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Battle of Ascurum, 46 BC
The battle of Ascurum (46 BC) was a minor defeat for the Republican forces during the final African campaign of the Great Civil War and saw an attempt to invade Mauritania fail.
At the start of 46 BC the last major Republican forces were based in the Roman Province of Africa. After escaping from his Egyptian entanglement, Caesar landed on the east coast of the province at the start of the year, and the main Republican army, under Metellus Scipio, moved south from Utica to attempt to deal with him.
This still left a number of senior Republicans at Utica, amongst them Cato the Younger and Pompey the Great’s elder son Gnaeus Pompeius. Cato spent much of his time attempting to encourage Pompey to emulate his great father, and his efforts were eventually successful. The Republicans were allied with King Juba of Numidia, which almost inevitably meant that they were opposed by the Mauritanians, further to the west.
Gnaeus Pompeius decided to try and prevent the Mauritanians from interfering by invading their kingdom. He found thirty ships and raised a mixed army, made up of freedmen and slaves, and sailed west into the part of Mauritanian ruled by Bogud, the brother of the king. He then advanced towards Ascurum, a town near the coast, probably on the border of Bogud’s area. Pompeius left his baggage and advanced towards the town, which contained a strong garrison.
The defenders of Ascurum allowed Pompeius to advance up to the walls, but they then sortied and easily defeated his rather weak army. Pompeius and the survivors of his army fled back to their fleet and escaped.
In the aftermath of this defeat Pompeius decided not to return to Utica, but instead fled to Spain, where his family had many connections. Eventually this forced Caesar to carry out one final campaign, and Gnaeus was defeated at killed at the battle of Munda (45 BC).