The Battle of Krimisos 341BC


Greek troops of the period

The Corinthian general, Timoleon, had been invited by the people of Syracuse to come to Sicily and restore democracy in the city-state, which had been governed by a succession of Greek tyrants. After restoring order in the city, Timoleon began looking to western Sicily and to try and rid the island of its Carthaginian occupants as well. This started with the liberation of several smaller Greek towns and cities on the island and then successive raids into Carthaginian territory, but his actions provoked an unexpected response when the Carthaginian generals Asdrubal and Hamilcar assembled an army of 70,000 men with troops sent especially from Carthage to conquer Sicily completely.

When news of this invasion force reached Syracuse, the population went into a panic and several hundred of Timoleon's soldiers deserted. Despite this, he gathered together an army as best he could and with less than 10,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry he marched westward to meet the Carthaginians. Timoleon knew that to cross into central Sicily the Carthaginians would need to cross the Krimisos river (modern day Freddo river), and that there were very limited crossing points, and having identified which point the Carthaginians were approaching, he deployed his army in readiness.

He chose a hill which overlooked the crossing point and a vast plan below, a Spring mist was in the air on the morning of the battle, which shrouded the entire hillside and the Syracuse army. Totally unaware of their presence due to poor scouting, the Carthaginians proceeded to cross the river right in front of Timoleon's men who stood in perfect silence listening to the marching army below. Eventually the hot Sicilian sun burnt the morning mist away and both armies came into view.

Suggested set-up for the start of the Battle of Krimisos 341BC

ORDERS OF BATTLE

Using 1 to 50 scale

SYRACUSAN ARMY

Timoleon - Commander in Chief - excellent tactician, veteran, elite

Light Cavalry (600 men) - 12 figures - unarmoured, open order cavalry, javelins, disciplined, steady, veterans

Heavy Cavalry (400 men) - 8 figures - unarmoured, close order cavalry, javelins, disciplined, steady, veterans

Skirmishers (800 men) - 16 figures - open order infantry, javelins, disciplined, steady, experienced

Syracusan Hoplites (2000 men) - 40 figures - light armour, close order, long spear, large shield phalanx, trained, average

Greek Mercenary Hoplites (2000 men) - 40 figures - light armour, close order, long spear, large shield, phalanx, disciplined, steady, veterans

Greek Mercenary Bodyguard Hoplites (2000 men) - 40 figures - heavy armour, close order, long spear, large shield, phalanx, disciplined, elite, veterans

Syracusan Hoplites (1500 men) - 30 figures - light armour, close order, long spear, large shield phalanx, trained, average

Skirmishers (600 men) - 12 figures - open order infantry, javelins, disciplined, steady, experienced

Slingers (300 men) - 6 figures - open order infantry, slings, disciplined, steady, experienced

Cretan Archers (600 men) - 12 figures - open order infantry, bows, disciplined, steady, elite, excellent shots, veteran


CARTHAGINIAN ARMY

Asdrubal - Commander in Chief - experienced, veteran, rash

Hamilcar - Sub-Commander - experienced, veteran, good

Chariots (200 vehicles) - 4 models - 4 horse heavy chariots, unarmed driver and two crew with javelins, disciplined, steady experienced

Sacred Band (2500 men) - 50 figures - armoured, close order infantry. long spear, shield, disciplined, elite, veterans

Citizen Infantry (3000 men) - 60 figures - light armour, close order infantry, long spear, shield, trained, steady

Sicilian Hoplites (3000 men) - 60 figures - light armour, close order infantry, long spear, shield, phalanx, trained, poor

Light Infantry (2000 men) - 50 figures - unarmoured, open order infantry, javelins, shield, trained, average

Campanian Cavalry (1000 men) - 25 figures - light armour, open order cavalry, javelins, disciplined, trained, steady

Sicilian Cavalry (1000 men) - 25 figures - unarmoured, open order cavalry, javelins, trained, poor

Libyan Spearmen (2000 men) - 50 figures - light armour, close order infantry, long spear, shield, trained, steady


ADDITIONAL WARGAMING NOTES

The Carthaginian Army was on the march at right angles to the hill when the mist cleared, so should be initially deployed in marching columns, facing across the table width, with large gaps between each unit. The river is fordable, however it's geography made it slow to negotiate, so any troops crossing should be heavily penalised on movement and arrive "disorganised" on the opposite bank.

Historically there were several other Carthaginian units following this column, but because of the terrain, and battle ahead of them, they did not arrive on the battlefield or take part at all, we have therefore left these out of the Orders Of Battle.


THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

As the mist began to clear, the Syracuse army which had been stood silently on the hill, could see the previously just heard Carthaginians strung out in an open marching column in front of them. Noting the Carthaginian army was effectively cut in two by the river, Timoleon decided to strike. His cavalry charged down the hill to prevent the enemy from being able to form up in battle lines properly while his infantry marched in order down the slopes to attack. The Carthaginian chariots, leading the march column, turned about and galloped towards the Syracusan cavalry in an attempt to break up their formations but the cavalry evaded their charge and moved to attack the flank near the river ford, while the Syracusan light infantry assaulted the chariots and forced them to flee.

The Syracusan and Greek Hoplites now hit into the still disorganised Carthaginian ranks and with the exception of the Scared Band, broke them to a rout, the Syracuse cavalry in hot pursuit, cutting down the panicked men.

Greek cavalry pursue the fleeing Carthaginians

The Carthaginians yet to cross the river, watched in horror at the site of their comrades being beaten and decided to abandoned the crossing and turned to run also.


Suddenly a violent thunderstorm erupted, making the rout even more difficult, with both slippery mud underfoot and the river becoming swollen and faster moving.


The light skirmishers took over the pursuit to the river, where many Carthaginians drowned. The Syracuse and Greek Hoplites though turned their attention to the Scared Band, which had stood firm, and continued to do so. Totally surrounded, they fought and died to the last man.

Despite being hugely outnumbered, Timoleon had won the day, the Carthaginians had lost over 10,000 men dead, including the entire Sacred Band, and another 5,000 men had been captured.


In the following years there were several more battles between Syracuse and the Carthaginians, the latter often being supported by the Greek tyrants wanting control of the city-state again. Timoleon though kept the city safe, and eventually a peace was agreed with both sides occupying opposite sides of the island. Timoleon went on to be made the new ruler of Syracuse and the city-state enjoyed a new era of peace and prosperity until his death, when once again power struggles would ignite war.


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