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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 13: The battle of Ilipa. Preliminaries[206 BC]
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When intelligence was brought to Scipio of the muster of this large army, he did not consider that he could meet it with his Roman legions unless he employed his native auxiliaries to give at all events the appearance of greater strength. At the same time he felt that he ought not to depend too much upon them, for if they changed sides it might lead to the same disaster as that which had overtaken his father [Note 1] and his uncle [Note 2]. Culchas, whose authority extended over twenty-eight towns, had promised to raise a force of infantry and cavalry during the winter, and Silanus was sent to bring them up. Then breaking up his quarters at Tarraco,Scipio marched down to Castulo, picking up small contingents furnished by the friendly tribes which lay on his line of march. There Silanus joined him with 3000 infantry and 500 cavalry. His entire army, Romans and allied contingents, infantry and cavalry, amounted now to 55,000 men. With this force he advanced to meet the enemy and took up his position near Baecula. Whilst his men were entrenching their camp they were attacked by Mago and Masinissa with the whole of their cavalry and would have been thrown into great disorder had not Scipio made a charge with a body of horse which he had placed in concealment behind a hill. These speedily routed those of the assailants who had ridden close up to the lines and were actually attacking the entrenching parties; with the others, however, who kept their ranks and were advancing in steady order the conflict was more sustained, and for a considerable time remained undecided. But when the cohorts of light infantry came in from the outposts, and the men at work on the intrenchments had seized their arms and, fresh for action, were in ever increasing numbers relieving their wearied comrades until a considerable body of armed men were hastening from the camp to do battle, the Carthaginians and Numidians retreated. At first they retired in order though hurriedly and kept their ranks, but when the Romans pressed their attacks home and resistance was no longer possible, they broke and fled as best they could. Though this action did much to raise the spirits of the Romans and depress those of the enemy, there were for several days incessant skirmishes between the cavalry and light infantry on both sides.
Actions in Spain in 206 BC
Event: Actions in Spain in 206 BC