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The Battle of the river Trebia 218 B.C.

As Rome secured control of the Italian peninsular, Carthage was establishing an empire in Spain and North Africa. It was inevitable that these two rising powers would clash violently for control of the Western Mediterranean. Carthage needed space for its trade and maritime empire, and the Romans simply saw Carthage as another threat. War was bound to come, sooner or later.
Fortunately, for the Carthaginians, they had the services of Hannibal Barca, one of the greatest generals of all time. Marching from Spain, he slipped past one Roman army and into northern Italy over the Alps, even managing to bring a contingent of elephants with the army. His bold strategy was to march on Rome and break Roman power at its heart. He also hoped to gain allies as he advanced, among the Celtic tribes.

Carthaginian Battle Tactics

After two months of campaigning he was met by a Roman force at the River Trebia. Hannibal used a feigned cavalry retreat to lure the Romans across the freezing river. True to form, and despite the winter floods, the Romans crossed the river and made straight for Hannibal's army. Hannibal concealed his cavalry and unleashed them at just the right time to strike the flank of the Roman army. The few Romans who escaped were the ones who broke through the Carthaginian line as it closed around them and then kept running.

The Romans are halted by a Carthaginian phalanx

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Battle of Trasimene
Battle of Megiddo