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Carthalo Attackes the Roman Transports

Meanwhile Adherbal sent the prisoners he had taken
Carthalo tries to intercept the transports.
in the sea fight, and the captured vessels, to Carthage; and giving Carthalo his colleague thirty vessels, in addition to the seventy in command of which he had come, despatched him with instructions to make a sudden attack upon the enemy's ships that were at anchor off Lilybaeum, capture all he could, and set fire to the rest. In obedience to these instructions Carthalo accomplished his passage just before daybreak, fired some of the vessels, and towed off others. Great was the commotion at the quarters of the Romans. For as they hurried to the rescue of the ships, the attention of Himilco, the commander of the garrison, was aroused by their shouts; and as the day was now beginning to break, he could see what was happening, and despatched the mercenary troops who were in the town. Thus the Romans found themselves surrounded by danger on every side, and fell into a state of consternation more than usually profound and serious. The Carthaginian admiral contented himself with either towing off or breaking up some few of their vessels, and shortly afterwards coasted along under the pretence of making for Heracleia: though he was really lying in wait, with the view of intercepting those who were coming by sea to the Roman army. When his look-out men brought him word that a considerable number of vessels of all sorts were bearing down upon him, and were now getting close, he stood out to sea and started to meet them: for the success just obtained over the Romans inspired him with such contempt for them, that he was eager to come to an engagement. The vessels in question were those which had been despatched in advance under the charge of the Quaestors from Syracuse. And they too had warning of their danger. Light boats were accustomed to sail in advance of a squadron, and these announced the approach of the enemy to the Quaestors; who being convinced that they were not strong enough to stand a battle at sea, dropped anchor under a small fortified town which was subject to Rome, and which, though it had no regular harbour, yet possessed roadsteads, and headlands projecting from the mainland, and surrounding the roadsteads, so as to form a convenient refuge. There they disembarked; and having set up some catapults and balistae, which they got from the town, awaited the approach of the enemy. When the Carthaginians arrived, their first idea was to blockade them; for they supposed that the men would be terrified and retreat to the fortified town, leaving them to take possession of the vessels without resistance. Their expectations, however, were not fulfilled; and finding that the men on the contrary resisted with spirit, and that the situation of the spot presented many difficulties of every description, they sailed away again after towing off some few of the transports laden with provisions, and retired to a certain river, in which they anchored and kept a look out for the enemy to renew their voyage.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (6):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LEMBUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), NAVARCHUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), NAVIS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), HALYCUS
    • Smith's Bio, Ca'rthalo
    • Smith's Bio, Himilco
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