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own military genius: he hoped to destroy Hasdrubal by one blow, sudden and decisive, and to return to Apulia in time to oppose Hannibal. War is a game of chances, and a general who risks nothing will gain nothing; his business is to reduce the risks to a minimum. Nero had time on his side, and time is a more valuable ally than any other. He took every possible precaution, particularly as regards secrecy, even keeping his own soldiers ignorant of their destination.*
The march of Nero is as perfect an example as can be afforded of the advantage of interior lines of operation.
The obstacles which existed to the junction of the two brothers were created by the fact that they were operating on exterior lines. The obstacles themselves were:—
No. 1. The numerous armies interposed between them.
No. 2. The want of concert between them from the absence of communication.
No. 1 might have been overcome if No. 2 had been removed, but No. 2 was fatal.t
4. There is something in Hasdrubal's conduct it is difficult to understand. If he was advancing confidently to attack 40,000 men, it does not clearly appear why he so suddenly changed his resolution. It is supposed that it was the knowledge that Nero was in the hostile camp, and the belief that therefore some disaster must have happened to his brother. Hasdrubal could only know of the arrival of Roman reinforcements either from the report of spies, or from the results of his own observation. If from spies, they would certainly tell him that the Consul Nero had arrived, but they would also tell him of the very small force by which he was accompanied, which would show that he had left his army to watch Hannibal in the south, and dispel the idea of any great disaster to his brother.
* See page 24, "Theory of War," on the Value of Secrecy. t See "Theory of War," Lines of Operation, page 77.
If he learnt the presence of a third Roman general in the hostile camp from observation, from the sounding of trumpets as some say, or otherwise, how could he know that the new arrival was Nero at all? It was much more probable to conclude that it was Varro, who might have been called up with his army from Etruria.
It seems probable enough that Hasdrubal retreated with the design of gaining the Flaminian road, which led from the north side of the Metaurus over the Apennines directly into Umbria, where he expected to meet Hannibal. The advance to the Sena River was therefore a false movement, for the great object was not to beat a single Roman army, but to unite with Hannibal. Having followed Livius to the Sena however, Hasdrubal did not sufficiently weigh the effect of a retreat, both on his own troops and on the malcontents of Etruria and Umbria, who were anxiously watching his progress. In his place probably Hannibal, Turenne, or Conde, would have fought on the Sena, trusting to the prestige which attended a son of Hamilcar.
Compare Hasdrubal's conduct with that of Turenne, when, in command of 16,000 men, he was surprised by the approach of a hostile force of 30,000. Instead of retreating Turenne advanced.*
5. Hasdrubal's method of occupying his position is an example of Maxim 19 (page 151) of the "Theory of War." And the reader is referred to the description of the battle of Eamillies, at page 339 of the same book. He will find that the manoeuvre by which Marlborough won the battle is identical with that of Nero, in withdrawing troops from the right wing to reinforce the decisive point on the left. He will also find that Marlborough's movement was made under precisely the same circumstances relative to the enemy, viz. the existence between the opposing wings of the hostile armies at that point of obstacles which prevented either from attacking the other.
6. The victories of Scipio in Spain were in all probability the salvation of Rome. Had he not deprived Hasdrubal of the south coast of Spain, and of the harbours there situated, Hasdrubal with his army would have proceeded to the southern coast of Italy by sea, there to disembark under the protection of Hannibal. The chances of the obstruction of the expedition by a Roman fleet were much fewer than were the chances against the brothers being able to effect a junction when separated by the whole length of Italy, and when six Roman armies were interposed between them.
We know that at a later period, when, owing to the continued successes of Scipio in Spain, the power of Rome relative to Carthage had greatly increased, Hannibal effected the much more difficult operation of embarking his whole force in the face of hostile armies at a port in Bruttium, and that he arrived safely at Leptis in Africa.
* See page 199," Theory of War," on the Moral Effect of Boldness in War.
The unsettled state of Cisalpine Gaul and Etruria had for some time past required the constant presence of a Roman army in each, and the same would still be necessary although Hasdrubal should land in Bruttium. It would have sufficed to send Carthaginian officers of experience to excite the Gauls and Etrurians to rise by the information of Hasdrubal's expedition and to organise their efforts.
The defeat and death of Hasdrubal obliged Hannibal to remain entirely on the defensive. He retired into Bruttium, and still maintained himself in that province against a host of enemies during four years. Though abandoned entirely to himself, the resources of his great mind supplied everything, and his genius is more to be admired in this decline of his fortunes than during the most brilliant period of his success. Exact details of the operations of these years do not exist, but the fact remains that Hannibal maintained a contest with the numerous forces of Rome in her own territory for four years after the death of Hasdrubal; that such was his personal superiority, that his enemies never dared to engage him in a pitched battle; that when he did evacuate Italy, it was because he was recalled by the Carthaginians to defend them against Scipio; and that he then effected the embarkation of his army in perfect security.
In Spain, Scipio, who in the first year of his command (209 B.c.) had taken New Carthage, and by his policy and personal fascination detached most of the Spaniards from the Carthaginian alliance, had in the second year defeated Hasdrubal at Baecula. After that victory, he