How many legions and equivalents at Zama?

#21
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.
You can be correct regarding wargames, because many do not cover the realities of battles. That said, major wargames take place in senior military academies, such as Sandhurst, so they do have their place.

If Hannibal had an advantage in infantry numbers, why not extend his line to get an overlap? This simple tactic would have won him the battle. In fact, as I showed in an earlier post, the numbers of heavy infantry in both armies were similar, about 30k. Where Hannibal had an advantage was his elephants, countered by Scipios about double the numbers of both cavalry and light infantry. Given that all three of these elements were removed for most of the battle, what is left is the difficult infantry battle that could have gone Hannibal's way if not for timely arrival of Roman and Numidian horse.
 
#22
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.
The evidence is from Livy, History of Rome 24
 
Nov 2011
790
The Bluff
#23
24.48.10-12 and 30.11.4. It's not as simple as using superior numbers to outflank the opposite army. Hannibal knew his Romans and well knew a good percentage of his infantry were not up the grade. This was no army of Cannae. His plan was to sacrifice and wear the Romans down so as his hardened troops, along with the survivors of the first two lines, could finish the job. Scipio did not allow that to happen though such may have had the Romans continued their disordered pursuit. That was the critical point and Scipio was wise to it. Similar had happened at Cannae.
 
#24
24.48.10-12 and 30.11.4. It's not as simple as using superior numbers to outflank the opposite army. Hannibal knew his Romans and well knew a good percentage of his infantry were not up the grade. This was no army of Cannae. His plan was to sacrifice and wear the Romans down so as his hardened troops, along with the survivors of the first two lines, could finish the job. Scipio did not allow that to happen though such may have had the Romans continued their disordered pursuit. That was the critical point and Scipio was wise to it. Similar had happened at Cannae.
Assuming almost all of Masinissa's 6000 troops are trained, and are as good, as their Roman equivalent, and assuming Appians 29k infantry totals are max, we are looking at around 8000 Hastati and 9000 Velite equivalents. At least on an individual level, Hannibal's 12000 mercenaries are individually better than these, and his 12000 veterans are better than anyone. Only his citizen levy appear fragile. That means that Hannibal's more numerous infantry are better in quality as well.

Hannibal's 'barbarians' have always served him well in the past. By Cannae, he has changed his tactics so that these brittle, but 'hard iron' troops, are changed to more malleable, but 'tougher steel'. If these troops are the first to contact the enemy, and they were by design, we can safely assume more disciplined troops can take to the flanks. The citizen 'levy' should have been able to do this. They were green, but drilled. Even if they fail, he has his veterans to carry out that function.

According to the usual battle account, Hannibal's 24k in his first two lines start to fight each other. The 8k Hastati are confused, being a 3 way melee, and the 8k Principes come up to support. We now have a Carthaginian muddle in the middle, overlooked by most of Romes legionaries. This would be the time for Hannibal's elites to strike. Scipio has a maximum of 4k Triari as reserves at this point, compared to 12k battle hardened vets. Scipio should be beaten, but Hannibal apparently hangs back? The specifics of the account are nonsense.

Hannibal's elites apparently do nothing until the previous two lines disintegrate. This is completely not Hannibal's M.O. and by this time, the Carthaginians should have lost. The fact they were almost on the point of victory, despite every setback, failed cavalry, failed elephants, failed mercs, failed population, implies that only battle hardened troops nearly won the day for Hannibal. Unfortunately, these battle hardened troops from Italy, were almost certainly not present. If Hasdrubal could not send an army to Hannibal from Africa, Hannibal will not be able to send one in the other direction, since Rome controlled the Med.

Zama does not fit Hannibal's M.O. at all. From my POV, the fact that Scipio turned up to the battle with more troops is not a failing. It is a sign of a great general, since the ONLY important attribute of a general is to WIN. By turning up on the enemies doorstep with more troops than your enemy can muster is a stroke of genius. I personally feel that many try to label Scipio as a romantic Rommel figure, than a far more capable, but dour Eisenhower.
 
Nov 2011
790
The Bluff
#25
Again, you continue to represent Hannibal's front line as 12,000 close order infantry troops taking on Roman close order infantry troops. I can only assume your failure to comprehend this as deliberate to support your "argument". This is complete nonsense. We have thousands of slingers and javelin throwers in that line. These are nothing more, in infantry terms, than Roman velites. Why do you not count those velites in the Roman front line troops?! Because it is nonsense as you well know. This is basic stuff; military history 101.

Hannibal's M.O.?! Yet again, this is nothing like the army of Cannae. Hannibal cannot fight this battle as if he had such. With an advantage in infantry numbers, a good number of which were of dubious reliability and out gunned in cavalry, Hannibal could hardly play to your supposed "M.O." Instead he played the sacrifice and tire game: sacrifice lives and suck the Romans in and tire them out leading to disorder. The sources have it right no matter your view of Polybios as a "Roman cypher".
 
Oct 2007
91
New York, NY
#26
Salamania said:
...His plan was to sacrifice and wear the Romans down so as his hardened troops, along with the survivors of the first two lines, could finish the job. Scipio did not allow that to happen though such may have had the Romans continued their disordered pursuit. That was the critical point and Scipio was wise to it...
This is spot on! If only I could learn to be as succinct! Yes - Hannibal’s first line was not ‘green’, as has often been opined (they were the remnants of Mago’s recent expeditionary army in northern Italy), but they were not infantry-of-the-line caliber, hence Hannibal’s tactic to soften the legionnaires up as much as possible.

Two of the best battlefield commanders of history pretty much canceled each other out throughout the battle in which they faced each other; Scipio handled the elephants perhaps a little easier than both expected, but Hannibal adeptly attempted to make his foe fight toward him piecemeal as the cavalry arms left the field, both actions of which did unfold. But Scipio smartly minimized his strength while doing so, thus making sure he never lost the slight advantage he had from the get-go. The cavalry return was indeed paramount, and perhaps he was fortunate that they arrived not too much later, assuming he was a little outnumbered in the final phase of the infantry clash with Hannibal’s ‘true’ reserve and crack line. But it can be surmised that Hannibal’s plan at Cannae could have been foiled if the precise reverse-refusal he audaciously administered with his infantry ‘companies’ was broken in the center before the contemporaneous attacks on the Roman flanks and rear was able to contain then encircle the advance of the double-consular army.

There were two makeshift and overstrength Roman legions under Scipio at Zama - the core of which were the V and VI. (cf. Livy Book 29.24).

James :)
 
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Nov 2011
790
The Bluff
#27
Hannibal’s first line was not ‘green’, as has often been opined (they were the remnants of Mago’s recent expeditionary army in northern Italy), but they were not infantry-of-the-line caliber, hence Hannibal’s tactic to soften the legionnaires up as much as possible.
This is true. This line was assembled from the remnants of Mago's army and that of the Great Plains. The elephants, green and inexperienced, were placed across the front of this line in a standard deployment (see the Diadoch wars for example). Elephants are never deployed in battle without attendant light infatry (again, see the well documented Diadoch Wars). They will have been accompanied by the Balearic Islanders (slingers) and Moors (light armed javelin men) as a counter to the Roman velites whose job it was to stop or turn the elephants. We are told (Plb. 15.12.4) the elephants inflicted "much damage on the enemy (velites)". They will not have done this without light infantry support who will not have followed down those lanes but retired through the ranks of the Ligurians and Celts. These troops, although in the line, fought in a more open and less regimented order than the Romans (as Livy 30.34.2 clearly describes). Regardless, these were the only "toops of the line" in the front line and including the retiring lights in this line as Nick does, is incorrect.

There were two makeshift and overstrength Roman legions under Scipio at Zama - the core of which were the V and VI. (cf. Livy Book 29.24).James :)
Correct, Scipio had what Rome allowed him: the two legions domiciled in Siciliy, the survivors of Cannae along with their alae. He also had 7,000 volunteers who were near certainly made up from his Spanish veterans. Scipio's constant African diplomacy speaks to his need to recruit allies in country for there was nothing more from Italy. Despite fanciful speculation to the contrary, there was no levying of Sicilian infantry to bolster numbers and Scipio did not turn up at Zama with greater numbers than Hannibal. Hannibal had the numbers but not the quality. In cavalry he was deficient and this, too, cost him.
 
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Nov 2011
790
The Bluff
#29
Outflanking, via a neat phalanx deployment and sucking the Romans in, is what Hannibal did at Cannae. At Zama this was hardly possible given he did not have the cavalry or the calibre of infantry required, save the veterans in the final line. It might have been possible for his veterans to deploy to the flanks and execute something similar to Cannae but Hannibal clearly did not trust his other infantry to hold the line - especially given his deficit in cavalry numbers and quality - as his placement of the final line shows. This was going to deliver the coup de grace to a tired and mostly disorganised Roman infantry.
 
Jul 2017
2,186
Australia
#30
I don't disagree, I'm referring to the act of extending your frontage if you have superior numbers. What Hannibal did at Cannae was a bit more "out of the box", wherein he had the Africans deployed in column beside his infantry line on either side, who were then to face about against the Roman infantry from the flanks. I'm talking more about the general concept of having a longer battle line if you have more numbers, which is unwieldy and would present serious issues, hence why it was almost never attempted. You see this argument often with battles like Pharsalus, with "WHY DIDN'T POMPEY JUST HAVE A LONGER LINE THAN CAESAR", but fail to realise that this isn't a game like Total War, which presumes instantaneous response to command, for example. Communications are a massive issue when extending your front further than usual, for example.
 
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