Essay on Hannibal’s Tactical Defeat of the Roman Army at Cannae

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The Battle of Cannae, between the Carthaginian General Hannibal and the larger Roman army under the command of Lucius Aemilius Paulus and Gaius Terentius Varro in 216 B.C. serves as one of the most influential tactical battles in history. Two enemy forces faced off using very different tactics. The Roman Empire had succeeded in amassing over 50,000 infantry troops and an estimated 6,000 cavalry troops. The Roman army planned to use its vast numbers to subdue the smaller numbered forces of the Carthaginian army using sheer force. Hannibal’s army, though lesser in quality and quantity compared to the Roman army, was composed of seasoned fighters. Hannibal plan was to use the fighting techniques of the Roman army to his benefit.…show more content…
The cavalry of the allied Italian forces, ranged from 4,000 to 7,000 soldiers, were to take the left wing. The center consisted of a massive number of infantry soldiers, formed in a tight formation. The Roman army, instead of using is vast numbers to create separated groups of forces, used them to add additional ranks in the formation. The Carthaginian army was oriented with the city of Cannae to their back, which was a tactical advantage for Hannibal’s army. This forced opponent forces to battle facing the sun, which ultimately weighed down and exhausted the Roman army. The Carthaginian army formed a similar formation. According to Cavazzi (n.d.), he stated: Hannibal first masked his moves as he drew up his army, by placing his light slingers and spearmen at the front. Behind them, he positioned his Celtic and Spanish swordsmen in a crescent in the center. On his left wing, he stationed his Celtic and Spanish heavy cavalry; on the right, he stationed his light Numidia cavalry. Both sides engaged their infantry forces in skirmishes at the center. Hannibal was familiar with the Roman style of fighting and anticipated the Roman élite would position their cavalry on the right. The Romans viewed their allies as not being noble and refused to fight on the same side as their partner. This allowed Hannibal to place his heavy Celtic and Iberian cavalry to his left to face the Roman cavalry. Hannibal’s cavalry outnumbered
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