August 2 - 216 BCE - The Battle of Cannae
The Carthaginian Hannibal Barca had been running Roman armies ragged through the Italian peninsula for a year. He did this after moving his armies, including war elephants from the Iberian Peninsula through Gaul and over the Alps. Once in Italy, Hannibal won significant victories at Trebbia and Lake Trasimene, which made the Roman Republic nervous. Initially, the strategy approached by the appointed dictator Fabius involved a war of attrition, known as the "Fabian strategy." This left Hannibal and his army in Italy, but worn down. After a year, new leaders, Publius and Verro, are elected and they assembled the largest army in Roman history to face him. Despite the numbers advantage, the Romans were easily defeated. Hannibal introduced a pincer movement, exploiting a Roman weakness and routing the armies of Rome. Although numbers are not easy to verify from antiquity, the one thing that is clear is that Hadrian killed the vast majority of Rome's troops. Cannae would be studied for the rest of history, beginning with Romans in the immediate aftermath, including Scipio Africanus who would eventually defeat Carthage by using Hannibal's tactics.