Manilius undertook an expedition to Nepheris against Hasdrubal, which Scipio disapproved of, because the road was flanked by mountain crags, gorges, and thickets, and the heights were occupied by the enemy. When they had come within a third of a mile of Hasdrubal, and to the bed of a river where it was necessary to go down and up again, in order to reach the enemy, Scipio urged him to turn back, saying that another time and other means would be more propitious for attacking Hasdrubal. The other tribunes, moved by jealousy, took the opposite view and held that it savored of cowardice, rather than of prudence, to turn back after coming in sight of the enemy, and that it would embolden him to attack them in the rear. Then Scipio gave another piece of advice, that they ought to fortify a camp on the hither side of the stream, to which they could retreat if they were overpowered, there being now no place where they could take refuge. The others laughed at this, and one of them threatened to throw away his sword if Scipio, instead of Manilius, were to command the expedition. Thereupon Manilius, who had not had much experience in war, crossed the river and on the other side encountered Hasdrubal. There was great slaughter on both sides. Finally Hasdrubal took refuge in his strong-hold, where he was safe and from which he could watch his chance of attacking the Romans as they moved off. The latter, who already repented of their undertaking, retired in good order till they came to the river. As the crossing was difficult on account of the fewness and narrowness of the fords, it was necessary for them to break ranks. When Hasdrubal saw this he made a most brilliant attack, and slew a vast number of them who were more intent upon flight than upon defending themselves. Among the killed were three of the tribunes who had been chiefly instrumental in urging the consul to risk the engagement.
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THE PUNIC WARS
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