Slaget ved Cannae Tidslinje

Slaget ved Cannae Tidslinje


Slaget ved Cannae: 10 ting du bør vide

For at sætte tingene i perspektiv betragtes slaget ved Cannae (216 f.Kr.), der blev anfægtet mellem de gamle middelhavskræfter i Rom og Kartago, normalt som en særlig blodig episode - hvilket (muligvis) havde resulteret i det største tab af menneskeliv i en enkelt dag i enhver kamp registreret i historien. Med hensyn til det rene antal tegnede den skæbnesvangre dag sandsynligvis for over 40.000 romerske dødsfald (tallet er sat til 55.000 af Livy og 70.000 af Polybius), hvilket svarede til omkring 80 procent af den romerske hær, der deltog i slaget!

Til sammenligning vedrører den værste dag i den britiske hærs historie normalt den første dag i slaget ved Somme i 1916, hvor de mistede omkring 20.000 mand. Men den mandlige befolkning i Rom i 216 f.Kr. anslås at være omkring 400.000 (således slog Cannae muligvis omkring 1/10 - 1/20 af den romerske mandlige befolkning, i betragtning af at der også var allierede italienske tab), mens Storbritannien havde en befolkning på omkring 41.608.791 (41 millioner) i begyndelsen af ​​1901, hvoraf halvdelen forventes at være mænd.

1) Lederskab over forskellige nationaliteter -

Alexander var kendt for sin selvsikkerhed, Hannibal for sin personlighed. Som der henvises til i bogen Hannibal af Nic Fields vidner Livy om sidstnævntes lederevner ved at nævne, hvordan Hannibal formåede ikke kun at kontrollere sin lejesoldathær (som var blevet beskrevet som 'en hotch-potch af riff-raff af alle nationaliteter'), men fortsatte med at vinde sejre over de romerske styrker i femten år i træk - og det også inden for rammerne af Italien. Ironien i denne sag vedrørte, hvordan de samme mennesker, der kæmpede for penge og plyndring, grupperede sig for at opgive sådanne ting til fordel for utallige strabadser for deres valgte leder. Dette taler bestemt højt om den kraftfulde karisma, som Hannibal demonstrerede i alle disse strenge år tilbragt i et fremmed land.

Men ud over bare karisma må der have været en mere iboende følsom side ved hans 'ledelsesevner'. Litterære beviser peger på, hvordan Hannibal sov sammen med de almindelige soldater ude i det kolde åbent, han gik endda sulten sammen med sine soldater, da forsyningerne var ved at løbe tør. Men endnu vigtigere, soldaterne (på trods af deres forskellige oprindelse) satte deres største tillid til deres kartagiske chef, når det kom til egentlige kampe. Kort sagt, de anerkendte og fulgte direktiverne fra deres generel - for det meste uden tvivl på grund af deres kollektive tro på Hannibals fortabte generalskab

2) 'Enhed' i mangfoldighed -

Selvom Hannibals ledelse spillede en stor rolle i at forstærke psyken for de forskellige nationaliteter under hans kommando, bør den ærede kredit ikke rives væk fra hans understøttende officerskorps. De spillede deres afgørende rolle i at galvanisere en virkelig multinationel styrke bestående af både lejesoldater og regelmæssige tropper med deres forskellige baggrunde, samfund og endda kampstile.

Med henblik herpå, da vi taler om nationaliteterne, bestod den 'karthagiske' hær, der krydsede fra Alperne, for det meste af afrikanske (herunder liby-fønikere og numidianere), iberiske (herunder de baleariske øboere) og keltiske soldater-med deres vidt forskellige kulturer integreres i en nær professionel kraft, der regelmæssigt sejrede over de mere homogene romere.

Og spændende nok tvang Hannibal og hans betjente ikke nogen ensartethed på deres 'kludemærke' hær. Tværtimod forventede kommandørerne, at hver af de kulturelle domæner ville bringe deres eget sæt 'indfødte' færdigheder og ekspertise på slagmarken - hvilket resulterede i den ultimative 'kontra' hær, der kunne trives i de fleste taktiske scenarier.

3) Pilumfoderet

Illustration af Angus McBride.

I den tidligere post nævnte vi, hvordan størstedelen af ​​Hannibals hær stammer fra Nordafrika, Iberia og Cisalpine Gallien (den nordlige del af Italien beboet af keltere siden 1200 -tallet f.Kr.). Blandt dem blev sidstnævnte betragtet som noget ringere, i hvert fald når det kom til Cannaes omfang.

Som følge heraf udgjorde kelterne hovedparten af ​​infanteriet, der holdt de midterste formationer, og dermed bar hoveddelen af ​​den romerske juggernaut af manipulationer. Hannibal vidste klart, at denne karthaginske position ville medføre et større antal tab, givet den romerske hang til at gå direkte videre til hovedfjendens linjer efter at have udslettet deres dødbringende 'pila‘(Spyd). Men alligevel tog generalen chancen og placerede centralt sine forbrugbare 'pilum foder' -keltere - et dristigt taktisk trick, som vi vil diskutere senere i artiklen.

Nu opstår spørgsmålet - hvorfor var Hannibals vurdering af (de fleste) keltiske soldater tilsyneladende så hård? En del af det havde muligvis at gøre med de uregelmæssige politiske tilhørsforhold til mange keltiske stammer i Cisalpine Gallien, hvoraf mange viste sig at være upålidelige i løbet af den anden puniske krig. Hvad angår krigsførelsessagen, mens de godt pansrede keltiske kavalerikræfter (hovedsageligt afledt af deres adelige og tilbageholdere) var afgørende for succesen med nogle karthaginske engagementer i Italien, blev mange af deres galliske infanterikammerater generelt betragtet som en udisciplineret flok der begunstigede individuel tapperhed frem for gruppebaseret taktik.

Disse keltiske mænd var ofte bevæbnet med lange huggende sværd og kun beskyttet af ovale, læderbeklædte skjolde, mens få endda gik helt nøgne til kamp. Desuden bør vi også notere os, hvordan Hannibals oprindelige hær kun bestod af de afrikanske og spanske tropper, mens kelterne blev rekrutteret 'senere' på vej til Alperne og videre. Så der kunne have været et strategisk scenario i Cannae, hvor Hannibal ønskede at bevare sin 'kerne'hær af spaniere og afrikanere (til fremtidige kampe), mens de rangsvulmende, men dårligt udstyrede keltere fik til opgave at stå direkte over for deres lang- kendte modstandere - romerne.

4) "Slinging" -fordelen ved Hannibal -

Ud over de konventionelle infanterikræfter i Hannibal var det det lette infanteri, der skilte sig ud i de fleste møder under den anden puniske krig i Italien. Faktisk havde Hannibal dybt undersøgt den romerske tendens til at stille organiserede rækker af manipulationer omfattende, hvad der teknisk kan betegnes som tunge infanterister, omkring slutningen af ​​3. århundrede f.Kr. Som et resultat heraf var den romerske slagmarkstaktik spektakulært enkel - da den ofte indebar at modvirke fjendens styrker (der mest var uordnede) med ren disciplin og rotation af arbejdskraft på selve feltet.

Hannibal formulerede en plan mod disse tilsyneladende usårlige formationsbaserede hære ved at indføre højtuddannede lette tropper i den 'rag-tag' karthaginske hær, især fra Spanien og Afrika. Et eksempel vedrørte inkorporering af baleariske slyngere, der var kendt for deres ekspertise i nøjagtighed over forskellige områder (hvilket omfattede brugen af ​​tre forskellige typer slynger!). Faktisk blev deres effektivitet så rammende demonstreret mod romerne, at selv konventionelle bueskytter blev undgået til fordel for disse let bevæbnede lejesoldater.

5) Det overlegne kavaleri, der blev udført af kartager -

Numidiske lette ryttere bevæbnet med spyd.

Og da vi bragte omfanget af effektivitet frem, viste meget få enheder deres effektivitet i marken mod de tætpakket romere som Numidian-ryttere bevæbnet med kun spyd. Da de vovede på hest, kørte de sandsynligvis uden tøjler - kun ved at bruge et reb om hestens hals og en lille pind til at give den kommandoer. I mange tilfælde (som i slaget ved Trebbia) udnyttede Hannibal deres næsten perfektionerede mobilitet og zig-zag-manøvreringsevne til at tiltrække romernes opmærksomhed (og ire). Sådanne træfningstaktikker, ofte blandet med vokale fornærmelser, tvang til gengæld den ophidsede romer til at give kamp, ​​selvom de var underforberedte.

De lette kavalerister blev ledsaget af den 'tunge' sort af de førnævnte keltiske ryttere. Normalt afledt af deres adelige og tilbageholdere var mange af disse kavalerister rigeligt iført dyre post og hjelme-og opfyldte dermed rollen som de pseudo-chokmonterede tropper (en opgave, der var altafgørende i slaget ved Cannae).

Hannibal stillede også spanske kavaleristyrker op, der var monteret oven på stoute heste, men var bevæbnet på samme måde som deres infanteri -kolleger - med korte falcata sværd og mindre spyd. De tjente hovedsageligt som mellemstore kavalerier, der var nyttige til at opretholde de oprindelige anklager, samtidig med at de var fleksible nok til at forfølge tilbagetrækning af fjendtlige styrker.

6) Den modsatte romerske hær ved Cannae -

Starter fra venstre - Hastati, Velites, Triarii og Principes.

Den romerske hærs største styrke havde altid været dens tilpasningsevne og følelse af evolution. Så på tidspunktet for den første samnitkrig (i omkring 343 f.Kr.) syntes den romerske hær at have godkendt nyere formationer, der var mere fleksible, i modsætning til deres oprindelige hoplitbaserede taktik. Denne ændring i slagmarkens stratagem var sandsynligvis som reaktion på de samnitiske hære - og som et resultat opstod manpleformationer (i stedet for den tidligere stive falanks).

I den forbindelse selve udtrykket manipulus betyder 'en håndfuld', og dermed gjaldt dens tidlige standard for en stang med en håndfuld hø placeret omkring den. Ifølge de fleste litterære beviser var den romerske hær nu opdelt i tre separate kamplinjer, hvor den første linje omfattede de unge (og lidt let pansrede) hastati i ti manipulationer (hver på 120 mand) den anden linje omfattende den hærdet principper i ti manipulationer og den tredje og sidste linje bestående af veteranen triarii i ti manipulationer - der sandsynligvis stadig kæmpede som tunge hoplitter (men deres manipulationer havde kun 60 mand).

Derudover blev kamplinjerne muligvis screenet af de lysvåbnede velitter, der mest tilhørte den fattigere klasse af romerske civile, og også blev flankeret af sidestiller - kavalerister, der kom fra højere økonomisk baggrund. Således kombinerede en enkelt legion 30 sådanne manipulationer (af tre klasser infanterister) sammen med velitter og sidestiller, svarer således nogenlunde til omkring 5.000 mand.

Desværre, for romerne, den sidestiller var ikke op til mærket for deres karthaginske modstykker og udgjorde normalt en mindre procentdel af hæren sammenlignet med andre gamle magter. Endvidere, i en ulige hændelse, en 10.000 stærk kraft på triarii deltog ikke i slaget ved Cannae, da disse mænd blev valgt til at bevogte den strategiske romerske lejr i den ene ende af kampzonen ved floden Aufidius (Ofanto).

Hvad angår omfanget af værnepligten, blev borgermilitsen (eller soldaterne) i det republikanske rom opkrævet og derefter samlet i Capitol den dag, der blev udråbt af konsulerne i deres edictum. Denne proces blev kendt som dilectus, og interessant nok blev mændene frivillige arrangeret med hensyn til deres lignende højder og alder. Dette bragte orden i form af fysisk udseende, mens lignende udstyr (hvis ikke ensartet) fik de organiserede soldater til at se endnu mere 'homogen' ud.

Den romerske hærs rekrutter måtte også sværge en ed om lydighed, som var kendt som sacramentum dicere. Dette bandt dem symbolsk med den romerske stat, deres kommandant og endnu vigtigere til deres medfæller. Med hensyn til historisk tradition blev denne ed først formaliseret før påbegyndelsen af ​​slaget ved Cannae for at opretholde den hakkende moral i den Hannibal-ramte romerske hær. Ifølge Livy gik eden nogenlunde sådan her: "Aldrig at forlade rækken på grund af frygt eller for at løbe væk, men kun for at hente eller gribe et våben, for at dræbe en fjende eller for at redde en kammerat."

7) Cannae valgt til provokation -

I åbningsafsnittet nævnte vi, hvordan det spirende romerske rige led en af ​​sine største militære katastrofer i slaget ved Cannae. Men objektivt ud over bare balefulde tal var mødet i sig selv en dødbolds-triumf for Hannibal, hvor generalens strategi endda dikterede selve valget af selve slaget (som refereret i Cannae 216 f.Kr.: Hannibal smadrer Roms hær Af Mark Healy).

Cannae og dens ødelagte citadel havde længe været brugt som madmagasin af romerne med bestemmelser om kornolie og andre afgørende ting. Hannibal kendte til dette forsyningsomfang og gjorde forsætligt sin hær til at marchere mod Cannae (i juni 216 f.Kr.) i over 120 km fra deres oprindelige vinterkvarter ved Gerunium.

Interessant nok var lejren for den karthaginske hær lige anbragt over frodige landbrugsmarker med modning af afgrøder - hvilket kunne give let fodring til de stramt kvartaliserede tropper. Med andre ord tromlede det valgte sted og dets fordele sikkert disse soldaters moral, samtidig med at de styrker deres beslutsomhed og dedikation for deres chef.

På samme tid var der imidlertid en mere snedig side ved Hannibals valg af Cannae - (muligvis) uden for hans hær. Det er fordi Rom stadig var afhængig af kornet, der blev dyrket i det oprindelige Italien (mens han søgte alternative majsforsyninger fra Sicilien), især fra regionen Apulien, hvor Cannae lå. Kort sagt var valget af Cannae et forsætligt kneb for at provokere romerne til at give direkte kamp - i modsætning til Fabian -strategien om at forsinke. Dette hentyder igen til Hannibals tillid og kløgt, når det kom til militære anliggender og logistik.

8) Den konvekse halvmåne-

At vælge slaget var ikke nok til, at den store karthagiske general Hannibal fortsatte med at sammensætte hele sin hær* (på 35.000 - 40.000 infanterister og omkring 10.000 kavalerier) i 'skræddersyede' formationer, der var dedikeret til at imødegå den fremragende infanterikvalitet og numeriske fordel ved romerne , der sandsynligvis havde stillet et sted mellem 50.000 - 63.000 infanterister* (sammen med omkring 6.400 kavalerier - der kombinerede både romerne og de allierede styrker).

Nu skal det bemærkes, at blandt disse 35.000 infanterister under Hannibals kommando i Cannae, oplevede 'revnen' erfarne soldater fra Afrika og Iberia - der oprindeligt havde krydset Alperne, kun omkring 14.000 mand. Således omfattede den resterende del af infanteriet kelterne og andre forskellige letbevæbnede tropper. Hvad angår karthaginske kavaleristyrker, dannede de garvede spaniere og numidianere størstedelen af ​​6.000 ryttere, mens de resterende 4.000 blev dannet af 'eliten' keltiske kavaleri afledt af deres adelige og tilbageholdere.

Nu var en af ​​Hannibals første modforanstaltninger i slaget ved Cannae at sætte sine 'tunge' kavalerikræfter (af keltere og spaniere) på venstre flanke for direkte at modsætte sig (og rydde ud) det romerske kavaleri under konsul Lucius Aemilius Paullus. På den højre flanke blev numidianerne indsat og forventet at udføre deres uortodokse stil for at lokke i de romerske allierede kavaleristyrker og derefter sende dem med vel timede spydkast.

Men den største overraskelse kom fra Hannibals infanteriformationer. I stedet for at vælge det traditionelt stærke center lagde den karthagiske general bevidst sine mest 'forbrugbare' keltiske soldater langs den midterste del, og de blev suppleret af alternative kompagnier af spanske og keltiske soldater i de på hinanden følgende flanker.

Endelig blev de to 'skjulte' vinger af infanteriet fyldt af de tunge afrikanske tropper (liby-fønikere), der muligvis var iklædt 'romersk' stil, med rustninger, der blev fjernet fra de døde romerske soldater i de tidligere møder. Hvad angår deres taktik, har nogle historikere talt om, hvordan disse crack -tropper vedtog falangformationen - selvom vi stadig ikke er sikre på deres nøjagtige manøvrer.

Efter at have arrangeret hele sin linje, befalede Hannibal sin centrale gruppe af tropper at bevæge sig lidt fremad, mens han beholdt deres forbindelser til deres på hinanden følgende flanker. Som et resultat opstod der en konveks halvmåne af formationer fra den karthaginske side (fremvist på billedet ovenfor), hvor de to vinger tyndede ud og dækkede de tunge afrikanske tropper.

9) Den taktiske fælde -

Da de masserede romerske søjler (som blev holdt dybere og dermed reducerede deres bredde) nåede de karthagiske linjer, havde Hannibals tunge kavalerikræfter på venstre flanke (ledet af Hasdrubal) allerede skubbet den vigtigste romerske kavaleristyrke tilbage under kommando af deres konsul. Faktisk blev Aemilius Paullus selv såret af et slyngeskud og måtte derfor stige af-hvilket gav et lammende slag for moralen hos de nærmeste romerske soldater.

Dette tillod et hul at dukke op på denne side, og Hasdrubal udnyttede den tilbagetrækende fjende til at skubbe igennem den momentane afbrydelse mellem det romerske kavaleri og infanterilinjer til venstre. Han krydser fagmæssigt 'kløften' og rullede rundt om sine friske kavalerikræfter for at møde de romerske infanterilinjer ved deres ubevogtede bageste stillinger.

På den anden flanke (til højre) lykkedes det Numidianerne at forstyrre de romerske allierede kavaleristyrker under den anden konsul Gaius Terentius Varro. De gjorde det ved deres særegne kampmetoder til zig-zag-manøvrering og falske tilbagetrækninger. Endelig sluttede en frisk løsrivelse af tungt kavaleri fra venstre sig til deres Numidian -kammerater, og sammen jagtede de med succes de paniske romerske allierede kavalerister væk fra feltet.

På trods af vendingerne af deres kavalerikræfter bevarede de vigtigste romerske infanterilinjer deres samhørighed og skubbede det 'svage' karthaginske center med aplomb frem. Den tidligere konvekse halvmåne havde nu bulet 'baglæns' til en konkav med de disciplinerede romerske legioner, der lavede kort arbejde med deres for det meste keltiske modstandere.

Men deri lagde den dristige taktiske fælde, der blev sprunget af Hannibal. Det er fordi, da romerne skubbede længere ind, blev de mødt med alternative kompagnier af keltiske og spanske styrker - soldater, der opererede i forskellige former for krigsførelse, hvor de støjende kelter brugte deres lange huggende sværd og de behændige spaniere ved hjælp af deres korte stiksværd. Dette hentydede til et forvirrende sæt taktik til at imødegå for legionerne, da de løbende skulle tilpasse sig fjendens 'skiftende' natur - og dermed begrænse deres progression og samtidig forværre deres træthed.

Endelig, da konkaven havde 'bulet' tilstrækkeligt, befalede Hannibal sine afrikanske tropper fra de skjulte vinger at slutte sig til kampen, og disse (mulige) falanks faldt dybt ned i de fladende romerske flanker. ’Coup de grace’ blev derefter behandlet af Hasdrubals hvælvende kavaleri - da de ramte de bageste linjer af det romerske infanteri og dermed fuldstændig omgav fjenden inde i en hård cirkel.

På dette tidspunkt var romerne så pressede på plads, at mange af dem ikke engang havde plads til at svinge deres sværd. Slutresultatet af slaget ved Cannae udgjorde ifølge Livy omkring 50.000 romerske dødsfald (selvom moderne skøn satte dette tal til omkring 40.000) og 20.000 fanger, mens kartagerne kun led 8.000 tab.

10) Paradokset af Cannae -

Interessant nok var det slaget ved Cannae, der i sidste ende var ansvarlig for Hannibals ukritiske opkald til Carthage (i 203 f.Kr.) efter 15 år med at forblive ubesejret på italiensk jord. I de efterfølgende år med Cannae -hændelsen kom den romerske ledelse til en erkendelse af, at de ikke kunne modvirke Hannibals geni i konventionel krigsførelse.

Som et resultat vendte de tilbage til den defensive Fabian-strategi (opkaldt efter Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus), som grundlæggende indebar et guerilla-krigsførelsesscenario med interne kommunikationslinjer. Med andre ord undgik romerne strengt åbne feltslag, mens de tyede til slag-og-løb og chikanerende taktik, der ramte de strakte karthaginske linjer og patruljer, der regelmæssigt blev sendt til fodring.

Denne knibe blev yderligere forværret, da Hannibal skulle levere garnisoner til de nyligt afhoppede byer i det sydlige Italien. Dette fjernede meget af hans dyrebare arbejdskraft, der allerede var forværret på grund af tidligere kampe, træfninger og nedslidning. Da meget af Hannibals hær var sammensat af lejesoldater af forskellige nationaliteter - var de hverken velegnede til belejring af krigsførelse eller garnisonspligt, og derfor begyndte mange af dem at desertere i massevis.

Så langsomt men sikkert var den engang store ekspeditionsstyrke, der tog vej til Italien via Alperne, nu kun en skygge af sig selv. I 203 f.Kr. blev selv chancerne for at ankomme til forstærkninger fra Kartago eller Iberia slanke, idet begge hans brødre blev forsvarligt besejret. Og i sidste ende måtte Hannibal selv besvare den desperate opfordring fra sit eget Barcid -krigsparti, som var en af ​​de to store politiske fraktioner i Kartago. Følgelig besluttede generalen og nogle af hans betroede lejesoldater endelig at sejle mod Afrika. Og dermed sluttede Hannibals epoke i Italien - paradoksalt nok skabt af hans utrolige sejr i slaget ved Cannae.

Ærlig omtale - Gisgo's Fear og Hannibal's Retort

I de tidligere poster talte vi om det enorme antal tab, som romerne led i slaget ved Cannae. Dette tyder automatisk på det enorme antal tropper, der faktisk stilles af begge hære-med estimater på omkring 70.000 romere og 45.000 Hannibal-kommanderede soldater, der deltager i mødet (selvom nogle moderne formodninger har en tendens til at sænke disse tal).

I betragtning af en så enorm skala af den forestående kamp og størrelsen på den nærliggende romerske hær, var mange af de karthaginske officerer klart ængstelige for deres numeriske mindreværd. En sådan betjent ved navn Gisgo gik endda videre og udtrykte sin uro over for Hannibal ved synet af romerne (som bevægede sig frem i strammere formationer med større manipulære dybder end normalt).

Og det var her, Hannibals største styrke blev afsløret, og det gjaldt hans karakter. I stedet for at straffe eller endda irettesætte Gisgo for en sådan demoraliserende kommentar - især før en kamp, ​​vendte generalen sig til betjenten og kommenterede på en klar måde - ”Der er endnu en ting, du ikke har bemærket.” Da Gisgo spurgte: ”Hvad er det her? 'Hannibal svarede:' I alt det store antal mænd overfor er der ikke en eneste, der hedder Gisgo. 'Den nærliggende gruppe officerer lo helhjertet med Hannibals replik- og de' smitsomme smil 'blev fremført af selv rang- og -fil soldater og dermed berolige deres nerver.

Bemærk* - De tal, der er nævnt i artiklen, skal ikke betragtes som nøjagtige nøjagtige tal, men snarere som estimerede tal - udarbejdet fra både gamle kilder og moderne hypoteser.

Bogreferencer: Cannae 216 f.Kr.: Hannibal smadrer Roms hær (Af Mark Healy) / Hannibal (af Nic Fields) / The Punic Wars (Af Brian Caven) / Cannae: Hannibals største sejr (af Adrian Goldsworthy)


“Cannae ” kommer med nyhederne!

Jülicher Zeitung, 28. oktober 2014.

Og pas på, at det snart kommer til de lokale nyheder på tv …)

Jülich-forfatter forestiller sig Hannibal igen

Indtil nu var Jenny Dolfen kendt som en kunstner af Tolkien -figurer. Nu har læreren fra Koslar med succes udgivet en spændende bog om slaget ved Cannae, selvom ingen udgiver ønskede at udskrive hendes bog.

En tegneserie? Ja tak! En novelle? Heller ikke dårligt. "Men en tegneserie og roman rullede ind i en - på ingen måde." Sådan beskriver Jenny Dolfen, fra Koslar, reaktionerne fra forlag, hun henvendte sig til om at genfortælle historien om slaget ved Cannae i 216 f.Kr., mellem Hannibal og romerne, på en ny måde. "Så jeg gør det selv", besluttede Dolfen sidste år. Uden et forlag, men med stor succes: De 550 eksemplarer af bogen kaldet „Darkness over Cannae - Hannibal against the might of Rome“ er næsten udsolgt allerede. "Jeg skal nok genoptrykke," siger Dolfen, selvom hendes bog kun har været tilgængelig i to uger.

Titlen giver den væk: Engelsk- og latinlæreren fra Haus Overbach har skrevet sin bog på engelsk. Dette og blandingen af ​​roman og billeder er ikke de eneste faktorer, der gør hendes Cannae -fortælling usædvanlig. Slaget, hvor Hannibal, selvom det var stærkt i undertal, påførte romerne et knusende nederlag, skildres fra syv perspektiver. Seks hovedpersoner er historiske karakterer. Disse er Hannibal, to af hans officerer og tre romere. Hannibals livvagt er en opfindelse af Dolfen ’s. Forfatteren og illustratorens bog giver ikke ligefrem let læsning. "Hovedsageligt ville jeg skildre oplevelsen af ​​at se en hær på 80.000 marchere op, og i sidste ende er næsten 70.000 mennesker døde."

Til sin bog har den 39-årige studeret de historiske beretninger om Polybius og Livy plus værker af moderne lærde. Det var vigtigt for hende at få kendsgerningerne klar. Derefter begyndte hun at skrive - på engelsk, "fordi jeg har boet i England i over et år og udelukkende har læst på engelsk i meget lang tid." Det meste af arbejdet blev udført i løbet af ferien. I de sidste sommerferier brugte hun hele tiden på illustrationerne og tegnede fra kl. 8 om aftenen, hver dag.

Tegning har altid været hendes passion, såvel som mytiske historier. I løbet af de sidste par år har Dolfen været kendt blandt Tolkien -fans for at illustrere værkerne fra forfatteren af ​​"Ringenes Herre". "Jeg var ikke sikker på, hvordan den gruppe ville reagere på mit pludselige skift til kartager," siger Dolfen. Hun fandt hurtigt svaret. Da hun inden for en halv time efterlyste støtte til sit Cannae -projekt, havde mange medlemmer af Tolkien Society doneret. Crowdfunding, kaldes dette. De første tilhængere tegnede andre, og derfor blev over 300 eksemplarer forudbestilt tidligt. For de mere generøse donatorer var der særlige godbidder, som at blive trukket ind i billederne.

Taler om Tolkien - indtil for nylig tegnede Jenny Dolfen hovedsageligt alfer. Kartager var ikke hendes stærke side. "Så jeg printede billeder af tunesiske fodboldspillere og brugte deres ansigter som inspiration."


Cannae Battlefield i dag

Stedet har et monument over slaget ved Cannae inden for det arkæologiske sted Cannae di Battaglia, som selv er en landsby, der stammer fra middelalderen og i øjeblikket er under udgravning.

Du skal indtaste museet - 'Antiquarium di Canne' - for at få adgang til stedet for slagmarken. Indgangen til stedet har også nogle relevante oplysninger og memorabilia.

For at finde monumentet skal du gå ind og gå til stedets længste punkt. Der er en enkelt kolonne, der mindes slaget. Hvis du står under søjlen og kigger nordpå over det omkringliggende landskab, ser du på det område, hvor de fleste historikere føler, at slaget blev udkæmpet.


Slaget ved Cannae

Dette var ikke bare en væbnet, blodig kamp mellem kæmpende mænd. Det var en af ​​de klassiske sejre i militærhistorien. Carthages general Hannibal (q.v.) stod over for en romersk hær med større infanterienheder, men Hannibal havde flere kavalerier, veltrænede og bevæbnede ryttere, holdt ude af syne. Hærene var forlovet i landsbyen Cannae, i det sydlige Italien.

Hannibal stationerede sine fodsoldater i en smal halvmåneformation, og de tætpakket romerske soldater under kommando af konsulerne Aemilius Paulus og Terrentius Vallo anklagede i en stor, selvsikker, råbende masse, lige i midten af ​​denne halvmåne. Ladningens store kraft tvang halvmånen baglæns, men brød den ikke.

Romerne pressede hårdere, og kartagerne syntes at trække sig tilbage under pres. Det var dengang, at Hannibals geni blev klart. Det var teorien om dobbelt omkreds.

Nu hans kavaleri, der havde besejret både højre og venstre vinger af de romerske divisioner, lukkede munden på fælden og var i stand til at angribe legionerne fra både højre og venstre flanke og bagsiden. Romerne havde haft næsten halvtreds tusinde soldater, før slaget ved Cannae begyndte, hvoraf de mistede cirka femogtredive tusinde dræbte eller fangede (hvilket i den periode, som jeg skriver, normalt betød det samme).

Hannibal mistede mindre end fire tusinde mand. Før denne kamp havde Rom et jerngreb på Italien som helhed, men efter det blev grebet rystet. Mange af Roms allierede i det centrale og sydlige Italien overgik til kartagerne. I øjeblikket forblev Hannibal som strateg og dygtig kommandør alligevel øverst.


Her er den virkelige historie, der inspirerede Game of Thrones 'Battle of the Bastards'

T the bloody & ldquoBattle of the Bastards & rdquo fight scene, der spillede sig søndag aften & rsquos actionfyldt Game of Thrones afsnittet var baseret på en virkelig romersk krig.

Miguel Sapochnik, der instruerede episoden, fortalte Underholdning ugentligt at han kiggede på historien for at få inspiration til, hvordan han bedst kunne få Jon Snow og Ramsay Bolton til at møde & mdashspecifikt, slaget ved Cannae mellem romerne og de Hannibal-ledede karthaginere i 216 fvt.

I det gamle slag slog Kartago den kæmpe romerske hær i et knusende nederlag til dels ved at cirkulere deres fjender gennem en dobbelt omslutning. Showrunner D.B. Weiss sagde, at dette aspekt blev brugt som en model i den udførlige & ldquoBattle of the Bastards & rdquo -kampsekvens, ifølge IGN.

Men hvad kæmpede romerne egentlig om dengang?

Det betydningsfulde slag under den anden puniske krig blev udkæmpet nær den gamle landsby Cannae, som var omkring 300 miles syd for Rom. Landsbyen kontrollerede tilgangene til det sydlige Italien og havde en kornmagasin til at levere mad til romerne, ifølge Dickinson College Commentaries.

Den antikke græske historiker Polybius beskrev, hvad der skete:

Romerne gik så langt, at de nu havde de tungbevæbnede afrikanere [Hannibal ’s styrker] på begge deres flanker. Herefter gjorde afrikanerne på højre fløj mod venstre og derefter begyndende fra højre anlagt på fjendens flanke, mens dem til venstre stod til højre og klædte sig til venstre, gjorde det samme, selv om situationen indikerede dem hvordan man handler. Konsekvensen var, at som Hannibal havde designet, romerne, der forvildede sig for langt efter jagt efter kelterne [også Hannibals styrker], blev fanget mellem fjendens to divisioner, og de bevarede nu ikke længere deres kompakte formation, men vendte sig enkeltvis eller i selskaber for at håndtere fjenden, der faldt på deres flanker …

Romerne, så længe de kunne vende og præsentere en front på hver side for fjenden, holdt ud, men da de ydre rækker fortsatte med at falde, og resten gradvist blev klemt ind og omgivet, blev de til sidst alle dræbt, hvor de stod &# 8230

Sådan var resultatet af slaget ved Cannae mellem romerne og karthagerne, en kamp, ​​hvor både sejrherrerne og de besejrede udviste iøjnefaldende tapperhed, som det fremgår af fakta.

Kampen krediteres stadig af mange som en af ​​militærhistoriens mest betydningsfulde strategiske øjeblikke.


5. Slaget ved Cannae

The Battle of Cannae is one that shows how great of a military strategist Carthage’s Hannibal truly was. Cannae is yet another example of Hannibal inflicting mass destruction to the Roman army trough tactics. The battle took place on August 2nd, 216 BCE in southern Italy (Gabriel 45).

It all started when Hannibal’s men attacked a small Roman force in Cannae in order to provoke them into battle (Gabriel 45). The plan worked, and Tarentius Varro and Aemilius Paullus, both consuls of Rome, soon met Hannibal on the battlefield (Gabriel 45).

The armies confronted one another. The Romans yet again greatly outnumbered Hannibal’s forces with 70,000 soldiers, 6,000 cavalry, and allies from Italian states. The Carthaginians had only 35,000 soldiers, 11,000 cavalry with some allied, a few thousand skirmishers, and allies from Spain, Libya, and Celtic regions (Gabriel 45). As was the norm at the time, both sides formed rank with its soldiers in the middle and cavalry at the flanks (DeSouza 148). Yet Hannibal’s genius manifested itself in the details of his formation. He set the Libyan troops on the rear side flanks so they would come into play only during the latter part of the battle (DeSouza 148). On the Roman side, Varro put his heavy soldiers in the middle to crash and break Hannibal’s front line. Knowing this, Hannibal set his weak and light soldiers in the middle to swiftly move away from the advancing Romans–he knew he had little chance of facing them head on. As his weaker troops retreated (and the formation moved from convex to concave), the Romans became surrounded (DeSouza 148). The idea of surrounding the opponent’s forces is where Hannibal’s ultimate strategy comes into play which leads to a Carthaginian victory. Not just any general can surround and overcome a force that has twice as many men. It took knowledge of his opponent, thoughtful planning, and great military strategy.

Photo courtesy of The Department of History, US Military Academy

As seen from the image above, Hannibal began with a crescent formation with the convex side facing the Roman forces and placed himself in the middle. He knew that the Romans would be drawn to him. The Romans first charged into Hannibal’s weakest line and funneled into the center, as they were lured in by the promise of easily killing Hannibal (DeSouza 148). Meanwhile, the Spanish and Gallic cavalries engaged the Roman cavalry on the left flank while Rome’s cavalry engaged the Hannibal’s Numidian cavalry on the right (DeSouza 148). Yet Hannibal had stationed the majority of his cavalry on his left flank, making it the strongest on the field. Because of this, Hannibal’s cavalry on the left flank defeated its Roman opponent and thus was able to go around behind the Roman army and engage Rome’s cavalry on the right flank as it attacked the Numidian cavalry. Thus, the remainder of Rome’s allied cavalry was surrounded and defeated. The entirety of Rome’s cavalry either died or retreated early on in the battle (DeSouza 148). With no cavalry, Rome was in a fragile state. Hannibal’s lightly armed Spanish and Gallic troops in the center continually retreated back to form a crescent around the Roman forces which continued to funnel into the center of the crescent (DeSouza 148). The strategy was a success.

Photo courtesy of Department of History, US Military Academy

Hannibal’s crescent worked perfectly. Once the Spanish and Gaulish forces on the front middle line were fully retreated, Hannibal’s cavalry attacked the Roman rear flank in order to block potential escape routes (DeSouza 148). In addition, the African infantry which Hannibal had kept waiting in the rear side flanks engaged Roman forces from the side to help fill in any gaps. The Roman forces were fully encircled (DeSouza 148). Completely surrounded and unable to fight in typical formations, the Romans were slaughtered by the Carthaginians (Roth 48).

Rome sustained great casualties on this day. Among the casualties were the consul Paullus, two proconsuls, both quaestors, 29 of 48 military tribunes, and 80 senators, as well as an estimated 50,000 soldiers (Roth 48). The Carthaginians however, lost roughly around 5,000 to 8,000 men, an amazingly small number of casualties considering the forces they faced (Roth 48).

Hannibal’s great military genius is evident in the Battle of Cannae. He went to battle against the mighty Roman army, with forces about half the size of Rome’s forces. He was an underdog in terms of numbers, but his strategy made up for his lack of numbers and size. The crescent trap that he had set on the Roman army worked perfectly. Each step from the formation to the closing of the crescent was done efficiently due to his leadership and mastery in military tactics. If even one step had failed, the outcome of the battle could have been totally different. His success is due to his ability to prevent the Romans from fighting in their normal coordinated fashion in legions. Once the Romans were surrounded, slaughter ensued. One man’s intelligence defeated an army of one of history’s largest empires which consisted of numerous generals, soldiers, politicians, and military masterminds. The amount of destruction he inflicted on the Roman army was unparalleled, and he did so with a relatively small army. It was his innovations and brilliant military tactics that made him the most effective opponent the Roman Empire would face.


The Enduring Mystique of Cannae

In February 1914, as his son prepared for the War Acade­my entrance examination, General Helmuth von Moltke (the younger) sent him a book and a word of advice: Study Cannae. The book was not an eyewitness account of the battle (though Hannibal’s own narrative was thought to exist) rather, it was the high­ly regarded masterwork of General Alfred von Schlieffen, the former chief of the Ger­man general staff.

Schlieffen’s studies of en­circlement battles had led to his “Cannae concept,” the idea that envelopment and annihilation are the highest aims in battle, and subse­quently to the Schlieffen Plan, the basis for German strategic doctrine on the eve of World War I.

But why Cannae? Why had a battle fought in antiquity fired Schlieffen’s imagination? The answer lies in the romance of Cannae, in the history of the German army, and in the experiences of Alfred von Schlieffen.

Hannibal’s victory over Rome is the stuff of legend. There is the leader: a young man marked by brilliance. There is the foe: a superior army motivated by crisis. There is the tactic: a double envelopment choreographed to perfection. Finally, there is the result: total annihilation. This is the sequence that ap­pealed to Schlieffen (as it has to military leaders through the ages) and it was particu­larly appealing because it of­fered, in a single afternoon, a model for German military experience.

Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-86), the em­bodiment of that experience, was a man of Hannibalic dar­ing. More to the point, his tactics resembled the Cartha­ginian’s–tactics that, more than anything, gave structure to the Cannae concept.

Frederick often coupled as­tonishing speed with the oblique order, a staggered ad­vance that placed the extrem­ities of his wings at the most forward positions. The ma­neuver is best illustrated by the Battle of Leuthen, in December 1757. It resembled Cannae in that Frederick, outnumbered, drew the Aus­trians forward and then launched a flank assault, ulti­mately inflicting eight times as many casualties as he suffered. He won with envelop­ment, not Cannae-like double envelopment, but Leuthen and other victories still sup­ported the Cannae concept.

The next pillar for Schlief­fen’s ideas was erected by the elder Helmuth von Moltke. With Frederick’s spirit, Napo­leon’s example, and industrial Prussia’s resources, Moltke conceived of war on an unprecedented scale. His doc­trine, strategic envelopment, combined rapid mobilization, concentrated force, and re­lentless mobility to encircle and annihilate the enemy.

Strategic envelopment bore fruit at Koniggratz in July 1866, when a ponderous Aus­trian unified command was beset by three smaller, more mobile Prussian armies. Ma­neuver was impossible for the quarter-million Austrians–as it was for the Roman mani­ples at Cannae–and the war ended before (experience said) it should have begun.

Four years later, against the French at Sedan, Moltke repeated his success. But whereas the double envelop­ment at Koniggratz was reminiscent of Cannae, Sedan was a greater achievement–a Cannae-like encirclement, a victory that the official Ger­man history called “unprece­dented.” Of course, its precedent was Cannae. And in du­plicating Hannibal’s victory so thoroughly, Moltke’s doctrine became the irrefutable truth of the German general staff Schlieffen couldn’t help but be impressed. As a cadet he had studied Frederick. As an officer he had witnessed Ko­niggratz. And in 1900, nine years after becoming chief of the general staff, he read his­torian Hans Delbrück’s ac­count of the Battle of Cannae. It was Delbrück who thought he had discovered Hannibal’s personal account of the battle–embedded in the narrative of the Greek his­torian Polybius. “I have no doubt,” he wrote, “that….we are holding in our hand, in the account of his greatest victory, a direct expression of the mind of this hero….” Delbrück argued that Cannae was the watershed battle of ancient history, not because of Hannibal ‘s victory but because of Rome’s defeat: It was so catastrophic that Rome changed her military struc­ture–and conquered the world. Delbrück claimed that Hannibal’s success was due entirely to the cavalry attack from behind that the infan­try’s double envelopment served as a sort of caldron, containing the Romans while the cavalry exerted pressure.

When Schlieffen read this, he ordered the general staffs history section to prove that Cannae was the prototypical Western battle–and then he set about duplicating it. He had already developed a plan for an offensive against France in a vast wheeling ma­neuver through Belgium. But Cannae gave him new confi­dence in his plan, and he set down its specifics as though they were the “direct expres­sion” of Hannibal’s mind.

In 1910, at the War Acade­my ‘s centennial, an aged Schlieffen announced: “In front of every…commander lies a book [on] military his­tory…. [In it] one finds the heartwarming reality, the knowledge of how everything has happened, how it must happen, and how it will hap­pen again.”

The Schlieffen Plan called for the German army to focus everything on a northern sweep so broad that it took in Paris. The French would be rolled up from behind, like the Romans at Cannae.

But important features of Cannae were absent. Missing was the shock of the double envelopment. Although Del­brück had regarded the infantry as a simple barrier, he had not denied that the enormity of Hannibal’s victory was due to multiple shocks. Yet Schlieffen understood him to mean that any obstacle, be it a river or a neutral country, could replace the infantry en­velopment. Also missing, of course, was Hannibal, Del­brück’s heroic figure, re­placed by a timetable. Can­nae’s single afternoon had stretched to a grueling month its contained field to exhausting distances its bold risks to foolhardy gambles. Hannibal had not had to con­sider lunch, or railroads, or the Belgian border. MHQ

This article originally appeared in the Summer 1990 issue (Vol. 2, No. 4) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: The Enduring Mystique of Cannae

Want to have the lavishly illustrated, premium-quality print edition of MHQ delivered directly to you four times a year? Subscribe now at special savings!


The Battle of Cannae

Following the losses at Trebia and Trasimene (where Hannibal’s men killed as many as 50,000 Romans), the Romans elected Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro and to meet the demands of the Senate and people, equipped them with the largest army the Republic had ever assembled. Some say numbers totalled upwards of 90,000 although 50-70,000 is now widely considered to be more accurate.

They had one mission – confront Hannibal’s army head-on and crush them.

Rarely did ancient historians offer exact dates for the events they described but Roman provincial Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, citing the largely unknown Roman historian Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius put the date of the battle at ante diem iiii nones Sextilis, or August 2nd.

It was showtime. Hannibal wanted victory the Romans needed victory.

The Carthaginians (numbering around 40,000) stormed into southern Italy, camped at Cannae and waited. Not by chance. Nothing Hannibal did was by chance. Cannae was a strategically important grain supply post and on the Aufidus river (now known as the Ofanto) and in southern Italy in August, then as it is now, drinking water was as important as weapons.

Om morgenen den ante diem iiii nones Sextilis, the two armies – something like 100,000 men – faced off on a boiling hot, dust-blown plain and prepared for battle.

Despite a series of defeats, Varro and Paullus had every reason to be confident of victory at Cannae, and in fact sources at the time described Varro (who would later be scapegoated for his role at Cannae) as overconfident, even rash. By contrast, Paullus was from an established military family and justifiably cautious about what he was about to walk into. Their army was fighting for the honour of Rome while Hannibal’s ragtag bunch of Africans, Gauls, Gallic Celts, Spaniards, Libyans and myriad mercenaries were a very long way from home.

It was then that Hannibal gave the order that spelled the end for the Roman army.

The Roman army set up in a traditional block formation with infantry protected by cavalry on both flanks and Varro had hoped to use his superior numbers like a battering ram to push through the middle of the Carthaginian lines - but of course Hannibal was waiting for this exact movement.

Relying on the elasticity of his formation, Hannibal placed his Gallic and Spanish infantry (deemed to be the weakest of his men) in the centre, two groups of Africans on their flanks and the cavalry on the wings. However, before engaging, his line created a crescent-shaped formation with the centre advancing forward and the flanks en échelon, that is positioned diagonally behind each other.

As the Roman infantry continued to sweep forwards (and giving them the impression that forward movement equalled winning), they became too closely packed and all but abandoned their rigid lines.

It was then that Hannibal gave the order that spelled the end for the Roman army.

On his signal, the Libyans on the flanks pivoted inwards and attacked the Roman infantry who were advancing up both sides, closing in on them like a vice. While this was occurring, the Carthaginian cavalry defeated the Roman cavalry on each side of the battle lines and then swept forward on both flanks to encircle the Roman army and close the trap. Once the Romans were shorn of their cavalry protection, the Carthaginians wheeled around to attack as many as 70,000 legionnaires from the rear, unprotected and completely surrounded.

While Hannibal could smell victory (literally and metaphorically), the battle wasn’t yet over. The surrounded Romans refused to hoist the white flag so the Carthaginians began the gruesome task of slaughtering them, one man at a time.

By sundown, anywhere between 50,000 and 70,000 Roman bodies littered the battlefield at Cannae

For hours after the main fight ended, the battlefield at Cannae was transformed into a blood-soaked killing field. A few thousand managed to break the circle of steel and ran for it but the rest were unceremoniously massacred.

Chronicler Titus Livius, known as Livy, later wrote ‘Some were discovered lying there alive, with thighs and tendons slashed, baring their necks and throats and bidding their conquerors drain the remnant of their blood. Others were found with their heads buried in holes dug in the ground. They had apparently made these pits for themselves and heaping the dirt over their faces to shut off their breath.

By sundown, anywhere between 50,000 and 70,000 Roman bodies littered the battlefield at Cannae, something in the order of 20 percent of all Roman fighting men between the ages of 18 and 50. This number included veteran patricians such as Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Marcus Minucius Rufus, 28 of 40 tribunes, around 80 of senatorial or high magistrate rank, and at least 200 knights. Paullus was killed, Varro fled the battlefield with the last of the Roman and allied cavalry. By contrast, Hannibal lost 6,000 men.

More soldiers died at Cannae than on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on the Western Front on 1st July 1916, by far and away the deadliest day in the history of British warfare. The Romans lost seven times as many men as were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg.

It was a day of utter and unimaginable brutality the likes of which has never been seen since.

Pulitzer prize-winning historian Will Durant said that ‘The Romans could not readily forgive Hannibal for winning battles with his brains rather than with the lives of his men. The tricks he played upon them, the skill of his espionage, the subtlety of his strategy, the surprises of his tactics were beyond their appreciation. It was a supreme example of generalship, never bettered in history.’


Why Don't We Learn from History? - The Battle of Cannae (216 BC).

The battle of Cannae was undoubtedly Hannibal's masterpiece. Indeed it seems almost churlish to speak of the incompetence of his opponents in the face of a master's supreme skill. Yet Hannibal was blessed by facing a Roman army enormous in numbers yet divided in command. It was this very system which allowed the two consuls to alternate control on a daily basis that condemned Rome to the heaviest defeat in her history.

During his campaign in southern Italy in 216 BC, Hannibal depended for supplies on living off the country or on capturing important food depots. It was this factor that rendered him most vulnerable to defeat. In this spring of 216 BC he had marched south, crossing the River Aufidus, and occupying the town of Cannae, which was an important grain depot for the Romans. Cannae was situated on a hill overlooking a very broad plain across which the sluggish River Aufidus flowed to the sea. Hannibal knew that by seizing Cannae he was not only securing food for his troops, but threatening Rome's supplies to her own army.

At this stage the Roman army was still commanded by the previous year's consuls, Servilius and Atilius. They were not eager to seek battle with Hannibal so near to the end of their consulship. They preferred to wait for the new consuls, Paulus and Varro, and leave the decision of whether to fight or not to them. Nevertheless, the Roman Senate was looking for an opportunity to fight a decisive bettle against the Carthaginians to avenge the defeats of previous years. According to the historian Polybius the Romans fielded eight legions in 216 BC, numbering some 40,000 men, supplemented by an equal number of auxiliaries. If this is true, it makes it the largest Roman army ever raised up to that time. In fact, it was far too large to be commanded by generals of that era the confusion that ensued in the battle was a result of overloading the simple command structure then in existence. Hannibal, on the other hand, had an experienced staff system and very able subordinate commanders.

He knew he could trust men like his brother Mago, and officers like Hasdrubal, Hanno and Maharbal to control his 40,000 foot and 10,000 cavalry. It gave him an inordinate advantage when the time for action came. In spite of the enormous Roman advantage in infantry far more than could be brought to bear at any one point Hannibal's cavalry was more numerous and more powerful than that of the Romans. In another area that of experience Hannibal had an even greater advantage. His men were generally veteran soldiers who had been with him on numerous campaigns. The Romans, on the other hand, now under the rotating command of Paulus and Varro, were mainly new levies without battle experience.

As Hannibal's strength rested with his cavalry, he was anxious that any battle should take place on the wide plain, on the west bank of the Aufidus.

The Romans, naturally, would have preferred to fight under the hill of Cannae on the east bank. The day the Roman army reached Cannae was one on which Paulus was in command and he suggested to Varro the advantage of crossing the river and assembling on the east bank, which would give Hannibal less chance to use his powerful cavalry. Varro disagreed, and the following day recrossed the river to face Hannibal on the west bank. He knew what was expected of him and the army an immediate and decisive victory and was not the sort of cautious and thoughtful commander who might have manoeuvred to gain an advantage. Instead he relied on weight of numbers alone. So stubborn was Varro that every time Paulus suggested fighting on the hilly ground to the east it only made him more determined to do the opposite. After further crossings and recrossings of the river the Roman army drew up in formation on the west bank, some two miles away from Hannibal's army.

In the June sunshine the new legions unaccustomed to the burning heat of southern Italy, and weighed down by the weight of their armour and their weapons were suffering far more than hannibal's Spaniards and Africans.

When the command reverted to Varro, the latter, abandoning his previous preference for the west bank, ordered his troops to leave camp just after dawn and cross over to the east bank of the river in order to threaten Hannibal's food supplies from Vannae. If Varro had hopped to take Hannibal by surprise he was disappointed. The Carthaginian leader had been waiting for just this moment: the chance to destroy the Romans once and for all. He swiftly crossed the river and drew up his highly disciplined troops in an unusual formation one that was eventually to become the most famous in all military history. On his right flank were the Numidian horsemen whom he knew he could rely upon to scatter the Roman cavalry. On his left alongside the river, he placed the heavy cavalry of the Spaniards and Gauls. But it was in the middle, where he himself took command, that the battle was to be won.

Most of his Spanish and Gaulish infantry was massed in the centre, facing the Roman legionaries whose lines stretched back for hundreds of yards. Through skilful manoeuvring Hannibal had secured the advantage of both sun and wind the Romans suffering the unpleasant effect of both the burning sunlight and the sand whipped into their faces by the scirocco.

As the Carthaginians began to advance it was apparent that their infantry centre was drawn up in a convex shape. But the early exchanges were between the rival horsemen. The Spanish heavy cavalry routed their Roman opponents and quickly drove them off the plain. On the other wing the Numidians had already routed the Roman auxiliary cavalry. With the latter fled Varro, the consul who had foolishly sought the battle.

In the centre Hannibal's infantry was gradually giving way, as the Romans began to flatten the Carthaginian line. Almost imperceptibly the convex shape had become concave or U-shaped. Sensing a breakthrough, the Roman commanders urged on the massive wedge of legionaries. But as the Spaniards and Gauls give way in the centre, the two wings of African troops began to curl round the Roman flanks. It now became apparent that the massed legionaries in the centre were being enveloped by the Africans. At the same time the Carthaginian cavalry, returning from their victory over the Roman horse, now struck the Roman legionaries form the rear.

Hannibal could see that the moment had arrived to spring the trap, and he ordered a trumpeter to make the signal. At once the Africans completed their double envelopment, by which the huge mass of Roman legionaries was completely surrounded by the Carthaginian army. It was a tactical masterpiece, and one that has inspired generals right through the ages. The battle now turned into one of the most terrible massacres in history. The killing at Cannae that day exceeded even that of 1 July 1916, when the British were slaughtered on the Somme. Never before had the Romans raised so many men for battle, but now they were trapped so tightly that only those at the extreme edges could even lift their weapons or reach their opponents.

Hour after hour passed and the killing went on. So vast was the death tool that ancient writers could hardly contain their disbelief. The lowest figure too low in view of the impossibility of escape for the Roman footsoldiers was a mere 20,000 killed, while Appian and Plutarch speak of 50,000 dead, Quintilian 60,000 and Polybius 70,000. Modern historians have learned to doubt the fantastic figures for armies and casualties given by medieval chroniclers, but it is implausible that casualty figures for this battle could be much lower than 40,000 killed, and they were probably far higher.

Of Hannibal's genius there can be no doubt, but one is forced to the conclusion that the split command of Paulus and Varro contributed significantly to the Roman defeat in view of their obvious incompatibility as commanders. Facing such a skilled opponent, Paulus felt inclined to adopt a more cautious approach, while Varro, presumably underestimating Hannibal or having too much confidence in mere weight of infantry numbers, wanted to press for immediate action. Hannibal might well have defeated Paulus as totally as he had defeated Varro, yet one suspects that few Roman generals would have fallen so completely for his tactics. Varro was a headstrong fool. Leading with his chin he was always vulnerable to a counterpunch. The bunching together of the legionaries was poor generalship once the first two or three ranks were engaged there was absolutely nothing for the rear ranks to do other than wait until the men in front of them were killed.

Piling more and more men into the centre was a dangerous tactic once the Raman cavalry had been defeated. But for all Varro's blunders nothing should detract from Hannibal and his strategic masterpiece on the plains of Cannae.


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