Battle of Grumentum

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Battle of Grumentum
Part of the Second Punic War
Battles second punic war.png
Date 207 BC
Location Grumentum, present-day Italy
Result minor Roman victory
Belligerents
Carthage Roman Republic
Commanders and leaders
Hannibal, Mago Gaius Claudius Nero
Strength
5,000 6,000 infantry 600 cavalry
Casualties and losses
800 killed, 700 captured 500 killed

The Battle of Grumentum was fought in 207 BC between Romans led by Gaius Claudius Nero, and a part of Hannibal's Carthaginian army. The battle was a minor Roman victory, and Nero marched north where he defeated and killed Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal at Metaurus. The battle is described by Livy at 27.41-42.

Background[edit]

Upon Hannibal's descent from the alps he had for 3 years won an impressive string of victories against Rome[1] The battle of Ticinus, Trebia, Trasimene and Cannae were some of the more notable victories that he'd won[1] These had been disastrous defeats for the Romans, especially the latter battle. This victory brought the Romans to the brink of despair.[1] The Senate had issued a decree that forbade anyone to say the word, "Peace"[1] within the city itself. Mourning was legislatively circumscribed to 30 days,[1] women were not permitted to cry in the public venues.[1] In spite of these and other like measures, there was much despair in the city and there were a number of young Romans of high birth who proposed desertion to all in the army and to establish a new colony elsewhere.[1] This proposed defection was put down and all thoughts of surrender were circumscribed.[1]

However, in spite of the tremendous blow to the cause of Rome, Hannibal could not take the city itself - he did not think he had the resources that a siege of the city itself would have required[1]- and as a result did not attempt it. There were two reasons that Hannibal thought this was the proper course; he did not believe that that he had the resources necessary for a siege of Rome itself,[1] secondly thus far - and even after the battle of Cannea he had not been able to break up the Roman Symmachy.[1] Not a single member of the Italian Confederacy ever broke its treaty with Rome,[1] the roots of Roman power in the peninsula were sown deep, based upon time and the mutual benefit that both Rome and her subordinate allies had received from the alliance.[1] To be sure, there were colonies that had been detached from the Confederacy in Cisalpine Gaul, but not seriously demoralizing blow had been struck at the Symmachy.[1]

So after Cannae, Hannibal set about just this task.[1] It was indeed upon the basis of his being able to detach the confederates of Rome, that Hannibal had calculated upon a lasting victory. Without them, nothing serious could be brought about.[1] So after the battle itself, Hannibal started to conduct diplomacy to this effect. Phillip V of Macedon promised a navy and an army to descend on Italy - it was in this way that he hoped to simultaneously strike a blow at Rome herself while regaining Epirus to his kingdom. In addition to this, Hiero of Syracuse recently passed, and his successor concluded a treaty with Hannibal. With the end of detaching more confederates from the Roman Symmachy, after the battle Hannibal released all soldiers that had been enlisted under the banners as a result of their cities treaty with Rome without request for ransom.[1]

However, in spite of the seeming assendency of Hannibal of Rome, his cause was in reality anything but that.[1] HIs military chest was stretched to its limit,[1] and to this effect he sent a deputation to Rome that requested money in return for hostages.[1] This deputation was forbidden to even enter the city, and the Senate forbid anyone from purchasing hostages from the Carthaginians on an individual basis - deeming the enrichment Hannibal through the wealth of Rome and its citizens to be unacceptable.[1]

What happened at this point, was a number of Roman Allies - although no Latin confederate[1] - were detached.[1] Capua, the second city of all Italy and in a commanding position on the crucial plain of Campania was detached.[1] This city had been much oppressed by the Romans, and faced discriminitory treatment by the Senate and the chief magistrates of the Republic.[1] This city was said to be able to furnish Hannibal with 30,000 foot[1] and 4,000[1] cavalry. This was a major blow to the Symmachy, and was in and of itself as demoralizing as the defeat at Cannae had been. Following the example of Capua was; Uxuntum, much of Bruttia, much of Lucaria, the Picentes of Salernia, the Harpini, almost all of Samnium[1] Amongst whom the Samnites were noted for their prowess in battle, even still.[1] Hannibal had effectively gained over all of southern Italy.[1] From the mouth of the Vulturnus river to the peninsula of Mons Garganus and south nothing could be found except a string of Roman forts holding out and adherents of Hannibal.[1]

Hannibal's army spent the winter of 216-215 B.C. in Capua,[1] during which time it is said to have engaged in liscentious conduct. However, this is not surprising considering that the army had spent the previous 4 years incessantly campaigning in Italy.[1] Many of Hannibal's veterans from Iberia were gone, and the composition of his army was this time to take a different form. Recruits from his allies in Italy would be a major contributor to his army.[1] In addition to this, the Romans were to start treating him with the respect he deserved, and all the meanwhile their legions would be gaining in ability and experience while Hannibal would constantly be compelled to train fresh recruits. In spite of this, until Hannibal departs from Italy we shall see the Roman Consuls and Praetors dealing with him in a similar way to which Fabius dealt with him - that is to attack his foragers and avoid him in a major battle.

The Consuls for the year 215 B.C. were the former DictatorFabius[1] and Tiberius Sempronius Grachus. Marcellus was to take the field in his capacity as Proconsul. These were all tried and tested officers, and they would conduct their armies armies accordingly. The Senate, as one of its first measures, decided to double imports and taxes of all sorts,[1] in order to be able to equip their legionnaires and pay their salaries.[1] The senate ordered the various army commanders to continue the Fabian strategy.[1]

Hannibal encamped on Mt. Tifata, where he could control the healthy pastures for his cavalry and his herds, while simultaneously being in such a position as to descend on any one of the Roman armies currently opposed to him.[1]

Hannibal and the five Armies Opposed to him in 215 B.C. in Capua

Hannibal was to make an observable change in his strategy, from seeking battle and engaging in offense against the Romans he was to observe a decidedly more defensive strategy. As the Romans were not seeking to engage him either, as per their fabian strategy, there was only small skirmishes between the Carthaginians and Romans. The Capuan sought to seize the oppidum of Cumae through treachery, but failed in their attempt after the Cumaens informed the Consul Grachus of the Capuan instigated negotionations. Hannibal sought to seize the place thereafter, as it was on the coast and he required a port from which to communicate with Carthage. However, this failed. After this three Roman armies, the two consular armies and the Proconsul Marcellus' army were marched into Campania, where they encamped close enough to each other so that they could sustain one another.[1] This strategy was so effective that Hannibal knew it was only a matter of time before the Romans drove him from Campania.[1] Leaving a strong garrison in his camp on Mt. Tifata, he marched towards Nola, where some of his friends were attempting to gain that city over to the Carthaginian side.[1] Here he received reinforcements including 4,0000[1] infantry and a number of Elephants.[1] After a combat Hannibal would conduct his army back to his camp at Mt. Tifata.[1] It was after his failure to take Nola that he opted to march to Apulia - he opted to winter near Arpi.[1] The Consuls for the year 214 B.C. were Fabius and Marcellus.[1]

Hannibal and the Armies in the field against him 214 B.C.

The armies under the command of a praetor were commanded by Fulvius,Fabius Jr., Octalius and Lentulus.[1] This year the Consuls were ordered by the Senate to put afoot 20 legions, which with the 20 allied legions that would be put into the field with the Roman legions would equal something over 200,000 men.[1] These legions were disperesed as follows; Lentulus the governor of Sicily for the year had two legions in Sicily, there were another two in Quintus Mucius in Sardinia, and two in cisalpine gaul under Manius Pomponius which was attached to the Roman Army in Spain. In Italy there were; Two fresh legions under the Consul Fabius, Another two legions under his colleague Marcellus, Grachus was opposite Hannibal with two legions that were manned by slaves promised with manumission for meritorious service, Fabius Jr. as Praetor had two legions. There were, of course, two in Rome - Varro, the commander who had conducted himself so poorly at Cannae, had a legion near Cisalpine gaul which was placed there as a reserve to the legions in Cisalpine Gaul.[1] The last legion was in Brundisium. Another fleet was constructed by fiat of the senate and it was financed by a tax on the wealthiest citizens.[1] Four of these armies were stationed directly against the Carthaginian army, the rest were to be involved in the war indirectly by attacking and harassing the allies of Hannibal.[1]

An appeal was sent from Capua, to which Hannibal responded.[1] Once he arrived there he took up his old quarters - but the situation was not as dire as had been made out to him. In spite of this however, Hannibal decided to conduct operations in Campania, and headed off to one of its seaports.[1] While conducting operations on the Campanian coast he received a deputation from a group of young, disgruntled nobles from the southern Greek city of Tarentum.[1] Hannibal, deeming this a crucial opportunity decided to seize it. he thought this because of the geographical advantages that Tarentum would afford him for descents on Italy from both Carthage and Macedonia. On his way, he ordered Hanno to march north with the 17,000 men he recruited in Bruttium, however he was defeated when the Romans forced him to battle and he (Hanno) made his escape with 2,000 foot and some of his cavalry.[1] After another attempt at the city of Nola, he opted to retire upon an inconclusive engagement before that oppidum.[1] He then set off to Tarentum, but was precipitated by a Roman officer who raced off to the city from Lucania and rallied the Roman supporters of that city to Rome's cause to such a degree that Hannibal's supporters would not aid him in taking the city.[1] After Hannibal left Campania the two consuls decided to besiege Casilinum, which they took after one of the consuls refused to recognize the negotiated settlement that was made by the other Consul when the Casilinum defenders were to be allowed to march back to Capua with full honors.[1]

For the Year 213 B.C. The Consuls were Tiberius Sempronius Grachus and Fabius Jr.[1] The praetors for the year were M. Atilius Regulus, Sempronius Tuditantus, Cnaeus Fulvius, and Aemilius Lepidus.[1] Fabius the dictator, was to be a legate of his sons.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj Dodge, Theodore (1994). Hannibal. Mechanicsburg, PA: Greenhill Books.