Return to Lake Trasimène. A Failure of Intelligence

by Daniel Russ on January 25, 2020

Battle of Lake Trasemene

It’s odd talking about a battle I wrote about ten years ago. But this is not my first visit to Lake Trasimène.

This is: (

The new insight is that Faminius did not know what he was facing. Flaminius was also completely outclassed by this trickster.

After having humiliated the Romans at the Trebia River, Hannibal continued to humiliate the Romans by setting people’s property on fire and Scorching the Earth around him.

So a proconsul,  Flaminius, put about 30,000 infantry together and went after Hannibal. Hannibal was of course recruiting troop allies on the way into the Roman peninsula, and the more he won, the more allied enemies of the Romans wanted to fight with this liberator. At this point Hannibal leads 50,000 troops. Mostly infantry, 10,000 Carthaginian troopers were cavalry.

So here is the battlefield.

There is a lake, Lake Trasimene, and beside the lake is a defile that allows one or two people marching space . On the other side of the defile, is a thickly wooded hill.

Understand that the reason the Roman army was so dangerous was because they knew how to fight. And they mostly knew how to fight in set-piece battle on an open plain. The Carthaginians led the Romans to believe with torches and noise making that a force was encamped down the road.

Thusly the Romans proceeded out of formation in a long line down the defile on the way to where the thought the Carthaginians were. This was on a morning with a heavy fog. The Roman troops could barely see 50 feet.

They had not even reconnoitered the defile ahead of the troops.

Another probability here is that Flaminius did not have any idea that Hannibal had picked up thousands of allied troops, all of whom had a beef with the Romans. That could account for the reason why the Romans went after a bigger force.

The Carthaginians put a blocking force in the way of the Romans and fighting began. Romans in the back of the line had no idea what was happening since they were out of earshot and could not see why the line just stopped.

At once, the entire Carthaginian force moved down the wooded hill and smashed broadside into the entire Roman line, forcing many into the lake. Thousands drowned in their armor.

The Romans lost 30,000 killed and captured and Hannibal lost about 2,500 troops.


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