When first the Carthaginian sentinels, and afterwards the rest, roused by the terrifying effects of a tumult by night, beheld the light emitted from the flames, they also, labouring under the same delusion, imagined that the fire had originated from accidental causes;
while the shout raised amidst the slaughter and wounds, being of a confused kind, prevented their distinguishing whether it was occasioned by the trepidation of an alarm by night.
Accordingly, rushing out one and all at every gate, each man taking the nearest road, without their arms, as not suspecting any hostile attack, and carrying with them only such things as might be useful in extinguishing the flames, they fell upon the Roman troops.
After all these had been slain, not only with the animosity of enemies, but also that no one might escape as a messenger, Scipio immediately attacked the gates, which were unguarded in consequence of the confusion;
and, having thrown fire upon the nearest huts, at first the flames blazed forth with great fury, in several places at once, in consequence of the fire having been applied to different parts, but afterwards extending themselves along the contiguous huts, they suddenly enveloped the whole camp in one general conflagration.
Men and cattle scorched with the flames blocked up the passages of the gates, first in a terrible rush to escape, and afterwards with their prostrate bodies.
Those who got out of the way of the fire were cut off by the sword, and the two camps were involved in one common destruction. The two generals, however, and out of so many thousand troops only two thousand foot and five hundred horsemen, escaped, half armed, a great many of them being wounded and scorched.
Forty thousand men were either slain or destroyed by the flames, and above five thousand captured.
Among the captured were many Carthaginian nobles, eleven senators, with a hundred and seventy-four military standards, above two thousand seven hundred Numidian horses, and six elephants. Eight elephants were destroyed either by fire or sword, and a great quantity of arms taken. All the latter the general dedicated to Vulcan and burnt.