I have the Goldsworthy, so thank you for another suggested title.
I will probably just flick through the one I own as a reminder.
It’s a fine book!
Thank you. I might like that. I have read a trilogy about the end of the US Civil war, starting with a Confederate victory at Gettysburg. It is by Newt Gingrich.
I am fancying looking at Cannae again, after these discussions.
Sorry to say Alexander has never interested me!
Two books worth purchasing that are devoted to the battle of Cannae:
I’d go for Daly’s if you only buy one.
Crossing the Alps was amazing, but it is important to remember at Cannae Hannibal faced a Roman army that switched commanders on a daily basis - a most bizarre and inefficient command structure.
That was a weird system admittedly.
Wonder how much it contributed to the defeat.
The two Roman Consuls were so dissimilar and on the 2nd August Varro got the command and his impetuosity and Roman arrogance probably cost them that day.
I always think how unfair it is that he survived, was not censured for the outcome and died an old man, yet Paullus was killed and was against fighting Hannibal.
It wasn’t a great way of running armies, certainly not against Hannibal, but it had worked in the long run and won them the Italian peninsular, Sicily and Sardinia. Those in command had often many years of experience in the Roman army. Paullus had won against the Illyrians in 219 BC and may have again been in command on the day at Cannae (there is controversy, based on the fact that Paullus was in command of the Roman right wing, the position of command usual for the Roman army, and that the days had been moved around - Paullus was Scipio’s father-in-law so Polybius may have had further reasons to cover it as he was a client of the Scipio family - though I still tend to believe it was in fact Varro who was in command).
Paullus was more cautious, but he wasn’t against fighting Hannibal, the purpose of the large army at Cannae was to bring about a decisive engagement. An army that size would have been going through a lot of supplies and could not be supported in one area for long. Varro gets a lot of bad press, but that doesn’t mean he was a bad commander - large armies are not easy to command, and it was the largest Rome had fielded to that point. Varro in fact shows signs of good leadership and strategic thought with rallying a force of roughly ten thousand survivors of the battle (which must have been difficult considering the drubbing they just received) and strategically helped Rome by installing garrisons in a number of towns which would prevent their defection and could harass Hannibal’s route further south. Varro’s plan at Cannae was sound considering the success they had achieved previously, and it could have gone horribly wrong for Hannibal (the Roman’s had cut through Hannibal’s centre in both Trebia and Trasimene, and would do so against Hannibal’s brother at Dertossa.)
Yes good post. Thank God he didn’t say Hannibal’s campaign in Italy was some silly war “across the ocean”, since it wasn’t.
Glad that was cleared up.
Thankfully what has been cleared up is your assertion that virtually the entire war was one fought from land to land, (apart from, as you said, Rome’s final attack came from the sea) otherwise people might get the wrong idea fella!
The first and second punic wars were fought from Spain into Italy.
This needs a bit of correcting too! The first half of this, where you say the First was also fought from Spain into Italy. The fighting took place in Sicily, with a large number of major naval battles taking place in the Med. The only fighting that took place in Italy were coastal raids launched from Africa, Sardinia and from Sicily. Rome did invade North Africa during this war, though only once and only briefly, the army was defeated by Xanthippus at the Battle of Tunis in 255 BC) Carthage maintained trading relations with the Phoenicians of Spain at this point, and certainly hired Spanish mercenaries, but it was no war launched from Spain!
Just to back up my previous posts, these are just some of the passages in Livy that reveal a number of naval operations and landings of forces from Africa to the various theaters during the war, which clearly prove it simply wasn’t just one fought from land to land from Spain to Italy.
In the meanwhile the news was brought to Carthage that things had gone badly in Spain and that almost all the communities in that country had gone over to Rome. Mago, Hannibal’s brother, was preparing to transport to Italy a force of 12,000 infantry, 1500 cavalry, and 20 elephants, escorted by a fleet of 60 warships. On the receipt of this news, however, some were in favour of Mago, with such a fleet and army as he had, going to Spain instead of Italy, but whilst they were deliberating there was a sudden gleam of hope that Sardinia might be recovered. They were told that "there was only a small Roman army there, the old praetor, A. Cornelius, who knew the province well, was leaving and a fresh one was expected; the Sardinians, too, were tired of their long subjection, and during the last twelve months the government had been harsh and rapacious and had crushed them with a heavy tax and an unfair exaction of corn. Nothing was wanting but a leader to head their revolt. "This report was brought by some secret agents from their leaders, the prime mover in the matter being Hampsicora, the most influential and wealthy man amongst them at that time. Perturbed by the news from Spain, and at the same time elated by the Sardinian report, they sent Mago with his fleet and army to Spain and selected Hasdrubal to conduct the operations in Sardinia, assigning to him a force about as large as the one they had furnished to Mago. (23.32)
The army sent to Sardinia was defeated there (Livy, 23.40) and shortly afterwards, a naval battle took place in which Hasdrubal was defeated by Titus Otacilius Crassus (23.41) as Hasdrubal was returning to Africa.
Very few were influenced by Hanno’s speech. His well-known dislike of the Barcas deprived his words of weight and they were too much preoccupied with the delightful news they had just heard to listen to anything which would make them feel less cause for joy. They fancied that if they were willing to make a slight effort the war would soon be over. A resolution was accordingly passed with great enthusiasm to reinforce Hannibal with 4000 Numidians, 40 elephants, and 500 talents of silver. (23.13)
But they did not remain quiet long, for just after this battle an order was received from Carthage for Hasdrubal to lead his army as soon as he could into Italy. This became generally known throughout Spain and the result was that there was a universal feeling in favour of Rome. Hasdrubal at once sent a despatch to Carthage pointing out what mischief the mere rumour of his departure had caused, and also that if he did really leave Spain it would pass into the hands of the Romans before he crossed the Ebro. He went on to say that not only had he neither a force nor a general to leave in his place, but the Roman generals were men whom he found it difficult to oppose even when his strength was equal to theirs. If, therefore, they were at all anxious to retain Spain they should send a man with a powerful army to succeed him, and even though all went well with his successor he would not find it an easy province to govern. (23.27) (this passage is relevant to understand the one below)
Although this despatch made a great impression on the senate, they decided that as Italy demanded their first and closest attention, the arrangements about Hannibal and his forces must not be altered. Himilco was sent with a large and well-appointed army and an augmented fleet to hold and defend Spain by sea and land. As soon as he had brought his military and naval forces across he formed an entrenched camp, hauled his ships up on the beach and surrounded them with a rampart. After providing for the safety of his force he started with a picked body of cavalry, and marching as rapidly as possible, and being equally on the alert whether passing through doubtful or through hostile tribes, succeeded in reaching Hasdrubal. After laying before him the resolutions and instructions of the senate and being in his turn shown in what way the war was to be managed in Spain, he returned to his camp. (23.28)
Himilco, who had been for a considerable time cruising with his fleet off the promontory of Pachynus, returned to Carthage as soon as he heard that Syracuse had been seized by Hippocrates. Supported by the envoys from Hippocrates and by a despatch from Hannibal in which he said that the time had arrived for winning back Sicily in the most glorious way, and by the weight of his own personal presence, he had no difficulty in persuading the government to send to Sicily as large a force as they could of both infantry and cavalry. Sailing back to the island he landed at Heraclea an army of 20,000 infantry, 3000 cavalry, and twelve elephants, a very much stronger force than he had with him at Pachynus (24.35)
After Marcellus’ departure from Sicily a Carthaginian fleet landed a force of 8000 infantry and 3000 Numidian horse. (26.21)
In regards to strengthening Hannibal’s brother Mago’s position in northern Italy:
To Mago they sent not only instructions but also 25 warships, a force of 6000 infantry, 800 cavalry and 7 elephants. A large amount of money was also forwarded to him to enable him to raise a body of mercenaries, with which he might be able to move nearer Rome and form a junction with Hannibal. Such were the preparations and plans of Carthage. (29.4)
I honestly believe some of these forces, particularly the one sent to Sardinia, should have actually been sent to Hannibal, he certainly could have done with them!
markdienekes, good luck in your debate with IL on this topic. IL is well versed in this and every topic, he had a degree in history from Stanford where they teach that Hannibal was born in Turkey.
Thanks, I am well versed on this topic myself (but not much else, hehe).
I’ve actually listened to some of the Stanford lectures on Hannibal, and some of it is quite good, but Patrick Hunt makes quite a few mistakes in regards to the military aspect of the Second Punic War, particularly on the nature of Carthaginian armies and the roles of it - for example, he keeps referring to Numidian cavalry as ‘heavy’ cavalry. If you can track them down, they are still worth listening too as it is packed with good information.
I haven’t heard that he was born in Turkey, however, I have heard that he may have been buried there, but then that was also where he died (in Libyssa). I imagine Hannibal was born in Carthage. But that is going a bit off-topic!
But the only time Hannibal comes up is the 2nd Punic War, but that conflict was by far conducted on land from land, and not any war “across the oceans”. It was not the case that Hannibal had logistical support by sea. Before he began the war, he prepared from Spain and got no supplies delivered by sea. The reason why i bring this up is because in a discussion of Hannibal, one poor student tried to argue that the war where he fought was largely this “war across the ocean” when it could not be more different. Only part of Carthage was across the sea, part of it was not and Hannibal fought from what he developed in the Iberian peninsula.
Hannibal’s campaigns was largely one from land, but he was not the only general nor was his the only theater of war. I’m looking at the whole of Carthage’s war effort, and much of that was directed from Carthage and Africa, as I mentioned earlier, many armies were prepared there and sent to various theaters of war) though he did receive logistical support from Carthage at least once when admiral Bomilcar brought him cavalry, elephants and supplies in 215 BC at Locri, and of course, before the war, where he brought over Africans to Spain. His main logistical support came from the Italian peninsular. I also believe he’d have continued to receive funds and supplies from Carthage too, as ancient sea power could not prevent this completely (and we hear of many occasions of Hannibal sending word back to Carthage, or to Sicily, which obviously would have gone by ship).