The Battle of Ecnomus
Next year Gaius Atilius, the Consul, happened to be at
Coss. C. Atilius Regulus, Cn. Cornelius, Blasio II. B. C. 257. Fighting off Tyndaris.
anchor off Tyndaris
, when he observed the Carthaginian fleet sailing by in a straggling manner.
He passed the word to the crews of his own
ships to follow the advanced squadron, and
started himself before the rest with ten ships
of equal sailing powers. When the Carthaginians became aware that while some of the
enemy were still embarking, others were already putting
out to sea, and that the advanced squadron were considerably ahead of the rest, they stood round and went to
meet them. They succeeded in surrounding and destroying
all of them except the Consul's ship, and that they all but
captured with its crew. This last, however, by the perfection
of its rowers and its consequent speed, effected a desperate
escape. Meanwhile the remaining ships of the Romans were
sailing up and gradually drawing close together. Having got
into line, they charged the enemy, took ten ships with their
crews, and sunk eight. The rest of the Carthaginian ships
retired to the Liparean Islands.
The result of this battle was that both sides concluded that
they were now fairly matched, and accordingly made more
systematic efforts to secure a naval force, and to
dispute the supremacy at sea. While these things
were going on, the land forces effected nothing worth recording;
but wasted all their time in such petty operations as chance
threw in their way.
B.C. 256. Coss. L. Manlius, Vulso Longus, M. Atilius Regulus II (Suff.).
Therefore, after making the preparations
I have mentioned for the approaching summer,
the Romans, with three hundred and thirty
decked ships of war, touched at Messene
thence put to sea, keeping Sicily
on their right;
and after doubling the headland Pachynus
passed on to Ecnomus, because the land force was also in that
district. The Carthaginians on their part put to sea again
with three hundred and fifty decked ships, touched at Lilybaeum
, and thence dropped anchor at Heracleia Minoa.