Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

forces which Hannibal could oppose to the overwhelming numbers of his enemies. His army, after Cannæ, consisted of about 34,000 foot and 9,000 horse. He detached two divisions into Bruttium and Lucania, to organise the insurrection of the inhabitants, and these detachments must have had enough to do to hold their own against the three Roman legions in Apulia (viz. the army of M. Valerius, and the garrison of Tarentum), and to keep down the guerillas. The reinforcements expected from Carthage were inconsiderable, and consisted altogether of cavalry and elephants; but Hannibal's own force must have been greatly augmented by the Samnite levies, and by those which Capua could furnish*, or he could not have kept the field at all. We may therefore conclude that the place of his absent divisions was supplied by his new allies, and that he commanded in person at least 35,000 foot and 10,000 horse.

In other quarters, the prospects of Hannibal were very favourable.

Ambassadors came to him in Campania from Philip king of Macedon, to conclude an alliance offensive and defensive and to arrange the landing of a Macedonian army in Italy.

He was in hopes of obtaining possession of Tarentum, where the popular party had been in correspondence with him ever since the battle of Cannæ, and that town would have been a most important acquisition as afford

* Livy states that Capua could supply an army of 30,000 foot and 4000 horse.

ing a seaport convenient for communication both with Macedon and Carthage.

Sardinia was in open revolt against Rome; and, in Sicily, Hiero Rome's faithful friend was dead, and his grandson Hieronymus concluded an alliance with Hannibal.

As soon as the season arrived for active operations, Hannibal took post on Mount Tifata above Capua, and there entrenched himself. The several Roman armies commanded by Fabius at Cales, by Gracchus at Liternum to which place he advanced from Sinuessa, and by Marcellus at Nola, amounting in the aggregate to 60,000 men, were all around him.

But Tifata was a strong position; its numerous glades furnished grass in abundance for Hannibal's cattle, and cool and healthy summer quarters for his men ;-and Hannibal sat quietly on the summit of his crag to watch the working of the elements he had invoked, and to break forth like the lightning flash when the storm should be fully gathered.

Thus the summer of this year was like the breathing time of two gladiators, each narrowly watching the condition of his adversary, and looking where to plant the next blow. Fabius, resolving to pursue his old cautious policy of harassing the enemy, cutting off his supplies, and avoiding a decisive battle, procured a decree of the senate ordering the inhabitants of the districts which either then were, or were likely to become, the seat of war, to clear their corn off the ground and carry it into the fortified cities before the 1st June, on pain of wasting the lands, burning the buildings, and selling the slaves of all who neglected to comply.

The season was advancing and Gracchus was occupied at Liternum with the drill and discipline of his heterogeneous army, when he received a message from the inhabitants of Cumæ, that the Capuans had invited them to assist at the fête which was celebrated yearly at Hamæ by the several Campanian cities. The Capuans were to send an armed force to protect those engaged in the festivities from interruption by the Romans. The Cumæans had accepted the invitation, but, fearful of treachery, they warned Gracchus of the circumstance. Hamæ was only three miles distant from Cumæ; Gracchus entered the last-named town the night before the intended fête, and, on the following night, he surprised the Capuans, and killed 2,000 of their number.

Hannibal no sooner heard of this disaster, than he marched to Cumæ, and was repulsed in an assault on that place by Gracchus with the loss of 1300 men*, and, after vainly endeavouring to provoke the Romans to a battle in the open country, he returned to Tifata.

Fabius now moved from Cales to effect a junction with Marcellus in a camp which the latter occupied on a hill above Suessula. Casilinum being in the enemy's hands, Fabius was obliged to cross the Vulturnus opposite to Allifæf, to march down the left bank to its confluence with the Calor where he crossed that stream, and thus by a circuitous march, to join Marcellus. Afterwards being anxious for the safety of Nola, where the popular party was again plotting to deliver the town to Hannibal, Fabius sent Marcellus with his army to garrison Nola, while he occupied the camp of Suessula in his stead.

* See Observation 3, concluding paragraph. + See Observation 3.

Gracchus on his side advanced from Cumæ towards Capua, so that 60,000 Romans were collected round Hannibal, who would not indeed in the open plain have hesitated to attack them all united, had the Roman generals given the opportunity.

The Roman armies were in free communication with each other, and could easily concentrate before Hannibal could reach either of them, if their generals desired to engage. But such was not their game. If Hannibal marched against either army, it would draw him away. to the hills, while the other laid waste the country round about Capua which it was Hannibal's particular object to protect.

Hannibal was in a dilemma; he was unwilling to leave Capua unprotected, yet it was of consequence to encourage his partisans in Nola, by approaching that town, into which it was possible they might be able to give him admission.

Besides this, his long-expected reinforcements of cavalry and elephants had landed in Bruttium, and unless he should make some movement to protect their junction with him, they might be intercepted and destroyed by Fabius from Suessula.

Hannibal therefore abandoned Tifata, and timed his march to Nola so accurately, that he was joined by his reinforcements while before that town, which, in ignorance of the strength of the garrison, and counting on the goodwill of some of the inhabitants, he hoped to

take by escalade. * But Marcellus, watchful and bold, defeated an assault with great loss to the Carthaginians by a sudden sally; after which, Hannibal, rendered uneasy by the desertion during the following night of 1200 of his newly arrived troops, and fearing for a further bad effect of his repulse on the spirit of his soldiers, marched into Apulia and fixed his winter quarters near Arpi.f

Gracchus followed him with one consular army and took up his quarters in Luceria, while the other under Fabius remained at Suessula Marcellus, after retaining a sufficient garrison to secure Nola, was directed to dismiss the rest of his soldiers to their homes.

In Apulia during the winter the troops of Gracchus and those of Hannibal engaged frequently in partial encounters, and it always happened that whenever Hannibal was personally absent, the advantage was on the side of the Romans, who thus became daily better acquainted with their enemies, and acquired greater confidence in themselves.

In Bruttium, during the closing year, the town of Petelia had defied during eight months all the efforts of Himilcar, one of Hannibal's lieutenants, to capture it; and had done good service to Rome by giving full occupation to the Carthaginian troops in that quarter; but its ultimate surrender was followed by the reduction of Consentia, Locri, and Crotona, in rapid succession.

Meanwhile in Spain the two Scipios had, during the year 216 B.C., continued to advance in their career of

Seo Observation 6.

† See Observation 7.

« AnteriorContinuar »