Hannibal marches on Rome

Hannibal soon found a pretext for the war which had been so long projected against Rome. There were a few remaining peoples of Spain who had been protected against Carthage by an alliance with Rome. Hannibal attacked these, and Rome declared war. The Romans had superseded Carthage in control of the seas, so it seemed that Rome lay secure in Italy and that an enemy must await her attack wherever she chose to direct it. But Hannibal had planned a bolder course. Since he could not cross the sea to Italy he would reach it by land, scaling the mountain passes of both the Pyrennees and the Alps.

This stupendous project, the most renowned in ancient warfare, he actually put into execution. Leaving Spain with an army of over eighty thousand men, he arrived in Italy six months later with only about thirty thousand remaining. This amazing march was conducted across an unknown wilderness. Much of the way he had to fight with barbarian tribes who opposed his passage, thinking he meant to conquer them. A Roman fleet and army was sent to intercept him at the Rhone River and prevent his crossing its broad, swift-flowing stream. But Hannibal ferried his elephants across the Rhone just three days before the Romans arrived. Snow and cold almost destroyed his army in the higher passes of the Alps, but when at last the survivors stood upon the soil of Italy, Rome had been outmatched, the impossible accomplished. The Romans raised a cry of terror, "Hannibal is at the gates."

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Read about Hannibal marches on Rome in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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