The army was now in a miserable plight, being in want of every necessary; and by the continual1
assaults of the enemy great numbers of the soldiers had been wounded. Nicias and Demosthenes, perceiving their condition, resolved during the night to light as many watch-fires as possible and to lead off their forces. They intended to take another route and march towards the sea in the direction opposite to that from which the Syracusans were watching them.
Now their whole line of march lay, not towards Catana, but towards the other side of Sicily, in the direction of Camarina and Gela, and the cities, Hellenic or Barbarian, of that region.
So they lighted numerous fires and departed in the night. And then, as constantly happens in armies2
, especially in very great ones, and as might be expected when they were marching by night in an enemy's country, and with the enemy from whom they were flying not far off, there arose a panic among them, and they fell into confusion.
The army of Nicias, which was leading the way, kept together, and got on considerably in advance, but that of Demosthenes, which was the larger half, was severed from the other division, and marched in worse order.
At daybreak, however, they succeeded in reaching the sea, and striking into the Helorine road marched along it, intending as soon as they arrived at the Cacyparis to follow up the course of the river through the interior of the island. They were expecting that the Sicels for whom they had sent would meet them on this road.
When they had reached the river they found there also a guard of the Syracusans cutting off the passage by a wall and palisade. They forced their way through and, crossing the river, passed on towards another river which is called the Erineus, this being the direction in which their guides led them.