This interactive story is designed to demonstrate how influential and formidable Hannibal Barca was during the Second Punic War at the end of the 3rd century BCE.
A daring soldier, general, strategist, political leader--this man was an epic hero brought to life. Indeed, his legacy became larger than life for the many who told his tale. In what follows, you shall learn about this paragon of ancient legend and his journey to defeat Rome.
[[How did this illustrious figure come to be?|The Backstory]]After the First Punic War, Hamilcar Barca, a commander of the Carthaginian army, retired to Carthage and produced, among other children, a son named Hannibal. Given his father's illustrious career, it's hardly surprising that young Hannibal was destined for a life of influence and action. Just as Hamilcar led the Carthaginian forces during the First Punic War, his son would ignite the fires of the Second and bring Rome to the brink of destruction.
Between the two Punic Wars, Hamilcar set out (with his sons in tow) to improve his family's fortunes and expand Carthage's territories by conquering the peoples of the Iberian peninsula. He died after eight years of conquest and his eldest son, Hasdrubal, took up command of the Carthaginian forces in Spain. He eventually signs an agreement with Rome limiting Carthage's influence to below the Ebro River.
<img src="http://www.iberianature.com/material/photos/ebrobig.jpg" alt="Map of the Ebro River area" style="width:100%">
A few years pass and Hasdrubal is assassinated. Hannibal takes command of the Carthaginian forces and completes the conquest of the Iberian peninsula. After securing his new holdings, Hannibal marches his armies out of Carthago Nova and begins an eight year siege of Saguntum, a protectorate of Rome at the time, though it lay south of the Ebro. The Romans send several envoys and terms of peace, but Hannibal declines them all, forcing Rome to declare war on Carthage.
<img src="https://cdn.britannica.com/42/1042-050-F1D06D1D/Mediterranean-Punic-Wars.jpg" alt="Map of Hannibal's Path" style="width:100%">
Thus Hannibal stoked the dying embers of the First Punic War, setting alight the passion and anger of his people--a rolling blaze that would grow ever larger as they approached Italy.
[[Experience Hannibal's Journey|A Journey Through the Alps]]<h3>A Journey through the Alps</h3>
<img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d2/City_In_The_Alps_From_Above_%28204480419%29.jpeg/1600px-City_In_The_Alps_From_Above_%28204480419%29.jpeg" style="width:100%"/>
You know it won't be an easy task: fighting your way through Gaul and traversing not only the Pyrenees, but also the Alps. All this just to make it to Italy, where your real foe awaits you.
As you journey through Gaul, you encounter many local populations which do not trust the great Carthaginian army you're leading through their territory. Although they're justified in being suspicious, your hatred for them grows as they pick off more of your fighting men.
Some you are able to assuage with diplomacy and some even offer to guide you through the Alps. They warn you that the mountain passes are treacherous, however, and the weather ill-omened for mortals. Eyeing your thirty-something war elephants, he suggests proceeding with great caution.
[[Do you sojourn onwards?|Continue on through the Alps]]
[[Stop and gather supplies?|Stop and Gather Supplies]]You face great difficulty marching your forces and war elephants through the mountain passes. A great number of your troops perish from the freezing temperatures, raids, and other hazzards from the area.
Many men and elephants die. As you begin to catch glimpses of the Italian peninsula, your previous confidence in your mission returns.
[[Arrive at Trebia]]After gathering supplies and letting your troops rest, you are more prepared for the journey ahead. The rough terrain of the mountains and unforeseen snow storms still whittle down your numbers, both of elephants and men.
You begin to see the Italian peninsula.
[[Arrive at Trebia]] <h3>The Battle of Trebia</h3>
As you descend from the Alps and into Trebia, you come across several Gaulish tribes that the Romans have spurned. They're full of anger and indignation at the reigning power of Italy. You easily persuade them to join your cause, compensating for the number of men you lost during your trek through the snowy mountain passes.
Arriving in Trebia, you find that the forces you expected to meet in battle--those of Publius Cornelius Scipio--are encamped on an upper hill, badly wounded, and awaiting reinforcements. Making camp in the plain below, you make use of this opportunity to raid the grain storage depot at Clastidum.
With your troops' sustenance secured, you are more than ready to meet with the forces of Tiberius Sempronius Longus. He arrives from Sicily and you decimate nearly 75% of his forces.
[[Onward to Lake Trasimene]]<img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/40/Castiglione_del_Lago%2C_Lago_Trasimeno.jpg/1600px-Castiglione_del_Lago%2C_Lago_Trasimeno.jpg"/>
A bout of cold, snowy weather keeps you camped at Trebia for some time. As the weather improves, however, you march your forces towards Lake Trasimene where you've scouted a reliable base for operations in Italy.
On your way, you attempt to draw the Roman general Flaminius and his army into battle. These attempts are unsuccessful, but by occupying the region, you cut off his connections with Rome.
[[Advance to Lake Trasimene|The Battle of Lake Trasimene]]<h3>The Battle of Lake Trasimene</h3>
<img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Battle_of_lake_trasimene-es.svg" style="width:100%"/>
Cut off from the Senate and with his supply lines jeopardized, Flaminius is forced into battle at Lake Trasimene. You slaughter Flaminius and all his troops, effectively destroying the last major military force afield that could oppose you on the Italian peninsula.
[[March on Rome.]]
[[Create a revolt against Roman hegemony.|Campaigning in Apulia and Campania]]
<h3>Campaigning in Apulia and Campania</h3>
The Senate has appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus as dictator in response to your attacks on the Italian peninsula. He refuses to meet you in battle and, instead, places several military encampments around Apulia and Campania, where you've been raiding towns and restoring your resources.
Many Roman citizens believe Fabius' policies to be a great display of cowardice. Marching through Samnium, you devastate the many regions of agricultural production. Winter approaches. In a brilliant maneuver, you outsmart Fabius and secure a place of safety in the Apulian plain.
After the winter passes, however, your supplies grow scarce and troops hungry. You resolve to capture the supply depot at Cannae, Rome's connection to grain imports from the East. In doing so, you not only feed your soldiers, but cut off Rome's imports from the Black Sea and Egypt.
In the meantime, Rome, now under the leadership of Gaius Terrentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus as consuls, has amassed a great force of nearly 80,000 infantry and cavalry. After you seize the depot, they resolve to march on Cannae.
The legions have arrived at Cannae and you are ready to face them on the field of battle. Their forces far outnumber your own.
What formation do you use?
[[Flank the Legions]]
[[Send your Cavalry in ahead]]You successfully send your cavalry around the legions, creating a semi-circle around the entirety of the Roman force. What do you command next?
[[Pretend to withdraw main body of forces.|Defeating the Romans]]
[[Push ahead with all your forces.|Gridlock]]While your cavalry are quite skilled, they cannot stand up to the sheer number of soldiers that the Romans have put afield. You see an opening to split your cavalry and evelope the Roman troops.
[[Split Cavalry to either side.|Defeating the Romans]]<h3>The Battle of Cannae</h3>
As your troops circle around the Roman army, you are able to completely enclose their combined force with your own. By limiting the battlefield with this envelopment tactic, you remove their advantage in numbers and are easily able to decimate the army.
<img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Battle_cannae_destruction.png" style="width:100%"/>
After the last man is slaughtered, it becomes clear that this the most devastating loss Rome has ever suffered. Many parts of Italy lose faith in Roman power and rally to your cause.
Some major cities and territories are still allied to the Senate and you still lack the means to take Rome itself.
[[Conquer those who remain.|Capturing the Rest]]The semi-circle flattens and you begin to lose your advantage over the Roman forces. You see an opportunity to envelop the enemy and trap them.
[[Pretend to withdraw the main body of your forces.|Defeating the Romans]]Unable to lay siege to Rome, you set your sights on Capua, the second largest city in Italy. Though it put up a valiant defense and remained allied to the Roman Senate for some time, you eventually subdue the city. Given its size and position, you make Capua your new base in Italy.
From here, you will be able to conquer the remaining strongholds of Roman power until the fateful day when reinforcements arrive from Carthage. With more power and siege engines at your back, you will be invincible, and the city of Rome will no longer be out of reach.
[[You receive a letter from Carthage.|Recalled to Carthage]]''The Carthaginian Army sends this message to Hannibal Barca.''
The Roman General Publius Cornelius Scipio has conquered our territories in Spain, including the Treasury at Carthago Nova. He has decimated the forces of Hasdrubal both in Spain and North Africa, and killed the general himself.
The general and his army now launch attacks on our holdings in North Africa and come nearer to destroying Carthage day by day. For this, you and your armies have thus been recalled to Carthage. Deal with the threat of Scipio. Save Carthage and bring glory to your people.
[[Head home.|Battle of Zama]]<h3>The Battle of Zama</h3>
<img src="https://cdn.britannica.com/14/198814-050-D4A3405D/Battle-of-Zama-canvas-artist-Giulio-Romano.jpg" style="width:100%"/>
Having returned home, you attempt to meet with Scipio in a fruitless peace conference. With no agreement reached, there is little left but war. The Battle of Zama ensues.
While your combined forces have the edge in infantry, the Roman cavalry far outpaces your own. The battle rages on for days: two superpowers of the Mediterranean locked in fierce combat. Eventually, Scipio's forces rout your own and turn the tide of the battle. As you perform a tactical retreat, they attack your rear and the loses are devastating. Your forces perish on the field of Zama and Carthage subsequently surrenders.
Scipio is given the cognomen "Africanus" for his great victory and the Romans salt Carthaginian earth. In conquering Carthage, Rome secured its hegemony and influence over the Mediterrannean.
[[Thus concludes the Second Punic War.|Conclusion]]Without any siege engines, you have very little hope of capturing the capitol. It would be best to rally others to your cause or build siege engines before approaching the Roman stronghold.
[[Head south toward Apulia.|Campaigning in Apulia and Campania]]Thanks for checking out this interactive narrative of Hannibal's experience during the Second Punic War! I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps learned a thing or two about Hannibal and Roman history.
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