Cannae Battlefield marks the site of the famous Battle of Cannae, which was fought in 216 BC between Hannibal of Carthage and a huge Roman army led by Consuls Varro and Paullus. It stands as Hannibal’s greatest victory and Rome’s greatest defeat. However, not even Rome’s massive loss of life as a result in this particular battle stopped the Roman war machine from ultimately emerging as victors of the war.
History of Cannae Battlefield
With Hannibal having already invaded Italy and defeated large Roman armies at both Trebbia and Trasimene, Roman leadership was under significant pressure to turn the tide of war.
To try and stop Hannibal, Rome gathered the biggest army it had ever put in the field, consisting of more than 80,000 men. The result was The Battle of Cannae, which is perhaps the platonic ideal of what a decisive victory should look like. Outnumbered two to one, Hannibal used a new and brilliant tactic – known today as double envelopment – which massacred the Romans and proved to be Hannibal’s most brilliant victory.
One historian has compared the result to an atomic bomb: 80,000 men died during the course of the bloody exchange, which is possibly the most casualties ever recorded during a single battle.
Combined with a series of crushing defeats suffered by the Romans during the second Punic war, the defeat brought Rome closer to total collapse than at any other time during its history.
Cannae Battlefield Today
The site has one monument to the battle of Cannae within the archaeological site of Cannae di Battaglia, which is itself a village that dates to the middle ages and is currently undergoing excavation.
You have to enter the museum – the ‘Antiquarium di Canne’ – to access the site of the battlefield. The entrance to the site also has some relevant information and memorabilia.
To find the monument, enter and walk to the furthest point of the site. There is a single column which commemorates the battle. If you stand beneath the column and look north over the surrounding countryside, you are looking at the area where most historians feel the battle was fought.
Getting to Cannae Battlefield
The battlefield can prove tricky to find. The modern name and address of the site is Parco Archeologico ‘Canne della Battaglia’, SP142, 76121 BT, Italy.
The nearest major city is Naples. From Naples, the centre of Cannae is reachable in just over two hours via the A16/E842 roads.
Contributed by Sam Wood, Ride and Seek Historical Bike Tours
Battle of Cannae: 10 Things You Should Know
To put things into perspective, the Battle of Cannae (216 BC), contested 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 40,000 Roman deaths (the figure is put at 55,000 by Livy, and 70,000 by Polybius), which 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 in 1916, where they lost around 20,000 men. But the male population of Rome in 216 BC is estimated to be around 400,000 (thus the Battle of Cannae possibly took away around 1/10th – 1/20th of Roman male population, considering there were also allied Italic casualties), while Britain had a population of around 41,608,791 (41 million) at the beginning of 1901, with half of them expected to be males.
1) Leadership Over Different Nationalities –
Alexander was known for his self-assurance, Hannibal for his personality. As referenced in the book Hannibal by Nic Fields, Livy attests to the latter’s leadership skills by mentioning how Hannibal managed to not only control his mercenary army (which had been described as ‘a hotch-potch of the riff-raff of all nationalities’) but went on to win victories over the Roman forces for fifteen straight years – and that too within the confines of Italy. 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.
However, beyond just charisma, there must have been a more intrinsic sensitive side to his ‘management skills’. 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. Simply put, they acknowledged and followed the directives of their general – mostly without question, due to their collective belief in the prodigal generalship of Hannibal
2) ‘Unity’ in Diversity –
While Hannibal’s leadership played a major role in reinforcing the psyche of the varied nationalities under his command, due credit shouldn’t be snatched away from his supporting officer corps. 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.
To that end, since we are talking about the nationalities, the ‘Carthaginian’ army that crossed over from the Alps, mostly consisted of African (including Liby-Phoenicians and Numidians), Iberian (including the Balearic islanders) and Celtic soldiers – with their vastly variant cultures being integrated into a nigh professional force that regularly triumphed over the more homogeneous Romans.
And intriguingly enough, Hannibal and his officers didn’t force any scope of uniformity on their ‘rag-tag’ army. On the contrary, the commanders expected each of the cultural domains to bring their own set of ‘native’ skills and expertise on the battlefield – thus resulting in the ultimate ‘counter’ army that could thrive in most tactical scenarios.
3) The ‘Pilum Fodder’Illustration by Angus McBride.
In the earlier entry, we mentioned how the majority of Hannibal’s army was derived from North Africa, Iberia and Cisalpine Gaul (northern part of Italy inhabited by Celts since the 13th century BC). 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. Hannibal clearly knew that this Carthaginian position would incur a greater number of casualties, given the Roman penchant for advancing straight-on to the main enemy lines after discharging their deadly ‘pila‘ (javelins). But still the general took the gamble, and centrally positioned his expendable ‘pilum fodder’ Celts – an audacious tactical ploy that we will discuss later in the article.
Now the question arises – why was Hannibal’s evaluation of (most) Celtic soldiers seemingly so harsh? 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. Furthermore, we should also take note of how Hannibal’s initial army consisted of only the African and Spanish troops, while the Celts were recruited ‘later’ on the way to the Alps and beyond. So there might have been a strategic scenario in Cannae where Hannibal wanted to preserve his ‘core’ army of Spaniards and Africans (for future battles), while the rank-swelling yet ill-equipped Celts were given the task of directly facing their long-known adversaries – the Romans.
4) The ‘Slinging’ Advantage of Hannibal –
Beyond the conventional infantry forces of Hannibal, it was the light infantry that stood out in most of the encounters of the Second Punic War in Italy. 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.
Hannibal formulated a plan against these seemingly invulnerable formation-based armies by inducting highly trained light troops into the ‘rag-tag’ Carthaginian army, especially from Spain and Africa. 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.
5) The Superior Cavalry Fielded by Carthaginians –Numidian light horsemen armed with javelins.
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. Espousing daredevilry on horseback, they probably rode without reins – using just a rope around the horse’s neck and a small stick to give it commands. In many cases (like at the Battle of Trebbia), Hannibal 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.
The light cavalrymen were accompanied by the ‘heavy’ variety of the aforementioned Celtic horsemen. 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.
6) The Opposing Roman army at Cannae –Starting from left – Hastati, Velites, Triarii and Principes.
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 343 BC), the 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).
In that regard, the very term manipulus means ‘a handful’, and thus its early standard pertained to a pole with a handful of hay placed around it. According to most literary pieces of evidence, the Roman army was now divided up into three separate battle-lines, with the first line comprising the young (and somewhat lightly armored) hastati in ten maniples (each of 120 men) the second line comprising the hardened principes in ten maniples and the third and last line consisting of the veteran triarii in ten maniples – who probably still fought as heavy hoplites (but their maniples only had 60 men).
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. Thus a single legion combined 30 such maniples (of three classes of infantrymen), along with velites and equites, thus roughly equating to around 5,000 men.
Unfortunately, for the Romans, the equites were not up to the mark of their Carthaginian counterparts and usually comprised a smaller percentage of the army when compared to other ancient powers. Furthermore, in an odd turn of events, a 10,000 strong force of triarii didn’t take part in the Battle of Cannae, since these men were chosen to guard the strategic Roman camp at one end of the battle zone by the River Aufidius (Ofanto).
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. This brought orderliness in terms of physical appearance, while similar equipment (if not uniform) made the organized soldiers look even more ‘homogeneous’.
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. According to Livy, the oath went somewhat like this – “Never to leave the ranks because of fear or to run away, but only to retrieve or grab a weapon, to kill an enemy or to rescue a comrade.”
7) Cannae Chosen For Provocation –
In the opening paragraph, we mentioned how the burgeoning Roman realm suffered one of its greatest military disasters at the Battle of Cannae. However, objectively beyond just baleful numbers, the encounter in itself was a set-piece triumph for Hannibal, with the general’s strategy even dictating the very choice of the battle itself (as referenced in Cannae 216 BC: Hannibal Smashes Rome’s Army By Mark Healy).
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, 216 BC) for over 120 km from their original winter quarters at Gerunium.
Interestingly enough, 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.
However, at the same time, there was a more cunning side to Hannibal’s choice of Cannae – (possibly) unbeknownst to his army. That is because Rome was still dependent on the grain cultivated in native Italy (while seeking alternative corn supplies from Sicily), especially from the region of Apulia where Cannae was located. Simply put, the choice of Cannae was an intentional ploy to provoke the Romans to give direct battle – as opposed to the Fabian strategy of delaying. This once again alludes to Hannibal’s confidence and craftiness when it came to military affairs and logistics.
8) The Convex-Crescent –
Choosing the battle was not enough for the great Carthaginian general Hannibal proceeded on to array his entire army* (of 35,000 – 40,000 infantrymen and around 10,000 cavalry) into ‘tailored’ formations that were dedicated to countering the superb infantry quality and numerical advantage of Romans, who had probably fielded somewhere between 50,000 – 63,000 infantrymen* (along with around 6,400 cavalry – combining both the Romans and allied forces).
Now it should be noted that among these 35,000 infantrymen under Hannibal’s command at Cannae, the ‘crack’ experienced soldiers from Africa and Iberia – who had originally crossed the Alps, only numbered around 14,000 men. Thus the remaining bulk of the infantry comprised the Celts and other assorted lightly-armed troops. As for Carthaginian cavalry forces, the seasoned Spaniards and Numidians formed the majority of 6,000 horsemen, while the remaining 4,000 were formed by the ‘elite’ Celtic cavalry derived from their nobles and retainers.
Now one of the first counter-measures of Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae was to put his ‘heavy’ cavalry forces (of Celts and Spaniards) on the left flank, to directly oppose (and clear out) the Roman cavalry under consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus. On the right flank, the Numidians were deployed and expected to carry out their unorthodox style of luring in the Roman-allied cavalry forces and then dispatching them with well-timed javelin throws.
But the biggest surprise came from the infantry formations of Hannibal. Instead of opting for the traditionally strong center, the Carthaginian general deliberately arrayed his most ‘expendable’ Celtic soldiers along the middle portion, and they were complemented by alternate companies of Spanish and Celtic soldiers in the successive flanks.
Finally, the two ‘hidden’ wings of the infantry were filled by the heavy African troops (Liby-Phoenicians) who were possibly attired in ‘Roman’ style, with armors that were stripped off the dead Roman soldiers in the previous encounters. As for their tactics, some historians have talked about how these crack troops adopted the phalanx formation – though we are still not sure of their exact maneuvers.
After arranging his entire line, Hannibal commanded his central body of troops to slightly move forward while keeping their links with their successive flanks. As a result, a convex-crescent of formations emerged from the Carthaginian side (showcased in the image above), with the two wings thinning out and covering the heavy African troops.
9) The Tactical Trap –
By the time the massed Roman columns (which were kept deeper, thus reducing their width) reached the Carthaginian lines, Hannibal’s heavy cavalry forces on the left flank (headed by Hasdrubal) had already pushed back the main Roman cavalry force commanded by their consul. As a matter of fact, Aemilius Paullus was himself injured by a sling-shot and thus had to dismount – thus dealing a crippling blow to the morale of the proximate Roman soldiers.
This allowed a gap to emerge on this side, and Hasdrubal took advantage of the retreating enemy to push through the momentary disconnect between the Roman cavalry and infantry lines on the left. He expertly traversed the ‘gap’ and wheeled around his fresh cavalry forces to meet the Roman infantry lines at their unguarded rear positions.
On the other flank (right), the Numidians were successful in disrupting the Roman allied cavalry forces under the other consul Gaius Terentius Varro. They did so by their idiosyncratic fighting methods of zig-zag maneuvering and false retreats. Finally, a fresh detachment of heavy cavalry from the left joined their Numidian comrades, and together they successfully chased away the panicked Roman allied cavalrymen off the field.
However, in spite of the reversals of their cavalry forces, the main Roman infantry lines maintained their cohesion and pushed forth the ‘weak’ Carthaginian center with aplomb. The previously convex-crescent had now bulged ‘ backward’ into a concave with the disciplined Roman legions making short work of their mostly Celtic adversaries.
But therein laid the audacious tactical trap sprung by Hannibal. That is because as the Romans pushed further in, they were met with alternate companies of Celtic and Spanish forces – soldiers who operated in distinct styles of warfare, with the boisterous Celts using their long slashing swords and the deft Spaniards using their short stabbing swords. This alluded to a confusing set of tactics to counter for the legions since they had to continually adapt to the ‘changing’ nature of the enemy – thus limiting their progression while exacerbating their fatigue levels.
Finally, when the concave had ‘bulged’ sufficiently, Hannibal commanded his crack African troops from the hidden wings to join in the fray and these (possible) phalanxes plunged deep into the tattering Roman flanks. The ‘coup de grace’ was then dealt by the Hasdrubal’s wheeling cavalry – as they struck the rear lines of the Roman infantry, thus completely surrounding the enemy inside a rough circle.
By this time the Romans were so pressed for space that many of them didn’t even have room for swinging their swords. The end result of the Battle of Cannae, according to Livy, amounted to around 50,000 Roman deaths (though modern estimates put down this figure to around 40,000) and 20,000 prisoners, while the Carthaginians suffered only 8,000 casualties.
10) The Paradox of Cannae –
Interestingly enough, it was the Battle of Cannae that was ultimately responsible for Hannibal’s unceremonious call back to Carthage (in 203 BC) after 15 years of remaining undefeated on Italian soil. In the post years of the Cannae incident, the Roman leadership came to a realization that they couldn’t counter Hannibal’s genius in conventional warfare.
As a result, they reverted to the defensive Fabian strategy (named after Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus) which basically entailed a guerrilla-warfare type scenario with internal lines of communications. In other words, the Romans rigorously avoided open-field battles, while resorting to hit-and-run and harassing tactics that afflicted the stretched Carthaginian lines and patrols who were regularly dispatched for foraging.
This predicament was further exacerbated when Hannibal had to provide garrisons for the newly defected cities in the south of Italy. This took away much of his precious manpower that had already deteriorated due to previous battles, skirmishes, and attrition. Moreover, since much of Hannibal’s army was composed of mercenaries of different nationalities – they were neither suited to siege warfare or garrison duty, and thus many of them started to desert en masse.
So slowly but surely, the once grand expeditionary force that made its way to Italy via the Alps, was now only a shadow of itself. By 203 BC, even chances of arriving reinforcements from Carthage or Iberia went slim, with both of his brothers being soundly defeated. And ultimately, Hannibal himself had to answer the desperate call from his own Barcid war party, which was one of the two major political factions of Carthage. Consequently, the general and some of his trusted mercenaries finally decided to set sail for Africa. And thus ended the epoch of Hannibal in Italy – paradoxically brought on by his incredible victory at the Battle of Cannae.
Honorable Mention – Gisgo’s Fear and Hannibal’s Retort
In the previous entries, we talked about the massive number of casualties suffered by the Romans at the Battle of Cannae. This automatically suggests the huge number of troops actually fielded by both the armies – with estimations of around 70,000 Romans and 45,000 Hannibal-commanded soldiers taking part in the encounter (though some modern conjectures tend to lower these figures).
Given such an enormous scale of the impending battle and the size of the approaching Roman army, many of the Carthaginian officers were clearly anxious about their numerical inferiority. One such officer named Gisgo even went ahead and voiced his uneasiness to Hannibal at the sight of the Romans (who were moving forward in tighter formations with greater manipular depths than usual).
And this is where Hannibal’s greatest strength was revealed, and it pertained to his character. Instead of punishing or even rebuking Gisgo for such a demoralizing comment – especially before a battle, the general turned to the officer and perkily commented – ‘There is one more thing you have not noticed.’ When Gisgo asked, ‘What is that sir?’ Hannibal replied, ‘In all that great number of men opposite there is not a single one whose name is Gisgo.’ The nearby batch of officers wholeheartedly laughed with Hannibal’s retort – and the ‘infectious smiles’ were carried forth by even the rank-and-file soldiers, thus calming their nerves.
Note* – The numbers mentioned in the article shouldn’t be considered as exactly accurate figures, but rather as estimated figures – compiled from both ancient sources and modern hypotheses.
Book References: Cannae 216 BC: Hannibal Smashes Rome’s Army (By Mark Healy) / Hannibal (by Nic Fields) / The Punic Wars (By Brian Caven) / Cannae: Hannibal’s Greatest Victory (By Adrian Goldsworthy)
The battle began with the confrontation of skirmishes from both sides. The firing of Hannibal’s archers and slingers caused a lot of damage to the Roman light infantrymen (velites) before they approached the distance which allowed them to use javelins. After the long exchange of fire, the light infantry was withdrawn.
Roman legions after the withdrawal of the velites for their formations moved to attack in a close order. After reaching the right distance, the legionaries threw the pila. Thousands of javelins fell on the Gauls and Iberians, sweeping their first ranks. The legionaries drew their swords and started the attack. The light infantry staggered under the terrible charge of an iron ram. Immediately, the weak Iberian-Gallic infantry began to withdraw under the pressure of the legions. Their arch bent to the other side and he began to retract. The Roman army was moving forward, going deeper and deeper into Hannibal’s army. The resistance was weak. The quick retreat of the enemies seemed to be caused by the powerful formation of their army. The legions continued to hammer deeper and deeper into the ranks of the enemy, still having the impression that victory was already in their hands. But when they were pursuing retreating Iberians and Gauls, they were actually stretching their line, creating slowly a semicircle around the enemy.
The legionaries did not pay much attention to the troops of the heavy African infantry that stood there. It is possible that Roman soldiers simply did not see them. Their order was oriented east, so the sun was shining in their eyes, and the wind raised huge clouds of dust on the army. At the order of Hannibal, the heavily armed Libyans crashed on the flanks of the Roman infantry. Disorganized troops crumbled, and the attack on the Carthaginian center was stopped. The trap slammed.
Meanwhile, the clash on the wings also began. Hasdrubal’s heavy-duty cavalry on the left wing fell on Paulus’s cavalry. With the advantage in quantity on this section of the front and definitely better training, Carthaginians quickly forced the Romans to flee. At that time, the light Nubian cavalry on the right wing led a slow battle with the elite of the Roman cavalry. After the victory on the left wing, Hasdrubal moved on Varro’s army, taking Roman cavalry with two fires. Under the pressure of stronger opponents, the second wing of the Romans also rushed to escape, followed by the Numidian cavalry. After eliminating the hostile cavalry, according to Hannibal’s wishes, Hasdrubal struck from the back on the victorious Roman infantry.
Surrounded from three sides, the Roman army, was unexpectedly attacked from behind by the Hasdrubal’s cavalry. The charge completely surprised the Romans. Hannibal’s trap slammed shut. Panic broke out.
Varro escaped when Paulus tried to control the chaos and form an array that would defend his troops. However, his efforts were ineffective. The legionaries were thrown into a chaotic mass. There was no hierarchy among the soldiers, no one commanded. There was a fight for life and death. legionaries inside could not even take part in the fight. They looked helplessly at the death of their companions and waited for their turn. The defeat was inevitable.
The battle turned into a bloody massacre. When the clash of the weapons finally died away and the dust began to fall, the eyes of the winners were showed a terrible battlefield with mountains of corpses. Between 52 500 and 75 000 Romans and allies were killed and 10 000 were taken prisoners. Only 14 500 managed to avoid the trap. In addition, 2 700 riders died. Among the fallen were three of the four most important Roman commanders: consul Paulus, proconsul Servilius Geminus, former dictator (magister equitium) Minucius Rufus, two quaestors – Lucius Atilius and Lucius Furius Bibaculus, 29 of 48 military tribunes and 80 prominent men of Rome.
Carthaginian losses according to Polybius numbered only about 5 700 people: 4 000 Gauls, 1 500 Iberians and Africans, and 200 riders.
In the summer of 1865, the territory of Plains Indian groups was becoming progressively restricted as waves of white settlers headed west, causing increased tension on the frontier. Against this backdrop, the mission of Brig. Gen. Patrick E. Connor, commander of the Powder River Expedition, was clear: attack the Indians in retribution and force them into submission to maintain peace.
Connor was in command of 2,500 soldiers divided into three columns. One column, about 1,400 officers and men, came north up the east side of the Black Hills from the Missouri River, a second of about 600 soldiers came north up the west side of the Black Hills from Fort Laramie, and a third, including Connor himself and about 360 troops and 95 Pawnee scouts, came up the North Platte from Fort Laramie and up the Bozeman trail to the east side of the Bighorn Mountains. Where the trail intersected Powder River, they built Fort Connor.
On August 29, Connor’s force attacked an Arapaho village of about 500 people led by Black Bear and Old David on Tongue River, at the site of present Ranchester, Wyo. Caught by surprise, the Arapaho suffered 63 killed, lost several hundred ponies, most of their lodges and were driven 10 miles up Wolf Creek. Eventually, Black Bear’s forces counterattacked and compelled the soldiers to depart. Connor’s group was attacked for several days while withdrawing down the river and then back south up Powder River to Fort Connor.
In the short run, Connor’s assault provoked the Arapaho a few days later to attack a surveying and roadbuilding party under James Sawyers, at the Bozeman Trail crossing of Tongue River near present Dayton, Wyo., just a few miles from where Connor had attacked them a few days before. In that fight, three whites were killed in a running battle that lasted two weeks.
After Black Bear’s village was attacked and burned, its people were forced to drain the resources of other Arapaho bands if they were to survive. Many joined the Cheyenne and Lakota resistance of the coming years, but the attack was still a severe blow to the strength of the Arapaho tribe.
Prelude [ edit | edit source ]
In the spring of 216 BC, Hannibal took the initiative and seized the large supply depot at Cannae in the Apulian plain, placing himself between the Romans and their crucial source of supply. As Polybius noted, the capture of Cannae "caused great commotion in the Roman army for it was not only the loss of the place and the stores in it that distressed them, but the fact that it commanded the surrounding district". Γ] The consuls, resolving to confront Hannibal, marched southward in search of him. After two days' march, they found him on the left bank of the Aufidus River and encamped six miles (10 km) away.
Reportedly, a Carthaginian officer named Gisgo commented on how much larger the Roman army was. Hannibal replied, "another thing that has escaped your notice, Gisgo, is even more amazing—that although there are so many of them, there is not one among them called Gisgo." ⎗]
Varro, in command on the first day, is presented by ancient sources as a man of reckless nature and hubris, and was determined to defeat Hannibal. While the Romans were approaching Cannae, a small portion of Hannibal's forces ambushed them. Varro successfully repelled the attack and continued on his way to Cannae. This victory, though essentially a mere skirmish with no lasting strategic value, greatly bolstered the confidence of the Roman army, perhaps to overconfidence on Varro's part. Paullus, however, was opposed to the engagement as it was taking shape. Unlike Varro, he was prudent and cautious, and he believed it was foolish to fight on open ground, despite the Romans' numerical strength. This was especially true since Hannibal held the advantage in cavalry (both in quality and quantity). Despite these misgivings, Paullus thought it unwise to withdraw the army after the initial success, and camped two-thirds of the army east of the Aufidus River, sending the remainder to fortify a position on the opposite side. The purpose of this second camp was to cover the foraging parties from the main camp and harass those of the enemy. ⎘]
The two armies stayed in their respective locations for two days. During the second day (August 1), Hannibal, aware that Varro would be in command the following day, left his camp and offered battle, but Paullus refused. When his request was rejected, Hannibal, recognizing the importance of the Aufidus water to the Roman troops, sent his cavalry to the smaller Roman camp to harass water-bearing soldiers that were found outside the camp fortifications. According to Polybius, Γ] Hannibal's cavalry boldly rode up to the edge of the Roman encampment, causing havoc and thoroughly disrupting the supply of water to the Roman camp. ⎙]
‘Official Site’ Not the Right One
The first place for Phillips to start his quest was at the ‘official site’ for the battlefield, to test whether this held up to scrutiny, “The official site is just below a place named Colmenar de Oreja,” he said, “and the river there is actually probably the single worst site that Hannibal or anyone else could have picked. The area is known locally as ‘Vado de Anibal’ or Hannibal’s ford, and there are three such meanders here. Two are useless as the mountains immediately around them either climb vertically or else drop straight away into chasms. The third has no historical road to or from it, the meander is ridiculously small compared to others and nowhere near big enough to hold Hannibal’s 26,000 men, much less the 100,000 of the enemy and there is no usable ground around anyone could have easily seen what Hannibal was doing. It simply doesn’t fit with the ancient texts, it’s geographically wrong, logistically impossible and ultimately it flies in the face of anything we know about Hannibal’s method of war.”
Hannibal and his men crossing the Alps. Phaidon Verlag, 1932 (Public Domain)
The Battle of Cannae – How History’s Greatest Victory Inspired Generals for 2,000 Years
IT’S DAWN, AUG. 2, 216 BC and lightning is about to strike the Roman Republic.
On a ridge overlooking an expansive plain in what’s now southeastern Italy, the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca watches as a massive Roman army – eight enormous legions consisting of 87,000 infantry and cavalry – marches directly, irresistibly toward his troops arranged on the ground below. Two years earlier Hannibal had led his army over the Alps and descended into Northern Italy to harass and defeat the Romans time-and-again.
The Romans, now led by the Consul Varro, have assembled a massive force for one purpose only: to destroy the Carthaginian army. The general watches as dust swirls around the approaching Romans, their breastplates glinting in the rays of the rising the sun. He has been expecting them.
Feigning retreat for the past several days, Hannibal has drawn the weary Romans across miles of dry, barren land to the small village of Cannae in southeastern Italy where he now intends to make a stand. He has at his disposal at best 50,000 infantry and cavalry, but the odds do not bother him.
Near Cannae, he has placed his forward line in a crescent at the mouth of a small valley that rises like the letter ‘v’ from the plain. Upon each flank Hannibal has positioned his finest Carthaginian infantry, somewhat detached on small knolls. His heavy cavalry – a substantial force – waits in hiding on the sloping ground behind Cannae.
The Romans are the greatest military power of the era their legions are well-trained, armed, and led. But Hannibal has studied their methods carefully, and because he knows precisely how they fight, he knows precisely how to defeat them. Forward crushing power is the essence of Roman tactics, and today Hannibal has decided to use that doctrine against them.
The Roman formation stretches over a mile from flank-to-flank. It’s a massive, seemingly unstoppable force. Yet Hannibal has chosen his position specifically to offset the enemy’s immense strength. The rising sun is shining directly in the Roman soldiers’ faces the dry summer winds create a blinding cloud of grit and sand. Through the swirling dust and punishing glare, the Romans feel their way forward.
Finally spotting the Carthaginians arrayed for battle ahead, the Romans press hurriedly forward. At the mouth of the valley, both sides meet in a terrifying collision of flashing swords, flying spears, screams and horrific bloodletting.
Slowly, the Carthaginians give ground, backing into the valley – just as Hannibal has ordered. The Romans, sensing victory – expecting to overwhelm the center of the Carthaginian line – press ever forward, unaware they are being lured into a trap.
From above, the Carthaginian leader watches as the massive Roman formations crush into the ever-narrowing terrain below. Satisfied, he turns and nods. A smoke signal goes up, and the detached Carthaginian infantry sweep down upon both exposed flanks of the unsuspecting Romans. Hannibal’s cavalry thunders out from hiding, driving off the Roman cavalry then returning to attack the Romans from behind.
The legions are surrounded. Moreover, because of the narrowing constraints of the landscape the Roman units cannot maneuver, change fronts, or even bring their vast numerical superiority to bear. They have been trapped virtually shoulder-to-shoulder, like cattle in an enormous pen.
All day the Carthaginians hack away at the edges of the Roman formations, reducing it by the hour, until late in the afternoon the Romans are no more.
The historian Polybius writes that on the valley floor some 76,000 Romans and their allies lay dead another 10,000 have been captured. The Carthaginians suffer a mere 5,700 casualties. The victory is unparalleled.
Rarely before or after has a military commander incorporated so many natural elements into a plan-of-battle – the breeze off the Adriatic, the rising sun, the dusty, hilly terrain – while luring his enemy to the site of their demise by means of a long, exhausting march.
But those tactical elements pale in comparison to the inversion of numerical superiority Hannibal achieved by trapping the vastly superior Roman legions in a valley where their enormous numbers became, no longer an advantage, but a handicap. Many Roman soldiers would accomplish little more that day than stand in the blazing sun for hours, awaiting the moment of their struggle and death.
“Hannibal excelled as a tactician,” Theodore Ayrault Dodge writes. “No battle in history is a finer sample of tactics than Cannae.”
In terms of tactical originality and sophistication, the Carthaginian victory at Cannae remains unequaled. Thus, has Hannibal’s astonishing victory over a substantially superior foe been acknowledged throughout history as perhaps the greatest military victory of all time.
According to military historian Robert L. O’Connell, Rome’s losses that day totaled “more dead soldiers than any other army on any single day of combat in the entire course of Western military history.”
Not surprisingly, Cannae has cast a long shadow over Western military thought and traditions, virtually sanctified over time as the gold standard of martial brilliance. Over the ages, commanders have tried, mostly without success, to replicate Hannibal’s stunning double-envelopment: Frederick the Great, von Molke, and von Schlieffen, to name but a few. It’s said Napoleon marched his army through numerous alpine passes just to walk in the great Carthaginian’s footprints.
More recently, General Norman Schwarzkopf readily admitted that the blueprint for Operation Desert Storm was taken fundamentally from Hannibal’s pincer movement at Cannae.
Yet, perhaps the most impressive salute to the great Carthaginian leader comes from former president and Allied Supreme Commander, Dwight Eisenhower. He wrote that every military leader “tries to duplicate in modern war the classic example of Cannae.” Dodge, Hannibal’s biographer agrees. writing, “Hannibal stands alone and unequaled.”
Hannibal Barca died in 184 BC, yet like a ghost, his achievements have haunted Western military thought and conventions for over 2,000 years. Indeed, his victory at Cannae still beckons.
Jim Stempel is a speaker and author of nine books and numerous articles on American history, spirituality, and warfare. His newest book regarding the American Revolution – Valley Forge to Monmouth: Six Transformative Months of the American Revolution – will be released in January and is currently available for pre-order on virtually all online sites. This serves as a follow-up to his critically acclaimed book American Hannibal, an examination American General Daniel Morgan at the Battle of Cowpens. For a full preview, pricing, and pre-publication reviews of Valley Forge to Monmouth, visit Amazon here. Or, visit his website for all his books, reviews, articles, biography, and interviews.
This war on Carthage became the turning point in Rome’s success. Before the war Carthage was the major power in what is now modern day Tunisia. After laying waste to Carthage the Romans were now virtually in control of the entire Mediterranean. Besides their massive body count the Romans were able to employ a second war innovation. War ethos.&hellip
Varro did the same. Paullus joined the Roman army even though he thought it was a mistake to fight Hannibal (Warrick 74-75). The army of Carthage was put in a half a circle with its cavalry put on its flanks. The Carthaginian infantry must have wondered what Hannibal was doing because he put the weakest infantry in the center, and his strongest men, hidden behind on the flanks. The Romans had over eight legions.&hellip
What We Learned: from the Battle of Cannae
In 216 BC Rome mobilized a force of 86,000 legionaries and auxiliaries under consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro and sent them against some 50,000 men under the great Carthaginian general Hannibal. The Roman consuls alternated their daily command, and Varro was in charge on the day of battle.
As the battle opened, the Carthaginian cavalry overpowered and scattered the inferior Roman cavalry on the legions’ right flank. The Carthaginians then rode around the Roman army to destroy the cavalry on the legions’ left flank, which was skirmishing with the Numidian light horse. The Roman right flank promptly disintegrated, allowing Hannibal’s brother, Hasdrubal, to turn his heavy cavalry against the rear of Rome’s legions.
Meanwhile, the Roman infantry had advanced against Hannibal’s center, which yielded (without breaking) before the onrush of the numerically superior Roman forces. Slowly giving ground, Hannibal’s forces drew the Romans into a deep convex while his Libyan infantry stood fast on the flanks. Eventually the Carthaginian forces overlapped the Roman line and closed in on the seemingly victorious legionaries, who were on the verge of cracking Hannibal’s line. Hasdrubal’s cavalry charge from the rear sealed the legionaries’ doom.
Attacked from all sides by cavalry and infantry with short swords, the Romans pressed together, finding it impossible to properly wield their weapons. Many fought on in desperation until the army was virtually annihilated. Only one in eight legionaries on the field that day ever returned to Rome. The republic had suffered the worst military defeat in its history. The Second Punic War dragged on for another 14 years before the Romans finally defeated Hannibal, breaking Carthaginian military power for all time.
- Do not commit your major field army to a decisive battle against an army commanded by a military genius.
- Never leave a budding military genius and sworn enemy alive (three times) to wreak his vengeance on you at a later date.
- Before you enter into a war, have a long-range postwar strategic plan and the means to enact it once your army has won a decisive victory. After Cannae there was nothing standing between Hannibal’s victorious Carthaginians and the city of Rome, but having neglected to bring or build a siege train, Hannibal had no practical way to take Rome.
- It is not a good idea to make war on a state possessing almost inexhaustible reserves of manpower to fill decimated legions. As many others over the next half millennium were to learn and relearn, when you warred against Rome, you were making a serious wager about your future as a viable society. Rome never forgot, never forgave and, most important, never stopped coming on.
- For a trading nation whose economic well-being is directly tied to overseas international trade, it is a good idea before declaring war to build a navy that can command or at least contest control of the seas. Carthage didn’t rebuild its fleet following the First Punic War, so throughout the Second Punic War, Rome readily controlled the Mediterranean.
- Even the best infantry in the world (and the legions were by every measure superior to Hannibal’s troops) can be readily defeated by a well-handled, integrated combined force.
- Cavalry or a highly mobile striking army is a critical asset in battle. This was the one lesson the highly adaptive Romans never did seem to learn, as their history is replete with stories of legions lost for want of efficient cavalry.
- A single commander in chief provides infinitely superior leadership to that of co-commanders or an otherwise diffuse command structure.
- Finally, and most important, never let your army be caught in a double envelopment and then get surrounded. Only in very rare circumstances does anything good come of that.
Originally published in the May 2007 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.
HANNIBAL BARCA IN THE BATTLE OF CANNAE
The Battle of Cannae was a major conflict near the ancient village of Cannae, in Apulia, southeastern Italy, during the Second Punic War. The Romans, with over 90,000 men, met the 50,000 Carthaginian, allied African, Gallic, and Spanish troops under Hannibal’s command, and Carthaginians crushed the Romans. Hannibal’s troops gradually surrounded their foes and annihilated them in a classic example of the “double envelopment” maneuver. Roman losses exceeded 70,000 men, while the Carthaginians lost only about 6,000.
Before the Second Punic War, a powerful elite army was on the March. One of the greatest generals in history commanded this army. This commander had a score to settle with Rome. The fragile treaty that has kept the growing nations of Rome and Carthage in peacetime was about to end. The destination of this army was the city of Saguntum. According to the treaty, the Carthaginian government controls the lands in the Iberian Peninsula south of the Ebro River. However, Saguntum lies in their designated territory, and it just happens to be a belligerent Roman ally. The Carthaginian commander is Hannibal Barca. He marched here to take the city and punish Seguntum for the countless raids and acts of aggression, which Seguntum has committed against Carthage. Hannibal’s siege dragged on for eight months before he takes the city in early 218 BCE. The Roman outcry was immediate and they sent a diplomatic delegation to Carthage demanding retribution, which the Carthaginians promptly ignore. The Carthaginian response to Roman diplomacy guaranteed the coming of the Second Punic War.
When the Second Punic War began, the Romans devised a two-pronged assault strategy. The Romans sent one consular army to the west to attack Spain, and they sent the other army to strike Carthage. However, the Romans failed to notice how aggressive a general Hannibal was. Instead of staying on the defensive in his own territory, Hannibal takes his army northeast from Seguntum and he crosses the Pyrenees into Gaul. From there, he marches along the southern coast until he reaches the Rhone River. Native tribes guard this vast river, but Hannibal devises a way to cross it with his elephants. He planned a surprise attack for the Gauls on the opposite side. However, when he crossed the river, his army encountered a small Roman detachment. The fight that ensued was only going to be a skirmish, but the Romans now know that their Carthaginian opponent is on the march.
Following this engagement, the Romans bring back their armies from the offensive to defend the homeland. The Roman consul Publius Cornelius Scipio positions his forces in northern Italy blocking all the passes across the almost insurmountable Alps. Scipio even goes so far as to recall his co-counsel Longus from the south in order to bolster his defenses for the coming onslaught. Hannibal, who was famous for saying, “I shall either find a way or make a way,” in one of the most daring moves in antiquity crossed the Alps with his army and his elephants. The crossing was dangerous because Hannibal loses nearly half of his forces, but he arrived in the Po Valley with about 26,000 troops. The maneuver demonstrates Hannibal’s aggression, imagination, and audacity, which sketches key elements of his nature. He will force the Romans to fight him on the land and the time of his choosing. The results are going to be disastrous for the Romans.
In November of 218 BCE, Publius Cornelius Scipio meets up with Hannibal’s unsurpassed cavalry at the Ticinus River. The romans are no match for Hannibal’s elite cavalrymen who crushed their opposition and nearly killed Scipio in the process. Later in December, the Carthaginian army continue moving to confront Rome’s other console Tiberius Sempronius Longus. Longus has forced marched his men from the south. Longus knows that his consulship will soon end and he is eager for a fight. Hannibal bates him into battle. The resourceful Carthaginian positions his fighting men on the opposite side of the freezing Trebbia River, which forces Longus to cross under miserable conditions. The hidden Carthaginian troops surprise the Romans, and they completely encircle Rome’s best fighting men. However, Longus manages to break through at the last second with a fragment of his army. After this engagement, Rome takes in another defeat and this time it is a massive one and their casualties are just horrendous.
The tribes of northern Italy, who always hated Rome, joined Hannibal’s growing army because they saw a victorious commander defeating the Roman army. With the support of these tribes, Hannibal is prepared to move into the Roman heartland. In the spring of 217 BCE, Hannibal moves down along the western coast of Italy. When the Romans dispatch a new console, named Gaius Flaminius, to block the Carthaginians advance, Hannibal does the unexpected when he takes his forces through the Arno’s swamp, which was another terrain that everybody thought was unpassable. Despite losing one of his eyes and a good chunk of his army to disease in the swamp, Hannibal arrives in the Roman rear and thus still holds the initiative. The consul Flaminius became frustrated and humiliated after Hannibal outflanked him. Flaminius rushes his forces in pursuit of Hannibal to repair his pride. For Hannibal this became a ripe opportunity. He finds the ideal grounds for an ambush on the shores of Lake Trasimene. While using a narrow pass flanked to the south by the waters of the lake, Hannibal lays in waiting for the Romans. Flaminius marches his army right into the trap. He is completely oblivious of the danger, which his army is getting into until the very last moment when Hannibal gives the command to attack. The Carthaginian army quickly surrounded the Roman army except to the south, which was water blocked. During the engagement, the Carthaginians annihilated the Roman legions, and Roman consul dies with them.
The defeat at Lake Trasimene caused the Romans to descend into panic. In a rare moment in the early Roman Republic, the Senate votes to elect a dictator to deal with the crisis at hand. Quintus Fabius Maximus has chosen to lead, but instead of direct action against Hannibal, Fabius decides to enact a policy of non-engagement. Fabius wants to avoid direct confrontation, which he correctly guesses was exactly what Hannibal wants. Because of this policy, Romans called Fabius the great delayer. Fabius policy was really a war of attrition, which was something that could actually have worked and destroyed the Carthaginian army, but would require time and patience, which was counter to the impatient and aggressive nature of his fellow Romans. When Hannibal manages to evade a trap that Fabius laid out for him in the Vulturno River Valley, the Senate loses confidence in their dictator and his strategy of delay and instead they returned to their original strategic offensive.
In the year 216 BCE, the Roman Senate builds the largest force it can muster, which was a double over strength consular army. The Roman army contained roughly 95,000 Roman and allied troops. The councils of Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paulus commanded this massive Roman force. The Roman policy wanted two consuls to take turns on alternative days to lead the army. The consuls set out almost immediately to attack Hannibal. During this period, Hannibal was simply waiting for Roman army in southern Italy near a small city and grain Depot known as Cannae. While the Romans were marching to face the Carthaginians, Hannibal’s scout forces repeatedly attacked and harassed the Romans. While the Carthaginians did little damage militarily, the ongoing attacks provoked the anger of the Romans who march in because they wanted retribution. Once again, the location of the battle is of Hannibal’s choosing. He knows his opponents strengths and weaknesses and he plans accordingly. Hannibal chooses a large open field flanked on one side by the river of Phidias and on the other by gently rolling hills.
The Romans take up camp and Paulus, who was the more coolheaded of the two consuls, declines to engage Hannibal. However, Hannibal knows that all he needs to do is wait the next day and it would be Varro’s turn to be in charge. Hannibal’s spies informed him that Varro was famous for being both hotheaded and reckless in battle.
On August 2, 216 BCE, the Carthaginian army assembled 50,000 troops. The Romans have almost twice as many fighting men. Defying the military conventional tactics of antiquity, Hannibal placed elements of his troops, who were the Celts, Gauls, and Iberians, in the center of his military formation. His Carthaginian battlefield formation resembled a semicircle that was bulging outwards toward the celebrated Roman legions. On his flanks, Hannibal places his elite Carthaginian infantry. These men have been fighting with him for some time and they were always in an incredible state of readiness. On the extreme flanks, Hannibal places his cavalrymen who embodied the sense of audacity and movement that is the hallmark of Hannibal’s tactics, and they were similar to his elite infantry, who were some of the best fighting men of antiquity. On this day, Varro ignored the caution of his fellow co-counsel and he committed himself to battle. He saw that the weak Carthaginian Center appeared to be the perfect target for attack, and he assembles his army into a tightly packed force to batter and smash through the middle of the Carthaginian line, while using his cavalry on the flanks for protection.
Varro is confident that his superiority in numbers will carry the day and thus the Battle of Cannae begins. Varro gives the command and the Roman legions with their broad front begin to march. The Carthaginians did not move. Hannibal has expertly placed his troops to the west of the battlefield ensuring that the rising Sun and the blowing winds will blind the Romans as they came forward. When the Romans contacted the Carthaginian center, then Hannibal begins to enact his own plan. He commands his frontline to slowly fall back after fighting briefly, and he and his Gen. Mago stayed closely with the troops to make sure the frontline does not fail. As his troops in the center retreat, they draw the Romans in.
Hannibal then sends in his Carthaginian cavalry under the command of his esteemed Gen. Maharbal. He sends him into a flanking attack on the Roman cavalrymen on his left. The Romans put up some resistance, but the Carthaginians quickly rout them from the field. Meanwhile, on his right flank Hannibal sends in his Numidian light cavalry into another flanking maneuver. They take on the mounted Romans that are on that side, and while this clash is going on, Maharbal and his force managed to swing around the entire rear of the Roman infantry, and smash into the remaining Roman cavalry overwhelming them as well. The Roman cavalrymen flee from the scene with the Carthaginians in close pursuit, while the Roman infantry in the center have no idea their flanks are no longer protected. The Romans continue marching into Hannibal’s trap and Varro who was with the fleeing cavalry was no longer able to give them commands. Varro’s original plan to break the Carthaginian center begins to fall apart. Hannibal has turned the Romans strengths of direct assault into a weakness. When the Roman legions continue to close in the Carthaginians continue to fall back and they partially surrounded the Roman infantry in a semicircle formation.
As the Romans found themselves partially surrounded, Hannibal orders his elite infantry to turn inwards and hit Varro’s troops on both sides in a double pincer maneuver. As the Carthaginians continue to surround the Romans, they attacked the Romans from three directions. The Romans start to lose cohesion and momentum. The Carthaginian tactic hemmed in the legionnaires at the center of Rome’s army. The Romans were so closely together that they could barely draw their weapons for combat.
During this moment in the conflict, Hannibal commands his front line to hold their ground. The only path left open for the Romans is to escape to the rear, but at the edge of the battlefield the Carthaginian cavalry has returned from chasing off the Roman cavalrymen. The Carthaginians now completely surround the Romans. Rome’s superior numbers become nothing more than an encumbrance. The battle devolves into a slaughter. For the remainder of that day, the Carthaginians cut down the Romans on all sides. There was little chance for any Roman soldier to escape. Many Romans in the center commit suicide. Some Romans were digging shallow pits in the ground to plunge their heads into the dirt to suffocate them-selves, while others were asking fellow soldiers to kill them mercifully. The rest of the Romans were sweltering in the Summer Sun as they hear the cries of their comrades when Carthaginians killed many Romans around them. The Carthaginian army decorated the battlefield with Roman blood. The console Paulus who wanted to avoid battle ironically finds himself in the middle of this carnage when he dies on the battlefield with his fighting men. By the day ends, the Republic has a shocking 50 to 60 thousand dead soldiers, and another 10 to 20 thousand captured Romans. Finally, Hannibal leaves the field a massive graveyard where modern experts later estimated that there was 1.6 million pounds of human flesh rotting in the sun. Rome suffers one of the greatest military defeats in its history, and this defeat has brought the Empire nearly to its knees. After the battle, Hannibal had little opposition in