Theodore Ayrault Dodge (1842-1909) was considered by his contemporaries, as well as by many later historians, to be the greatest American military historian of the nineteenth century and an unparalleled biographer of some of history's greatest generals and commanders. Dodge fought in the Union Army in some of the Civil War's fiercest and costliest engagements, through the Seven Days Battle, Second Bull Run, and Chancellorsville, until he lost his right leg at Gettysburg. These experiences provided him with insights into the realities of warfare that are sometimes lacking in the work of purely academic or "armchair" military historians.
Hannibal (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)by Theodore Ayrault Dodge
Best known for moving elephants through high mountain passes in wintertime to the classic application of the double envelopment maneuver to surround and destroy a Roman army on the battlefield at Cannae, Hannibal's achievements have rarely been equaled and never surpassed. Not only did he grasp the importance of each of the elements of a military campaign, he
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Best known for moving elephants through high mountain passes in wintertime to the classic application of the double envelopment maneuver to surround and destroy a Roman army on the battlefield at Cannae, Hannibal's achievements have rarely been equaled and never surpassed. Not only did he grasp the importance of each of the elements of a military campaign, he mastered all of them to achieve the kinds of victories which soldiers still seek to emulate.
Despite his status as a great general and his string of victories on the battlefield, Hannibal was defeated in the end. It was Rome, not Carthage that became the superpower of the ancient world. The story of Hannibal's tactical genius but strategic failure holds lessons today for those who are trying to understand why success on the battlefield does not always, or even frequently, lead to victory in war.
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Theodore Ayrault Dodge's book on Hannibal starts off with the abjuration of Carthaginian hegemony in Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily after the First Punic War: 264-241 BCE. Hasdrubal Barca of the Barcine family sets off to subjugate as much as Iberia as possible to generate gold, silver and other natural resources as well as to provide a 'center of gravity' within Iberia and to secure the lines of communication and a secure base that would A) provide a key interstices that would administrate Carthaginian suzerainty in Iberia, B) connect Iberia with the Carthaginian network of subjected states and C) to maintain mercantile trade. Theodre Ayrault Dodge mentions that the loss of peripheral zones within the Mediterranean deprived the Carthaginians of a water-route to Rome. (Thankfully Carthage was not a thalassocracy to the extent of the First Athenian Empire: 478-404 BCE and the Second Athenian Empire: 378/377-355 BCE; it still survived after the majority of its navy was wiped out and its maritime supremacy extinguished.)
Theodore Ayrault Dodge elucidates Hannibal Barca's ultracrepidation across the Rhone River and the Alps, and the hardships that were faced by trying to reach Italian soil. Theodore Ayrault Dodge succinctly mentions the poliorcetics of Saguntum: 219-218 BCE and the battles of Ticinus: 218 BCE, Trebia: 217 BCE, Lake Trasimene: 217 BCE and Cannae: 216 BCE with the culmination of the fate of the two empires at Zama: 202 BCE. Theodore Ayrault Dodge mentions the grand strategy of Hannibal Barca (to deprive the Romans of their Italian allies and to form a stranglehold against the capitol of Rome, and to enlist the aid of the Gallic tribes) and the composition of the Carthaginian armies (Libyo-Phoenicians, Iberians, Numidians: multinational composition of mercenaries; 1,043 peltasts or skirmishers in the front ranks, 2,048 psiloi or auxiliary soldiers in the rear and a Hellenistic-like phalanx of Carthaginian/Libyo-Phoenician pikemen, with a total of 1,024 cavalry per fighting force.) Theodore Ayrault Dodge also mentions the composition of the Roman forces which consisted of 1,200 Velites, 1,200 Hastati, 1,200 Principes and 600 Triarii per consular army (a total of two such fighting forces per year). He also mentions the siege techniques of antiquity such as the means of blockading and slowly depleting the resources of the enemy through the castrametation of two concentric walls: the circumvallation and the contravallation.
The only negative factor found in the book Hannibal by Theodore Ayrault Dodge is the balance of the book. The author does not give enough recognition for the exploits of Hannibal's rivals such as Fabius 'Cunctator', Metellus and Nero, as well as Publius Cornelius Scipio 'Africanus' who deprived the Carthaginians of a base in Iberia through the victories at Baecula and Ilipa, and the capture of New Carthage. Theodore Ayrault Dodge tends to degrade the capabilities of Hannibal's Roman enemies, and to belittle the strategic consequences of some of their exploits such as the capture of Syracuse and the loss of Carthaginian hegemony in Iberia. (For more on Scipio 'Africanus', the book by Basil Henry Liddell Hart is recommended.)
An amazing novel that gives you colorful explanations of both armies of Rome ,and Carthage. There are also great teachings of both nations powerful history. Loved it!