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The battle began, and at first was maintained at a distance. The Britons wanted neither skill nor resolution. With their long swords, and targets of small dimension, they had the address to elude the missive weapons of the Romans, and at the same time to discharge a thick volley of their own. To bring the conflict to a speedy decision, Agricola ordered three Batavian and two Tungarian cohorts to charge the enemy sword in hand. To this mode of attack those troops had been long accustomed, but to the Britons it was every way disadvantageous. Their small targets afforded no protection, and their unwieldy swords, not sharpened to a point, could do but little execution in a close engagement. The Batavians rushed to the attack with impetuous fury. Incited by their example, the other cohorts advanced with a spirit of emulation, and cut their way with terrible slaughter. Eager in pursuit of victory, they pressed forward with determined fury, leaving behind them numbers wounded, but not slain, and others not so much as hurt. The Roman cavalry, in the mean time, was forced to give ground. The Caledonians, in their armed chariots, rushed at full speed into the thick of the battle, where the infantry were engaged. Their first impression struck a general terror, but their career was soon checked by the inequalities of the ground and the close ranks of the Romans. Pent up in narrow places, the Barbarians crowded upon each other, and were driven or dragged along by their own horses. A scene of confusion followed. Chariots without a guide, and horses without a rider, broke from the ranks in wild disorder, and flying every way, as fear and consternation urged, they overwhelmed their own files and trampled down all who came in their way.
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