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Great Slaughter of the Gauls

When the men who were armed with the pilum advanced in front of the legions, in accordance
The infantry engage.
with the regular method of Roman warfare, and hurled their pila in rapid and effective volleys, the inner ranks of the Celts found their jerkins and leather breeches of great service; but to the naked men in the front ranks this unexpected mode of attack caused great distress and discomfiture. For the Gallic shields not being big enough to cover the man, the larger the naked body the more certainty was there of the pilum hitting. And at last, not being able to retaliate, because the pilum-throwers were out of reach, and their weapons kept pouring in, some of them, in the extremity of their distress and helplessness, threw themselves with desperate courage and reckless violence upon the enemy, and thus met a voluntary death; while others gave ground step by step towards their own friends, whom they threw into confusion by this manifest acknowledgment of their panic. Thus the courage of the Gaesatae had broken down before the preliminary attack of the pilum. But when the throwers of it had rejoined their ranks, and the whole Roman line charged, the Insubres, Boii, and Taurisci received the attack, and maintained a desperate hand-to-hand fight. Though almost cut to pieces, they held their ground with unabated courage, in spite of the fact that man for man, as well as collectively, they were inferior to the Romans in point of arms. The shields and swords of the latter were proved to be manifestly superior for defence and attack, for the Gallic sword can only deliver a cut, but cannot trust. And when, besides the Roman horse charged down from the high ground on their flank, and attacked them vigorously, the infantry of the Celts were cut to pieces on the field, while their horse turned and fled.

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