By Adrian Goldsworthy

On 2 August 216BC, Hannibal received his maximum victory within the undeniable north of the small, hilltop city of Cannae in southern Italy. through the top of the day his outnumbered mercenaries had enveloped and massacred the larger a part of the biggest military Rome had ever fielded, turning this into one of many bloodiest battles ever fought, rivalling even the industrialised slaughter of the 20th century advert. For the Romans Cannae turned the yardstick in which different defeats have been measured, by no means exceeded and just once or two times equalled within the subsequent six centuries. Cannae continues to be probably the most recognized battles ever fought, usually alluded to in smooth army writing, and Hannibal's strategies are nonetheless taught within the army academies the place latest officials are informed. This quantity is a new examine the conflict, and explains basically and concisely precisely the way it used to be that Hannibal completed his ancient victory.

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Hannibal told his men that the Romans were frightened of them and moved on, devastating the coun tryside as he did so. This might provoke Fabius to risk a battle and if not CARTHAGE , ROME AND THE PUNIC WARS it would demonstrate that Rome was militarily weak and un abl e to protect its own or its allies' fields. From the beginning of the Italian invasion, Hannibal had made great efforts to persuade Rome's allies to defect, treating allied prisoners very well and con tinua lly assuri ng them of his good intentions .

In this case at least, such a view is sure ly mistaken. Polybius is our earliest and most reliable sourc e and h is acco unt is utterly consistent in assuming that there were eight legions . It would be very rash to CANNAE reject such positive testimony from this source. Livy's narrative also assumed the higher estimate, when for instance he mentions that twenty-nine tribunes were killed in the battle and names six of the survivors. Since there were six tribunes per legion, this would indicate that at least six legions were present.

There are a few references to groups of 500 which may have been single units, and another to 2,000 Gauls divided into three bands, although in this case it is not clear whether these were in turn subdivided into smaller groups. " There really was no such thing as a typical Carthaginian army, since these varied tremendously in their ethnic composition, mixture of troop types and general effectiveness. Each general had to develop a system of controlling and co-ordinating the movements of the diverse elements within his army, a process which took time.

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