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then, leaving 1000 to hold the Numidians in check, the remainder should have fallen on the flank and rear of Hannibal's Africans of the right wing, uncovered by the retreat of the cavalry; while the Roman infantry of the left wing, regardless of the fight in the centre, should have charged them in front. Hannibal's right wing must have been defeated before his heavy cavalry could have come to its support, for the line of battle was two miles long. Meanwhile, the centre of Hannibal's line would have been forced back (as it actually was); and it would have been hard if, with such troops as the Romans, their reserve of 20,000 infantry and 2400 cavalry, coming into action at this moment, had not been able to complete the victory even against Hannibal.
4. Most historians and commentators have blamed Hannibal for not marching on Rome the day after Cannae. Even Napoleon has added his voice to the general condemnation.
If Hannibal was likely to find the citizens in such abject fear and despondency that they would open their gates to him, he may justly be blamed; but is it likely such would have been the case? Even though the Romans had not been a people whose courage and constancy under reverses have never been surpassed, hardly ever equalled, it is well known how great is the courage of despair. The Romans were a much greater people than the Carthaginians, and yet if we consider the example of Carthage, when, denuded of almost all power of resistance, every man, woman, and child united to defend their city to the last, we may estimate the resistance Hannibal might expect to meet with at the gates of Rome.
There was however no cause for despair. Such a movement of Hannibal was the very one his enemies ought to desire. Behind walls, that discipline which is everything in the field is comparatively unnecessary, and natural courage equalises the untrained defender with the veteran assailant. The population of Rome was essentially warlike, and there was no lack of arms. The two city legions formed the regular garrison of the capital, numbering 10,000 men. The levy en masse of all above seventeen years of age provided two additional legions and 1000 cavalry. Eight thousand slaves who were willing to serve were enlisted and armed, and, besides these, a number of criminals and debtors were glad to purchase pardon by taking up arms in defence of the State. The praetor Marcellus was at Ostia with 10,000 men about to embark for Sicily. Thus, the force which could have been assembled to oppose Hannibal, four days after the arrival of the news of Cannae, amounted to—
Two city legions 10,000
Levy en masse 11,000
Slaves, prisoners, &c. .... 12,000
Marcellus from Ostia 10,000
Hannibal had 34,000 infantry. The distance from Cannae to Rome was, for the Carthaginian army encumbered with spoil, at least twelve days' march; and this distance excluded all possibility of a surprise, the hope of which could alone justify his marching upon Rome; for, notwithstanding the hoast of Maharbal, his cavalry unsupported could do nothing against the city.
It is not possible that an assault on a city so strong in its walls and in the spirit of its defenders should have succeeded. For a regular siege Hannibal's force was insufficient, and he had no artillery; he was, besides, not partial to sieges, the circumstances of which, to a great extent, neutralised the superiority of his genius. He must have carried with him the supplies he had accumulated for the subsistence of his force, and when they should be consumed he would be destitute. Fresh Roman levies would gather on his rear, and before long his own army would become the besieged. In such an undertaking he would have wasted time, and, above all, that prestige which he had acquired by his late astonishing victory.
The fact that Hannibal did not think himself strong enough to make an attempt on Canusium, defended by only 10,000 dispirited fugitives from Cannae, is a sufficient answer to those who say he should have besieged Rome. For it was certainly a great mistake, if he could have prevented it, to allow this nucleus for a new army to escape him.
FOURTH AND FIFTH CAMPAIGNS.
Great was the mourning in Rome when it was known that another great battle had been lost, another consul slain, and another Roman army destroyed. "Our colder temperaments scarcely enable us to conceive the effect of such tidings on the lively feelings of the people of the South, or to image to ourselves the cries, the tears, the hands uplifted in prayer or clenched in rage, the confused sounds of ten thousand voices giving utterance with breathless rapidity to their feelings of eager interest, of terror, of grief, or of fury." *
The senate, of its own authority, immediately named a dictator, M. Junius, to provide for the safety of the State, who chose Tib. Sempronius Gracchus for his master of the horse. These two officers enrolled all the male population above seventeen years of age for the defence of the city, and by this means obtained two legions and 1000 cavalry in addition to the two city legions which formed the regular garrison. They likewise enlisted 8000 slaves and 4000 debtors or criminals, on promise of freedom and pardon for past offences.
At length despatches arrived from Varro, which informed the senate that he had rallied the wreck of the army at Canusium, and that Hannibal was not marching upon Rome.
Nearly at the same time, news arrived from Sicily that one Carthaginian fleet was ravaging the coasts of Hiero king of Syracuse, the Roman ally, while another threatened a descent on Lilybaeum and the Roman portion of the island, for the purpose of preventing the Roman fleet there stationed from going to the assistance of Hiero. Titus Otacilius, who commanded that fleet, represented to the senate that'an additional naval force must be sent, if the possessions of the republic in Sicily were to be retained.
The peril at home was too great to comply with this requisition. Marcellus, who lay at Ostia, with a fleet destined for the above service, was detained. He was ordered to send 1500 of his naval conscripts to reinforce the garrison of Rome, while he himself repaired with his one legion to Canusium, to take over the command of the troops at that place from Varro who was summoned to Rome, and to organise a new army to oppose Hannibal* The diminished fleet then sailed from Ostia to reinforce Otacilius, under one of the praetors, Marcus Furius.
Meanwhile, such had been the panic among the fugitives from Cannae, that many young nobles, despairing of the salvation of their country, planned an escape beyond sea with the design of entering some foreign service. The wise and firm intervention of Varro, how
* See Observation 1.