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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book III Chapter 22: Vitellius versus Antonius Primus. The battle near Cremona[AD 69]
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|It would have been the best policy for the army of Vitellius to rest at Cremona, and, with strength recruited by food and repose, to attack and crush the next day an enemy exhausted by cold and hunger; but now, wanting a leader, and having no settled plan, they came into collision about nine o'clock at night with the Flavianist troops, who stood ready, and in order of battle. Respecting the disposition of the Vitellianist army, disordered as it was by its fury and by the darkness, I would not venture to speak positively. Some, however, have related, that on the right wing was the 4th legion (the Macedonian); that the 5th and 15th, with the veterans of three British legions (the 9th, 2nd, and 20th), formed the centre, while the left wing was made up of the 1st, the 16th, and the 22nd. Men of the legions Rapax and Italica were mingled with all the companies. The cavalry and the auxiliaries chose their position themselves. Throughout the night the battle raged in many forms, indecisive and fierce, destructive, first to one side, then to the other. Courage, strength, even the eye with its keenest sight, were of no avail. Both armies fought with the same weapons; the watchword, continually asked, became known; the colours were confused together, as parties of combatants snatched them from the enemy, and hurried them in this or that direction. The 7th legion, recently levied by Galba, was the hardest pressed. Six centurions of the first rank were killed, and some of the standards taken; but the eagle was saved by Atilius Verus, the centurion of the first company, who, after making a great slaughter among the enemy, at last fell.||
Standard:When an army was in camp, they were fixed in the ground, each marking the station of the cohort to which it belonged; when they were taken up it was the signal for breaking up the camp and commencing the march.