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The Roman Fleet Sails for Drepana

When the announcement of these events at Rome was
The Roman army is reinforced.
followed by reiterated tidings that the larger part of the crews of the fleet had been destroyed, either at the works, or in the general conduct of the siege, the Roman government set zealously to work to enlist sailors; and, having collected as many as ten thousand, sent them to Sicily. They crossed the straits, and reached the camp on foot; and when they had joined, Publius Claudius, the Consul, assembled his tribunes, and said that it was just the time to sail to the attack of Drepana with the whole squadron: for that Adherbal,1 who was in command there, was quite unprepared for such an event, because he as yet knew nothing of the new crews having arrived; and was fully persuaded that their fleet could not sail, owing to their loss of men in the siege.
B. C. 249. Coss. P. Claudius Pulcher L. Junius Pullus.
His proposition met with a ready assent from the council of officers, and he immediately set about getting his men on board, the old crews as well as those who had recently joined. As for marines, he selected the best men from the whole army, who were ready enough to join an expedition which involved so short a voyage and so immediate and certain an advantage.
Claudius sails to attack Drepana.
Having completed these preparations, he set sail about midnight, without being detected by the enemy; and for the first part of the day he sailed in close order, keeping the land on his right. By daybreak the leading ships could be seen coming towards Drepana; and at the first sight of them Adherbal was overwhelmed with surprise. He quickly recovered his self-possession however: and, fully appreciating the significance of the enemy's attack, he determined to try every manœuvre, and hazard every danger, rather than allow himself and his men to be shut up in the blockade which threatened them. He lost no time in collecting his rowingcrews upon the beach, and summoning the mercenary soldiers who were in the town by proclamation. When the muster had taken place, he endeavoured to impress upon them in a few words what good hopes of victory they had, if they were bold enough to fight at sea; and what hardships they would have to endure in a blockade, if they hesitated from any fear of danger and played the coward. The men showed a ready enthusiasm for the sea-fight, and demanded with shouts that he would lead them to it without delay. He thanked them, praised their zeal, and gave the order to embark with all speed, to keep their eyes upon his ship, and follow in its wake. Having made these instructions clear as quickly as he could, he got under weigh himself first, and guided his fleet close under the rocks, on the opposite side of the harbour to that by which the enemy were entering.

1 See ch. 46.

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