Yes hello, today I would like to talk about one Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, known to us as FABIUS. He was made dictator of Rome in response to Hannibal’s invasion of Italy. Fabius took a lot of flak during his tenure as dictator. He was known by his nickname, The Delayer. The Romans believed he was a coward, that he didn’t want to fight Hannibal. At one point, they thought he was in the pockets of Hannibal when the Carthaginian burned all Patrician lands, but spared Fabius’s property. At this point in the war however, Hannibal was doing everything possible to get Rome to replace Fabius. But the Romans didn’t replace Fabius, they made a second dictator, Minucius.
The two argued over how to run the legions. Minucius wanted to take turns, each day, at being in command. Fabius turned this down and instead, recommended they divide their forces. Minucius was HOT for a direct attack on Hannibal after he had an early victory against some Carthaginians while Fabius was away, tending to domestic religious rites. Minucius got his chance for a battle and was swiftly defeated by Hannibal. Fabius came to his aid and saved the legion. Minucius — who many believed would start a conflict with Fabius — showed that he had some character in him and apologized to Fabius, allowing him to retake command of the legions.
Fabius’s strategy against Hannibal became known as the Fabian Strategy to history. He was extremely patient with his Romans who were doing everything to get him to engage Hannibal, to do something, which he seemed to refuse. Fabius was concerned only with saving Rome. He recognized the genius of Hannibal immediately and understood that Rome did not have a chance of winning if they kept throwing legions at him. So what he did was buy time. Buy time for the Romans to recover their losses while also bleeding Hannibal’s limited resources. He never directly engaged Hannibal, but his legions would shadow his movements never allowing the Carthaginians to rest.
Many of Fabius’s strategies became the basis of what we call guerrilla warfare today. He always took the high ground. Stayed far enough from Hannibal for direct engagements, but not far away enough to harass him. He used scorched earth, as well as, went after foragers and Hannibal’s weaker allies. You may call him the divine spirit of the guerrilla fighter. I’ll admit, when I first heard of Fabius, I didn’t really care for him. The reason for this is I was very much interested in Hannibal. How wild is it to take an army through the alps and then dominate Roman legions for ten years. The man made it to the gates of Rome, but couldn’t seal the deal.
The reason he couldn’t seal the deal was in part due to the Fabian strategy buying Rome the time it needed to regroup and take the fight to Carthage. Hannibal himself is reported to having respected and feared Fabius’s strategy. There are always many factors at play during war. Just because you’re the best, doesn’t mean you’re going to win. Some can argue that George Washington himself employed the Fabian Strategy during the War for Independence. It’s a strategy one should consider when you’re on home turf.
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