Battle of the Trebia, 218 BC

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Hannibal Barca versus Tiberius Sempronius Longus: A Carthaginian army under Hannibal Barca entices a Roman army under Sempronius to attack across a river into a trap. The Romans outnumber the Carthaginians but will Sempronius still become a footnote to one of Hannibal’s masterpiece battles? .

This is the first of a few Roman armies to be annihilated by Hannibal in the Second Punic War, each of them destroyed by brilliant tactical maneuvers and Roman impulsiveness. However, Hannibal’s victories were hollow as he did not win the war, outgeneraled strategically.
This battle was over before it really began; Hannibal harassed the Roman camp with his cavalry and lured the Romans through a frigid river without breakfast while the Carthaginians rested and ate breakfast by the fire. There is a lot of luck involved in battles but actions before the battle can severely disadvantage one side. The battle also demonstrates how important surprise and mobile forces are because the defeat only became a crushing defeat when the outnumbered Roman cavalry were chased from the field.
trebia preview 2Notes
I had no plans of animating any of Hannibal’s battles until Season 4 at the earliest because there are just that many interesting battles to animate but viewers pressured me to spotlight Hannibal along with three of his battles.
– Jonathan Webb
Works Consulted
Cottrell, Leonard. Enemy of Rome. London: Camelot, 1960.
Dodge, Theodore. Great Captains: Hannibal. New York: Riverside, 1891.
Lamb, Harold. Hannibal: One Man Against Rome. New York: Doubleday, 1958.
Rickard, J. “Battle of Trebia, late December 218 BC.” History of War. (accessed Dec. 14, 2008).
United States Military Academy History Department. “Atlas for Ancient Warfare.” United States Military Academy. (accessed Dec. 14, 2008).

Carthaginian cavalry:
Carthaginian infantry:
Carthaginian war elephant:
Hannibal Barca:
Map of the Mediterranean:
Map of the world:
Roman infantry:
Roman cavalry:

If you enjoyed the Battle of the Trebia 218 BC battle animation, you may also enjoy these other battle animations:

Battle of Lake Trasimene 217 BC, another battle featuring Hannibal Barca:

lake trasimene preview 1

Battle of Fornovo 1495, another battle featuring a river crossing fought in modern day Italy:

fornovo preview 1

Battle of Gaugamela 331 BC, another battle featuring an attempted envelopment of both flanks:

gaugamela preview 1Thank you for visiting The Art of Battle: Animated Battle Maps.

Readers Comments (9)

  1. The PowerPoint animation isn’t quite working properly. When it comes to the battle scene animation, all the text appears in the same space pretty much at once, making it illegible. Would be good if you could fix this. (maybe it’s only a problem on Mac?)

  2. Hmm, I’ve come across this before under different circumstances. Usually this happens when the program opening it doesn’t recognize the timings I’ve put in place and I’m not sure why.

    Try downloading Microsoft’s Powerpoint Viewer 2007 on their website and update me if it worked:

  3. I could not get the video to work on the full screen mode. WHY?

  4. What is the name of Hannibals battle tactic? Did the Romans ever use this tactic in future battles knowing how effective it could be?

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  6. Carolyne Kershaw July 13, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

    Carthaginian Army was 20,000 Gallic, Spanish and North African infantry in the main battle line, but also an additional 8,000 Spanish and North African skirmish infantry in front.

    Also there were 38 – 38 Elephants at the Trebia, though all but one died soon after the battle, probably of cold and starvation.

    Only around 4,000 of the Roman infantry were allied Gauls. The majority of the infantry were Roman legionary infantry and allied Italian legionary infantry. Roman practice was to field armies of equal numbers of legions with the Roman legions in the centre and Italian legions at each side of them.

  7. It is confirmed that Hannibal’s Numidian cavalry lured the Romans out of their camp. However, some sources also state that Hannibal also had infantry waiting in ambush with Mago and his cavalry.

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