The troops in the outposts having brought word, as soon as it was light, that the enemy had departed, Scipio, despatching his cavalry in advance, ordered the army to move forward;
and so rapidly were they led, that had they directly followed the track of the fugitives, they would certainly have overtaken them; but they trusted to the report of their guides, that there was a shorter cut to the river Baetis, where they might attack them while crossing it.
Hasdrubal, being precluded from passing the river, turned his course to the ocean; and they now advanced in disorder and in the manner of fugitives, so that the Roman legions were left considerably behind.
The cavalry and light-armed, attacking sometimes their rear, and sometimes their flank, harassed and delayed them;
and as they were obliged to halt, in consequence of these frequent annoyances, and engaged sometimes the cavalry, at other times the skirmishers and the auxiliary infantry, the legions came up.
After this it was no longer a fight, but a butchering as of cattle, till the general himself, who was the first to run away, made his escape to the neighbouring hills with about six thousand men half armed; the rest were slain or made prisoners.
The Carthaginians hastily fortified an irregular camp on the highest eminence, and from thence they defended themselves without difficulty, the enemy failing in his attempt to get at them, from the difficulty of the ascent. But a siege in a place bare and affording no means of subsistence, was hardly to be supported, even for a few days; the troops therefore deserted to the enemy.
At last the general himself, having procured some ships, for the sea was not at a great distance, left his army by night and effected his escape to Gades.
Scipio, having heard of the flight of the general of the enemy, left ten thousand foot and one thousand cavalry for Silanus to carry on the siege of the camp, and returned to Tarraco with the rest of the troops,
after a march of seventy days, during which he took cognizance of the causes of the petty princes and states, in order that rewards might be conferred according to a just estimate of their merits.
After his departure, Masinissa, having held a private conference with Silanus, passed over into Africa with a few of his countrymen, in order [p. 1184]
that he might induce his nation also to acquiesce in his new designs.
The cause of this sudden change was not so evident at the time, as the proof was convincing which was afforded by his subsequent fidelity, preserved to extreme old age, that he did not on this occasion act without reasonable grounds. Mago went to Gades in the ships which had been sent back by Hasdrubal.
Of the rest of the troops thus abandoned by their generals, some deserted and others betook themselves to flight, and in this manner were dispersed through the neighbouring states. There was no body of them considerable either for numbers or strength.
Such were, as near as possible, the circumstances under which the Carthaginians were driven out of Spain, under the conduct and auspices of Publius Scipio, in the thirteenth year from the commencement of the war, and the fifth from the time that Publius Scipio received the province and the army.
Not long after, Silanus returned to Tarraco to Scipio, with information that the war was at an end.