|The Pyrrhic War Against Rome|
The Ancient Republic of Rome Part 2:
|Pyrrhus of Epirus|
BEFORE HIS DEATH: Pyrrhus was best known by the Romans for bringing over war elephants, since the Romans had never seen an elephant before, they were terrified. I couldn't imagine going to war with a ruthless enemy, only to see him show up with dozens of 23,000 lbs. monsters simply squashing my comrades with a single step. But the Romans, while mostly untrained, had such large numbers of people at this point that they could simply die in the thousands, learn from their mistakes, shore up some more men for whatever battle was to come next and then eventually get things right. It's not the best strategy. but they felt that they could either fight or be conquered, and since all the people of the Roman Republic kept volunteering for these wars, well they must have been pretty dead set against being conquered by some poopy pants!
BATTLE OF BENEVENTUM IN MORE DETAIL: At the battle of Beneventum (Benevento on left side of map), Pyrrhus took gargantuan casualties, but this time he did not win the battle against the stubborn Romans led by consul Manius Curius Dentatus. It seemed to be a stalemate, although some sources seem to indicate he lost and retreated. Either way, the Romans succeeded in defending their home, so I'd count that as a Roman victory! In 275 B.C., Pyrrhus planned a surprise night time attack on a fortified Roman camp at Beneventum, however the distance from his camp to the Roman camp took much longer to traverse with his army than he realized, and the Romans detected them before they arrived. The battle heated up and with Pyrrhus on the defensive, he lost half of his 20 war elephants and thousands of men died. The Roman army consisted primarily of 17,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry, and stood against Pyrrhus' 20,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry and 20 war elephants. The odds weren't really in Roman favor, but Pyrrhus' failure to catch the Roman with their pants down cost him 10 elephants.
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