Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hannibal: The Man Who Hated Rome

During the course of this campaign the young Carthaginian general attacked and defeated an ally of Rome; the second Punic War had begun.

Rather than sit back and wait for the inevitable Roman onslaught, Hannibal took decisive action, and headed for the heart of empire - Italy itself.

With a relatively small army of select troops, Hannibal invaded Italy by the little-known overland route. He fought his way over the Pyrenees and reached the Rhône River before the Romans could block his crossing. He descended into Italy and with his superior cavalry overran the Po valley, winning recruits from the Gallic tribes. A Roman force tried to stop him on the Trebbia, only to be wiped out.

In the spring of 217 he crossed the Apennines and marched toward Rome. At Lake Trasimeno he destroyed the main Roman army, but he avoided the strong walls of Rome and moved southward, hoping to stir up a general revolt.

Fearing a general collapse of their Italian powerbase, a mighty Roman army, eight legions strong, marched out to crush the Carthaginian general on an open battlefield.

The two armies met at Cannae 216BC, and Hannibal would win his most famous victory. By utilising brilliant battlefield tactics he defeated a larger Roman force that resulted in the near-annihilation of the Roman army.

However, by 212 BC the tide of war gradually turned against Hannibal. In 211 BC the Romans retook Capua, despite his rapid march toward Rome to entice them away. In 207 BC he fought his way for the last time into a position near Rome, but the defeat and death of his brother Hasdrubal on the Metaurus River made his position hopeless, and he withdrew into the mountains of Bruttium.

Recalled to Carthage in 203 to check the advance of Scipio Africanus Major in Africa, he was decisively beaten at Zama in 202 BC.


Post a Comment

<< Home