At a distance of six miles beyond their nearest camp lay other forces of the Carthaginians. A deep valley, thickly planted with trees, intervened. Near about the middle of this wood a Roman cohort and some cavalry were placed in concealment with Punic craft.
The communication between the two armies being thus cut off, the rest of the forces were marched in silence to the nearest body of the enemy; and as there were no outposts before the gates, and no guards on the rampart, they entered quite into the camp, as though it had been their own, no one any where opposing them. The signals were then sounded and a shout raised.
Some put the [p. 1013]
enemy to the sword when half asleep; others threw fire upon the huts, which were covered in with dry straw; others blocked up the gates to intercept their escape.
The enemy, who were assailed at once with fire, shouting, and the sword, were in a manner bereaved of their senses, and could neither hear each other, nor take any measures for their security.
Unarmed, they fell into the midst of troops of armed men: some hastened to the gates; others, as the passes were blocked up, leaped over the rampart, and as each escaped they
fled directly towards the other camp, where they were cut off by the cohort and cavalry rushing forward from their concealment, and were all slain to a man.
And even had any escaped from that carnage, the Romans, after taking the nearer camp, ran over to the other with such rapidity, that no one could have arrived before them with news of the disaster.
In this camp, as they were far distant from the enemy, and as some had gone off just before day-light for forage, wood, and plunder, they found every thing in a still more neglected and careless state. Their arms only were placed at the outposts, the men being unarmed, and either sitting and reclining upon the ground, or else walking up and down before the rampart and the gates.
On these men, thus at their ease and unguarded, the Romans, still hot from the recent battle, and flushed with victory, commenced an attack; no effectual opposition therefore could be made to them in the gates.
Within the gates, the troops having rushed together from every part of the camp at the first shout and alarm, a furious conflict arose; which would have continued for a long time, had not the bloody appearance of the Roman shields discovered to the Carthaginians the defeat of the other forces, and consequently struck them with dismay.
This alarm produced a general flight; and all except those who were overtaken with the sword, rushing out precipitately wherever they could find a passage, abandoned their camp. Thus, in a night and a day, two camps of the enemy were carried, under the conduct of Lucius Marcius.
Claudius, who translated the annals of Acilius out of Greek into Latin, states that as many as thirty-seven thousand men were slain, one thousand eight hundred and thirty made prisoners, and a great booty obtained;
among which was a silver shield of a hundred and thirty-eight pounds' weight, with an image upon it of the Bar- [p. 1014]
Valerius Antias states, that the camp of Mago only was captured, and seven thousand of the enemy slain; and that in the other battle, when the Romans sallied out and fought with Hasdrubal, ten thousand were slain, and four thousand three hundred captured.
Piso writes, that five thousand were slain in an ambuscade when Mago incautiously pursued our troops who retired.
With all, the name of the general, Marcius, is mentioned with great honour, and to his real glory they add even miracles. They say, that while he was haranguing his men a stream of fire poured from his head without his perceiving it, to the great terror of the surrounding soldiers;
and that a shield, called the Marcian, with an image of Hasdrubal upon it, remained in the temple up to the time of the burning of the Capitol, a monument of his victory over the Carthaginians.
After this, affairs continued for a considerable time in a tranquil state in Spain, as both parties, after giving and receiving such important defeats, hesitated to run the hazard of a general battle.