"We all have appointments with the past."
In May we met for the first time at the new Tea + Victory game cafe on East TC Jester. Matt Zajac hosted and delivered an enjoyable 15mm game between Romans and Carthaginians. Barry, Chuck, and I commanded the Romans while Daniel and Joe commanded the Carthaginians. Matt writes:
"The game played out historically - although I think the Roman center still had quite a bit of punch to it remaining. Their armor capability combined with the highest cohesion of 4 make the Romans very tough - and with a good commander removing hits they have quite a bit of staying power. The loss of the one Roman commander would have had serious consequences quickly - especially if that cohort's units became ungrouped."
Click on the read more link to learn more about the history of this battle.
THE BATTLE OF THE BAGRADAS PLAINS
Xanthippus vs. Roman Consul M. Atilius Regulus - North Africa, Winter, 255 B.C.
In the beginning, the First Punic War went pretty much in favor of the Romans. The Carthaginians were a naval power, and her land armies- ill-trained and with a poor appreciation of operations and tactics - fared poorly against the disciplined Roman legions. Surprisingly, however, Rome, even though her navy was built virtually from scratch, managed to land an apparent knock-out blow against the Carthaginian fleet off Ecnomus (Sicily) in 256 B.C. Following that victory, the Romans decided to bring the war to Africa and landed Marcus Atilius Regulus and his consular army near Carthage. Unfortunately for Regulus, most of his cavalry had been sent elsewhere. Even so, he had great initial success against the few forces the Carthaginians sent against him, and he was all set to deliver what he felt sure would be the coup de grace.
The Carthaginians, however, finally had a bit of luck. They managed to secure the services of a Spartan "general", Xanthippus, who, while no genius, was one of the few people in the area who had any working knowledge of land army operations and tactics. He restructured the Carthaginian army, drilled it to an acceptable level of training, and explained to them how they could use the flat expanses of Northern Africa to their advantage. He then set out to lure Regulus into a fight, and the consul, despite the alarming indications that the Carthaginians were up to something new, took the bait. In mid-winter, 255 B.C., on the plains near the Bagradas River, Regulus and Xanthippus finally faced off. To counter the Carthaginian front wall of almost 100 elephants, Regulus deployed his maniples in a formation that shortened his flanks but extended his depth to withstand (at least to his way of thinking) the charge of the elephants. Unfortunately, his flank was protected by a woefully inadequate cavalry contingent, and the Carthaginian 8-1 superiority in horse would prove telling .... as it usually did. The Carthaginian war elephants kept the Roman infantry lines busy, her cavalry routed that of the Romans, the African phalanxes charged home and, together with the cavalry, they totally shattered Regulus' legions. There would be no quick end to the war.
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