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Battle of Ticinus

Battle of Ticinus
Military Conflict
ConflictBattle of Ticinus
DateNovember, 218 BC
LocationRight bank of lower Ticino River, present-day Italy
ResultCarthaginian victory
Roman Republic
Publius Cornelius Scipio the elder
6,000 cavalry
~4,000 cavalry

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The Battle of Ticinus was a battle of the Second Punic War fought between the Carthaginian forces of Hannibal and the Romans under Publius Cornelius Scipio in November 218 BC. The battle took place in the flat country of Pavia county on the right bank of the Ticino River not far north from its confluence (from the north) with the Po River. The battle is named from the river, not the contemporaneous settlement of Ticinum (today's Pavia) nearby. Although the precise location is not known, it is generally accepted that a settlement known today as Vigevano is mentioned in the text of Livy and that Scipio's camp was at Gambolo to the south, whose coordinates are given on the map. The conflict would have been west of there. It was the first battle of the war against Romans on Italian soil and the first battle of the war to employ legion-sized forces. Its loss by the Romans and temporary disablement of Scipio's command set the stage for the Roman disaster at the Battle of Trebbia in December.

This battle was mainly a cavalry engagement. It was so fast-moving that the javelin-throwers deployed by the Romans had no chance to fire even a single volley and milled around on the field, being a major cause of the Roman defeat. Scipio was wounded and barely escaped with his life. He was in fact rescued on the field by his 18-year-old son, the later Scipio Africanus.

The two main sources on the battle are the History of Rome by Livy (Book XXI) and Histories of Polybius (Book III). Polybius makes it clear in his account that he visited the places and monuments and looked at documents. The two vary in some of the details.

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