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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Warfare Through the Ages > The Ancient Era

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The Ancient Era Discuss Ancient Warfare! Romans, Carthaginians, Greeks, etc.

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  #61  
Old 07 Apr 08, 11:20
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Battle of Metaurus

The Battle of Metaurus. There's several reasons why it SHOULD stand out for me:

1. The background. Hannibal all but owned the Italian peninsula. He had culled the best Rome had to offer for years. Now faced with a SECOND son of the Thunderbolt, Rome was at a breaking point. Hasdrubal had not only crossed the alps but in less time than his brother. Thus, stealing a march on the Romans. Rome itself was so bereft of leadership it was forced to seek the services of bitter enemies, Marcus Livius and Gaius Claduis Nero. One was an exile and the other a man already humiliated by Hasdrubal in Iberia.

2. Intrigue. Were the captured messengers Republic saving intelligence or planted counter-intel from a wiley Hasdrubal? Horses covered in dust from nothern provinces....that's something out of Sherlock Holmes.

3. The daring of Nero. Twice Nero stood on island of leadership and gambled everything based solely on belief and necessity. Against no less than BOTH Barca's. First to pull troops out of the line facing off against Hannibal. HANNIBAL! A move that was against the law and certainly against any sense of caution, all based on questionable intel. Then, in battle to pull his unengaged troops out of the line. To abandon his position in an army commanded by his bitter rival. To personally lead 4 cohorts behind and across the entirety of the Roman line in relief of Salinator's wing. Who dares, wins.

4. The reliability of a drunk Gaul (hint:keep the barbarians away from the hooch)


But what has always struck a chord with me is the heart of the legionnaire. The heart of the 6,000 (there was an additional 1,000 cavalry) who pulled out of a line facing the most feared man in Rome, force marched almost the length of the Italian peninsula, arriving in the middle of the night only to fall into formation at first light. Granted the battle didn't occur until the next day but 4 cohorts of foot sore, jelly legged Romans defeated a Barca at his finest. Personally, I've rucked up and humped to a fight before. Tail dragging from a 20km movement and having to perform like I'd spent all day smelling daisies....I can't imagine.

Last edited by Marius's Mule; 07 Apr 08 at 11:32..
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  #62  
Old 26 Apr 08, 09:11
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My list would go:

Stand alone:
Cannae -- Hannibal
Guagamela -- Alexander

Wars:
The Second Punic War
The Persian Wars in Greece
The Peloponnesian War
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  #63  
Old 29 Apr 08, 10:40
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Conquest of Lower Egypt by Upper Egypt in 3000 BC That was one of the major turn points in Western history. That started the Egyptian culture was second to China's culture in length and develoment.
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  #64  
Old 07 May 08, 09:30
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For me it's what I can still see on the ground- or imagine. So:

1) Masada. You can still clearly see the Roman circumvallation 2000 years on. Even the road used to bring up water. And on the windswept plateau you can easily imagine the increasing desperation of the defenders, as the Romans used Jewish captives to build the ramp that would eventually doom them.

2) The siege of Syracuse (414-413 BCE). On the ground, it's fairly easy to see or imagine what went down here, with all its tragic consequences. You can still see parts of the quarries (though these are apparently later)- and even a cave with incredible acoustics- where the Athenians might have sung for their supper or even freedom with a few words of Euripides.

3) Gergovia. Easy to see why this was a main Celtic town with the easily defended plateau, though I'm still working on figuring out what exactly happened here. Once I get it, I'll take a look at Alesia.

4) Publius Claudius Pulcher still gets my vote for the archetype of good looks being inversely proportional to intelligence. I pity those poor birds if he'd been a general instead of an admiral- 'well if they won't drink, let them eat dirt' as he buried them alive.

Nice thread. Thanks for the reminder.
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  #65  
Old 22 May 08, 19:48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaiazun View Post
I have nothing against ancient Geece or Rome i just think that ancient china has been under-represented in this forum so this reply is dedicated to battles from anicent china

Battle of Red Cliffs - When the combined armys of Wu and Shu (only 50,000 men) defeated the vastly superiour Wei Fleet (200,000) at Yangtze River thanks to plans laid out by the Wu General Zhou Yu and Shu General Zhuge Liang.

Firstly Wu General Huang Gai sent a false letter of defection to Wei While Shu Stratigist Pang Tong was sent to advise Cao Cao (Wei's Leader) to Chain his Ships together to "prevent sea sickness".

During the battle Huang Gai's sailed towards the Wei fleet in a fire ship Wei were unprepeared for a fire attack because the wind was blowing towards Wu/Shu's fleet but Zhuge Liang had been conducting a prayer to summon a north blowing wind (this was a ruse to impress Wu Zhuge knew their would be a northern wind because of the season) The fire spread qiuckly through the fleet thanks to the combination of the Wei's Ships being chained together and the winds and Cao Cao was forced to retreat back to his Capital

Their are many other amazing battles in ancient chinese history (especially during the Three Kingdoms Era) and i suggest you read up on them as well as greek and roman

Yes, I am trying to research Chinese Military History at the moment, but I can't really find much material that would really be enlightening. Either way, definitely very awesome.

I think for me, one of my favorite periods in History would be the emergence of Egypt as a World Power in the Later Bronze Age of the Mediterranean World. In terms of battles, Kadesh is an interesting battle, but it's only one of several battles and sieges that took place between the Egyptians and the Hittites. I also like studying Syrian Bronze Age Armies, as well as the whole lot of tribes in this area. Israel's Military History has entranced and befuddled me in this period as well, but again, still going at it, school is slowing me a little, but they're in the back of my mind.
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  #66  
Old 11 Jul 08, 23:25
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I'd go with the Peloponesian Wars. After reading Kagan and Hanson's books, there is so much nuance and detail in the war that is very interesting.
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  #67  
Old 20 Jul 08, 18:02
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Wow, great topic. I go with three events in no particular order:

1. 216 BC - Battle of Cannae
2. 331 BC - Battle of Gaugamela
3. 480 BC - Battle of Thermopylae

First, the genius of both Hannibal and Alexander is a must study and then the sheer greatness of what took place over the three days at Thermopylae stands by itself.
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  #68  
Old 08 Jan 09, 17:26
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One not mentioned yet was the Battle of Leuctra in 371BC. A larger Spartan Army at the height of their power, having conquered Athens, fell to a smaller Theban force mainly consisting of soldier-farmers.

The Spartans were over confident, but then they had good reason to be. More of their force were elites, better professionals and better trained than the enemy. Also unusually, they outnumbered their enemy. Why shouldn't they win?

Actually there were several reasons. First there was the brilliant Epaminondas who grew up as a well educated noble, a physically active soldier and a persuasive and modest diplomat. Secondly there was the Sacred Guard, 300 strong and equal to anything the Spartans had.



Traditionally two hoplite armies would face each other in line, with the right flank being the strongest. Essentially the victor was the army who broke the enemies left flank first and then rolled up the rest of the army. Most Greek armies would place their allies on the left, knowing they would take most of the casaulties.

The Thebans broke with this rule, and stated they themselves would be facing the most dangerous opponents, and that their allies should hold back! Thats one way to make friends! In addition, to keep the Spartans from knowing the plan, their own horse and light troops easily drove off the Spartans and allies equivelent, throwing up dust in the process to hide the following heavy infantry movements.

Then the Thebans charged, 50 ranks deep against the Spartan 12. The Spartans broke, and their allies saw no reason to fight and fled.

From http://www.answers.com/topic/battle-of-leuctra-1 this battle saw the first known instance of an oblique infantry deployment and one of the first deliberate concentrations of attack upon the vital point of the enemy's line. The new tactics of the phalanx, introduced by Epaminondas, employed for the first time in the history of war the modern principle of local superiority of force. King Phillip II of Macedonia based his much of his own tactics based on this single event, which Alexander used to even greater effect. Also the Macedonian pike formation was a direct evolutionary response from the Theban methodolgy of massed ranks.
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  #69  
Old 16 Jan 09, 23:53
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Has to be Salamis, c. 480 BC. The Spartans are given great credit for the Battle of Thermopoylae, and they earned it, but it was the Athenians, led by the great Themistocles, who won the war against the Persians. The Spartans wanted to build a wall across the Isthmus of Corinth but the Athenians said, " Eff, that. The Persians just burnt our city, but we have our navy!"
The Athenians lured the Persian fleet into an ambush and destroyed most of their ships. There was no way the Persians could supply their army once their fleet was gone. The Persian defeat at Platea next year was a forgone conclusion. Even if they had won, they could not maintain an occupation of Greece.
Huzzah for the Athenians!
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  #70  
Old 26 Jan 09, 13:57
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Due to recent developments (see elsewhere), I'd like to add my desire to be at the battle where those romans were wiped out in the third century.

I'd also like to be at Chalons to see Attila vs Flavius -- two of my favorite generals of antiquity.
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  #71  
Old 27 Jan 09, 13:48
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Due to recent developments (see elsewhere), I'd like to add my desire to be at the battle where those romans were wiped out in the third century.
Why so much hate against Rome?
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  #72  
Old 29 Jan 09, 13:10
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Well I may get stoned for saying this but from oldest to Newest: Thermopylae- The First warning to the Persians that their 'outing' was not going to end well,

Leuctra- The Spanking of the Spartans by the Thebans- They had it coming

Here's where I anticipate the Flak ( Stoning)...
The battle of: Mynnydd Baedan
It's so enigmatic as to be near-myth, yet the sparse literary evidences agree that it happened. there is place name evidence to show where it most likely happened, and it held back a conquering nation for 50 years from expanding. just wish we had the details...

Bring on the Flak
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  #73  
Old 30 Jan 09, 05:43
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Adrianople: an intriguing battle which never ceases to stop causig speculation (largely because Ammianus' account lacks appropriate attention to detail). I probably favour it most highly because it is the subject to which I have dedicated the most study (though I still haven't read the studies by Delbruck or TS Burns concerning the matter).

I also find the study of the later Roman army interesting, and feel it is too neglected when compared with the study of both the manipular and Marian legions. I find it very intriguing why:
1) the later Roman army swapped so much of its armoury - in many cases reverting back to weapons used in earlier times (scutum is replaced by an ovular shield (like the one they used in earlier times); lorica segmentata is replaced by lorica hamata and scale mail.
2) Why the legion became so phalanx like in later times
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  #74  
Old 30 Jan 09, 12:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConstantiusII View Post
Adrianople: an intriguing battle which never ceases to stop causig speculation (largely because Ammianus' account lacks appropriate attention to detail). I probably favour it most highly because it is the subject to which I have dedicated the most study (though I still haven't read the studies by Delbruck or TS Burns concerning the matter).

I also find the study of the later Roman army interesting, and feel it is too neglected when compared with the study of both the manipular and Marian legions. I find it very intriguing why:
1) the later Roman army swapped so much of its armoury - in many cases reverting back to weapons used in earlier times (scutum is replaced by an ovular shield (like the one they used in earlier times); lorica segmentata is replaced by lorica hamata and scale mail.
2) Why the legion became so phalanx like in later times
Much of the makeup of the Legions were from piece-meal units by the early 400's
Legates, and tribunes being drawn from the local nobility/landowning classes.
Many of them were essentially conscripted into service by the Senate and provincial governors with threats of the forfiture of their lands and rights as a Citizen. These officers were then obliged to raise their units and in many cases equip them. Much of the gear being seconded or purchased from veterans. this lead to later Units being a hodgepodge of gear.

The return to the Oval shields was mostly due to more and more units turning to Horse action as the import of Cavalry increased.
the oval shields could be slung from the shoulder and rest along the mount's flank, taking up less space and being comfortable for both rider and horse. Scutums were not 'slingable'

Not too sure how you mean a return to a Phalanx-like makeup in later times... can you expand on that? how so?
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  #75  
Old 04 Feb 09, 06:13
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IT seems that during the later Roman empire the legions started to fight in a phalanx formation. A close combat spear was used and the spatha replaced the gladius - it was supposedly a measure to cope better against the Barbarians, though evidence for this point is scarce. See Hugh Elton for this.

Also, the switching from the lorica segmentata to chain/scale mail around the same time is also intriguing - probably a cost cutting meaure.
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