Second Punic War Battles > Battle of Baecula

Battle of Baecula

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The Battle of Baecula was a military confrontation that occurred in 208 BC during the Second Punic War between the Roman Republic, led by Scipio Africanus, and the Carthaginian forces commanded by Hasdrubal Barca, brother of the famed Hannibal Barca. It was a significant engagement in the broader context of the war, taking place in Hispania (modern-day Spain) near the town of Baecula (present-day Bailén).

Scipio Africanus, then a young Roman general, had been sent to Hispania to counter Carthaginian influence and disrupt Carthaginian supply lines to Hannibal in Italy. Scipio aimed to defeat the Carthaginian armies in Hispania before confronting Hannibal directly. Hasdrubal Barca, the brother of Hannibal, commanded the Carthaginian forces in Hispania. He sought to maintain control over the region and prevent Roman encroachment.


Roman Army: Scipio Africanus commanded a well-trained and disciplined Roman army consisting of Roman legions and allied troops from various Italian and Hispanic tribes. The exact size of the Roman force is uncertain but is estimated to be around 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers.

Carthaginian Army: Hasdrubal Barca led a mixed force of Carthaginian soldiers, Iberian mercenaries, and local allies. The Carthaginian army likely numbered around 30,000 to 35,000 troops.


Scipio, aware of the Carthaginian presence in the area, positioned his forces strategically near Baecula to block Hasdrubal's advance. He chose a location with natural advantages, including hills and rough terrain. Hasdrubal, seeking to break through the Roman lines, launched a frontal assault on the Roman position. He attempted to exploit weaknesses in the Roman formation and dislodge them from their advantageous position.

Scipio anticipated the Carthaginian assault and had positioned his troops carefully to repel the attack. The Roman soldiers, well-disciplined and organized, held their ground against the Carthaginian onslaught. The Roman cavalry, under the command of Scipio himself, played a crucial role in the battle. They launched a flanking maneuver, surprising the Carthaginian cavalry and threatening Hasdrubal's rear. Despite initial Carthaginian successes, the Roman forces, bolstered by Scipio's leadership and strategic acumen, managed to repel the Carthaginian assault and inflict heavy casualties on the Carthaginian army. Hasdrubal was forced to retreat, and the Romans emerged victorious.


The Battle of Baecula was a significant victory for the Romans and bolstered Scipio's reputation as a military leader. It weakened Carthaginian control in Hispania and disrupted Carthaginian supply lines to Hannibal in Italy. Despite the setback at Baecula, Hasdrubal continued to resist Roman advances in Hispania, leading to further confrontations between Roman and Carthaginian forces in the region.


The Battle of Baecula demonstrated Scipio Africanus's strategic brilliance and military leadership, foreshadowing his later successes in the war, including the famous victory at the Battle of Zama. While not a decisive battle in itself, the Battle of Baecula was a turning point in the Roman campaign in Hispania, paving the way for further Roman successes and ultimately contributing to the defeat of Carthage in the Second Punic War.

The Battle of Baecula was a significant engagement in the Second Punic War, showcasing Scipio Africanus's tactical prowess and contributing to Roman dominance in Hispania. It weakened Carthaginian influence in the region and set the stage for further Roman victories in the war.

Second Punic War

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VIII.34-37 followed by Livy XXVII.18

Polybius VIII.39 Livy XXVII.18

B.H. Liddell Hart; Scipio Africanus: Greater than Napoleon; 1926; ISBN 0-306-80583-9

Nigel Bagnall; The Punic Wars; 1990; ISBN 0-312-34214-4

Polybius; The Rise of the Roman Empire; Trans. Ian Scott-Kilvert; 1979; ISBN 0-14-044362-2

Serge Lancel; Hannibal; Trans. Antonia Nevill; 2000; ISBN 0-631-21848-3

Polybius; "Complete Works"; 2014 (Greek & English)

Livy Titus Livius; "Complete Works of Livy"; 2014 (in Latin & English)

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