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Ancient texts
Livius: 22.19-22;
Livius: 23.26-29
Livius: 25.32-39
Livius: 26.41-50; 29.1-2
Polybius 3.76; 95-99

2nd Punic war in Spain
Cornelius Scipio



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    War in Italy

218-206 bc

Gneus Cornelius Scipio appointed general
After they missed Hannibal, who was crossing the Alps, consul Publius Cornelius Scipio appointed his brother Gnaeus as commander of the army and left for Italy to fight Hannibal there. He ordered his brother to bring the army to Spain as ordered by the senate

  Model of ancient Taraco
Model of the ancient Roman city of Tarraco (2nd century ad).

Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio sails to Tarraco
Gnaeus Scipio had his forces embark again and set sail to Tarraco. Here he landed and started to subdue the locals. Either by force or treaties. Tarraco was to become an important Roman city. But for now Gnaeus made this small fisher town his base.

Sea battle in the mouth of the Ebro
Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian commander in Spain and Hannibals' brother , assembled and manned his fleet in Cartagena (New Carthago). In spring 217 he sailed along the coast to the mouth of the Iberus. Gneus Scipio, learning this, manned a fleet to and succeeded in sur prizing Hasdrubal's fleet and defeating him.

Carthaginians in the defence
Hasdrubal who had also had moved his assembled army to the south side of the Ebro decided to withdraw, giving Gneus Scipio the opportunity to occupy and subdue more territory and gaining more support of the local population.

Publius Scipio returns(217bc)
When consul P. Cornelius Scipio, after he had been defeated in the battle of the Ticinus and been humiliated in the battle of the Trebbia, arrived in Spain and joined his brother Gneus Scipio. He assumed command of the troops in what was his designated theatre of operations. He brought with him about 4000 men and resources. Now they felt strong enough to attack Hasdrubal.

Hostages in Saguntum
Together now, the brothers Scipio crossed the Iberus and started to "liberate" the cities south of the river. With the help of a traitor they liberated the Spanish hostages, who were held by the Carthaginians in Saguntum. They sent the hostages to their homes in the justified hope to win the trust of the local population.

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River Ebro
or Hiberus

Battle of Ibera (216 bc)
According to Livius the Carthaginian senate ordered Hasdrubal to join his brother in Italy. This sounds it bit strange since the Carthaginian government sent Mago with reinforcements to Spain instead of Italy. True or not, the brothers Scipio decided to attack Hasdrubal's army. In the resulting battle of Ibera the Carthaginian army was defeated and Hasdrubal could barely escape alive.

Saguntum reconquered(214bc)
From now on the struggle was a matter of conquering and reconquering cities, reinforcing and attacking again. In 214bc Saguntum was (re?)conquered by the Romans. Generally the Romans were winning and the Carthaginians retreating.

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Battle field
near Lorca

Death of the brothers Scipio (212bc)
Due to their successes the brothers Scipio became overconfident and in order to reach and win more Spanish people to their course, they decided to divide the army between the two brothers. This worked fine as long as the Carthaginians were defensive. In 212 bc Hasdrubal massed a large army. Next he persuaded the celtiberian allies of the Romans to change sides (for a while). Together with the young Massinissa, the Numidian prince who commanded the cavalry, he defeated and killed first Publius Cornelius Scipio at Urso. A month later he did the same with Gnaeus at Lorca.

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Battle field
near Urso

Lucius Marcius resists Hasdrubal
If Hasdrubal really had orders to join his brother this would have been a very good moment to do so. Hasdrubal stayed in Spain, where he was and now was going to face the son of Publius,Publius Cornelius Scipio (later Africanus) young, eager and competent. But before his arrival in Spain in 211bc, immediately after the defeat Lucius Marcius a Roman equites started to collect the dispersed soldiers of Gneus Scpio's army and rebuild an army capable of defending itself. Next he was attacked by. Hasdrubal. Hasdrubal who had reckoned to find a dispersed army was even defeated. This lead to a kind of stalemate.

Claudius Nero deceived by Hasdrubal
The senate sent G. Claudius Nero with 6000 foot and 300 horse from Italy to Spain. He managed to block Hasdrubal in a mountain pass. Hasdrubal sent an envoy to negotiate him leaving Spain without a fight. Claudius Nero was willing to accept this proposal, probably while he only had a small army and would suffer many losses would it come to a battle. Hasdrubal managed to spin out the negotiations over several days. In the meantime he moved his army bit by bit away over small tracks. One morning Claudius Nero discovered Hasdrubal and his army had disappeared. Claudius Nero would not forget this and when he had a chance to defeat Hasdrubal he would grab that chance (207 bc in Italy)

Young Scipio arrives (211 bc)
In 211 P. Cornelius Scipio was sent as a proconsul to take the command of all the Roman troops in Spain. He was 24 at that time. He was young and eager. He had been present at the battle of the Ticinus and the great battle of Cannae. He had experienced Hannibal's tactics and had learned from them. In good Roman tradition he would adapt. But instead of following Fabius Maximus' example of never attacking, he chose for the attack.

  Cartagena in Roman hands
Instead of attacking Hasdrubal's army directly Publius Scipio decided to attack Cartagena, the Cartagenian capital. The commander here was yet another Mago. Here were large supplies of every need of Hasdrubal's army. When Publius Scipio learned that the lagoon at the seaside of the city could be crossed on foot at low tide and that that side of the city was poorly defended, the fate of Cartagena was sealed. In spring 210bc he conquered the city.
Livius uses this opportunity to stress the nobility of this young general. Again Spanish hostages were sent home, free of charge and the women amongst them were returned untouched.

Remains of Carthaginian wal
Remains of the
Carthaginian wall


Remains of Carthaginian wal
Surrender of
New Carthago

Battle of Baecula (209 or 208 bc)
Publius Scipio now controlled the complete east coast of Spain and no Carthaginian vessel threatened cruised those waters. Scipio decided to bring his ships ashore and incorporated the crews in his armies. More and more Spanish leaders calculated their best chances now were to join the Romans. Hasdrubal who saw his forces diminishing now moved to offer battle before he would be too weak. Publius Scipio gave him this battle and defeated him at Baecula. Hasdrubal gathered the surviving men acquired new Spanish troops and moved this army of about 20,000 men over the Alps into Italy. Thought Scipio tried to stop him, Hasdrubal escaped. He would be defeated near the Metaurus in Italy

Last battle in Spain (206 bc), battle of Ilipa
Bit by bit Scipio gained control over the eastern part of Spain repressing the Carthaginians towards Gades. Hasdrubal son of Gisgo also an important and respected leader gathered together with Hannibals youngest brother Mago a large new army (50.000 or even 70.000 foot and 4500 horse). Scipio would defeat this army using Hannibal's tactics by embracing this army before it even could move forward. Soon the last Carthaginian was to leave Spain and Scipio returned to Rome. Massinissa the Nubian prince and commander of the Cathaginian cavalry, changed sides and would from then on fight for the Romans.

Uprising
In 205 bc after Cornelius Scipio had left for Rome, Indibilis started a war. He believed the only true commander was Cornelius Scipio and now it was the time to liberate Spain from any suppressor. He gained an army of approximately 30,000 men. The Roman commanders L. Lentulus and L. Manlius Acidinus defeated him in one single battle and restored the peace.

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