One of the most talked about battles in military historical circles is the Battle of Cannae between Rome and Carthage on August 2, 216 B.C. Cannae is significant because in military circles it is considered to represent the perfect battle of encirclement if not the perfect battle period. Another that makes it so significant is that Hannibal, the Carthaginian CDR, managed to defeat a Roman force that outnumbered him while suffering relatively few casualties compared to the damage he did to the Romans.
Cannae is interesting for several reasons. The most notable for my purposes being that the battle and the way it was fought fascinated 19th century German strategists from Moltke to Schlieffen. Cannae was held up as the ideal battle from a planning perspective. All commanders should aim to achieve an annihilating battle of encirclement such as that achieved by Hannibal at Cannae. Because of this battle’s importance to 19th century German planners, it was the exemplar Schlieffen used when planning the invasion of France, I am going to discuss this battle in fairly great detail.