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Scipio Africanus Major versus Hasdrubal Gisco: A Roman army under Scipio and a Carthaginian army under Hasdrubal stare each other down when Scipio makes a bold redeployment. Can Hasdrubal shake off his surprise and recover to defeat Scipio’s smaller army? Also known as the Battle of Silpia and Elinga. .
Never has a redeployment achieved victory so handedly than in this battle. What was Hasdrubal to do? Hart greatly admires Scipio’s handling of the battle:
Military history contains no more classic example of generalship than this battle of Ilipa. Rarely has so complete a victory been gained by a weaker over a stronger force, and this result was due to a perfect application of the principles of surprise and concentration, that is an essence an example for all time. How crude does Frederick’s famed oblique order appear beside Scipio’s double oblique maneuver and envelopment, which effected a crushing concentration du fort au faible while the enemy’s center was surely fixed. Scipio left the enemy no chance for the change of front which cost Frederick so dear at Kolin. (1927: 62)
Scullard is a little more skeptical, adding that
there were two weak points in Scipio’s maneuver – the risk that when his main forces marched out they might be outflanked, and, secondly, the isolation of his center and its having to refuse battle. [If the Carthaginian center had charged home, the result might have been like that of Austerlitz.[ The only defence is that Scipio managed to carry it off. Hasdrubal did not dare attack the Roman center, since if his own center advanced, his wings would be still more exposed. Scipio ran the risk, hoping that Hasdrubal would hesitate, which in fact, he did. (1970: 94)
Bagnall, Nigel. The Punic Wars. London: Random Century, 1990.Dupuy, Trevor N. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present, Fourth Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Hart, B.H. Liddell. Greater than Napoleon: Scipio Africanus. London: W. Blackwood & Sons Ltd., 1927.
Scullard, H.H. Scipio Africanus: Soldier and Politician. New York: Cornell University, 1970.
“The Battle of Ilipa.” Illustrated History of the Roman Empire. http://www.roman-empire.net/army/ilipa.html (accessed Sep. 5 2008).
Carthaginian cavalry: http://rtw.heavengames.com/rtw/info/units/carthaginian_units/index.shtml
Carthaginian infantry: http://rtw.heavengames.com/rtw/info/units/carthaginian_units/index.shtml
Carthaginian war elephant: http://rtw.heavengames.com/rtw/info/units/carthaginian_units/index.shtml
Map of the Mediterranean: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Punic_War
Map of the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections
Roman infantry: http://rtw.heavengames.com/rtw/info/units/rome/
Roman cavalry: http://rtw.heavengames.com/rtw/info/units/rome/
Scipio Africanus: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Old_man.JPG
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