The Battle of Lake Trasimene was the second of Hannibal
's great victories in Italy
. It took place in the summer of 217 B.C.. Gaius Flaminius
commanded a force of some 25000 Roman
s, while Hannibal commanded a force of 60000.
Flaminius had his camp at Arretium, and when Hannibal led his men past the position on his way to the heart of Etruria, Flaminius gave chase. As they passed the northern end of the Lake, Hannibal led the Romans into the corridor between the lake and some hills. The night before the battle Hannibal had his men light campfires further away to trick the Romans into assuming they were safe.
The morning of the battle the Romans were surrounded in fog, and were unprepared for the imminent attack. Hannibal had his Spaniards and Africans block the Roman path, then he had his slingers and pikemen drive into the Roman right flank, while the Celts attacked the left, finally his cavalry attacked the Roman rear closing the trap. The Romans were taken completely by surprise and were unable to organise themselves into battle formation before the attack. The Carthaginian charge from the hills was the most powerful and the Romans were drive up against the lake. 15000 Romans were killed by the Carthaginians including consul Flaminius, and many more were driven into the lake to drown. Tradition says that so much blood was spilt that the name of the stream which passes through the area, to Sanguineto-Blood River. In addition Hannibal and his troops destroyed a column of 4000 Roman cavalry riding to reinforce Flaminius.
The Battle of Lake Trasimene was an ambush on a huge scale; the planning and execution were masterful reinforcing Hannibal's position as one of the greatest generals ever.