|The Story of Rome|
|by Mary Macgregor|
|A vivid account of the story of Rome from the earliest times to the death of Augustus, retold for children, chronicling the birth of a city and its growth through storm and struggle to become a great world empire. Gives short accounts of battles and campaigns, and of the men who expanded the borders of the Roman empire to include all lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Ages 10-14 |
THE BATTLE OF ZAMA
 HANNIBAL was not ready for battle when the Roman army drew near
to him at Zama. He had but just determined to change
his camp and move to a better position in which to face
Before he had time to carry out his plan, the enemy was
upon him, and he was forced to fight in a position with
which he was not satisfied.
The elephants belonging to the Punic army no longer
terrified the Romans as they used to do, for they had
grown accustomed to the animals on many an Italian
Besides, they had now learned how to elude the
onslaught of the heavy beasts, by simply leaving spaces
between their companies, through which the elephants
could run without causing much damage. These spaces
were at the beginning of the battle filled with
soldiers, who irritated the elephants with darts and
then stepped swiftly aside.
But at Zama, the elephants did not even attack the
enemy. Startled by the noise of trumpets and the
blowing of horns, they rushed back, instead of forward,
upon the Numidian cavalry, which was stationed on
Hannibal's left wing. Masinissa seized the
opportunity, and before the cavalry had rallied from
the shock of the elephants, he charged and put it to
flight. The Carthaginian cavalry on Hannibal's right
was at the same time routed by Lælius.
Two bodies of heavily-armed troops still faced the
First came the mercenaries hired by Hannibal. Fiercely
 they fought and well, although they were no match for
their enemy. Nor did they once falter until they began
to fear that the Carthaginians were failing to support
Then they turned, stricken by sudden panic, and anxious
only to force their way through those behind, who they
believed had betrayed them.
As the Romans followed them in their flight, all was
soon in confusion, the mercenaries and Carthaginians
being slain, not only by the Romans, but by each other.
Hannibal, meanwhile, was with a band of veterans whom
he had held in reserve.
Those soldiers who had escaped from the Romans now
tried to steal in among these veterans, but Hannibal,
who had no mercy for cowards, ordered his men to lower
their spears and push them away. The desperate
wretches then escaped from the battlefield as best they
Scipio was now ready to advance against the veterans,
and here the struggle was long and stern. For these
Carthaginian soldiers were inflexible against every
attack. Not one man flinched, but each stood
steadfastly at his post until he was killed. Only when
Laelius and Masinissa returned from pursuing the
enemy's horse and fell upon Hannibal's rear was the
The number of the slain was terrible. Twenty thousand
Carthaginians were said to have fallen, and almost as
many to have been taken prisoner, while the Romans did
not lose more than fifteen thousand men.
Hannibal escaped to Carthage, leaving his camp to be
seized by the enemy.
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