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When Agricola arrived, about the middle of the summer (A. D. 78), to take upon him the command, he found an army lulled in indolence and security, as if the campaign was at an end, while the enemy was on the watch to seize the first opportunity. The Ordovicians, not long before his arrival, had fallen upon a party of horse that happened to be quartered in their district, and put them almost all to the sword. By this blow the courage of the Britons was once more revived; the bold and resolute declared for open war, while others less sanguine, were against unsheathing the sword till the character and genius of the new governor should be better known. Many things conspired to embarrass Agricola: the summer was far advanced; the troops were stationed at different quarters, expecting a cessation of arms during the remainder of the year; and to act on the defensive, content with strengthening the weakest stations, was in the opinion of the best officers the most prudent measure. These were circumstances unfavourable to a spirit of enterprise; but the general resolved to put his army in motion, and face the danger without delay. For this purpose he drew together val ious detachments from the legions, and, with the addition of a body of auxiliaries, marched against the enemy. The Ordovicians continuing to decline an engagement on the open plain, he determined to seek them on their heights, and, to animate his men by his own example, he advanced at the head of the line. A battle ensued, and the issue was the destruction of the Ordovician state. Knowing of what moment it is to follow the first impressions of fame, Agricola formed a plan for the reduction of the Isle of Mona. For the execution of an enterprise so sudden and important, no measures had been concerted, and by consequence no vessels were ready to transport the troops. The genius and resolution of the general supplied all deficiencies. He draughted from the auxiliaries a chosen band well acquainted with the fordable places, and inured to the national practice of swimming across lakes and rivers with such dexterity, that they could manage their arms and guide their horses at the same time. This select corps, free from the incumbrance of their baggage, dashed into the water, and made their way with vigour towards the island. This mode of attack astonished the enemy, who expected nothing less than a fleet of transports, and a regular embarkation. Struck with consternation, they thought nothing impregnable to men who waged so unusual a war. Ih despair they sued for peace, and surrendered the island. The event added a new lustre to the name of Agricola, who had thus crowded so much glory into that part of the year which is usually trifled away m vain parade. The moderation with which he enjoyed his victory was remarkable. In his despatches to Rome he assumed no merit, nor were his letters, according to custom, decorated with sprigs of laurel: but this self-denial served only to enhance his fame.
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