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Old December 3rd, 2013, 08:33 AM   #1
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The Cimbri & Teutons - Rome's Toughest Enemy?


Most people think of the Carthaginians, or perhaps the Persians, or maybe the Vandals or some other Germanic tribe, when the question of Rome's toughest battlefield adversary comes to mind. How about the Cimbri & Teutons? In their relatively short conflict with Rome, these guys managed to inflict some serious damage on the Empire.

Just looking at the battle statistics:

Battle of Noreia, 112 BC
- Cimbri & Teutons vs. Romans. Roman army is annihilated. 24,000 Roman losses with negligible Cimbri & Teuton losses.

Battle near the Rhone River, 109 BC
- Cimbri, Teutons & Helvetians vs. Romans. Unclear casualties, but the result was said to have been similar to Noreia, with three Roman armies being "annihilated". Perhaps another 24,000 Roman losses with negligible Cimbri & Teuton losses.

Battle of Arausio, 105 BC
- Cimbri & Teutons vs. Romans. Worst defeat in Roman history. Up to 120,000 Roman soldiers and auxiliaries killed compared to 15,000 Cimbri & Teuton losses.

Battle of Aquae Sextiae, 102 BC
- Teutons & Ambrones vs. Romans. Complete defeat of Teutons. 90,000 Teuton losses, but according to K. Volkl only about 30,000 warriors were present not including the young, the old and women, so perhaps 30,000 Teuton battlefield losses compared to negligible Roman losses.

Battle of Vercellae, 101 BC - Cimbri vs. Romans. Annihilation of the Cimbri. 120,000 Cimbri battlefield losses compared to negligible Roman losses.

Just by aggregating the battlefield casualties, we arrive at a very rough total of 168,000 Roman battlefield losses compared to 165,000 Cimbri & Teuton battlefield losses (sources were from Wikipedia, I tried to separate out the noncombatant casualties as best as possible). Despite the fact that the Cimbri & Teutons eventually lost, their battlefield record is still pretty impressive. Not many can claim to have inflicted more losses on the mighty Romans than they received.

What do you all think?
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 10:39 AM   #2
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In terms of causualties the 2nd Punic War was way worse stacking up 300,000+ causualties in a prolonged war.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 11:33 AM   #3

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It is still the Carthaginians for me. The 2nd Punic War was Rome's bloodiest against a foreign opponent, and Hannibal came closer than anyone of defeating Rome while it was the dominant Mediterranean power.

To put things into perspective, the 300,000 or so casualties Rome suffered during the 2nd Punic War were about the rough equivalent of every man serving in the Roman Army during the reign of Augustus being snuffed out.

Last edited by Scaeva; December 3rd, 2013 at 11:36 AM.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 12:25 PM   #4
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Euroblood,

Who is K. Volkl?
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 01:40 PM   #5
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Yes, of course the Carthaginian wars were more costly overall. This can be expected since they went on for a much longer period of time. I was more thinking in terms of average casualty exchange rate throughout the whole campaign. It seems like basically a 1:1 ratio. Wouldn't the Cimbri & Teutons be more formidable in this respect since the Romans basically steamrolled Carthage in the Third Punic War?

attila, I got Volkl's source from the Wikipedia page on Aquae Sextiae. It's in German though.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 04:13 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Euroblood View Post
Yes, of course the Carthaginian wars were more costly overall. This can be expected since they went on for a much longer period of time. I was more thinking in terms of average casualty exchange rate throughout the whole campaign. It seems like basically a 1:1 ratio. Wouldn't the Cimbri & Teutons be more formidable in this respect since the Romans basically steamrolled Carthage in the Third Punic War?

attila, I got Volkl's source from the Wikipedia page on Aquae Sextiae. It's in German though.
I think in the 2nd Punic War the Roman ran up a pretty high tally of casualties vs enemy casualties. In the three great battles (Trebbia, Trasimene, Cannae) alone Hannibal might have killed nearly 100,000 Romans, while his losses might be less than 25,000 men.

During the rest of the war (especially in Iberia and Africa) the Romans would close up the gap, but still overall I didn't think the Romans killed more of their enemy than losing their own.

The 1st Punic War was also extremely costly for the Romans, due to several gigantic naval disasters. This was due to weather though, not enemy actions.

The 3rd Punic War was not a straightforward steamrolling, Carthage actually put up a bloody resistance, much more so than Mithridates's army did during the first and third war.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 04:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Euroblood View Post
Wouldn't the Cimbri & Teutons be more formidable in this respect since the Romans basically steamrolled Carthage in the Third Punic War?
The Romans steamrolled the Cimbri and Teutones right after they retrained their army....
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 06:45 PM   #8
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Well the Romans steamrolled everybody at one point... haha.

Anyway, my point was moreso about the casualty rate. Going 1:1 against the Romans is pretty impressive, in my mind.

Perhaps you're right Tarkhan, maybe the Carthaginians could boast a better ratio against the Romans (though I do think the Romans eventually gave better than they got after they destroyed Carthage in the Third War), but still, I think the Cimbri & Teutons can indeed be mentioned in the same sentence as the Carthaginians as Rome's ultimate enemies.

For example, consider that the Cimbri & Teutons could very easily have penetrated deeper into Rome after the Battle of Arausio. Rome was completely defenseless, and the great Roman Empire might have been extinguished by these barbarian hordes before it even came to life. The capability for the Cimbri to do so was certainly there. But fortune was on Rome's side, and the Cimbri & Teutons went west instead.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 11:25 PM   #9
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The Cimbri and Teutones have no ways the siege capacity of the Carthagians.(not that their siege tactics worked). They wasted their time if Gaul while Rome rebuilt their army. No I highly doubt they would have penetrated Roman territory, citywise, even the Goths couldn't do that after Adrianople. Judging how the negotatiated with Marius, they were a very desperate starving people looking for land than an actual threat.
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Old December 4th, 2013, 12:42 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by Euroblood View Post
Most people think of the Carthaginians, or perhaps the Persians, or maybe the Vandals or some other Germanic tribe, when the question of Rome's toughest battlefield adversary comes to mind. How about the Cimbri & Teutons? In their relatively short conflict with Rome, these guys managed to inflict some serious damage on the Empire.

Just looking at the battle statistics:

Battle of Noreia, 112 BC - Cimbri & Teutons vs. Romans. Roman army is annihilated. 24,000 Roman losses with negligible Cimbri & Teuton losses.

Battle near the Rhone River, 109 BC - Cimbri, Teutons & Helvetians vs. Romans. Unclear casualties, but the result was said to have been similar to Noreia, with three Roman armies being "annihilated". Perhaps another 24,000 Roman losses with negligible Cimbri & Teuton losses.

Battle of Arausio, 105 BC - Cimbri & Teutons vs. Romans. Worst defeat in Roman history. Up to 120,000 Roman soldiers and auxiliaries killed compared to 15,000 Cimbri & Teuton losses.

Battle of Aquae Sextiae, 102 BC - Teutons & Ambrones vs. Romans. Complete defeat of Teutons. 90,000 Teuton losses, but according to K. Volkl only about 30,000 warriors were present not including the young, the old and women, so perhaps 30,000 Teuton battlefield losses compared to negligible Roman losses.

Battle of Vercellae, 101 BC - Cimbri vs. Romans. Annihilation of the Cimbri. 120,000 Cimbri battlefield losses compared to negligible Roman losses.

Just by aggregating the battlefield casualties, we arrive at a very rough total of 168,000 Roman battlefield losses compared to 165,000 Cimbri & Teuton battlefield losses (sources were from Wikipedia, I tried to separate out the noncombatant casualties as best as possible). Despite the fact that the Cimbri & Teutons eventually lost, their battlefield record is still pretty impressive. Not many can claim to have inflicted more losses on the mighty Romans than they received.

What do you all think?
If we just quickly browse through the results by chronology, I see a Rome rapidly developing, becoming more sophisticated, and developing new military science & technology, initially struggling against, but eventually triumphing over, an extremely formidable but scientifically & technologically static adversary.

Last edited by Dreamhunter; December 4th, 2013 at 12:45 AM.
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