Battle of Ticinus - Aftermath


Hannibal scattered the Roman forces but he did not press his victory that day, perhaps because his forces were far outnumbered by the Roman infantry still in the fort. He left the field and Scipio's men gradually returned to base. Scipio had discovered the intelligence he wanted to know. He knew Hannibal would be back the next day with his whole army, would interpose himself between the Roman fort and the bridge and Scipio and all his men would be trapped, a set-up for another massacre. He therefore broke camp in the night, hastened to get over the bridge before dawn and was in Piacenza before Hannibal knew he had left camp. Finding the camp empty the next morning Hannibal followed the Roman trail to the river, capturing the 600-man guard over a torn-up bridge. He decided not to force a subsequent crossing of the Po under hostile fire at Piacenza, but turned, went up its left bank, found a convenient crossing and descended the right bank to camp before Piacenza two days later.

In the early morning before first light after the arrival of Hannibal some 2,200 Gallic allies in the Roman camp attacked the Romans closest to them sleeping in their tents, took the heads of the slain and crossed to the Carthaginian camp, where they were well received. Hannibal subsequently sent them as emissaries to raise all the Celts in Italy. Scipio meanwhile again anticipating the consequences immediately broke camp before dawn on that same night (or the next, in Livy) and slipping up the right bank of the Po to the west in the same direction from which Hannibal had come crossed the Trebia River, a right-bank tributary of the Po. Then he headed south along its left bank to the hills from which it flows, keeping the river between him and Hannibal. The Numidian cavalry sent in pursuit made the mistake of burning the camp first, giving all but Scipio's rear guard time to cross the river. A day's march to the south, Scipio reached the hills, fortified the slope of one of them and settled down to rest and wait for the arrival of the second consul, Tiberius Sempronius Longus. The most likely site is a 4.5 km (2.8 mi) ridge on the left bank across from Rivergaro some 20 km (12 mi) south of the Po. The locality was called ripa alta, "high bank", by the Romans, becoming Rivalta Trebbia. It is noted for the Castello di Rivalta, built over a permanent Roman castra of unknown origin. South of Rivalta the mountains offer no opportunity for cavalry to deploy or armies to march or fight in the open. Hannibal camped at a distance in the plain below, enthusiastically supplied by the Gallic population.

Fortune did not smile on the Romans that year. The result of Longus' arrival would be the Battle of the Trebia, another Roman disaster.

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