a few Sicilian nobles is about right, for a total of about 2000.
                    Scipio’s 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 Hannibal’s first infantry line. 12000 mercenaries implies at least c12000 Hastati. 12k Hastati implies 12k Principes and 6k Triarri, for 30k heavy foot, ie 10 legions effective.
                    Hannibal’s army is easier to understand. We have figures of 12000 mercenaries and 80 elephants in a total of max 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, the proportion of 10 heavy infantry to 1 heavy cavalry also being usual in a standard Legion). This ‘levy’ would most likely be guardsmen of various types, disciplined and well armoured to look the part, but mainly green, thus similar to Hastati in quality. 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 ‘toe’ would free nearly 100k Roman soldiers to wage war on Carthage direct, or Spain, 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 that these elite troops were not present, 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, Hannibal’s 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 Carthaginian’s 3rd line troops were almost certainly Africans. The fact that Hannibal’s 3rd line was so far back in relative terms reminds me of Alexander’s 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 the Levy were technically a higher ‘caste’, and thus if not hated, at least partially despised. The Citizens knew they would have to fight. Livy’s 4000 ‘Macedonians’ are unlikely to be present, for a number of reasons too numerous to list here, but c3-4000 extra troops could be accounted for by elephant escorts at around 40-50 velites per elephant, standard practice over a century previously.
                    The probable army of Hannibal at Zama, thus consists of 80 elephants with 3-4k escorts, 12k mercenaries, 10k levy and 10k ‘veterans’, with 2k Numidian cavalry and 1k ‘guard’ cavalry, for about 38-39k total. Important to note is that this hypothesis has Hannibal with around 30k heavy foot, the same number as in Scipios army. It is implied in both Polybius and Livy that these types of troops were quantitatively equal in both armies, and thus a decent indicator that these totals are correct.
                    Scipio has c30k heavy foot, if we assume Masinissa’s foot were trained as 2 legions, c12k velites, and 6k+ cavalry. Scipio’s advantage in numbers is easily explained by the number of ships required to transport them from Sicily to N Africa, far more than required to transport 16k foot and 1.6k cavalry. Scipios advantage is in the superior numbers of light troops and cavalry, Hannibal has 80 elephants.

                    The Battle of Zama then begins, and both Polybius and Livy both state that Hannibal did what he could to win, but was essentially let down by his troops. The actual narrative belies this, and Hannibals impact on the battle is essentially negligible when it mattered. Hannibal starts off fairly well, choosing where to fight, although his men are said to suffer great thirst in achieving said aim. The Carthaginian general also makes sure the enemy has the sun in its eyes, and then unleashes his elephants. The enemy is forced to react, and at this point, Hannibal retains initiative. Then it goes horribly wrong for the Carthaginian forces, which then appear to become paralysed by inertia, with a total and utter lack of leadership.
                    The elephants are routed while the rest of the army stands still.
                    The Carthaginian cavalry are than charged while at a halt, and routed, while the rest of the army stands still.
                    The Hastati then melee the mercenaries, while the rest of the army stands still.
                    The mercenaries fall back and melee their employees, while the veterans stand still.
                    Both mercenaries and levy now route while the veterans stands still.
                    Scipio now reorganises his army while the veterans stand still.
                    Scipios reorganisation, with his best troops on the wings, plus the returning cavalry, defeat the veterans. At this point the Carthaginian general has an epiphany, and Hannibal stops standing still and runs away.
                    The narrative assumes Hannibals plan revolves around using elephants to destroy Scipios army, and when it fails, he suffers a fatal lack of initiative, his army being defeated in detail.
                    Fortunately for posterity, there is a clue in the text that reveals that Hannibal may have had a plan beyond hoping the elephants would win by themselves. It appears that one small element of the Zama prose is really important. When the elephants routed, they fled to their own right flank, apparently causing the Carthaginian heavy cavalry to become disordered, and routed by a subsequent Roman charge. I personally find this element very important. A pro Roman historian has actually told us a few useful points. The first is that elephants were used. While elephants are obviously stated to have been used, the fact that Polybius has stated they ‘routed’ to the absolutely most useful point they could possibly be sent essentially destroys many revisionists opinion that Zama had fewer elephants, or were not even present.
                    Elephants on a flank to prevent superior numbers of enemy cavalry having an effect, was shown to be a battle winner since Ipsus 301BC. It suggests that Hannibal was creating an anchor for his front line and intending to win the battle elsewhere, ie on the other flank. A left flank victory was shown to be possible by the Thebans against superior quality forces at the battle of Leuctra 371 BC. Hannibal is likely to have a Sacred Band of 2500 elite troops among his 10000 Levy, given that in the absence of stated change, a particular convention will continue. Obviously these 2500 may not be of the quality the Theban 300 were, but they did give a very good account of themselves in their previous outing.
                    Concerning the mercenaries, it should be noted they always bent or broke in the previous 3 known battles (Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannae), and for Hannibals 2nd and 3rd lines simply waiting for this to happen, instead of manoeuvring, as in every other battle, is highly unlikely.
                    My best guess is that if Hannibal does have his line anchored on the right, and his position of his elephants suggests it was, his tactic will be of an Alexander’s hammer and anvil style of battle, albeit a left handed strike. We are told he initially has initiative, with Scipio being forced to counter his elephants with a(n unlikely) tactic (never used before or since). At this point we can either believe Hannibal had a plan, not yet revealed, or that his army simply sat, to be defeated in detail. Received wisdom states the latter.
                    While I believe the strategic basics of the battle are correct, the details are definitely suspect.
                    So what happens after the battle?

                    Scipio is incredibly lenient. Carthage not only survives, but starts to build a new military harbour. Carthage loses all territories north of the Mediterranean, but with the absence of Hannibal, is likely to lose them anyway. Punitive massive fines are said to have been imposed on Carthage, but there is no hard evidence of a sudden decline of Punic economic decline, or the Scipio family gaining massive wealth.
                    My opinion, and that is all it is, is that Carthage had seen Rome being able to hold out during a siege for over a decade, and would follow suit. Scipio simply did not have the men to mount a siege, and any negotiations would be skewed by this fact. Scipio simply got the best deal he could, and getting Carthage out of Europe is pretty impressive.
                    Last edited by Nick the Noodle; 12 May 19, 10:54.
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                    • #55

                      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 ‘toe’ would free nearly 100k Roman soldiers to wage war on Carthage direct, or Spain, not a real option.
                      The real give away that these elite troops were not present, 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, Hannibal’s 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 Carthaginian’s 3rd line troops were almost certainly Africans.
                      Good find this.

                      When the elephants routed, they fled to their own right flank, apparently causing the Carthaginian heavy cavalry to become disordered, and routed by a subsequent Roman charge. I personally find this element very important. A pro Roman historian has actually told us a few useful points. The first is that elephants were used. While elephants are obviously stated to have been used, the fact that Polybius has stated they ‘routed’ to the absolutely most useful point they could possibly be sent essentially destroys many revisionists opinion that Zama had fewer elephants, or were not even present.
                      Has anyone ever suggested they may have been "small" elephants ?

                      80 seems an unusual high number compared to other battle accounts.

                      If one assumes that Carthage had some sort training facility for them, is it not possible, with an attack on the city itself impending, they would have cleaned out the stockade and send partially trained crews/elephants, or even young or female ones into battle ?

                      It would explain why they rout so easy, have so little effect on the enemy, and why their handlers did not kill them before they ran into their own cavalry ?

                      Elephants on a flank to prevent superior numbers of enemy cavalry having an effect, was shown to be a battle winner since Ipsus 301BC.
                      Sounds plausible, but why send them into a headlong charge into enemy infantry then, if they were meant to anchor one flank and scare away enemy horse ?

                      Is it possible some of them were indeed kept back on the right, and those send to attack, once panicked, retreated towards the others ?

                      Hannibal is likely to have a Sacred Band of 2500 elite troops among his 10000 Levy, given that in the absence of stated change, a particular convention will continue.
                      They go on the left of the "Levy" then, the elephants on the right to counter the enemy numerically superior horse ?

                      At this point we can either believe Hannibal had a plan, not yet revealed, or that his army simply sat, to be defeated in detail.
                      A plan, or some hope of seeing part of his routed cavalry returning ?
                      Last edited by Snowygerry; 13 May 19, 04:04.
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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                        Good find this.
                        Thanks, although I'd bet I'm not the first one to notice this..

                        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                        Has anyone ever suggested they may have been "small" elephants ?

                        80 seems an unusual high number compared to other battle accounts.

                        If one assumes that Carthage had some sort training facility for them, is it not possible, with an attack on the city itself impending, they would have cleaned out the stockade and send partially trained crews/elephants, or even young or female ones into battle ?

                        It would explain why they rout so easy, have so little effect on the enemy, and why their handlers did not kill them before they ran into their own cavalry ?
                        There is no such thing as a 'small' elephant. A stationary baby elephant, no taller than 4 foot max height, can knock around human adults simply with its trunk, with ease. I've had first hand experience of this. A 'small' African forest elephant at >2000kg is heavier than most cars, and even midsized trucks or SUV's. A car ravelling at 15mph will easily knock down rows of people.

                        Elephants take about 6 months to train. That leaves 6 months to acquire said elephants, and given the emergency created by the disaster at the Battle of the Plains, perfectly possible imho given the wealth and necessity of Carthage. If 80 elephants were available, they could have been used, and probably no more, nor less likely to rout than others.

                        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                        Sounds plausible, but why send them into a headlong charge into enemy infantry then, if they were meant to anchor one flank and scare away enemy horse ?

                        Is it possible some of them were indeed kept back on the right, and those send to attack, once panicked, retreated towards the others ?
                        I can only conjecture, but my best guess is that elephants literally charging out of the sun will cause the enemy to react. Being Legionaries, the Roman foot don't panic, but they will still react. This means Hannibal retains initiative at this point of the battle, and he only needs relatively few elephants to move to his relatively weakest flank for his foot to be safe from more numerous enemy flanking cavalry.

                        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                        They go on the left of the "Levy" then, the elephants on the right to counter the enemy numerically superior horse ?
                        Possibly, I could make the case either way .

                        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                        A plan, or some hope of seeing part of his routed cavalry returning ?
                        The tone of both Polybius's and Livy's narrative is that Hannibal is winning the heavy infantry battle, when Scipio's cavalry returns. Hannibal does not appear to require cavalry to win, unlike Scipio. However, as great as Hannibal is tactically, Scipio's overall strategy is superior, and his alliance with Masinissa proves decisive.


                        For the record, I don't have any sure answers concerning Zama. If I thought I did, I'd write a book.
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                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                          Elephants take about 6 months to train. That leaves 6 months to acquire said elephants, and given the emergency created by the disaster at the Battle of the Plains, perfectly possible imho given the wealth and necessity of Carthage.
                          Six months only to train a war elephant!? Come on.

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                            Six months only to train a war elephant!? Come on.
                            Nope. 3-4 months to train the elephant, the most difficult task. Then it's 1-2 more to make it ready for war.

                            However, it should be noted that younger beasts are easier to train, so some of the elephants may have been relatively small indeed.
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                            • #59
                              And it would fit into your narrative above, in the sense that Polybius is quite likely to "inflate" the elephant element a bit, to make Scipios Roman victory appear more impressive..

                              Has anyone calculated the frontage 80 grown animals would require when deployed side by side ? How does it compare to the calculation of the enemy infantry above ?
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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                                And it would fit into your narrative above, in the sense that Polybius is quite likely to "inflate" the elephant element a bit, to make Scipios Roman victory appear more impressive..

                                Has anyone calculated the frontage 80 grown animals would require when deployed side by side ? How does it compare to the calculation of the enemy infantry above ?
                                I believe that 12k Hastati were at Zama, simply because if the Romans were outnumbered any point, Polybius would have told us, and they did face 12k mercenaries.

                                Legionaries fought in various depths, but when attacking infantry, 4 man deep appears fairly standard, and each infantryman had a 6" area to fight in. Assuming more width than depth, ie c1m frontage, we are talking a 3km line. Assuming around 75 elephants, that is one about every 40m of frontage.
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