Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lost Battles Scenario for Cissa, 218 BC.

I've been putting together a scenario for Cissa, 218 BC to test whether Lost Battles can manage what is a bit of a curious battle.

Hanno, who was in command north of the Ebro, was greatly outnumbered but still elected to engage Gnaeus Scipio (uncle of Africanus) rather than wait for the arrival of Hasdrubal and his reinforcements.

Polybius (III.76) and Livy (XXI.60) both have Hanno's force at 10,000 infantry and 1000 horse, said to be taken from Hannibal's own army as he headed for the Alps. Polybius notes Hannibal's army - from which Hanno's force was detached - was 'well trained', but even so it seems ambitious of Hanno to want to take on such a superior force when help was close at hand (whether he knew that Hasdrubal was on his way is of course another matter).

The exact figure for the Romans is more problematic. The brothers Scipio had been assigned a force of two legions with the usual complement of Roman horse plus 14,000 allied infantry, 1,600 allied cavalry, and 60 quinquiremes. After Hannibal bypassed their position on the Rhone, Publius sent Gnaeus on to Spain with the bulk of the army while he himself hurried back with a small force to join the troops in Italy.

Gnaeus subsequently landed near Emporiae and began making such a nuisance of himself that Hanno felt compelled to engage him somewhere north of the Ebro, inland from Tarraco, and near a town called Cissa or Cissis.

If we allow Gnaeus 20,000 foot and 2000 horse then that leaves a small escort for Publius and a detachment for camp/port guard duty. Both Livy and Polybius mentioned Gnaeus' gathering of Iberian allies, so the numbers may in fact be higher. If we confine ourselves to the original force we still have around 16,000 heavy infantry and 4000 light infantry, if usual proportions are assumed.

At a troop multiple of 2 these would become 16 units of average legionaries, 2 units of levy light infantry and 4 units of average cavalry. Even with Gnaeus as an uninspired commander that still gives a fighting value of 81.

Hanno's force would need to be almost entirely veteran to match them, but that seems unlikely given the thrashing he got historically, so we would have to go with a split. 1 ALI and 4 AHI would leave 5000 as veterans, resulting in 10 units of VHI. Two units of average cavalry and Hanno as an uninspired commander would give a total fighting value of 64. Ten units of veterans seems too  many,but to make many more of them average would be going too far below the guideline of c.20 units per side. We could perhaps go with 2ALI, 4AHI, 8 VHI and 2 AHC to give 16 units and reduce the FV to 59. Since the battle saw 6000 Carthaginians killed and 2000 taken captive the latter might be a fairer reflection!

The Carthaginians should probably have a camp on table as its sacking is mentioned in the sources, so if we have that in the rear centre, clear terrain elsewhere, and go for an attack limit of 3 (got to throw the dog a bone somewhere...) we have a rough scenario.

One thing to consider might be to replace a couple of units of legionaries with some Iberian allies, and assume the legionaries to have been left on the coast to guard/man the quinquiremes. This would reduce the Roman FV advantage slightly and might better accord with the reality.

The biggest incongruity is the large number of veterans in Hanno's force.  Given their performance it goes against the grain to categorise them as veterans, but it must be done to allow the battle to fit Lost Battles' parameters. It could, therefore, provide a useful test of the system.

(Also posted on the Lost Battles Yahoo Group)

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