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Then Antonius by a sudden movement fell upon the outposts of the enemy, and made trial of their courage in a slight skirmish, the combatants separating on equal terms. Soon afterwards, Cæcina strongly fortified a camp between Hostilia, a village belonging to Verona, and the marshes of the river Tartarus, where his position was secure, as his rear was covered by the river, and his flank by intervening marshes. Had he only been loyal, those two legions, which had not been joined by the army of Mœsia, might have been crushed by the united strength of the Vitellianists, or driven back and compelled to evacuate Italy in a disgraceful retreat. Cæcina, however, by various delays betrayed to the enemy the early opportunities of the campaign, assailing by letters those whom it was easy to drive out by force of arms, until by his envoys he settled the conditions of his treachery. In this interval Aponius Saturninus came up with the 7th legion (Claudius's). This legion was commanded by the tribune Vipstanus Messalla, a man of illustrious family, himself highly distinguished, the only man who had brought into that conflict an honest purpose. To this army, which was far from equalling the forces of Vitellius (it in fact consisted of three legions), Cæcina despatched a letter reproaching them with rashness in again drawing the sword in a vanquished cause. At the same time he extolled the valour of the German army; of Vitellius he made but some slight and common-place mention without any abuse of Vespasian. Certainly he said nothing which could either seduce or terrify the enemy. The leaders of the Flavianist party, omitting all apology for their former fortune, at once took up a tone of high praise of Vespasian, of confidence in their cause, of security as to their army, and of hostility to Vitellius, while hopes were held out to the tribunes and centurions of retaining the privileges which Vitellius had granted them, and Cæcina was himself encouraged in no ambiguous terms to change sides. These letters read to the assembled army increased their confidence; for Cæcina had written in a humble strain, as if he feared to offend Vespasian, while their own generals had used contemptuous language, meant, it would seem, to insult Vitellius.

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