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He had gone to Novesium and Bonna, to inspect the camps which were then in course of erection for the winter abode of the legions, and was making his way back with the fleet, his escort being in disorder, and his sentries negligent. This was observed by the Germans, and they planned a surprise. They chose a dark and cloudy night, and moving rapidly down the stream, entered the entrenchments without opposition. The carnage was at first helped on by a cunning device. They cut the ropes of the tents, and slaughtered the soldiers as they lay buried beneath their own dwellings. Another force put the fleet into confusion, threw their grappling irons on the vessels, and dragged them away by the sterns. They sought at first to elude notice by silence, but when the slaughter was begun, by way of increasing the panic they raised on all sides a deafening shout. The Romans, awakened by wounds, looked for their arms and rushed through the passages of the camp, some few with their proper accoutrements, but most with their garments
wrapped round their shoulders, and with drawn swords in their hands. The general, who was half asleep, and all but naked, was saved by the enemy's mistake. They carried off the prætorian vessel, which was distinguished by a flag, believing that the general was on board. Cerialis indeed had passed the night elsewhere, in the company, as many believed, of an Ubian woman, Claudia Sacrata. The sentinels sought to excuse their own scandalous neglect by the disgraceful conduct of the general, alleging that they had been ordered to be silent, that they might not disturb his rest, and that, from omitting the watchwords and the usual challenges, they had themselves fallen asleep. The enemy rowed back in broad daylight with the captured vessels. The prætorian trireme they towed up the river Lupia as a present to Veleda.

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