The enemy seeing they could not, by coming up to Hasdrubal's camp, draw him out to a battle, nor assault it without great difficulty, stormed Asena, whither Hasdrubal, on entering their territories, had laid up his corn and other stores. By this they became masters of all the surrounding country.
But now they became quite ungovernable, both when on march and within their camp.
Hasdrubal, therefore, perceiving their negligence, which, as usual, was the consequence of success, after having exhorted his troops to attack them while they were straggling and without their standards, came down the hill, and advanced to their camp in order of battle.
On his approach being announced in a tumultuous manner, by men who fled from the watch-posts and advanced guards, they shouted to arms; and as each could get his arms, they rushed precipitately to battle, without waiting for the word, without standards, without order, and without ranks.
The foremost of them were already engaged, while some were running up in parties, and others had not got out of their camp.
However, at first, the very boldness of their attack terrified the enemy. But when they charged their close ranks with their own which were thin, and were not able to defend themselves for want of numbers, each began to look out for others to support him;
and being repulsed in all quarters they collected themselves in form of [p. 868]
a circle, where being so closely crowded together, body to body, armour to armour, that they had not room to wield their arms, they were surrounded by the enemy, who continued to slaughter them till late in the day.
A small number, having forced a passage, made for the woods and hills. With like consternation, their camp was abandoned, and next day the whole nation submitted.
But they did not continue long quiet, for immediately upon this, Hasdrubal received orders from Carthage to march into Italy with all expedition. The report of which, spreading over Spain, made almost all the states declare for the Romans. Accordingly he wrote immediately to Carthage, to inform them how much mischief the report of his march had produced.
“That if he really did leave Spain, the Romans would be masters of it all before he could pass the Iberus.
For, besides that he had neither an army nor a general whom he could leave to supply his place, so great were the abilities of the Roman generals who commanded there, that they could scarcely be opposed with equal forces.
If, therefore, they had any concern for preserving Spain, they ought to send a general with a powerful army to succeed him. To whom, however prosperous all things might prove, yet the province would not be a position of ease.”