Wednesday 15 June 2011

1st Punic War battle in Sicily

The Romans attack the Carthaginians in Sicily:
The Carthaginians (in blue at the top of the map) set up to receive the legions.  The Carthaginian right is open, and their left is located in an area of rolling terrain (low hills).  Simon constructed their army, which Gordon deployed.  Here are their commands, from left to right as you look at it:
  • Cavalry right wing.  Three units of 8 Numidians, one unit of 12 Gallic Medium Horse and one unit of 12 Punic Heavy Cavalry.  8 Slingers out front.  Paul in command.
  • Infantry centre.  Two Gallic Warbands of 24 figures deployed shallow, followed up by two units of 24 Spanish, also shallow.  Next in is a unit of 24 Punic heavy infantry in 3 ranks.  Ready to move onto the hill are two units of 24 Libyan medium infantry, again in three ranks.  Held back at the end of the line is the Sacred Band: 16 elite heavy infantry.  Large numbers of skirmish javelinmen are spread across the front (six units, each of 8 figures).  Gordon in command.
  • Cavalry left wing.  Same composition as the right wing, although deployed slightly differently.  These guys also have an extra unit of 8 javelin skirmishers.  Simon in command.
I used William's standard composition and deployment for the Romans.  Again, from the left:
  • Left wing command (Marco).  A unit of 8 Italian light horse; 18 Latin Equites; and 24 Italian foot.  12 Cretan archers out front.  The gaps between the units are deliberate - units test if they see heavy-ish friendlies routing within 4". 
  • Centre (Billy).  The usual four legions, two Latin and two Roman.  Each comprises 10 Velites; 16 Heavy Hastati; 16 Heavy Principes with pila; and 8 Elite Triarii.
  • Me on the right: pretty much the same as Marco.
So both sides are going for the usual: can the polyglot Carthaginian infantry hold the Roman centre long enough for the polyglot cavalry to envelop one or both flanks.  It's too early for the Romans to have any fancy tricks or deployments a la Scipio.

The shot above is taken from my position on the Roman right.  It shows the relative positions of the rest of the field as the armies advance.

This is what comes thundering over the hill towards me.

On our far left flank, Marco's troops also feel somewhat outnumbered.

Marco angles his Italian infantry to try to hold off the enemy from the flanks of the legions for as long as possible.  Billy sends Latin Triarii wide to help out.

On our right, I am able to act more aggressively with my Italian infantry, due to there being a gap between elements of the enemy army.  Basically, as their cavalry rush forward, a space opens up between them and the Sacred Band, who are trailing behind.  I throw caution aside and shove the Italians forward as fast as I can, while angling my other troops to try to hold this flank for as long as I can.

On our left, Marco has his work cut out.  His Italians are facing the Gauls and there are plenty of reinforcements to wade in if the Gauls don't do the job.

Meanwhile, the other unit of Gauls finds the Latin legionaries in poor form.  The marble behind the unit in the centre of the photograph denotes a full-blown enemy impetus attack as the Gauls charge into the Latin Hastati to impressive effect.  If this continues, I think, the Carthaginians are going to win the battle here.

Fortunately for Rome, the initial contact on my wing goes well.  My Italian infantry manage to get in the way of at least some of the enemy cavalry, giving me hope that this flank might not be turned.  By advancing the foot so aggressively, I've managed to even up the odds here.

Our centre left is now under extreme pressure.  The Latin Hastati have been wiped out, and it looks as though the Italians are going to follow suit.

As indeed happens.  Somehow, though, Marco's Latin Equites have managed to hold up almost the entire enemy cavalry force, so they won't be able to exploit for a while.

My Italians have destroyed some of the enemy cavalry.  Leaving the Equites to their fate, I start to move them in towards the enemy infantry centre.  Just in time too, because the contact here has not gone in our favour - the rightmost Latin Hastati are already gone.  But at least the Sacred Band is in a vulnerable position at the end of the enemy line - they're the guys with white shields in the photo above.

Marco's troops have finally given their all, and the Punic heavies start to move into the centre to flank the legions.

But it's not all over yet.  The central legions are beginning to overwhelm the enemy centre.  Romans are good at this.

At our centre right, the Carthaginians throw their troops forward before my Italians can join in.  You can just see them at the extreme right of the shot above.

The central Romans crush the enemy to their front.  Three enemy units, including the Sacred Band, are destroyed in one turn.
But it is not quite enough; the leftmost Latin legion is destroyed and the left Roman legion is hit in the flank.  As soon as the Gauls had their initial success, we knew this was where they would win  the battle.  In the end, though, it was a lot closer than I for one had thought it would be - Carthage won by one figure!


  1. Excellent battle report and pics. A real pleasure to read.

  2. Cheers Paul, that was quick!

  3. I was just passing by

  4. Great report! Good close battle. Must have kept you guessing right until the very end as to who was going to be victorious