DID WAR ELEPHANTS HANDICAP CARTHAGE? The Carthaginians apparently picked up the idea of using elephants in battle from Pyrrhus (of Pyrrhic victory fame). Carthage was using them by 262 B.C., right about the beginning of the Punic Wars, and continued using them for at least the next sixty years. O’Connell thinks that Carthage’s use of elephants was the result of “military delusion”. Elephants could be terrifying to enemy troops seeing them for the first time, and cavalry horses hated their scent. On the other hand, elephants were expensive to train and maintain and unpredictable in battle. Hannibal had 80 war elephants at the final and decisive battle of Zama in 201 B.C., a Roman victory which ended the Second Punic War. O’Connell characterizes their contribution to the battle as “pachyderm pandemonium”.

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