Jugurtha, after he had lost the city of Capsa, and other strong and important places, as well as a vast sum of money, dispatched messengers to Bocchus, requesting him to bring his forces into Numidia as soon as possible, and stating that the time for giving battle was at hand. But finding that he hesitated, and was balancing the inducements to peace and war, he again corrupted his confidants, as on a previous occasion, with presents, and promised the Moor himself a third part of Numidia, should either the Romans be driven from Africa, or the war brought to an end without any diminution of his own territories. Being allured by this offer, Bocchus joined Jugurtha with a large force.
The armies of the kings being thus united, they attacked Marius, on his march to his winter quarters, when scarcely a tenth part of the day remained,1
expecting that the night, which was now coming on, would be a shelter to them if they were beaten, and no impediment if they should conquer, as they were well acquainted with the country, while either result would be worse for the Romans in the dark. At the very moment, accordingly, that Marius heard from various quarters2
of the enemy's approach, the enemy themselves were upon him, and before the troops could either form themselves or collect the baggage, before they could receive even a signal or an order, the Moorish and Getulian horse, not in line, or any regular array of battle, but in separate bodies, as chance had united them, rushed furiously on our men; who, though all struck with a panic, yet, calling to mind what they had done on former occasions, either seized their arms, or protected those who were looking for theirs, while some, springing on their horses, advanced against the enemy. But the whole conflict was more like a rencounter with robbers than a battle; the horse and foot of the enemy, mingled together without standards or order, wounded some of our men, and cut down others, and surprised many in the rear while fighting stoutly with those in front; neither valor nor arms were a sufficient defense, the enemy being superior in numbers, and covering the field on all sides. At last the Roman veterans, who were necessarily well experienced in war,3
formed themselves, wherever the nature of the ground or chance allowed them to unite, in circular bodies, and thus secured on every side, and regularly drawn up, withstood the attacks of the enemy.