On the other side, Mago, the Carthaginian general, perceiving that a siege was being prepared for both by sea and land, himself also disposed his forces thus:
he placed two thousand of the townsmen to oppose the enemy, on the side [p. 1078]
facing the Roman camp; he occupied the citadel with five hundred soldiers, and stationed five hundred on a rising ground, facing the east; the rest of his troops he ordered, intent on every thing that occurred, to hasten with assistance wherever the shout, or any sudden emergency, might call them.
Then, throwing open the gate, he sent out those he had drawn up in the street leading to the camp of the enemy. The Romans, according to the direction of their general, retired a little, in order that they might be nearer to the reserved troops which were to be sent to their assistance during the engagement.
At first they stood with pretty equal force, but afterwards the reserved troops, sent from time to time from the camp, not only obliged the enemy to turn their backs, but followed them up so close when flying in disorder, that had not a retreat been sounded, they seemed as though they would have rushed into the city together with the fugitives.
The consternation in the field was not greater than in every part of the city; many of the outposts were abandoned in panic and flight; and the walls were deserted, as they leaped down each in the part nearest him.
Scipio, who had gone out to an eminence called Mercury's hill, perceiving that the walls were abandoned by their defenders in many parts, ordered all his men to be called out of his camp and advance to take the city, and orders them to bring the scaling-ladders.
The general himself, covered by the shields of three stout young men, (for now an immense number of missiles of every description were let fly from the walls,) came up to the city, cheered them on, and gave the requisite orders;
and, what was of the utmost importance in exciting the courage of his men, he appeared among them a witness and spectator of the valour or cowardice of each.
Accordingly, they rushed forward, amidst wounds and weapons; nor could the walls, or the armed troops which stood upon them, repel them from eagerly mounting them.
At the same time an attack was commenced by the fleet upon that part of the city which was washed by the sea.
But here the alarm occasioned was greater than the force which could be employed; for while they were bringing the boats to shore, and hastily landing the ladders and the men, each man pressing forward to gain the land the shortest way, they hindered one another by their very haste and eagerness. [p. 1079]