Battle of the Upper Baetis

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Battle of the Upper Baetis
Location of ancient Castulo
Part of an ancient map of Roman Hispania

Location of ancient Castulo
date 211 BC Chr.
place Castulo and Ilorica on the Upper Baetis (southern Spain)
output Carthaginian victory
Parties to the conflict

Roman Empire



Publius Cornelius Scipio †, Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus

Hasdrubal Barcas,
Mago Barca,
Hasdrubal Gisgo

Troop strength
30,000 legionaries, 3,000 horsemen and 20,000 Iberian mercenaries 35,000 infantrymen, 3,000 horsemen, 3,000 Numids, 7,500 Iberian mercenaries

more than 20,000


The battle of the Upper Baetis is an umbrella term for several battles between Romans and Carthaginians on the upper reaches of the Baetis river around 211 BC. Chr. The two most important were the Battle of  Castulo , now Cazlona and the Battle of Ilorica . They all ended in Carthaginian victories.


The two brothers Publius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus had set up their marching camp on the Upper Baetis. Their army had previously been increased by Celtiberian troops, so that the Roman army numbered 50,000 infantry and 3,000 horsemen. The Romans received the news through enlighteners, Hannibal's brother; Hasdrubal (son of Gisgos) shared the Carthaginian army with Hasdrubal Barca and is now located not far from each other on the Upper Baetis River. Publius Scipio planned a double battle in which he wanted to defeat the two armies separately. The Battle of Castulo and the Battle of Ilorica followed within a few days (along with many smaller skirmishes).

Battle of Castulo

Gnaeus Scipio, who had been assigned to Hasdrubal (Gigo's son), reached the Carthaginian camp before his brother. Hasdrubal himself had already been informed of an advance of the Romans and was able to make appropriate preparations for the battle. He also managed to bribe the officer of the Celtiberian mercenaries on the Roman side so that he could get help from the Roman army during the battle.

When Gnaeus Scipio now set up camp near Castulo, the Celtiberian mercenaries ran over to the Carthaginians that night. The Romans soon noticed the escape and Scipio himself followed suit with his army in order to be able to stop the mercenaries in front of the camp of Hasdrubal (son Gigos). In order not to leave the camp unprotected, 2,000 legionaries remained in the Roman camp under the leadership of the legate Tiberius Fonteus . The Roman army marched through the night, but Celtic horsemen had managed to inform the Carthaginians so that they could now come to the site of the battle as reinforcement. The battle broke out early in the morning.

When the Carthaginian army came, the Roman legions were primarily confused; However, Gnaeus Scipio managed to let his warriors attack in orderly formation. As is so often the case, the Numidian cavalry was key to the Carthaginians' success. They attacked the Roman army from behind and killed Publius Scipio. After the general's death, many Romans lost their courage and fled the battlefield. Hasdrubal (son of Giskos) had the fleeing people pursued, so that many were killed. Only a handful managed to withdraw into the camp. After hearing of the defeat, Tiberius Fonteus left the camp with his army and what was left of the other and marched back to central Italy .

Battle of Ilorica

Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus had lost most of his army with the disappearance of the mercenaries. When he heard that the Carthaginian armies were reuniting, he left his position because of the superiority. He knew nothing of his brother's death. So he expected reinforcements when he set up camp near Ilorica. The Romans were meanwhile persecuted, so they tried to entrench themselves in the plain near Ilorica. However, they did not succeed in digging trenches quickly because the ground was far too stony. The Carthaginians overran the Roman positions, killing Publius Scipio and most of his army.


The two remaining armies moved back to Rome without being pursued any further. Claudius Nero tried a few more unsuccessful campaigns of revenge. The decisive event in this war was the Second Battle of Capua the following year .


  • Peter Connolly: Hannibal, and the enemies of Rome . Tessloff Verlag, page 75f
  • Leonard Cottrell: Hannibal, enemy of Rome . ISBN 978-0-03-030720-1 , pp. 175f