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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book I Chapter 65: War with the Germans. Caecina attacked[AD 15]
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It was a restless night for different reasons, the barbarians in their festivity filling the valleys under the hills and the echoing glens with merry song or savage shouts, while in the Roman camp were flickering fires, broken exclamations, and the men lay scattered along the intrenchments or wandered from tent to tent, wakeful rather than watchful. A ghastly dream appalled the general. He seemed to see Quintilius Varus, covered with blood, rising out of the swamps, and to hear him, as it were, calling to him, but he did not, as he imagined, obey the call; he even repelled his hand, as he stretched it over him. At daybreak the legions, posted on the wings, from panic or perversity, deserted their position and hastily occupied a plain beyond the morass. Yet Arminius, though free to attack, did not at the moment rush out on them. But when the baggage was clogged in the mud and in the fosses, the soldiers around it in disorder, the array of the standards in confusion, every one in selfish haste and all ears deaf to the word of command he ordered the Germans to charge, exclaiming again and again, Behold a Varus and legions once more entangled in Varus's fate. As he spoke, he cut through the column with some picked men, inflicting wounds chiefly on the horses. Staggering in their blood on the slippery marsh, they shook off their riders, driving hither and thither all in their way, and trampling on the fallen. The struggle was hottest round the eagles, which could neither be carried in the face of the storm of missiles, nor planted in the miry soil. Caecina, while he was keeping up the battle, fell from his horse, which was pierced under him, and was being hemmed in, when the first legion threw itself in the way. The greed of the foe helped him, for they left the slaughter to secure the spoil, and the legions, towards evening, struggled on to open and firm ground. Nor did this end their miseries. Entrenchments had to be thrown up, materials sought for earthworks, while the army had lost to a great extent their implements for digging earth and cutting turf. There were no tents for the rank and file, no comforts for the wounded. As they shared their food, soiled by mire or blood, they bewailed the darkness with its awful omen, and the one day which yet remained to so many thousand men. |
Event: War with the Germans
Standard:When an army was in camp, they were fixed in the ground, each marking the station of the cohort to which it belonged; when they were taken up it was the signal for breaking up the camp and commencing the march.
Horse:a. the animal. b. cavalry.