Somthing else for the Hannibal discussion.
- Hannibal lost the war because he could not supply his armies
The great Carthaginian general Hannibal and his army of tens of
thousands of Iberian and north-African soldiers was able to
repeatedly defeat the Romans. However, Hannibal ultimately lost the
Second Punic War (218-201 BC) and with it the struggle for hegemony
in the Mediterranean. Historians at Nijmegen University have studied
the supply and storage of goods during the war. They discovered that
Hannibal lost because he was unable to supply his armies
properly at critical moments. The master strategist was defeated by
logistics. Funding for the study came from the NWO's GW.
The Nijmegen study has clarified why Hannibal's victories in battle
did not ultimately lead to his winning the war. The Carthaginians did
not campaign in Italy according to a strategic plan but according to
a logistical pattern which involved plundering one fertile area after
the other while on the move and overwintering in areas were the grain
stores were full. In the early years of the war, this approach led to
a string of successes, but it also meant that Hannibal was unable to
exert any constant pressure on the Roman forces.
When the mighty city-state of Capua north of Naples went over to the
Carthaginians, the nature of the war changed. Rome now had an area
were it could switch to a system of delaying tactics designed to
harass the enemy while avoiding a pitched battle. The army assembled
around the rebel city and directed cargoes of grain to stores
roundabout. While the Roman soldiers were well fed and built up their
strength for the attack, Hannibal had serious problems with his
supplies. His army plundered the hinterland of Capua, which he could
only come to the aid of sporadically and for short periods. He was
also unable to besiege Rome because his troops would have starved
before its walls. By saving Rome and conquering Capua, the Romans
eventually succeeded in winning the Second Punic War.
Paul Erdkamp (Nijmegen University)
T +31 24 356 4067 or -361 2856, F +31 24 361 2807