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Hannibal Barca

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Hannibal Barca was born in 247 B.C. in the city of Carthage, which was located in modern Tunis, or the northern tip of Africa. His father, Hamilcar Barca, was a great Carthaginian general of the army who fought in the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage, which the latter lost. At a very young age, Hamilcar made Hannibal promise "eternal hatred towards Rome" (Lendering, 1). At around age nine, Hannibal accompanied his father on an expedition to gain a hold in Spain. During this time was when Hannibal probably gained most of his military knowledge that helped him greatly later in life. When Hannibal's father and older brother died in 229 and 226, Hannibal was elected commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian army. About ten years later, Hannibal, acting on his promise to his father, attacked the city of Sagantum in Spain, which was controlled by the Romans. This attack led to the start of the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome.

Even before the war started, Hannibal knew what he was going to do. Since Carthage had no navy, there was no hope of going directly from Carthage to Italy over the Mediterranean Sea. Hannibal thought up a dangerous but ingenious plan. In order to get to Italy over land, Hannibal and his army would have to travel from Carthage-controlled Spain across the Alps and into the heart of the enemy. Hannibal left in the cold winter of 218 B.C. with 50,000 infantry, 9,000 cavalry, and 37 war elephants. While crossing the Alps, "Hannibal's force suffered greatly from the elements and the hostility of the local tribesmen" (Beshara, 3). By the time they reached Italy, after only fourteen days, over 9,000 men had perished along with most of the elephants, but this number was soon replenished after 14,000 northern Gaul rebels joined Hannibal's army. This group of 60,000 men proved superior to the Roman forces, and after at least three recorded major victories, the Roman senate was exasperated. An army of 80,000 Roman soldiers was sent to stop Hannibal's army of now 50,000 once and for all. In July of 216 B.C., the Romans engaged the Carthaginians in "the neighborhood of Cannae on the Italian east coast" (Lendering, 2). Greatly outnumbered, Hannibal realized that he would have to win by strategy, and that is exactly what he did. As the two lines met, Hannibal's cavalry gained the flanks and, moving up the sides, attacked the rear of the Roman line. The Romans, literally chopped down at the rear, lost 46,000 men and 22,000 were captured. After this glorious victory, many Roman allies surrendered to Hannibal. The city of Capua became Hannibal's capital. "The successful commander was thirty years old when he entered Capua, seated on his last surviving elephant" (Lendering, 2).

Hannibal continued his campaign in Italy until the year 203 B.C., when the Roman commander Publius



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