The Battle of Thatis River
by John Patrick Hewson
In the second half of the sixth century BC a large scale tribal movement took place north of the Black sea. This began when the Massagetai, the largest and most powerful of the tribes of north Central Asia, undertook an aggressive expansion into the steppes of Kazakhstan. During this process they either enslaved or integrated into their horde many of the nomadic horse tribes of central Asia. We know very little about the resulting confederation except that its success was due in part to the development of a new form of elite heavy cavalry known to the Greeks as Kataphraktoi, which became what we know as Cataphracts.
Member Article: The Third Romano-Samnite War - Phase 1: 316 – 312 BC
by Gordon Davis
In 316 BC war broke out once again between Rome and the Samnite tribes of the central Apennines – the third such conflict between the Italian belligerents since their initial clash in 343 BC. This new conflagration was to become the longest period of sustained warfare between the two powers, eventually, during its course widening its scope of contestants to include the Sabellians of the Abruzzi and the cities of the Etruscan League. The initial five years of this new war, however, only concerned the forces of the Romans and the Samnites and it is this phase of the third war’s operations which is covered in this study. The next and final phase of this war (311 – 304 BC) will be analysed in a later document. During the fighting in these years Rome’s military endeavors gained in scope and scale, as it punched and counter-punched with its Samnite foe. The standard compliment of the army had by now very likely increased from two to four legions, as necessity demanded and as new manpower resources came online from the maturing sections of Rome’s expanding hegemony. The evolution of the manipular legion and its attendant battle tactics would have continued apace during these years, driven by the realities of fighting war against the rustic but martial mountain tribes of the central Apennines, although it is impossible to trace any details of this metamorphosis from the extant sources. The planting of new colonies once again makes an appearance, along with, significantly, the commencement of Rome’s first military road-building project. Against this growing Roman menace, the Samnites tribes waged war as best they could, against a foe which continued to grow stronger.
Member Article: The Battle of Megiddo
by John Patrick Hewson
The battle of Megiddo is the earliest battle of which there is some historical record, although the record is fragmented and sketchy. And, although no complete record of the tactics exists, we do have some information at our disposal. James Henry Breasted, in his “Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents” published in Chicago in 1906, gives a translation of an inscription from the Amen temple at Karnak which gives some details of the battle. A slightly different translation is given by J. B. Pritchard in “Ancient Near Eastern Texts” published in 1969. In addition, a tentative map of the battlefield is given in “Carta’s Atlas of the Bible” by Yohanan Aharoni, published in Jerusalem in 1964.
Thutmose III Menkhepori, (died 1449 BCE), an eighteenth dynasty king of the Egyptian new kingdom, was the son of Thutmose II and Iset, one of his lesser wives. His grandfather, Thutmose I, had undertaken extensive military campaigns in both Syria and Nubia. However, Thutmose II did not conduct any major military campaigns during his reign; the only one we know about was a minor police action in Nubia.
Member Article: The Third Battle of Anchialus
by John Patrick Hewson
For close to 500 years the Byzantine Empire conducted relations, sometimes as allies,
sometimes at war, with the Bulgars. The Bulgars were originally a Turkic people
who, like other Central Asian peoples, had a reputation as military horsemen, and
they had developed a strong political organization based on the Khan as leader.
The Khans came from the aristocratic class of Boyars, and were augmented by senior
military commanders called Tarkhans. In the second century, the Bulgars migrated
to an area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and sometime between 351 and
377, a group of them crossed the Caucasus to settle in Armenia.
Fleeing from the Huns at the beginning of the fifth century, a large number of Bulgars
reached an area of fertile land between the Donets and Don valleys and the Sea of
Azov. Some settled in this area, founding the state of Black Bulgaria, which became
known as Great Bulgaria, and which flourished until destroyed by the Mongols in
the thirteenth century. Others moved towards central Europe, settling in the Roman
province of Pannonia, and accompanying the Huns in their raids into Europe between
377 and 453, dispersing into southeastern Europe in 453 with the death of Attila.
Member Article: The Second Samnite War Phase 2: The Caudine Peace
by Gordon Davis
Following the disaster of the Caudine Forks in 321 BC, the Roman state was forced
into an unexpected and unwanted peace with the Samnites. For the balance of 321
BC and the following four years down to the end of 317 BC, there followed a cessation
of direct hostilities between Rome and Samnium. Livy (9.1) calls this interlude
the ‘Caudine Peace’ (“Caudina pax”) and as such the period may be viewed as a distinct
phase of the Second, or Great, Samnite War of 327 – 306 BC. The moniker of peace
for the short five-year period, however, needs to be interpreted in a very narrow
sense. The annalistic tradition clearly indicates that there was little actual peace
in central Italy during these five years. The crisis caused by the military disaster,
the most significant to befall Rome since defeat by the Gauls at the river Allia
in 390 BC, quickly led to further misfortune and setbacks for the Latin state. Within
a year, various uprisings rose up on the frontiers of city’s hegemony, which the
Quirite’s were obliged to move against in force. Such was the Roman’s success
in these operations that by the end of 317 BC they had effectively restored the
limits of their previously gained influence. In the final year of the peace, we
can also discern an intent to prepare for the resumption of direct war with Samnium,
which did indeed come to pass in the following year with Rome’s move to besiege
the Caudine fortress of Saticula.
Member Article: Cascading Failure: The Roman Disaster at Adrianople
by Jeffrey R. Cox
So long as humanity has existed, war has existed as well. Yet given the size of
the earth, the relative youth of humanity the limitation of human habitation to
certain climates and environments, is should come as no surprise that the portion
of the earth that has experienced war, including major battles or significant combat
actions, is very small. What should be much more surprising is that relatively few
places have experienced such combat actions on more than one occasion. Of those
that do, most were the subject of a single campaign. For instance, two American
Revolutionary War battles near Saratoga, New York, combined to stop the British
drive down the Hudson River. Multiple major combat actions were fought in and around
Atlanta during the Civil War campaign to control that city. No less than five naval
clashes were fought in the waters immediately north of Guadalcanal as part of the
World War II campaign to control that island.
Member Article: The Second Samnite War
by Gordon Davis
Between 343 BC and 290 BC the Romans and Samnites engaged in a series of fierce
wars throughout central Italy. The two peoples, along with the Celts of the Po Valley
to the north, were ascendant powers at this time, eclipsing older power blocks such
as Hellas Megale and the Etruscan city-states. The fighting of 327 – 321 BC between
Rome and Samnium was the opening phase of the second war between these two states
and it was far more intense in both the breadth of territory covered and the number
of battles fought than the first war of 343 – 341 BC.
Member Article: The Savage Interlude: War and Conquest in Southern
Italy - 342 - 327 BC
by Gordon Davis
Before the conclusion of the First Samnite War in 341 BC, the Roman republic and
Samnite confederation found themselves seriously confronted with uprisings and wars
beyond the scope of their immediate struggle for Campania. Indeed, rather than there
being any sort of a real ‘end' to the First Samnite War, there was in reality only
a transition to an even more complex phase of anarchy. No people or state in the
region was left at peace, as all were forcefully drawn into a wider war of even
greater significance than its immediate predecessor. The results of this period
of strife were remarkable and far-reaching: whereas Tyrrhenian Italy existed in
342 BC as a hodgepodge of smaller states and peoples, sandwiched uncomfortably between
the two growing powers, by 327 BC these had been largely swept away and incorporated
into the hegemonic blocks of Samnium and Rome. This evolution was anything but peaceful.
There were great campaigns of manoeuvre across mountain and plain. Cities were besieged
and territories plundered into waste. The smaller political entities of the region,
faced with the terrible onslaught, made every effort to maintain their old ancestral
freedom, forging new innovative alliances and putting large armies in the field
to back them up. To the south, the ongoing conflict between the larger Sabellian
diaspora, including the Samnites, Lucani and Bruttii and the Greek city-states of
Maegna Graecia, continued to be waged un-remittingly. Foreign condotierri in the
employ of Taras engaged in a series of fierce campaigns, taking war deep into the
Apennines and eventually even up to the borders of Campania and Samnium proper.
By doing so, the Greeks, Lucani and Bruttii also played an important part in Tyrrhenian
affairs of this period. Rather be than kept separate, events in southern Italy must
be included to gather a full understanding of the events and eventual outcomes.
Member Article: The First Samnite War
by Gordon Davis
The First Samnite War is an event of great importance to the history of Italy and
of Rome. Although of short duration it was the significant opening act in a wider
conflict which eventually drew in all of the contemporary powers of Italy and within
seventy years decided who was to be the mistress of the peninsula. The war provides
a study of two almost equally powerful but fundamentally different peoples: one
a well-organized and centralized city-state; the other a confederation of fierce
mountain tribes, much less possessed of higher civilization but fully gifted and
successful in the art of war. The First Samnite War was the opening round of almost
many decades of brutal conflict between the two belligerents and within its details
exists some of the reasons for Rome’s success in the wider struggle for Italy and
in later times: its great martial instincts and capabilities, its superior ability
to bring its abundant man-power and resources to bear and its stubborn cunning and
resolve to win, despite any setback.
Member Article: The Muslim Horde's Easy Invasion of Iberia
by Robert C. Daniels
After a short foray in July of 710 AD, Muslim forces from North Africa invaded the
Christian Iberian Peninsula (modern day Spain and Portugal) in the spring of 711,
and within two years, with the exception of the extreme northwestern portion of
the peninsula, had successfully overpowered and conquered the Visigothic Christian
realms of Iberia. Not only did it take the Frankish forces under Charles Martel
to stop the Muslim horde at the battle of Poitiers in 732 from further intrusions
into Western Europe, it would take nearly eight centuries for the Iberian Christians
to re-take the peninsula from the Muslims.