Battle of Cannae Battle of Zama Consequences of the 2 nd Punic War. Battle Of Cannae. Having recovered from their previous losses at Trebia and Trasimene , the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, on August 2 nd 216 BC.
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Leading into Battle:
The Romans drove in hard, using their superior infantry to best advantage. They had their velites fall back and ploughed into their foe with their heavy infantry.
The crescent of Celtic and Spanish swordsmen buckled and retreated.
To the Romans this appeared to be due to their powerful drive into the opponents lines. In fact the troops had been told to retreat.
The Roman infantry had continued to drive forward, and had driven itself into an alley formed by the light Carthaginian infantry stationed at the sides.
Shielded by these Carthaginian troops, their comrades who had stayed at the rear could now swing around and come in behind the Roman army. The Roman doomed legions were encircled and being attacked from all sides.
In effect the Roman infantry had been defeated by the opposing infantry, although the returning Carthaginian cavalry helped further accelerate their victory.
From: Polybius, The Histories of Polybius, 2 Vols., trans. Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), I. 264-275.
The Elephants charge reeling for some time to come.
The Cavalry returns
The Roman Cavalry charges, the Infantry deploys
Zama did not decide the outcome of the war, which Carthage had already lost, but it did determine the kind of peace terms that Rome would impose on her defeated enemy.