CAESAR'S COMMENTARIES of THE CIVIL WAR.
While these things passed in Spain, Trebonius, Caesar's lieutenant, who had been left to carry on the siege of Marseilles, raised terraces for two different attacks, and approached with his towers and galleries. One of the attacks was on the side of the port; the other, towards the mouth of the Rhone, which empties itself into the sea, bordering upon Spain and Gaul. For Marseilles is washed by the sea on three sides, and can be approached by land only on the fourth; of which that part where the citadel stands, being very strong by nature, because of a deep valley that runs before it, requires a long and difficult siege. For the completing of these works, Trebonius drew together, from all parts of the province, a great number of workmen and beasts of carriage; ordered wood and osiers to be brought; and having prepared all things necessary, raised a terrace eighty feet high.
But so well was the town provided with all the requisites of war, and so great was the multitude of machines to annoy the besiegers, that no mantles were sufficient to withstand their violence. For they had wooden bars, twelve feet in length, armed at the point with iron, which were shot with such force from their balistae, that they pierced four rows of hurdles, and entered a considerable way into the ground. To resist the violence of these batteries, the besiegers made use of galleries, whose roofs consisted of pieces of wood of about a foot in thickness, strongly compacted together. Under this cover, the materials necessary for raising the terrace were conveyed: and a tortoise, sixty feet long, every thing necessary to defend it against fire and stones, went before, to level the ground. But in spite of all endeavours, the greatness of the works, the height of the wall and towers, and the multitude of machines made use of by the besieged, greatly retarded the approaches. Besides, the mountaineers made frequent sallies, and set fire to the towers and mount: which though our men easily sustained, driving them back with great loss into the town, yet failed not very much to incommode the works.
In the mean time L. Nasidius, sent by Pompey to the assistance of Domitius and the Marseillians, with a fleet of sixteen ships, some of which were strengthened with beaks of brass, passed the straits of Sicily unknown to Curio, landed at Messana, and raised so great a terrorin the place, that being abandoned by the senate and principal inhabitants, he found means to carry off one of their gallies; and joining it to his own fleets steered directly for Marseilles, having despatched a frigate before, to apprize Domitius and the inhabitants of his coming, and press them to hazard a second engagement with Brutus, when they should be reinforced by his fleet.
The Marseillians, after their defeat, had drawn as many old ships out of the docks as they had lost in the engagement, and repaired and rigged them with wondrous expedition. They were likewise well provided with rowers and pilots; and had prepared a number of fishing barks, which they filled with archers and engines, and strengthened with roofs, to shelter the rowers from the enemy's darts. The fleet being equipped in this manner, the Marseillians, animated by the prayers and tears of theirold men, matrons, and virgins, to exert themselves in defence of their country in so pressing a conjuncture; embarked with no less confidence and assurance, than they had before their late defeat. For such is the weakness of the human mind, that things dark, hidden, and unknown, always produce in us a greater degree of confidence or terror; as happened in the present case: for the arrival of Nasidius had filled all men with an uncommon share of hope and eagerness. The wind springing up fair, they set sail, and rendezvoused at Tauroenta, a castle belonging to the town, where Nasidius lay with his fleet. Here they put their ships in order, armed themselves with courage for a second encounter, and entering readily into all the measures proposed by Nasidius, left to him the command of the left wing, and stationed themselves upon the right.
Brutus sailed to meet them, with his fleet considerably increased; for besides the ships which Caesar had caused to be built at Aries, he had also joined to it six more, taken from the Marseillians, which he had refitted and rigged since the late action. Wherefore exhorting his men to despise an enemy, who had not been able to resist them when entire and unvanquished, he advanced against them full of resolution and confidence. It was easy to discern from Trebonius's camp, and the eminences around it, what passed in the town. All the youth that were left, the old men, the women, children, and even the guards upon the walls, extending their hands to heaven, or repairing to the temples, and prostrating themselves at the altars, besought the gods to grant them victory. Nor was there a man among them who did not believe, that their safety depended wholly on the issue of that day's action. For the choice of their youth, and the most considerable men of their city, were all on board the fleet: insomuch, that in case of any disaster, they had no resource left; but should they obtain the victory, they were in hopes of preserving their city, either by their own forces, or t the reinforcements they expected from without.
Accordingly, in the engagement, they behaved with the most determined courage. The remembrance of what their wives and children had represented to them at their departure served to exalt their bravery; in a full persuasion, that this was the last opportunity they should have of exerting themselves in defence of their country; and that if they fell in the engagement, their fellow-citizens could not long survive them, as their fate must be the same upon the taking of the town. Our ships being at some distance from each other, both gave the enemy's pilots an opportunity of showing their address in working their vessels, and flying to the assistance of their friends, when they were laid hold on by our grappling hooks. And indeed, when it came to a close fight, they seconded the mountaineers with wonderful resolution, and, in bravery, seemed to yield but little to our men. At the same time, a great quantity of darts, poured incessantly from their smaller frigates, wounded a great many of our rowers, and such of the soldiers as were without shelter. Two of their galleys fell upon that of Brutus, which was easily distinguished by its flag; but though they attacked him on both sides, he extricated himself with such agility and address, as in a short time to get a little before; which made them run foul of each other so violently, that they were both considerably shattered; one in particular had its beak broken, and was in a manner totally crushed; which being observed by those of our fleet that lay nearest, they suddenly fell upon and sunk them, before they could recover out of their disorder.
In this encounter, the ships under Nasidius were of no manner of service to the Marseillians, but quickly retired out of the fight. For as they were neither animated by the sight of their country, nor the entreaties of their relations, they were not very forward to expose their lives to hazard, but escaped without hurt from the combat. The Marseillians had five ships sunk, and four taken. One escaped to the coast of hither Spain, with those of Nasidius. Of the rest that remained, one was immediately despatched to Marseilles, to carry thither the news of the defeat. As soon as it drew near the town, all the inhabitants flocked out to know what had passed; and being informed of it, appeared no less dejected, than if the city had been taken by storm. However, they still continued their preparations for the defence of the place with as much diligence as ever.
The legionaries, who had the charge of tower of brick, built at a little distance from the walls, would be of great service to shelter them from the frequent sallies of the enemy. At first they made it very low and small, to guard against sudden incursions. Hither they retired in case of danger: here they defended themselves against the most obstinate attacks of the enemy; nay, even assaulted them in their turn, repulsed, and pursued them. This tower was of a square form, thirty feet every way, allowing for the thickness of the walls, which might be about five feet. Afterwards, (being instructed by experience, which is the best of teachers,) they plainly perceived, that the higher it was carried, the more serviceable it would prove. The manner of effecting it was thus:
When the work was raised to the height of one story, they laid a floor over it, the extremities of whose beams were concealed in the thickness of the wall; that they might not by appearing on the outside, be liable to be set on fire. Thence they continued the wall directly upwards, as far as their galleries and mantles would allow. Here they laid two beams crosswise, whose extremities almost reached the angles of the wall, for supporting the floor, which was to serve as a roof to the whole. Over these beams they laid the joists of the roof, and boarded them with planks. The roof was so contrived as to project a little beyond the wall, in order to suspend from it what might be necessary to shelter the workmen, while employed in completing the story. This floor was paved with tiles and clay, to render it proof against fire, and had besides a covering of strong mattresses, to break the force of stones and darts. At the same time they suspended from the beams of the roof, that projected beyond the wall, curtains made of strong cables, woven to the depth of four feet, and which went round the three sides of the tower that were exposed to the engines of the enemy; having experienced on former occasions, that this kind of cover was impenetrable to any dart or engine whatever. When this part of the tower was finished, roofed, and sheltered from the enemy's blows, they removed their mantles to another, and by means of engines elevated the roof entire from the first story, as far as the curtains would allow. There, secure from all insult, they laboured at the wall, elevating the roof a second time, and thereby enabling themselves both to continue the work, and lay the interjacent floors. In this manner they proceeded from story to story, mounting them one upon another, till without danger or wounds, they had completed the number of six, leaving loop-holes in convenient places, for the engines to play through.
When, by means of this tower, they thought they had sufficiently provided for the security of the works around it, they resolved to build a gallery sixty feet long, of wood, two feet in thickness, to extend from the brick tower to the tower of the enemy, and the very walls of the town. The form of the gallery was this: First, two beams of equal length were laid upon the ground, at the distance of four feet from one another; and in these were fixed little pillars five feet high, joined at the top by beams designed to suppirt the roof of the gallery. Over these were laid rafters, two feet square, fastened strongly with nails and plates of iron. The upper part of the roof was composed of square laths, four inches thick, which were placed at a small distance one from another, to bear the tiles that were to be laid upon them. Thus was the whole finished with a sloping roof, which being partly composed of tiles and mortar, was proof against fire, and had besides a covering of hides, to hinder the mortar from being washed away by spouts of water. Over all we threw strong mattresses, to screen the hides from fire and stones. This work was finished close by the brick tower, under cover of four mantles, and immediately carried forward upon rollers, in the manner ships are launched, till it unexpectedly reached the very tower of the enemy.
The Marseillians astonished at so threatening and unlooked-for a machine, pushed forward with levers the largest stones they could find, and tumbled them from the top of the wall upon the gallery. But the strength of the wood resisted the violence of their blows, so that they fell to the ground without doing any hurt. Observing this, they changed their design, and poured down upon us burning barrels of pitch and tallow. But these likewise rolled along the roof without damage, and falling upon the ground, were afterwards thrust away with forks and long poles. Meanwhile our soldiers, under protection of the gallery, were endeavouring with their levers to undermine the enemy's tower. The gallery itself was defended by tne tower of brick whence our engines played without intermission insomuch that the enemy, driven from their tower and walls, were at last obliged to abandon their defence. By degrees the tower being undermined, part of it fell down, and the rest was so shaken that it could not stand long. Upon this the enemy, alarmed at so unexpected a misfortune, discouraged by the downfall of the tower, awed by such a testimony of the wrath of the gods, and dreading the plunder and devastation of their city, came forth in the habit of suppliants, and with outstretched hands, besought the compassion of the army and generals.
At this new and unexpected sight, all acts of hostility ceased, and the soldiers, laying aside their ardour for the fight, were eager to hear and get acquainted with the proposals of the enemy, who arriving ib presence of the army and generals, threw themselves at their feet, requesting them to suspend all further operations till Caesar's arrival. They told them: "That as the works were now completed, and the tower destroyed, they were sensible the city could no longer hold out, and therefore meant not to defend it: that in the mean time, no prejudice could arise to the besiegers from this respite, because, if they refused to submit upon Caesar's coming, he would have it in his power to treat them as he pleased. They added, that if the whole tower should be brought down, it would be impossible to hinder the soldiers from yielding to the desire of plunder, by breaking into and pillaging the town." This, and much more of the same nature (for the Marseillians are a learned people), they urged in a very moving and pathetic strain.
The generals, moved by these monstrances, drew off the soldiers from the works, discontinued the attack, and contented themselves with posting guards in convenient places. Compassion occasioned a kind of truce till Caesar's arrival; so that on neither side were any acts of hostility committed, but every thing was quiet and secure, as if the siege had beenl= at an end. For Caesar had earnestly recommended it to Trebonius, by letter, to prevent, if possible, the city's being taken by storm, lest the soldiers, irritated by their revolt, and the resistance they had found, should put all the youth to the sword, as they threatened to do. Nay, they were even then hardly restrained from breaking into the town, and loudly murmured against Trebonius for delaying a conquest which they looked upon as certain.
But the Marseillians, a nation without faith, aimed at nothing further in all this, than to find a time and opportunity to deceive us, and put in practice the treacherous purpose they had formed. For after some days, our men suspecting no danger, but relying upon the good faith of the enemy, while some were retired to their tents, others laid down, to rest in the trenches, overpowered by the long fatigue they had undergone, and all the arms laid up and removed out of sight, suddenly they sallied from the town, and the wind being high, and favourable to their design, set fire to the works. The flame in a moment spread itself on all sides, insomuch that the battery, the mantles, the tortoise, the tower, the machines, and the gallery were entirely destroyed, before it was possible to discover whence the disaster arose. The suddenness of the accident made our men immediately run to their arms, where every one took what came first to hand. Some sallied out upon the enemy, but were checked by the arrows and darts poured upon them from the town; insomuch that the Marseillians, sheltered by their walls, burnt without any difficulty the tower of brick and the gallery. Thus the labour of many months was destroyed in an instant, by the treachery of an enemy, and the violence of the wind. Next day they made the same attempt, favoured by the same wind, and with yet greater assurance, against the tower and terrace of the other attack. They approached them boldly, and threw plenty of fire upon them; but our men, grown wise by their late misfortune, had made all necessary preparations for their defence, so that after losing many men, they were obliged to retreat into the city, without effecting their purpose.
Trebonius immediately resolved to repair his loss, in which he found himself warmly seconded by the zeal of the soldiers. They saw the works, which had cost so much labour and toil, destroyed by the perfidy of a people, who made no scruple of violating the most sacred engagements: they saw that their credulity had been abused, and that they were become the jest of their enemies, which grieved and provoked them at the same time. But it was still difficult to determine whence they might be supplied with wood, to repair all these works. There was none in the neighbourhood of Marseilles, the trees having been all cut down for a great way round. They resolved therefore to raise a terrace of a new kind, and such as history no where mentions before that time. They raised two walls of brick, each six feet thick, and distant from one another, nearly the breadth of the former mount. Over these they laid a floor, and to render it firm, besides its being supported on either side, placed pillars underneath between the walls, to bear it up where it was weakest, or had a greater stress of weight to support. There were moreover cross beams, which rested upon niches in the wall; and to render the several floors proof against fire, hurdles were laid over them, which were afterwards covered with clay. The soldiers, thus sheltered over head by the roof, on the right and left by walls, and before by a breast-work, brought the necessary materials without danger, and by the eagerness with which they laboured, soon completed the whole, leaving overtures in convenient places to sally out upon occasion.
The enemy seeing we had repaired, in so short a time, what they imagined must have cost us the labour of many days; that there was now no hope left, either of deceiving us, or sallying out upon us with success; that all the approaches to the city by land, might in like manner be shut up by a wall and towers, so as to render it impossible for them to appear upon their works, our walls overtopping and commanding theirs, that they could neither discharge their javelins, nor make any use of their engines, in which their principal hope lay; and that they were now reduced to the necessity of fighting us upon equal terms, though conscious of their great inferiority in point of valour; they were forced to have recourse again to the same conditions of truce they had so ill observed before.
M. Varro, in farther Spain, having early notice of what passed in Italy, and beginning to distrust the success of Pompey's affairs, spoke in a very friendly manner to `Caesar. He said, "That he was indeed under particular obligations to Pompey, who had made him his lieutenant-general, but at the same time was no less indebted to Caesar: that he was not ignorant of the duty of a lieutenant, employed by his general in an office of trust; but that he likewise knew his own strength, and the attachment of the whole province to Caesar." After this manner he talked in all companies, nor declared expressly for either side. But when he afterwards understood, that Caesar was detained by the siege of Marseilles; that the armies of Petreius and Afranius had joined, and daily grew stronger by the arrival of new succours; that there was room to hope for every thing; that the hither province had unanimously declared in their favour; that Caesar himself was reduced to great straits at Lerida, of all which Afranius wrote largely, magnifying his own advantages, he began to alter with fortune.
He raised troops over the whole province; added thirty auxiliary cohorts to the two legions he had already under his command; formed great magazines of corn to supply Marseilles, and the armies under Afranius and Petreius; ordered the Gaditani to furnish him with ten ships of war; caused a considerable number to be built at Hispalis; sent all the money and ornaments he found in the temple of Hercules to Cales; left there a garrison of six cohorts, under the command of Caius Gallonius, a Roman knight, the friend of Domitius, who had sent him thither to look after an inheritance of his; conveyed all the arms, public and private, to Gallonius's house; spoke every where disadvantageously of Caesar; declared several times from his tribunal, that Caesar had been worsted, and that many of his soldiers had gone over to Afranius, as he was well assured by undoubted testimonies: by all which, having struck a terror into the Roman citizens of that province, he obliged them to promise him one hundred and ninety thousand sesterces, twenty thousand weight of silver, and one hundred and twenty thousand bushels of wheat. The states well affected to Caesar he loaded with heavy contributions; confiscated the effects of such as had spoken against the commonwealth; quartered soldiers upon them; harassed them with arbitrary judgments; and in fine, obliged the whole province to take an oath of fidelity to himself and Pompey. Hearing of what had passed in hither Spain, he prepared for war. His design was, to shut himself up with his two legions in Cales, where all the provisions and shipping lay, because he very well understood, that the whole province was in Caesar's interest, for he judged it would be easy in that island, with the ships and provisions he had to draw out the war into length. Caesar, though called upon by many and necessary affairs to return to Italy, resolved, however, not to leave Spain, till he had entirely quelled the war in that province; for he knew that hither Spain had many obligations to Pompey, and that most of the inhabitants were strongly in his interest.
Having therefore detached two legions into farther Spain, under the command of Q. Cassius, tribune of the people, he himself advanced, by great journeys, at the head of six hundred horse. He sent orders before to the magistrates, and the principal men of every state, to meet him by a certain day at Cordova. All obeyed; every state sent his deputies; nor was there a single Roman citizen of any consideration, who did not repair thither on this occasion, The very senate of Cordova, of their own proper motion, shut their gates against Varro, stationed guards and sentinels along the walls, and detained two cohorts, called Calonicae, which chanced to march that way, that they might serve to protect the town. At the same time those of Carmona, the most considerable state in the province, drove out of their city three cohorts, which Varro had left to garrison the citadel, and shut their gates against them.
This determined Varro to make all possible despatch, that he might reach Cales, as soon as possible, lest his march should be intercepted; so great and apparent was the affection of the province to Caesar. When he was advanced a little way, he received letters from Cales, which informed him, "That as soon as Caesar's edict was known, the principal men of Cales, with the tribunes of the cohorts he had left in garrison, had conspired to drive Gallonius from the city, and preserve the town and island for Caesar; that this project being formed, they had warned Gallonius to retire of his own accord, while he yet might with safety; threatening, if he did not, to come to some immediate resolution against him: that Gallonius, terrified by so general a revolt, had accordingly left Cales." Upon this intelligence, one of the two legions, known by the name of Vernacula, took up their ensigns in Varro's presence, quitted the camp, and marched directly to Hispalis, where they sat down in the market-place and cloisters, without committing the least act of violence, which so wrought upon the Roman citizens residing in the town, that every one houses. Varro, astonished at these proceedings, turned back with design to reach Italica, but was informed that the gates were shut. At last, finding himself surrounded on all sides, and the ways every where beset, he wrote to Caesar that he was ready to resign the legion under his command, to whomsoever he should order to receive it. Caesar sent Sextus Caesar to take the command; and Varro, having resigned the legion accordingly, came to him at Cordova. After giving him an account of the state of the province, he faithfully resigned all the public money he had in his hands, and informed him of the quantity of corn and shipping he had prepared.
Caesar, assembling the states at Cordova, returned thanks severally to all who had declared in his favour; to the Roman citizens, for having made themselves masters of the town in his name; to the Spaniards, for driving out Pompey's garrisons: to the people of Cales, for having frustrated the designs of his enemies, and asserted their own liberty; to the military tribunes and centuriens sent thither to guard the place, for having confirmed them in their resolutions by their example. He remitted the tribute imposed by Varro upon the Roman citizens; restored their estates to those who had been deprived of them for speaking their thoughts freely; distributed rewards to a great many, both in public and private, and gave all room to hope for like favours in the issue. After a stay of two days at Cordova, he went to Cales, where he restored to the temple of Hercules all the treasures and ornaments which had been carried off, and lodged in private houses. He committed the government of the province to Q. Cassius, assigned him four legions for that purpose; and embarking for Tarraco on board the fleet which Varro had obliged the Gaditani to furnish, arrived there in a few days. There he found deputies from almost all the states of the province, and having, in like manner as at Cordova, both publicly and privately rewarded some states; he left Tarraco came by land to Narbonne, and thence to Marseilles. There he was informed of the law touching the dictatorship, and that M. Lepidus the pretor had named him to that office.
The Marseillians, overwhelmed with profusion of calamities, reduced to the utmost distress by famine, worsted in two different engagements by sea, weakened by continual sallies, assaulted by a heavy pestilence, occasioned by the length of the siege, and their constant change of diet (for they were obliged to feed upon old meal and musty barley, which had been long treasured up in their magazines against an accident of this kind), their tower being overthrown, a great part of their walls undermined, and no prospect of relief from armies or the provinces, which were now all reduced under Caesar's power, they resolved to surrender in good earnest. But some days before, Domitius, who was apprized of their intentions, having prepared three ships (two of which he assigned to his followers, and embarked in person on board the third), took occasion, during a storm, to make his escape. Some of Brutus's galleys, which he had ordered to keep constantly cruising before the port, chancing to get sight of him, prepared to give chace. That in which Domitius was, escaped under favour of the tempest; but the two others, alarmed at seeing our galleys so near them, re-entered the port. Caesar spared the town, more in regard to its antiquity and reputation, than any real merit it could plead. He obliged the citizens however to deliver up their arms, machines, and ships of war, whether in the port or arsenal; to surrender all the money in their treasury; and to receive a garrison of two legions. Then sending the rest of the army into Italy, he himself set out for Rome.
About the same time, C. Curio sailed from Sicily into Africa, with two of the four legions which had been put under his command by Caesar, and five hundred horse; having conceived the highest contempt of the troops headed by P. Attius Varus. After two days and three nights sailing, he landed at a place called Aquilaria. This place is about twenty-two miles distant from Clupea, and has a very convenient harbour for ships in the summer time, sheltered on each side by a promontory. L. Caesar, the son, waited for him at Clupea, with ten galleys, which P. Attius had taken in the war against the pirates, and repaired at Utica, for the service of the present war. But terrified at the number of ships Curio brought with him, he stood in for the coast; where, running his galley on shore, he left her, and went by land to Adrumetum. C. Confidius Longus commanded in that town, with one legion: and here also the rest of the fleet repaired after Caesar's flight. M. Rufus the questor pursuing them, with twelve galleys, which Curio had brought with him from Africa, to guard the transports; when he saw Caesar's own galley upon the strand, he towed her off, and returned with the fleet to Curio.
Curio ordered him to sail directly for Utica, and followed himself with the land army. After a march of two days, he arrived at the river Bagradas, where he left C. Caninius Rebilus with the legions, and advanced before with the cavalry, to take a view of the Cornelian camp, which was judged to be a situation extremely advantageous. It is a high rock, jutting out into the sea, steep and rough on both sides, but with an easier descent where it fronts Utica. It lies little more than a mile from Utica in a direct line; but as there is a fountain about half way, which runs towards the sea, and overflowing the plain, forms a morass; to avoid this, in marching to Utica, it is necessary to take a compass of six miles.
When he had taken a view of this post, he went next and examined Varus's camp, which was under the walls of the town, towards the gate named the Gate of War. The situation of it was extremely advantageous; for on the one side it was covered by the city of Utica itself, and on the other by a kind of theatre, which stood without the walls, the works round which took up so much room, that they rendered the approach to the camp extremely difficult. At the same time he saw all the ways crowded with people, who, out of fear of being pillaged, were carrying their most valuable effects into the city. He detached the cavalry against them to disperse them, and likewise have an opportunity of making some booty. Upon which, Varus ordered six hundred Numidian horse to advance to their assistance, which he further strengthened with four hundred foot, sent by Juba, a few days before, to reinforce the garrison of Utica. This king inherited from his father an affection for Pompey, and besides personally hated Curio; who, during his tribuneship had published a law to deprive him of his kingdom. The Numidian cavalry soon came to blows with ours; but were not able to stand their first charge, retreating to their camp, with the loss of a hundred and twenty men. Meantime, upon the arrival of Curio's fleet he ordered proclamation to be made among the merchant ships, which were at Utica, to the number of two hundred, that he would treat them as enemies, if they did not immediately repair to the Cornelian camp. Upon this proclamation, they instantly weighed anchor, and leaving Utica, sailed whither they were ordered; by which means the army was plentifully supplied with every thing they stood in need of.
These things despatched, Curio repaired to his camp at Bagrada, where, with the joint acclamations of the whole army, he was saluted by the name of Imperator. Next day he led his army towards Utica, and encamped not far from the town. But before he had finished his entrenchments, he was informed by some parties of horse, who were upon the scout, that a powerful body of horse and foot had been sent by the king of Utica: at the same time a great cloud of dust began to appear, and soon after the enemy's van was in view. Curio, astonished at a motion so unexpected, sent the cavalry before to sustain their first charge, and keep them in play: he, meanwhile, drawing off the legions from the works, with all possible expedition, formed them in order of battle. The horse engaged according to orders; and with such success, that before the legions could be duly drawn up, the whole reinforcement sent by the king, who marched without order or apprehension of danger, falling into confusion, at last betook themselves to flight. The cavalry, wheeling nimbly along the shore, escaped, with little loss, into the town; but great numbers of the infantry were cut to pieces.
Next night, two centurions of the nation of the Marsi, with twenty-two private soldiers, deserted from Curio, and went over to Attius Varus. These, either believing the thing themselves, or desirous to carry grateful tidings to Varus (for we easily believe what we wish, and readily hope that others will fall into our way of thinking), assured him, that the whole army was extremely averse to Curio, and would infallibly revolt, if he would but advance, and come to a conference with them, Accordingly Varus drew out his legions next day. Curio did the same; and the two armies stood facing one another in order of battle, with a small valley between them.
Sextus Quintilius Varus, who, as we have related above, had been made prisoner at Corfinium, was now in the enemy's army: for Caesar having granted him his liberty, he had retired into Africa. Curio had brought over with him from Sicily the very same legions, who had revolted some time before to Caesar at the siege of Corfinium: so that excepting a few centurions who had been changed, the officers and companies were the same as had formerly served with this very Quintilius. He made use of this handle to debauch the army of Curio; "and began with putting the soldiers in mind of their former oath to Domitius, and to himself, that general's questor; he exhorted them not to carry arms against the old companions of their fortune, who had shared with them in all the hazards of that siege; nor fight in defence of that party, who treated them ignominiously, and as deserters." To these considerations, he added offers of a liberal recompense, if they would follow his fortune and that of Attius. But his speech made no impression upon Curio's troops, so that both armies retired to their respective camps.
But an uncommon panic soon spread itself over Curio's camp, which the various discourses of the soldiers served only to increase. For every one had his opinion, and added the suggestions of his own fear to that which he heard from others. These reports spreading from one to many, and receiving additions in every new relation, there appeared to be several authors of the same notions "That in a civil war it was lawful for every soldier to choose what side he pleased; that the same legion, who a little before had fought on the side of the enemy, might, without scruple, return again to the same cause, since Caesar's conferring favours upon his enemies, ought not to render them unmindful of prior and greater obligations: that even the municipal towns were divided in their affection, and sided some with one party, some with another." These discourses proceeded not from the Marsi and Peligni alone, but ran like a torrent through the whole camp. However, some of the soldiers blamed their companions for this so great freedom of talk and others, who affected to appear more diligent than the rest, enlarged in their accounts of it to the officers.
For these reasons,Curio summoning a council of war, began to deliberate were for attacking, at all hazards, the camp of Varus, in order to find employment for the soldiers, whose idleness they considered as the cause of all the present alarms. Besides, it was better, they said, to trust to valour, and try the fortune of a battle, than see themselves abandoned by their men, and delivered up to the barbarity of the enemy. Others were for retiring, during the night, to the Cornelian camp, where they would have more time to cure the infatuation of the soldiers; and whence, in case of a disaster, they could, with more safety and ease, make good their retreat into Sicily, by means of the great number of ships they were there provided with.
Curio relished neither of these notions: the one, he thought, argued cowardice; the other, a rash boldness: to retreat, would have all the appearance of a shameful flight; to attack, they must resolve to fight in a place of disadvantage. "With what hope," said he, "can we attack a camp fortified by nature and art? And what advantage can we draw from an attempt, whence we shall be obliged to retire with loss ? Does not success always secure to a general the affection of his troops, whereas ill fortune is evermore followed with contempt ? And what would a decampment imply but an ignominious flight, an absolute despair of all things, and an unavoidable alienation of the whole army? That we ought not to let the modest think we distrust them, nor the insolent that we fear them; because the knowledge of our fear only augments the presumption of the one, and an apprehension of being suspected, abates the zeal of the other. But if what is reported of the discontent of the army be true, which I am yet unwilling to believe, at least to the degree some pretend; we ought, for that reason, rather to hide and dissemble our fears, than by an unreasonable discovery of them, to add strength to the evil: that, as in some cases, it was necessary to conceal the wounds of the body, that the enemy might not conceive hope from our misfortunes; so also ought we to hide the indisposition of an army: that by retreating in the night, as some proposed, they would only furnish a fairer occasion to the ill-affected to execute their purpose: for fear and shame are powerful restraints by day, but night entirely divests them of their force: that he was neither so rash, as to attack a camp without hopes of success; nor so blinded by fear, as to be at a loss what measures to pursue: that he thought it his duty to examine things to the bottom; and as he had called them together to deliberate upon the present state of affairs, doubted not, with their assistance, to take such measures as would be attended with success."
He then dismissed the council; and assembling the soldiers, put them in mind of what advantage their steadiness and zeal had been to Caesar at Corfinium, and how serviceable towards the conquest of the greatest part of Italy. " It was you," said he, "that gave the example, and all the municipal towns soon followed: their submission to Caesar was your work; and therefore it is not without reason, that he is so particularly attached to you, and that Pompey hates you sincerely. It was you that obliged him to quit Italy, without being forced to it by the loss of a battle. Caesar, who ranks me in the number of his dearest friends, has committed my safety to your care, with Sicily and Africa, without which it would be impossible to defend either Rome or Italy. You are now in the presence of those who exhort you to abandon us: and indeed what could be more desirable to them, than at the same time to ensnare us, and fix upon you the stain of an infinite crime? What worse opinion could an enraged enemy testify of you, than to suppose you capable of betraying those, who own themselves indebted to you for all; and of throwing yourselves into the power of a party, who consider you as the authors of all their misfortunes? Are you strangers to Caesar's exploits in Spain? Two armies defeated! Two generals overcome! Two provinces brought under subjection! And all this in the space of forty days, is it likely that those, who, with forces unbroken, could not stand their ground, will be able to resist, now they are vanquished? And will you who followed Caesar before fortune declared in his favour, now return to the vanquished, when fortune has already decided the quarrel, and you are upon the point of obtaining the reward of your services? They charge you with having abandoned and betrayed them, contrary to the faith of oaths. But is it indeed true, that you abandoned Domitius? Or did he not rather meanly abandon you, at a time when you were ready to suffer every thing for his sake? Did he not, unknown to you, resolve to seek his safety in flight? And were you not, after being thus basely betrayed by him, indebted to Caesar's goodness for your preservation? How could your oath bind you to one, who, after throwing away the ensigns of his authority, and divesting himself of his office, surrendered himself a private man and a captive into the power of another? The new engagement you were then brought under alone subsists at present, and ought quite to obliterate that, which the surrender of your general, and his loss of liberty, have made void. But though I doubt not of your being satisfied with Caesar, you may perhaps have taken offence at me. And, indeed, I have no thought of mentioning any services I may have done you: which, as yet, come far short of my intentions, and your expectations: but you are not ignorant, that the rewards of military service come not till after the conclusion of the war; and I believe you little doubt what the issue of this will be. Nor need I, on this occasion, decline taking notice of the diligence I have used, the progress already made, and the good fortune that has hitherto attended me. Are you dissatisfied that I have landed my army safe in Africa, without the loss of a single ship ? That I dispersed the enemy's fleet at the first onset ? That within the space of two days I have twice defeated their cavalry? That I forced two hundred of their merchantmen to quit the port of Utica and join me? And that I have reduced them to a situation where it is impossible for them to receive any supplies either by land or sea? Can you think of abandoning a cause conducted by such leaders, and attended with such success; to followthe fortune of those who so ignominiously delivered up Corfinium, relinquished Italy, surrendered Spain, and have already sustained considerable losses in the African war? I never pretended to more than being a follower of Caesar: it was you that honoured me with the title of Imperator, which I am ready this moment to resign, if you think me unworthy of the favour. Restore me my former name, that it may not be said I was honoured, to be covered afterwards with the greater ignominy."
These remonstrances made such an impression upon the soldiers, that they frequently interrupted him while he was speaking, and appeared deeply touched at his suspecting their fidelity. As he retired, they all gathered round him, exhorting him not to be discouraged, or scruple to hazard a battle, and make trial of their fidelity and bravery. This behaviour of the troops wrought so great a change in the minds of the officers, that Curio, with the joint concurrence of them all, resolved to give battle the first opportunity that offered. Accordingly, drawing out his men next day, in the same place he had done for some time past, he ranged them in order of battle. Attius Varus did the same; that if an opportunity offered, either of corrupting the soldiers, or fighting to advantage, he might be in readiness to lay hold of it.
Between the two armies lay a valley, as we have observed above, not indeed considerable for its breadth, but steep and difficult of ascent. Both sideswaited till the other should pass it, that they might engage to more advantage. Curio observing that all the horse on Varus's right wing, together with the lightarmed foot, had ventured down into this valley, detached his cavalry against them, with two cohorts of Marrucinians; whose first shock the enemy were not able to sustain, but returned full speed to their own men, leaving the light-armed foot behind, who were surrounded and cut to pieces in the sight of Varus's army; which, fronting that way, was witness to the flight of the one, and the slaughter of the other. Upon this Rebilus, one of Caesar's lieutenants, whom Curio had brought with him from Sicily, on account of his consummate knowledge in the art of war; "Why," says he, "do you delay seizing the favourable moment? You see the enemy struck with terror." Curio made no answer, only desired his soldiers to remember what they had promised the day before, and marching the first, commanded them to follow him. The valley was so steep and difficult, that the first ranks could not ascend, but with the assistance of those that came after. But the Attinian army was so dispirited with fear, and the flight and slaughter of their troops, that they never thought of making resistance, fancying themselves already surrounded by our cavalry; so that before we could arrive within reach of the dart, the whole army of Varus fled and retreated to their camp.
In this flight, one Fabius Pelignus, a centurion of the lowest rank in Curio's army, as he was pursuing the fugitives, called with a loud voice to Varus as if he had been one of his own men, who wanted to admonish him of something. Varus hearing himself named several times, turned and stood still, demanding who he was, and what he wanted. Fabius would certainly have killed him, had not Varus warded it off with his shield. Fabius himself was soon after surrounded and slain. Meanwhile, the multitude of fugitives so closed up the gates of the camp, and pressed upon one another in such a manner, that more were crowded to death, than fell either in the battle or pursuit. Nay, the camp itself was very near being taken; because great numbers, instead of stopping there to defend it, made directly for the town. But both the nature of the ground, and the fortifications themselves, prevented the assault; and the rather, as Curio's soldiers being armed only for battle, had brought with them none of the necessary tools to force a camp. Curio brought back his army without the loss of a man, Fabius excepted. Of the enemy, about six hundred were killed, and a thousand wounded. After Curio had drawn off his men, all the wounded quitted the camp, and retired into the city, as did a great many others, who, overcome by fear, sheltered themselves there also under the same pretence. Varus observing this, and that a universal dread had seized the army, left only a trumpet in the camp, with a few tents for show, and, about midnight, silently entered the town with all his forces.
Next day Curio resolved to besiege Utica, and draw a line ofcircumvallation round it. There was in the town a multitude of men unfit for the fatigues of war, through a long enjoyment of peace. The inhabitants themselves were strongly attached to Caesar, for ancient favours received from him. The senate was composed of people greatly differing in their tempers, and the losses already sustained spread terror through all ranks. A surrender was publicly talked of, and all concurred in soliciting Varus not to ruin them by his obstinacy and perverseness. While these things were in agitation, messengers sent by king Juba arrived, who informed them of the approach of his army, and exhorted them to defend the city; which contributed not a little to confirm their wavering minds.
Curio received the same news, but for some time would not believe it, so greatly did he confide in his good fortune. Besides, Caesar's success in Spain was already known in Africa; whence he concluded it improbable that Juba would attempt any thing against him. But when he was for certain informed with his whole army, he retired from before the town to the Cornelian camp, laid in great quantities of corn and wood, began to fortify himself, and sent directly to Sicily for the cavalry, and the two legions he had left there. The camp itself was very advantageous for protracting the war, being strong both by nature and art, near the sea, and abounding in water and salt, great quantities of which had been carried thither from the neighbouring saltpits. Neither ran he any hazard of being straitened for wood and corn, as the country abounded in trees and grain. He resolved, therefore, with the consent of the whole army, to wait here the arrival of the rest of the troops, and make preparation for continuing the war.
This resolution being taken, and meeting with general approbation, some of the townsmen, who had deserted to Curio, informed him, that the war in which Juba was engaged with the Leptitani, having obliged him to return into his own kingdom, he had only sent his lieutenant Sabura, with a small body of forces, to the assistance of the Uticans. Upon this intelligence, to which he too hastily gave credit, he changed his design, and resolved to give battle. The fire of youth, his courage, good success, and self-confidence, contributed greatly to confirm him in this resolution. Urged by these considerations, about the beginning of the night, he sent all his cavalry towards the enemy's camp, which was upon the river Bagradas, and where Sabura, of whom we have spoken before, commanded in chief. But the king followed with all his forces, and was not above six miles behind him. The cavalry which Curio had detached, marched all night, and coming unexpectedly upon the enemy, attacked them before they were ready to receive the charge: for the Numidians, according to the custom of that barbarous country, were encamped without order or rule. Falling upon them therefore, in this confusion, and oppressed with sleep, they slew great numbers, and obliged the rest to fly in the utmost consternation; after which they returned to Curio with the prisoners they had taken.
Curio had set out with all his forces about the fourth watch of the night, leaving only five cohorts to guard his camp. After a march of six miles he was met by his cavalry, who informed him of all that had passed. He asked the prisoners, who commanded at Bagradas? They answered, Sabura. Upon this, without making any further inquiries, for fear of being detained too long, he turned to the troops next to him, and said, "Do you not see, fellow-soldiers, that the report of the prisoners corresponds exactly with the intelligence given by the deserters? Juba is not with the army. It must consist of but a few troops, since they were not able to withstand the charge of a small body of horse. Haste, therefore, in the pursuit of glory, booty, and victory. " What the cavalry had done was indeed considerable, because they were but few in number in comparison of the Numidians; but as vanity always makes us believe our merit to be greater than it is, they themselves boasted immoderately of the action, and endeavoured to enhance the value of it. They made a mighty parade of the booty. The prisoners too, as well infantry as cavalry, marched in procession before them. And indeed the whole army imagined, that to delay the battle, was no other than to delay the victory; so that the ardour of the troops perfectly seconded Curio's hopes. He therefore hastened his march, ordering the horse to follow, that he might as soon as possible come up with the frighted enemy. But as they were fatigued with their late march, they found themselves unable to keep pace with the army; but stopped, some in one place, some in another; which, however, retarded not Curio's hopes.
Juba having notice from Sabura of the action in the night, detached to his assistance two thousand Spanish and Gallic horse, of his ordinary guard, with that part of the infantry in which he put the greatest confidence. Himself followed leisurely with the rest of the troops, and about forty elephants, suspecting that Curio, who had sent the cavalry before, could not be far off with his army. Sabura drew up his horse and foot, ordering them to give ground upon the enemy's attack, and, as through fear, counterfeit a flight. Meanwhile he told them, that he would give the signal of battle when he saw proper, and direct their motions as the case might require. Curio, flattered with new hopes, and imagining, by the enemy's motions, that they were preparing for flight, made his troops come down from the mountain into the plain;
and advancing still farther, though his army was already very much fatigued, halted at last to give the men breath. That moment Sabura sounded the charge, led on his men in order of battle, and went from rank to rank to animate the troops; but he suffered only the cavalry to come to blows, keeping the infantry at a distance within sight. Curio was not wanting on his side, but exhorted his men to place all their hopes in their valour. And indeed neither the infantry, though fatigued with their march, nor the cavalry, though few in number, and spent with toil, showed any want of valour, or backwardness to fight; though the last in particular did not exceed two hundred, the rest having stopped by the way. These, wherever they attacked the enemy, obliged them to give ground, but they could neither pursue far, nor drive their horses on with impetuosity, On the other hand, the Numidian cavalry began to surround our men, and charge them in the rear. When the cohorts advanced against them, they fell back, and by the quickness of their retreat, eluded the charge, but immediately returning, they got behind our men, and cut them off from the rest of the army. Thus it was equally dangerous for them to maintain their ranks, or advance to battle. The enemy's forces increased continually, by the reinforcements sent from the king; ours, on the contrary, were disabled by fatigue. Neither could our wounded men retire, or be sent to any place of safety, the whole army being invested by the enemy's horse. These despairing of safety, as is usual for men in the last moments of life, either lamented their own fate, or recommended their relations to their fellow-soldiers, if any should be so fortunate as to escape that danger. The whole army was filled with consternation and grief.
Curio perceiving the general alarm, and that neither his exhortations nor prayers were regarded, ordered the troops to retire with the standards to the nearest mountains, as the only resource in the present exigence. But the cavalry detached by Sabura had already seized them. All hope being now lost, some were slain while endeavouring to fly; others threw themselves upon the ground, partly in despair, partly unable to make any efforts for their own safety. At this moment, Cn. Domitius, who commanded the horse, addressing Curio, encavalry that remained, promising not to abandon him. "Can I," says Curio, "look Caesar in the face, after having lost an army he had committed to my charge?" So saying, he continued fighting till he was slain. Very few of the cavalry escaped, those only excepted who had stopped to refresh their horses; for perceiving at a distance the rout of the whole army, they returned to their camp. All the infantry were slain to a man.
When this disaster was known, M. Rufus the questor, whom Curio had left to guard the camp, entreated his men not to lose courage. They begged and requested him to reconduct them into Sicily; which he promised, and ordered the masters of the transports to have their ships in readiness at night along the shore. But fear had so universally seized the minds of the soldiers, that some cried out Juba was arrived with his troops; some that Varus approached with the legions, the dust of whose march they pretended to discern; and others, that the enemy's fleet would be upon them in an instant; though there was not the least ground for these reports The consternation thus becoming general, each man thought only of his own sailed immediately, and their flight drew after it that of the transports; so that only a very few small frigates obeyed the summons, and came to the general rendezvous. The disorder was so great upon the shore, every one striving who should first embark, that many boats sunk under the crowd, and others were afraid to come near the land.
Thus only a few soldiers and aged men, who either through interest or compassion were received on board, or had strength enough to swim to the transports, got safe to Sicily. The rest, deputing their centurions to Varus by night, surrendered to him. Juba, coming up next day, claimed them as his property, put the greater number to the sword, and sent a few of the most considerable, whom he had selected for that purpose, into Numidia. Varus complained of this violation of his faith; but durst not make any resistance. The king made his entrance into the city on horseback, followed by a great number of senators, among whom were Servius Sulpicius, and Licinius Damasippus. Here he stayed a few days, to give what orders he thought necessary; and then returned, with all his forces, into his kingdom.