Strategic background[ edit ] Shortly after the start of the Second Punic War, Hannibal crossed into Italy by traversing the Pyrenees and the Alps during the summer and early autumn.
Dattatreya Mandal June 7, To put things into perspective, the Battle of Cannae BCcontested between the ancient Mediterranean powerhouses of Rome and Carthage, is usually considered as a particularly bloody episode — which had possibly resulted in the highest loss of human life in a single day in any battle recorded in history.
In terms of sheer numbers, the baleful day probably accounted for over 40, Roman deaths the figure is put at 55, by Livy, and 70, by Polybiuswhich equated to about 80 percent of the Roman army fielded in the battle!
On a comparative note, the worst day in the history of the British Army usually pertains to the first day of the Battle of the Somme inwhere they lost around 20, men. The irony in this case related to how the same folks who fought for money and plunder, grouped together to forego such things in favor of innumerable hardships for their chosen leader.
This certainly speaks highly of the potent charisma demonstrated by Hannibal all throughout these rigorous years spent in a foreign land. Literary pieces of evidence point out how Hannibal slept alongside the ordinary soldiers out in the cold open; he even went hungry along with his soldiers when the supplies ran low.
But more importantly, the soldiers despite their different origins placed their utmost trust on their Carthaginian commander when it came to actual battles.
They played their crucial role in galvanizing a truly multinational force comprising both mercenaries and regular troops with their different backgrounds, societies and even fighting styles. Among them, the latter was considered somewhat inferior, at least when it came to the scope of Cannae.
As a result, the Celts formed the bulk of the infantry that held the middle formations, and thus bore the brunt of the Roman juggernaut of maniples.
Well, part of it possibly had to do with the erratic political affiliations of many Celtic tribes in Cisalpine Gaul, many of whom proved to be unreliable during the course of the Second Punic War.
As for the warfare side of affairs, while the well-armored Celtic cavalry forces mostly derived from their nobles and retainers were crucial to the success of some Carthaginian engagements in Italy, many of their Gaulish infantrymen counterparts were generally considered as an undisciplined bunch that favored individual bravery over group-based tactics.
These Celtic men were often armed with long slashing swords and protected by only oval, leather-covered shields; while few even went to battle entirely naked. In fact, Hannibal had deeply studied the Roman tendency of fielding organized ranks of maniples comprising what can be technically termed as heavy infantrymen, circa late 3rd century BC.
As a result, the Roman battlefield tactic was spectacularly simple — as it often entailed countering the enemy forces who were mostly disordered with sheer discipline and rotation of manpower on the field itself. One example would pertain to the incorporation of Balearic slingers who were known for their expertise in accuracy over various ranges which encompassed the use of three different types of slings!
In fact, their effectiveness was so aptly demonstrated against the Romans that even conventional archers were eschewed in favor of these lightly armed mercenaries.
And since we brought up the scope of effectiveness, very few units showcased their on-field efficacy against the tightly packed Romans as the Numidian riders armed with only javelins.
In many cases like at the Battle of TrebbiaHannibal utilized their nigh-perfected mobility and zig-zag maneuvering ability to draw the attention and ire of the Romans. Such skirmishing tactics, often mixed with vocal insults, in turn, forced the roused Roman to give battle even when they were under-prepared.
Usually derived from their nobles and retainers, many of these cavalrymen were richly attired in expensive mail and helmets — and thus fulfilled the role of the pseudo-shock mounted troops a task that was paramount in the Battle of Cannae.
Hannibal also fielded Spanish cavalry forces, who were mounted atop stout horses, but was armed in a similar fashion to their infantry counterparts — with short falcata swords and smaller spears. They mainly served as medium cavalry useful for sustaining the initial charges, while also being flexible enough for pursuing retreating enemy forces.
The greatest strength of the Roman army had always been its adaptability and sense of evolution. So by the time of the first Samnite War in around BCthe Roman army seemed to have endorsed newer formations that were more flexible in nature, as opposed to their initial hoplite-based tactics.
This change in battlefield stratagem was probably in response to the Samnite armies — and as a result, the maniple formations came into existence instead of the earlier rigid phalanx.
Additionally, the battle-lines were possibly screened by the light-armed velites, who mostly belonged to the poorer class of Roman civilians, and were also flanked by the equites — cavalrymen who came from higher economic backgrounds. As for the scope of conscription, The citizen militia or soldiers of Republican Rome were levied and then assembled in the Capitol on the day that was proclaimed by the Consuls in their edictum.
This process was known as dilectus, and interestingly the men volunteers were arranged in terms of their similar heights and age. The Roman army recruits also had to swear an oath of obedience, which was known as sacramentum dicere. This symbolically bound them with the Roman state, their commander, and more importantly to their fellow comrades-in-arms.
In terms of historical tradition, this oath was only formalized before the commencement of the Battle of Cannae, to uphold the faltering morale of the Hannibal-afflicted Roman army.
Cannae and its ruined citadel had long been used as a food magazine by the Romans with provisions for grain oil and other crucial items. Hannibal knew about this supply scope and willfully made his army march towards Cannae in June, BC for over km from their original winter quarters at Gerunium.
Interestingly, the camp of the Carthaginian army was just set above verdant agricultural fields with ripening crops — which could provide easy foraging to the snugly quartered troops.
In other words, the chosen location and its advantages surely drummed up the morale of these soldiers, while strengthening their resolve and dedication for their commander.
That is because Rome was still dependent on the grain cultivated in native Italy while seeking alternative corn supplies from Sicilyespecially from the region of Apulia where Cannae was located.tactical/operational genius, hannibal barca Hannibal Barca, general of Carthage during the 2d Punic War with Rome, BC, has few peers in the annals of military history.
Watch video · Hannibal's brutal tactics enforced loyalty among his troops and power over his enemies. Hannibal's brutal tactics enforced loyalty among his troops and power over his enemies. Sign Out. What was the best battle strategy ever planned?
Update Cancel. Answer Wiki. 48 Answers. Quora User, Civil Servant, What are some of the best battle strategies and tactics of medieval and ancient age battles? Strategy: How is the battle of equals won? Hannibal has already made appearances on this list for the Battle of Cannae, and for.
Hannibal formed his infantry akin to a Roman triplex acies, but with his best unit, his veterans, the one unit who could match Scipio's troops, at a further distance than the one between the first and second line.
Hannibal formed his infantry akin to a Roman triplex acies, but with his best unit, his veterans, the one unit who could match Scipio's troops, at a further distance than the one between the first and second line. His campaign across the Alps, unthinkable even in his day, won him the grudging admiration of his enemies and enduring fame ever since.
Hannibal's strategies, learned so well by Scipio, were incorporated into Roman tactics and Rome would consistently use .