Failures of Hanno
Hanno, however, was busying himself with some success in providing defences. In this department of a general's
duty he showed considerable ability; but he was quite a
different man at the head of a sally in force: he was not
sagacious in his use of opportunities, and managed the whole
business with neither skill nor promptitude. It was thus that
his first expedition miscarried when he went to
. The number of his elephants,
of which he had as many as a hundred, struck
terror into the enemy; yet he made so poor a use of this
advantage that, instead of turning it into a complete victory,
he very nearly brought the besieged, as well as himself, to
utter destruction. He brought from Carthage
darts, and in fact all the apparatus for a siege; and having
encamped outside Utica
undertook an assault upon the
enemy's entrenchment. The elephants forced their way into
the camp, and the enemy, unable to withstand their weight and
the fury of their attack, entirely evacuated the position. They
lost a large number from wounds inflicted by the elephants'
tusks; while the survivors made their way to a certain hill,
which was a kind of natural fortification thickly covered with
trees, and there halted, relying upon the strength of the position. But Hanno, accustomed to fight with Numidians and
Libyans, who, once turned, never stay their flight till they
are two days removed from the scene of the action, imagined
that he had already put an end to the war and had gained a
complete victory. He therefore troubled himself no more
about his men, or about the camp generally, but went inside
the town and occupied himself with his own personal comfort.
But the mercenaries, who had fled in a body on to the hill,
had been trained in the daring tactics of Barcas, and accustomed from their experience in the Sicilian warfare to retreat
and return again to the attack many times in the same day.
They now saw that the general had left his army and gone
into the town, and that the soldiers, owing to their victory,
were behaving carelessly, and in fact slipping out of the camp
in various directions: they accordingly got themselves into
order and made an assault upon the camp; killed a large
number of the men; forced the rest to fly ignominiously to
the protection of the city walls and gates; and possessed
themselves of all the baggage and apparatus belonging to
the besieged, which Hanno had brought outside the town in
addition to his own, and thus put into the hands of the enemy.
But this was not the only instance of his incompetence.
Hanno's continued ill success.
A few days afterwards, near a place called
Gorza, he came right upon the enemy, who lay
encamped there, and had two opportunities of
securing a victory by pitched battles; and two more by surprising them, as they changed quarters close to where he was.
But in both cases he let the opportunities slip for want of
care and proper calculation.