Battle of Ausculum
The epic battle of Ausculum took place in the third year of 143rd Olympiad between the Roman army under the command of consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus and the combined Carthaginian and Macedonian forces under the command of Hannibal. It is regarded as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history to this day and the greatest Roman defeat since its foundation.
Having captured Saguntum in the last year of 142nd Olympiad, Hannibal sailed for Italy, starting a war of revenge against Rome. Taking advantage of stormy weather that forced Roman navy to take regufe in Ostia, he landed in Campania and marched east across the Apennine Mountains. By the time the Carthaginian army reached the province of Umbria it numbered a little less than 15,000 men, arranged in seven bodies, two horse and five foot. However, with Hannibal in command, these meager numbers were enough to annihilate a consular army under Gaius Terentius Varro. Six legions and two bodies of horse, some 32,000 men, were lost at battle of Anconca, which promptly declared its allegiance to Carthage. Small as Carthaginian losses were, they could not be afforded by the small army stuck deep in the enemy territory. Hannibal was forced to spent the next year in Anconca, recruiting and corresponding with king Phillip V of Macedon across the Adriatic Sea.
The correspondence soon bore the desired fruit and in the second year of 143rd Olympiad the Macedon army, led by king Phillip himself landed in Ascona, while Macedon fleet sailed the Adriatic. Thus reinforced, Hannibal stormed the city of Ausculum. Then the allied army raided Cisalpine Gaul, taking Placentia and killing another Roman consul, Publius Cornelius Scipio. Later in the year Hannibal and Phillip retired to Picenum, making camp near Ausculum to defend this recent conquest against the enemy.
Meanwhile, the Romans recovered after the defeat at Ancona. They briefly invaded Iberia to keep Hasdrubal from moving out to Cisalipine Gaul. The expedition was quickly withdrawn to Bruttium after the combined Carthaginian forces in Iberia under Hasdrubal and Mago threatened to overwhelm the Romans in Emporion. When Hannibal marched back south from Placentia, Rome consolidate her armies in Latium and charged Lucius Aemilius Paullus with the task of engaging the Carthaginian in Picenum .
At this point of the war the Roman army outnumbered the combined Carthaginian and Macedon forces almost 5 to 2. Paullus commanded 17 legions, 8 Roman and 9 Allied, 85,000 infantry altogether. His cavalry numbered 7,000, 4,000 of which were supplied by Allies. 92,000-strong Roman army was opposed by 37,000-strong multinational force led by the burning genius of Hannibal. The detailed breakup of his army follows:
32,000-strong body of infantry consisted of 22,000 Macedons phallangites (4 phallanxes broken up into 11 taxis, 2 taxis (the smaller phallanx) made up of elite Macedon infantry), 4,000 Lybian and 4,000 Italian heavy infantry, and 2,000 Spanish light infantry.
5,000-strong body of cavalry consisted of: 2,000 Punic Companions – an elite unit made of up of the best cavalrymen Africa could offer, be they Carthaginian, Lybian or Numidian; 2,000-strong Macedon Companions - an elite Macedon cavalry unit dating back to the days of Phillip II of Macedon; and 1,000-strong body of Numidian cavalry, the best light cavalry in the Mediterranean.
Ausculum lies at the confluence of the Tronto and Castellano river, surrounded on three sides by mountains. The Tronto river follows the pass through the mountain range to the west of the city, the same pass that the Romans entered on the second of August in the early foggy morning. Unknown to them, the entire enemy army laid in ambush in the wooded hills to the north.
As trumpets signaled the attack, the Romans were taken completely by surprise. Hannibal attacked with all forces at hand, keeping only the Numidians and Lybians in reserve. Roman cavalry was rendered useless, having riden forward too far to be of any assistance in the battle. Panicked legionnaries in the center were slaughtered by thousands, their retreat barred by their comrades on the flanks and the river and rocky hills to their back.
The battle lasted less than four hours. Roman army was split into three parts, the center one was annihilated, while the flanks escaping with heavy casualties. The cavalry arrived too late to take part in combat, but did prevent Hannibal from unleashing his Numidians in the pursuit of the routing enemy infantry. 50,000 Roman dead were either killed in the battle or drowned or trampled to death in the rout. The rest of the enemy force had escaped south, marching without a stop until reaching Corfinium.
Carthaginian losses were estimated at 6,000 men, mostly lightly armored Spaniards and relatively inexperienced Umbrian recruits.
Even though the Roman navy was successful in routing Macedon fleet in the Adriatic, the rest of the year clearly belonged to the Carthaginians. Hannibal's victory had finally convinced the Senate in Carthage to abandon Spain and sent help to Italy. Hasdrubal and Mago crossed into Cisalpine Gaul via Genoa at the head of a large army. After storming Genoa and Patavium, Hasdrubal continued further south where he joined forces with Hannibal at Corfinium, which they promptly put under siege. Hasdrubal extended march had caused minimal casualties among Lybian infantry and he was able to reinforce his brother with a body of elephants and 5,000 Spanish infantry and cavalry. 8,000 Italian recruits, raised in Umbria before the battle, march from Ancona, bringing Hannibal's numbers up to 44,000.
Mago had remained in Gaul, where he was soon greeted by Himilco with reinforcements from Carthage itself. This meant that Hannibal would not run out of reinforcements even if he would suffer heavy losses during the next year's campaign.
In Sicily, upon hearing the news of Hannibal victory, the city of Syracusae broke its alliance with Rome and sided with Carthage, enabling the latter to blockade the Strait of Messana.
Where before the battle Hannibal's army stood alone in the midst of the enemy forces, afterwards he was surrounded by friends and allies on all sides, going on the offensive that would only end with the destruction of Rome.
Raison d'etre: I was testing my Umbrian Gambit, this time by sea via Campania. 4 turns into the game I was suprised and shocked when AI managed to combine 24 units and move them against my 10-unit strong army in Umbria. I thought it was the end of the current game. Punic Tricks card and Paullus low rank gave me hope, but I did realize that a few lucky rolls by AI during the first round would wear my army down. The Romans had enough cannon fodder to weather the effect of the Ambush card and would have enough forces left to either finish my army or render it virtually useless in the next 4-5 turns. It appears I was wrong to dispair.
Unit sizes: When it comes to infantry, I count one defense factor as 2,500 men for Roman and Latin units and 2,000 men for other nations. Cavalry defense factor equals 1,000 men (and horses) for all nationalities (same for elephants, 1,000 counts the riders, archers and supporting troops).
Battle details: Hannibal used Ambush card on Paullus. First round of combat I rolled 10 hits and 4 routs, Romans: 1 hit and 1 rout. Second round of combat I rolled 6 hits and 3 routs, Romans: 0 hits and 0 routs. Third rout of combat I rolled 5 hits and 2 routs, Romans: 2 hits and 1 rout. As stated in AAR I ended up the battle with no cavalry pursuit, unwilling to risk my 3 cavalry units, no matter how superior in quality, against 7 Roman units.
Romans: Used in some places to describe Roman legions vs Latin (or Allied) legions and in other places to describe all AI led forces.
Latins and Allies: Used as synonyms.
Lybian infantry: Used instead of African infantry.
< Message edited by nalivayko -- 4/29/2011 7:39:26 PM >