Mercenary War Battles > Siege of Tunis

Siege of Tunis

Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration


Siege of Tunis

  • Part of the Mercenary War
  • Date: 238 BC
  • Location: Tunis, Carthage
  • Battle Victor: Rebel Mercenaries


Mercenary Rebels


Military Forces

  • Unknown
  • Unknown


  • Significant Losses
  • Unknown


The Blockade of Tunis was a naval blockade by the Carthaginians against the mercenaries who mutinied against them in the aftermath of the First Punic War. Following the victory of Hamilcar Barca in the Battle of "The Saw", he and the Carthaginian forces would march on Tunis where the main rebels were garrisoned.

The main rebel leader Mathos did not have many options left and Hamilcar initiated the blockade and siege in October of 238 BC. It is important to understand the geography of Tunis. To the east of the city was the Mediterranean Sea and to the west was a massive salt marsh. The only approaches left to the city were north and south which Hamilcar moved to block off. He did not have much patience left with the mercenaries for their killing of the Carthaginian envoys earlier in the war. In order to demoralize the mercenaries who were in the city he crucified many captured mercenary commanders in full view of the city. However, Mathos would note that Hamilcar was disorganized and launched a surprise attack on his military camp.


The Blockade of Tunis was a critical event during the Mercenary War (also known as the Truceless War), which took place from 241 BCE to 237 BCE. This conflict arose due to Carthage's inability to pay its mercenary soldiers after the First Punic War, leading to a widespread rebellion.


The Blockade

Key Events

  1. Establishment of the Blockade: Hamilcar Barca moved to encircle Tunis, using both land and naval forces. By cutting off access to the city, he aimed to starve the rebels into submission.
  2. Naval Blockade: The Carthaginian navy played a crucial role in the blockade, preventing supplies and reinforcements from reaching Tunis by sea. This further tightened the noose around the besieged city.
  3. Land Encirclement: On land, Hamilcar’s forces established fortified positions around Tunis, intercepting any attempts by the rebels to break out or receive aid from surrounding areas.

Siege Conditions

Key Engagements



The Blockade of Tunis was a pivotal moment in the Mercenary War, showcasing the strategic acumen of Hamilcar Barca and the resilience of Carthage in the face of a severe internal crisis.

Mercenary War

+ Mercenary War Links


Primary Sources

Polybius 1.86.5

Secondary Sources

Dexter Hoyos, Truceless War, p220, 222, 223

J Seibert, 1993, Forschungen zu Hannibal

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