Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War

“The Mauri, or Moors, inhabited the lands to the west of the Numidians; they were of the same racial stock as the Libyans and Numidians, and Polybius evidently regarded them as simply another group of Numidians. During the Second Punic War the Moorish tribes formed a single nation under King Baga (Law, 1978, p.188); and seem not to have had any formal relationship with Carthage.”

“At any rate, no mention is made of alliances between Carthage and the Moors, and the Moors who fought for Carthage at Zama were deployed in the first line of infantry, classified by Polybius as mercenaries (Polyb. 15.11.1). Moorish infantry were light-armed skirmishers, as is clearly indicated by Livy’s statement that in 216 Hiero of Syracuse sent a force of archers to serve in the Roman forces in order to aid the Romans against the threat posed by Hannibal’s… “

“What then of the spearmen, Polybius’ longchoporoi, who made up by far the greater number of Hannibal’s light-armed troops? As has been noted, they were almost certainly of mixed nationality, since Polybius never identifies them as a sperate racial group, presumably when they crossed the Arno swamps they were among ‘the most serviceable portion’ of Hannibal’s army (Polyb. 3.79.1)”

“There were certainly light-armed Spaniards and Africans employed by Carthage in 218, if Livy’s claim that the troops transferred to Spain and Africa that year were mostly light-armed African spearmen and Spanish targeteers respectively is correct (Liv. 21.21.11-12).”

“Livy does, admittedly, describe the Balearians at the Trebia as being armed with javelins rather than with slings (Liv., but as has been noted he is here merely using the term ‘Balearians’ as a synonym for ‘skirmishers’.”

“In fact, it would appear that most of the spearmen were Moors, since in 216, before the battle of Cannae, Hiero of Syracuse offered the Romans a force of light-armed troops: well adapted to cope with Moors and Balearians and any other tribes that fought with missiles.” 


Source:  Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War By Gregory Daly