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Scipio Killed at Battle of Trebia

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  • Scipio Killed at Battle of Trebia

    We all know of the Second Punic War (If you dont then you are :crazy: and should get off this thread now) and the battle of Zama in which Scipio defeated the Carthaginians under Hannibal barca and earned the surname Africanus. But what if things had turned out differently and Scipio had been killed before invading Africa?

    Allow me to elaborate:

    When Hannibal crossed the Alps to invade Rome, (Again, get off if you don't know what I'm talking about ) The first (major) battle was at the river Trebia. In this battle, Africanus' father was wounded in the battle and, according to Livy (Roman Historian) his son came to his rescue. But, what if Scipio had died trying to save his father? Any suggeustions? Huh, Huh???


    Carthaginian Soldier, Gisgo: Commander, the Romans have fielded more than 80,000 men!
    Hannibal: Yes, my friend, and the one thing more amazing than that is that amongst those 80,000 men, not one of them is called Gisgo.
    -at Cannae

  • #2
    Without a seige train, he still could not have taken Rome itself.
    Without taking Rome, he still cant win.

    He didnt know that at the time, but 'WE' know it.

    What I dont understand is why he simply didnt build
    a siege train himself. The Romans themselves did it all the time.

    Plus, we still dont understand what was happening at sea during
    the Second Punic War.

    Things that went on, imply Rome had the upper hand.
    But it didnt prevent Hannibal from sailing home to fight at Zama.

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    • #3
      It does not matter if Scipio had died with his father. The Romans had been taught by Hannibal's victories over the Romans how the republic should deal with him. The Roman field armies refused to face Hannibal in open field battle and stayed on the defensive inside cities or broken terrain. Hannibal was known in late stages that he avoided sieges and field battle with a terrain disadvanage. Maybe he lacked engineers skilled enough in siege warfare plus it was not just garrisons there but entire Roman armies in these cities. Also Hannibal's army by its nature was not inclined to siege warfare because they were composed of rebels and mercenaries who had no stomach or endurance for such deciated skill. The republic learned the hard way that all they had to do was find a hard nose commander with a large army and send to the North Africa. This would force Hannibal's recall and he must leave his seasoned army behind for an unseasoned army waiting in North Africa. The reason this works is Rome ruled the sea and could prevent massive enemy sea movement but not small scale blockade runners. Additionally as you known Rome spent huge amount buying additional troops in North Africa mostly horse mounted troops.

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      • #4
        A wonderful "what if".

        Had Scipio the Younger died at Ticinus (battle where his father was injured, precursor battle to Trebbia) it seems to me the matter would have eventually been in the hands of Marcus Claudius Marcellus.

        As it happened, Marcellus gained great repute from several encounters with Hannibal, although he never actually won. Several times he (Marcellus) commanded what one would consider overwhelming numbers, but managed to battle Hannibal to a draw at best. But, at the time, not losing was a victory for the Romans. It should be noted Marcellus was the only remaining Roman general, aside from Scipio himself, who had the courage to face Hannibal directly. I think the lack of victories on Marcellus's part is more testament to Hannibal's capabilities than to Marcellus's inabilities.

        Since in reality Hannibal eventually defeated Marcellus, I have serious doubts for Rome's survival as an empire. I agree it is doubtful Hannibal could have sacked the city of Rome. But, without Scipio the defense of the realm comes in serious doubt. Without the ability to defend/retake the provinces Rome would cease to exist as an empire.

        It is very important to emphasize no Roman general would take the field against Hannibal directly, except for Scipio and Marcellus. With the scenario of Scipio falling before his repute was gained, and with the likely death of the empire's only hero, Marcellus, that situation is not likely to have improved. If you were a Roman general afraid to face Hannibal before Marcellus died, how likely would you have been to change your mind after his fall?

        Bottom line, I believe the tables would have turned. Scipio defeated Hannibal, thus forcing Carthage to sue for peace. Carthage in fact paid a yearly tribute of 10,000 gold to Rome for the next fifty years and was never again a serious threat to the empire. Without Scipio, that fate could well have been Rome's, although perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent.

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        • #5
          Scipio

          I think Bo Archer is correct. The loss of Scipio would not have changed the pages of history much. Rome had endured the worst that Barca had thrown at her and still had the wherewithal to defeat him. Of course the key, as pointed out by Liddell Hart, was the indirect approach. Spain was the weak link in the whole Cathagenian strategy and Rome had sufficient good generals remaining (even with the loss of Scipio) and adequate manpower resources to bring down Spain. Furthermore, I seem to recall that when Hasdrubal met the Romans at the Metaurus in 207 both Claudius Nero and Livius Salinator combined to destroy Hannibal' brother and Hannibal's much needed re-inforcements. That victory changed the entire balance and that, combined with the reasonable liklihood of a Roman victory in Spain, would have ultimately led to Hannibal's downfall. By avoiding battle with Hannibal's diminishing forces the Roman's were able to prevent large scale desertions by the other cities in the Italian peninsula, (although certainly there were some). Lastly by controlling the seal lanes between Africa and Italy Rome was in a position to let Hannibal simply die on the vine. In the end Zama could have occurred just about anywhere because without adequate re-inforcement, without a seige train, without large scale support from the Italians, without greater commitment on the part of the Carthagenian councils, Hannibal's days were numbered. As great a commander as he was, and he was all of that, he could not make armies out of dust. The Roman's on the other hand proved that they just about could!

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          • #6
            Re: Scipio Killed at Battle of Trebia

            Originally posted by Hannibal Barca
            We all know of the Second Punic War (If you dont then you are :crazy: and should get off this thread now) and the battle of Zama in which Scipio defeated the Carthaginians under Hannibal barca and earned the surname Africanus. But what if things had turned out differently and Scipio had been killed before invading Africa?

            Allow me to elaborate:

            When Hannibal crossed the Alps to invade Rome, (Again, get off if you don't know what I'm talking about ) The first (major) battle was at the river Trebia. In this battle, Africanus' father was wounded in the battle and, according to Livy (Roman Historian) his son came to his rescue. But, what if Scipio had died trying to save his father? Any suggeustions? Huh, Huh???


            Certainly, Rome had many great, capable and imaginative military leaders. While Scipio's death would surely have been a serious loss, someone would have replaced him. Just as with a retiring leader, a leader who was killed was be first replaced in the field, with a formal replacement named after debate in the Senate. I believe that, in general, the Carthaginians knew that in terms of training they were inferior to the Romans, they therefore looked for parity or superiority in other areas, such as strategy & tactics, weaponry (including beasts) and any other advantage they could devise. Again, inevitably they knew that they must lose, perhaps hoping only to hold on to their own holdings and thinking that striking Rome at its heart may be the only way to do this.
            Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
            (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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