There is a wide difference among historians as to the number of men transported into Africa.
In some I find ten thousand infantry and two hundred horse; in others, sixteen thousand infantry and sixteen hundred horse. In others, again, I find it stated that thirty-five thousand infantry and cavalry were put on board the fleet, making the number more than one half greater.
Some have not added an account of the number; among whom, as the matter is doubtful, I should rather have myself ranked. Caelius, though he abstains from specifying the number, increases the impression of their multitude indefinitely.
He says, that birds fell to the ground from the shout of the soldiers, and that so great a multitude went on board the fleet, that it seemed as if there was not a man left in Italy or Sicily. Scipio took upon himself the care of seeing that the soldiers embarked orderly and without confusion. The seamen, who were made to embark first, Caius Laelius, the admiral of the fleet, kept in order on board the ships.
The task of the putting on board the provisions was assigned to Marcus Pomponius, the praetor.
Food for forty-five days, of which enough for fifteen was cooked, was put on board. When they were all embarked, he sent boats round with directions that the pilots [p. 1266]
and masters, with two soldiers from each ship, should assemble in the forum to receive orders.
After they had assembled, he first asked them whether they had put on board water for the men and cattle, sufficient to last as many days as the corn would.
When they answered that there was water on board sufficient for five and forty days' consumption, he then charged the soldiers that, conducting
themselves submissively, and keeping quiet, they would not make any noise or disturb the mariners in the execution of their duties.
He informed them, that he himself and Lucius Scipio in the right wing, with twenty ships of war, and Caius Laelius, admiral of the fleet, together with Marcus Porcius Cato, who was then quaestor, with the same number of ships of war in the left wing, would protect the transports. That the ships of war should carry each a single light, the transports two each.
That in the ship of the commander-in-chief there would be three lights as a distinction by night. He desired the pilots to make for Emporia, where the land is remarkably fertile;
and on that account the district abounds with plenty of every thing, and the barbarous inhabitants are unwarlike, which is usually the case where the soil is rich. It was supposed that they might, therefore, be overpowered before assistance could be brought them from Carthage.
After these commands were delivered, they were ordered to return to their ships, and the next day, with the blessing of the gods, on the signal being given, to set sail.