As a little boy of 9, Hannibal was begging his father, General Hamilcar Barca, to take him around on his campaigns in Spain, but before Hamilcar accepted to fulfil this childish wish of his son, he had him solemnly swear of eternal hatred towards Rome. Hannibal’s remarkable physique, bravery, endurance and his willingness to share all war hardships with his troop, saw him win his first laurels as a young officer under the command of Hasdrubal, Hamilcar’s son-in law and successor. General Hannibal (247-182BCE), quickly rose to become the greatest military leader ever in the history of the history of the Carthaginians (Dodge, 2012, p.122). Hasdrubal was later murdered and it is at this time that the Iberians elected Hannibal, at the age of twenty-six, as their governor.
After Hannibal took over the command of the Carthaginians, he duly appointed me as his personal secretary. Therefore, I believe that I am the best person to give an account of his undertakings as the commander of the Carthaginians. Unlike Hasdrubal who was more of a diplomatic leader, Hannibal used the aggressive military politics as were being previously exercised by his father (Lazenby, 1998, p.33). Just a year after taking over power, Hannibal had already attacked the natives and captured Salamanca and Saguntum which were Rome’s allies. The romans become very offended and they demanded that Hannibal be extradited for going against a treaty that was previously signed by their former leaders. As these negotiations were going on, Hannibal was continuing to extend Carthage’s territory by capturing more of Rome’s allies. He later appointed his brother, Hasdrubal to be the governor in Iberia ((Daly, 2003, p.54). Hannibal crossed river Ebro on May 218 to complete his conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. This act further angered the Romans to the point of declaring the Second Punic war by sending a large reinforcement to Sicily, where they anticipated a major Carthaginian attack.
Hannibal re-aligned his campaigns in the city of Catolinia and opted to win the war by a very risky but bold incursion of Italy and attacked the Romans when they were still unprepared for an attack. In this brave attack, he traversed the Pyrenees with a total of 45,000 army men, 8,000 cavalry and 38 elephants. Through his heroic effort, Hannibal and his team managed to cross river Alps amidst the severity of the autumn snow. By October 218, Hannibal had already crossed the river Po and was in the company of 39,000 soldiers and about 7,000 cavalry. The plains of Po was populated by the Rome captured town of Gauls, they heartedly welcomed Hannibal with the thought that he would help them to regain their independence from the Romans. Therefore more than 15,000 Gauls rebelled against the Roman authority by Joining Hannibal’s army.
Through their support, Hannibal won the 2nd conquest at river Trebia. In the autumn of 218, Hannibal transversed from Bologna all through Apennines and raved the town of Etruria. However, during a minor scuffle, Hannibal lost one of his eyes. After his encounter with the Gauls, the Romans retaliated with a troop of 26,000 men (Daly, 2003, p.73). During this war, the Roman Consul. Gaius Flaminius was killed during an ambush. Hannibal thought that due to this defeat, the roman troop would leave their masters and join the Carthage. However, this failed to happen and was therefore forced to cross Apennines for the second time with an aim of establishing a new stronghold in Apua, the backbone of Italy.
The roman authority used the strategy of cutting down Hannibal’s communications and his resource base at Iberia. At this time, Hannibal was still trying to win Rome’s allies through diplomatic means. During this time, the Romans had already appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus to be their dictator, (a magistrate was bestowed with excessive powers). In the year 216BCE, the Roman Senate decided to end the menace of Hannibal once and for all, they raised an army of 85,000 men, while at this time, Hannibal’s troop was composed of 45,000 men. In July of this year, the Romans pinned managed to pin down the Carthaginian army at the East Coast of Italy in the neighborhood of Cannae. However, due to the great military expertise of Hannibal’s troop they were able to destroy the Romans. After this event, numerous Roman allies switched sides. Most of them revolted such as Sardina, while Capua was made Hannibal’s capital in Italy. Capua’s commander’s brother, Mago Barca was sent by Hannibal to Carthage to make a formal announcement of this victory. Mago Barca made quite a spectacle when he poured out thousands of golden rings which had been taken from the bodies of the slain Roman soldiers (Daly, 2003, p.56).
In my opinion as his secretary, I think that Hannibal failed to attack the city of Rome itself because, despite most of the Roman’s allies falling out from their governorship, the close allies in the central of Italy remained very loyal thus making Hannibal consider endorsing a larger strategy that would eventually make the Romans dissipate their strength. Nonetheless, the Romans ultimately regained their confidence and ground. Hannibal’s quest to capture the ports of Cumae and Puteoli were thwarted by the rejuvenated Roman troops. Eventually, Hannibal would seal his fate. After the failed attempt, Hannibal withdrew his offensives in central Italy (Dodge, 2012, p.133). He turned his focus on the south of Italy and captured Tarentum and other southern Ports. At this time, Hannibal’s troop was getting exhausted thus giving the Roman troops an upper hand. The Roman team managed to re capture Capua and Syracuse.
Slowly, Hannibal was pushed southwards by the Romans. The Romans recaptured Trantum form the hands of Hannibal. When Hannibal’s situation became worse, since the Carthaginian government was not willing to risk any more troops. Hannibal’s last hope was from his brother, Hasdrubal who was in command in Iberian armies. However, the Roman were very vigilant this time round and therefore Hasdrubal was defeated even before crossing Alps. This defeat evaporated Hannibal’s hope of reinforcement. The Roman troops tried to hunt Hannibal but he was able to adopt a guerilla sought of military approach. Due to the Roman’s determination in completely defeating Hannibal and his team, several preliminary engagements were conducted by the Roman military representatives and Hannibal’s army. Hannibal tried to exercise the same tactics that he had used at Cannae but they all failed. Eventually, Carthaginians were defeated .Rome signed a peace deal with them that involved an enormous price; they demanded recognition of Roman authority, they also took all the Carthaginian fleet and an indemnity of not less than 10,000 talents (Fronda, 2010). Hannibal flee to seek refuge from his friend King Prusia but he later poisoned himself so as to avoid extradition.
Daly, G. (2003). Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War: The Experience
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Dodge, T. A. (2012). Hannibal: A History of the Art of War Among the Carthaginians and
Romans Down to the Battle of Pydna, 168 BC. Tales End Press.
Fronda, M. P. (2010). Between Rome and Carthage: Southern Italy During the Second Punic
War. Cambridge University Press.
Lazenby, J. F. (1998). Hannibal's war: a military history of the Second Punic War.