Hannibal BarcaAs a military general, Hannibal Barca’s tactics for combating his enemy, the Romans, during the second Punic War created some of the most significant events in military history (Gabriel). Hannibal’s hatred for the Romans, coupled with Scipio’s unwavering loyalty to Rome were the main reasons for the hatred between the two rivals. This paper will outline Hannibal Barca’s tactical abilities and leadership and how the Carthaginians ultimately ended up succumbing to the Romans. Hannibal was the commander of the Carthaginians while his enemy Scipio headed the Roman military. Hannibal was an exemplary military commander and is regarded as one of the most intelligent, in not only the history of the Carthaginian military, but throughout the world’s history. “Barca” was a nickname earned by Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal’s father, which was passed down to Hannibal and meant “lightning” (Gabriel). Scipio was also an outstanding military commander with impressive skills gained from a long term he served in the military. He had won many battles that were very critical to the Romans. During his tenure, his advancement in, and leadership of the Roman military forced the Carthaginian military, as well as Hannibal, to surrender (Render). Ongoing battles created a hatred between the Romans and Carthaginians, with fathers teaching their sons nothing but hatred for the opposition, leaving an undying need to kill one another. Hamilcar made his son (Hannibal) swear that he would always be an enemy to Rome, and one report states that Hannibal said “I swear so soon as age will permit I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome” (Mills). The Carthaginian army led by Hannibal, usually attacked their enemies in an infantry phalanx that was supported by chariots as the primary combat squad, armed with deadly weapons that could only be compared to those used by the Greek (Gabriel). Leading his troops up to the Alps, Hannibal’s army comprised of almost sixty thousand soldiers and around thirty five elephants. These soldiers were from different locations, from the Libyan and the Moors Empire. Hannibals troops successfully crossed the Alps into Italy despite continuous warring along the way against local tribes in the mountains. Once they landed in Northern Italy, they quickly organized their attack against the Romans (Gabriel).The journey of Hannibal’s troops to Italy crossing the Alps was considered one of the greatest achievements of its time. There have been many scholarly articles written about how exactly Hannibal managed to march an entire army across the Alps. In understanding how this took place, these studies have captured Hannibals personality and leadership. He knew that attacking Italy through the mountains would be cumbersome and there would be lives lost, so he resorted to crossing the Alps alongside his troops to keep their spirits up, despite the dangers that were looming along this route. He only managed to arrange a portion of his troops, composed of about fifty thousand infantry, nine thousand chariots, and around thirty war elephants to invade Italy through the Alps. Hannibal chose this route because nobody would ever expect an entire army to cross those mountains, giving him a tactical advantage over his enemy.
The strategy and choice of path by Hannibal showed his hatred and pressure to execute a victory upon the Romans. The military departed from Spain towards the end of spring season. According to Polybius, a historian scholar, and researcher, during this time of year the snow thickened in the regions around Pleiades. He identified this place as the point Hannibal and his troop used to cross the Alps into Northern Italy. Similar research, agreeing with Polybiuss conclusions was later presented by Livy (Render). The two historians also expounded on the geographical orientations that aided the passing of Hannibal alongside his troops through some of the highest mountainous regions in the Alps. These regions are the Clair, Traversette, Mongenevre, and Larche, amongst others. This is confirmed by the fact that Italy is visible from these high points and especially from Traversette and Clapier. Viewing the land that they were going to invade gave the troops hope (Gabriel). Conquering the city Turin, in Northern Italy, by the Carthaginian military as the first city also indicates the possibility of crossing the Alps through those regions. Turin is directly opposite the Traversette and Clapier mountains.Throughout this long journey, Hannibal played a series of tricks that enabled him to reach his destination. The Romans never moved even when they got the news that Hannibal had already left Spain. They were confident that they would manage to capture Hannibal, and deployed soldiers to hold the bridges at the Rhone River. Hannibal, through his tactical ability and intelligence, sent his counterparts northwards, fooling the Roman soldiers (Gabriel). He then managed to cross the deep and swift lower course of the Rhone River on pontoons and by swimming. His military later followed after his counterpart Hanno confronted a pro-Roman military who were guarding the crossing (Render). They then creatively constructed a huge raft upriver to ferry his army across and arranged them to attack from behind while some of the men stayed and attacked head on. Construction of the raft clearly demonstrated Barca’s quick wit and ability to lead. His outstanding leadership and unwavering strength motivated the soldiers and kept them on track regardless of indifferences that arose along the journey. In one instance, a section of his troops threatened mutiny after becoming disgruntled. Being the great thinker that he was, and ensuring his military kept bonded together, he allowed the disgruntled soldiers ticket back home to reinforce the barracks (Gabriel). He knew that if they stayed than they would have nothing but a negative influence on the rest of his troops and may even sway some more of them to mutiny. Such a vast knowledge in military and tactical skills kept the spirit of Hannibals soldiers high.