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Cautious Fabius Saves the Day

As the day broke, and the thoughts and eyes of all were engrossed in observing the combatants on the hill, the Romans had no suspicion of the troops lying in ambush. But as Hannibal kept pouring in reinforcements for his men on the hill, and followed close behind them himself with his cavalry and main body, it was not long before the cavalry also of both sides were engaged. The result was that the Roman lightarmed troops, finding themselves hard pressed by the numbers of the cavalry, caused great confusion among the heavy-armed troops by retreating into their lines; and the signal being given at the same time to those who were in ambush, these latter suddenly showed themselves and charged: whereby not only the Roman light-armed troops, but their whole army, were in the greatest danger. At that moment Fabius, seeing what was taking place, and being alarmed lest they should sustain a complete defeat, led out his forces with all speed and came to the relief of his imperilled comrades.
Fabius comes to the rescue.
At his approach the Romans quickly recovered their courage; and though their lines were entirely broken up, they rallied again round their standards, and retired under cover of the army of Fabius, with a severe loss in the light-armed division, and a still heavier one in the ranks of the legions, and that too of the bravest men. Alarmed at the freshness and perfect order of the relieving army, Hannibal retired from the pursuit and ceased fighting. To those who were actually engaged it was quite clear that an utter defeat had been brought about by the rashness of Minucius, and that their safety on this and previous occasions had been secured by the caution of Fabius; while those at home had a clear and indisputable demonstration of the difference between the rashness and bravado of a soldier, and the farseeing prudence and cool calculation of a general. Taught by experience the Romans joined camps once more, and for the future listened to Fabius and obeyed his orders: while the Carthaginians dug a trench across the space between the knoll and their own lines, and threw up a palisade round the crest of the captured hill; and, having placed a guard upon it, proceeded thenceforth with their preparations for the winter unmolested.

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