Battle of Beneventum (214 BC)
By Stephen Reed
Following the disastrous defeat at Cannae the Romans under Fabius adopted a policy of fighting Carthage wherever Hannibal was not. Spain, Sardinia, and Italy provided them with plenty of scope for campaigning. This battle was part of the Roman campaign to subdue the southern Italian states that had revolted after Cannae. It was fought near Beneventum in Samnium between a Punic army composed mainly of Italians and a Roman army of slave volunteers.
Hannibal was preparing to assault the city of Nola in Campania. He was waiting for his lieutenant Hanno who was bringing 1200 African horsemen and 17000 Bruttians and Lucanians up the Via Appia from Bruttium. Gracchus was at Beneventum with a similar sized army consisting of slaves who had volunteered for service against Hannibal in return for their eventual freedom. When he heard that Hanno was camped on the river Calor about three miles from the city he marched out to meet them. He deployed his army about a mile from the Punic camp. To encourage his men Gracchus offered freedom to any man that brought him an enemy head.
The ensuing battle was a bloody slogging match. Gracchus¹ proclamation almost proved to be the Roman¹s undoing as his men stopped to decapitate the slain. Realizing what was happening he declared no man would be freed unless the enemy were completely defeated. The ensuing onslaught led to the total destruction of Hanno¹s army and the capture of his camp. Less than 2000 of his men escaped with their lives. Gracchus proclaimed his men¹s liberty. Hannibal withdrew from Campania and several of his allies there and in Samnium were crushed by the Romans.
Punic: The Punic army consisted of African cavalry and Italian infantry:
1x3Cv (General), 1x2LH (Numidians), 10x4Ax (Lucanians and Bruttians).
Roman : The Roman slave legionaries (volones) were probably equipped in normal Roman equipment. They are not to be confused with the prisoners armed with Gallic equipment raised at the same time. To reflect their possible barbarian origins, play as warbands.
1x3Cv (General), 1x3Cv(Equites), 8x4Wb (Volones), 2x2Ps (Leves).
Terrain does not seem to have played a major role in the battle. Use a 2¹x2¹ board. Most of the board must be good going. Gentle hills, fields and orchards are likely. There is no BUA.
The Punic player places his camp and army first. No camp follower is provided, and it can be defended by Italians if desired. The Roman player has no camp and moves first.
OPTIONAL SCENARIO RULES
The scenario can be played as is. The following optional rules attempt to capture the flavour of the battle and the era.
Livy, 24: 14-16
Last Update: May 27, 2002
My thanks to Stephen Reed for this scenario. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.