The Art of Ambush – The Battle of the Trebia

Carthaginians – Blue

Romans – Red

Source: Wikipedia


In 218 BC, Hannibal, one of the greatest military genius of all time led an army of men (and elephants) across the Alps and into the heart of the Roman Empire. His army numbered around 40,000 men including cavalry and prized elephants.

The month of December in 218 BC brought a severe winter and Hannibal found himself against two Roman consuls ready to expel him back to Carthage.

Hannibal, choose a place between the two opposing camps that was flat and treeless for action. His trump card however, was a detachment of 1,000 light infantry and 1,000 Numidian cavalry that hid themselves in the bushes to the right.

After the preparation for battle was complete, Hannibal sent a small group of his cavalry across the Trebia to harrass the Romans in hope to lure them into the trap he had laid.

Sure enough, the Roman consul sent forth the entire bulk of his (some 36,000 Roman infantry, 4,000 light cavalry, and 3,000 Gallic auxiliaries) army against the Carthaginians.

The Romans after crossing the freezing river engaged the Carthaginians in hope that their numerical superiority would grind the enemy into dust. However, the cavalry arms of Carthaginians were able to defeat the Roman cavalry thus leaving the Roman flanks exposed.

Hannibal then unleashed his ambush force from the right. The move proved enough to break the morale of the Romans that were cut down to pieces as they retreated back across the river. Roman losses amouted to around 20,000 men.

Hannibal proved yet again that he mastered the art of ambush.

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