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Preparations for Battle

Now it was the purpose of the Romans to sail across
Preparations for the Battle of Ecnomus.
to Libya and transfer the war there, in order that the Carthaginians might find the danger affecting themselves and their own country rather than Sicily. But the Carthaginians were determined to prevent this. They knew that Libya was easily invaded, and that the invaders if they once effected a landing would meet with little resistance from the inhabitants; and they therefore made up their minds not to allow it, and were eager rather to bring the matter to a decisive issue by a battle at sea. The one side was determined to cross, the other to prevent their crossing; and their enthusiastic rivalry gave promise of a desperate struggle. The preparations of the Romans were made to suit either contingency, an engagement at sea or a disembarkation on the enemy's soil. Accordingly they picked out the best hands from the land army and divided the whole force which they meant to take on board into four divisions.
Roman forces. 330 ships, with average of 420 men (300 rowers + 120 marines) = 138,600 men.
Each division had alternative titles; the first was called the "First Legion" or the "First Squadron,"—and so on with the others. The fourth had a third title besides. They were called "Triarii," on the analogy of land armies. The total number of men thus making up the naval force amounted to nearly one hundred and forty thousand, reckoning each ship as carrying three hundred rowers and one hundred and twenty soldiers. The Carthaginans, on the other hand, made their preparations almost exclusively with a view to a naval engagement. Their numbers, if we reckon by the number of their ships, were over one hundred and fifty thousand men.
Carthaginian numbers, 150,000 men.
The mere recital of these figures must, I should imagine, strike any one with astonishment at the magnitude of the struggle, and the vast resources of the contending states. An actual view of them itself could hardly be more impressive than the bare statement of the number of men and ships.

Now the Romans had two facts to consider: First, that

The Roman order at Ecnomus.
circumstances compelled them to face the open sea; and, secondly, that their enemies had the advantage of fast sailing vessels. They therefore took every precaution for keeping their line unbroken and difficult to attack. They had only two ships with six banks of oars, those, namely, on which the Consuls Marcus Atilius and Lucius Manlius respectively were sailing. These they stationed side by side in front and in a line with each other. Behind each of these they stationed ships one behind the other in single file—the first squadron behind the one, and the second squadron behind the other. These were so arranged that, as each ship came to its place, the two files diverged farther and farther from each other; the vessels being also stationed one behind the other with their prows inclining outwards. Having thus arranged the first and second squadrons in single file so as to form a wedge, they stationed the third division in a single line at its base; so that the whole finally presented the appearance of a triangle. Behind this base they stationed the horse-transports, attaching them by towing-ropes to the ships of the third squadron. And to the rear of them they placed the fourth squadron, called the Triarii, in a single line, so extended as to overlap the line in front of them at both extremities. When these dispositions were complete the general appearance was that of a beak or wedge, the apex of which was open, the base compact and strong; while the whole was easy to work and serviceable, and at the same time difficult to break up.

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