And now, when all things were sufficiently prepared for crossing, the enemy over against them occupying the whole bank, horse and foot, deterred them.
In order to dislodge them, Hannibal orders Hanno, the son of Bomilcar, at the first watch of the night, to proceed with a part of the forces, principally Spanish, one day's journey up the river;
and having crossed it where he might first be able, as secretly as possible, to lead round his forces, that when the occasion required he might attack the enemy in the rear.
The Gauls, given him as guides for the purpose, inform him that about twenty-five miles from thence, the river spreading round a small island, broader where it was divided, and therefore with a shallower channel, presented a passage. At this place timber was quickly cut down and rafts formed, on which men, horses, and other burthens might be conveyed over.
The Spaniards, without making any difficulty, having put their clothes in bags of leather, and themselves leaning on their bucklers placed beneath them, swam across the river.
And the rest of the army, after passing on the rafts joined together, and pitching their camp near the river, being fatigued by the journey of the night and the labour of the work, are refreshed by the rest of one day, their leader being anxious to execute his design at a proper season.
Setting out next day from this place, they signify by raising a smoke that they had crossed, and were not far distant; which when Hannibal understood, that he might not be wanting on the opportunity, he gives the signal for passing.
The infantry already had the boats prepared and fitted; a line of ships higher up transporting the horsemen for the most part near their horses swimming beside them, in order to break the force of the [p. 726]
current, rendered the water smooth to the boats crossing below.
A great part of the horses were led across swimming, held by bridles from the stern, except those which they put on board saddled and bridled, in order that they might be ready to be used by the rider the moment he disembarked on the strand.