Siege of Tunis (Mercenary War)

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Siege of Tunis
Part of Carthage's Mercenary War
Date 238 BC
Location Tunis, Carthage
Result Carthaginian defeat
Belligerents
Carthage Rebel mercenaries
Commanders and leaders
Hamilcar Barca,
Hanibal
Mathos
Strength
uncertain uncertain
Casualties and losses
significant unknown

The blockade of Tunis was conducted late in 238 BC by Carthaginian forces against the mercenaries who had mutinied against Carthage in the wake of the First Punic War.

The Blockade[edit]

After Hamilcar's victory of the Battle of "The Saw" Hamilcar marched on the main rebel force at Tunis. Mathos, the main rebel leader had few favorable options and awaited Hamilcar's advance.[1] It is likely that Hamilcar initiated the blockade around October 238 BC.[2] To the East of Tunis is the sea while to the west there was a large salt marsh. This left the two approaches, to the north and south. Hamilcar encamped to the south while his subordinate, Hanibal (not to be confused with his son), blocked the approach from the north.[3]

Hamilcar had become embittered towards the mercenaries due to the their execution and torture of Carthaginian envoys earlier in the war. It is probable because of this and in the hope of demoralizing the mercenaries he crucified a number of mercenary leaders that he had captured at the Battle of the Saw. The crosses were raised outside Hannibal's camp, in full view of the rebels.[4]

Mathos' attack[edit]

Mathos observed that Hannibal was careless about keeping his camp on alert and made a surprise attack, overrunning the camp and capturing Hannibal.[5] Polybius puts the blame on Hannibal,[6] but Seibert is more ready to blame Hamilcar for not anticipating the attack.[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dexter Hoyos, Truceless War, p220
  2. ^ Dexter Hoyos, Truceless War, p220
  3. ^ Dexter Hoyos, Truceless War, p220-1
  4. ^ Dexter Hoyos, Truceless War, p222
  5. ^ Dexter Hoyos, Truceless War, p223
  6. ^ Polybius 1.86.5
  7. ^ J Seibert, 1993, Forschungen zu Hannibal