Battle of Lake Trasimene, 217BC

Battle of Lake Trasimene

THE BATTLE OF LAKE TRASIMENE

217BC

SUMMARY

The Battle of Lake Trasimene was a brutally successful ambush, with Hannibal’s forces all but annihilating 30,000 Romans in a matter of hours. The battle caused the Romans to have a new respect for Hannibal’s strength and military prowess, and caused them to avoid direct engagements in the future, preferring instead to starve and delay Hannibal’s army.

BACKGROUND

Hannibal had reached Italy and was threatening towns throughout the countryside. In response, Roman general Gaius Flaminius marched to meet Hannibal’s army in battle.

LOCATION

Lake Trasimeno, Italy

THE ROMANS

30,000 men

THE CARTHAGINIANS

55,000 men

BATTLE

Hannibal’s army had severely outmanoeuvred Flaminus’ forces, managing to station themselves between Flaminus and Rome. The Carthaginians prepared an ambush on the shore of Lake Trasimene, and succeeded in catching the Roman forces off guard as they marched. The Romans were completely unprepared for the Carthaginian assault, and had no time to assemble into battle lines. As a result, 15,000 Romans were either killed in the fighting or drowned while trying to escape through the lake.

RESULT

Decisive Carthaginian Victory

CONSEQUENCE

A new Roman military policy of avoiding Hannibal’s forces.

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