by Daniel McLean
The Battle of Cannae – – 316 B.C.
In September of last year, I was teaching a lesson on ancient Roman military tactics, which includes the wedge, the turtle, and other formations.
During the lesson, a student asked if our military uses any of these ancient tactics today. I replied, “Yes”, and gave reference to the battle of Cannae in 216 B.C. It was this battle that Hannibal smashed the Roman army on the Italian peninsula. The students were intrigued that Hannibal, a man of color, was able to destroy the greatest standing army of the day. I also taught that General H. Norman Schwartzkopf used the military tactics of Hannibal to defeat Iraq’s army during the Gulf War.
Hannibal sent his heavy infantry against the center of the Roman formation. As the Romans engaged, Hannibal’s troops started to slowly fall back drawing the Romans forward, thereby weakening the Roman flanks.
Hannibal’s cavalry maneuvered around the Roman flanks while the weight of his army pressed into the Roman line squeezing it like a boa constrictor. The Romans were so tightly bunched together, they were unable to swing their weapons and were defeated.
Since the students were so interested, I decided to take the lesson a little deeper by creating a diorama of the battle.
Hub Hobby Shop came to mind for my materials. As a youngster I went there to buy my model World War II tanks.
Jeff and Chuck were, and continue to be, very helpful in getting my reference materials and books on the subject as well as the 1/72 scale Roman and Carthaginian military models. They also sent me their newsletters with modeling techniques and the newest materials that were coming out.
I must say that the idea was mine, but my World History students have done the work. Three young men and one young lady who are all A or B students have painted over 400 individual model soldiers and each soldiers individual equipment.
They also designed the base for the battle. They have studied the military strategies of the Romans and Hannibal. They have also researched the color schemes of the uniforms the Romans, Carthaginians and their allies wore.
The students seem to grasp the history behind the battle better when using the three dimensional aspect of the figures. Plus the hands-on experience of painting the figures holds their attention. One of my students commented that “It helps in learning about the battles. It gives me a better idea about how the battles were fought.”
This project, when finished, was used in the city wide Social Studies Fair.
Photos by Jean McLain