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Battle of Cynoscephalae 197 BC


Era:  “Rise of Rome”: Second Macedonian Wars

Battle:  Battle of Cynoscephalae 197 BC

Wargamers:  Ian M,  Duncan M, Andy D

Venue:  Targe 2008: Kirriemuir Wargames Convention

Rules used:  DBMM, then Strategos II

Useful links:  http://www.soa.org.uk/battleday/2007battlepack/

Attached Photos:

Battle of Cynoscephalae 197 BC

Roman Elephants engage with Macedonian light troops on the Macedonian left Roman Heavy Infantry prepare to recieve the Macedonian phalanx charging downhill Macedonian Phalanx hold the ridge

Cynoscephalae 197 BC by Aberdeen Wargames Club

With the defeat of Carthage and the end of the second Punic War, Rome turned its attentions, inevitably, towards the East.  What remained of Alexander the Greats Empire based in Macedonia, was now ruled by Philip V, politically active and an ally of Carthage, he still held some control over the southern states of Greece.  In 200 BC Rome declared war on Macedon, their intention, to help free Greece and the Aetolian league, from the yoke of Philips rule.

By the spring of 197 BC, Quintius Flamininus leading four Roman legions, with auxiliaries and allies, had already won several small engagements against the Macedonians. Philip with his army on the road to Larissa, and hoping to ambush the Romans, camped to the north of a craggy hill range called Cynocephalae. With heavy rain all night and thick mist in the morning, Philip failed to realise the Romans had made camp on the other side of the ridge.  After initial contact between scouting parties, more and more troops were sent, by both sides, to the increasingly fierce fighting on top of the ridge.  By late morning the mist was clearing and the engagement escalated with both commanders committing their entire armies to a full scale battle.

On the Macedonian right, the pike phalanx drove the Romans legionaries all the way down the hill in a classic steam roller tactic, however on the left, in the rougher terrain, the more flexible Roman units, with elephants in the vanguard and supported by Greek allies managed to hold and then drive back the disorganised pike phalanx, some of which was still in the middle of forming up. It was at this point that a Roman tribune took 20 manipulus (1,500- 2000 men) and charged back down the hill into the rear of the successful Macedonian pike.  Completely out flanked and in a desperately fought melee the entire Macedonian right crumbled and the Romans won the day.

The Romans pursued the routed Macedonians for the rest of the day, capturing and killing thousands while the Roman allies; the Greek Aetolian league sacked the Macedonian camp in total triumph at the defeat of their overlord, not realizing that they had, in fact, gained a new one.

References:      Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars by Duncan Head

2007 S of A Battle Day Cynoscephalae Battle Pack

Model based on the works of N.G.L. Hammond