103

While the total encirclement might be the most impressive thing about Cannae, remember that it's just a special case of a pincer movement where the pincer goes all the way around the enemy. A pincer is itself just a special case of a flanking manuever in which both flanks are attacked simultaneously. The most important thing about Cannae was that Hannibal ...


88

While the tactical factor (not being able to move units around) is important, the main issue is one of soldiers panicking. Remember that it does not matter what the numbers are actually; your soldiers cannot see the lines in the map and are victims of the fog of war. Soldiers in the battlefield do not get to see a nice map showing the position of the units, ...


32

First of all, Carthage did not fall in the First or Second Punic Wars. The Carthaginians were defeated twice, and compelled to surrender to particularly harsh terms the second time, but the City of Carthage itself was not conquered. Keep in mind that Carthage was not some run of the mill city-state, but rather the capital of a far flung maritime empire. ...


31

Short Answer: His army was too small to either assault or securely besiege Rome Rome itself remain defended by two legions and a large, conscriptable population Marching on and laying siege to Rome was beyond his logistical capacity He cannot realistically defeat Rome while her Latin and Italian allies remained loyal The traditional analysis is that ...


23

This is a subject of some dispute, but perhaps the most common view is that Hannibal probably crossed the Pyrenees via the mountain passes of modern Le Perthus. He crossed the Pyrenees by the Col du Perthus, a relatively low pass near the eastern end of the mountains near the eastern end of the mountains near the Mediterranean Sea. The Col du Oethus is ...


18

The simple answer is because bones are organic, and organic things don't last 2000 years. Even hard organic things like bones, except in very extreme (eg: rare) circumstance. Exposed bone, unless its somewhere with little life, will generally be gone within a year. Usually when we talk of archeologists finding "bones" what they have really found is fossils ...


16

tl; dr - encirclement creates a mobility advantage for the encircling forces. Ultimately encirclement permits the encircling commander to choose the location, time, conditions, and duration. The defending/encircled force has no options. Melee formations are tightly packed - shields overlap. If you want to survive, you want to be as close as possible to the ...


15

I just wanted to expand on a comment by armatita and hence address some part of the OP's question more generally. Independent of the specifics of this battle and tactics, it is mathematically disadvantageous to be encircled, even partially. If we assume that each person needs the same amount of space to actively participate in combat (move their weapons ...


12

You are correct that being surrounded isn't necessarily a bad thing, and this question isn't a straightforward one to answer. As Pieter Geerkens noted in a comment, if you do it right then the defender enjoys the advantage of interior lines, and smart commanders throughout history have let themselves be surrounded on purpose to that effect. To arbitrarily ...


10

There's actually quite a bit available, even just from wikipedia: Catapults: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carthage_%28c._149_BC%29 Trireme Rams, Corvus (naval): http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_corvus.html Sambuca, Claw of Archimedes, Heat Ray, onagers (naval): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Syracuse_%28214%E2%80%93212_BC%29#...


9

(Refer to map below) After the Battle of Cannae (2 August 216 BC), Hannibal went immediately to Compsa (1), where he set up a base and took some of forces and sent them on a mission to collect allies in that area. He then gathered his main army and went to Naples (2) where he was hoping to take control of a seaport. When he got to Naples he found it had ...


9

According to the narration in this book and that one, Hannibal did not start the war prematurely. The mistake might have been to start the war at all, but the timing was not bad in itself: Hannibal had at his disposal a substantial army of hardened veterans, while Rome did not. A lot of reasons have been advanced, explaining the ultimate failure of Hannibal ...


8

I believe we can spit this up into three parts: Roman Jewish Community: "Jews have lived in Rome for over 2,000 years [...] They may even have established a community there as early as the second pre-Christian century, for in the year 139 B.C. the pretor Hispanus issued a decree expelling all Jews who were not Italian citizens" Jewish Encyclopaedia So we ...


8

Carthage's leadship was not fully behind Hannibal's war on Rome. They did try to take advantage of it (like the failed Sicily mission) but never put their full power behind Hannibal. By the time they realised that they should, it was too late. Reinforcements, siege weapons, and a navy would all have helped Hannibal a great deal. None of those things were ...


8

During the Punic Wars, the Macedonians allied themselves with the Carthaginians with the expectation they would be the victors of the war and therefore be on good terms with them in the future. In order to cement this, the Macedonian–Carthaginian Treaty was signed in 215 BC as recorded by Livy. On this contest, between the two most powerful people in the ...


8

The reason is that this was the Second Punic War. During the First Punic War the Carthaginians beat the Romans more than once, destroying their fleets...and the Romans built another fleet. This was what the Romans did. They did not give up just because they lost an army or a navy. They just raised another. And the First Punic War was not exceptional. A ...


6

There is a big reason and a small reason: Big reason: There's sampling bias. If encirclement leads to defeat, the result is a wipeout, which is notable. If encirclement doesn't lead to defeat, the result is nowhere near as notable. Small reason: The outside ring is slightly longer than the inside ring, and allows more layers of reinforcements, so there are ...


6

Neither Polybius or Livy, the 2 main accounts, mention how many elephants, if any, died during the crossing of the Alps. Appian's account says that Hannibal took 37 but also does not number those lost, if any, crossing the alps. Hannibal certainly had a number of elephants at the Battle of Trebbia, though all but 1 or 7 supposedly died in the cold weather ...


6

The absence of evidence is not proof, particularly when it comes to archeology where there's so much ground to [un]cover and so few people to do it, and in this case the proof is particularly difficult to find. We don't know Hannibal's route across the Alps. The two Roman historians who are our primary contemporary sources, Polybius and Livy, were short on ...


6

I think there may be a bit of confusion here between "encirclement" and "envelopment" - or a pincer movement. Think of an encirclement being a possible outcome of a double envelopment, with a single envelopment being the flanking of one wing of an enemy army. It is also not clear that the result of encirclement caused Roman soldiers to panic and attempt to ...


5

Manpower Prior to the Marian Reforms (107 BC), Roman Legions were primarily comprised of conscripts (the word Legion actually derives from the Latin word for conscription/selection). This was limited to able-bodied, property-owning Roman Citizens. Soldiers paid for their own equipment, which dictated the formation and structure of the legion. The poorest ...


3

Encirclement means that you cannot retreat. The enemy can evade your blows but you cannot evade theirs. Given how tightly packed ancient formations were this simple mobility limitation meant death for anyone encircled or somehow constrained by disadvantageous terrain.


3

This thread in history reddit claims that someone found elephant poop, presumably in the Alps, and hopes to do genetic testing to discover which species of elephant they are from. https://www.reddit.com/r/history/comments/8cop16/im_dr_eve_macdonald_expert_on_ancient_carthage/1


3

Hannibal's troops were not numerous enough (about 40,000 after the battle) to have a hope of taking Rome, which had a very large population (somewherere around 200,000) and was well fortified (the Servian Wall).


3

As for siege equipment used during the Punic Wars it's quite a long period and should be looked at in a progressive manner. When the Roman republic entered the war in 264 BC there was little siege strategy within the Roman army. Their main tactic was the circumvention of an enemy town with a series of palisades and connected fortifications. They would then ...


3

It comes down to two issues: no army to send and no navy to get it there. The war of Hannibal and the Barcas against Rome was more or less a personal project by that family, who controlled Spain and its resources and built up their armies there. Hannibal's initial thrust across the Alps and into Italy needed to be done because Rome had complete control of ...


3

They did send more aid. Hasdrubal, Hannibal's brother, came with a whole new army which miraculously made it all the Italy, but then was unfortunately wiped out at the Battle of the Metaurus.


3

Started to write an answer, realized midway through I was summarizing the wiki page and rewrote. The shortest answer I can now give is there really was no single tactic that won the battles, both sides had victories and defeats throughout the war. The Romans won due to resiliency in the face of attrition that the Carthaginians couldn't keep up with. Navy: ...


2

I am quite surprised that nobody mentionned Livy's History of Rome Ab Urbe Condita. In book 21 - parts 23 and 24, the historian says about Hannibal that: He placed Hanno in charge of the whole coast-line to secure the passes which connect Spain with Gaul He crossed the Pyrenees with the remainder of his force and fixed his camp at the town of Iliberri. ...


2

Looking at ancient warfare strategy and tactics, it's likely Hannibal used two different routes through the Central Pyrenees. Any other option is unlikely as Hannibal had enemies on the North side and South side of the Eastern Pyrenees. The river Segre is the most promising as the secondary route.


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible