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The Roman Fleet Meets Resistance

When the Consul Publius saw, to his surprise, that the
Unexpected resistance of Adherbal. The Roman fleet checked.
enemy, so far from giving in or being dismayed at his approach, were determined upon fighting him at sea: while of his own ships some were already within the harbour, others just in the very entrance channel, and others still on their way towards it; he at once issued orders to all the ships to turn round and make the best of their way out again. The result of this was that, as some of the ships were in the harbour, and others at the entrance, they fouled each other when they began reversing their course; and not only did a great confusion arise among the men, but the ships got their oars broken also in the collisions which occurred. However, the captains exerted themselves to get the ships into line close under the shore, as they successively cleared the harbour, and with their prows directed towards the enemy. Publius himself was originally bringing up the rear of the entire squadron; but he now, while the movement was actually in execution, turned towards the open sea and transferred himself to a position on the left wing of the fleet. At the same moment Adherbal succeeded in outflanking the left of his opponents with five vessels furnished with charging beaks. He turned his own ship with its prow towards the enemy, and brought to. As each of the others came up, and fell into line with him, he sent orders to them by his staff officers to do the same as he had done. Thus they all fell in and formed a complete line. The signal which had been agreed upon before was given, and an advance was begun, which was made at first without disarranging the line. The Romans were still close in-shore, waiting for the coming out of their ships from the harbour; and this proximity to the land proved of infinite disadvantage to them in the engagement.

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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), NAVARCHUS
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