First Punic War Battles > Siege of Aspis

Siege of Aspis

Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration


The Siege of Aspis, or Clupea was the first instance fighting on North Africa during the First Punic War that began in 255 BC. It was led by the Roman Republic against the Carthaginians following their victory during the Battle of Cape Ecnomus.

The Romans began by landing near the settlement of Aspis, located south of Carthage itself. They began by building defensive fortifications such as a trench and palisade to defend their ships and soon began besieging the city. The Romans were much more adept at land based combat than the maritime Carthaginians and the city fell with little resistance.

By taking control of the city the Romans now controlled a swath of land adjacent to Carthage which they would use as a further beachhead to mount an offensive on the capital. After their victory the Roman commanders installed their own garrison and sent messengers back to Rome to update them on the progress.


Following the capture of the city the Romans would loot and plunder the countryside, further destabilizing Carthage and the vital surrounding farmlands that made it so successful and wealthy. The Romans would eventually send most of their fleet back to Rome and maintained a garrison of 15,000 infantry and 500 cavalry at the city.

The Roman army that still remained in Africa under the command of Marcus Atilius Regulus would eventually move on to siege the city of Adys which actually bought the Carthaginians time to rise a proper army to fight back against Rome. However, this army would suffer a crushing defeat during the Battle of Adys and would cause Carthage to have unsuccessfully sue for peace.

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Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Siege of Aspis, 256 B.C. Rickard, J (10 May 2007), Siege of Aspis, 256 BC. Retrieved on December 13, 2008.

"Roman invasion of Africa". The History of Rome. London: Carey, Lea & Blanchard. 1837. p. 109. Retrieved December 14, 2008.

James Hampton, ed. (1823). "The General History of Polybius - Chapter III". The General History of Polybius. I (5th ed.). London: W. Baxter. p. 35. Retrieved December 14, 2008.

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