Second Punic War Battles > Battle of Herdonia (212 BC)

Battle of Herdonia (212 BC)

Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration


The Battle of Herdonia, also known as the First Battle of Herdonia, occurred in 212 BC during the Second Punic War. It was fought between the forces of Rome, led by the Roman consuls Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus Maximus and Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, and the Carthaginian army commanded by Hannibal's general, Maharbal. Following Hannibal's invasion of Italy and his subsequent victories at Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae, the Carthaginians maintained a strong presence in southern Italy.

The Romans sought to contain Hannibal's forces and regain control of the region. In 212 BC, the Roman consuls Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus Maximus and Quintus Fulvius Flaccus launched a campaign to besiege the city of Herdonia (modern-day Ordona) in Apulia, which was under Carthaginian control. The Roman consuls deployed their legions around Herdonia, establishing a siege encampment and preparing to assault the city's defenses. Maharbal, the Carthaginian commander tasked with defending Herdonia, organized his troops and reinforced the city's fortifications, preparing to repel the Roman assault.


The battle began with Roman attempts to breach the walls of Herdonia and capture the city through direct assault. The Roman soldiers faced fierce resistance from the Carthaginian defenders, who repelled their initial attacks. Maharbal, recognizing the Roman siege tactics, devised a plan to break the siege and relieve the city. He led a sortie from Herdonia, launching a surprise attack on the Roman siege lines and causing chaos among the Roman ranks. The Carthaginians managed to inflict heavy casualties on the Romans and disrupt their siege operations, forcing the Roman consuls to withdraw their forces and abandon the siege of Herdonia.


The Battle of Herdonia ended in a tactical victory for the Carthaginians. Maharbal successfully defended Herdonia and prevented its capture by the Romans, dealing a setback to Roman efforts to regain control of southern Italy. The Roman consuls, recognizing the strength of the Carthaginian defenses and the challenges posed by Hannibal's forces, opted to withdraw their troops and regroup, reassessing their strategy for confronting the Carthaginians.

The Battle of Herdonia highlighted the resilience of the Carthaginian forces in southern Italy and the challenges faced by the Romans in their efforts to contain Hannibal's advance. While the battle did not alter the overall course of the war, it demonstrated the effectiveness of Carthaginian defensive tactics and the determination of Maharbal as a military commander.

Second Punic War

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Cottrell, L. (1961). Hannibal, enemy of Rome. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 175. OCLC 1345625.

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