Hannibal's Victory At Cannae

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The Battle of Cannae, between the multi-ethnic forces of the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca and the much larger Roman army under the command of consuls Lucius Aemilius Paulus and Gaius Terentius Varro, in 216 BCE, was without a doubt one of the most significant battles in history. Cannae is rightly regarded as one of the greatest battles in history. Hannibal's strategic philosophies have become a model of the perfectly fought battle and are studied in detail at military academies around the world. While it is considered Hannibal’s finest hour, it was also a stark demonstration of Roman failure at the leadership level. History is written by the victors and nowhere is this dictum truer than in the case of the three wars between…show more content…
The deployment of forces on the plain of Cannae was critical to the battle. The Romans took up positions facing south. The Roman horses, numbering close to 3,000 was on the right wing commanded by Aemilius Paulus. The allied cavalry, numbering approximately 7,000 formed the left wing and was under the command of Terentius Varro. The center was led by Minucius and Servilius and was comprised of massed infantry forces that were placed in a more compact and deeper formation than was customary for a Roman army. Subsequently, the front line was comprised of…show more content…
But the Romans had an important reason to choose to do battle on an open plain: it precluded the hiding of forces for an ambush which was a tactic by which Hannibal employed that resulted in heavy Roman losses at the Trebia and at Lake Trasimuenus. Since ambush was not possible at Cannae the Romans were confident that their massive numerical superiority would give them the greatest chance at victory. They didn’t appear bothered by the possibility that cavalry could operate effectively in that type of terrain. Historically, Paulus and Varro disagreed on the location of the battle but the evidence points to the fact that this is most likely that they were in

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