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Hannibal marches on Rome after Cannae

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  • Hannibal marches on Rome after Cannae

    In real life after Cannae Hannibal merely sent an emissary to Rome, along with some captured Roman officers, to discuss an exchange of prisoners. The army stayed at Cannae. Seeing no immediate threat Roman resolve toughened and the Senate determined to continue the struggle.

    But what if instead Hannibal had ordered an immediate march on Rome so that the fleeing fugitives carrying the news of the defeat were immediately followed by Hannibal's cavalry. The rest of the army following a couple of days later. While c10000 Roman troops survived and regrouped in the days after the battle they were in no state to challenge Hannibal should he choose to march on Rome.

    Would the show of force have been sufficient to shake the Romans into suing for peace. Bare in mind that in the immediate aftermath Rome had little more than semi armed militia to defend the capital, the largest army Rome had up to then put into the field had just been destroyed. And that defeat followed on two previous major defeats. Further these defeats were in the Italian heartland, not in some remote frontier province.
    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

  • #2
    I wonder what terms Carthage could have obtained? And, what terms would have prevented Roma from rebuilding its strength and coming back at Carthage?

    Or, Hannibal might have achived a true panic among the Romans, gained the city, and runied Latium, sowing salt across the shattered bricks of Roma. How then would western civilization developed with the Latins becoming a obscure footnote?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Surrey View Post
      In real life after Cannae Hannibal merely sent an emissary to Rome, along with some captured Roman officers, to discuss an exchange of prisoners. The army stayed at Cannae. Seeing no immediate threat Roman resolve toughened and the Senate determined to continue the struggle.
      Though there were some panic in Rome, the Senate never wavered. Rome would never have accepted terms.

      Hannibal stayed true to his strategy to isolate Rome from her allies and to turn them to his cause.

      But what if instead Hannibal had ordered an immediate march on Rome so that the fleeing fugitives carrying the news of the defeat were immediately followed by Hannibal's cavalry. The rest of the army following a couple of days later.
      Hannibal suffered the classic "stab in the back". Carthage never bothered to send him support or reinforcements. After Cannae, he had to rest his army and resupply. Just because he won a major victory does not mean his army was not worn.

      While c10000 Roman troops survived and regrouped in the days after the battle they were in no state to challenge Hannibal should he choose to march on Rome.
      I disagree, these survivors had a point to prove and honor to regain. For those who did not know, events in Sicily shortly after Cannae returned it to Carthaginian control. The 10,000 survivors of Cannae were reconstituted into two Legions and sent to Sicily. Against odds, they re-established Roman authority in Sicily for the most part. These were the guys who sacked Syracuse and killed Archimedes against orders.............they were really pissed off, don't you think?

      Would the show of force have been sufficient to shake the Romans into suing for peace. Bare in mind that in the immediate aftermath Rome had little more than semi armed militia to defend the capital, the largest army Rome had up to then put into the field had just been destroyed. And that defeat followed on two previous major defeats. Further these defeats were in the Italian heartland, not in some remote frontier province.
      Hannibal did not have much siege equipment. Hasdrubal was bringing lots of them with him.
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      • #4
        Was it a war of annihilation yet, or were the two sides still fighting for certain objectives?

        The Romans had a habit of viewing the destruction of neighboring foes as a defensive operation born of necessity (during the Republic phase). I doubt they would have quit because a hostile force was threatening their capitol.
        "Why is the Rum gone?"

        -Captain Jack

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
          Was it a war of annihilation yet, or were the two sides still fighting for certain objectives?
          After Trebia, Trasimene, and Cannae.......the Romans had lost 1/5 of their male population over the age of 17. They responded by lowering the minimum age and raising the maximum age for service. They released 8000 slaves into freedom to join the ranks. Rome was not going to give up.

          Hannibal never had the tools or means for a war of annihilation.

          The Romans had a habit of viewing the destruction of neighboring foes as a defensive operation born of necessity (during the Republic phase). I doubt they would have quit because a hostile force was threatening their capitol.
          As I said, the Senate never wavered.
          Last edited by Salinator; 26 Nov 11, 02:26.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Salinator View Post
            Though there were some panic in Rome, the Senate never wavered. Rome would never have accepted terms.

            Hannibal stayed true to his strategy to isolate Rome from her allies and to turn them to his cause.

            Hannibal suffered the classic "stab in the back". Carthage never bothered to send him support or reinforcements. After Cannae, he had to rest his army and resupply. Just because he won a major victory does not mean his army was not worn.

            I disagree, these survivors had a point to prove and honor to regain. For those who did not know, events in Sicily shortly after Cannae returned it to Carthaginian control. The 10,000 survivors of Cannae were reconstituted into two Legions and sent to Sicily. Against odds, they re-established Roman authority in Sicily for the most part. These were the guys who sacked Syracuse and killed Archimedes against orders.............they were really pissed off, don't you think?


            Hannibal did not have much siege equipment. Hasdrubal was bringing lots of them with him.
            Much of the Senate were dead - one third were at Cannae - and most of those who didn't would have had close relatives who died. One Counsel was dead.

            Rome was scraping the barrel to assemble the army that fought at Cannae - most were poorly trained and inexperienced. There was very little left in Rome. Hannibal had 50,000 trained, experienced soldiers who had just won three stunning victories, all that was in Rome were a few untrained freed slaves and militia.

            While the surviving Senators back in Rome determined to continue, they did not see the Carthaginian army. It is much easier to be brave when the enemy is over one hundred miles away and is not making any moves towards you than it is when they are outside the walls. Hannibal did take his army to Rome in 212 but that was too late and the moment had passed.

            On the 10,000 survivors, while they may have gone on to achieve much, in August 216 they were poorly armed (the reason they were alive was because they had been able to run fast enough), scared (they had just seen most of their comrades hacked to pieces), poorly trained, outnumbered five to one and their only experience of battle was a crushing defeat.

            Further would Rome have been prepared for a siege? If Hannibal's cavalry had ridden for Rome the day after the battle then they would have been able to disrupt any attempt by the Romans to stockpile supplies. When the main army arrived they could have t starved the city if the Romans didn't seek terms.

            Hannibal's only chance of victory was to threaten Rome directly. His mistake was that he didn't realise this. Livy thought that Hannibal could have taken Rome if he had marched immediately.
            "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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            • #7
              Hannibal ad portas = Hannibal is at the gates

              Roman parents would tell their misbehaving children this, invoking their fear of Hannibal.

              Even as it was, Hannibal put a good scare into the Roman population. By marching on the city, I believe he could have dicated some sort of terms, but an outright "unconditional surrender? Unlikely.
              Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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              • #8
                If I remember correctly republican Rome at those days still had walls and they were in usable condition. You simply could not march to Rome, like you could against unfortified city.

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                • #9
                  Originallly posted by Carl schwamberg
                  Hannibal might have achived a true panic among the Romans, gained the city, and runied Latium, sowing salt across the shattered bricks of Roma. How then would western civilization developed with the Latins becoming a obscure footnote?
                  This touches on one of several "what-ifs" that could have effected Western Civ. for the better.
                  1) A subdued Latium would have led to someone less threatening to the Carthaginians (Samnites?) dominating the peninsula and leaving Carthage to muck around in the Mediterranean, but more importantly and interestingly, given the Celts in Gaul several centuries to build up a different civilization. And the Celts were far more then fighters, gifted artists and craftsmen who with more time might have organized a better political system.
                  2) Another what if would be a Saxon civilization in England past 1066 (that bastard William defeated or a timeline with a clear line of successsion, etc.).
                  Fill in your rationale for an alternate history.

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                  • #10
                    Hannibal's real problem was that the Carthagians had lost control of the Sea. With this advantage Rome could always resupply and was always going to win in the long term.

                    Carthage was in the past the dominant Sea Power in the Western Med. However Hannibal does not seem to have developed any plan to negate Roman seapower.

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                    • #11
                      Hannibal's other big problem was a fair chunk of his army were Gauls. He might have been able to threaten Rome, but to hold it was another matter.

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                      • #12
                        I don't think Hanibal could have chieved much more han he already had. Supposing he did march on Rome after Cannae I'm not convinced he would have made it there. If he did attack Rome I'm not convinced he would have been successful. Supposing he was successful, well, it's not like Rome had never been sacked before, the Gauls did it in BC 390 and the Republic survived. Besides, terms with the Romans just meant buying time until they decided they were able to avenge the defeat, which is what I think would have happend in this case had he made it as far as that, which I don't think he would have. He would have had to complete the same equation that Rome did when Carthage was destroyed later, and he did not have the army left to do so immediately after Cannae.

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                        • #13
                          Without siege equipment, Hannibal couldn't hope to take Rome, and I think he knew this.

                          Without supplies and reinforcements from Carthage, he was doomed, unable to raze Rome and butcher its population, and this was the only way he could've won.

                          As long as Rome stood, there would be no surrender, and he hadn't the means to bring her down.
                          Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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                          • #14
                            Hannibal may have been a great commander of history, but his days were numbered. As the ace mentioned, no supplies and no reinforcements means that you are a dying army.

                            If he had taken Rome, sacked Rome, heck even razed it to the ground and salted the earth, I doubt that would have been the end of the Roman Republic. It was already too large and powerful. His campaign was a quick stab into the bowels of the beast, but it could have never been a mortal wound.
                            The First Amendment applies to SMS, Emails, Blogs, online news, the Fourth applies to your cell phone, computer, and your car, but the Second only applies to muskets?

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