By: Mick Yates
Hannibal Barca was born in 247 BC in Carthage, North Africa. His crusade to overthrow the Romans began at the age of 9 when his homeland was forced to surrender to Rome. Vowing eternal hatred for Rome, he and his father travelled to Spain to form an army that became the best of its time.
At the age of 26, Hannibal took over the army. He captured the last Roman stronghold in Saguntum, Spain thus initiating the Second Punic War. Hannibal’s next step was to attack the Romans in Italy. He chose to travel via the Alps as the sea was blocked by Roman ships. He was smart enough to realise that this was a route the Romans would never anticipate. It was to be a journey that would be both a test of his skills in survival and in his ability to sustain troop morale.
Hannibal proved himself a master tactician at the Battle at Cannae. He planned a skilful manoeuvre to draw the enemy into a trap, placing himself at the frontline to encourage his men to persist, despite being outnumbered. He succeeded and this battle became known as one of the greatest tactical victories of all time.
Hannibal never achieved eradication of the Roman Empire, in fact his tactics became part of Roman military manuals. In his struggle to beat Rome Hannibal unwittingly laid the foundations for the expansion of its empire.
A man obsessed by a sense of duty Hannibal had a sharp mind and the ability to inspire men to follow his commands however risky. In retrospect however, would you consider him to be a tactical or a strategic leader?
By Melanie Smith