Joined: Dec 2013
Hannibal of Carthage
“Of all that befell the Romans… the cause was one man and one mind. Hannibal” -Polybius
Hannibal grew up within sight of the sea on mount Eryx. He did not leave the mountain until he was 5 years old, and would not have been allowed to visit the city below the mountain due to war between the two peoples. So Hannibal's first memories as a child were most likely of life in an armed camp. This community was lead by his father, Hamiclar Barca, and when food was short Hannibal would have seen his people go out in arms, and come back with donkeys loaded full of wine and grains. Many of the people in the camp would have been mercenaries, so Hannibal would have been accustomed to hearing many different languages, as well as African and Greek (trade) dialects. Hamiclar was adept at winning over even Roman deserters, he even offered slaves the right of marriage as well as pay for their work. And because he was the first born son of lord Hamiclar the men in the camp would happily sit and educate Hannibal when he asked questions.
The people of Carthage were descendants of the Phoenician Semites, and were devout worshipers of the gods of Canaan (which would make them somewhat the “Christian”/“Jewish” forces of the time, but Jesus wasn't even born for another 200ish years).
Hamiclar had proven that he had the courage of a lion, and his surname “Barca” was something that wasn't necessarily passed on to all of his children, and translates to mean “Lightning”. Because of this mercenaries came from afar to serve him, and he always gave fair reward to his men in comparison to himself, which earned him even more respect.
Because of their devotion to the gods of Canaan they would offer sacrifice, were always conscious of impending doom as a culture (as we are today) and knew they may even have to sacrifice themselves one day.
The Carthaginian mind was very innovative, they even created their own dialects of speech (which included multiple languages), as did the Syrians and certain Greeks. They were very inventive in methods of farming, labor, metal work and exploring the west with its “Barbaric” inhabitants. And can be credited for the invention of clear glass.
On top of all of this, Hamiclar was a glorious leader, and his mountain encampment would not be lost. Even with failing food supplies. And in this he was securing a vantage point for a campaign against Rome, without exhausting the Carthage treasury because he paid the mercenaries himself. In this Hamiclar was working AGAINST the “traditionalists” of his country, losing him political/relgious favor. But he was defiant, even against fate (as the council of his nation saw it).
The council of Carthage was exhausted, as was the Roman force. But Hamiclar was sent to settle the dispute of peace, which was a good move as he was not willing to surrender.
The council was made up of the elders of the most wealthy families of Carthage, and there were many men amongst them that disliked the Barca family, and were happy at a chance to see them fail, and if they settled peace it would be a pleasant surprise.
The elders distrusted Hamiclar.
Peace was achieved, and Hamiclar returned to camp.
As a term of peace, any Roman deserters were to be given up to Rome.
A Roman that had served for Hamiclar for a long time came to him and explained that if them and the Roman slaves were given up to Rome, they would most likely be crucified.
Hamiclar promised the Romans that they would return to Carthage, though peace would remain. But as they returned home they calculated how much they were owed by the nation of Carthage, and what started as a small riot grew into a civil war, which changed the plans of Hamiclar.
At this time Hannibal was living within the great city of Carthage, where tutors would have been available and his siblings would be around. But he would probably always have at least a faint memory of life in the camp.
A Citadel stood in the city of Carthage, which was to give tribute to the Earth Mother Tanit, and a god they called Eshmoun ( in Greek: Aesclapius, aka Egyptian Imhotep).
The city had buildings 7 stories tall (due to restricted space) and were fitted with rain water collectors.
They had many artisans, as well as “unions”.
Carthage had been the supremacy at sea for years (which was lost) gaining them a very secure trade and treasury. The Hanno clan were very successful aristocrats and were openly antagonists of the upstart Hamiclar.
Many people passed through the city of Carthage who were not residents. Numidians, Soudanese, Massylians, Libyans, Greeks and even caravans from deep Africa.
In fact, the highways of the Carthiginians had become arteries for the continent of Africa.
Carthage had no defensive wall and had never needed one previously, as the sea had created a perfect deterrent.
A civil war erupted, and as a child of noble decent it is not certain if Hannibal would have any experience of it. But at this time, tribes within Carthage were defecting, while some remained loyal.
The rebels (headed by the veterans of Hamiclars army who had not been paid by Carthage) attacked the city which had no trained army to defend itself, and as a last resort the council gave power to Hamiclar.
He rose an army of horse and elephant riders to dismiss the rebels.
At this time Hannibal may have seen members of his fathers army who he had lived along side, crucified.
At 9 years old Hannibal would have begun to see the fortification of his home town, walls were erected 20 paces wide and the height of 7 men. As well as plenty of stable room for elephants and horses.
Hannibal's father and Brother in law left for battle, and Hannibal would have seen that they did not have the mercenaries they had before (many of them had been crucified), as people from his home left.
His father made a sacrifice to god. Most likely of lamb and wine. Hannibal went to his father and begged to be allowed on an overseas campaign. He led Hannibal to the alter, held Hannibal over the flames and made him swear he would never be a friend to the “evil” Roman empire. Hannibal promised and was allowed to live.
This is an oath that all of Hamiclar's sons took, and that many (if not all) of the Carthaginian officers would have been made to take as well.
Hannibal left Carthage, and was put onto a ship with his father headed to Gadir, Spain.
Hamiclar came here to transform Spain into a center of trade for Carthage, as well as a recruitment base and vantage point. But he had very little time to get this done.
The Atlantic ocean was no mystery to the Phoenicians, and they had been sailing the ocean since times that were even ancient in relation to Hannibal.
Carthage would be the force to keep these secrets, until their fall just after the time of Hannibal.
Hispania became known as such (Hispania= The Hidden Country) because when Greek scouts were sent out, and returned with stories of it, it had been so well guarded before that, they did not believe the stories and called the place a “fable”.
For 9 years Hamiclar tamed 1/3 of the barbaric Spain.
Hamiclar and Hannibal were ambushed by a Spainish tribe, They got away, but Hamiclar was followed to a river. Hannibal was safe as his dad had told him to go a different direction with his younger brother, and in the end Hamiclar was killed at the river.
The forces of Carthage would then go out and lay terror to the country side before enslaving the entire tribe. And Hasdrubal (Hannibal's brother in law) was put in charge.
8 years passed and Hasdrubal “sold out” to the nearby tribes, accepting bribes and seeking friendship with the Spanish, Iberian and Celtic chieftains. But he did this in seek of peace, so as not to follow in Hamiclar's footsteps.
The new city began to thrive and they built shipyards and a new temple to Eshmoun (Imhotep). As well as a small palace near the harbor for Hasdrubal, and a coinage for the people.
But such a thriving port did not go unnoticed, and because of how it looked in resemblance to the port in Africa, the reports came to Rome of a “New Carthage”. So the Roman senate asked Hasdrubal to make a pledge not to cross the Ebro river with arms.
Hasdrubal agreed to the treaty and in doing so he basically acknowledged the authority of Rome to exist to the point of the Ebro river. But in doing so bought himself time to win the favor of more of the local tribes.
Five years later, Hasdrubal is assassinated. Legend says that it was angry Celts who carried out the task.
The officers of the Army of Spain met in Carthage, and appointed Hannibal the new leader. They saw his father in him.
The council of Carthage was in debate over this, mainly the Hanno clan, who claimed that Hasdrubal had made himself king across the sea in all but name (meaning he had taken authority from the council and given it to himself), as if the new city were not meant to be a part of the nation of Carthage.
But none of the elders particularly knew much about Hannibal, and they could not make a fair decision. So they left the choice to the popular assembly of citizens, who had always favored the Barca family.
The people named Hannibal leader of the new city, and boats fill with gifts came from New Carthage to the old city (a gift from Hannibal's town).
But no one could say what was really going on in Hannibal's mind.
In the year 221 BC Hannibal was 26 years old, and he would rather sleep in a lion skin outdoors than in a pavilion, he acted quickly in intense situations, he kept a level head in those situations, and he showed no fatigue in heat or hardship. He ate sparingly, and consumed little wine. He did not dress with the tools of his people, but those more similar to that of an Iberian. Hannibal had a sense of humor, as well as a sense of irony (obvious in his suicide note later).
Much of his personality had come from the inhabitants of southern Spain, who would ride far to a festival, but were unawed by ancient gods.
During this time it is said that Hannibal ruled ruthlessly, but living along side Celtic tribes and under a council that was not sure he deserved respect, he had to prove and assert himself within the Spanish community.
The people of Spain had zero want or respect for central government, and Hannibal wanted to shove it down their throats, then explain it later.
And he did EVERYTHING in person (much unlike modern leaders, who send the lower class to do their biding).
Hannibal's men never expected to be ordered to go somewhere preceding him, they knew they could follow him and that he would always be the first one to throw himself into battle.
“By his cunning he won the friendship of chieftains, with force and bribes he won their will.” And in Spain it became well known that Hannibal would bribe, or punish if you didn't fall in line.
He recruited as he crossed Spain untill he ran into the Vaccaens, he asked that they allow their youth to join his ranks (and they would be provided with food, money, etc), as well as a small payment of tribute to acknowledge his authority. But the tribes were slow to make decisions, and needed time to meditate on such a change.
The tribes raised their horsemen to do battle, and Hannibal was advised by his peers to attack. But he retreated and was chased by the horsemen, who floundered when they hit the river, where spear-men could force them back. The Cathiganians chased to ensure no more attacks would come from the tribes, then continued without resistance to the Ebro river (as far as they were allowed to go, according to the treaty between Rome and the deceased Hasdrubal)
These tribal horsemen would become the backbone of Hannibal's army, if he could tame them. The Celtiberians were volatile and panther like. And further north lived the Uxama tribe, who worshiped the horse-breeding goddess, Epona.
The Celtiberians carried a 2 foot sword, with a slight curve and 2 edges. With the force of a strike added to the speed of a horse, these weapons were extremely deadly. They had also invented a 5 foot lance tipped in iron, which could be thrown from horseback to penetrate shields and some armor.
Hannibal knew that money would not subdue the Spaniards, due to what is known as “Altivez”. It is kind of like arrogance, but different. If they took an oath, they kept the oath. Somehow Hannibal got this oath from the horsemen.
In 219 Romans came to New Carthage to speak with Hannibal, they asked that he not cross the Ebros River (as agreed by his deceased brother in law), and not to intrude on the city of Saguntum (a city who had heard of Hannibal's Spanish conquests and did not want to be conquered, but lived well within Hannibal's borders according to the treaty with Rome).
Hannibal replied saying that the city was under his authority according to the treaty, and that the inhabitants would have to pay for their crimes against the Tartessians “For it is the hereditary custom of Carthage to aid an oppressed people”. The council does not oppose Hannibal, even at the plea of Hanno.
The following year he laid siege on the city.
One thing must have been forefront in Hannibal's mind, his people had been the supremacy at sea since before he was born, since before his father was born, and even since before HIS father was born (and on and on), until recently. So, any Carthage national would have felt at least a small amount of resentment towards Rome, as well as a sense of fear at what the future might hold. Since with the loss at sea, they would lose any islands and any sea bordering land may be contested.
According to legend a Carthiganian ship washed up on a Roman shore. The copy was made, and “machines” were created for people to practice rowing on land. Thus ended the Carthage reign of the sea.
Hannibal always had a map in his possession, which would have had measurements of distance and descriptions of the people in the area. As well as ever changing (as word came) Roman borders at land and sea.
During the siege, Hannibal's wife (who is rarely mentioned, and never described) Imilce gave birth to a child.
The siege took 8 months, and finally Hannibal's forced broke the walls of the city and took everything inside for his men, and sent many gifts back to Carthage. Rome never sent reinforcements to the city they had promised to protect.
The Romans sent a diplomat (a member of the Fabius family) to Carthage and asked that they give Hannibal and his men to the Roman Republic, and the council said “no”.
The diplomat asked if Carthage had ordered Hannibal to lay siege on Saguntum, in return the council asked the diplomat if the senate had offered the city protection rather than hold to its treaty with Carthage (to not cross the Ebros with intent of war).
The diplomat said that the questions wearied him, then he said “I hold within this fold of my toga war or peace, Carthiganians, choose which you will have.”
The Carthiganians left for a moment to hold a private discussion and when they returned, their reply was “Choose yourself”.
The Diplomat said “Then war it will be” and returned to Rome to tell the senate the news.
Rome began making battle plans and dispatched an army to Spain to meet with Hannibal, as well as an army to Carthage to draw him home. But the Romans who left by sea fell ill.
The Romans had thought Hannibal's advance would be slow, and when they expected him to still be respecting the treaty they had broken, he was no where near the Ebros and had already gotten as far as the Rhone.
By the time the Romans got to the camp near the Rhone Hannibal's army was gone, headed towards the alps and Italy. The army decided to continue forward instead of following Hannibal, and they couldn't have made a worse decision.
In 218 Rome's actions were clear, but with Hannibal we get only hints at his plans, as he took much precaution to make sure Rome did not hear of them.
He knew war would be declared for a year, ever since the Romans had come to ask for peace a Saguntum. So he let his Spaniard soldiers spend the winter in their homes, and sent gifts to the Celtic chieftains of northern Italy, asking the messengers to bring back reports of allegiances (Roman or otherwise), farmland, and an idea of what resistance will be like.
Hannibal went through the Andalusion valley in the spring, and their is still evidence of watchtowers built by his men there. At this time there is no evidence (except for Roman writings) that proves Hannibal had any intention of leaving Spain at this time. And he would have known that to leave Spain, would have demoralized his army (who was mostly Spanish and would fight harder to defend their homes). Archaeology suggests that at this point he was merely preparing to defend Spain in case of attack, then when word came of the diplomat who had visited Carthage and declared war, he began to mobilize.
Hannibal's army was now made of many different types of people. Numidian and Moorish cavalry, Libyan and Berber infantry, Balerian slingers, Massyilians and Celtiberians.
Though the Africans were instrumental in Hanniabl's army, the heart lay in the Vaccaea and Uxama horsemen, who wore lion and wolf heads as helmets. The army totaled about 50,000 men and 37 elephants, no discipline, but they crossed Europe (and soon the alps, and into Italy).
If you are one to believe Hannibal was headed for Rome when he crossed the Ebro, then you would find this next part strange. After crossing the Ebro, Hannibal and his men spend three and a half months they basically just hung out between the Ebro and the Pyrenees, a distance they could have covered in 6 days.
Hannibal's youngest brother (though all of them were young compared to their Roman counterparts), Mago, was a fire eater and a commander in Hannibal's forces.
Hannibal's staff was made up of many people from his home land. Maharbal (a man who had served with his father) was present, as well as Hanno (a member of the family of Barca antagonists) and Hert.
Other officers were Spaniard, or Libyan. And he had specialists from all over the known world. A doctor from Egypt, two Greek secretaries, a Spartan who taught Hannibal Greek and an Asian astrologer. As well as one undercover “agent” that would spy on enemy ports and cities, named Carthalo (and many other unnamed agents). This gossip gathering gave Hannibal a huge advantage.
At this point you finally see Hannibal take action against Rome, once he gets word that a fleet is swelling for an attack of the African coast.
Something we know that happened during this time is a visit from two Gaulish (Celtic) tribal leaders from Northern Italy, who told stories of the Romans and said they (the Gaulish forces) would never stop until they had gotten every last field back from them (the Roman forces).
Hannibal pledged that Carthage would help these people, and Hannibal knew he needed to get to the land of these tribes (The River Po) in time to get new supplies, before the Romans got too many people in the area.
Hannibal dispatched Hanno with a group of Cavalry to hold an island up the Rhone,
Hannibal began to cross the river and face a Gaulish force that stood in his way. The two armies came at each other, but as Hanno's force came from their camp at the island, the Gauls retreated.
When his men saw the mountains they became intimidated. Some of the Celts had seen mountains before, but the men from Africa weren't used to a cloudy sky, let alone mountains.
Hannibal spoke to his men “These mountains do not touch the sky.” and he explained to them that families lived on and farmed the mountains. Then he reminded them of the journey they had already accomplished from Carthage to this point, then explained that less than half of that would bring them to their first Italian river.
He told them that no matter where they went, Rome would be there. Carthage would soon be under siege, and the Spanish country side would come next.
They prepared to cross the mountains, and this is where Plubius Scipio found the camp near the Rhone abandoned.
The army that Rome had sent to Carthage to draw Hannibal home, was itself drawn home. Then they were re-dispatched towards the river Po (led by Tiberius Simpronius Longus), where Hannibal was expected to pass.
At the time it is probable that small tribes had made this trip before, but before this there had never been a record of an army made up of so many nations, and of such size to cross the alps. 30,000 on foot 8,000 on horseback, as well as 37 elephants. They would have followed rivers (which mark the quickest paths up and down a mountain), but at higher altitudes they would need guides (most likely the Celts) so as not to run into dead ends and cliffs. Hannibal's army stuck with him, because no man suffered more than Hannibal. If you were cold, so was Hannibal. If you were hungry, so was Hannibal. If you were about to die, so was Hannibal.
But no one is quite sure how he made the trip with such a large army (imagine a group of rock climbers having to accommodate 30,000 extra men. Plus horses and elephants), and so quickly.
Sometimes they even had to travel at night, in order to keep peace with the mountain tribes who were usually raiders by day. They were attacked, but would have been able to gather supplies in any victory.
Another huge problem was rock slides, but one story tells of Hannibal using vinegar and fire to dissolve the rocks and carry on with their journey.
In 15 days they crossed the alps with a large portion of the army still alive (20,000 Infantry, 6,000 Cavalry. Mixed Spanish and African).
In 218 when Hannibal arrived in Gaulish Italy, he would have been disappointed. Having been told that the Gauls were “not willing to give up” their fight with the Romans, he was surprised to see when he arrived on the other side of the alps the Celts were preparing for winter, and no two tribes seemed to be working together for much of anything, let alone an all out war against the Romans. Who seemed, on the other hand, very active and strengthening their camps with fortifications.
Hannibal's men drove out an enemy of their supposed Celt allies (without the help of their allies) and took their shelter and supplies, before heading off to the Tucino River.
But even with the Romans preparing for winter and war, Hannibal still had the advantage, as the Romans probably did not expect him to cross the alps that season, and definitely not that fast and with such a horde.
Publius came up the Po to find that Hannibal had already crossed the mountains (Italy's main defense against attack in that time apart from rivers and city defenses). The Roman army stopped and rested for battle, and openly underestimated Hannibal's ability as a commander, and his armies ability as a whole. But the only disadvantage the Cathiganians truly had was that they were not fighting in their own back yard.
That night Hannibal leveled his army by offering any slave their freedom and any man the ability to go home after battle, and with those promises more and more people came to Hannibal's army, and they fought with more pride.
In the mornoing, mist hung over the river, and the two armies (Rome's Plubius and Hannibal from Carthage) saw each other, and the Roman forces (called legions) moved forward, in a very organized, planned, unpenetrable manner. Like a giant square mob, similar in organization to the Chinese display at the Olympics a few years back.
But Hannibal was an amazing ambuscade strategist (in my own opinion, this comes from hunting, as it is easier to chase your prey somewhere, then have someone else capture it using the element of surprise), and already had a group of Iberian and Berber horsemen waiting, unseen by the Romans.
The two armies clashed (removing the unpenetrable element from the Roman legions, as they lowered their shields and engaged in battle), then out of nowhere (we literally have no idea where Hannibal kept these troops, even today) the Cavalry came and tore into the unsuspecting Romans.
The Roman Cavalry were highly trained soldiers, who had been given horses. But the Spanish horsemen bred horses to live, and rode horses to eat and survive. So outmatched, the Roman horsemen retreated, and the rest of the army followed suit. The battle was so bad, that the Roman consul (commander of that army) Plubius Scipio was wounded, and it is said that his son and a young slave saved his life.
Hannibal's men did follow the Romans, but not in deadly pursuit, it was almost as if they were just getting a good view of the mighty Roman army running from them, or maybe expecting them to regroup and turn around. But most likely Hannibal had told them to hold back, and he was studying the Romans. And he probably had some of his spies (who would be better at interpreting the movements of a people they had encountered themselves) explain to him exactly what the Romans were doing, what they were yelling, and what the sound trumpets was signaling etc.
Hannibal knew that the secret to Roman success was the discipline of its men, and he watched the men, thinking something along the lines of: “I just called every shot in that battle, I can control these people from the outside” (we don't know what he was thinking for sure, but we can guess it was something like that based on future battles).
In this battle Hannibal accomplished many things. He restored morale in his army (after crossing the alps, they must have felt weak), as well as peaking the interest of the Celtic (The Romans called them Gauls) tribes in the region, and in a good way. They had always been interested in anyone who could make a roman army retreat.
That night 2,000 Gauls serving the Romans as soldiers, broke rank, killed their officers, stole some horses and joined Hannibal. He gave them wine and fed them, as well as offering gifts of silver. Then he told them to go back to their tribes and spread word, and to tell them that they could win honor in Hannibal's army. And he created a nucleus of spies from the smarter men.
At this time, one of the tribes that had promised allegiance to Hannibal before his crossing of the alps, sent a spokesman with 3 Roman prisoners of praetorian (regional leader) rank. Hannibal suggested they keep the hostages, to use against Rome in negotiation of any Gallic soldiers they may be holding prisoner.
Hannibal released all the prisoners he had taken himself. Which was a habit of Hannibal's, which he used to spread his reputation around Italy. The Gauls wouldn't have understood this at all, as they were small tribes and could use any direct advantage they could get on a Roman legion they may do battle with (meaning they needed prisoners, and sometimes even to send decapitated heads of over Roman walls).
Hannibal even bribed Romans when possible, evidence of this is a VERY well treated grainery (Hannibal usually destroyed Roman structures), that was allowed to operate under the control of the same man who the Romans had appointed to it.
The next man to be elected by the Roman senate to face Hannibal, was Tiberius Simpronius. He had achieved many recent victories, and was prepared to do battle with the men from Carthage.
He met his wounded peer (Plubius) on the river Po, and heard about the Gauls breaking rank for Hannibal, as well as Plubius' forecast of Hannibal's possible ability from then through winter. But he did not speak directly about the horsemen that troubled him. He had never seen men who rode bareback with such skill, and who were so savage in battle before.
Sempronius argued that they were 2 Consuls (commanders) within a Roman city, with Roman built walls, and Roman legions (one of them 14,000 one of them 22,000), while African riders foraged the country side, pillaging to eat. He did not mention that elections were coming up, and he did not want to lose his place for lack of action against the invaders.
But Publius was injured, and did not want to go to battle.
So Sempronius imagined a world where he was doing battle alone with the great enemy, and the senate of Rome would be begging for his re-election.
So both armies departed together from the city of Placentia, and took camp further down the river Trebia, and there Sempronius looked for any chance to change from a defensive to aggressive position, whenever he could get around Plubius.
Some Numidian horsemen were in the fields nearby, and Roman scouts chased them, and Sempronius brought 2 legions to the gate to offer battle. They did not respond.
The Winter Solstice (around Christmas) came, and it was early in the morning (his men had not eaten). Sempronius got word that Numidian horsemen were headed towards the gate, and he made everyone prepare for battle that would come after crossing a river.
(the night before that happened at the Roman camp) Hannibal called on his younger brother Mago after surveying the landscape. He told Mago to find 10 men that could handle the harshest conditions, then each of those men were to pick 100 like themselves to follow their command. Mago would be in charge of the group as a whole. He told Mago to hide with the men within a gully (kind of a ditch). In my personal opinion half of the reason Hannibal chose to use ambushes in his strategy was to preserve his bloodline. If he died (as he ran in the front line), he would most likely have a family member to carry on his plans, and family.
Hannibal had his men dig trenches, as there was not much advantage for them anywhere, except for the fact that their enemy had to cross a very large river.
Then that night he conversed with the officers from multiple tribes and people from his home while everyone ate, before sending a group of horsemen towards the Roman gates and Mago took his men to the gully. The Romans had to cross a river, before being chased by a small group of horsemen. Then walked about a mile before coming to the trenches, and begun to be pelted by missiles.
The two armies met, Celtic and Spanish men in the front lines. And by mid morning, the Romans were doing battle on three sides. Then Mago and his men appeared in the rear, the commanders of the Roman forces began calling for a formation to break the four way assault. We are not sure what happened between then and the end, but 10,000 Romans survived more than half of Sempronius' army had been defeated or stranded in the snow and river or captive to Hannibal. Roman serving Gauls were sent home to their tribes, while Romans were held ransom.
Sempronius was not re-elected, while Plubius was. And the Romans began to offer things to their gods to strengthen their nation, and defeat Hannibal (such as a 50 lb gold thinderbolt for Zues)
Gauls came from everywhere around the Po over the next few months, and Hannibal ranked and separated them according to tribal tradition and feud. Many tribes pledged all of their warriors to him.
Hannibal explained he wanted no land from them, and showed them a Roman tablet that claimed Roman rule over the land around the Po, but labeled the Gauls as unequal to the citizens of Rome in the area (they were considered a considerably lower class).
He told them that their allegiance was not to him, but to Carthage, and that their goal was to end Rome's ability to make war, so that the land was as it was 3 centuries before when the Celts had come to the valley.
About 11,000 men joined Hannibal's ranks during this time, and the Celtic tribes asked that he hurry forward, as it was winter and they were not expecting an army to feed.
Hannibal kept his own assortment of wigs and outfits, so that he could look like many different people (no one specific). And no one is sure why, but some people think it was to go on small missions of his own, some think it was to keep from being assassinated. He also carried a ring full of poison, no one is sure why, but the most agreed upon assumption is that he was keeping his promise to his father not to be a friend to Rome, and would kill himself before becoming a prisoner or asset to the Roman military mind.
As Hannibal moved forward, he made every effort possible to see the land ahead with his own eyes.
One thing that would have been troubling Hannibal, is that due to the Carthage loss of sea superiority, he got nothing but rumors about the state of New and Old Carthage. He would have known that an army was headed and landed there, but he would have not known the outcome.
One thing he would have known, is that Rome knew how capable he was. And they would be getting ready faster than before, and for defense instead of for attack on Carthage.
From here Hannibal's men had to cross some unforgiving land, and chose the worst way at first. Straight through a swamp. Some stories say that Hannibal was stung in the eye by a mosquito here, losing vision forever in that eye. But it is not certain if that is true.
After testing the swamp, they backtracked and took another path, where they ended up hitting more swamps after getting a good ways.
At this point all of Hannibal's elephants died, except maybe one. (some records say one, some records say none). Hanno finally found the path that led them out of the Swamp, and into the Fiesole valley.
Here they passed through the ancient Etruscan lands towards Rome, still not finding any large cities to plunder.
Hannibal passed through the Etruscan territory, and was told by his spies that a new (commander) Consul had been elected for the Roman senate (Gaius Flaminius). And when Hannibal's men began reciting the numbers of men that Gaius commanded, Hannibal replied “What use is this parroting of numbers? Give me one look into the mind of Flaminius”.
Flaminius left in haste after being elected, and skipped rituals that were necessary to give him his power (Like the Inauguration ceremony in America).
Flaminius moved North to wait for Hannibal, then let him pass and followed behind (which would have been easy… Follow the smoke and fire). Flaminius' plan was to come behind Hannibal, so that he would be trapped between his and another Roman army.
Hannibal's cavalry, who were always in back, saw the Romans in pursuit and warned Hannibal, who prepared his men and the landscape. Making sure to set a perfect ambush, and the angry Celts (for Rome had been pillaging their land) in front.
The Romans did not expect defeat. They had a new commander who was distinguished in battle, and had brought extra wagons to carry goods from battle with the Carthiganians, as well as chains for the prisoners they were sure to capture.
The Roman army passed a road that went around a lake, and narrowed into a small pass, forcing their cavalry “wings” into the bulk ranks of infantry. Mist made sure they didn't see too far in front of them, and missiles started flying out of it (The Baltic Slingmen). As the legions moved forward they were attacked from the hillside blocking them from three sides, and soon the hidden horsemen came charging out.
The Romans pushed closer and closer together as they were slain, and pushed from 4 sides. Eventually it came to the point where Hannibal's men were able to see each other on either side of the Romans, who began to panic in the small hallway they were left to maneuver, surrounded by a wall of enemies.
Romans were fighting back to back, and attempting to run, but there was not even room for retreat in the middle, so many were forced to make a last stand or die running. Some of them ran into the water of the lake, and were chased only to be slain by horsemen.
By 10 AM the battle was over, and 6,000 fleeing prisoners were taken, making a total of 10,000 prisoners. Before this no “lesser” army had beaten a Roman one to such an extent. And in Italy.
Flaminius' body was not recovered, most likely it was stripped and tossed in a pile or the lake by the Celts and his jewelry was taken for prizes, as he had been a thorn in the Gauls side for a long time.
“I have not come to make war on the Italians, but to aid Italians against Rome”
Hannibal's fathers veterans wanted to storm Rome, but Hannibal knew that he needed to strengthen his men. He suggested that they wait a year, but so they headed to the opposite coast, with their prisoners and new equipment. On the way they ran into 4,000 high ranking Roman horsemen and took half prisoner after killing the other half.
Rumors spread in the streets of Rome that the city would be evacuated when the soldiers of Carthage came, and women were banished from public gatherings as they cried in the streets.
Rome elected a dictator, Fabius Verrucosus, who had warned them against battle in the first place. The first thing he did was make sacrifices to the gods of cattle, and ordered the construction of a new temple.
Fabius also started a “scorched earth” strategy, where they burned everything and left before the army of Carthage got to any village they were headed to. But they got strange word that Hannibal was burning land himself, and kidnapping anyone of military age in places that were allied to Rome.
Then Hannibal headed to territory that was hardly under Roman rule, which confused them even more.
For the next few months Hannibal trained his army, and improved their equipment where he could. He moved south as he recruited and bribed the surrounding city states, and Fabius watched from a distance. Small groups would stop Hannibal's men from getting to far when they foraged, but they would not engage in open battle.
Hannibal sold the prisoners, meaning for the first time Roman slaves would be appearing on Greek shores, which would cause much surprise and excitement in the ancient world. At this time he also asked Macedonia to take arms against Rome.
Fabius continued to follow and watch as Hannibal ravaged Italy, and he began to lost support of his people (who had made him dictator).
Hannibal walked into a place where he was caught in a valley between mountains and ravines, and Fabius saw an opportunity to do just what Hannibal had done to the Romans previously.
4,000 men were sent to block the exit, while the main force was sent into the valley to face and block the Romans in.
Hannibal prepared a diversion. The men in charge of the herds were told to take maybe 1,000 head of cattle and tie bundles of sticks to their horns, and take them to the head of the valley. The army was allowed to rest, then Hannibal had the herdsmen ignite the bundles and send the herd running with a small group of men to make a bunch of noise.
The Romans saw what they thought was thousands of torches and men, and began charging for battle. They met the cattle, and had no idea what was going on. Suddenly, missiles began to pelt them, the Romans broke rank and deserted their posts, and later Fabius would be blamed for not taking action. And Hannibal's army escaped.
The next battle (the Battle of Cannae) would play out in Hannibal's mind months before it ever played out on the battlefield. Hannibal began small skirmishes with the consul Minucius, and when Hannibal retreated, he sent news to Rome and the people made him co-dictator. He chased Hannibal further, where they engaged again in Smanium and Hannibal retreated.
Hannibal could see that the people of Rome were struggling in terms of leadership, and wanted to use this against them. Hannibal only had around 40,000 to 50,000 men at this point, even with the new recruits, while Rome claimed 770,000 able bodied men (before Hannibal came to Italy that is). He needed any advantage he could get, as he knew these Roman armies would be getting bigger and bigger. But at the same time, more restless and less experienced.
When Fabius was not re-elected as Dictator, neither was Minucius. The people elected a man named “Varro” who was promising a swift and able victory over Hannibal. Most of this was due to Fabius' strategy of cutting off the enemies food supply, which was taking too long for the Rome's liking. More than 100 senators resigned to join the legions, the people of Rome were ready to end this, and the army they put together numbered 85,000.
Hannibal attacked a grainery in Cannae, and the word was sent to dispatch all forces to snuff him out. They found an abondoned camp, and sent back reports that they were already getting spoils from the Carthiginians because they had left silverware and other items, as well as their fires still lit (so they had just been there).
Hannibal had retreated towards the river Aufidus, and the Roman legions followed him to the open fields of Cannae.
Hannibal watched the Roman army from a distance as it advanced on him, the wind whipped dirt into the air, but his men stood with their backs facing the breeze, so the Romans would get the bulk of the disadvantage.
One of Hannibal's officers, a man named Gisco/Gisgo, shook his head in defeat and said to Hannibal: “It is a most amazing thing to see such a number of men”
Hannibal turned to him and said: “I'll tell you something more amazing… In all those numbers, there is not one among them named Gisco”.
This bolstered the spirits of his army, and they needed it. They were made up of about 45,000 men, and they were about to engage 85,000 men.