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Battle of Cannae


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(216 bc)

A battle fought at the village of Cannae in southern Italy, which was one of the classic victories in military history. The Carthaginian general Hannibal, his infantry considerably outnumbered, but stronger in cavalry, stationed his troops in a shallow crescent formation. The densely-packed Roman legionaries, under the consuls Aemilius Paullus and Terentius Varro, charged Hannibal's centre, forced it back, but failed to break it. As it slowly and deliberately gave ground, and the Romans pushed deeper, Hannibal effected his brilliant double-encirclement: his cavalry, having defeated the opposing right and left wings, closed the trap and assaulted the Romans from flanks and rear. Out of some 50,000 men the Romans lost 35,000 killed or captured, Hannibal only 5700. Rome's hold on Italy was imperilled, and many of its allies in central and southern Italy defected to Hannibal.

Subjects: World History.


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