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A small village of Apulia, situated about five miles from Canusium, towards the sea, and at no great distance from the Aufidus. It was celebrated for the defeat of the Romans by Hannibal. Polybius tells us that, as a town, it was destroyed the year before the battle was fought, which took place on May 21st, B.C. 216. The citadel, however, was preserved, and the circumstance of its occupation by Hannibal seems to have been regarded by the Romans of sufficient importance to cause them considerable uneasiness and annoyance. It commanded, indeed, all the adjacent country, and was their principal southern depot of stores and provisions. The Greek writers, especially Polybius, generally use the name in the singular, Κάννα.

The decisive victory at Cannae was owing to three combined causes: the excellent arrangements of Hannibal, the superiority of the Numidian horse, and the skilful manœuvre of Hasdrubal in opposing only the light-armed cavalry against that of the Romans, while he employed the heavy horse, divided into small parties, in repeated attacks on different parts of the Roman rear. The Roman army contained 80,000 infantry and 6000 cavalry, the Carthaginians 40,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. Hannibal drew up his forces in the form of a convex crescent, having his centre thrown forward before the wings. He commanded the centre in person, and here he had purposely stationed his worst troops; the best were posted at the extremities of each wing, which would enable them to act with decisive advantage as bodies of reserve, they being, in fact, the rear of the other forces. Hasdrubal commanded the left wing, Hanno the right. On the Roman side, want of union between the two consuls, and want of spirit among the men, afforded a sure omen of the fortune of the day. Aemilius commanded the right, Varro the left wing; the proconsuls, Regulus and Servius, who had been consuls the preceding year, had command of the centre. What Hannibal foresaw took place. The charge of the Romans, and their immense superiority in numbers, at length broke his centre, which, giving way inward, his army now assumed the shape of a concave crescent. The Romans, in the ardour of pursuit, were carried so far as to be completely surrounded. Both flanks were assailed by the veterans of Hannibal, who were armed in the Roman manner; at the same time the cavalry of the Carthaginians attacked their rear, and the broken centre, rallying, attacked them in front. The consequence was that they were nearly all cut to pieces. The two proconsuls, together with Aemilius the consul, were slain. Varro escaped with seventy horse to Venusia. The Romans lost on the field of battle 70,000 men; and 10,000 who had not been present in the fight were made prisoners. The Carthaginian loss amounted to 5500 infantry and 200 cavalry. Such is the account of Polybius, whose statement of the fight is much clearer and more satisfactory than that of Livy. Hannibal has been censured for not marching immediately to Rome after the battle, in which city all was consternation. But an explanation of his conduct may be found under the article Hannibal. See also the account in DodgeCol. 's valuable military study, Hannibal (N. Y. 1891).

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