The Battle of Cannae - Detailed Description
The Battle of Cannae on 2 August, 216 BC serves as a classic example of a double-envelopment maneuver, a way for an inferior force to defeat a superior force on open terrain. Hannibal is still studied in military acadamies.
The battlefield is located in the Apulian plain on the right bank of the Aufidus (modern Ofanto) River, about six miles south of Canosa di Puglia, which itself is midway between Bari and Foggia on Italy's east coast.
The army of Hannibal, fronting west, stood to the left of Aufidus (Ofanto) in the vicinity of the village Cannae,(2) situated near the mouth of the river, and opposite the troops of the consuls Gaius Terentius Varroransferred and Lucius Aemilius Paulus.
The Opposing Forces
Rome put a massive infantry force into the field against Hannibal. The combined forces of the two consuls totalled had 55,000 heavily armed men, 8,000 lightly armed men, 6,000 mounted men - involved in the actual battle - and, in the two fortified camps, 2,600 heavily armed men, 7,400 lightly armed men (a total of 10,000) at his further disposition, so that the total strength of the Roman army amounted to 79,000 men.
It is known from Livy that the First, Second, and Third legions took part in the battle. Paullus was with the First Legion. Publius Cornelius Scipio ('Africanus'-to-be) was also there, at the age of about nineteen years with the Second legion. (Green as he was, though, he - along with Pulcher, from the Third legion - was given temporary command of the remnants of the Roman army after the battle and before Varro was heard from.) Also present was Fabius Maximus, the son of the ex-dictator.
Hannibal's troops amounted to probably only 32,000 heavily armed men (including only...