On 2nd August 216 BC, almost two years after he had crossed the Alps, Hannibal confronted the largest army ever fielded by the Roman Republic in the narrow plain north of the small hilltop town of Cannae in Southern Italy.
The Carthaginian mercenaries – Spaniards, Gauls, Libyans and Numidians – were experienced, confident and well led, but they were also outnumbered nearly two to one by the Roman army of 86,000 men. Yet, after a long day of brutal fighting, Hannibal had not simply defeated, but virtually annihilated the Romans, the terrible carnage rivalling the industrialised slaughter of the twentieth century.
Hannibal’s battle at Cannae was so perfectly executed it has since become the model for countless generals, including von Schlieffen, Rommel and Norman Schwarzkopf.
In this unique new appraisal, Adrian Goldsworthy uses primary sources to tell the story of this epic confrontation and examine in detail the brilliant tactics which made it one of the most famous battles ever waged.
‘I learned many things from the Battle of Cannae which I applied to Desert Storm’ – General Norman Schwarzkopf