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During this summer P. Quintilius Varus the praetor and M. Cornelius the proconsul fought a regular engagement with Mago. The praetor's legions formed the fighting line; Cornelius kept his in reserve, but rode to the front and took command of one wing, the praetor leading the other, and both of them exhorted the soldiers to make a furious charge on the enemy.  When they failed to make any impression upon them, Quintilius said to Cornelius, "As you see, the battle is progressing too slowly; the enemy finding themselves offering an unhoped-for resistance have steeled themselves against fear, there is danger of this fear passing into audacity.  We must let loose a hurricane of cavalry against them if we want to shake them and make them give ground.  Either, then, you must keep up the fighting at the front and I will bring the cavalry into action, or I will remain here and direct the operations of the first line while you launch the cavalry of the four legions against the enemy." The proconsul left it to the praetor to decide what he would do.  Quintilius, accordingly, accompanied by his son Marcus, an enterprising and energetic youth, rode off to the cavalry, ordered them to mount and sent them at once against the enemy.  The effect of their charge was heightened by the battle-shout of the legions, and the hostile lines would not have stood their ground, had not Mago, at the first movement of the cavalry, promptly brought his elephants into action.  The appearance of these animals, their trumpeting and smell so terrified the horses as to render the assistance of the cavalry futile. When engaged at close quarters and able to use sword and lance the Roman cavalryman was the better fighter, but when carried away by a frightened horse, he was a better target for the Numidian darts.  As for the infantry, the twelfth legion had lost a large proportion of their men and were holding their ground more to avoid the disgrace of retreat than from any hope of offering effectual resistance.  Nor would they have held it any longer if the thirteenth legion which was in reserve had not been brought up and taken part in the doubtful conflict. To oppose this fresh legion Mago brought up his reserves also.  These were Gauls, and the hastati of the eleventh legion had not much trouble in putting them to rout.  They then closed up and attacked the elephants who were creating confusion in the Roman infantry ranks. Showering their darts upon them as they crowded together, and hardly ever failing to hit, they drove them all back upon the Carthaginian lines, after four had fallen, severely wounded.  At last the enemy began to give ground, and the whole of the Roman infantry, when they saw the elephants turning against their own side, rushed forward to increase the confusion and panic.  As long as Mago kept his station in front, his men retreated slowly and in good order, but when they saw him fall, seriously wounded and carried almost fainting from the field, there was a general flight.  The losses of the enemy amounted to 5000 men, and 22 standards were taken. The victory was a far from bloodless one for the Romans, they lost 2300 men in the praetor's army, mostly from the twelfth legion, and amongst them two military tribunes, M. Cosconius and M. Maevius.  The thirteenth legion, the last to take part in the action, also had its losses; C. Helvius, a military tribune, fell whilst restoring the battle, and twenty-two members of the cavalry corps, belonging to distinguished families, together with some of the centurions were trampled to death by the elephants. The battle would have lasted longer had not Mago's wound given the Romans the victory.
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