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Recalling Hannibal's Passage of the Alps: Natural Munitions

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REVERTING TO ONE OF THE MOST PRIMITIVE METHODS OF WAR IN THE DAYS OF MODERN ARTILLERY: AN AUSTRIAN DEVICE FOR ROLLING ROCKS AND BOULDERS DOWN THE MOUNTAINS ON TO ITALIAN TROOPS.


In the mountain warfare now being waged between the Italians and the Austrians, the latter, it will be seen from the above photograph, are resorting to a method which, it might well be said, is “as old as the hills,” and as old as the most primitive methods of human fighting among them. The rolling of great stones and boulders down a precipitous mountain-side on to an enemy below is a very ancient but still effective mode of bom- bardment, and It is also one of the cheapest, for Nature provides both the ammunition and the propulsive power–the force of gravity. All that is required from the ” gunner ” as the initial impetus. The photograph shows how the Austrian troops obtain the necessary


leverage to send a big pile of boulders hurtling down upon their foes, by merely lifting the handles of the wooden ” poles ” on which they rest. This is the sort of warfare with which Hannibal had to contend from tribes who impeded his passage of the Alps, as we read in the pages of Livy, and in modern times has been used by wild hillmen against British troops on the distant frontiers of the Empire. The Austrians, like the Italians, have specially trained regiments for mountain fighting, known as the Kaiserjager, but it is said that their ranks were greatly depleted by the campaigns in the Carpathians, before the conflict with Italy began. The Italian Alpini soon established their ascendancy.



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