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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 Praetor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Alexander the Great vs Hannibal of Cartha
    Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 05:37
Before we can decide who would win "this battle" we need to know what exactly "this battle" is. the only things known of ezycompany's scenario is that it is a "battle" between Hannibal and Alexander and there can be no draw. Aside from that we know nothing, we don't know where the battle will take place, which forces each commander will have at his disposal or whether this is meant to be an abstract comparison to decide who was the better general. If our task is to compare them with thier historical armies at which point in thier historical careers should we do this as both the size, experience and makeup of thier forces changed over thier military careers.

..........In short ezycompany I am asking for you to elaborate.

Regards, Praetor.


Edited by Praetor - 22-Jul-2007 at 05:51
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  Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 07:13
It's not for me to say but I would choose Egypt as the most exciting battle ground. Both had experience over the conditions and both would have good supply lines. They would have circled  around looking for advantage and then fought like lions in a brilliant series of thrusts and counter-thrusts.
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 12:03

Elenos, yes, Hannibal did have gladiators, but frankly, a trained troop is far more superior (especially a legionary...) to a gladiator. A gladiator is hired for a few minutes of bloody amusement for the plebs - it's hardly very fair to compare them to a Roman legionary, who had much more basic training and much better equipped for a battle. Gladiators may have been good in small combats, but legionaries were trained troops with formations who knew how to respond and follow to orders. Also, not all Gladiators were "supermen" - their abilities ranged hugely.

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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 16:11
Exactly Earl Aster. Gladiators, though some may be more skilled than the average legionary in single combat, they are in no way trained in the art of fighting as a part of a legion. The Roman maniples/legions/army as a whole was a single machine, with each legionary playing his part. It's success depended on each man staying in formation and discipline was very necessary. This would be where gladiators would be quite a disadvantage.
This was the same for the Barbarians (Celtiberians, Gauls, Ligurians.etc) employed by Hannibal, but he managed to keep control of them, most impressively at Cannae. [Generalisation] Most barbarian battle tactics did not involve the troops working as one, but rather all for themselves - seeking self glory at the expense of discipline and order. By fighting in the front line amongst them, Hannibal exercised the discipline essential for victory - the orderly retreat (Cannae).
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 16:16
Also, most Gladiators (sure, some people did enjoy it and signed on again even after they had been freed!) weren't exactly there voluntarily, so I'm suprised that Hannibal managed to control them.
The principle is similar to learning fencing (I love fencing!) - although one is trained for duels one on one, it doesn't neccesarily mean that you could fight in a battle as part of a unit. Succesful warfare is about co-operation, and frankly, Gladiators would simply not have the military knowledge or training to hold formation and give a good battlefield performance. It doesn't matter how good they individually are - if they don't know how to act as a team, then they would be cut apart by the professional soldiers on the field.
 
[Generalisation] Most barbarian battle tactics did not involve the troops working as one, but rather all for themselves - seeking self glory at the expense of discipline and order. By fighting in the front line amongst them, Hannibal exercised the discipline essential for victory - the orderly retreat (Cannae).
 
Yeah, like at Alesia! The barbarians knew a lot about forward planning there! LOL
 
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.
 
...Although Alaric did do a good job at Rome in Honorius's reign!
 
...That said, back to the main point. The reader of my reply may think that by stating the inadequacies of gladiators and barbarians as troops against a Greek or Roman army would be proving Alexander to probably win. One has to consider that even though these unit types would not stand a chance against a Macedonian army, Hannibal's selection of these troops was more to boost his numbers and men that he had lost on the march rather than by choice. Hannibal did not CHOOSE to have these men - fortune gave them to him because there was nobody else. So using Cannae and other battles of Hannibal's penetration into Italy as a basis for what kinds of units that he would have in this hypothetical battle is frankly...flawed. The army that he had at Sagnatum (at the begining of the war) was completely different, so if we are (I assume) basing this battle on the original armies of the opponents, Hannibal would not have these barbarians. It's like basing Alexander's army on what his troops were when he reached Pir Sar and the frontiers of India- you can't do it.


Edited by Earl Aster - 22-Jul-2007 at 16:26
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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 16:22
You've hit the mark there. Hence why the well trained and disciplined legions were as successful as they were. I'm sure you could always use gladiators as initial shock troops as an attempt to break the enemy line, before engaging the legionnaires. Also, the advantage of having such a well trained and disciplined troop such as a legionnaire, is that if the time arises, they are perfectly fit to fit one on one.
We see a good example how even the most elite gladiators are unable to gain very much success against a well trained and organised force, in the case of the Spartacan revolt. I mean, they did get somewhere, but not overly far...

NOTE: I edited the poll, changing "Alexader" to "Alexander" and "Hannibal or Carthge" to "Hannibal of Carthage".
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 16:27

Oh yeah, look above- I've added a lot more to my previous post that you evidently didn't see whilst responding.

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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 16:29
[Generalisation] Most barbarian battle tactics did not involve the troops working as one, but rather all for themselves - seeking self glory at the expense of discipline and order. By fighting in the front line amongst them, Hannibal exercised the discipline essential for victory - the orderly retreat (Cannae).
 
Yeah, like at Alesia! The barbarians knew a lot about forward planning there! LOL[/quote]
Yes! Alesia, what a wonderful example of foresight and excellent planning...Tongue
 
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.
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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 16:30
Originally posted by Earl Aster

Oh yeah, look above- I've added a lot more to my previous post that you evidently didn't see whilst responding.



Did you edit it twice? I saw one edit, and responded to that. However, you've added something about Alexander I see. I will have to respond to that when I get back from school, sorry. Must go.
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 16:51
Yeah, I spent a while typing that stuff, and during that time, you were posting.
 
...Also, at Tertoburger Wald, the Romans were (I think) betrayed of their presence to a German chieftan. But also, they were on the march with heavy baggage trains that got stuck in the marshes. They were far too slow and were not moving at the time in a manner that would successfully give them forest advantages.
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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 02:20
Indeed, Arminius (the German Cheiftain) led Varus and his advisers into thinking he and his tribe were allies to Rome, but led Varus and his legions right into the ambush. 
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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 02:37
Originally posted by Earl Aster

...That said, back to the main point. The reader of my reply may think that by stating the inadequacies of gladiators and barbarians as troops against a Greek or Roman army would be proving Alexander to probably win. One has to consider that even though these unit types would not stand a chance against a Macedonian army, Hannibal's selection of these troops was more to boost his numbers and men that he had lost on the march rather than by choice. Hannibal did not CHOOSE to have these men - fortune gave them to him because there was nobody else. So using Cannae and other battles of Hannibal's penetration into Italy as a basis for what kinds of units that he would have in this hypothetical battle is frankly...flawed. The army that he had at Sagnatum (at the begining of the war) was completely different, so if we are (I assume) basing this battle on the original armies of the opponents, Hannibal would not have these barbarians. It's like basing Alexander's army on what his troops were when he reached Pir Sar and the frontiers of India- you can't do it.

We mustn't forget, however, that by Cannae and during his days of roaming southern Italy, Hannibal's veterans were elite troops, capable of easily matching a legionnaire. The training and discipline, as well as experience gained from battle and campaign, turned what was left of his army into a mean fighting machine. The collection and administering of Roman armour and weapons after Trebia and Trasimene meant that Hannibal's troops were very well equipped too. At that stage, there was only one way not to lose to Hannibal - and that was not to face him, as put in place by Fabius Maximus.
By the way, as far as I know, Hannibal's crack Libyan spearman fought in both phalanx and loose formation at Trebia and Cannae respectively. Do you have any idea of their pike lengths? I wouldn't imagine they would compare to Alexander's phalangist's sarissas though. Maybe a tough match for the hypaspists?
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 03:07
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.
 
I'm not sure if the Libyan spearmen had larger pike lengths than the Hypaspists, but the Macedonian phalanx, as Plutarch often mentions, is a particuarlly effective and large formation. Hypaspists pikes were so long that they needed a counter-weight on the other end to balance them - that is long!
 
I think for this battle, we'll have to be going back to the previous points - Hannibal does have Elephants and troops which are the Punic equivalent to legionaries. Alexander has nothing of the sort - he just has Peltasts, Irregulars and Hoplites for foot troops - he has nothing like Legionaries.
 
...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!
 
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.


Edited by Earl Aster - 23-Jul-2007 at 03:13
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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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  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 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 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 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 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 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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