Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/244

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be countermarched, in the hope of reaching the nearest Roman garrison on the Lippe.[1] But retreat now was as impracticable as advance; and the falling back of the Romans only augmented the courage of their assailants, and caused fiercer and more frequent charges on the flanks of the disheartened army. The Roman officer who commanded the cavalry, Numonius Vala, rode off with his squadrons in the vain hope of escaping by thus abandoning his comrades. Unable to keep together, or force their way across the woods and swamps, the horsemen were overpowered in detail and slaughtered to the last man. The Roman infantry still held together and resisted, but more through the instinct of discipline and bravery than from any hope of success or escape. Varus, after

  1. The circumstances of the early part of the battle which Arminius fought with Cæcina six years afterwards, evidently resembled those of his battle with Varus, and the result was very near being the same: I have therefore adopted part of the description which Tacitus gives ("Annal." lib. i. c. 65) of the last-mentioned engagement. "Neque tamen Arminius, quamquam libero incursu, statim prorupit: sed ut hæsere cœno fossisque impedimenta, turbati circum milites; incertus signorum ordo; utque tali in tempore sibi quisque propenis, et lentæ adversum imperia aures, irrumpere Germanos jubet, clamitans 'En Varus, et eodem iterum fato victæ legiones!' Simul hæc, et cum delectis scindit agmen, equisque maxime vulnera ingerit; illi sanguine suo et lubrico paludum lapsantes, excussis rectoribus, disjicere obvios, proterere jacentes."