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Alexander the Great vs Hannibal of Cartha

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Poll Question: Who would win this battle??
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  Quote IanZonja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Alexander the Great vs Hannibal of Cartha
    Posted: 23-Oct-2018 at 10:00

The history of Hannibal Barca , one of the greatest military commanders of the ancient world, is one which has fascinated historians and generals throughout the last two millennia, and yet his final secrets seem often set to never reveal themselves, and especially since Hannibal’s exact route over the Alps – the great secret so long disputed for centuries – seems to have at last been uncovered with the recent discovery of petrified elephant droppings, the historian has to sometimes ask himself, what else is there to find?


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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Jul-2007 at 06:15

Leave scouting parties - they complicate - I think that your estimate is good. One of the most important considerations for Alexander is, as you said, for him to get rid of the Numidian cavalry - If he doesn't in the first few hours of the battle, his Phalanx formations could be weakened so much that the Carthaginian heavy infantry could find a way to break them. In any case, Alexander's going to be a hard nut for Hannibal to crack, but Hannibal simply has more troop types to choose from.

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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Jul-2007 at 13:21
Hmm, I think Hannibals cavalry would have to be taken out by alexanders companions in co-ordinated attacks with his light cavalry.  Afterall Hannibals numidians were experts at harrasing attacks from a distance.  In regards to the infantry I would say its a wash unless the phalanx is broken up then its carthaginian advantage all the way.  Also the phalanx wasn't obsolete it was still a very effective formation if used properly and more importantly properly supported with light troops and cavalry.  Head on the roman legionaries had difficulty with the phalanx, it was only after it lost cohesion that it was a slaughter, that being said I think the same would apply to hannibals infantry.
 
5,000 each, so along the lines of an army for rome total war.  So are we thinking something along the lines of 3500 infantry and 1500 cavalry for each?  For Alexander perhaps 1000 companions 500 light/auxiliary cavalry, the phalanx made up of say 2,000 men including the silver shields, with 750 hypaspistai and 750 light/auxiliary infantry.  Maybe we could increase the numbers to something like 10,000 each?  Or perhaps this battle could be considered the prelimiaries to war, a scouting party for each?
"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."--Thomas Mann

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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Jul-2007 at 09:41
I believe that the light cavalry of Hannibals, such as the Numidians and missile troops, would be annihilated by the Spartan companion cavalry for the simple reason that Alexander would realise the grave threat that missile cavalry pose to his phalanxes. Infantry-wise, the Carthaginian heavy infantry would have an advantage over Alexander's hoplites because of their dexterity and because of the now obselete use of the Phalanx. The Phalanx would not be able to hold Hannibal's infantry for long enough for the cavalry to flank them. It looks like it would be a messy and complex battle for both commanders.
 
...Just one thing- I really think that we should leave Elephants out of the equation because A- they're a cliche and B- Hannibal didn't actually have that many, most of them died and he didn't utilise them for the majority of his Italian campagin.
 
I'm thinking... about 5'000 men each side - keep things relitivley small so that no general can get a decisive numerical advantage.
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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jul-2007 at 22:09
Have we come up with some rough numbers and compositions for each army?  So it will take place on rather uneven ground to level the playing field for the infantry, how about the cavalry, should we assume it will be an even playing field in this regard as well?  Alexander will have the advantage in heavy cavalry in numbers, Hannibal will have the numbers in light cavalry.  I wonder what would happen?
"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."--Thomas Mann

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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jul-2007 at 18:11
Secondly though I would DEFINATLY not recommend the use of Pilums for a phalanx formation. They could well be used as a pike or spear even after the time of Marius (which is after the second punic war), who is the one credited with introducing the intentional weakness designed to snap the pilum in two after bieng thrown (to prevent it from bieng thrown back), which is what I assume you mean by "snapping sound". A great example of this is the battle of Pharsalus where Julius Caesar instructed some of his men to use the Pilum in close combat against the enemy cavalry and as a result the enemy cavalry were decisevely defeated (thier were other key factors of course).
 
Nothing personal, but it was a joke, I think that you took it a little to literally.
 
Thanks for the link to that article Praetor! I started Livy's "the war with Hannibal". I got to his crossing over the alps and raids into Northern Italy, but after that I soon picked up Thuycides instead, so I never got around to Cannae.
 
...I think you're right, Kamikaze 738- the true test of the generals should be based on their abilities and not over territorial advantages. A flat field or steppe would be ideal for such a conflict, although that would be brilliant conditions for Alexander's Phalangists, so I reckon that perhaps some undulations in the ground would make this battle even for both sides - Alexander's phalanxes could be used, but not be at their prime, whilst Hannibals heavy infantry would likewise not be at their prime.
 
 
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  Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jul-2007 at 02:14
You are right Kamikaze 730. We are talking about the one battle, but on a level playing field where each can throw all they have against the other and both are tested to their extreme limits. Choose your grounds in the fight of the ages for death or glory!
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  Quote Kamikaze 738 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2007 at 23:11
Originally posted by elenos

I did suggest Egypt as a likely ground, but then Alexander could probably get reinforcement more quickly. In Turkey perhaps?


Does it matter? I think the topic is talking about one particular battle that the two will fight not a campaign to see which leader's nation will survive longer... plus Turkey is closer to Greece than Egypt so wouldnt that make reinforcements more easier to get for Alexander?
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  Quote Praetor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2007 at 04:50
Originally posted by Aster Thrax Eupator

I also think that using Cannae as an example isn't really fair to suggest the power of Hannibals troops because frankly, the Carthaginians had a huge advantage in time - the Romans weren't expecting anything, they were ambused by numidian cavalry and then attacked in the front by the bulk of his forces. One of the main factors in this battle is of course that the Romans had not eaten and were tired - thus not giving a very satisfactory fight to Hannibal. Also, when they assembled out of the camp, they had no recon or patrols that had warned them, so no real formation for the Roman army based on the current tactical situation could be initiated.


I apologise for the late response, but I do believe you have got your battles confused. please if you have the time read this article on Cannae
http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=The_Battle_of_Cannae

Originally posted by Aster Thrax Eupator


Hang on, the principle of use behind the Gladius was Roman, so Hannibal couldn't have instructed his men how to use it because he himself wouldn't have known.
Also, about the Pilum - "Phalanx, attack" *similtaneous snapping sound*


Firstly I must point out that the basic Gladius celtic or celtiberian in origin and the Romans adopted it from one of these two related cultures (though they made a few inovations over the centuries). Indeed Hannibals Iberian troops would likely have used a gladius since the begining of the campaign (hannibals men would hardly have needed to be taught how to use thier own weapons). According to some in fact the Gladius was first adopted into the Roman army by Scipio Africanus in his Spanish campaigns (though this is contested).

Secondly though I would DEFINATLY not recommend the use of Pilums for a phalanx formation. They could well be used as a pike or spear even after the time of Marius (which is after the second punic war), who is the one credited with introducing the intentional weakness designed to snap the pilum in two after bieng thrown (to prevent it from bieng thrown back), which is what I assume you mean by "snapping sound". A great example of this is the battle of Pharsalus where Julius Caesar instructed some of his men to use the Pilum in close combat against the enemy cavalry and as a result the enemy cavalry were decisevely defeated (thier were other key factors of course).

thats the end of my rant on weaponry.
oh and welcome to All Empires, I see you have contributed a great deal already.

Regards, Praetor.
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  Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 20:53
I did suggest Egypt as a likely ground, but then Alexander could probably get reinforcement more quickly. In Turkey perhaps?
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 11:55

...As somebody already said, the location is of paramount importance.

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  Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 06:43
Quite true, we must give them time to prepare by learning of each other and their battles tactics first. I mean we have that advantage before we begin the game. I suppose we would have to do some mathematics and fine tune  by adding to one and subtracting from another.
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 05:50
Yes, but I don't think that he could have mastered it in ONE battle and could have trained his hoplites to fight like the Carthiginians legionary-esque troops. It would take time.
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  Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 05:08
You mean Knights how Alexander and his men would have quickly mastered use of the short sword. Definitely, and that's what makes this subject so interesting. Hannibal would have picked up things about Greek formation and he was very good at adapting to suit the situation. The two meeting would have brought Old World military thinking to a new level. 
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 04:58
Yes, I'm sure Fabius taught Hannibal's men ALL about that use of the Gladius. "So how do these use those then?" *stab* "Ohhh! That's how!"
 
Also, about Teurtoburger Wald - I read tacitus's account on it, but I haven't read it for a long time....
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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 04:36
Originally posted by Earl Aster

Hang on, the principle of use behind the Gladius was Roman, so Hannibal couldn't have instructed his men how to use it because he himself wouldn't have known.

Also, about the Pilum - "Phalanx, attack" *similtaneous snapping sound*

Hannibal was very well versed in military history, tactics and procedure. He was a well educated and first class general, and anyone like that surely knows that a short sword is for quick stabbing movements. Also, by purely observing the Romans he could have picked the principle up, as could his troops have (I don't know how to word that last bit).

As for the Pilum phalanx offensive - LOL
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 04:05
Originally posted by Knights

Originally posted by Earl

Many people try to use battles like Tertoburger Wald to argue that the european barbarians had battle tactics, without realising that many barbarian victories (this battle included) were actually due to the weather, logistics, navigation and time and not really to do with military brilliance on the side of the barbarians. Tertoburger Wald was due more to the weather, the time and the fact that the Romans were unfamiliar with the forests than any kind of barbarian brilliance.

True. Teutoberg Wald was nevertheless a well planned battle on the Germans side. However, Varus fell into a rather idiotic trap, and hadn't chosen his route wisely anyway. So I give credit to the Germans on this instance, even if they just hid in the forest and ran out [simplification]...which is more than I can say for those Gauls at Alesia unfortunately. In the end, it was a total annihilation of the Roman army. Any guesses as to why (other than reasons mentioned by yourself)? The Roman army lost its one severe advantage, order. The legions went into disarray and lost all sense of discipline. A lot of the force ended up fighting just as their foes did.


At Teutoburg, the Romans were warned of the trap but Varus didn't believe it. Therefore, they advanced but when they heard their outlying units had been destroyed, Varus chose another route. He soon changed the route once more and then, when they were in the middle of the forest, Arminius and his men charged. The Romans didn't manage to form into battle formation plus the thunderstorm destroyed the soil and made it treacherous. Still, Varus managed to order his men to advance (after the dawn) and they passed over a clearing. Soon they entered another forest (the same but another part of it...). The entire time fighting ensued. Soon, the generals committed suicide and the army was hacked to pieces... only Numa Pompilius and his cavalry unit saved themselves by charging through the blockade...

Btw... August Mag will feature Teutoburg Forest..Wink
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 04:02

Hang on, the principle of use behind the Gladius was Roman, so Hannibal couldn't have instructed his men how to use it because he himself wouldn't have known.

Also, about the Pilum - "Phalanx, attack" *similtaneous snapping sound*
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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 04:00
Originally posted by Earl Aster

and that was not to face him, as put in place by Fabius Maximus.
 
Marcellus the Delay's idea was also equally valid - by simply shadowing Hannibal and denying him supplies, his huge army could easily have been dismantled piece by piece. The question is if it would work quick enough to stop him from getting to the Roman neighboorhood. In any case, it was a brilliant tactic, and the same pricinple was used by Pompey during the Dymrachium campagin to starve out Caesar's forces and if the politicans in his camp hadn't forced him to intervene quicker, it probably would have worked. In my mind, both Fabious Maximus and Marcus Marcellus (The sword and shield of Rome) both had equally valid, if however diametrically opposed - tactics.

Marcellus was a fine general indeed, and his, what you could call guerrilla -in that he too avoided a full on set piece battle-  tactics worked well at wearing down Hannibal's army. It was just a pity that he got called back for poor generalship Angry A balance between the sword and shield might have not cost Rome as much as it paid against Hannibal. That said, even Fabius's avoiding of battle against Hannibal was unsuccessful, just take Ager Falernus. As you would know, Fabius wasn't the most popular senator, nor was his policy. Well Hannibal capitalised upon this in a most perculiar but genius way. I was informed by Praetor of this strategy...what happened was when Hannibal burnt large extents of the Campanian plains after his army had ravaged them, he destroyed every single house too. Except one. Fabius's house. I'm sure the other senator's must have had a sneaking suspicion about Fabius, which exacerbated his unpopularity! Smart tactic.

Originally posted by Earl

...Also, you mentioned the collection of weapons as Traisamene and Trebia - that may be so, but even if they did have Roman weapons, the majority of his forces are still barbarians and will probably not wield them nearly as well as the Romans would. They would use a Gladius to slash and a Pilus as a pike LOL!

 Tongue
Still, a Ligurian warrior, dressed in little more than pants and maybe a shirt, with a spear would have got a great deal more protection from Roman armour, and a much better weapon (gladius), plus may even get a scutum. You don't need to know how to wield armour, and with the amount of drilling Hannibal exercised on his troops, I'm sure they could pick up the art of the gladius in no time. Though, it is fun to imagine them using the pilum as a pike Wink

*will reply to remainder upon my return*


Edited by Knights - 23-Jul-2007 at 04:33
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 03:58
Hmmh... Are you sure Alexander had the Hypaspistoi formed already? I've always been thinking that they were an invention of Seleukos (along with the Agyraspistoi).
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