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Fulvius and his legions were in the neighbourhood of Heraclea. When they heard that the enemy were approaching they were almost on the point of dragging up the standards and going into battle without waiting for orders. In fact the one thing that restrained them more than anything else was the confidence they felt of being able to choose their own time for fighting.  The following night, when Hannibal became aware that the camp was in a state of tumult and that most of the men were defying their commander and insisting that he should give the signal, and that there was a general cry, "To arms!"  he was quite certain that the opportunity was presented of a successful battle. He quietly disposed some three thousand of his light infantry in the surrounding homesteads and in the woods and copses.  They were all to spring from their concealment at the same moment when the signal was given, and Mago had orders to place about two thousand cavalry along all the roads which he thought the direction of the flight might take.  After making these dispositions during the night, he marched out to battle at dawn. Fulvius did not hesitate, though he was not drawn on so much by any hopes of success on his own part as by the blind impetuosity of his men. The same recklessness which sent them on to the field appeared in the formation of their line.  They went forward in a haphazard way and took their places in the ranks just where they chose, and left them again as their caprices or fears dictated.  The first legion and the left wing of the allies were drawn up in front and the line was extended far beyond its proper length. The officers called out that it possessed neither strength nor depth and wherever the enemy made their attack they would break through, but the men would not even listen to, much less attend to anything that was for their good.  And now Hannibal was upon them; a general so different from their own, with an army so different and in such different order!  As might be expected, the Romans were unable to withstand the very first attack; their general, quite as foolish and reckless as Centenius, though not to be compared with him in courage, no sooner saw the day going against him and his men in confusion than he seized a horse and made his escape with about two hundred of his cavalry.  The rest of the army, repulsed in front and then surrounded in rear and flanks, was so completely cut up that out of 12,000 men not more than 2000 escaped. The camp was taken.
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