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Whilst the Romans were busily engaged in intrenching they saw the hostile fleet sailing from Carthage to Utica.  They at once ceased work, orders were given to march, and the army made a rapid advance, fearing lest the ships should be caught with their prows turned shorewards for siege operations, in utter unreadiness for a naval battle.  "How" they asked themselves, "can a mobile and fully armed fleet in perfect sailing order be successfully resisted by ships loaded with artillery and war machines, or converted into transports, or brought up so close to the walls as to allow of scaling parties using them instead of an agger and gangways?"  Under the circumstances Scipio abandoned the usual tactics. Bringing the warships which could have protected the others into the rearmost position close inshore, he lined up the transports in front of them four deep to serve as a wall against the enemy's attack.  To prevent the lines from being broken by violent charges he laid masts and yard-arms from ship to ship and secured them by stout ropes which bound them together like one continuous chain.  He then fastened planks upon the top of these, so making a free passage along the whole line, and under these bridges the despatch-boats had room to run out against the enemy and retire into safety. After making these hurried arrangements as complete as time would allow, he placed about 1000 picked men on board the transports and an [7??] immense quantity of missile weapons, so that however long the fighting went on there might be enough. Thus ready and eager, they waited for the enemy.  If the Carthaginians had moved more rapidly they would have found hurry and confusion everywhere, and they might have destroyed the fleet in the first onset.  They were, however, disheartened by the defeat of their land forces, and now they did not feel confidence even on the sea, the element where they were strongest. After sailing slowly all through the day they brought up towards sunset at a harbour called by the natives Rusocmon.  The following day, they put out to sea in line of battle, expecting the Romans to come out and attack them.  After they had been stationary for a long time and no movement on the part of the enemy was visible, they at last commenced an attack on the transports.  There was nothing in the least resembling a naval action, it looked almost exactly as if ships were attacking walls.  The transports were considerably higher than their opponents, and consequently the missiles from the Carthaginian vessels, which had to be hurled from below, were mostly ineffective; those from the transports thrown from above fell with more force, their weight adding to the blow.  The despatch-boats and light vessels which ran out through the intervals under the plank gangways were many of them run down by the momentum and bulk of the warships, and in [15??] time they became a hindrance to those fighting on the transports, who were often obliged to desist for fear of hitting them while they were mixed up with the enemy's ships.  At last the Carthaginans began to throw poles with grappling-hooks [17??] at the end-the soldiers call them harpagones-on to the Roman ships, and it was impossible to cut away either the poles or the chains by which they were suspended.  When a warship had hooked one of the transports it was rowed astern, and you would see the ropes which fastened the transports one to another give way, and sometimes a whole line of transports would be dragged off together.  In this way all the gangways connecting the first line of transports were broken up, and there was hardly any place left where the defenders could spring back into the second line.  Six transports were towed off to Carthage. Here the rejoicing was greater than the circumstances of the case warranted, but what made it all the more welcome was the fact that the [21??] Roman fleet had narrowly escaped destruction, an escape due to the Carthaginian commander's slackness and the timely arrival of Scipio. Amid such continual disasters and mourning this was an unhoped-for cause of congratulation.
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