Monday, November 5, 2012

Hannibal At The Gates Of Rome

After the first Punic War, Barcids founded Carthagena, new Carthage in Spain. Hannibal was named as a commander in 221 BC. He relied on diplomacy and military policy to set up a powerful metropolis in Iberia similar to Carthage in north Africa.
In 218 BC, he left Spain with about 35000 seasoned troops including elephants. He went overland across Pyrenees and Alps. on route, the number of troops was reduced to 25000 due to the harsh winter in the mountains. However, the number raised to 40000 after the addition of Gauls.

In the beginning of the Invasion, Hannibal troops won a minor victory at Ticina river(the map) followed by an important triumph against Scipio at Trebia river in 218 BC.

Hannibal had a decided advantage in Northern Italy thanks to the support of the Gauls, the traditional enemies of Rome. He wintered in Bologna while Italians withdraw to central Italy and await Hannibal.

In spring Hannibal crossed the Apennines and lost his left eye after an infection. 
Battles of the Second Punic War
In 217 BC, Roman army led by Gaius Flaminus and Servilius Geminus stationed at Arrezo and Rimini. The purpose is to guard the routes that Hannibal may use. Hannibal ambushed Flaminus army in a narrow pass near lake Tarismene and destroyed his army.

At Rome Quintius Fabious was elected by the centuriate assembly dictator of Rome . The elected dictator has a specific plan to defeat Hannibal. The plan is to force him to an unfavorable ground to fight him. Hannibal sent oxen with burnings sticks tied to their horns and escaped to Apulia.    

In 216 BC Fabius sent a formidable army led by two generals. Hannibal relied on his strong cavalry while the Romans relied on their superior number.

Hannibal plan was positioning his cavalry on a crescent-shaped line, to defeat the Roman horsemen quickly and attack the infantry from the rear. The plan is to to press from the flanks and encircle the Roman troops. The plan succeeded; 25000 dead and 10000 captured.

To be continued