The Battle of Cannae (2 August 216 BC) was a major battle of the Second Punic War, fought in Apulia, in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage, under Hannibal, decisively defeated a larger army of the Roman Republic under Consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. It is regarded both as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history and as one of the worst defeats in Roman history.
Having recovered from their losses at Trebia (218 BC) and Lake Trasimene (217 BC), the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, with roughly 86,000 Roman and allied troops. The Romans massed their heavy infantry in a deeper formation than usual, while Hannibal utilized the double-envelopment tactic. This was so successful that the Roman army was effectively destroyed as a fighting force. Following the defeat, Capua and several other Italian city-states defected from Rome to Carthage.
The Battle of Cannae had been regarded as an ideal for German officers to strive for, ever since before World War I. It was one of the greatest military triumphs in history. However, it was also true, but rarely acknowledged by the Germans, that while Carthage triumphed so greatly at the battle, it had ultimately lost the war. Hasso Pemsel's experience in World War II made him more mindful of that last fact.