Why Calontir has fewer BLOWSHUCKAGUYS than other Kingdoms

Originally Published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 4, Apr-Jun 2002.

 

With the permission of the authors (Sir Halvgrim, as Editor) included one of Master Craig’s recollection of the past in this issue. This comes from a discussion basically about why Calontir has fewer BLOW SHUCKA GUYS than other kingdoms:



This was intentional, and developed as a philosophy of fighting in the first 3-4 reigns. And that is why, long ago, it was decided to make the Fyrd the guardians and sentinels for that sort of thing. If a fighter knows he can’t be a Fyrdman or Huscarl and be a rhino he drops that behavior, or leaves.

I was there for those discussions in the Fyrd ( though I was not yet a fyrdman). That was when Pavel was a fyrdman, and the kingdom was young. We knew we had a chance at creating something magical, if we could institutionalize chivalry and honor in a practical sort of way. This method was chosen.

Those with a reputation for rhinoing or excessive force, were not made fyrdmen. The some of the Huscarls and Chiv were pretty pissy about it at first, they had buds they wanted in.

Pavel took a fair bit of heat. I even got into the fight defending him and this novel idea of not promoting rhinos and excessive hitters. After about 5 years, enough of the new Hus were old fyrdman and carried the dream with them, and the new fyrd carried the torch. In another couple of years, right on schedule, the Chiv were dominated by those early Fyrdman and all orders now were in agreement, tradition had been established. I was proud to have had a small part in that process. Lots of folks took heat and had to stand up for the idea that we in Calontir wanted to do something different and good.

Kirk is right, once the rhinos rule, you can’t get rid of them. So we decided to smother them in the cradle.

(Halv’sNote) When I originally asked him if I could cross post it he had the following to say:

Sure. Clarify that I was not AT Fyrd meetings per se, but I had lots of conversations with the Fyrd Leaders as we hammered out the strategy. Pavel was the main torch carrier on it for a decade. Couldn’t have happened without him.

Arrow design and construction

Written by Sir Toen Fitzwilliam, Originally published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 4, Apr-Jun 2002.

This is really for the beginning archer and or fighter/archer who don’t get out on the “line” very much.  If you’ve been shooting for several years, I’m sure you’re already aware of which arrows are which, but maybe you’d like to try to make some.  This article is for you then.  I’ve written this article based upon my own experience and the experiences I’ve had to draw on from other archers here in Calontir.  Many techniques are different than mine and I don’t promise to have the “right” way, but this stuff does work.

This is intended as a short series of articles on Calontir/SCA archery, so keep looking for more information.

Oh, PS, I can’t guarantee that you’ll shoot well, but you look better.

First the basics about arrows.  In Calontir/SCA we use several types of arrows and it’ll help if you know which arrow is which and what they are used for:

Your standard target arrow – these are your typical 3-4 fletched arrows that we use when shooting on the “line”.  The length is based upon your draw length and the weight of the arrow (in grains) will typically correspond with how heavy your bow is.  That is to say, how heavy your draw weight or pull weight is.  This arrow is designed to do your basic shooting at targets.  I’d highly recommend having at least 2 doz. (24) of these arrows, because you’ll break several or lose several and this will help you not have to make another set of arrows for a short while.

Flight arrow – This arrow is sometimes a little longer than your standard arrow to allow for an overdraw.  An overdraw is when you pull further than you usually do to shoot the arrow.  This allows for more distance.  Flight arrows typically are as light as you can get them (depending upon your pull weight) and usually have only about two fletches.  A flight arrow is designed to go as far as you can shoot it.  Hence, only two fletches.  I would recommend maybe a 1/2 doz. (6) of these.  We don’t shoot very many of these, but it’s always good to have some on hand just in case the event you’re going to is going to hold a flight shoot.

Flu-Flu’s – I have no idea who named this one, but we use them.  This arrow is typically a little longer than the standard arrow too, but it’s usually for a dual purpose.  A flu-flu arrow has made for shooting targets that are suspended above the range or shooting Poppin-Jay’s (a bird on a stick).  The “flu-flu” is the fletching that is on the arrow.  You typically make these with much bigger fletchings which cause the arrow to slow down enough that if you shoot it into the air, it should land standing up or at least on top of the ground.  We also put bird blunts on the end of our flu-flu’s instead of regular tips.  Bird blunts are hard rubber tips that will hit the target, but should not penetrate the target.  They are designed to hunt small animals and to stun them, but not to penetrate the flesh.  We use them to shoot at poppin-jay targets that are suspended on a pole.  This way you can go to the bottom of the target to get your arrow instead of raising and lowering your target each time.  Flu-flu’s may also have a different tip on them called “Judo tips” or “grass catchers”.  These tips look like something from a sci-fi movie because they’ve got a regular tip with several little wire “arms” sticking out to catch the grass and keep the arrow from being lost in the grass.  I would recommend about 1/2 doz. (6) of these arrows.  We don’t do Poppin-Jay shoots very often, so these are nice to have around if you’ve made them.

Bolts/Quarrels – these are much shorter arrows that are used by crossbows.  They are usually 2-4 fletched arrows with standard field points on them.  They are usually made of a thicker shaft to take the punishment of the increased pull poundage of the crossbow (usually 23/64, I think).  If you shoot a crossbow, I would suggest that you have at least 2 doz. (24) of these on hand, since the crossbow is able to lose/loose the bolts a lot further than a bow.

Now for building an arrow.  If any of the terms below are unfamiliar, just keep reading and you’ll see a small list of definitions.

Measure your pull length and then use that measurement to determine how long your arrow shafts should be.  You might want to add just a little bit for trimming down later in case the nocked end or point end breaks.

Depending on your pull weight of your bow will determine the thickness of your arrow shaft.  Now this will vary depending upon your preference, but as a general rule up to 35lbs. = 5/16, 35lbs. – 55lbs. = 11/32.  55 and above = 23/64.  Crossbow bolts are usually at 23/64 because of the increased pull weight, although some crossbow bolts may be smaller in diameter depending on the size of the roller nut or how wide the horns of the roller nut are.

Taper the ends of your arrow shafts with a shaft taper tool (looks like a pencil sharpener) and choose the straightest part of the arrow for the nock end.  You can always straighten the rest of the shaft later.  (The nock goes on the shorter of the two tapered ends.)

**Try not to taper the tips too much because the nocks and the tips may not fit properly.  This will take a few tries, but is not too difficult to determine.  Just taper a little at a time until you get a nice fit.

Lightly sand/steel wool the arrow shafts before any painting, cresting or staining.  Use 000 steel wool for this.

Dye or paint the shaft, as you desire, sanding after every coat to bring down any blemishes.  I use leather dye to dye my shafts (tx Master Leif), because it’s an alcohol base and can be “cut” with regular rubbing alcohol to make the color lighter.

Soak points in rubbing alcohol to get rid of any oil and then set out to dry or hold over flame to disperse the alcohol.

Put on points by using super glue, preferably a gel (supergel).  Put glue on the end of the point end and down three sides of the tapered point end.  Screw the point on and attach firmly.

Put the nocks on with super glue, preferably “Fletchtight”.  Put glue on the end of the point end and down three sides of the tapered nock end.  Attach the nock point so that the nock is perpendicular to the wood grain (cross-grain).  This is important so that you won’t split the arrow if the nock breaks.  Look at the end of the taper and attach the nock perpendicular to the grain.

Now that the nocks are on, place the arrow in a fletching jig so that you are able to attach the fletches.  A fletching jig is a tool that allows you to place the fletches on in the same place on every arrow.  This is nice when you’re doing several arrows in one sitting.  It’s also nice to be able to set every arrow fairly precise.  You simply place the arrow in the jig and attach the ‘cock feather’.  Then turn the knob on the fletching jig in the direction you need to place another fletch and place it and repeat.  It makes the manual placing of the fletching very easy.

Attach fletching by attaching the ‘cock feather’ first and then using the fletching jig to attach the other fletches.  Use double sided tape for a faster set and cut the tape with approx. 1/8” overlapping the end of the fletch spines.

*The ‘cock feather’ on a 3-fletch arrow is the fletch that sits perpendicular to the bow when the arrow is nocked.  The two other fletches will run against the bow, but the cock feather will not touch the bow.  If the ‘cock feather’ is miss placed, then you will lose the ‘cock feather’ when you loose the arrow.  (The ‘cock feather’ will most likely tear off.)

**Fletches may be cut into various shapes depending upon personal preference.  To do this you will need a fletch cutter.  This is done by inserting the fletch into the cutter and closing the cutter.  You then hit the cutter with a mallet and it cuts the fletch via small blades within the cutter.

(If you choose to wrap the fletches, cut away approx. 1/8-1/4” from the top and bottom of the spines so that you can wrap the spines as well as the tape.  Use a thicker thread than usual sewing thread and wrap the bottom of the fletch, working your way up.  Wrap the bottom and then thread the thread through the feathers carefully until you get to the top and then wrap the top spine and tape.  Put liquid super glue on the thread at the top and bottom of the fletches between the fletches.)

Finish the arrow off by adding approx. 3 coats (or more) of spray polyurethane, sanding lightly between each coat.  This will help with water resistance.  Then apply approx. 3 coats of TREWAX or any other type of rub on wax to the arrows.  This will also help with water resistance and will help the arrows slide out of the target much easier.

 

Parts of an arrow

Fletches – these are the “feathers” on the arrow to stabilize the arrows flight.  They cause a bit of a drag on the arrow so that the arrow will “fly” straighter.

Nock – this is a piece at the end of an arrow that the bowstring fits into.  Some arrows have a “self-nock” which means that they have a special hardwood inserted into the top of the arrow and a slit cut into the arrow so that they have a nock built in.

Tips or ‘points’ – in the SCA, we usually use a standard target point.  Which one you use will vary on how heavy you want your arrow to be.  There are standard target points and there are some target points that look like bullet heads.  The only difference between these two is really cosmetic and a little bit of more elbow grease to get the bullet heads out of the target.  Judo tips or grass-catchers are also used and they are simply a standard field point with little wire “arms” sticking out to catch the grass and keep the arrow from being lost in the grass.  I don’t really see very many of these. Bird blunts are popular with flu-flu arrows.  These are hard rubber tips without a point to basically break things or keep the arrow from sticking in the ground.  I’ve seen a few more fancier tips in the SCA like tips that whistle when you shoot them, but these are very few and far between.

**Important point (no pun intended) – Bodkins points are also used in the SCA.  Although they are used and they are very period, you might find that bodkin points do what they are intended to do when you use them on the “line”, they tear stuff up.  I have personally banned bodkin points during my shoots because I didn’t want all of my targets getting shredded before the shoot was over.  Just my opinion though.

This should get you on your way to being able to not only recognize what type of arrow you’re shooting, but also how to make something that you’d like to shoot.  If anything here is not very clear or you’d like to ask questions, just find me at an event and I’ll be glad to help.

 

–Toen

 

PS: Many thanks to the archers of Calontir for their information and to HL Lynette Davejean who taught me all of this stuff.

Tactics Used in the Battle of Cannae

Written by Lord Petru Sergeiescu. Originally Published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 4, Apr-Jun 2002.

Author’s note:

I initially decided to write this article for two reasons. The first was to bring forth a part of history that, while occurring well before the typical SCA time period of 600-1,600 AD, is an important piece of military knowledge. The second was to adapt the tactics used in the battle of Cannae into a useful strategy for our own mass combats. As I talked to others more knowledgeable than myself in the wonder and frustration of being an SCA commander, I opted to forego the second reason and concentrate on the history surrounding this battle between Hannibal’s Carthaginian army and Rome. This, hopefully, will not be too boring for you. I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I thoroughly delighted in researching and writing it!

Petru Sergeiescu
tconn@ku.edu


Cannae: Hannibal’s Victory

The Roman Empire was growing in the third century BC. It continually expanded its borders, subjugating any whom stood in its path. Much of Europe was beginning to feel the impact of Rome’s continual thirst for land and power. When this expansion reached Africa, it ran across another country with a similar mindset. Carthage was, in its own right, a military and cultural powerhouse. Like many other cultures that encountered the Romans, it did not like the idea of being under Rome’s control. Unlike many others though, it could do something about the presence of Romans on Carthaginian soil.

The First Punic War was fought between 264-241 BC, with Carthage losing to the Romans, but retaining much of its sovereignty. The Second Punic War officially began when Hannibal landed on Italian soil. It should be noted that Hannibal was not out to conquer Rome. His mission was to “reduce the political power of Rome so that she should no longer be a constant menace to the prosperity, or even the continued existence of Carthage” (de Beer, 1969). To do this, Hannibal had to win enough battles and inflict enough damage to the Roman’s aura of invincibility that her city-states would rebel and/or defect from the Republic.

The pinnacle of Hannibal’s 15-year campaign on Italian soil was the battle of Cannae. The tactics Hannibal employed to defeat a superior Roman army have been studied and implemented throughout history. Prussian and German generals in WWI and WWII called decisive, complete victories ‘Cannaes’. General Norman Schwartzkopf, UN commander during the Gulf War, studied Cannae and employed the principles Hannibal used in his quick and highly successful attack against the Iraqi (Goldsworthy, 2000).

In order to fully appreciate the impact of Hannibal’s victory at Cannae, one must look at not only the tactics used during the battle, but the events that transpired both before and after Rome’s clash with the Carthaginians. This paper will briefly describe the events leading to, the fighting of, and the effects of Cannae on both Rome and Hannibal.

I. A Call to Arms

Hannibal was becoming a thorn in Rome’s side. Having already made his famous crossing of the Alps, Hannibal had battled his way deep into Italy. Successive victories at Ticinus and Trebia in 218 BC, followed by more decisive triumphs at the battles of Lake Trasimene and Volturnus in 217 BC had stirred the Roman Senate into taking immediate action. To make things worse, Hannibal’s army had escaped Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus at Campania and settled in for the winter of 217/6 BC at the protective citadel at Gerunium.

In the early spring of 216 BC, Hannibal moved his troops south from Gerunium to the practically abandoned town of Cannae. This move served two purposes: To remove the threat of a possible Roman attack on Hannibal’s flank, and to provide his troops with much needed supplies (Peddie, 1997). Cannae was used as a granary by the Romans, and was the ideal location for Hannibal to replenish his food stores. The town itself was situated on a large, flat-topped hill that overlooked the plunder-rich Aufidus (Ofante) River plain. He was shadowed by a smaller Roman force led by Consuls Servilius Germinus and Atilius Regulus, who had assumed command after Fabius and Master of Horse Marcus Minucius Rufus were forced to relinquish their posts (Lazenby, 1978).

The Senate elected two Consuls to lead the army that would thwart Hannibal. The first, Gaius Terentius Varro, was by many accounts a hotheaded political placement. He was from a wealthy merchant family, and had risen through the political ranks by receiving the popular plebian vote. The second Consular appointment was made to directly oppose Varro’s election. Lucius Aemilius Paullus was a veteran commander of the First Punic War and was the patrician candidate put forth by ex-dictator Fabius. According to the historians Polybius and Livy, Paullus was a capable man who favored the Fabius defensive “wait and see” philosophy (Bradford, 1981).

The Roman army raised for these new consuls was the largest in the Republic’s history. While there is an argument among historians as to the exact number raised for the campaign of 216, the prevailing number tends to be eight legions of 5,000 men each. It was expected that Rome’s allies would match this number, bringing the total up to an astounding 80,000 men. The cavalry for this juggernaut was reported to be around 6,000 men, including allied support (Bradford, 1981).

Varro and Paullus departed Rome with their newly raised army and headed towards the army of Germinus and Regulus, already following Hannibal and heading towards Cannae. “The two Consuls took command on alternate days, in accordance with (Roman) custom” (de Beers, 1969). This was to be the army that would crush Hannibal and anyone else that got in its way. Rome’s might was in full view of the ancient world, and Varro and Paullus intended to show everyone exactly how nasty the legions could be when called upon to act.

II. Roman Soil Is Bloodied

After Varro and Paullus met up with Germinus and Regulus, they sent Regulus back to Rome, citing he was too old to campaign and fight (Caven, 1980). The now combined Roman forces marched towards Cannae. As they neared the now plundered town, Paullus noticed that the area was flat and open which heavily favored Hannibal’s superior cavalry. He recommended to Varro that they use the hill upon which Cannae sat as a defensible position, thus removing yet one more card from Hannibal’s deck of tactics. Varro, who commanded the Roman forces that day, disagreed and proceeded to advance the army onto the Aufidus plain. Hannibal harassed him with his light cavalry and skirmishers, but the Romans were able to successfully defend against them.

Meanwhile, Hannibal had moved his camp from the eastern side of the Aufidus to the west, where the ground was even flatter and more open. The next day, Paullus moved the main portion of his army across the river too, but left one-third of his army on the eastern bank to suppress pillaging and to collect water. The date was now late July. The heat was stifling, making water collection a necessity for both armies. The two armies stayed camped in their respective locations for two days; separated by a mere 1 1/2 miles. During the second of these two days (August 1), Hannibal offered battle. Paullus refused. Hannibal, who well understood the importance of the Aufidus’ water to the Roman troops, sent his Numidian cavalry to the smaller Roman camp to harass and kill any water-bearing slaves that were found outside protective fortifications. According to Polybius, the Numidians boldly rode up to the edge of the Roman encampment, causing havoc and thoroughly disrupting the supply of water to the Roman camp (Caven, 1980).

Varro was incensed, as Hannibal had hoped, and on August 2nd marshaled his forces and crossed back over the Aufidus to do battle. He positioned his 2,400 heavy Roman cavalry on the right flank, with the river to their right and the main body of the infantry to their left. On the left flank, approximately 3,600 Latin and allied cavalry were placed with their backs against the hill of Cannae, leaving their left and front sides open. Each Consul commanded one flank. Paullus took the heavy Roman right, while Varro oversaw the allied left. Germinus was given sole command of the largest Roman infantry ever assembled. Varro lined up his heavy infantry in a deep and relatively narrow phalanx formation that would limit their flexibility, but would increase their ability to “punch” a hole a thousand yards wide through the Carthaginian center (Goldsworthy, 2000; Caven, 1980). Goldsworthy (2000) noted that “the entire (Roman) army must have occupied a frontage of between one and two miles”. Ultimately, Varro’s plan was to have his cavalry units last long enough for the center of Hannibal’s army to break before the superior Roman infantry and then he would “mop up” the overpowered African infantry. This plan was used and almost succeeded in Trebia the previous year, but Hannibal’s elephants had thwarted Rome’s victory. Now, without elephants to save him, Varro believed Hannibal would fall before Rome’s might.

Hannibal crossed the river without incidence, using his light cavalry and light infantry to cover the main army’s river fording. He gave command of his roughly 7,000 heavy Spanish and Gallic cavalry to Hasdrubal, and lined them up against the Roman heavy cavalry. His right flank consisted of approximately 3,000 Numidian light cavalry, and was commanded by Maharbal. Much like the Mongols of later years, the Numidians were masters at hit-and-run cavalry tactics, relying on speed and confusion to be effective (Lazenby, 1978). They did not use bridles, but instead entwined their hands in their steed’s mane for control and guided their mounts with their knees.

Hannibal divided his 40,000 infantry into four sections. Roughly 5,000 Carthaginian veterans were placed on either side of the Gallic and Spanish infantry. Due to the successes Hannibal had attained in earlier battles, his African soldiers were outfitted in Roman armor, used Roman scuta, and fought with Roman swords. As was their custom, the Gauls were “naked” (most likely undressed to the waist), according to Polybius, while the Spanish were dressed in their typical white tunics bordered with purple. Both the Gauls and the Spanish had retained their own swords; the Gauls used long, slashing blades, while the Spanish preferred their short, stabbing swords (Goldsworthy, 2000). In all, there were approximately 20,000 Gauls and around 4,000 Spanish infantry deployed by Hannibal into the center of his formation. The fourth unit was comprised of about 6,000 light infantry (skirmishers), including Balaeric slingers and velites, which were used to test and harass the Romans before the battle began in earnest.

It should be noted at this point that there were several important factors involved in this battle besides number of troops. The first of these was hydration. Due to Hannibal’s guerrilla tactics on the smaller Roman encampment the previous day, a majority of the Roman legions and cavalry lacked proper hydration. That, combined with a hot August day in southern Italy and a brutal sun shining in their eyes as the afternoon wore on, would have severely affected performance. There was also a headwind with which the Roman troops had to deal. While the wind itself was not a major factor, the dust that Hannibal’s 50,000 men and horses created would have been enormous and potentially debilitating to sight. Experience was another crucial element in this battle. Hannibal’s men were veterans of at least two campaigns against the Romans. His African troops had been with him since he touched Italian soil. His Gallic, Spanish, and Numidian troops were fierce fighters that had been with him for at least one season of fighting. Rome’s levies were fresh troops. A majority was untested, thus increasing the need for quality leadership. That, coupled with such a large number of troops, played a factor in the events at Cannae. Finally, the terrain itself was advantageous to Hannibal. As mentioned earlier, the Aufidus plain was relatively flat and barren, giving a large advantage to Hannibal’s superior cavalry. Also, the Romans were in front of the hill leading to Cannae and hemmed in on their right flank by the Aufidus River, effectively leaving only their left flank as a viable retreat option (Bradford, 1981).

At the onset of the battle, the Roman and Carthaginian skirmishers began to pick at each other, testing for weaknesses and trying to force their opponent into committing to a plan of action (Lazenby, 1978). It wasn’t until Hannibal’s heavy cavalry charged the Roman right flank that the battle began in earnest. Hasdrubal’s 7,000 Spanish and Gallic heavy cavalry collided with Paullus’ 2,400 Italian heavy cavalry (Peddie, 1997). Immediately, the sheer force of numbers began driving the Romans back. To make matters worse, the river to their right and the infantry to their left effectively hemmed in the Romans. Many left their horses to fight on foot, allowing riderless horses to plunge unchecked through the Roman lines, causing further confusion (Lamb, 1960). The Romans were soon routed and began fleeing back towards their main camp and up the hill to Cannae. Hasdrubal successfully maintained command of his troops and rode behind the advancing Roman infantry and assisted the Numidians attack the Roman allied cavalry (de Beer, 1969).

On Rome’s left flank, Varro held his ground against the Numidian light cavalry. His troops did not ride after the fleet, shaggy mounts of the Africans, but instead braved their pulsing style of attack. Indeed, Varro was effectively and efficiently upholding his initial plan of having his cavalry withstand attack until his infantry could break the Carthaginian center. However, when Hasdrubal’s heavy cavalry threatened his right flank, Varro and his men rode with haste from the field. The Numidians gave chase while yet again Hasdrubal reformed his troops for attack (Lazenby, 1978).At the onset of the initial cavalry rush, the skirmishers for both sides melted back into their respective lines. The formation presented to the Romans was unique. Hannibal’s Gauls and Spanish troops were arrayed in a convex line, with the outermost point closest to the Roman legions. Intent on destroying their enemy, the Romans began their steady, tightly maintained march towards the Carthaginian forces. The Gauls and Spaniards fought valiantly, but had to give ground due to the sheer number of Roman troops. As they made their slow retreat, their line flexed backward from convex to straight, and then finally concave. Meanwhile, the impetus of the Roman’s forward advance carried them between the two African heavy infantry forces (Caven, 1980). Paullus, after the routing of his cavalry, assisted in leading the Romans towards their foe. As the front line of the Romans began to tire and meet continual resistance from the Gallic and Spanish troops, they realized they had nowhere to go for retreat. By that time, the Gauls and Spaniards had been pushed to the rear of their battle lines. They had yielded ground, but never broke before the Roman legions. The Roman advance slowly ground to a halt as those in front were stymied while those behind continually pressed forward.

At this time, Hannibal signaled the final stage of his battle plan. With the sound of war horns, the heavy African infantry wheeled towards each other and began attacking the Roman flanks (Caven, 1980). Meanwhile, the Gauls and Spaniards redoubled their efforts and applied pressure to the Italian front ranks. It was also at this time that Hasdrubal’s heavy cavalry crashed into the back of the Roman infantry, effectively sealing off any avenues of escape. As the Romans vainly sought to free themselves from this perfectly executed double envelopment, the battle turned into a massacre.

III. The Price of Failure

The number of dead at the battle is yet another debatable point among historians. Livy reported that Rome and her allies lost about 45,000 infantry and 2,700 cavalry, whereas Appian and Plutarch cited 50,000. Polybius maintained that Rome lost a combined total of 70,000 troops. Regardless of the actual total, Hannibal’s victory was impressive. He lost approximately 4,000 Gauls, 1,500 Spaniards and Africans, and 200 cavalry in the battle and managed to immediately capture 3,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry. 12,800 surrendered the following day instead of trying to fight their way out of the two Roman camps (Lazenby, 1978).

On the other hand, Rome was devastated. Varro fled to the crossroads of Venusia. Paullus was lost in the infantry battle, as was Germinus. Marcus Minicius Rufus, Master of Horse during the previous years’ campaign was killed. Rome also lost two quaestors (high ranking officials who judged certain criminal cases), a majority of her military tribunes (29 of 48), and 80 senators (Goldsworthy, 2000). To put this in perspective, one can look at potentially the bloodiest of all modern wars: WWI. The losses at Cannae suffered over a few square miles equaled the first day of fighting on the Somme. This may not sound important, but the battle for the Somme was spread over a 16-mile front (Goldsworthy, 2000). More men were killed at Cannae than in all four months of the battle of Passchendaele in 1917 (Bradford, 1981), considered one of the bloodiest battles of the “War to End All Wars”.

Aside from the physical loss of nearly 12% of Rome’s available manpower in under three campaign seasons, she suffered an even more dire pain: loss of invincibility. After the debacle at Cannae, Rome effectively left everything south of the River Vulturnus to Hannibal’s army (see map). The southern states in the Roman Confederacy, of course, did not like the idea of being left alone with a foreign army on their soil. Arpi, Salapia, Herdonia, and Uzentum in Apulia declared for Hannibal, as did most of the towns in Lucania, and those in Bruttium that weren’t Greek. Several peoples pledged their loyalty to Hannibal at this time too. The Picentes from the region of Salernum, the Hirpini, and most of the Samnites all favored Hannibal. However, the most important ally Hannibal gained from his victory at Cannae was the city of Capua in Campania. This alliance would prove very beneficial for Hannibal later in his campaign against Rome (de Beer, 1969).

Cannae was Hannibal’s finest hour. Even though he had success against Rome for many years following Cannae, he was never able to repeat such an astounding victory. Cannae was important for several reasons. Beyond being a costly military setback for Rome, it showed that the Roman army was not invincible. It also proved to many cultures of the time that Rome could not protect its own lands, causing Rome to lose political power in the
Mediterranean. However, despite this loss Rome was able to eventually defeat Hannibal and Carthage, thus ending the Second Punic War. Many cultures fought Rome, even sacked her capitol, but never did Rome again  fare so poorly in one battle.

References

  • Bradford, E. (1981). Hannibal. London: Macmillan London Ltd.

  • Caven, B. (1980). Punic Wars. London: George Werdenfeld and Nicholson
    Ltd.

  • De Beer, Sir G. (1969). Hannibal: Challenging Rome’s Supremacy. New
    York: Viking Press, Inc.

  • Goldsworthy, A. (2000). The Punic Wars. London: Cassell and Company.

  • Koch, H.W. (1995). Medieval Warfare. Greenwich, CT: Brompton Books
    Corporation.

  • Lamb, H. (1960). Hannibal. New York: Bantam Books, Inc.

  • Lazenby, J.F. (1978). Hannibal’s War: A Military History of the Second Punic
    War. Warminster, England: Aris and Philips Ltd.

  • Peddie, J. (1997). Hannibal’s War. Phoenix Mill, England: Sutton Publishing
    Ltd.