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Quote of the day: Felix, who had for some time been govern
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 2: Silanus defeats Mago[207 BC]
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He was now about three miles away and none of the enemy had yet noticed his advance, the rocks and thickets which covered the whole of this hilly district concealed his movements. Before making his final advance, he ordered his men to halt in a valley where they were effectually hidden and take food. The scouting parties resumed and confirmed the statements of the deserters, on which the Romans, after placing the baggage in the centre and arming themselves for the combat, advanced in order of battle. The enemy caught sight of these when they were a mile distant and hurriedly prepared to meet them. As soon as Mago heard the shouting and confusion he galloped across from his camp to take command. There were in the Celtiberian 4000 army men with shields and 200 cavalry, making up a regular legion. These were his main strength and he stationed them in the front; the rest who were lightly armed he posted in reserve. In this formation he led them out of the camp, but they had hardly crossed the rampart when the Romans hurled their javelins at them. The Spaniards stooped to avoid them, and then sprang up to discharge their own, which the Romans who were in their usual close order received on their overlapping shields; then they closed up foot to foot and fought with their swords. The Celtiberians, accustomed to rapid evolutions, found their agility useless on the broken ground, but the Romans, who were used to stationary fighting, found no inconvenience from it beyond the fact that their ranks were sometimes broken when moving through narrow places or patches of brushwood. Then they had to fight singly or in pairs, as if they were fighting duels. These very obstacles, however, by impeding the enemy's flight, gave them up, as though bound hand and foot, to the sword. Almost all the heavy infantry of the Celtiberians had fallen when the Carthaginian light infantry, who had now come from the other camp, shared their fate. Not more than 2000 infantry escaped; the cavalry, which had hardly taken any part in the battle, together with Mago also got away. The other general, Hanno, was taken prisoner, together with those who were the last to appear in the field when the battle was already lost. Mago, with almost the whole of his cavalry and his veteran infantry, joined Hasdrubal at Gades ten days after the battle. The Celtiberian levies dispersed amongst the neighbouring forests and so reached their homes. So far the war had not been a serious one, but there was all the material for a much greater conflagration had it been possible to induce the other tribes to join the Celtiberians in arms; that possibility was by this most timely victory destroyed. Scipio therefore eulogised Silanus in generous terms, and felt hopeful of bringing the war to a termination if he on his part acted with sufficient promptitude. He advanced, accordingly, into the remote corner of Spain where all the remaining strength of Carthage was concentrated under Hasdrubal. He happened at the time to be encamped in the district of Baetica for the purpose of securing the fidelity of his allies, but on Scipio's advance he suddenly moved away and in a march which closely resembled a flight retreated to Gades on the coast. Feeling, however, quite certain that as long as he kept his army together he would be the object of attack, he arranged, before he crossed over to Gades, for the whole of his force to be distributed amongst the various cities, so that they could defend the walls whilst the walls protected them.

Actions in Spain, 207 BC

Event: Actions in Spain, 207 BC