Hamilcar's victory with Naravas

Hamilcar's victory with Naravas took place in 240 BC in what is now north-west Tunisia. A Carthaginian army led by Hamilcar Barca defeated a rebel army led by Spendius and Autaritus, after 2,000 Numidian cavalry led by Naravas defected from the rebels to Carthage. Carthage was fighting a coalition of mutinous soldiers and rebellious African cities in the Mercenary War which had started in 241 BC.

Defection of Naravas
Part of the Mercenary War
Date240 BC
Location
Unknown location in northern Tunisia
Result Carthaginian Victory
Belligerents
Carthage Rebels
Commanders and leaders
Hamilcar Barca Spendius
Autaritus
Strength
15,000–20,000 20,000–25,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Up to:
10,000 killed
4,000 captured

Hamilcar's army had manoeuvred to bring rebel-controlled towns back to Carthage while a rebel army under the command of Spendius, which included a contingent of Gauls under Autharitus and a group of Numidian cavalry under Naravas, shadowed it. Unable to confront the Carthaginian war elephants and cavalry on open ground, the rebels stayed on higher and rougher terrain and harassed the Carthaginian army. The Carthaginians became trapped in a mountain valley and their situation was bleak. Naravas defected to Carthage, bringing his 2,000 cavalry with him. Hamilcar, with his route of retreat now clear, deployed for battle. Spendius chose to engage and in a hard fought battle was heavily defeated.

Spendius perceived Hamilcar's generous treatment of rebel prisoners as the motivation behind Naravas's defection and feared the disintegration of his army. To remove the possibility of any goodwill between the sides, he had 700 Carthaginian prisoners tortured to death. The Carthaginians, in turn, killed their prisoners. From this point, neither side showed any mercy, and the unusual ferocity of the fighting caused the contemporary historian Polybius to term it the "Truceless War". The rebels were finally defeated in 238 BC.