Hannibal Barca

In the third century BC, which general included elephants in his army, as he led Carthaginian troops over the Pyrenees and Alps?

And the answer: Hannibal.

Photo courtesy: Public Domain. 

Considered one of the greatest military commanders in history, Hannibal Barca led the forces of Carthage, which was located in North Africa in what is now Tunisia. Hannibal was known for his uncanny ability to accurately determine the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents.

Hannibal Barca was born in a critical moment of Roman and Carthaginian history. The city of Carthage, Hannibal's birthplace and once prosperous center for Mediterranean trade, was suffering an impending loss to the Roman army. With the close of the First Punic War (264-241), Carthage was stripped of its most integral province, Sicily, in addition to the regions of Sardinia and Corsica. Young Hannibal, son to Carthaginian General Hamilcar Barca, bore witness to the stripping of his nation. These events made a great impression on young Hannibal.

Upon his ascension to power in the Carthaginian military ranks, General Hannibal assumed aggressive tactics against the Roman army. In a bold, invasive front, Hannibal pushed an army of 50,000 infantry, 9,000 cavalry and 37 elephants across the Alps and over the river Rhône before the Romans were prepared. Thanks to the help of some 14,000 displaced Gauls, Hannibal won a second victory, defeating a Roman army that had been supplemented with the troops that had been sent to Sicily earlier that year (December 218).

Throughout his lifetime, Hannibal succeeded (and suffered) from his military prowess, ultimately being recognized as the last serious threat to the Roman Empire for centuries following his reign. To learn more about the life and achievements of General Hannibal Barca, check out the video below.

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