Thursday 5 September 2013

The Mercenary War- Part 1

This is an account of the Mercenary War, as told by Ben-el the scribe:

This war followed after the end of the First War with the Romans.  Abd-Melqart returned to Qart-Hadasht after his officer Ger-sakkun had signed the terms of the treaty.  He returned to his house in Qart-Hadasht and lived a private life with his family, leaving the paying of his mercenaries in the hands of Ger-sakkun and the Addirim.  Ger-sakkun planned to send the mercenaries, who had been recruited from all across the Mediterranean, to Qart-Hadasht in small groups so that the Addirim could pay them all slowly and would have an easier time doing so.  But the Addirim waited until all of them had arrived in the city by one summer before realizing that they had only enough in the treasury to manage their own economy and pay their own citizen soldiers, due to the loss of money during the war and the heavy tribute they had to pay to the Romans in accordance with the treaty.  Payment to Rome came first; if they failed to pay their tribute, the Romans would attack them again.  Finally they agreed to send the mercenaries away to the nearby city of Sakkah, which was another Canaanite city, and once they were there they would explain to them that they simply didn't have enough money to pay them for their services during the war.

The mercenaries had gathered in in the Merkaz of Qart-Hadasht near to the temple of Resheph when they heard the word of the Addirim to leave the city and head for Sakkah, taking their families and baggage trains with them.  They continued on their way out of the city gates and along the country roads through the surrounding hills and villages, continuing on their way until the towering city walls of Sakkah came into sight. 

Part of the city of Sakkah as it appears today
At Sakkah the people gathered in the Merkaz and on the streets until at last the nobleman Hanno arrived accompanied by some bodyguards on horseback.  Hanno, priding himself in his royal blood being a descendent of King Hanno IV, came forth and told the mercenaries plainly that if a man only has several dates during a famine, he will first try to feed his own family.  The mercenaries were outraged at this and threatened to revolt when they realized that they would not receive payment after all of their hard efforts.  When Hanno realized that the situation was beyond his control, he hurriedly rode away back to Qart-Hadasht.  The mercenaries meanwhile gathered together and made their way back on the road to Qart-Hadasht, stopping to camp at the Numidian city of Tunis.

Meanwhile, the Addirim had sent Abd-Melqart on to Tunis to speak to his former soldiers.  The mercenaries refused to listen to what he had to say, angered by the fact that he had not even accompanied them back from Shekelesh himself.  When asked to whom they would speak, the mercenaries agreed that they would speak only to Ger-sakkun.  When Ger-sakkun arrived, the mercenaries demanded that Qart-Hadasht was to pay not only them, but to offer increased payments to their Numidian and Phutite allies and subjects (who were not even mercenaries, but vassals and allies).  Ger-sakkun had no choice but to agree.  But not all among the mercenaries were happy.  A Greek soldier called Spendius gathered the soldiers and convinced them that this was all a trick, and Qart-Hadasht would not actually pay them.  Spendius managed to rally 20, 000 mercenaries to his side.  He was joined by a Phutite called Mattan, who was an officer, who convinced the Numidians and the Phutite allies and subjects of Qart-Hadasht that they too would not be paid.  This caused Qart-Hadasht's former allies to fall away from her, and in all 70, 000 Phutites rallied under Mattan.  Together, Mattan and Spendius captured Ger-sakkun and held him prisoner in their camp, which triggered the Addirim to have to other option but to go to war with the rebels.

A Phutite, the people living to the west of Egypt to whom Mattan belonged, along with his 70, 000 followers
The rebels split up their forces, with some detachments sent to besiege the Canaanite cities of Atiqa and Ippone, while others went in winter to cut Qart-Hadasht off from her Canaanite allies.

The forces commanded by Spendius were all of very different castes and creeds.  They were all mercenaries: Greeks, Egyptians, Cypriots, Rhodians, Italians, Celtiberians, Celts from Gaul.  They spoke in different languages, but their leaders could all converse with one another in the common Koine Greek tongue.  Those commanded by Mattan were his own people: the Phutites.  They were former allies of Qart-Hadasht, some of them even conquered subjects and vassal states.  The Phutites were a powerful people, who in the past had so harassed the Egyptians.  Now these foreign and barbaric Canaanites had the nerve to conquer them!  And refuse to pay them for their hard efforts in war.  This had to come to an end.  They wore their long spotted tunics and robes, bright feathers in the curly hair, and carried their spears and towering shields as they bellowed their ferocious war-cries.  The Phutites too came from different tribes and kingdoms, but were united by a common language and similar culture. 

The Phutites
In Qart-Hadasht the Addirim raised a large army consisting mostly of citizen soldiers from Qart-Hadasht and a few mercenaries who were still in Shekelesh and had not yet returned and joined with Spendius.  A few cavalry squadrons and some elephants were brought fresh from the stables on the Bozrah hill citadel, and headed down into the lower city before leaving with the whole army through the city gates on the north-west of the city which led on to Atiqa.  The general placed in charge of this army by the Addirim was the nobleman, Hanno, who had previously tried to negotiate with the mercenaries at Sakkah. 

Qart-Hadasht from atop to Bozrah hill citadel.  The elephants can bee seen in the lower left, fresh from the stables where they were trained by men from India.  The great temple of Eshmun can also be seen here.
That spring, probably during the month of Nisan when the spring festivals were being held, Hanno departed by ship from the military port of Qart-Hadasht, and sailed around the coast to Atiqa, where he deployed with his army on the beach near the city.  Once he was in the city, he was supplied with siege weapons and siege engines by the inhabitants, who had built them in their workshops.  Then he quickly marched on to the rebel camp, storming it with his great army.  The elephants charged over the camp, trampling the rebels, while Hanno engaged with the enemy on the ground.  He was a wealthy land-owner, owning large estates in Phut, and so was accustomed to fighting off Numidians and other Phutites.  It was an easy victory for Hanno.  Leaving his soldiers behind, he left for Atiqa. 

But the rebels regrouped, and launched a surprise attack upon the Canaanites while Hanno was away.  They drove the survivors off to Atiqa and captured all of their supplies.  Hanno tried repeatedly to hold them off, but all attempts failed.  The Addirim then raised another army of 10, 000 soldiers and 70 elephants, and put Abd-Melqart Baraq in charge.  Hanno moved his army to Ippone, which was being besieged by Mattan and his forces.  Spendius' forces were blockading Atiqa, and another 10, 000 strong rebel army was camped at the bridge of the River Bagrada, which flowed through the countryside and the fertile valleys near Atiqa and Qart-Hadasht.  But all wasn't lost.  While the only bridge was being held by the enemy, Abd-Melqart noticed that a strong wind in the right direction could blow over the river and reveal a sandbank in a certain area, allowing his army to cross it.  At night he had crossed the river and was now free to deploy his troops in the surrounding countryside. 

On the other side were the rebels.  Most of them mercenaries, they gazed on ahead at the bridge which crossed the River Bagrada.  Among their number were Phutite and Sephardic light infantry; Balaeric slingers; Italian, Greek, and Shardanan hoplites; Celtic heavy infantry from Gaul; a few Roman deserters who had left their home city seeking glory elsewhere; and even a few Thracian and Scythian shock troops.  A few Numidians had remained on their horses, holding their javelins, ready for attack.  Great cries went up by the various people in their native tongues to their various gods.  Phutites and Sephardic soldiers prayed to Tanit like the Canaanites, while Greeks raised their hands to invoke Ares the great war god and the other Olympians.  Scythians in their pointed caps poured out the strange intoxicant known as haoma by the Persians and soma by the Indians, and invoked the great sky god Papay.  All of them were ready for a fight.

Meanwhile, the Canaanites were being led by Abd-Melqart towards the rebel camp.  They were detected, and the Greek, Spendius, left Atiqa with his soldiers, while giving the order for the ones guarding the bridge to move and outflank the Qart-Hadashtim, driving them into the river.  Outflanked and outnumbered, Abd-Melqart launched his plan into action.  He ordered his huge elephants and his heavy cavalry to turn away from the front lines.  When the rebels saw this, they mistook it for retreat, and charged forward in a disorderly manner.  What they didn't see was that the heavy infantry was moving forward still in a phalanx formation, due to them focusing only on the elephants turning away.  The rebels smashed into the phalanx and were destroyed before other soldiers had the chance to come and join them.  Before the rebels had a chance to regroup, the cavalry and elephants came smashing into their ranks, causing them to scatter.  The cavalry pursued them, and many prisoners were captured.

The Bagrada River
Those rebels who escaped fled either back to Atiqa or back to their camp.  Abd-Melqart fell upon their camp, and the rebels fled back to Tunis, where they were re-united with Spendius.  The Qart-Hadashtim then drove the rebels out of Atiqa, where they fled to Ippone.  Following this, Abd-Melqart sent messengers to all of the local rebel Phutite towns, asking them to once again ally themselves with Qart-Hadasht.  Some joined, while others refused.  The Canaanites then conquered these rebellious towns, cutting off the supplies and resources that the rebels under Mattan could use.  With Abd-Melqart's recent victories and with Hanno's forces awaiting them at Ippone, the rebels were panicked.  At the same time, ships from Qart-Hadasht patrolling the coast captured several Italian merchant vessels found shipping supplies to the rebels.

Spendius, though, was having none of it.  He assembled a large army, and in it was a large force of 2000 Numidian cavalry commanded by Naarbaal, a wealthy Numidian prince.  He was a powerful fighter, as the Numidian royalty and nobility loved nothing better than to ride through the wilderness wearing their expensive leopard-skin robes, spears in hands, and hunt lions.  It was a rite of passage for them, and Naarbaal himself had killed a lion one night on a new moon at the beginning of a month.  He left his offerings at a shrine for the mother goddess Tanit, and for Yarikh the moon god, and for ram-horned Ammon, for the Lady Aset, for the devouring desert god Set, and for the lion-god and the elephant-headed jinn or spirits who roamed the wilderness at night.  Bowls of fruit offerings, perfume and incense remained always at the shrine of the prince.  He had come with 2000 members of his tribe, all of them mounted on horseback, to bring glory to his father's kingdom.  Spendius, the rebel Greek, was pleased that Naarbaal would join him.  Naarbaal was a noble-hearted man, and not the kind to join with rebels; but the Numidians were a free people, and his tribe clearly desired independence from Canaanite rule. 

Numidian cavalry, commanded by Naarbaal their prince
On the other side in Spendius' rebel army was a contingent of Gauls.  These were mercenaries from the north who had been hired by the Addirim of Qart-Hadasht because they were renowned for their strength and ferocity.  Indeed, Gauls were being hired as front-line mercenaries by the Greeks themselves, and by Pharaoh in Egypt, and even as far east as Persia and Bakhtrish.  These Gauls were nothing short of furious due to the lack of payment that they were promised by these greedy, perfume-wearing Qart-Hadashtim, and Spendius knew they would fight hard and not disappoint him.  They were led by their own Gaulish chieftain, a man named Autharitus.  Confident in the power of his troops, Spendius began by constantly keeping to high ground (away from Abd-Melqart's strong cavalry and elephants) and ordering raids on Abd-Melqart's foragers.  Abd-Melqart's troops quickly became hungry, and camped in a mountain valley.

It was now that Spendius hatched his plan.  He blocked off the exit to the pass with his own men, while sending Naarbaal and his Numidians to block off the entrance.  He then ordered his soldiers to advance on the enemy camp.  Surrounded by the enemy and with no hope for escape, Abd-Melqart could only go before the sacred tent, the portable tabernacle carried by priests into battle, and pray to the gods. 

A tabernacle or portable sacred tent, which housed the relics and idols of the gods, and was carried by priests marching with the armies.  It was placed in the military camp, and priests would offer sacrifices to the gods there and read omens before the battle.  The gods who marched with the armies included Baal Hammon, Tanit, Resheph, Melqart and Eshmun, the great divinity Ashtart (who protected Qart-Hadasht directly), and the triad of Baal Shamem, Baal Malage, and Baal Hadad.
Then, a miracle happened.  It was surely a sign from the gods, for Naarbaal himself came riding into the camp with a small escort, unarmed.  The guards agreed to allow him into the general's tent, and Abd-Melqart welcomed him.  Naarbaal explained that he had thought it more noble to join the Qart-Hadashtim rather than the rebels commanded by Spendius.  Abd-Melqart was pleased, and allowed Naarbaal his third daughter's hand in marriage.  Naarbaal then left the camp, agreeing to come to Abd-Melqart's side at the right time in the battle.

Meanwhile, Spendius decided to give up his harassment tactics and engage Abd-Melqart's forces directly.  It was a ferocious battle, but Abd-Melqart gained the upper hand.  Then, at the right time, Naarbaal arrived by his side with his Numidian cavalry.  Spendius was utterly beaten, and fled to Ippone with the Gaul, Autharitus.  10, 000 rebels had been killed, while 4000 prisoners were captured and brought to the camp.  Abd-Melqart stood before them, and showed mercy, agreeing to allow them to go free.  Many of them were pleased by this display of mercy, and as a result actually enlisted into his army.  Others did not want to join him, but Abd-Melqart still allowed them to go free, as long as they swore to never again return to Phut during the course of the whole war.  With a recent victory against Spendius, and with Hanno's army continually keeping an eye on Mattan's forces at Ippone, Abd-Melqart finished his work conquering the surrounding countryside, and gathering food supplies.

A war-elephant with a tower and rider, used by the Qart-Hadashtim

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