Superior Commander – Hannibal vs Scipio

Introduction

            Hannibal has long been considered as the most brilliant war commanders in the history, while Scipio was labeled a great general in the Roman History. Both individuals employed different strategies that led to their individual successes.

Hannibal vs. Scipio

Hannibal

In his war with the mighty Rome, Hannibal led his army in 217 BC in Lake Trasimene.  Being pursued by Roman army led by over-confident, brass and impatient commander, Hannibal hid many of his soldiers in a near forest, next to the lake (History.com, 2009). He then made a camp in the view of the advancing Roman army. He then instructed that fires be lit way from the advancing army. The Roman army then went in one column. The hidden army then attacked the flanks of the unsuspecting Roman army.  This became the greatest ambush where over 30,000 soldiers were killed or drowned in the lake.

In 216BC, Hannibal with his Carthagian army formed a crescent shape, in Cannae, facing the Roman army. The Romans attacked the center in rage and the Hannibal’s army retreated making the Romans to push forward. In doing so, the Roman army was fighting its way into a trap. The Carthagian army closed in flanks defeating the Roman Calvary and attacking the rear troops of the Roman army.  Panic ensued and the Roman army packed and close to 50,000 Roman soldiers was slaughtered.

Scipio

In the battle of Zama, in 202 BC, Scipio had 7000 cavalry and 34000 infantry compared to Hannibal’s 4000 cavalry, 50000 infantry and 80 elephants (Cavazzi, 2012). In the battle, Scipio’s cavalry overcame Hannibal’s cavalry. Hannibal however, unleashed the elephants, and Scipio was prepared. Scipio’s army opened the gaps in his army and Hannibal’s elephants ran harmlessly. Scipio won and Hannibal lost 20000 soldiers while Hannibal only lost 1500. In the event, Hannibal and Carthage surrendered. Scipio would later become a statesman of Carthage eliminating abuses and corruption.

The Superior Commander

Between the two commanders, Scipio was the most superior. He was young and his bravery and humility with which he treated his prisoners, he was able to win minds and hearts of his people. Despite his age, he recruited and trained his own army and led them to victory over Hannibal despite the fact that Hannibal had numerous armies and had a previous experience having won two battles.

Conclusion

With a relatively little war experience, with a lot of bravery, Scipio was able to defeated Hannibal despite his experience and superior and big army. Hannibal’s success in the initial battles made him a great commander due to his ability to use unique techniques to defeat the enemies. However, Scipio usurped him when he defeated him in the battle of Zama.

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