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15 III Analysis of the Battle of Cannae The account of Polybius: Varro placed the cavalry on the right wing, and rested it on the river; the infantry was deployed near it and on the same line, the maniples drawn close to each other, with smaller intervals than usual, and the maniples presenting more depth than front. The cavalry of the allies, on the left wing, completed the line, in front of which were posted the light troops. There were in that army, including the allies, 80,000 foot and a little more than 6,000 horse. Meanwhile Hannibal had his slingers and light troops cross the Aufidus and posted them in front of his army. The rest crossed the river at two places. He placed the Iberian and Gallic cavalry on the left wing, next [to] the river and facing the Roman cavalry. He placed on the same line, one half of the African infantry heavily armed, the Iberian and Gallic infantry, the other half of the African infantry, and finally the Numidian cavalry that formed the right wing. After he had thus arrayed all his troops upon a single line, he marched to meet the enemy with the Iberian and Gallic infantry moving independently of the main body. As it was joined in a straight line with the rest, on separating, it was formed like the convex face of a crescent. This formation reduced its depth in the center. The intention of the general was to commence the battle with the Iberians and Gauls, and have them supported by the Africans. The latter infantry was armed like the Roman infantry, having been equipped by Hannibal with arms that had been taken from the Romans in preceding battles. Both Iberians and Gauls had shields; but 16 Chapter III their swords were quite different. The sword of the former was as fit for thrusting as for cutting while that of the Gauls only cut with the edge, and at a limited distance. These troops were drawn up as follows: the Iberians were in two bodies of troops on the wings, near the Africans ; the Gauls in the center. The Gauls were naked, the Iberians in linen shirts of purple color, which to the Romans was an extraordinary and frightening spectacle. The Carthaginian army consisted of 10,000 horse and a little more than 40,000 foot. Aemilus commanded the right of the Romans, Varro the left; the two consuls of the past year, Servilius and Attilius, were in the center. On the Carthaginian side, Hasdrubal had the left under his orders, Hanno the right, and Hannibal, who had his brother Mago with him, reserved for himself the command of the center. The two armies did not suffer from the glare of the sun when it rose, the one being faced to the south, as I remarked, and the other to the north. Action commenced with the light troops, which were in front of both armies. The first engagement gave advantage to neither the one nor the other. Just as soon as the Iberian and Gallic cavalry on the left approached, the conflict became hot. The Romans fought with fury and rather more like barbarians than Romans. This falling back and then returning to the charge was not according to their tactics. Scarcely did they become engaged when they leaped from their horses and each seized his adversary. In the meanwhile the Carthaginians gained the upper hand. The greater number of the Romans remained on the ground after having fought with the greatest valor. The others were pursued along the river and cut to pieces without being able to obtain quarter. The heavily armed infantry immediately took the place of the light troops and became engaged. The Iberians and Gauls held firm at first and sustained the shock with vigor; but they soon gave way to the weight of the legions, and, opening the crescent, turned their backs and retreated. The Romans followed them with impetuosity, and broke the Gallic line much more easily because the wings crowded toward the center where the thick of fighting was. The whole line did not fight at the same time. The action commenced in the center because the Gauls, being drawn up in the form of a crescent, left the wings far behind them, and presented the convex face of the crescent to the Romans. The latter then followed the Gauls and the Iberians closely, and crowded toward the center, to the place where...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780700623938
Related ISBN
9780700623921
MARC Record
OCLC
971494799
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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