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Why New Carthage is a Desirable Target

He therefore rejected that idea altogether: but being
He determines to attempt New Carthage.
informed that New Carthage was the most important source of supplies to the enemy and of damage to the Romans in the present war, he had taken the trouble to make minute inquiries about it during the winter from those who were well informed. He learnt that it was nearly the only town in Iberia which possessed a harbour suitable for a fleet and naval force; that it lay very conveniently for the Carthaginians to make the sea passage from Libya; that they in fact had the bulk of their money and war material in it, as well as their hostages from the whole of Iberia; that, most important of all, the number of fighting men garrisoning the citadel only amounted to a thousand,—because no one would ever suppose that, while the Carthaginians commanded nearly the whole of Iberia, any one would conceive the idea of assaulting this town; that the other inhabitants were exceedingly numerous, but all consisted of craftsmen, mechanics, and fisher-folk, as far as possible removed from any knowledge of warfare. All this he regarded as being fatal to the town, in case of the sudden appearance of an enemy. Nor did he moreover fail to acquaint himself with the topography of New Carthage, or the nature of its defences, or the lie of the lagoon: but by means of certain fishermen who had worked there he had ascertained that the lagoon was quite shallow and fordable at most points; and that, generally speaking, the water ebbed every day towards evening sufficiently to secure this. These considerations convinced him that, if he could accomplish his purpose, he would not only damage his opponents, but gain a considerable advantage for himself; and that, if on the other hand he failed in effecting it, he would yet be able to secure the safety of his men owing to his command of the sea, provided he had once made his camp secure,—and this was easy, because of the wide dispersion of the enemy's forces. He had therefore, during his residence in winter quarters, devoted himself to preparing for this operation to the exclusion of every other: and in spite of the magnitude of the idea which he had conceived, and in spite of his youth, he concealed it from all except Gaius Laelius, until he had himself decided to reveal it.

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  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TOGA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CARTHA´GO NOVA
    • Smith's Bio, Mago
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