Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


This is coolbert:

Read about Cannae, Lake Trasimene, and Trebia here.

Victories of Hannibal over the Roman Legions during the Second Punic war.

The Second Punic War. Where Hannibal and his army crossed the Alps with elephants and invaded Roman territory itself. Nearly defeating and destroying the Roman Empire. History would have been much different if Rome had been destroyed. That is very evident.

NOT just victories, but superlative victories that have been studied by astute military men for the last 2000 years.

The standard [Cannae] by which all other military victories since that time have been judged.

Some really eminent military historians, military thinkers and leaders have all expressed the marked impression that Cannae has had on them.

"the battle itself has acquired a reputation within the field of military history. As the military historian, Theodore Ayrault Dodge, once wrote: 'Few battles of ancient times are more marked by ability... than the battle of Cannae.'"

"As Will Durant wrote, 'It was a supreme example of generalship, never bettered in history... and [it] set the lines of military tactics for 2,000 years'."

"Hannibal's double envelopement at the Battle of Cannae is often viewed as one of the greatest battlefield maneuvers in history, and is cited as the first successful use of the pincer movement within the Western world, to be recorded in detail [14]."

"the Battle of Cannae represents the archetypal battle of annihilation, a strategy that has rarely been successfully implemented in modern history. As Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II, once wrote, 'Every ground commander seeks the battle of annihilation; so far as conditions permit, he tries to duplicate in modern war the classic example of Cannae'."

"The notion that an entire army could be encircled and annihilated within a single stroke, led to a fascination among subsequent Western generals for centuries (including Frederick the Great and Helmuth von Moltke) who attempted to emulate its tactical paradigm of envelopment and re-create their own "Cannae"[10]. For instance, Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of the Coalition Forces in the Gulf War, studied Cannae and employed the principles Hannibal used, in his highly successful ground campaign against the Iraqi forces[5]."

"Hans Delbrück's seminal study of the battle had a profound influence on subsequent German military theorists, in particular, the Chief of the German General Staff, Alfred Graf von Schlieffen"

"Emmanuel Lasker, a famous German chess player, was particularly fond of using the Battle of Cannae as an illustration for Chess strategies and tactics."

"Due to the similarities in tactics, the Battle of Cowpens is often referred to as the "American Cannae" or "Cannae in miniature"."

Hannibal is of course one of the Great Captains whose military campaigns were studied so assiduously by Napoleon. Hannibal Barca, always fighting outnumbered, sometimes ridiculously so, and always coming up with the "big play" when he needed to.

A web site having excellent animated graphics of all three battles describes exactly what happened to the Romans. Blundering into traps and outfoxed by the superior ability of Hannibal. And keep in mind the Romans were NO slouches.

Hannibal, his troops, strategy, and tactics had an effect upon the Romans that was equal to what an atomic bomb would have had!! Hannibal was able to constrict the Roman formations until they could not even use their own weapons or maneuver without running into one another.

Hannibal fought to win. And win he did!!




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