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

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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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