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The Stratagetic Importance of Cannae

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  • The Stratagetic Importance of Cannae

    Often people comment that Cannae was a superb tactical battle but had no major stratagetic consequences. These people are in fact wrong. In the aftermath of Cannae Romr had no field army capable of contesting control of Italy with Hannibal, she had lost her field army of over 80,000 men only 10-15,000 of whom were brought back to service. Hannibal used this advanatge well looting the battlefield and camps, recovering and trying to arranges ransoms. After this Capua, all but one of the Samnite tribes, most of Bruttium, most of Lucanis, and some of Apulia and Calabria sided with him! The stratagetic importance of Cannae was therefore massive not nil.
    First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

  • #2
    The strategic importance of Cannae was nil, as the Romans still continued to fight, and eventually win. Its impact at the operational level was remarkable, with Rome refusing to fight the man in Italy.
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    • #3
      The stratagetic value was enormous. The second largest city in Italy defected and so did entire regions of Italy. We aren't arguing who won the war. Cannae directly or indirectly caused many other events.
      First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

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      • #4
        Perhaps there is a position in the middle? It may not have won the war, but destroying entire armies rarely have zero strategic significance.
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        • #5
          Most if not all battles have stratagetic implications. I've listed some of Cannae's and for a field battle they were massive.
          First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

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          • #6
            Less strategic implications than Zama ...

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            • #7
              Actually Cannae had far more. The only importance Zama would've had was slightly better peace terms nothing more...
              First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

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              • #8
                Originally posted by scottmanning View Post
                Perhaps there is a position in the middle? It may not have won the war, but destroying entire armies rarely have zero strategic significance.
                How about short term strategic significance high, long term strategic significance close to zero.
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                • #9
                  Not true. The only reason Hannibal fought in Italy so long was because of the defection of parts of Italy,
                  First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Delenda estRoma View Post
                    Not true. The only reason Hannibal fought in Italy so long was because of the defection of parts of Italy,
                    Which was - clearly - because he could take no strategic advantage of the tactical victory at Cannae.

                    It is often written that Antigonus won the battle of Paraetecene. This was fought for the wintering largesse of Gabiene. That Eumenes wintered his troops in this region after Antigonus departed the area means the strategic victory was Eumenes'.

                    Hannibal - with an army ill suited to the long siege (very long) required to take Rome - spent many a year wandering about Italy squandering the huge tactical victory of Cannae.

                    Surely the strategic objective of pitched battle is to win the war? When the Romans refused to come to terms after Cannae Hannibal's tactical victory was all he had. Hannibal, by winning Cannae, did not achieve the strategic aim of the campaign: defeat of Rome.
                    Paralus

                    Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
                    Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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                    • #11
                      What do you perceive almost the whole of Southern and parts of central Italy defecting then? Cannae is the prime reason for their defection. Using Cannae Hannibal used dipomacy to win over Capua, Bruttium, Lucania, the Samnites and part of Campania. It was a masterful stroke. After that he concentrated on consolidating Southern Italy. He suceeded partway. Nola, Rhegium, and Tarentum resisted with the help of the Romans. The rest of the war was Rome trying to take back what they lost after Cannae and Hannibal defending and enlarging his gains. All these gains which tied Hannibal down are linked to Cannae and his excellent diplomacy.
                      First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                        The strategic importance of Cannae was nil, as the Romans still continued to fight, and eventually win. Its impact at the operational level was remarkable, with Rome refusing to fight the man in Italy.
                        If you take that stance then the loser of any war never made any strategically important decisions at all.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Karri View Post
                          If you take that stance then the loser of any war never made any strategically important decisions at all.

                          Cannae was a battle, not a war. It changed the way the Romans fought Hannibal, ie avoiding pitch battle, but the overall consequence of Cannae was simply a delay in the inevitable.
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                          • #14
                            How was it inevitable? Even in himdsight its not evident Rome would've won. Oh and Rome frequently fought in pitched battles with Hannibal after Cannae. Look at Marcellus' or Salinator's careers. Silarus, both Herdonia's. The war was always in doubt if Hannibal received substantial reinforcements the war changes or some city changes allegiance ditto. Rome was not somehow preordained to win it could've lost.
                            First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Delenda estRoma View Post
                              What do you perceive almost the whole of Southern and parts of central Italy defecting then?
                              Much of the north had defected earlier after Trasimene. That did not win the war and Cannae was the result. That others defected after Cannae also did not win the war.

                              What was the strategic objective of the invasion? The defeat and subjection of Rome. Cannae in no way achieved this strategic objective and Rome refused to discuss surrender. Hannibal had no choice but to tour Italy detaching one here, one there. Meanwhile his enemies in Carthage undermined him and Rome took the theatre elsewhere (Spain and, eventually, Africa).

                              Hannibal was tactically brilliant but his invasion was a strategic failure. In fact, it signalled the end for Carthage.

                              I would dearly love some source material from the Carthaginian side. One can only imagine the complete and utter surprise and dejection at the failure of Rome to countenance capitulation after the tactical disaster of Cannae.

                              In 331/30 Alexander captured the Persian capitals and sacked Persepolis. Hannibal seems not to have had the means to do this in Italy and Cannae, if it provided any strategic result, provided the opportunity to do so.
                              Paralus

                              Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
                              Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

                              Academia.edu

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