The Carthaginians having lost a detachment of cavalry, together with the commander, got together another body by means of a new levy, and gave the command of it to Hanno, son of Hamilcar.
They frequently sent for Hasdrubal and Syphax by letters and messengers, and lastly even by ambassadors, ordering Hasdrubal to bring assistance to his almost besieged country, and imploring Syphax to bring relief to Carthage, nay to all Africa.
At that time Scipio had his camp about five miles from the city of Utica, having removed it from the sea, where he had continued encamped for a few days near the fleet.
Hanno, having received the body of horse, which was far from being strong enough, not only to attack the enemy, but even to protect the country from devastation, made it his first business to augment the number of his cavalry by pressing;
and though he did not despise the men of other nations, he enlisted principally from the Numidians, who are by far the first horsemen in Africa.
He had now as many as four thousand horsemen, when he took possession of a town named Salera, about fifteen miles from the Roman camp. When Scipio was told of this, he said, “What! cavalry lodging in houses during the summer!
Let them be even more in number while they have such a leader.” Concluding that the more dilatory they were in their operations, the more active he ought to be, he sent Masinissa forward with the cavalry, directing him to ride up to the gates of the enemy and draw them out to battle;
and when their whole force had poured out and pressed upon him with such [p. 1277]
impetuosity in the contest that they could not easily be withstood, then to retire by degrees, and he would himself come up and join in the battle in time.
Waiting only till he thought he had allowed sufficient time for the advanced party to draw out the enemy, he followed with the Roman cavalry, proceeding without being seen, as he was covered by some rising grounds, which lay very conveniently between him and the enemy, round the windings of the road.
Masinissa, according to the plan laid down, at one time as if menacing the enemy, at another as if he had been afraid, either rode up to the gates, or else by retiring when his counterfeited fears had inspired them with courage, tempted them to pursue him with inconsiderate ardour.
They had not as yet all gone out, and the general was wearying himself with various occupations, compelling some who were oppressed with sleep and wine to take arms and bridle their horses, and preventing others from running out at all the gates in scattered parties and in disorder, without keeping their ranks or following their standards.
At first, those who incautiously rushed out were overpowered by Masinissa; but then a greater number pouring out of the gate at once in a dense body, placed the contest on an equal footing;
and at last the whole of their cavalry coming up and joining in the battle, they could now no longer be withstood.
Masinissa, however, did not receive their charge in hasty flight, but retired slowly, until he drew them to the rising grounds which covered the Roman cavalry. The Roman cavalry then rising up, their own strength unimpaired and their horses fresh, spread themselves round Hanno and the Africans, fatigued 'with the fight and the pursuit, and Masinissa, suddenly turning his horses round, came back to the battle.
About a thousand who formed the first line and could not easily retreat, together with Hanno their general, were surrounded and slain.
The victors pursuing the rest through a space of three miles, as they fled with the most violent haste, being terrified, principally on account of the death of their leader, either took or slew as many as two thousand horsemen more.
It appeared that there were not less than two hundred Carthaginian horsemen among them, some of whom were distinguished by birth and fortune.