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Civilization or people - Term Paper Example

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Name of Professor Hannibal: The Greatest Enemy of the Mighty Roman Legionnaires Introduction The Battle of Cannae is truly considered one of the greatest battles in military history. It is regarded as one of the great successes of battle stratagem…
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Civilization or people

Download file to see previous pages... This essay attempts to prove that Hannibal’s victory at the Battle of Cannae should be attributed to the Carthaginian general’s tactical brilliance, and not to mere luck (i.e. the Roman army was seriously weakened by earlier battles). If Hannibal had exploited his triumph by attacking Rome, the Roman historian Livy believes, the Romans would have been obliged to bring peace claims. However, Hannibal decided not to attack Rome at the moment. Livy believes that this judgment was the ‘salvation of the Roman state.’1 The Battle of Cannae In 217 BC, Hannibal based his army near the Adriatic coast and kept on destroying villages in southern Italy.2 Polybius recounts that Hannibal was deeply informed of the problems posed by the Italian invasion and was aware that his main predicament would be resources.3 Rome was very weak at the time because of the massive losses it sustained the year prior. Still, Rome assigned Quintus Fabius Maximus as the new leader. Because Hannibal has a mightier cavalry, Fabius rested his army in the hills in order to reverse this advantage, resorting to the attack-retreat strategy. This was shrewd and successful given the changing balance of power after the defeats at Trasimeno and Trebia4: “The Romans hovered in the vicinity of the Carthaginians, cut off stragglers and foragers, and prevented them from founding a permanent base. The strategy avoided Roman defeat and dimmed Hannibal’s glory. It successfully kept Rome’s allies from declaring for Carthage, but it aroused great opposition among Romans themselves, for their state had thrived on a tradition of offensive warfare.”5 However, this was only a brief success. Fabius tried fearlessly to attack the Carthaginians in Falernia. He made sure that Hannibal was caught off guard. That moment, seeing his position as hopeless, Hannibal brought together all the animals in his encampment. He attached flares to each of them and made them attack the Roman encampment. Fear and bewilderment followed. Masked in darkness, with terror raging in the Roman encampment, Hannibal withdrew his whole army of 70,000 soldiers without any fatality on his side.6 Fabius had successfully held back Hannibal for six months, but the Senate decided to end his tenure as commanding officer and assigned two ambassadors, Varro and Paulus. They had realized that to confront Hannibal with not enough advantage would lead to a definite tragedy. Hence, they amassed a huge army: “Rome assembled the largest army they had ever placed in the field, eighty thousand infantry, and seven thousand cavalry.”7 Hannibal passed through the Aufidus River. The river was actually a barricade in case of defeat. Hannibal planned to take advantage of this positioning to tempt the Roman army to attack. Another lure, even though unintended, was that all of the elephants of Hannibal had been wiped out. It would be a war between two remarkably trained armed forces, the Carthaginians being outnumbered by the Roman army.8 Both the Roman and Carthaginian armies were organized in traditional order, the cavalry on both flanks and the infantry in the middle. However, Hannibal placed his less reliable Spanish and Gauls foot soldiers at the forefront, while keeping his powerful African infantry on both flanks. This worked as bait for the attacking Roman army, who attacked the Spaniards and Gauls, pushing them, just like what Hannibal had planned. As a result, the U-shaped Carthaginian formation became bowl-shaped, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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