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great antagonist, who gave him no opportunity to strike any more of his deadly blows, but reduced him to wage a petty warfare of small posts, or of sieges in which the lustre of his genius always appeared to disadvantage, and in which his strongest arm, the cavalry, was comparatively useless.
This was the real reason why so powerful a confederacy of Italian States against Rome, supported by an army of 30,000 veteran and victorious soldiers, and the whole directed by a general who has never been surpassed,—was only formed to be defeated. This was the reason why the revolt of Capua was the term of Hannibal's progress; why from this time forward his genius was shown rather in repelling defeat than in commanding victory; why, instead of besieging Rome, he was soon employed in protecting Capua ; and why his protection was finally unavailing.
5. Notwithstanding the success of the Cisalpine Gauls against Postumius, no hostile movement against Rome was made from Gaul; and it appears strange that some experienced Carthaginian officer was not sent to organise and direct the Gaulish insurgents, and to endeavour to induce the Etruscans and Umbrians to join the Southern confederacy against Rome, which was directed by Hannibal.
6. Hannibal's intelligence appears to have been defective. On two different occasions he attempted to take Nola by a coup de main. He would hardly have done so had he known that the town was defended by a consular army of 20,000 men; and he could not hope to
carry on a regular siege while the Romans had so strong a force at hand to interrupt it.
7. After his last unsuccessful attempt on Nola, Hannibal quitted Campania to winter in Apulia. This proceeding has the appearance of leaving Capua to the mercy of the Roman armies. But Capua was the second city of Italy, capable it is said of maintaining a force of 34,000 men. Its garrison and its walls were therefore strong enough to defy all enemies save one, viz. famine; and Hannibal's object in quitting Campania was to husband the resources and magazines of Capua, which must otherwise have been expended in feeding his army during the winter. He remained in the neighbourhood long enough to enable the Capuans to gather in the harvest of the year unmolested by the Romans, and that object being effected he was better elsewhere.
Although we are not told that such was the case, Hannibal must have previously formed a large magazine of provisions at Arpi, where he wintered.
During this campaign, Capua was Hannibal’s pivot of operations. At one period there were actually around him, including the force of Valerius in Apulia, eight Roman legions. It was in such a situation that this great man displayed all the resources of his genius. His ascendancy was so great that his enemies never dared to take the initiative in attacking him; but, on the contrary, from his watch-tower above Capua he threatened them all, and would infallibly have defeated them had they departed from their defensive system.
The time of the elections having arrived, Fabius repaired to Rome to hold the Comitia.
The consuls chosen were Fabius and Marcellus, and great as were the exertions of the past year, those of the present were greater still. Six new legions were raised, so that the Republic maintained in all twenty legions, which, at the opening of the campaign, were thus disposed:
Legions. Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and Cisalpine Gaul, each employed
two legions . The consul Fabius took command of a newly raised force at
Cales, consisting of . . . . . . . . Marcellus had the late army of Fabius at Suessula . . . Gracchus was with his old army of slaves and allies at Luceria,
watching Hannibal . . . . . . . . The prætor Fabius, son of the consul, succeeded M. Valerius
in command of the force in Southern Apulia, consisting of. 2 M. Valerius commanded the fleet and the legion which formed
the garrison of Tarentum during the preceding year, and
Greece . . . . . . . . . 1 Varro commanded new levies in Picenum . . . . 1 The garrison of Rome . . . . . . . . 2
The Capuans, alarmed by these great preparations, sent to beg Hannibal to come to their defence, who immediately quitted Arpi, and occupied his old quarters on Mount Tifata. Thence, leaving a portion of his force to guard the camp, he swooped down on Puteoli near Neapolis; but finding it too strongly fortified to admit of its capture, he ravaged the territories of Cumæ and Neapolis. While on this expedition, he received a deputation composed of the most influential citizens of Tarentum, offering to deliver the town to him if he would march into their country.
The object of Hannibal during this year was to establish his authority firmly in Campania, and to make that province the base of his operations against Rome. For this purpose, it was necessary to deprive the Romans of a point d'appui such as Nola afforded them, and to reduce the seaport towns of Cumæ and Neapolis, so as to be in constant communication with Carthage.
Hannibal therefore ordered Hanno, who commanded a force of 17,000 infantry, nearly all Bruttian and Lucanian levies, and 1200 Numidian cavalry, in Bruttium, to join him in Campania; and as the direct road was blocked by Nola and by the army of Marcellus, Hanno received instructions to march by Beneventum. Hannibal's design was, so soon as he should receive this accession of strength, to besiege Nola, Neapolis, and Cumæ in succession, employing one army in the siege and another in covering that operation.
To prevent Hanno from reinforcing Hannibal, Fabius ordered Gracchus to move from Luceria to Beneventum ; the place of the latter was to be supplied by Fabius the Younger, who was to advance with his force from the neighbourhood of Tarentum. *
Gracchus reached Beneventum just in time to learn that Hanno had arrived on the very same day, and was encamped on the Calor river, about three miles from the city. Gracchus therefore approached the enemy, and encamped for that night at the distance of a mile from him. His force was composed principally of volunteer slaves, and having promised them their freedom, provided they were victorious in the coming battle, he formed his troops at sunrise next morning, and attacked the enemy, whose defeat was so decisive that only Hanno with 2000 men escaped from the field.
Gracchus, after keeping his promise to his slaves by declaring them free with much solemnity, marched into Lucania to prevent Hanno from assembling another army in that province.
Hannibal's plan of operations in Campania being altogether disconcerted by this catastrophe, he turned his attention to Tarentum, and after having waited in Campania long enough for the Capuans to get in their harvest safely, he set off on his march into Apulia: but he arrived before Tarentum too late; for three days earlier, a Roman officer of rank, sent by the prætor Valerius from Brundusium, had entered the city, encouraged the partisans of Rome, and awed the disaffected, so that when Hannibal made his appearance no movement was made in his favour. With excellent policy, he spared the Tarentine territory, and after sweeping up
* See Observation 2.