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The Battle of Ecnomus

Meanwhile the Carthaginian commanders had briefly
The disposition of the Carthaginian fleet.
addressed their men. They pointed out to them that victory in this battle would ensure the war in the future being confined to the question of the possession of Sicily; while if they were beaten they would have hereafter to fight for their native land and for all that they held dear. With these words they passed the word to embark. The order was obeyed with universal enthusiasm, for what had been said brought home to them the issues at stake; and they put to sea in the full fervour of excited gallantry, which might well have struck terror into all who saw it. When their commanders saw the arrangement of the enemies' ships they adapted their own to match it. Three-fourths of their force they posted in a single line, extending their right wing towards the open sea with a view of outflanking their opponents, and placing their ships with prows facing the enemy; while the other fourth part was posted to form a left wing of the whole, the vessels being at right angles to the others and close to the shore. The two Carthaginian commanders were Hanno and Hamilcar. The former was the general who had been defeated in the engagement at Agrigentum.
ch. 19.
He now commanded the right wing, supported by beaked vessels for charging, and the fastest sailing quinqueremes for outflanking, the enemy.
ch. 25.
The latter, who had been in the engagement off Tyndaris, had charge of the left wing. This officer, occupying the central position of the entire line, on this occasion employed a stratagem which I will now describe.
The battle.
The battle began by the Romans charging the centre of the Carthaginians, because they observed that it was weakened by their great extension. The ships in the Carthaginian centre, in accordance with their orders, at once turned and fled with a view of breaking up the Roman close order. They began to retire with all speed, and the Romans pursued them with exultation. The consequence was that, while the first and second Roman squadrons were pressing the flying enemy, the third and fourth "legions" had become detached and were left behind, —the former because they had to tow the horse-transports, and the "Triarii" because they kept their station with them and helped them to form a reserve. But when the Carthaginians thought that they had drawn the first and second squadron a sufficient distance from the main body a signal was hoisted on board Hamilcar's ship, and they all simultaneously swung their ships round and engaged their pursuers. The contest was a severe one. The Carthaginians had a great superiority in the rapidity with which they manœuvred their ships. They darted out from their line and rowed round the enemy: they approached them with ease, and retired with despatch. But the Romans, no less than the Carthaginians, had their reasons for entertaining hopes of victory: for when the vessels got locked together the contest became one of sheer strength: their engines, the "crows," grappled all that once came to close quarters: and, finally, both the Consuls were present in person and were witnesses of their behaviour in battle.

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