Second Punic War Battles > Battle of the Upper Baetis

Battle of the Upper Baetis

Punic Wars - Punic Wars DecorationBattle of the Upper BaetisPart of the Second Punic WarBattles second punic war.pngDate211 BCLocationNear Upper Baetis (modern-day Guadalquivir) River, SpainResultCarthaginian victoryBelligerentsCarthageRoman RepublicCommanders and leadersHasdrubal BarcaMago BarcaHasdrubal GiscoPublius Cornelius Scipio†Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus†StrengthTotal: 48,500,35,000 infantry,3,000+ cavalry,3,000 Numidians,7,500 Iberian tribals,Total: 53,000,30,000 infantry,3,000 cavalry,20,000 Celt-Iberian mercenariesCasualties and lossesUnknownAbout 22,000[show] v t e


The Battle of the Upper Baetis was a double battle, comprising the battles of Castulo and Ilorca, fought in 211 BC between a Carthaginian force led by Hasdrubal Barca (Hannibal's brother) and a Roman force led by Publius Cornelius Scipio and his brother Gnaeus. The immediate result was a Carthaginian victory in which both Roman brothers were killed. Before this defeat, the brothers had spent seven years (218BC - 211BC) campaigning in Hispania, which had limited the resources available to Hannibal, who was simultaneously fighting the Romans in Italy.This double battle also represents the only Carthaginian victory in a major land battle during the Second Punic War in which Hannibal was not in command of the Carthaginian armies.After the defeat of Hasdrubal Barca in the Battle of Dertosa in the spring of 215 BC, the Romans had secured their bases north of the Ebro. They then proceeded to win over some Iberian tribes, raid Carthaginian lands south of the Ebro, with Publius Scipio raiding as far as Saguntum in 214 BC. Both the Romans and Carthaginians faced and put down Iberian tribal revolts. The Scipios received no reinforcement from Italy, where Hannibal Barca had the Romans hard pressed.Meanwhile, Hasdrubal had been reinforced by two armies, led respectively by his younger brother, Mago Barca, and Hasdrubal Gisco. These armies fought several indecisive battles with the Scipio brothers during 215-211 BC. The Scipios had persuaded Syphax, a Numidian king, to open hostilities against Carthage with a Roman trained army in 213 BC. On the whole, the situation in Iberia was stable enough for Hasdrubal Barca to shift his attention to Africa in 213/212 BC in order to put down this rebellion. Hasdrubal Barca returned to Iberia in late 212 BC, bringing with him 3,000 Numidians under Masinissa, the future king of Numidia.On other fronts, while Hannibal had managed to win over Capua, capture Tarentum and generally retain his hold over Lucania, Bruttium and Apulia, the Romans had retaken several Italian towns and had besieged both Capua and Syracuse.The Scipio brothers had hired 20,000 Celt-Iberian mercenaries to reinforce their army of 30,000 foot and 3,000 horse. Observing that the Carthaginian armies were deployed separately from each other (Hasdrubal Barca had 15,000 troops near Amtorgis; and, further to the west, Mago Barca and Hasdrubal Gisco, each had 10,000 troops), the Scipio brothers decided to divide their forces. Publius Scipio led 20,000 Roman and allied soldiers to attack Mago Barca near Castulo, while Gnaeus Scipio took one double legion (10,000 troops) and the mercenaries to attack Hasdrubal Barca. This stratagem would lead to two battles, the Battle of Castulo and the Battle of Ilorca, which took place within a few days of each other.Gnaeus Scipio arrived at his objective first. However, Hasdrubal Barca had already ordered the armies of Indibilis and Mandonius (Iberian chieftains friendly to the Carthaginians) and Hasdrubal Gisco to join Mago near Castulo. Hasdrubal Barca held his ground against Gnaeus Scipio, staying within his fortified camp, then managed to bribe the Celt-Iberian mercenaries to desert Gnaeus Scipio. This led to Hasdrubal's army outnumbering that of Gnaeus Scipio. Hasdrubal bided his time, avoiding any battles with the Romans.

Battle of Castulo

See Battle of Castulo

Battle of Ilorca

See Battle of Ilorca


The Roman fugitives fled north of the Ebro, where they eventually gathered a hodge-podge army of 8,000 soldiers. The Carthaginian commanders made no coordinated attempts to wipe out these survivors and then send help to Hannibal Barca. In late 211 BC, Rome sent some 10,000 troops under Cladius Nero to reinforce its forces in Iberia.Nero scored no spectacular victories and the Carthaginians did not launch a coordinated assault on the Romans in Iberia. With the arrival of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the son of Publius Scipio, with another 10,000 troops in 210 BC, the Carthaginians would come to regret their earlier inaction when engaged in the Battle of Cartagena in 209 BC.With the Carthaginian armies in Iberia failing to eliminate the Romans, Hannibal would not get any reinforcements from Iberia during the crucial year of 211 BC, when the Romans were besieging Capua.

Coordinates: 36°47′N 6°21′W

Second Punic War

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Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Bagnall, Nigel (1990). The Punic Wars. ISBN 0-312-34214-4.Cottrell, Leonard (1992). Hannibal: Enemy of Rome. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80498-0.Lazenby, John Francis (1978). Hannibal's War. Aris & Phillips. ISBN 0-85668-080-X.Goldsworthy, Adrian (2003). The Fall of Carthage. Cassel Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-36642-0.Peddie, John (2005). Hannibal's War. Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-3797-1.Lancel, Serge (1999). Hannibal. Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-21848-3.Baker, G. P. (1999). Hannibal. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0-8154-1005-0.Further reading[edit]Dodge, Theodore A. (1891). Hannibal. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81362-9.Warry, John (1993). Warfare in the Classical World. Salamander Books Ltd. ISBN 1-56619-463-6.Livius, Titus (1972). The War With Hannibal. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044145-X.Delbruck, Hans (1990). Warfare in Antiquity, Volume 1. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-9199-X.Lancel, Serge (1997). Carthage A History. Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 1-57718-103-4.
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