The legacy of Hannibal Barca was that of a great military strategist and general; he was named one of Rome’s greatest enemies. He found much of his strategy and hatred for Rome from his father, Hamilcar Barca. Hamilcar was also a hero and military leader and conquered much of Spain; he inspired Hannibal to hate Rome and trained him from boyhood for leadership and battle. While Hamilcar lead the first Punic war, the second and third Punic wars were lead by Hannibal and his multicultural armies. Hannibal not only relied on his devoted armies but he had both elephants and cavalry to add both surprise and strategy.
Hannibal’s army was composed mainly of troops from modern-day Spain and France. Spanish, Gallic, and Celtic warriors formed the core of his infantry fighting force, while African mercenaries formed his cavalry and elephant components of his army. The elephants were his terror weapon, and this elite force nearly brought Rome to its knees in the early stages of the Punic Wars.
Not much of the actual taming of Hannibal’s elephants is known; however, plenty of graphic details are known about their readying for battlefield deployment. To ready them for battle, the elephants were made to drink alcoholic beverages to reduce their better judgment and to make them angry. Then, they were stabbed in the legs with spears to get them enraged, and were unleashed into the ranks of the enemy. Their blind rage and their immense size and destructive power terrified the adversaries of Carthage, allowing their main army to march in and cut down whoever was left without mercy.
Should the elephants fail to destroy and demoralize their enemies, the infantry and cavalry forces of Carthage could easily win any battle. In addition to the African elephants, Hannibal’s army had a Numidian cavalry. They were the army’s greatest asset and effective killing weapons. They were well-trained and easy to maneuver. By the time of Hannibal’s invasion of Italy,...