The barbarians attempted
to break through the outposts and to throw themselves on the engineering
parties, which they harassed, pacing round them and continually charging
them. There was a confused din from the men at work and the combatants.
Everything alike was unfavourable to the Romans, the place with its deep
swamps, insecure to the foot and slippery as one advanced, limbs burdened
with coats of mail, and the impossibility of aiming their javelins amid the
water. The Cherusci, on the other hand, were familiar with fighting in fens;
they had huge frames, and lances long enough to inflict wounds even at a
Night at last
released the legions, which were now wavering, from a disastrous engagement.
The Germans whom success rendered unwearied, without even then taking any
rest, turned all the streams which rose from the slopes of the surrounding
hills into the lands beneath. The ground being thus flooded and the
completed portion of our works submerged, the soldiers' labour was doubled.
This was Cæcina's fortieth campaign as a subordinate or a
commander, and, with such experience of success and peril, he was perfectly
fearless. As he thought over future possibilities, he could devise no plan
but to keep the enemy within the woods, till the wounded and the more
encumbered troops were in advance. For between the hills and the swamps
there stretched a plain which would admit of an extended line. The legions
had their assigned places, the fifth on the right wing, the twenty-first on
the left, the men of the first to lead the van, the twentieth to repel