The Siege of Aspis
This was the state of affairs on the centre. But
meanwhile Hanno with the right wing, which had held aloof
when the first encounter took place, crossing the open sea,
charged the ships of the Triarii and caused them great
difficulty and embarrassment: while those of the Carthaginians
who had been posted near the land manœuvred into line,
and getting their ships straight, charged the men who were
towing the horse-transports. These latter let go the towingropes, grappled with the enemy, and kept up a desperate
So that the engagement was in three separate divisions,
or rather there were three sea-fights going on at
wide intervals from each other. Now in these
three engagements the opposing parties were in
each case fairly matched, thanks to the original disposition of
the ships, and therefore the victory was in each case closely
contested. However the result in the several cases was very
much what was to be expected where forces were so equal.
First with Hamilcar's squadron.
The first to engage were the first to separate:
for Hamilcar's division at last were overpowered and fled. But while Lucius was
engaged in securing his prizes, Marcus observing the struggle
in which the Triarii and horse-transports were involved, went
with all speed to their assistance, taking with him all the
ships of the second squadron which were undamaged.
Second squadron under Regulus.
As soon as he had reached and
engaged Hanno's division, the Triarii quickly
picked up courage, though they were then getting much
the worst of it, and returned with renewed spirits to the
fight. It was now the turn for the Carthaginians to be in
difficulties. They were charged in front and on the rear,
and found to their surprise that they were being surrounded
by the relieving squadron. They at once gave way and
retreated in the direction of the open sea.
While this was going on, Lucius, who was sailing back to
Third squadron relieved by Regulus and Manlius.
rejoin his colleague, observed that the third
squadron had got wedged in by the Carthaginians close in shore. Accordingly he and
Marcus, who had by this time secured the safety of the transports and Triarii, started together to relieve their imperilled
comrades, who were now sustaining something very like a
blockade. And the fact is that they would long before this
have been utterly destroyed had not the Carthaginians been
afraid of the "crows," and confined themselves to surrounding
and penning them in close to land, without attempting to
charge for fear of being caught by the grappling-irons. The
Consuls came up rapidly, and surrounding the Carthaginians
captured fifty of their ships with their crews, while some few
of them managed to slip away and escape by keeping close
to the shore.
Such was the result of the separate engagements. But the
general upshot of the whole battle was in favour
of the Romans. Twenty-four of their vessels were
destroyed; over thirty of the Carthaginians. Not a single
Roman ship was captured with its crew; sixty-four of the
Carthaginians were so taken.