Hannibal vs. Julius Caesar: Better Military tactician

Hannibal vs. Caesar

  • Hannibal

    Votes: 14 66.7%
  • Caesar

    Votes: 7 33.3%

  • Total voters
    21
Jul 2017
2,211
Australia
#21
I'll address this in depth when I get home, but just briefly on Cannae, it's a bit exaggerated to posit Hannibal having a "huge" numerical disadvantage. He had about 30,000 heavy infantry against 50,000, and had a huge superiority in both numbers and quality in his cavalry.
 
#24
I do agree that the cavalry superiority is deserving of more acknowledgment when one considers the fight at Cannae. Regardless, I'm doing what I said I wouldn't do and getting sucked into a debate about Hannibal vs Caesar. So I'm going to ween myself off of this while addressing any points that I think I should address.
 
Aug 2015
2,329
uk
#25
Due to the catastrophic loss of (Roman) life at Cannae, it can certainly be argued that after that battle the Carthaginians would - for some time - have a better standard of troops as the Romans would have pretty much taken anyone to fill the ranks of their legions. Which gives credit to Hannibal for destroying the cream of their troops with minimal loss to his own, but begs the question as to why he was then unable to deliver the killing blow of capturing Rome. As I said earlier, I suspect that Caesar as commander of the Carthaginians would have found a way to do so; but would he have been capable of achieving the victories that Hannibal had to get to that position in the first place?
 
Jul 2017
2,211
Australia
#26
The general consensus today among scholars is that Hannibal had no realistic way of capturing Rome after Cannae. In fact, some as early as Delbruck, and possibly earlier, note that Hannibal probably didn't want to capture Rome, or destroy it.
 
Likes: macon
#27
Incidentally, for those interested in tearing into Hannibal, Dexter Hoyos's Mastering the West is highly critical. I think Hoyos is sometimes unfair and tend to favour the interpretations of J. F. Lazenby in Hannibal's War. I think Hoyos is stronger when he is considering the political side of the war.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
8,910
The People's Republik of Kalifornia.
#28
If Hannibal were in Caesar's place, and Caesar was in Hannibal's place, I don't doubt they'd perform almost as good as they did in real life.
Caesar won at Alesia, ultimately, but didn't he put himself in a bad situation in the first place? Would Hannibal have made the same mistake?
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,426
#29
While I'd probably rank both Alexander and Julius Caesar above Hannibal overall (though only by a hair), if just evaluated as tacticians I don't believe Hannibal has a peer. Since the thread specified that the comparison rests solely on tactical acumen, I voted Hannibal.

Most of Hannibal's victories, including one that has few equals in the entire history of warfare (Cannae), were against a foe that was both qualitatively and quantitatively superior.

Caesar and Alexander - for all their brilliance - never faced enemies that commanded armies that were better than their own. While Caesar did also fight other Romans, the armies commanded by his opponents usually lacked the experience of his veterans from Gaul. Ruspina was an exception, with Caesar in command of the greener army - and he was defeated. (Although he performed absolutely brilliantly in getting his army out intact. His army should have been destroyed and probably would have been were it in less capable hands)
 
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Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,426
#30
Caesar won at Alesia, ultimately, but didn't he put himself in a bad situation in the first place? Would Hannibal have made the same mistake?
I've seen some make the argument that Caesar erred strategically by besieging Alesia, but I think one can only come to that conclusion by ignoring the results. Certainly it was a huge gamble and could have resulted in the destruction of Caesar's army, but Caesar's style of generalship was always audacious.

It was also a calculated risk, with Caesar fully expecting the arrival of a Gallic relief army, and his army making preparations for it from the start by erecting a second ring of fortifications that faced outward. By choosing to besiege Alesia he forced all of Gaul to face him in a climactic battle - on his terms - where ultimately his skillful generalship and the unrivaled engineering skills of the Romans prevailed.

The political situation in Rome at the time also needs to be taken into account. Caesar could ill afford lengthy campaigns to subdue tribe after rebellious tribe, one by one. He needed a swift conclusion and with Alesia he got it.
 
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