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The Celtic War, 225-222 BC But Marcellus was already a seasoned commander before the Second Punic War began. He had served as a junior officer during the latter years of the First War with Carthage, fighting against Hamilcar Barca's mercenaries in Sicily. In one hotly contested battle he saved the life of his brother, Otacilius, and was awarded the 'civic crown'. He then progressed through the normal series of offices during the interwar years. In what would normally have been the culmination of a successful career, Marcellus was elected to the consul- ship in 222 BC, at the age of 46. His campaign against the Insubres and Gaesatae Celts marked him as an extraordinary Roman commander. Following the Celtic invasion of Italy in 225 BC (see the Telamon campaign featured in C3i Nr.6), Rome launched a series of punitive expeditions into the Celtic homelands along the Po River in Northern Italy during 224223 BC. The consuls for 222 BC, Marcellus and Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio (the uncle of Africanus) were again allotted the province of Cisalpine Gaul, to carry on this war. The two consuls joined forces to besiege the Insubres Celtic stronghold of Acerrae with a combined force of four double legions. The Celtic King Britomartus responded by leading an army of 10,000 Gaesatae and Insubres warriors to ravage the territory around Clastidium, a Roman stronghold. ^ Marcellus, displaying his aggressive character, decided to lead a flying column after Britomartus. Marcellus took only two thirds of the cavalry of the four legions, a little over 3,000 horsemen, and a picked force of 600 velites. With this small detachment Marcellus surprised Britomartus and immediately offered battle. Britomartus hurriedly threw his troops into line, with nearly 8,000 infantry in the center and more than 1,500 cavalry on the flanks. Marcellus, in decidedly un-Roman fashion, rode out ahead of his army to engage King Britomartus in single combat. The two war leaders charged at each other, and Marcellus slew the Celtic King with one thrust of his lance. Thus he became only the third Roman commander in history to kill an enemy king in hand to hand combat, and despoil him of his armor. This feat was known as taking the 'spolia optima'. Marcellus then rejoined his detachment and lead them to an astonishing victory over the much larger Celtic army. For this victory, Marcellus was awarded a triumph upon his return to Rome. The Second Punic War Begins, 218-216 BC When the Second Punic War began, the Romans had no premonition of the magnitude of the struggle about to ensue. Hence, regular constitutional procedures for electing generals (two consuls and four praetors) were in effect. Normally, a Roman noble could expect to serve only one consulship in a lifetime. Truly extraordinary generals (with plenty of political pull) might be awarded a second consulship, but usually only after at least a decade had passed. So, even though Marcellus was recognized as one of Rome's top commanders, he was not called upon to serve in the first two years of the war. The defeats at Ticinus, Trebbia and Trasimene caused the Roman Senate to begin to rethink its policies, however. In 216 BC Marcellus, now 52 years of age, was elected as one of the four Praetors, and assigned to command of the fleet, to operate in Sicilian waters. When Hannibal enveloped and destroyed the army of the Consuls Varro and Paullus at Cannae, Marcellus was still organizing his fleet at Ostia, Rome's main port at the mouth of the Tibur River. While most Romans were seized with panic and paralyzed with indecision, Marcellus kept his head. Although he realized that there was little danger that Hannibal could actually capture Rome, Marcellus nevertheless immediately dispatched 1,500 marines to the capitol. Even though their numbers were insignificant, Marcellus correctly foresaw that the arrival of any fresh troops would bolster the confidence of the populace and help restore calm to the city. Marcellus also sent word to the Senate that he was ready and willing to take the field against Hannibal, wherever he might be needed. The Senate ordered the Praetor to proceed to Canusium and relieve Varro of the command of the 14,000 fugitives of Cannae that had gathered there. Marcellus combined these demoralized troops with his remaining marines and hastily organized a new army. Meanwhile, two legions of new recruits and two legions of volunteer slaves and convicts were raised at Rome. These three weak armies were in no condition to confront Hannibal directly, but sought to maneuver to bring aid to wavering allied cities. Campaigning on Campania, 216-215 BC Capua, the second city of Italy and chief city of the province of Campania, led a wave of defections to the side of Carthage. Marcellus was therefore directed to Campania to protect the remaining allies. Marcellus first secured Neapolis (Naples), the chief seaport, with a strong garrison. But the city of Nola presented a more complicated problem. In this city, as in many others, the popular party favored alliance with Carthage while the aristocrats stood by Rome. Hannibal was in communication with the popular leaders of Nola to betray the city to him. Marcellus placed a strong garrison in Nola, and diplomatically won over some key popular leaders. Hannibal advanced to storm the city, expecting a fifth column to support him from within the city. Instead the Carthaginians were met by a powerful sortie led by Marcellus. Although this affair was little more than a skirmish, it was played up back in Rome as the "Battle of Nola." The Roman people were desparate for some good news. Marcellus was able to ride the popularity of the action at Nola into a second election as Consul in 215 BC. However, both Marcellus and his colleague as consul, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, were plebeians. Tradition dictated that at least one consul must be a patrician. Marcellus' political enemies in the Senate took advantage of this to drum up religious omens to force his resignation of the consulship. The patrician Fabius was elected in his stead. It mattered little though, as Marcellus was again given command of an army as a proconsul. Since the two legions of disgraced Cannae survivors had been banished to serve the remainder of the war outside Italy, Marcellus was given the XVI and XVII legions for his army. These legions had been raised following Cannae, and served the remainder of the year 216 BC as the urban legions, the garrison of Rome. Marcellus was again assigned to Campania, and once more saw action at Nola. This time, when Hannibal approached, Marcellus led out his entire army. He took up a position close to the city, with his flanks secured, and offered battle. Hannibal accepted the challenge, and a battle was fought that resulted in a draw. This, the Second Battle of Nola, enhanced Marcellus' reputation as the only general who could fight Hannibal and not get his command annihilated. Marcellus Strikes Back at Nola, 214 BC With steadily growing popularity, Marcellus was elected to his third consulship in 214 BC. This time, the Senate did not interfere. Marcellus retained his army, the XVI and XVII legions and was again posted to Campania. In his favorite locale, at Nola, Marcellus offered battle to the wily, one-eyed Carthaginian for a third time. This time, however, Marcellus would play to win. He developed a plan to out-Punic the master. The evening before the intended action, Marcellus dispatched one of his tribunes, Gaius Claudius Nero (later victor at Metaurus) with a picked force of cavalry, velites and infantry out the back gate of Nola. Nero was ordered to make a wide, flanking night march so as to be able to fall on Hannibal's rear the next morning. On the morrow, Marcellus led out his army and engaged in a fierce battle with Hannibal. But Nero never showed. Marcellus, hard pressed, reluctantly ordered a withdrawal back into the city. The Third Battle of Nola ended in a draw. Nero didn't arrive till evening, and was reproached by Marcellus for spoiling the opportunity for a decisive victory. But, as Nero was later to demonstrate during the Meaturus campaign, he was a brilliant strategist and a hard marcher. It seems likely that Nero's flanking march was either poorly planned by Marcellus (too long a route) or foiled by Hannibal's flank security detachments (which he surely posted). walls, Hannibal faced not only his army but two to three additional Roman armies in Southern Italy. Hannibal fought all through Samnium, Apulia, Lucania and Bruttium as well as in Campania. Marcellus' role, and the celebrated Nola battles probably seemed quite insignificant to the great Carthaginian. But in Rome the view was different. The people were starved for any good news, and Marcellus provided what little they got. At least he wasn't afraid to fight. Marcellus had campaigned for three years in Campania, and was hailed as a great general in Rome. But his Campanian campaigns, and the Nola battles, must be viewed in perspective. While Marcellus conducted a defensive campaign from behind city Meanwhile, in Sicily, the faithful Roman ally King Hiero of Syracuse had died in 215 BC. Hannibal sent a pair of mixed blood SyracusanCarthaginian officers, Epicydes and Hippocrates, to foment a revolt in the city. Engineering a series of plots, assassinations and counterplots, it The Sicilian Interlude, 214-211 BC appeared in 214 BC that Epicydes was about to succeed. Syracuse was not only the greatest city of Sicily, but also the third city of the Western Mediterranean (after Carthage and Rome). Syracuse was also strategically located to provide a link between Hannibal's new domain in Southern Italy and his home city. The Senate decided to send an army with an aggressive commander to Syracuse to either forestall its loss or recapture the city. The Consul Marcellus was selected as the best man for the job. Marcellus arrived in Sicily late in 214 BC, with his now veteran XVI and XVII legions. As Syracuse had openly declared for Carthage, he began siege operations. But the methodical Roman siege-craft was stymied by the genius of the mathematician Archimedes and his stateof-the-art counter-siege engines. After a number of assaults, both by land and by sea, had been crushed by Archimedes' engines, Marcellus decided to reduce the city by blockade (ultimately a three year effort). Marcellus received word that a Carthaginian fleet and army had landed in Sicily near Agrigentum. Marcellus left two thirds of his army to maintain the blockade, and conducted a reconnaissance in force to Agrigentum with the remaining one third, about 7,000 men. He found that Himilco had already seized Agrigentum, and was firmly entrenched with 25,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry. While Marcellus was gone, the Syracusans decided to send half their army out to join Himilco, while the remainder would suffice to garrison the city. Hippocrates, with an army of 10,000 foot and 500 horse, slipped through the Roman blockade at night, and took the road to Agrigentum the same road on which Marcellus was returning. Hippocrates was mainly concerned about pursuit from the Roman forces at Syracuse. The few sentries he bothered to post were facing to his rear. Just as the Greek army finished their march and began to encamp near Acrillae, Marcellus' legion slammed into them. Marcellus had disposed his force to be ready for action in any direction, for fear of Himilco's Numidian light horse. So they were prepared to go directly from the march into an attack. The Syracusan army was caught by surprise, but rallied and managed to offer some resistance. The Greek infantry then collapsed, and only their cavalry escaped destruction or capture. Victory at Syracuse, Jealousy in Rome, 213-211 BC Marcellus continued the siege of Syracuse as a proconsul for three more years. Although the fortunes of war shifted repeatedly, Marcellus ultimately prevailed in 211 BC. Aided by a plague that killed Himilco and wiped out most of his army, and a handful of greedy traitors, Marcellus eventually broke into the city, and reduced it section by section. Marcellus succeeded where Athens (415-413 BC) and Carthage (398-397 and 311-310 BC) had failed. Marcellus had proven himself a master of siege warfare, as well as individual combat and battle tactics. Marcellus was finally recalled to Rome at the close of 211 BC. But his political enemies were able to make two petty swipes at the returning conquering hero. First, Marcellus was denied a triumph for his victory at Syracuse, on the specious grounds that Carthaginian forces remained in southern Sicily and the victory was not complete. Marcellus received only the lesser honor of an ovation. Second, Marcellus was not allowed to bring his army home. The veteran XVI and XVII legions were left behind in Sicily under another commander. However, Marcellus' enemies in the Senate could do nothing to prevent his election to a fourth consulship in 210 BC. Marcellus was now by far the most popular general in Rome. Campaigning in Apulia, 210 BC The military situation in Italy had changed dramatically while Marcellus campaigned in Sicily. Hannibal, though never defeated, had been steadily attritted and lost many of his allied cities. Capua had fallen to six legions after a three year siege in 211 BC. The primary area of combat shifted southward, from Campania and Samnium to Apulia and Lucania. Marcellus received the XXV and XXVI legions for his new consular army. These legions had been raised in 213 BC and served their first year as the urban legions. In 212 and 211 BC they were commanded by the Praetor Marcus Junius Silanus (later Scipio Africanus' deputy in Spain) in Etruria. Marcellus was assigned the province of Apulia as his area of operations. Meanwhile, Hannibal had opened the campaign of 210 BC by enveloping and annihilating a Roman army of two legions under the Praetor Cnaeus Fulvius Centumalus at Herdonia. When Marcellus received word of this disaster, he was determined to avenge the defeat. He immediately broke camp and advanced against Hannibal, confronting him near Numistro in Lucania. Marcellus selected a narrow battle field and deployed his legions one behind the other, with his flanks covered by rough terrain. Hannibal accepted the challenge and a fierce day-long battle ensued. The Battle of Numistro ended in a draw, but Hannibal realized he could not afford to trade casualties with Marcellus, as he still had other Roman armies to deal with. Hannibal broke contact and marched off, with Marcellus in hot pursuit. A series of fierce skirmishes between the two armies were fought near Venusia. Then Hannibal continued on a zigzag course through Apulia. Like two champion boxers, Hannibal and Marcellus sparred throughout the summer. Hannibal set numerous ambushes and laid clever traps for the pursuing Romans, but Marcellus warily picked his way around these pitfalls with careful reconnaissance and Fabian-style harassment. This was Marcellus' most brilliant campaign against the great Carthaginian. Hannibal, finally giving up on either shaking Marcellus' pursuit or ambushing his army, finally went into winter quarters near Tarentum. The Battle of Numistro and the maneuver campaign that followed were Marcellus' best performance against the great captain Hannibal. Marcellus' Last Battle, 209 BC The consuls elected for 209 BC were Fabius (his fifth) and Quintus Fulvius Flaccus (his fourth). Marcellus was continued in his command as a proconsul. These three veteran commanders devised a grand strategic plan to achieve decisive results. The linchpin of their strategy was that Fabius would recapture Tarentum, the last remaining great city held by Hannibal. To divert the Carthaginians' attention, Fulvius would launch a supporting attack against Carthaginian-allied cities in Lucania. Marcellus' role was to pin Hannibal down in Apulia, and if possible defeat him in open battle. The Roman's felt that the quality of Hannibal's army was steadily declining. Crack African and Iberian mercenaries were being replaced by Bruttian and Lucanian conscripts. Marcellus, buoyed up by his near success at Numistro, felt the time for a decisive showdown had finally come. So, as soon as the spring campaign season opened, Marcellus made straight for Hannibal, who had taken up a position near Canusium. Hannibal, seeing that Marcellus was hot for action, was able to choose the battlefield. He offered battle in a small plain between Canusium and Asculum (the Battle of Canusium is also known as the Second Battle of Asculum). Marcellus drew up his experienced XXV and XXVI legions one behind the other, while Hannibal also deployed two lines of infantry. When the fighting began, the forces fought evenly for some time. Gradually, Hannibal's first echelon began to worst the Roman legion in the van. When Marcellus attempted to bring his reserve legion up in support, the maneuver was bungled and both legions were routed in confusion. Marcellus lost two tribunes, four centurions, and 2,700 legionnaires killed. On the following day, Marcellus again offered battle. Plutarch records Hannibal's reaction to his persistant foe's activity. "Hercules! what do we do with a man who refuses to accept either good fortune or bad? This is the only general who gives his enemy no rest when he is victorious, nor takes any himself when he is defeated. We shall never have done with fighting him, it seems, because he attacks out of confidence when he is winning, and out of shame when he is beaten." Livy records that Marcellus inflicted a major defeat on Hannibal, when his elephants rampaged out of control. Livy recorded 3,000 killed for the Romans, but an astounding 8,000 for the Carthaginians. But this is generally regarded as mere propaganda. Marcellus suffered a serious defeat in the two-day battle. The proof of this is in the actions that followed. Hannibal force marched his army to Lucania to confront Fulvius, and then dashed his men to Tarentum to face Fabius. Marcellus, meanwhile, withdrew slowly to Venusia and spent the remainder of the year nursing his wounded. With 5,700 killed, nearly all his surviving legionnaires may well have been wounded. Marcellus' army was clearly hors de combat as a result of his defeat at Canusium. occupied a site about five miles off and equidistant from the two Roman camps. The Romans were surprised that Hannibal did not occupy a hill near Bantia, which seemed to be ideal terrain to dominate the area. Hannibal had indeed judged this ground as well suited for his camp, but felt it would serve even better as an ambush site. During the night he posted a few hundred of his crack Numidian cavalry and Iberian light infantry in hiding, to watch and wait. Marcellus had failed tactically, but what of his strategic mission? It appears he failed here as well. In his zeal to engage Hannibal, he failed to pin him down for any length of time. Only Fabius' good fortune in quickly discovering a turncoat mercenary captain allowed him to capture Tarentum just as Hannibal arrived to break the siege. The Romans took the bait. Marcellus decided to conduct a personal reconnaissance of the hill, along with his fellow consul. As an escort they brought along two tribunes (one was Marcellus' son), two prefects, six troops of Etruscan cavalry (180 men), forty cavalry from the allied city of Fregella (Marcellus' usual bodyguard), and twelve lictors (ceremonial guards who carried the fasces, axes bundled with sticks - later symbol of Mussolini's Fascist party) for each consul. The party totalled 250 men all told. They marched straight for the summit of the hill. Ambush at Bantia, 208 BC As his army languished at Venusia throughout the year, Marcellus' political enemies back in Rome jumped at this rare opportunity to blast him with charges of lethargy and incompetence. But Marcellus returned to Rome in the winter and defended himself against these accusations so successfully that he was elected to a fifth consulship. Only Fabius and Marcellus achieved this distinction in the Second Punic War, and no other Roman general would match this until Gaius Marius received seven consulships a century later. Marcellus' colleague as consul for 208 BC was an untried patrician, Titus Quinctius Crispinus. Hannibal's Numidians had no senior commander to lead them, but these veterans knew exactly what to do. Recognizing the two consuls in the recon party, they allowed the entire group to move completely into the trap. They then launched a shower of javelins at the surprised Romans and charged. The Etruscan cavalry immediately broke and scattered, while the Fregellans and lictors rallied around the consuls. The Numidians concentrated their attacks on the two generals, hoping to capture them. Quinctius was struck by two javelins and fell to the ground. Marcellus, fighting off a group of attackers, was slain by a lance thrust. The campaign began with Marcellus still at Venusia, while Quinctius moved into Bruttium to besiege Locri. Hannibal chased Quinctius away from Locri, and this general decided to retreat into Apulia and join forces with Marcellus. Quinctius built his camp a couple miles from that of Marcellus, and then Hannibal Marcellus' son, also wounded, rallied the defenders, rescued Quinctius, and cut his way back to safety. Roman losses totalled 40 killed, 23 taken prisoner and many wounded. Quinctius Crispinus died of his wounds within a few days. This was the only occasion in the history of the Roman Republic when both consuls were slain in the same action. Hannibal provided Marcellus, his respected opponent, a funeral and cremation with full military honors. Epilogue Marcellus had died most likely as he would have wished - as a 60 year old consul in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. Why he decided to lead a reconnaissance party that any tribune, or even centurion, could have led, we will never know. But Marcellus was likely fortunate to die when he did. He would probably have never bested Hannibal, and after a lifetime of military activity a quiet retirement probably held little appeal. At least he was spared the fate of Fabius, reduced in the latter years of the war to becoming a whining spectator, jealous of Scipio and pettily attacking his great accomplishments. Marcus Claudius Marcellus died at the height of his glory - five times consul, holder of the Spolia Optima, sacker of Syracuse, bane of Hannibal, truly the Sword of Rome. Great Battles of History Projects Several modules are finishing design work. The two closest to the finish line are both for Great Battles of Julius Caesar: The Gallic Wars and Jugurtha. The former includes the three major land battles: Bibracte, The Sambre and the nameless one against Ariovistus and the Germans. Lots of barbarians . . . Jugurtha is most unusual, as the Numidians are, essentially, a "hit-and-run" guerrillalike army, so we have some extended rules for that. Moreover, as the Jugurthan War is the supposed turning point in the development of the Marian Army, we have one battle fought with the manipular legion (SPQR), and one with the cohortbased legion (Caesar). Sources Unfortunately, very little of Polybius' surviving history covers the career of Marcellus. However, Livy and Plutarch provide extensive, if less reliable, accounts. Any good secondary history of the Second Punic War, or biography of Hannibal, will analyze Marcellus' campaigns in detail. A Note on Legion Numbering It appears that during the early and middle republic (500-100 BC) legions were not assigned permanent numbers. Legions were instead renumbered each year, changing as legions were destroyed or disbanded. Assigning permanent numbers Three Days of Gettysburg II As soon as we get the completed maps - especially Map #4 - from Rick Barber, this project goes to press. We are, at this time, planning on a special package that would also include a set of rules for "gentler, kinder" play: SimpDoG (much the same as the Simple GBoH rules included in this issue of C3i). June Six Playtest work has begun on the next Gameplayers game, the follow-up to Battle for North Africa: June Six. This covers the Normandy invasions (all beaches) with two maps (which break down nicely into several, one-map scenarios) and regiment/brigade level. Daily turns, running to end of became the practice during the late republic, civil wars and the empire. However, it is possible to follow the history of legions during the Second Punic War, and the historian De Sanctis developed a handy table of legion deployments. The legions in his list are numbered in the order they were raised, from 1-46. De Santis' legion numbers are used in this account to make the narrative more readable. Counters You can find all the counters you need in SPQR. However, new leader counters for the following commanders will be included as a C3i insert: June. System is very close to BNA, with some important changes. The CRT has different results (mostly because of the scale differences), and we now have two ways to play the game: either using the random chitpull of the AMs, or the Continuity mechanic, which you can check out in Simple GBoH. No projected publication date yet... bit goes out for beta testing soon.