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the combat. The loss of the Romans was very considerable. The consul
himself, who made up as a soldier for his deficiencies as a general,
received a dangerous wound, and owed his safety entirely to the
devotion of his son of seventeen, who, courageously dashing into the
ranks of the enemy, compelled his squadron to follow him and rescued
his father. Scipio, enlightened by this combat as to the strength of
the enemy, saw the error which he had committed in posting himself,
with a weaker army, in the plain with his back to the river, and
resolved to return to the right bank of the Po under the eyes of his
antagonist. As the operations became contracted into a narrower space
and his illusions regarding Roman invincibility departed, he recovered
the use of his considerable military talents, which the adventurous
boldness of his youthful opponent's plans had for a moment paralyzed.
While Hannibal was preparing for a pitched battle, Scipio by a rapidly
projected and steadily executed march succeeded in reaching the right
bank of the river which in an evil hour he had abandoned, and broke
down the bridge over the Po behind his army; the Roman detachment of
600 men charged to cover the process of destruction were, however,
intercepted and made prisoners. But as the upper course of the river
was in the hands of Hannibal, he could not be prevented from marching
up the stream, crossing on a bridge of boats, and in a few days
confronting the Roman army on the right bank. The latter had taken
a position in the plain in front of Placentia; but the mutiny of a
Celtic division in the Roman camp, and the Gallic insurrection
breaking out afresh all around, compelled the consul to evacuate the
plain and to post himself on the hills behind the Trebia. This was
accomplished without notable loss, because the Numidian horsemen sent
in pursuit lost their time in plundering, and setting fire to, the
abandoned camp. In this strong position, with his left wing resting
on the Apennines, his right on the Po and the fortress of Placentia,
and covered in front by the Trebia - no inconsiderable stream at that
season - Scipio was unable to save the rich stores of Clastidium
(Casteggio) from which in this position he was cut off by the army of
the enemy; nor was he able to avert the insurrectionary movement on
the part of almost all the Gallic cantons, excepting the Cenomani who
were friendly to Rome; but he completely checked the progress of
Hannibal, and compelled him to pitch his camp opposite to that of
the Romans. Moreover, the position taken up by Scipio, and the
circumstance of the Cenomani threatening the borders of the Insubres,
hindered the main body of the Gallic insurgents from directly joining
the enemy, and gave to the second Roman army, which meanwhile had
arrived at Ariminum from Lilybaeum, the opportunity of reaching
Placentia through the midst of the insurgent country without material
hindrance, and of uniting itself with the army of the Po.

Battle on the Trebia

Scipio had thus solved his difficult task completely and brilliantly.
The Roman army, now close on 40,000 strong, and though not a match for
its antagonist in cavalry, at least equal in infantry, had simply to
remain in its existing position, in order to compel the enemy either
to attempt in the winter season the passage of the river and an attack
upon the camp, or to suspend his advance and to test the fickle temper
of the Gauls by the burden of winter quarters. Clear, however, as
this was, it was no less clear that it was now December, and that
under the course proposed the victory might perhaps be gained by Rome,
but would not be gained by the consul Tiberius Sempronius, who held
the sole command in consequence of Scipio's wound, and whose year of
office expired in a few months. Hannibal knew the man, and neglected
no means of alluring him to fight. The Celtic villages that had
remained faithful to the Romans were cruelly laid waste, and, when
this brought on a conflict between the cavalry, Hannibal allowed his
opponents to boast of the victory. Soon thereafter on a raw rainy
day a general engagement came on, unlocked for by the Romans. From
the earliest hour of the morning the Roman light troops had been
skirmishing with the light cavalry of the enemy; the latter slowly
retreated, and the Romans eagerly pursued it through the deeply
swollen Trebia to follow up the advantage which they had gained.
Suddenly the cavalry halted; the Roman vanguard found itself face to
face with the army of Hannibal drawn up for battle on a field chosen
by himself; it was lost, unless the main body should cross the stream
with all speed to its support. Hungry, weary, and wet, the Romans
came on and hastened to form in order of battle, the cavalry, as
usual, on the wings, the infantry in the centre. The light troops,
who formed the vanguard on both sides, began the combat: but the
Romans had already almost exhausted their missiles against the
cavalry, and immediately gave way. In like manner the cavalry gave
way on the wings, hard pressed by the elephants in front, and
outflanked right and left by the far more numerous Carthaginian horse.
But the Roman infantry proved itself worthy of its name: at the
beginning of the battle it fought with very decided superiority
against the infantry of the enemy, and even when the repulse of the
Roman horse allowed the enemy's cavalry and light-armed troops to turn
their attacks against the Roman infantry, the latter, although ceasing
to advance, obstinately maintained its ground. At this stage a select
Carthaginian band of 1000 infantry, and as many horsemen, under the
leadership of Mago, Hannibal's youngest brother, suddenly emerged from
an ambush in the rear of the Roman army, and fell upon the densely
entangled masses. The wings of the army and the rear ranks of the
Roman centre were broken up and scattered by this attack, while the
first division, 10,000 men strong, in compact array broke through the
Carthaginian line, and made a passage for itself obliquely through the
midst of the enemy, inflicting great loss on the opposing infantry and
more especially on the Gallic insurgents. This brave body, pursued
but feebly, thus reached Placentia. The remaining mass was for the
most part slaughtered by the elephants and light troops of the enemy
in attempting to cross the river: only part of the cavalry and some
divisions of infantry were able, by wading through the river, to gain
the camp whither the Carthaginians did not follow them, and thus they
too reached Placentia.(1) Few battles confer more honour on the Roman
soldier than this on the Trebia, and few at the same time furnish
graver impeachment of the general in command; although the candid
judge will not forget that a commandership in chief expiring on a
definite day was an unmilitary institution, and that figs cannot be
reaped from thistles. The victory came to be costly even to the
victors. Although the loss in the battle fell chiefly on the Celtic
insurgents, yet a multitude of the veteran soldiers of Hannibal died
afterwards from diseases engendered by that raw and wet winter day,
and all the elephants perished except one.

Hannibal Master of Northern Italy

The effect of this first victory of the invading army was, that the
national insurrection now spread and assumed shape without hindrance
throughout the Celtic territory. The remains of the Roman army of
the Po threw themselves into the fortresses of Placentia and Cremona:
completely cut off from home, they were obliged to procure their
supplies by way of the river. The consul Tiberius Sempronius only
escaped, as if by miracle, from being taken prisoner, when with a
weak escort of cavalry he went to Rome on account of the elections.
Hannibal, who would not hazard the health of his troops by further
marches at that inclement season, bivouacked for the winter where he
was; and, as a serious attempt on the larger fortresses would have
led to no result, contented himself with annoying the enemy by attacks
on the river port of Placentia and other minor Roman positions. He
employed himself mainly in organizing the Gallic insurrection: more
than 60,000 foot soldiers and 4000 horsemen from the Celts are said
to have joined his army.

Military and Political Position of Hannibal

No extraordinary exertions were made in Rome for the campaign of 537.
The senate thought, and not unreasonably, that, despite the lost
battle, their position was by no means fraught with serious danger.
Besides the coast garrisons, which were despatched to Sardinia,
Sicily, and Tarentum, and the reinforcements which were sent to Spain,
the two new consuls Gaius Flaminius and Gnaeus Servilius obtained
only as many men as were necessary to restore the four legions to
their full complement; additions were made to the strength of the
cavalry alone. The consuls had to protect the northern frontier, and
stationed themselves accordingly on the two highways which led from
Rome to the north, the western of which at that lime terminated at
Arretium, and the eastern at Ariminum; Gaius Flaminius occupied the
former, Gnaeus Servilius the latter. There they ordered the troops
from the fortresses on the Po to join them, probably by water, and
awaited the commencement of the favourable season, when they proposed
to occupy in the defensive the passes of the Apennines, and then,
taking up the offensive, to descend into the valley of the Po and
effect a junction somewhere near Placentia. But Hannibal by no means
intended to defend the valley of the Po. He knew Rome better perhaps
than the Romans knew it themselves, and was very well aware how
decidedly he was the weaker and continued to be so notwithstanding the
brilliant battle on the Trebia; he knew too that his ultimate object,
the humiliation of Rome, was not to be wrung from the unbending Roman
pride either by terror or by surprise, but could only be gained by
the actual subjugation of the haughty city. It was clearly apparent
that the Italian federation was in political solidity and in military
resources infinitely superior to an adversary, who received only
precarious and irregular support from home, and who in Italy was
dependent for primary aid solely on the vacillating and capricious
nation of the Celts; and that the Phoenician foot soldier was,
notwithstanding all the pains taken by Hannibal, far inferior in
point of tactics to the legionary, had been completely proved by
the defensive movements of Scipio and the brilliant retreat of the
defeated infantry on the Trebia. From this conviction flowed the two
fundamental principles which determined Hannibal's whole method of
operations in Italy - viz., that the war should be carried on, in
somewhat adventurous fashion, with constant changes in the plan and
in the theatre of operations; and that its favourable issue could
only be looked for as the result of political and not of military
successes - of the gradual loosening and final breaking up of the
Italian federation. That mode of carrying on the war was necessary,
because the single element which Hannibal had to throw into the scale
against so many disadvantages - his military genius - only told with
its full weight, when he constantly foiled his opponents by unexpected
combinations; he was undone, if the war became stationary. That aim
was the aim dictated to him by right policy, because, mighty conqueror
though he was in battle, he saw very clearly that on each occasion he
vanquished the generals and not the city, and that after each new
battle the Romans remained just as superior to the Carthaginians as
he was personally superior to the Roman commanders. That Hannibal
even at the height of his fortune never deceived himself on this
point, is worthier of admiration than his most admired battles.

Hannibal Crosses the Apennines

It was these motives, and not the entreaties of the Gauls that he
should spare their country - which would not have influenced him - that
induced Hannibal now to forsake, as it were, his newly acquired basis
of operations against Italy, and to transfer the scene of war to Italy
itself. Before doing so he gave orders that all the prisoners should
be brought before him. He ordered the Romans to be separated and
loaded with chains as slaves - the statement that Hannibal put to death
all the Romans capable of bearing arms, who here and elsewhere fell
into his hands, is beyond doubt at least strongly exaggerated. On the
other hand, all the Italian allies were released without ransom, and
charged to report at home that Hannibal waged war not against Italy,
but against Rome; that he promised to every Italian community the
restoration of its ancient independence and its ancient boundaries;
and that the deliverer was about to follow those whom he had set free,
bringing release and revenge. In fact, when the winter ended, he
started from the valley of the Po to search for a route through
the difficult defiles of the Apennines. Gaius Flaminius, with the
Etruscan army, was still for the moment at Arezzo, intending to move
from that point towards Lucca in order to protect the vale of the Arno
and the passes of the Apennines, so soon as the season should allow.
But Hannibal anticipated him. The passage of the Apennines was
accomplished without much difficulty, at a point as far west as
possible or, in other words, as distant as possible from the enemy;
but the marshy low grounds between the Serchio and the Arno were so
flooded by the melting of the snow and the spring rains, that the army
had to march four days in water, without finding any other dry spot
for resting by night than was supplied by piling the baggage or by
the sumpter animals that had fallen. The troops underwent unutterable
sufferings, particularly the Gallic infantry, which marched behind the
Carthaginians along tracks already rendered impassable: they murmured
loudly and would undoubtedly have dispersed to a man, had not the
Carthaginian cavalry under Mago, which brought up the rear, rendered
flight impossible. The horses, assailed by a distemper in their
hoofs, fell in heaps; various diseases decimated the soldiers;
Hannibal himself lost an eye in consequence of ophthalmia.


But the object was attained. Hannibal encamped at Fiesole, while
Gaius Flaminius was still waiting at Arezzo until the roads should
become passable that he might blockade them. After the Roman
defensive position had thus been turned, the best course for the
consul, who might perhaps have been strong enough to defend the
mountain passes but certainly was unable now to face Hannibal in the
open field, would have been to wait till the second army, which had
now become completely superfluous at Ariminum, should arrive. He
himself, however, judged otherwise. He was a political party leader,
raised to distinction by his efforts to limit the power of the senate;
indignant at the government in consequence of the aristocratic
intrigues concocted against him during his consulship; carried away,
through a doubtless justifiable opposition to their beaten track of
partisanship, into a scornful defiance of tradition and custom;
intoxicated at once by blind love of the common people and equally
bitter hatred of the party of the nobles; and, in addition to all
this, possessed with the fixed idea that he was a military genius.
His campaign against the Insubres of 531, which to unprejudiced
judges only showed that good! soldiers often repair the errors
of bad generals,(2) was regarded by him and by his adherents as an
irrefragable proof that the Romans had only to put Gaius Flaminius at
the head of the army in order to make a speedy end of Hannibal. Talk
of this sort had procured for him his second consulship, and hopes of
this sort had now brought to his camp so great a multitude of unarmed
followers eager for spoil, that their number, according to the
assurance of sober historians, exceeded that of the legionaries.
Hannibal based his plan in part on this circumstance. So far from
attacking him, he marched past him, and caused the country all around
to be pillaged by the Celts who thoroughly understood plundering,
and by his numerous cavalry. The complaints and indignation of the
multitude which had to submit to be plundered under the eyes of the
hero who had promised to enrich them, and the protestation of the
enemy that they did not believe him possessed of either the power
or the resolution to undertake anything before the arrival of his
colleague, could not but induce such a man to display his genius
for strategy, and to give a sharp lesson to his inconsiderate
and haughty foe.

Battle on the Trasimene Lake

No plan was ever more successful. In haste, the consul followed the
line of march of the enemy, who passed by Arezzo and moved slowly
through the rich valley of the Chiana towards Perugia. He overtook
him in the district of Cortona, where Hannibal, accurately informed
of his antagonist's march, had had full time to select his field of
battle - a narrow defile between two steep mountain walls, closed at
its outlet by a high hill, and at its entrance by the Trasimene lake.
With the flower of his infantry he barred the outlet; the light troops
and the cavalry placed themselves in concealment on either side. The
Roman columns advanced without hesitation into the unoccupied pass;
the thick morning mist concealed from them the position of the enemy.
As the head of the Roman line approached the hill, Hannibal gave the
signal for battle; the cavalry, advancing behind the heights, closed
the entrance of the pass, and at the same time the mist rolling away
revealed the Phoenician arms everywhere along the crests on the right
and left. There was no battle; it was a mere rout. Those that
remained outside of the defile were driven by the cavalry into the
lake. The main body was annihilated in the pass itself almost without
resistance, and most of them, including the consul himself, were cut
down in the order of march. The head of the Roman column, formed of
6000 infantry, cut their way through the infantry of the enemy, and
proved once more the irresistible might of the legions; but, cut off
from the rest of the army and without knowledge of its fate, they
marched on at random, were surrounded on the following day, on a
hill which they had occupied, by a corps of Carthaginian cavalry,
and - as the capitulation, which promised them a free retreat, was
rejected by Hannibal - were all treated as prisoners of war. 15,000
Romans had fallen, and as many were captured; in other words, the
army was annihilated. The slight Carthaginian loss - 1500 men - again
fell mainly upon the Gauls.(3) And, as if this were not enough,
immediately after the battle on the Trasimene lake, the cavalry of
the army of Ariminum under Gaius Centenius, 4000 strong, which Gnaeus
Servilius had sent forward for the temporary support of his colleague
while he himself advanced by slow marches, was likewise surrounded by
the Phoenician army, and partly slain, partly made prisoners. All
Etruria was lost, and Hannibal might without hindrance march on Rome.
The Romans prepared themselves for the worst; they broke down the
bridges over the Tiber, and nominated Quintus Fabius Maximus dictator
to repair the walls and conduct the defence, for which an army of
reserve was formed. At the same time two new legions were summoned
under arms in the room of those annihilated, and the fleet, which
might become of importance in the event of a siege, was put in order.

Hannibal on the East Coast
Reorganization of the Carthaginian Army

But Hannibal was more farsighted than king Pyrrhus. He did not march
on Rome; nor even against Gnaeus Servilius, an able general, who had
with the help of the fortresses on the northern road preserved his
army hitherto uninjured, and would perhaps have kept his antagonist
at bay. Once more a movement occurred which was quite unexpected.
Hannibal marched past the fortress of Spoletium, which he attempted in
vain to surprise, through Umbria, fearfully devastated the territory
of Picenum which was covered all over with Roman farmhouses, and
halted on the shores of the Adriatic. The men and horses of his
army had not yet recovered from the painful effects of their spring
campaign; here he rested for a considerable time to allow his army to
recruit its strength in a pleasant district and at a fine season of
the year, and to reorganize his Libyan infantry after the Roman mode,
the means for which were furnished to him by the mass of Roman arms
among the spoil. From this point, moreover, he resumed his long-
interrupted communication with his native land, sending his messages
of victory by water to Carthage. At length, when his army was
sufficiently restored and had been adequately exercised in the use
of the new arms, he broke up and marched slowly along the coast into
southern Italy.

War in Lower Italy

He had calculated correctly, when he chose this time for remodelling
his infantry. The surprise of his antagonists, who were in constant
expectation of an attack on the capital, allowed him at least four
weeks of undisturbed leisure for the execution of the unprecedentedly
bold experiment of changing completely his military system in the
heart of a hostile country and with an army still comparatively small,
and of attempting to oppose African legions to the invincible legions
of Italy. But his hope that the confederacy would now begin to break
up was not fulfilled. In this respect the Etruscans, who had carried
on their last wars of independence mainly with Gallic mercenaries,
were of less moment; the flower of the confederacy, particularly
in a military point of view, consisted - next to the Latins - of the
Sabellian communities, and with good reason Hannibal had now come into
their neighbourhood. But one town after another closed its gates; not
a single Italian community entered into alliance with the Phoenicians.
This was a great, in fact an all-important, gain for the Romans.
Nevertheless it was felt in the capital that it would be imprudent to
put the fidelity of their allies to such a test, without a Roman army
to keep the field. The dictator Quintus Fabius combined the two
supplementary legions formed in Rome with the army of Ariminum,
and when Hannibal marched past the Roman fortress of Luceria towards
Arpi, the Roman standards appeared on his right flank at Aeca.
Their leader, however, pursued a course different from that of his
predecessors. Quintus Fabius was a man advanced in years, of a
deliberation and firmness, which to not a few seemed procrastination
and obstinacy. Zealous in his reverence for the good old times, for
the political omnipotence of the senate, and for the command of the
burgomasters, he looked to a methodical prosecution of the war as
- next to sacrifices and prayers - the means of saving the state.
A political antagonist of Gaius Flaminius, and summoned to the head of
affairs in virtue of the reaction against his foolish war-demagogism,
Fabius departed for the camp just as firmly resolved to avoid a
pitched battle at any price, as his predecessor had been determined at
any price to fight one; he was without doubt convinced that the first
elements of strategy would forbid Hannibal to advance so long as the
Roman army confronted him intact, and that accordingly it would not be
difficult to weaken by petty conflicts and gradually to starve out the
enemy's army, dependent as it was on foraging for its supplies.

March to Capua and Back to Apulia
War in Apulia

Hannibal, well served by his spies in Rome and in the Roman army,
immediately learned how matters stood, and, as usual, adjusted the
plan of his campaign in accordance with the individual character of
the opposing leader. Passing the Roman army, he marched over the
Apennines into the heart of Italy towards Beneventum, took the open
town of Telesia on the boundary between Samnium and Campania, and
thence turned against Capua, which as the most important of all the
Italian cities dependent on Rome, and the only one standing in some
measure on a footing of equality with it, had for that very reason
felt more severely than any other community the oppression of the
Roman government. He had formed connections there, which led him to
hope that the Campanians might revolt from the Roman alliance; but in
this hope he was disappointed. So, retracing his steps, he took the
road to Apulia. During all this march of the Carthaginian army the
dictator had followed along the heights, and had condemned his

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