Hannibal's War v2
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Ninety thousand men marched from New Carthage in the summer of 218, but only twenty five thousand were destined to reach Italy. Hostile Spanish tribes, diseases, harsh weather conditions and a semi legendary crossing of the Alps took their toll on the Punic army.
The Romans, informed of Hannibal's movements, attempted to intercept him at Marseilles. Publius Cornelius Scipio leading two legions believed that the Carthaginian's plan was to knock out Marseilles, Rome's powerful ally. Only when Hannibal bypassed him at the Rhone did the Romans realize that the Carthaginian objective all along was an invasion of Italy.
Hannibal crossed the Alps in 15 days and reached the fertile Po valley in northern Italy in the winter of 218, five months after he set out from Carthago Nova. But he had lost 50,000 men in the process (10,000 men under Hanno were left to safeguard the passage from Spain to Gaul). Celtic contingents joined him there as planned. After crushing the Roman legions in the battles of Ticinus, Trebia, Trasimene, and ultimately at Cannae, causing the Romans more than 200,000 casualties, he lost momentum. Meanwhile the Scipio brothers wreaked havoc in Iberia limiting his reinforcements. The Carthaginian navy was unable to effectively resupply him due to the Roman naval superiority. Eventually, with the Punics lacking siege machines, the war degenerated into a series of marches and counter marches as Hannibal was desperately trying to force the Romans into a decisive pitched battle.
Important port cities such as Tarentum, and Brundisium were denied to Hannibal and thus the fate of the war was decided with a Roman invasion of Africa. Scipio the younger (later "Africanus") defeated the great general in Zamma, 201 BC. Betrayed by his Numidian allies and limited by the inactivity of his Senate, Hannibal was for the first and only time defeated in his military career.
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