Military mondays: Battle of Cannae 216 BC

as suggested by @historyfilia

The battle of cannae. Quite possibly romes worst defeat. Certainly romes most humilating defeat. To this day the battle of Cannae stands out as an example of arrogance, intelligence and bloodshed. It is a tale of greed and grace. Of the power of patience and the genius of romes nemesis. Hannibal barca. 

The year is 216 BC. The punic wars are in full swing. Rome has suffered two crushing defeats on its home turf. At lake trasemine and trebia, carthage had outsmarted rome and destroyed its legions. In this time of crisis the romans turned to dictatorship. Dictatorship Only lasted six months and was an office designed to protect rome in times of crisis without the slow senate. 

Rome elected Fabius Maximus to the office. Roman culture was very honourable and based on military glory. Instead of Meeting hannibal in the field, Fabius planned to overstrech his supply lines, capture his scouts and not give him the battle hannibal wanted. This enraged senators who accused fabius of cowardice, not realising an all out brawl would lead to defeat seen at lake trasemine and trebia, and the fall of Rome The senate sent master of horse Marcus Minicius, to act as co dictator, weakening the authority of Fabius. Minicius promptly met hannibal in all out battle, he was defeated and fabius sent his army in to save Minicius backside, only because fabius thought it a crime to witness so many romans die for nothing. Minicius fell back into 2nd in command. 

After Fabius gave up dictatorship. Gaius Varro and Lucius Paullus were elected consul, running on a platform of forgetting the cowardly fabian strategy and crushing hannibal with the might of rome. Rallying two armies at the strength of 80,000 infantry and 6,500 cavalry, they marched to hannibals camp at cannae, where he had 40,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. 

They met on the plains of cannae. Paullus argued with varro on the first day. Arguing they should move to the hill to gain the high ground. Varro was desperate for victory and believed if they gave hannibal time, he would escape. Varro began the attack the next day, on august 2nd. 

Hannibal arranged his army in a foward crescent, Placing his weakest troops in the middle, spreading them thin, he deliberatey told his center to give ground. While telling his wings to stay strong. Varro planned to smash through the center and use superior numbers to trap hannibals troops. Varro and Paullus each commanded from the flank, with the cavalry, a STUPID mistake, the generals where too busy playing soldier rather than actually commanding from the center, secondly varro told 10,000 men to guard the camp, cocky and STUPID there was no third line to guard the roman rear. 

 The roman plan of attack worked and the legions carved through hannibals center, Hannibals infantry retreated according to plan and his flanks held the line. Meanwhile Hannibals elite Gaulic cavalry overwhelmed the roman cavalry. The cavalry on the left barley engaged the romans, until the cavalry from the right crossed the field and made it 4-1 on the roman cavalry. Sending them fleeing. They then turned and slammed into the unguarded roman rear. At that point the carthaginian infantry pivoted and charged inward. 

It was a disaster, the carthaginian troops slaughtered the roman legions. They couldn’t even swing their swords over their head for lack of space. Men buried their heads in the dirt and tried to suffocate themselves rather than being slowly crushed, They slaughtered romans until sunset. Of the 86,000 romans at the battles start, 3,000 escaped, the 10,000 at the camp were taken prisoner. At the end of the battle, the carthaginians collected the rings of the roman nobles were collected and dumped on the floor of the carthaginian senate. Of those rings were Marcus minicius who had been humbled by hannibal the previous year, and poor consul Paullus who had advised against attack, who when wounded at the battle, refused a horse to make his escape and said 

“suffer me to breath my last among my slaughtered soldiers”

Among those rings, varro’s was absent, for he had no such worries about fleeing the battlefield.

If you have any ideas for what I should post for next military monday, it can be anything, a battle, a leader, an idea, a concept or tactic, a military unit or formation. Do not hesitate to send in your suggestions, either by message or comment.

An armed contingent of French forces attempted to invade the Isle of Wight on this day in British history, 21 July 1545. The French invasion was repelled at heavy cost to the British militia raised to defend the island. This occasion was the last time that France attempted to attack the Isle of Wight.

History Meme -> 1 War: the Italian Wars, 1494 - 1559

The Italian Wars, often referred to as the Great Italian Wars or the Great Wars of Italy and sometimes as the Habsburg–Valois Wars or the Renaissance Wars, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, most of the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, most of the major states of Western Europe (France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, and Scotland) as well as the Ottoman Empire. Originally arising from dynastic disputes over the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples, the wars rapidly became a general struggle for power and territory among their various participants, and were marked with an increasing number of alliances, counter-alliances, and betrayals.

Captured King Francis I of France surrendering his weapons to the Spanish commanders at the Battle of Pavia (1525)
The French defeat was decisive. Aside from Francis, a number of leading French nobles—including Montmorency and Flourance—had been captured; an even greater number—among them Bonnivet, La Tremoille, La Palice, Richard de la Pole, and Lorraine—had been killed in the fighting.

The Battle of Pavia. Tapestry in the Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte (Naples)


The Battle of Pavia, fought on the morning of 24 February 1525, was the decisive engagement of the Italian War of 1521–26.

A Spanish-Imperial army under the nominal command of Charles de Lannoy (and working in conjunction with the garrison of Pavia, commanded by Antonio de Leyva) attacked the French army under the personal command of Francis I of France in the great hunting preserve of Mirabello outside the city walls. In the four-hour battle, the French army was split and defeated in detail. The French suffered massive casualties, including many of the chief nobles of France; Francis himself, captured by the Spanish troops, was imprisoned by Charles V and forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Madrid, surrendering significant territory to his captor. The outcome of the battle cemented Spanish Habsburg ascendancy in Italy.