Ancient history

Indecisive naval combat

The struggle is fierce; the many small Punic vessels do wonders by slipping under the oars of the galleys, piercing the prow, tearing off the rudder, withdrawing as quickly as they return. However, the battle is indecisive and Hasdrubal decides to interrupt it to continue it the next day. The smaller boats, which are more manageable, arrive first in the channel which they bottle up. There is no more room for the galleys which will line up a little further south along the landing stage, bow out, they face the Roman fleet which is attacking them; they are supported by the soldiers running behind them on the jetty; but they cannot move when enemy ships are heading towards them; on the other hand, the long Roman galleys present the side when they turn to start again; very quickly, however, they invent a stratagem to avoid changing tack. Having dropped anchor far enough, they are hauled by long ropes to leave. Night comes to interrupt the struggle; and this time the Punic galleys which have not sunk can return to port, but their losses are very heavy. The next day, Scipio undertook the attack on this famous wharf to make it a base of operations against the ports; the besieged have built a fortified wall there, so they must be dislodged. Many machines are brought by the roadway of the finally finished dam which joined the Punic jetty; breaches are thus made in the low wall of the landing stage; but the following night many besieged, having taken off their clothes, arrive by the sea, which is not very deep in this place, and with torches which they light set fire to the machines, the Romans, terrified by the presence of all these specters who came out from the shadows, flow back in disorder towards their camp where they sow panic; the consul is having a hard time restoring order.

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