Philip II of Macedon: Best Captain/General Europe Ever Produced?

Jan 2015
3,508
Australia
Go back further. You were dismissive of the numbers Sulla faced. I also don't get how the above supports your position. Brunt claiming 272,000 in the field is vastly in excess of the 200+ cohorts you dismissed as being possible (more even than the higher end 450 cohorts that was also cited, next to the "base" army of 200 cohorts). 272,000 is 544 full cohorts! So how was it that you were dismissive of 200-450 cohorts, yet your new slant is "no more than 544 full cohorts" worth of men? Nor does it make sense to continually refer to how the cohorts "weren't at full strength", for reasons that are pretty freaking obvious (because the numbers you are supporting on the one hand are bigger than the estimates you earlier scoffed at, even if the earlier estimates were for cohorts that were 100% capacity).
 
Jul 2017
2,261
Australia
Not really sure what you mean here. Opinions can change, especially after reading widely respected authorities like Brunt.

The figure of 272,000 men is referring to all soldiers in the field, including Sulla's, and that estimate is based on the assumption that cohorts were no stronger than 400 apiece.
 
Jan 2015
3,508
Australia
I’ve re-read Brunt’s chapter, and it’s possible that could be what he means. Brunt’s 272,000 number seems to come from his estimate of 400 men per cohort multiplied by 450 (the number Sulla said were raised by Cinna, Carbo, etc) and 230 (the number Sulla eventually had... however as he notes Sulla’s numbers were in part from desertions from the 450 cohorts, plus Pompey’s 3 legions, so his math doesn’t make any sense. Sulla in any event came to Italy with 5 Roman legions of his own. He was totally outnumbered, and Brunt’s arbitrary revision of all legions down to 400 cohorts doesn’t diminish this because he’s revising Sulla’s army down too (even though we are explicitly told his men were not understrength, and we have no sourced evidence Carbo’s army was either). Brunt’s math would have Sulla returning to Italy with only 20,000 legionaries, plus 12,000 from Pompey, as against 180,000. In other words the odds were even more astronomical than you suggested.
 
Jul 2017
2,261
Australia
You can present it that way if you want, but the pacing of the actual war and what we know shows us that Sulla wasn't going in 20,000 against 100,000 per battle and winning crushing tactical victories. Of course you can make the campaign look great by posting the total figures on either side, and of course, Sulla was imo at his most brilliant in this campaign, but that doesn't change the fact that Sulla wasn't facing all of these cohorts operating simultaneously against him all at once, which I get the feeling is what you want to imply.

But I'm sure you and I can both agree that this campaign was probably Sulla's finest, and that Sulla is an incredibly underrated general.
 
Jan 2015
3,508
Australia
We can certainly “agree” with that position, because you’ve moved from a position 180 degrees the other direction to basically occupying my position, that Sulla is awesome. I also don’t think it matters that he didn’t face all 450+ cohorts at once (and this is prior to even more men being raised later), it’s still very impressive, and mathematically it’s clear he must have had battles he was badly outnumbered in (especially at the Colline Gate), as has been covered.
 
Jul 2017
2,261
Australia
We can certainly “agree” with that position, because you’ve moved from a position 180 degrees the other direction to basically occupying my position, that Sulla is awesome. I also don’t think it matters that he didn’t face all 450+ cohorts at once (and this is prior to even more men being raised later), it’s still very impressive, and mathematically it’s clear he must have had battles he was badly outnumbered in (especially at the Colline Gate), as has been covered.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe I ever disputed that Sulla had incredible ability as a general. Anyway, the point about how the campaign played out and specific tactical circumstances like Colline Gate are semantics really. Throughout the campaign, a lot of cohorts deserted to Sulla or just withered away. Sulla's lieutenants were also quite vital and successful, but of course, this doesn't diminish Sulla's accomplishments.
 

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