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Old November 5th, 2017, 02:39 PM   #11

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Oops, my apologies.
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Old November 5th, 2017, 03:39 PM   #12

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Reminds me of something Machiavelli said in his Discourses on Livy:

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Thus, it is evident that two continuous successions of able princes, such as Philip of Macedonia and Alexander the Great, are sufficient to conquer the world.
Source: Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, 73.
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Old November 5th, 2017, 03:48 PM   #13

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I think it would be better if we did this thematically.

For instance the Carthaginians would have probably decided based on how their military organization was created. So they probably would have started with Demosthenes who during the Peloponnesian War raised and trained lighter troops that could contend with their enemies in battle. This probably would have tied in together with the reforms of Iphikrates to make lighter but better equipped hoplites. Eventually this would have led to the Phalangitai and Argyraspidai of Philip and Alexander. Where this deviates however is that the Carthaginians did not rely on heavy Phalangitai but rather depended more on lighter troops more akin to the Hyspaspists, light hoplites of sort. Xanthippos, the Spartan mercenary who was hired by the Carthaginians, trained the Carthaginian army during the First Punic War. Hamilcar Barca was eventually given command of the Punic army in Sicily and he would go on to defeat the mercenary revolt in Africa and to conquer territories for the "Republic" in Iberia. The army which he raised would essentially become a private army that we be commanded by Hannibal, this army of course would have been composed of Iberian, Italian and Gallic soldiers that would continue to push the idea of a lighter phalanx as well as troops armed with swords and shields, not dissimilar from the composition of the Roman armies in their concept.

Thus we can see a connection between Demosthenes, Iphikrates, possibly Epaminondas, Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, the Diadochi, Xanthippos of Sparta, Hamilcar Barca and finally Hannibal.
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Old November 6th, 2017, 01:30 AM   #14

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The connection also extends to tactics. Hannibal's tendency to use cavalry for envelopment plus the fact that we know he was familiar with Alexander reeks of influence.
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Old November 7th, 2017, 09:29 AM   #15

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However the difference is that Hannibal demonstrated a greater preference for the indirect method. He would utilize subversion, maneuver, ambush and generally attacked enemy flanks rather than committing to a full frontal assault to crush the enemy center as Alexander did. Though Hannibal must have been capable of such a direct tactic since he employed it against the Iberians in his campaign north of the Tagus. His reasoning must have been that against barbarians his army was more than capable of smashing them to bits but against an organization such as the Romans he preferred to be more conservative with his troops. Overall however I find that Hannibal had greater operational aptitude than that which Alexander demonstrated in his whole career. Alexander almost comes close in his Bactrian and Indian campaigns but lacking in the finesse with which Hannibal dealt with information gathering and tactical subversion, or even a larger scale strategic subversion which Alexander seems to have barely considered and maybe only ever displayed once or twice. Alexander's approach was almost always the direct approach; going into the center and smashing it while using his flanks almost as support for that attack, though showing this sort of aptitude brilliantly at Gaugemala with great subtlety and complexity.

Compared to Caesar who seems to have taken from both camps. In my opinion Caesar proved his mettle when he was able to keep up with Vercingetorix. That campaign demonstrated his ability both on the operational, strategic and tactical level. While Vercingetorix will always be remembered for his vicious campaign against Caesar and his ultimate defeat, he was never the less one of the most competent barbarians to ever face a Roman in battle. His insurgency was orchestrated perfectly and he was able to wage a war on a grand strategic scale which would have defeated the Romans by doing very little. Had his opponent been anyone else Vercingetorix might well have won that campaign. But then Caesar also showed his abilities at Pharsalus (a massive gamble that paid off) and Alexandria (a gamble that was nonetheless predicated by sneaky planning) as well, add to that the close run thing at Ruspina (where his performance was solid albeit showing a slip of the strategic mind) as well as his brilliant maneuver at Ilerda and the victories at Thapsus and Munda. What Caesar did was take Alexander's direct tactical flair and applied it to Hannibal's operational and strategic skill set, as well as the luck of the gods since I don't think that Hannibal gambled this much.

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Old November 7th, 2017, 04:31 PM   #16

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Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
However the difference is that Hannibal demonstrated a greater preference for the indirect method. He would utilize subversion, maneuver, ambush and generally attacked enemy flanks rather than committing to a full frontal assault to crush the enemy center as Alexander did. Though Hannibal must have been capable of such a direct tactic since he employed it against the Iberians in his campaign north of the Tagus. His reasoning must have been that against barbarians his army was more than capable of smashing them to bits but against an organization such as the Romans he preferred to be more conservative with his troops. Overall however I find that Hannibal had greater operational aptitude than that which Alexander demonstrated in his whole career. Alexander almost comes close in his Bactrian and Indian campaigns but lacking in the finesse with which Hannibal dealt with information gathering and tactical subversion, or even a larger scale strategic subversion which Alexander seems to have barely considered and maybe only ever displayed once or twice. Alexander's approach was almost always the direct approach; going into the center and smashing it while using his flanks almost as support for that attack, though showing this sort of aptitude brilliantly at Gaugemala with great subtlety and complexity.

Compared to Caesar who seems to have taken from both camps. In my opinion Caesar proved his mettle when he was able to keep up with Vercingetorix. That campaign demonstrated his ability both on the operational, strategic and tactical level. While Vercingetorix will always be remembered for his vicious campaign against Caesar and his ultimate defeat, he was never the less one of the most competent barbarians to ever face a Roman in battle. His insurgency was orchestrated perfectly and he was able to wage a war on a grand strategic scale which would have defeated the Romans by doing very little. Had his opponent been anyone else Vercingetorix might well have won that campaign. But then Caesar also showed his abilities at Pharsalus (a massive gamble that paid off) and Alexandria (a gamble that was nonetheless predicated by sneaky planning) as well, add to that the close run thing at Ruspina (where his performance was solid albeit showing a slip of the strategic mind) as well as his brilliant maneuver at Ilerda and the victories at Thapsus and Munda. What Caesar did was take Alexander's direct tactical flair and applied it to Hannibal's operational and strategic skill set, as well as the luck of the gods since I don't think that Hannibal gambled this much.
Great post.
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Old November 7th, 2017, 05:48 PM   #17

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Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
However the difference is that Hannibal demonstrated a greater preference for the indirect method. He would utilize subversion, maneuver, ambush and generally attacked enemy flanks rather than committing to a full frontal assault to crush the enemy center as Alexander did. Though Hannibal must have been capable of such a direct tactic since he employed it against the Iberians in his campaign north of the Tagus. His reasoning must have been that against barbarians his army was more than capable of smashing them to bits but against an organization such as the Romans he preferred to be more conservative with his troops. Overall however I find that Hannibal had greater operational aptitude than that which Alexander demonstrated in his whole career. Alexander almost comes close in his Bactrian and Indian campaigns but lacking in the finesse with which Hannibal dealt with information gathering and tactical subversion, or even a larger scale strategic subversion which Alexander seems to have barely considered and maybe only ever displayed once or twice. Alexander's approach was almost always the direct approach; going into the center and smashing it while using his flanks almost as support for that attack, though showing this sort of aptitude brilliantly at Gaugemala with great subtlety and complexity.

Compared to Caesar who seems to have taken from both camps. In my opinion Caesar proved his mettle when he was able to keep up with Vercingetorix. That campaign demonstrated his ability both on the operational, strategic and tactical level. While Vercingetorix will always be remembered for his vicious campaign against Caesar and his ultimate defeat, he was never the less one of the most competent barbarians to ever face a Roman in battle. His insurgency was orchestrated perfectly and he was able to wage a war on a grand strategic scale which would have defeated the Romans by doing very little. Had his opponent been anyone else Vercingetorix might well have won that campaign. But then Caesar also showed his abilities at Pharsalus (a massive gamble that paid off) and Alexandria (a gamble that was nonetheless predicated by sneaky planning) as well, add to that the close run thing at Ruspina (where his performance was solid albeit showing a slip of the strategic mind) as well as his brilliant maneuver at Ilerda and the victories at Thapsus and Munda. What Caesar did was take Alexander's direct tactical flair and applied it to Hannibal's operational and strategic skill set, as well as the luck of the gods since I don't think that Hannibal gambled this much.
Good post, but I respectfully disagree with a few of your points.

1. Alexander did in fact usually use a method that was more direct [yet still complex] than Hannibal did; though Hydaspes remains the set piece battle for Alexander that demonstrates his skill at flanking and strategic maneuvers. Not only did he make a brilliant crossing whilst making Porus think he was still in camp, but during the battle itself Alexander displayed that he was able to adapt. He used a flanking strategy for both cavalry wings.

2. I don't really think Caesar displayed the same 'tactical flair' that Hannibal or Alexander did.

3. Interesting to note: Napoleon said that of Caesar's campaigns, the Gallic was the least impressive, since Caesar had a much more efficient and highly trained army under his command, and faced opponents that, on the whole, did not understand the art of war. Napoleon considered Caesar's African campaign as his masterpiece.
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Old November 7th, 2017, 06:29 PM   #18

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Originally Posted by Duke Valentino View Post
Good post, but I respectfully disagree with a few of your points.

1. Alexander did in fact usually use a method that was more direct [yet still complex] than Hannibal did; though Hydaspes remains the set piece battle for Alexander that demonstrates his skill at flanking and strategic maneuvers. Not only did he make a brilliant crossing whilst making Porus think he was still in camp, but during the battle itself Alexander displayed that he was able to adapt. He used a flanking strategy for both cavalry wings.

2. I don't really think Caesar displayed the same 'tactical flair' that Hannibal or Alexander did.

3. Interesting to note: Napoleon said that of Caesar's campaigns, the Gallic was the least impressive, since Caesar had a much more efficient and highly trained army under his command, and faced opponents that, on the whole, did not understand the art of war. Napoleon considered Caesar's African campaign as his masterpiece.
For Alexander, the fairly small, operational subversions he conducted were at the Persian Gates and Hydaspes. The larger scale strategic subversions of his were in the campaign against Bessus, perhaps the Sogdian campaign as a whole, and against the Mallians of Multan. He was more direct than Hannibal in almost all regards but still showed a commendable degree of tactical complexity at Pelium, Gaugamela, Jaxartes, Hydaspes, and not to mention the sieges of Tyre and Aornus, in particular. He just didn't show the 'indirect flair' Hannibal did in his battles, the same kind of strategems he did in Italy in general, or an operational achievement like Caesar did at Llerda. Both Hannibal and Caesar were better at engineering encounters on their own terms than Alexander was. That said, Alexander's tactics at his battles were almost always brilliant.

Before selling Caesar short as a tactician, it would do to take a look at such battles as Alesia (just as much a siege as a battle and vice-versa), Pharsalus, and Ruspina. On this last one, Caesar did bumble into a trap on the operational level, but the tactics he showed in breaking out of the trap were highly impressive. I don't see how Caesar as a tactician was any inferior as a tactician than Alexander, judging by not only those but also a host of others which he engineered to win even before the fighting began, such as at the Nile and at Thapsus.

Hannibal, of course, was probably the best battlefield tactician in history, IMO.
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Old November 7th, 2017, 06:53 PM   #19

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I suspect one reason some people find Caesar less impressive as a tactician compared to Hannibal or Alexander, is because he relied on cavalry far less than they did. Cavalry tactics make for the sort of dashing, flashy manoeuvres that people associate with tactical brilliance, and Alexander & Hannibal relied on the cavalry for the decisive actions in many of their most famous victories.

By contrast, Caesar's generalship on the battlefield was much more heavily weighted to relying on the foot over the horse. The cavalry played an important part in several of the key battles of his career (Alesia, Ruspina, Munda) but never in a manner as indispensable as, for example, Hannibal's cavalry at Trebia or Cannae, or Alexander's cavalry at Gaugamela or Hydaspes.
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Old November 7th, 2017, 07:43 PM   #20

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For Alexander, the fairly small, operational subversions he conducted were at the Persian Gates and Hydaspes. The larger scale strategic subversions of his were in the campaign against Bessus, perhaps the Sogdian campaign as a whole, and against the Mallians of Multan. He was more direct than Hannibal in almost all regards but still showed a commendable degree of tactical complexity at Pelium, Gaugamela, Jaxartes, Hydaspes, and not to mention the sieges of Tyre and Aornus, in particular. He just didn't show the 'indirect flair' Hannibal did in his battles, the same kind of strategems he did in Italy in general, or an operational achievement like Caesar did at Llerda. Both Hannibal and Caesar were better at engineering encounters on their own terms than Alexander was. That said, Alexander's tactics at his battles were almost always brilliant.
Whether or not Alexander preferred different tactical approaches to Hannibal, does not necessarily mean Hannibal was better. Perhaps Alexander didn't need to use 'indirect flair'. Anyway, as stated above, Hydapses is a brilliant example of Alexander adjusting his normal battle tactics and executing a brilliant tactical plan.

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Before selling Caesar short as a tactician, it would do to take a look at such battles as Alesia (just as much a siege as a battle and vice-versa), Pharsalus, and Ruspina. On this last one, Caesar did bumble into a trap on the operational level, but the tactics he showed in breaking out of the trap were highly impressive. I don't see how Caesar as a tactician was any inferior as a tactician than Alexander, judging by not only those but also a host of others which he engineered to win even before the fighting began, such as at the Nile and at Thapsus.
Well firstly, as Salaminia pointed out in the ongoing threat I'm involved in called "Philip II of Macedon: Best Captain/General Europe Ever Produced?" [Ancient History thread] it is somewhat unfair to compare the siege operations of Alexander and Philip to those of Roman generals since siege operations had undergone vast improvements during this wide space of time [300 years approx.]. Regardless, Philip and Alexander both have great examples of brilliant siege operations [for their time].

Don't get me wrong, Caesar was a brilliant tactician. Pharsalus is my favorite example [although I think Pompey's numbers were smaller than reported for a number of reasons, and Caesar's were probably higher]. However, the tactical complexity of Gaugamela I feel is more impressive.

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Hannibal, of course, was probably the best battlefield tactician in history, IMO.
He's definitely up there. It's gonna be hard arguing for Alexander since he was the first of the greats! [if you don't include Philip, I personally do]
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