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War in Italy

2nd Punic war; Turning point

216 bc

There still is discussion wether Hannibal should have marched on Rome the first day after the battle of Cannae or not. He was in Italy to defeat the Romans, he had won his fourth and finest battle. In his mind he had won the war. It would be only a matter of negotiating the terms, in hís mind....

Hannibal Barca analyzed
Hannibal had won 4 battles, but in all battles he had used a defensive method. In 4 events the Romans attacked and Hannibal had his troops ready for them. Hannibal was in his heart as defensive as the average Carthaginian. OK, he was on Roman soil, but now at the moment of attack he backed off.
We cannot know what would have happened if he had attacked Rome. He had to show force where the Romans had no trained army. He should have known Romans were not defeated before Rome was taken. Good other generals had experienced that: Pyrrhus and even Hannibal's father Hamilcar. The Romans had lost three fleets in the first Punic war and 150,000 men and still they would win that war.

Hannibal Barca's strategy and why it wouldn't work
Hannibal should have been planning the reduction of Rome, but instead he was planning to make peace on his conditions of course. He was counting the cities, Rome had conquered before, now would renegade to his side. And indeed a number of them did. But his manpower was to little to control all Apulia, Samnium and Campania. He probably realized that and sent his brother Mago to Carthago for reinforcements, but had not enough friends and too many enemies in that senate. The reinforcements would come but always too little and too late and often in the wrong place. In the meantime the Romans would reconquer the renegade cities. In the end Hannibal's stategy would prove not to have worked.

Roman strategy and why it did work
The Romans had been severely beaten and expected Hannibal to appear in front of their gates. And indeed a Carthaginian posse arrived with a couple of prisoners. Hannibal had captured 10,000 prisoners. He wanted to sell them to the Romans. This was not a very unusual move. He had exchanged prisoners, with Fabius Maximus, before. But this time it was seen as a sign of weakness. Was Hannibal broke, maybe? This also gave the possibility to show Hannibal who he was dealing with. Carthalo, who guarded the prisoners and had with him the conditions for peace, wasn't even allowed in the city and the Roman senate refused the deal. They accepted a lot of Roman women would be angry and sad.
Now the senate accepted Fabius Maximus was right and ordered no further battles with Hannibal should be fought. The time was in Roman's favour: in a few years new legionaries would come to age, where Hannibal would have trouble obtaining new fighters.

Slaves in the Roman army
For a higher price than they would have paid for the prisoners the Romans bought slaves. Even though tis was unheard of before in the Roman army, now they built their legions with slaves. To make them loyal fighters, them was promised manumission after three years of loyal service.

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