- Jul 2017
I think you're misunderstanding me, I'm talking about the skirmishers. How does one deploy 20,000 skirmishers in front of a battleline smaller than the one at Trebia, where 8,000 were deployed on the wings and in front of the centre? Skirmishers can only be drawn up so deep. A max of say 10,000 skirmishers could feasibly occupy the front of the Roman heavy infantry, being generous. So the other 10,000 were likely either left in the camp or served as non-combatants, bringing food, taking away injured men etc.As discussed before, Cannae has 2 separate battles, Rom left behind 2 legions to guard their camp, forcing Hannibal too to leave behind a force to protect his own camp. So the 80,000 starts off with only 70,000, 50k infantry and 20k skirmishers.
And I don't think it is impossible to field 50,000 heavy infantry in a mile. Let's say it's 2 ft of space each soldier need in a pack formation, that is 5280 ft/2 ft per man = 2640 men, spread out for 50k men would be 19 ranks. A typical legion has 6 ranks of hastatii, 6 ranks of principes, and 3 ranks of triaii.
I don't think it is inconceivable at all.
Then let me convince you. This line of thinking would mean the Roman army at Cannae would amount to something like 44,000 according to Cantalupi, who AFAIK is the one who originally called for taking Livy over Poly. This would change the battle picture considerably. However, Livy's take isn't convincing. Hannibal was already feared in Italy, and it's very doubtful that Fabius' strategy was underhanded in order to march out against Hannibal with a numerically inferior force.Nonsense. There are any number of literary and practical reasons to doubt 16 legions and Alae at Cannae. It is simply Polybius vs Livy, Wallbank and Toynbee vs Brunt, DeSanctis and Hallward. I don't see anything convincing or new in Lazenby or Goldsworthy et al. It's simply a matter of what you want to accept.
Nobody is doubting the authenticity of Polybius or the tablet, as I stressed in my post. What I'm saying is that the figure curiously missing the light infantry in Hannibal's army mentioned many times after the fact: on the Trebia, at Cannae etc. But if we try to fit those into the figure, we only get 12,000 heavy infantry for Hannibal, which doesn't add up to his later battles either. So it appears that the light infantry was left out of the calculation, for whatever reason. Though note that Caesar, Sulla and others would leave out light infantry in the counting of their army sizes for their memoirs.26,000 men arriving in Italy with Hannibal is the most accurate number you'll ever see in any primary source ever. Attested not only by Polybius, but by the monument erected by Hannibal himself on the Lacinian Promontory.