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I have always been fascinated by Hannibal and the Second Punic War. It was my first wargame army, nearly 40 years ago. Mostly Garrison figures I recall and sadly long sold off.

So first a brief history. After capturing the Roman colony of Saguntum in Spain, Hannibal surprised the Romans in 218 B.C. by leading after leading his army, including the famous elephants, through the Alps. Although Hannibal surprised the Romans he lost his only siege engines and most of his elephants to the cold temperatures and icy mountain passes. Hannibal defeated the Roman legions in several major engagements, including Trebia, Lake Trasimene and most famously at the Battle of Cannae, through a classic double envelopment. However, his long-term strategy failed as he lacked siege engines and sufficient manpower to take the city of Rome itself. More importantly, Hannibal never successfully received any significant reinforcements from Carthage, despite his many pleas.

The Roman army under Quintus Fabius Maximus intentionally deprived Hannibal of open battle, while making it difficult for Hannibal to forage for supplies. Nevertheless, Rome was also incapable of bringing the conflict in the Italian theatre to a decisive close. Hannibal's campaign continued in Italy inconclusively for sixteen years. Then Rome attacked Hannibal's home base in Africa by sea and land with an army commanded by Scipio. Hannibal returned home, but was defeated in the Battle of Zama.

In my view Hannibal was one of the greatest generals of all time. Not just because of his victories against the then world superpower, but because he kept a largely mercenary army successfully together for such a long period. This was leadership at its very best.

My current Carthage and Rome armies are set out below. Collected in bits over many years from a wide range of figure manufacturers.

Carthage heavy cavalry

The elephants!

Iberian Scutari

Balearic slingers

Libyan Spearmen

Numidian horse

Numidian skirmishers

Gallic warband

Gallic horse

Gallic chariots

Gallic bows

Gallic skirmishers

Roman horse

Roman velites

Roman foot

 

Further information

There are many books on the Punic Wars, so here are a selection from my library.

The classic Hannibal by Sir Gavin De Beer.

The more modern study Hannibal's War by John Peddle.

And for the armies there are several Ospreys and Duncan Head's Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars.

 

 

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Copyright 2005 Balkan Military History
Last modified: 01/23/12