The Defeat of Regulus
The Romans at once noticed a change. They saw
The new strategy of the Carthaginians.
that the Carthaginians chose level country for
their line of march, and flat places for their
encampments. This novelty puzzled and rather
alarmed them, yet their prevailing feeling was an eager desire
to come to close quarters with the enemy. They therefore
advanced to a position about ten stades from them and employed the first day in pitching a camp there. Next day,
while the chief officers of the Carthaginians were discussing
in a council of war what dispositions were called for, and
what line of strategy they were to adopt, the common soldiers,
in their eagerness for the engagement, collected in groups,
shouted out the name of Xanthippus, and showed that their
opinion was in favour of an immediate forward movement.
Influenced by the evident enthusiasm and eagerness of the
army, and by the appeals of Xanthippus that they should not
let the opportunity slip, the generals gave orders to the men
to get ready, and resigned to Xanthippus the entire direction
of affairs, with full authority to act as he thought most advantageous.
The dispositions for the battle.
He at once acted upon this authority.
He ordered out the elephants, and placed them
in a single line in front of the whole army.
The heavy phalanx of the Carthaginians he stationed at a
moderate interval in the rear of these. He divided the
mercenaries into three corps. One he stationed on the right
wing; while the other two, which consisted of the most active,
he placed with the cavalry on both wings. When the Romans
saw that the enemy were drawn up to offer them battle
they readily advanced to accept it. They were however
alarmed at the elephants, and made special arrangements
with a view to resist their charge. They stationed the velites
in the van, and behind them the legionaries, many maniples
deep, while they divided the cavalry between the two wings.
Their line of battle was thus less extended than usual, but
deeper. And though they had thereby made a sufficient provision against the elephants, yet being far out-numbered in
cavalry, their provision in that part of the field was altogether
inadequate. At length both sides had made their dispositions
according to their respective plans of operation, and had placed
their several men in the posts assigned to them: and now they
were standing drawn up in order, and were each of them
watching for the right moment for beginning the attack.