The next night there was a bloody affray in the Roman camp, occasioned by some Gallic auxiliaries, though the confusion was greater than the loss of life.
Some two thousand foot-soldiers and two hundred horsemen cut down the guards doing duty at the gates and fled to Hannibal, who received them with fair words, and after encouraging them to hope for great rewards, sent them off to their several states to solicit the support of their countrymen.
Scipio apprehended that this bloodshed would prove to be a signal for the defection of all the Gauls, and that they would fly to arms, as if maddened by the contagion of this crime.
Accordingly, though still troubled with his wound, he marched silently away in the fourth watch of the next night to the river Trebia, and encamped on higher ground, where hills made it more difficult for cavalry to operate.
He was less successful than he had been on the Ticinus in eluding the observation of Hannibal, who sent after him first the Numidians and then all his [p. 143]
cavalry, and would have thrown the rearguard at1
least into disorder, had not the Numidians, in their greed for booty, turned aside to plunder the camp which the Romans had abandoned.
Whilst they frittered away the time there, rummaging in every nook and cranny without finding anything that really repaid them for the loss of time, they let their enemies slip through their fingers. The Romans had already passed the Trebia and were marking out their camp, when the Numidians caught sight of them and cut down a few loiterers whom they intercepted on the hither side of the stream.
Scipio could no longer bear the pain occasioned by the jolting of his wound in travelling, and besides he judged it best to wait for the arrival of his colleague, who was already recalled —so he had heard —from Sicily. He therefore chose what seemed to be the safest place near the river for a permanent camp, and proceeded to entrench it.
Hannibal, too, went into camp not far away. Elated as he was at the victory of his horse, he was no less worried by the dearth of food, which increased from day to day, as he advanced through hostile territory without having anywhere arranged beforehand for supplies.
In the village of Clastidium the Romans had got together a great quantity of corn. Thither Hannibal dispatched some soldiers, who were making preparations to assault the place, when hopes were held out of its betrayal. The price was not a large one: Dasius of Brundisium, who was in command of the garrison, accepted a bribe of four hundred gold pieces, and turned Clastidium over to Hannibal.
This served the Phoenicians as a granary, while they lay encamped on [p. 145]
the Trebia. The surrendered garrison were spared,2
as Hannibal wished to gain at the very outset a reputation for clemency.