How many legions and equivalents at Zama?

Oct 2015
894
Virginia
There were probably ~6500 Roman and Italian hastati , with the help of ~6000 Numidians and some part of the velites, they weren't greatly outnumbered by Hannibals' first line, most of whom were light-armed.
 
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Nov 2018
183
Wales
There were probably ~6500 Roman and Italian hastati , with the help of ~6000 Numidians and some part of the velites, they weren't greatly outnumbered by Hannibals' first line, most of whom were light-armed.
Apologies for not answering your previous post in a timely manner. I have three kids who I need to look after first.
 
Nov 2018
183
Wales
It is far more likely (and consistent with the sources) that the Romans numbered about 34,000 and the Carthaginians perhaps a few thousand more.

Scipio had two legions (Vth & VIth) plus associated Latin and Italian allies, as did all Roman commanders of consular rank until the Social War. These were veteran troops, many were survivors Cannae and Herdonea and had been serving many years. They were brought up to strength by men who served with Marcellus in crushing the Sicilian revolt (215-211BC) and volunteers from Italy, most of whom probably had served with Scipio in Spain or seen service in Italy. Scipio was not allowed by the Senate to levy troops in Italy, and he would hardly recruit in Sicily which was recovering from being defeated, sacked and massacred by the Romans during the revolt. The 32,000 given by Livy is reasonable for the total expeditionary force, and Appians' 24,500 is also reasonable after 2 years of campaigning and necessary detachments. Both Polybius and Appian say Massinissa joined Scipio before the battle with 10,000 Numidians, he was by this time ruler of the kingdom and didn't need any Roman troops (nor would Romans accept a foriegn commander).

The only numbers the sources provide on the Carthaginian side are the 80+ elephants, 12,000 Gauls, Ligurians, Mauritanians and Bealearic Islanders (these were men who had served with Mago in North Italy 205-203BC) and 1500 dissident Numidian cavalry. The rest of Hannibals' army consisted of an unspecified number of recent levies of Carthaginian citizens and Lybians (upon whom he placed little reliance) and his veteran troops from Italy (Livy's 4,000 Macedonians are very unlikely and probably a patriotic insertion in his account which was taken from Polybius). How many of the "old guard" of Africans and Spaniards had survived 15 years of campaigning in Italy, and how many Bruttians, Lucanians and Oscans were willing to forsake their homes to follow their commander is uncertain. Hallward (in the old edition of the Cambridge Ancient History) estimates a total of 40,000, Liddell-Hart says 50-55,000, I don't know what Walbank, Goldsworthy or Lazenby say. If forced to speculate, I'd say (for what it is worth) Hannibal knew he was outnumbered in cavalry and that at least a third of his infantry was inferior to the Roman veterans, so he would not have engaged unless he was at least equal in overall numbers.
Assuming that Appian numbers are correct, we can either choose that Masinissa adds 6000 Numidian lights to Scipios 23k foot, or he adds most of these 6000 trained in the Roman fashion.

If the former, we are talking about c6500 Hastati pushing back 12000 mercenaries, who have greater mobility and skill than said legionaries, onto 12000 Carthaginian heavy foot, causing the 1st two lines of Hannibal's army to destroy itself? Very far fetched imho. Velites are not mentioned, since these have been neutralised by elephants. In the latter case, we still have an absolute maximum of 9000 less skilled troops doing the same. Why are the Hastati not outflanked? The only option is that the Hastati and mercenaries are the same number, and why it was a frontal engagement only.

Even if 6500 Hastati pushed back a maximum of 6500 mercenaries back upon Hannibal's second line, Hastati are relatively close formation foot after all, what are the other 5500 mercenaries doing? Shouldn't they be doing something, like flanking, Hannibal's Modus Operandi from day 1?

The account is flawed.
 
Oct 2015
894
Virginia
We'll have to agree to disagree.

I figure ~6500 hastati + ~6000 Numidians + however many of the ~6500 velites had avoided being stomped by pachyderms by taking shelter behind the maniples of hastati were enough to deal with the 12,000 mercenaries. But that's OK, I have my own problem with Polybius III.107 (re the Roman army at Cannae).

Have you ever seen the 1937 Italian epic film about Scipio Africanus? The battle of Zama sequence is remarkable. It is said Mussolini sent many of the extras from the set directly to Ethiopia.

Watch out for the little guys, they might ambush you like Flaminius at Trasimene.

Lechyd da (?)
 
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Nov 2011
1,051
The Bluff
Evidence exists for Roman trained African infantry though I'm not about to look for it now. Scipio will have wanted these for the sources are plain that he, as a consul, took a consular force to Africa: two legions and their alae. Indeed, there was only lukewarm support for his African scenario in Rome (due to political enemies) and he was forced to enlist volunteers while many towns supplied in kind rather than men. There is no mention of infantry recruitment in Siciliy and given recent events in Sicily (as another poster has noted), this was unlikely in the extreme and so there was none. This is why the sources are plain that Scipio courted African allies.

On the hastai, you cannot count Hannibal's front line as 12,000 close order infantry troops because they were not. That line also featured slingers and archers as the sources plainly state. these are not close order infantry troops and cannot have stood in a battle line (and did not) against the hastai. Exactly as the Roman velites do not. Thus you need to work from a close order infantry number of closer to 8,000 for Hannibal's front line made up of infantry standing is something nearer to Roman legionary spacing.

The entire purpose of Hannibal's three lines was to make use of his infantry numbers despite their varied quality. He will have outnumbered Scipio here. He was also acutley aware of his deficiency in cavalry - numbers and quality. This was to be a sacrificial slugfest designed to wear the Romans down by the time they got to his third line, the best troops. Scipio perceived this and halted the Roman drive to rearrange and redress his lines before the final onslaught. The return of the cavalry nailed it.
 
Nov 2018
183
Wales
There were probably ~6500 Roman and Italian hastati , with the help of ~6000 Numidians and some part of the velites, they weren't greatly outnumbered by Hannibals' first line, most of whom were light-armed.
Interesting.

So you are pointing out that not only was Masinissa instrumental in winning the cavalry battle, his 6k foot, plus surviving Velites, allowed for Romes 1st line to overwhelm Hannibal's mercenaries by sheer numbers alone, forcing their fewer opponents onto Hannibal's 2nd line.

Your hypothesis does suggest Masinissa really won the battle for Rome, and gives a genuine reason why Scipio was not truly honoured by Rome after his success, and the dearth of any archaeology evidence of Scipio's victory found in any Italian household - fresco's and mural's for example.

I know several N African's who would love your theory.
 
Nov 2018
183
Wales
We'll have to agree to disagree.

I figure ~6500 hastati + ~6000 Numidians + however many of the ~6500 velites had avoided being stomped by pachyderms by taking shelter behind the maniples of hastati were enough to deal with the 12,000 mercenaries. But that's OK, I have my own problem with Polybius III.107 (re the Roman army at Cannae).

Have you ever seen the 1937 Italian epic film about Scipio Africanus? The battle of Zama sequence is remarkable. It is said Mussolini sent many of the extras from the set directly to Ethiopia.

Watch out for the little guys, they might ambush you like Flaminius at Trasimene.

Lechyd da (?)
The first part dealt with in my previous post.

As for the film, I have seen the battle scene, and not only is it pure propaganda and 100% grade A junk, they killed several of the elephants for 'authenticity':vomit:.
 
Nov 2018
183
Wales
Hannibal's plan was masterful, in my opinion. I don't notice any decline in his ability over time.
I disagree. Apparently he was going to sacrifice the very citizens he was supposed to be protecting. His veterans were also not used in a timely fashion either, according to any source.

If you re-fight Zama as a wargame, with numbers as stated, its virtually impossible for Hannibal to lose. He simply extends his line, places elephants on his wings to protect the foot from cavalry, and proceeds to envelop the enemy as he always does. Hannibals army is simply set up poorly, and then mishandled for the outset, if we follow received wisdom.
 
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Nov 2011
1,051
The Bluff
If you re-fight Zama as a wargame, with numbers as stated, its virtually impossible for Hannibal to lose. He simply extends his line, places elephants on his wings to protect the foot from cavalry, and proceeds to envelop the enemy as he always does. Hannibals army is simply set up poorly, and then mishandled for the outset, if we follow received wisdom.
Reality, I'm afraid, is no wargame. To say so betrays any understanding of such. Not to mention the elephant in the room (pardon that...): hindsight. Again, Hannibal had an advantage in infantry. His dispositions and tactics scream it.

As for your "archaeological" evidence, Scipio had little support for this in Rome and his fortunes fell foul of the Republic afterwards. He'd many enemies. He's not the only "hero" to exist sans such. The argument is weak.