Jump to content
UNRV Ancient Roman Empire Forums
  • Time Travel Rome

Guest CounterSwarmer

Was Hannibal stupid for deciding not to besiege Rome?

Recommended Posts

Guest ParatrooperLirelou

So often I hear modern day soldiers,military theorists,and armchair generals criticize Hannibal for not besieging Rome. They often state that Hannibal should have taken the advantage of assaulting Rome as most of the cities armed men were killed in Cannae and the city was undefended, with the populace panicking. They say that even though Rome did have a militia and that Rome had powerful walls, had Hannibal attacked, he could have conquered Rome no matter how great its defenses was as the Roman population was literally panicking and vulnerable to defeat in the time just after Cannae. They say had Hannibal decided to attack Rome immediately after his victory in Cannae, not only would he have taken over the city but he also would have won the Punic Wars.

 

This is one thing I have been having heated debates for years already.From the way I see it, Hannibal made the right decision not to besiege Rome. These modern soldiers, military theorists, and armchair generals fail to realize that ancient warfare was very different from modern warfare.They fail to realize that Hannibal's army was exhausted after the victory in Cannae and also fail to realize ancient world soldiers were not professional in the modern sense;had Hannibal assaulted Rome, I read his men might have mutinied for being pushed to fight immediately after fighting a battle as harsh as Cannae.Unlike modern soldiers, ancient armies were not disciplined and professional in the modern sense and even the most disciplined and most professional ancient armies were prone to mutiny especially when they are exhausted after fighting a battle like Cannae.

 

Further more, they failed to realize that the movement rate of armies is far different from professional armies-ancient armied did not move at the speed modern armies did and while they can be forced to march quickly, that would not necessarily be advantageous as ancient soldiers would have been exhausted from forced march by the time they meet the area of engagements.And even if Hannibal decided to do force march, Rome was considerably days away from Cannae.In fact I read sources saying that the amount of time it would have taken for Hannibal to reach Rome under maximum speed would have taken as long as the time Hannibal spent by the time he sent a messenger to negotiate Rome's surrender.In other words sources I read stated that by the time Hannibal would have reached Rome after forced march immediately after Cannae would have been enough for the Romans to recover from shock and to build an army that would have successfully defended Rome from Hannibal's forces!

 

From my reading, I also have come up with the conclusion that even if Hannibal did reach Rome somewhat quickly, he would have lacked the siege equipment needed to successfully take the city.As panicking as the Romans were after Cannae, history had already shown they were a resilient people who did not easily give up and it would have been unlikely they were panicking to the point that they would have been in such disorder and chaos to be unable to muster up a last-minue militia force, nor would they have been so pessimistic that they would quickly have surrendered and immediately resort to negotiating the terms of surrender with Hannibal. Even though the Roman forces had significantly dwindled in numbers and quality after Cannae, the walls of Rome would have been more than enough to make up for the numbers of quality troops lost in Cannae. In other words besieging Rome would have been suicidal!

 

I have been with such heated debates in this specific topic.In fact I had this debate several time with my father(who is an officer in the U.S. army)since 2009, and he keeps stating Hannibal was stupid for not taking this oppurtunity for defeating Rome.My father's reasoning was very flawed as they impose modern military ideals and concept on an army as ancient as Hannibal without keeping in mind of the great differences of beteen the ancient warfare and modern warfare and that modern military theories and concepts were unknown and often not applicable to ancient warfare.Basically my father, as professional as a soldier he is, shows a lack of understanding of warfare in the ancient world and is trying to analyze war through the modern viewpoints.

 

Same with other debates on this topic with other military theorists, armchair generals, and professional soldiers.They generally agree with my dads beliefs for the same reasons and its apparent they fail to realize the differences between modern warfare and ancient warfare.

 

Whats your take on this?Would you call Hannibal a fool for deciding not to besiege Rome after Cannae?Or do you think he made the right decision not to besiege Cannae and if so, why do you believe he made the right decision?I look forward to an a very interesting and well-reasoned debate in this thread!

Edited by ParatrooperLirelou

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the benefit of hindsight I would call him overcautious. He did not capitalise on his battlefield success.

 

However, as an armchair general, I have to consider that I have information that Hannibal didn't. What he desperately wanted was to avoid getting bogged down with a siege, because that tie his troops to one place and introduce supply and threat problems.

 

Hannibals overall strategy was to pummel and intimidate the Romans into surrender. Whilst an attack on Rome would have conceivably ended the war in his favour, he was also well aware of the Roman capacity for reinforcement.

 

So was he stupid? No, not really, but his gut instinct and lack of information about Roman dispositions and situation led him to hedge his bets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was watching a programme (or reading a book, can't remember which) that raised the interesting point that, by all known military conventions of the day, Rome should have just put her hands up, said "its a fair cop, you've battered us" and given into terms. That the Romans simply refused to acknowledge that they'd been utterly defeated was pretty much unheard of. For them it was a case of win or die. Not lose and pay some hefty fines, give up some hostages and get on with things.

 

cheers

 

Russ

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So Hannibal decides to march on Rome.

 

He's got an army of about 35,000 men tops, because we are told he lost 8,700 of his 40,000 at Cannae. He's got to get them to the other side of Italy, and over the central mountain range, so let's say it takes a month to do the 400km or so.

 

In this time Rome fortifies its walls, sends recalls to armies from Iberia and Sardinia, and reconstitutes the survivors to Cannae into two legions (it actually did the latter). Since the harvest is just in (its now early September), Rome collects as much food as possible and makes sure that there is nothing in the area of Rome for Hannibal's army to eat.

 

Rome also orders a spring levy of manpower from her allies, who are no longer being harassed by Hannibal as he has gone to Rome.

 

Lacking siege equipment, there is no way that Hannibal is going to take Rome before winter, so after setting up in autumn, his army spends a miserable four months sitting under canvas while illness and disease spread. In spring he finds his supply columns being harassed by Rome's new levies, and with his depleted army, he has both to keep food from getting into Rome and guard his own supply lines.

 

By summer, Rome's overseas legions have returned. Hannibal is pinned against the walls of Rome by an army equal in size to his own, but now in considerably better shape. The commander of an army that has won its victories by being highly mobile and seizing the strategic initiative has allowed himself to become totally immobile while his enemies have the freedom of Italy to organize their counterstrike.

 

I can't see it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other points to consider, such as Miles suggests in Carthage Must Be Destroyed, is that Rome still had two urban legions as well as marines and other troops based in Rome - the walls had also been rebuilt in 378 so were 7km long interspersed with towers. All of this meant that Rome was not an 'open' city it would require serious siege equipment and would take a lot of time and effort plus as Maty says she still had the spring levy due to gather while Hannibal was primarily reliant on his existing troops and needed time to recover.

 

Miles makes the point that Hannibals whole strategy had been aimed at marginalising Rome in his attempts to remove the Italic and Latin cities from under her power to the extent of treating 'Italic' prisoners differently from Roman and even sending them home - 'Carthage is your friend' we will return your land and your people to you unlike Rome.

 

There also was the issue that Hannibal's army was primarily composed of mercenaries and he could not rely on reinforcements from Spain due to the Roman legions blocking access. The Punic fleet was effectively non-existent or at least nowhere near the force they had previously been following their forfeiture at the end of the First Punic War so the Med had become a Roman 'boating lake' cl;osing off major support from that direction.

 

His whole strategy was therefore aimed at removing both Latin and Italic support for Rome and bringing her to terms whereby Carthage could regain the territory she had previously lost in Sicily and Sardinia. From his viewpoint seperating Rome from her allies probably seemed the best way of achieving this. Hannibal although militarily experienced this was mainly amongst non-Roman opponents so did not realise how ruthlessly they would oppose his offers of terms.

 

He also did not have 20/20 hindsight particularly that gained in an armchair looking partway down the barrel of 2000+ years of history. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

His whole strategy was therefore aimed at removing both Latin and Italic support for Rome and bringing her to terms whereby Carthage could regain the territory she had previously lost in Sicily and Sardinia. From his viewpoint seperating Rome from her allies probably seemed the best way of achieving this.

 

This is basically what happened to Carthage after the war when they had to set free all their conquests and allies so the goals of the two sides were fairly similar. The huge difference is that most roman allies stayed with Rome even when their lands were invaded while the allies of Carthage turned on her and played a decisive role at Zama and in forcing the Carthaginian surrender. While the difference may be born from the way each treated it's allies and subjects one element hindering Hannibal's plan may be the absence of a viable alternative to Rome in the Italian peninsula. Gauls and Greeks looked forward to return to independence but I doubt that Italians believed that independence was possible for them at that point and there was no local power like the Numidians in Maghreb to take over the leading role in the region.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These modern soldiers, military theorists, and armchair generals fail to realize that ancient warfare was very different from modern warfare.They fail to realize that Hannibal's army was exhausted after the victory in Cannae and also fail to realize ancient world soldiers were not professional in the modern sense;had Hannibal assaulted Rome, I read his men might have mutinied for being pushed to fight immediately after fighting a battle as harsh as Cannae.Unlike modern soldiers, ancient armies were not disciplined and professional in the modern sense and even the most disciplined and most professional ancient armies were prone to mutiny especially when they are exhausted after fighting a battle like Cannae.

 

Further more, they failed to realize that the movement rate of armies is far different from professional armies-ancient armied did not move at the speed modern armies did and while they can be forced to march quickly, that would not necessarily be advantageous as ancient soldiers would have been exhausted from forced march by the time they meet the area of engagements.And even if Hannibal decided to do force march,

 

Sorry but I always have to ask; Who fails to realize that ancient armies moved at rates different than a modern mechanized army does? Who fails to realize that ancient armies operated in a different set of circumstances than modern armies? One must be an incredibly dull-witted individual to not be cognizant of these issues.

 

Mechanized armies have only existed since the 20th century, throw in railroads for military use and you've got another half-century. When Theodore Dodge or JFC Fuller--both veterans of non-mechanized armies--wrote about ancient armies they were fully aware of the movement issues.

 

I have been with such heated debates in this specific topic.In fact I had this debate several time with my father(who is an officer in the U.S. army)since 2009, and he keeps stating Hannibal was stupid for not taking this oppurtunity for defeating Rome.My father's reasoning was very flawed as they impose modern military ideals and concept on an army as ancient as Hannibal without keeping in mind of the great differences of beteen the ancient warfare and modern warfare and that modern military theories and concepts were unknown and often not applicable to ancient warfare.Basically my father, as professional as a soldier he is, shows a lack of understanding of warfare in the ancient world and is trying to analyze war through the modern viewpoints.

 

I see this a lot. They're such general statements as to be useless. My question is again; Exactly which modern 'theories' is he applying that are not relevant? A concept like double envelopment used in WWII and Desert Storm at brigade level had its first known success under Hannibal at Cannae. Concentration of force to exploit a tactical weakness on the battlefield was done by Alexander long before Napoleon or von Manstein.

 

Modern US infantry leaders use a formalized concept for planning called METT-T. Mission, Enemy [his capabilities, weaknesses, disposition, etc], Troops available [your troops, strengths, weaknesses, morale, etc], Terrain [cover, obstacles, avenues of approach, etc] and Time available. Is METT-T "modern"? Yes. Did Alexander, Hannibal, JC, utilize similar analysis? Of course.

 

The argument over taking Rome isn't dissimilar to that of taking Moscow during Barbarossa; pros and cons could be argued forever.

 

General strategies of attrition, annihilation or blocking lines of communication for example aren't limited to a particular era.

 

In the end there are military rules of thumb that are universal, those that are localized to a certain time or culture & some that fall somewhere between. Here is a list of Napoleon's maxims LINK. Some can be applied to any era, some to the modern era and a few limited to the Napoleonic era. Historical knowledge and a bit of intelligence is what is needed to apply the analysis.

 

Same with other debates on this topic with other military theorists, armchair generals, and professional soldiers.They generally agree with my dads beliefs for the same reasons and its apparent they fail to realize the differences between modern warfare and ancient warfare.

 

C'mon you think people are that utterly stupid? Carts and infantry are slower than a C-130. We understand the speed of infantry [any light infantry unit doing daily foot patrols in the mountains of Afghanistan could tell you]. Yes air support and logistics capabilities change the complexion but Christ, using a bit of common sense an intelligent person ought to be able to make the mental transition.

 

Again I ask, what "modern" concepts are they applying? Which of them are not applicable to ancient warfare?

 

Whats your take on this?Would you call Hannibal a fool for deciding not to besiege Rome after Cannae?Or do you think he made the right decision not to besiege Cannae and if so, why do you believe he made the right decision?I look forward to an a very interesting and well-reasoned debate in this thread!

 

Hannibal was a lot of things, I don't think a fool was one of them even if he made an error. Hannibal obviously knew how important taking Rome would be but I tend to think he was cognizant of his own weaknesses.

Edited by Virgil61

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ParatrooperLirelou

These modern soldiers, military theorists, and armchair generals fail to realize that ancient warfare was very different from modern warfare.They fail to realize that Hannibal's army was exhausted after the victory in Cannae and also fail to realize ancient world soldiers were not professional in the modern sense;had Hannibal assaulted Rome, I read his men might have mutinied for being pushed to fight immediately after fighting a battle as harsh as Cannae.Unlike modern soldiers, ancient armies were not disciplined and professional in the modern sense and even the most disciplined and most professional ancient armies were prone to mutiny especially when they are exhausted after fighting a battle like Cannae.

 

Further more, they failed to realize that the movement rate of armies is far different from professional armies-ancient armied did not move at the speed modern armies did and while they can be forced to march quickly, that would not necessarily be advantageous as ancient soldiers would have been exhausted from forced march by the time they meet the area of engagements.And even if Hannibal decided to do force march,

 

Sorry but I always have to ask; Who fails to realize that ancient armies moved at rates different than a modern mechanized army does? Who fails to realize that ancient armies operated in a different set of circumstances than modern armies? One must be an incredibly dull-witted individual to not be cognizant of these issues.

 

Mechanized armies have only existed since the 20th century, throw in railroads for military use and you've got another half-century. When Theodore Dodge or JFC Fuller--both veterans of non-mechanized armies--wrote about ancient armies they were fully aware of the movement issues.

 

I have been with such heated debates in this specific topic.In fact I had this debate several time with my father(who is an officer in the U.S. army)since 2009, and he keeps stating Hannibal was stupid for not taking this oppurtunity for defeating Rome.My father's reasoning was very flawed as they impose modern military ideals and concept on an army as ancient as Hannibal without keeping in mind of the great differences of beteen the ancient warfare and modern warfare and that modern military theories and concepts were unknown and often not applicable to ancient warfare.Basically my father, as professional as a soldier he is, shows a lack of understanding of warfare in the ancient world and is trying to analyze war through the modern viewpoints.

 

I see this a lot. They're such general statements as to be useless. My question is again; Exactly which modern 'theories' is he applying that are not relevant? A concept like double envelopment used in WWII and Desert Storm at brigade level had its first known success under Hannibal at Cannae. Concentration of force to exploit a tactical weakness on the battlefield was done by Alexander long before Napoleon or von Manstein.

 

Modern US infantry leaders use a formalized concept for planning called METT-T. Mission, Enemy [his capabilities, weaknesses, disposition, etc], Troops available [your troops, strengths, weaknesses, morale, etc], Terrain [cover, obstacles, avenues of approach, etc] and Time available. Is METT-T "modern"? Yes. Did Alexander, Hannibal, JC, utilize similar analysis? Of course.

 

The argument over taking Rome isn't dissimilar to that of taking Moscow during Barbarossa; pros and cons could be argued forever.

 

General strategies of attrition, annihilation or blocking lines of communication for example aren't limited to a particular era.

 

In the end there are military rules of thumb that are universal, those that are localized to a certain time or culture & some that fall somewhere between. Here is a list of Napoleon's maxims LINK. Some can be applied to any era, some to the modern era and a few limited to the Napoleonic era. Historical knowledge and a bit of intelligence is what is needed to apply the analysis.

 

Same with other debates on this topic with other military theorists, armchair generals, and professional soldiers.They generally agree with my dads beliefs for the same reasons and its apparent they fail to realize the differences between modern warfare and ancient warfare.

 

C'mon you think people are that utterly stupid? Carts and infantry are slower than a C-130. We understand the speed of infantry [any light infantry unit doing daily foot patrols in the mountains of Afghanistan could tell you]. Yes air support and logistics capabilities change the complexion but Christ, using a bit of common sense an intelligent person ought to be able to make the mental transition.

 

Again I ask, what "modern" concepts are they applying? Which of them are not applicable to ancient warfare?

 

Whats your take on this?Would you call Hannibal a fool for deciding not to besiege Rome after Cannae?Or do you think he made the right decision not to besiege Cannae and if so, why do you believe he made the right decision?I look forward to an a very interesting and well-reasoned debate in this thread!

 

Hannibal was a lot of things, I don't think a fool was one of them even if he made an error. Hannibal obviously knew how important taking Rome would be but I tend to think he was cognizant of his own weaknesses.

 

When ever I get into chats about pre 20th century warfare with soldiers and theorists, it always gets into like this. Usually the soldiers and theorists. While its true that some aspects of warfare are universal, its dangerous to try to impose them on ancient armies without looking to specific details.

 

And you may not believe, but when I chat with people who are professional soldiers and military theorists, one of the fitst thing I always notice is that they seem to use modern concepts such as offensive defense and Blitzkrieg(or more accurately Bunderkrieg as the concept was invented by the Prussians under Frederick II) when tryin to describe pre 20th century warfare tactics and strategies(which is completely wrong considering the differences in technology). When such terms are used many mistakes began to be stated such over estimating the speed of armies and failing to take into consideration how tired they could get when they match at full speed to reach a position before enemies could. Many people including my father assume that modern army concepts can be applied such "professional armies" in the modern sense.

 

Caldrail could explain better than I could.

 

But there is without a doubt a tendency for modern concepts to be imposed on armies that are part of civilizartions that were pre 20th century military super powers especially the Mongols(who are often described with things such as rapid deployment) and especially the Romans(to put an example Romans are seen using the same pyramid of organization as modern armies) are almost always described in modern term and military doctrine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These modern soldiers, military theorists, and armchair generals fail to realize that ancient warfare was very different from modern warfare.They fail to realize that Hannibal's army was exhausted after the victory in Cannae and also fail to realize ancient world soldiers were not professional in the modern sense;had Hannibal assaulted Rome, I read his men might have mutinied for being pushed to fight immediately after fighting a battle as harsh as Cannae.Unlike modern soldiers, ancient armies were not disciplined and professional in the modern sense and even the most disciplined and most professional ancient armies were prone to mutiny especially when they are exhausted after fighting a battle like Cannae.

 

Further more, they failed to realize that the movement rate of armies is far different from professional armies-ancient armied did not move at the speed modern armies did and while they can be forced to march quickly, that would not necessarily be advantageous as ancient soldiers would have been exhausted from forced march by the time they meet the area of engagements.And even if Hannibal decided to do force march,

 

Sorry but I always have to ask; Who fails to realize that ancient armies moved at rates different than a modern mechanized army does? Who fails to realize that ancient armies operated in a different set of circumstances than modern armies? One must be an incredibly dull-witted individual to not be cognizant of these issues.

 

Mechanized armies have only existed since the 20th century, throw in railroads for military use and you've got another half-century. When Theodore Dodge or JFC Fuller--both veterans of non-mechanized armies--wrote about ancient armies they were fully aware of the movement issues.

 

I have been with such heated debates in this specific topic.In fact I had this debate several time with my father(who is an officer in the U.S. army)since 2009, and he keeps stating Hannibal was stupid for not taking this oppurtunity for defeating Rome.My father's reasoning was very flawed as they impose modern military ideals and concept on an army as ancient as Hannibal without keeping in mind of the great differences of beteen the ancient warfare and modern warfare and that modern military theories and concepts were unknown and often not applicable to ancient warfare.Basically my father, as professional as a soldier he is, shows a lack of understanding of warfare in the ancient world and is trying to analyze war through the modern viewpoints.

 

I see this a lot. They're such general statements as to be useless. My question is again; Exactly which modern 'theories' is he applying that are not relevant? A concept like double envelopment used in WWII and Desert Storm at brigade level had its first known success under Hannibal at Cannae. Concentration of force to exploit a tactical weakness on the battlefield was done by Alexander long before Napoleon or von Manstein.

 

Modern US infantry leaders use a formalized concept for planning called METT-T. Mission, Enemy [his capabilities, weaknesses, disposition, etc], Troops available [your troops, strengths, weaknesses, morale, etc], Terrain [cover, obstacles, avenues of approach, etc] and Time available. Is METT-T "modern"? Yes. Did Alexander, Hannibal, JC, utilize similar analysis? Of course.

 

The argument over taking Rome isn't dissimilar to that of taking Moscow during Barbarossa; pros and cons could be argued forever.

 

General strategies of attrition, annihilation or blocking lines of communication for example aren't limited to a particular era.

 

In the end there are military rules of thumb that are universal, those that are localized to a certain time or culture & some that fall somewhere between. Here is a list of Napoleon's maxims LINK. Some can be applied to any era, some to the modern era and a few limited to the Napoleonic era. Historical knowledge and a bit of intelligence is what is needed to apply the analysis.

 

Same with other debates on this topic with other military theorists, armchair generals, and professional soldiers.They generally agree with my dads beliefs for the same reasons and its apparent they fail to realize the differences between modern warfare and ancient warfare.

 

C'mon you think people are that utterly stupid? Carts and infantry are slower than a C-130. We understand the speed of infantry [any light infantry unit doing daily foot patrols in the mountains of Afghanistan could tell you]. Yes air support and logistics capabilities change the complexion but Christ, using a bit of common sense an intelligent person ought to be able to make the mental transition.

 

Again I ask, what "modern" concepts are they applying? Which of them are not applicable to ancient warfare?

 

Whats your take on this?Would you call Hannibal a fool for deciding not to besiege Rome after Cannae?Or do you think he made the right decision not to besiege Cannae and if so, why do you believe he made the right decision?I look forward to an a very interesting and well-reasoned debate in this thread!

 

Hannibal was a lot of things, I don't think a fool was one of them even if he made an error. Hannibal obviously knew how important taking Rome would be but I tend to think he was cognizant of his own weaknesses.

 

When ever I get into chats about pre 20th century warfare with soldiers and theorists, it always gets into like this.

 

Spare me the dismissive know-it-all-ism. I just walked you through a step-by-step process of METT-T as an example of one applicable modern military approach that any competent commander in ancient times would understand immediately, I'm not sure it 'took'.

 

Usually the soldiers and theorists. While its true that some aspects of warfare are universal, its dangerous to try to impose them on ancient armies without looking to specific details.

 

Who are you arguing with that doesn't pay attention to details specific when trying to apply a military analysis? If you're talking about some casual conversations then fine. If you're talking professional historical writings and analysis that's another more serious issue that I challenge you to point out here and post the reference.

 

Again, analyzing Alexander's exploitation of a line's weakness as a 'concentration of force' or the Roman control of the seas cutting off Hannibal from Carthage as an example of cutting off 'lines of communication' are both acceptable applications of modern military theory. Applying Rommel's movement timelines during the North African campaign and comparing them to the Romans isn't an acceptable application. If you agree with this then our disagreements aren't far apart.

 

I [and almost every historian writing or who has written on the subject] takes a middle road that says use common sense and intelligence in applying military analysis.

 

When such terms are used many mistakes began to be stated such over estimating the speed of armies and failing to take into consideration how tired they could get when they match at full speed to reach a position before enemies could.

 

If you're going to make assumptions on modern military methodology it helps your cause if you know your subject. Not having a grasp of the military today leads to misinformation and misunderstandings. It's frankly impossible for you to do a compare and contrast if your basic information is flawed.

 

Most armies still contain a large numbers of infantryman whose primary mood of transportation is still by foot, who conduct training weeks at a time and who still do ruck marches. [spend a month with a 'light' (foot) infantry unit like the 10th Mountain then get back to me on not understanding forced marches and exhaustion.]

 

Most people who can speak intelligently on Caesar's campaigns in Gaul know--in the event they make use of the word "Blitzkrieg"--that it does not entail the same thing as the Germans during Barbarossa.

 

...and especially the Romans(to put an example Romans are seen using the same pyramid of organization as modern armies) are almost always described in modern term and military doctrine.

 

Well you are wrong of course it was pyramidal [by definition even a one-leader-many-minions organization is pyramidal]. The Romans did not bypass human and organizational psychology common to all homo sapiens. You're not arguing with military members or 'theorists' you're arguing with the best Roman military historians now writing (Goldsworthy, Campbell, Southern, etc). You're even arguing with Julius Caesar's descriptions of his junior leaders & Josephus' description of Vespasian's command among others. If they can't convince you along I certainly can't.

Edited by Virgil61

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... they seem to use modern concepts such as offensive defense and Blitzkrieg(or more accurately Bunderkrieg as the concept was invented by the Prussians under Frederick II) when tryin to describe pre 20th century warfare tactics and strategies(which is completely wrong considering the differences in technology).

 

If a concept was invented in the 18th century then it can be used to describe pre 20th century warfare.

 

I don't see what Hannibal's decisions have to do with modern changes in military doctrine so let's stay on topic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ParatrooperLirelou

These modern soldiers, military theorists, and armchair generals fail to realize that ancient warfare was very different from modern warfare.They fail to realize that Hannibal's army was exhausted after the victory in Cannae and also fail to realize ancient world soldiers were not professional in the modern sense;had Hannibal assaulted Rome, I read his men might have mutinied for being pushed to fight immediately after fighting a battle as harsh as Cannae.Unlike modern soldiers, ancient armies were not disciplined and professional in the modern sense and even the most disciplined and most professional ancient armies were prone to mutiny especially when they are exhausted after fighting a battle like Cannae.

 

Further more, they failed to realize that the movement rate of armies is far different from professional armies-ancient armied did not move at the speed modern armies did and while they can be forced to march quickly, that would not necessarily be advantageous as ancient soldiers would have been exhausted from forced march by the time they meet the area of engagements.And even if Hannibal decided to do force march,

 

Sorry but I always have to ask; Who fails to realize that ancient armies moved at rates different than a modern mechanized army does? Who fails to realize that ancient armies operated in a different set of circumstances than modern armies? One must be an incredibly dull-witted individual to not be cognizant of these issues.

 

Mechanized armies have only existed since the 20th century, throw in railroads for military use and you've got another half-century. When Theodore Dodge or JFC Fuller--both veterans of non-mechanized armies--wrote about ancient armies they were fully aware of the movement issues.

 

I have been with such heated debates in this specific topic.In fact I had this debate several time with my father(who is an officer in the U.S. army)since 2009, and he keeps stating Hannibal was stupid for not taking this oppurtunity for defeating Rome.My father's reasoning was very flawed as they impose modern military ideals and concept on an army as ancient as Hannibal without keeping in mind of the great differences of beteen the ancient warfare and modern warfare and that modern military theories and concepts were unknown and often not applicable to ancient warfare.Basically my father, as professional as a soldier he is, shows a lack of understanding of warfare in the ancient world and is trying to analyze war through the modern viewpoints.

 

I see this a lot. They're such general statements as to be useless. My question is again; Exactly which modern 'theories' is he applying that are not relevant? A concept like double envelopment used in WWII and Desert Storm at brigade level had its first known success under Hannibal at Cannae. Concentration of force to exploit a tactical weakness on the battlefield was done by Alexander long before Napoleon or von Manstein.

 

Modern US infantry leaders use a formalized concept for planning called METT-T. Mission, Enemy [his capabilities, weaknesses, disposition, etc], Troops available [your troops, strengths, weaknesses, morale, etc], Terrain [cover, obstacles, avenues of approach, etc] and Time available. Is METT-T "modern"? Yes. Did Alexander, Hannibal, JC, utilize similar analysis? Of course.

 

The argument over taking Rome isn't dissimilar to that of taking Moscow during Barbarossa; pros and cons could be argued forever.

 

General strategies of attrition, annihilation or blocking lines of communication for example aren't limited to a particular era.

 

In the end there are military rules of thumb that are universal, those that are localized to a certain time or culture & some that fall somewhere between. Here is a list of Napoleon's maxims LINK. Some can be applied to any era, some to the modern era and a few limited to the Napoleonic era. Historical knowledge and a bit of intelligence is what is needed to apply the analysis.

 

Same with other debates on this topic with other military theorists, armchair generals, and professional soldiers.They generally agree with my dads beliefs for the same reasons and its apparent they fail to realize the differences between modern warfare and ancient warfare.

 

C'mon you think people are that utterly stupid? Carts and infantry are slower than a C-130. We understand the speed of infantry [any light infantry unit doing daily foot patrols in the mountains of Afghanistan could tell you]. Yes air support and logistics capabilities change the complexion but Christ, using a bit of common sense an intelligent person ought to be able to make the mental transition.

 

Again I ask, what "modern" concepts are they applying? Which of them are not applicable to ancient warfare?

 

Whats your take on this?Would you call Hannibal a fool for deciding not to besiege Rome after Cannae?Or do you think he made the right decision not to besiege Cannae and if so, why do you believe he made the right decision?I look forward to an a very interesting and well-reasoned debate in this thread!

 

Hannibal was a lot of things, I don't think a fool was one of them even if he made an error. Hannibal obviously knew how important taking Rome would be but I tend to think he was cognizant of his own weaknesses.

 

When ever I get into chats about pre 20th century warfare with soldiers and theorists, it always gets into like this.

 

Spare me the dismissive know-it-all-ism. I just walked you through a step-by-step process of METT-T as an example of one applicable modern military approach that any competent commander in ancient times would understand immediately, I'm not sure it 'took'.

 

Usually the soldiers and theorists. While its true that some aspects of warfare are universal, its dangerous to try to impose them on ancient armies without looking to specific details.

 

Who are you arguing with that doesn't pay attention to details specific when trying to apply a military analysis? If you're talking about some casual conversations then fine. If you're talking professional historical writings and analysis that's another more serious issue that I challenge you to point out here and post the reference.

 

Again, analyzing Alexander's exploitation of a line's weakness as a 'concentration of force' or the Roman control of the seas cutting off Hannibal from Carthage as an example of cutting off 'lines of communication' are both acceptable applications of modern military theory. Applying Rommel's movement timelines during the North African campaign and comparing them to the Romans isn't an acceptable application. If you agree with this then our disagreements aren't far apart.

 

I [and almost every historian writing or who has written on the subject] takes a middle road that says use common sense and intelligence in applying military analysis.

 

When such terms are used many mistakes began to be stated such over estimating the speed of armies and failing to take into consideration how tired they could get when they match at full speed to reach a position before enemies could.

 

If you're going to make assumptions on modern military methodology it helps your cause if you know your subject. Not having a grasp of the military today leads to misinformation and misunderstandings. It's frankly impossible for you to do a compare and contrast if your basic information is flawed.

 

Most armies still contain a large numbers of infantryman whose primary mood of transportation is still by foot, who conduct training weeks at a time and who still do ruck marches. [spend a month with a 'light' (foot) infantry unit like the 10th Mountain then get back to me on not understanding forced marches and exhaustion.]

 

Most people who can speak intelligently on Caesar's campaigns in Gaul know--in the event they make use of the word "Blitzkrieg"--that it does not entail the same thing as the Germans during Barbarossa.

 

...and especially the Romans(to put an example Romans are seen using the same pyramid of organization as modern armies) are almost always described in modern term and military doctrine.

 

Well you are wrong of course it was pyramidal [by definition even a one-leader-many-minions organization is pyramidal]. The Romans did not bypass human and organizational psychology common to all homo sapiens. You're not arguing with military members or 'theorists' you're arguing with the best Roman military historians now writing (Goldsworthy, Campbell, Southern, etc). You're even arguing with Julius Caesar's descriptions of his junior leaders & Josephus' description of Vespasian's command among others. If they can't convince you along I certainly can't.

 

 

Iam aware that there is still infanty that could march and that concepts such as cutting supplies are just common sense that nobody has to read military books.What irritates me is how they fail to consider the differences IN APPLYING THEM!Before criticizing me, just to let you know I have been studying the Art of War and the Indochina/Vietnam Wars and am indeed familiar with modern concepts.

 

IN FACT I CAN LITERALLY TELL YOU RIGHT NOW HOW MODERN MILITARY THEORISTS AND PROFESSEIONAL SOLDIERS IN MODERN ARMIES ARE OFTEN COMPLETELY WRONG IN THEIR ANALYSIS OF MEDIEVAL WARFARE, Vietnam, AND ESPECIALLY THE INDOCHINA WAR as they fail to realize that many things in modern warfare simply cannot be applied to those wars.

 

 

And seriously, you obviously haven't chatted or participated in military forums.If you ever get a chance to chat with soldiers and theorists you will understand what I mean(most commonly are the Mongols and Medieval Warfare were many modern concepts are impoed).

 

Pluse while the modern infantry such as the 82nd Airborne does go through similar physically exhausted activities ike anicent armies, they had the benefit of modern technology such as stealth bombers and helicopters to help in multiple things such as logistics(again you should read the various articles I wrote on the Indochina War and you'll see what I mean.See this thread and you will see I have a basic understanding of military theory and doctrine.

 

 

http://www.unrv.com/forum/topic/12363-dien-bien-phu-myths-5th-edition/

 

As this article shows, much of the generally accepted facts on the battle of Dien Bien Phu are notthing but assumptions and generalizations without detailed research of the situation.This is what I meant when modern soldiers and theorists impose modern concepts of the Roman army that are completely inaccurate because they did so out of assumption and generalizations without looking into proper research of the details.

 

 

Basically I'm saying is that tend to forget the differences in eras.Yes there are general principles that apply in era such as manuerver but what gets me is how modern soldiers and theorists tend to overlook the differences between the eras.This other article on Medieval Warfare perfectly shows how modern military theorem impose modern concepts on past ages without keeping in mind differences such as what terms meant in a specific era(such as champions fighting each other):

 

http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/mcglynn.htm

Edited by ParatrooperLirelou

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ParatrooperLirelou

Lets go back to topic about Hannibal. Whatever arguments we have on the distortion of pre 20th warfare by the imposing of modern concepts by soldiers and theorist should be in PM or in another seperate thread.

 

Anyway, one I heard from some threads on the net dating the authenticity of the famed quote by Marhabals:

"Truly the Gods have not bestowed all things upon the same person. Thou knowest indeed, Hannibal, how to conquer, but thou knowest not how to make use of your victory."

 

The threads I went to state it may have been a myth that Marhabal ever said this and that Marhabal may not have ever existed.

 

Anyway here is something interesting from wikipedia that states Hannibal's diceision as sound.

 

Yet Hannibal had good reasons to judge the strategic situation after the battle otherwise than Maharbal did. As the historian Hans Delbr
Edited by ParatrooperLirelou

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think several of us have already agreed on this basic point (see posts 4-6 above). B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ParatrooperLirelou

I think several of us have already agreed on this basic point (see posts 4-6 above). B)

Just reread the posts and I overall pretty much agree with everyone on why Hannibal made the right decisions on nor besieging Rome.

 

Can anyone though verify on the claims on Maharbal being a fictional character that never existed?Is is a statement from another thread.

 

http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?p=811594#post811594

This thread analyzes whether Rome could of been taken after Cannae. I argue from the same point as you that Maharbal likely never existed. Polybios was in a far better position to recieve information regarding the second punic war than Livy and he never mentions Maharbal's comments.

 

However' date=' the fact that Livy creates the line suggests something altogether different. That perhaps Hannibal could of taken Rome right after his victory in Cannae. The thread linked above never draws a clear conclusion but it's certainly thought provoking. My opinion is this; Hannibal had crushed roman army after roman army. After Cannae, he had every expectation that Rome would surrender; every other nation certainly would of sued for peace. His miscalculation was in Rome's refusal to surrender against any odds rather than his inability to capitalize on victory.[/Quote']

 

Apparently some people sincerely believe Maharbal was created by some Roman historians to suit their agendas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think several of us have already agreed on this basic point (see posts 4-6 above). B)

Just reread the posts and I overall pretty much agree with everyone on why Hannibal made the right decisions on nor besieging Rome.

 

Can anyone though verify on the claims on Maharbal being a fictional character that never existed?Is is a statement from another thread.

 

http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?p=811594#post811594

This thread analyzes whether Rome could of been taken after Cannae. I argue from the same point as you that Maharbal likely never existed. Polybios was in a far better position to recieve information regarding the second punic war than Livy and he never mentions Maharbal's comments.

 

However' date=' the fact that Livy creates the line suggests something altogether different. That perhaps Hannibal could of taken Rome right after his victory in Cannae. The thread linked above never draws a clear conclusion but it's certainly thought provoking. My opinion is this; Hannibal had crushed roman army after roman army. After Cannae, he had every expectation that Rome would surrender; every other nation certainly would of sued for peace. His miscalculation was in Rome's refusal to surrender against any odds rather than his inability to capitalize on victory.[/Quote']

 

Apparently some people sincerely believe Maharbal was created by some Roman historians to suit their agendas.

 

Lack of a mention by Polybius does not mean it didn't happen i.e., lack of proof doesn't constitute proof on its own. To be created by Livy--which the author above seems to be implying--would've necessitated a trip across the space-time continuum to an earlier era in Rome's history. Like real soldiers sometimes real historians have their uses; From "Maharbal's Bon Mot: Authenticity and Survival"; Dexter Hoyos; The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 50, No. 2 (2000), pp. 610-614; Cambridge University Press;

 

The oldest versions of the story emphasize the five days (and the hot dinner). Cato the Elder in his Origines had it thus:

Igitur dictatorem Karthaginiensium magister equitum monuit: 'Mitte mecum Romam equitatum; diequinti in Capitolio tibi cena cocta erit.'

 

In that censorious historian's normal fashion, the commanders' personal names were left unmentioned. Late in the second century B.C. Coelius Antipater, in his monograph on the Second Punic War, elaborated on this version. Aulus Gellius gives us what Coelius' cavalry chief says:

 

Si vis mihi equitatum dare et ipse cum cetero exercitu me sequi, diequinti Romae in Capitolio curabo tibi cena sit cocta.

 

Coelius' more stylish version in turn looks like the one that Livy so memorably worked up.

 

Cato,a younger contemporary of Hannibal's, could have consulted pro- Carthaginian accounts like those of the general's friends Silenus and Sosylus when composing the later part of his Origines. He may also have spoken with Carthaginians-prisoners during the war, for instance, and former participants and envoys later. There were even Romans in a position to contribute information from the Punic side: L. Cincius Alimentus, praetor in 210, was captured a couple of years later and became well enough acquainted with Hannibal to hold conversations with him on military matters, which he later very properly made use of in his history of Rome (written in Greek). He need not have been the only Roman prisoner of war to make friends with his captors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Map of the Roman Empire

×