The History, 27.2

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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2The news of this disaster was received with great sorrow, and Dagalaiphus was sent from Paris to restore affairs to order. But as he delayed some time, and made excuses, alleging that he was unable to attack the barbarians, who were dispersed over various districts, and as he was soon after sent for to receive the consulship with Gratian, who was still only a private individual, Jovinus was appointed commander of the cavalry; and he being well provided and fully prepared, attacked the fortress of Churpeigne, protecting both his wings and flanks with great care. And at this place he fell on the barbarians unexpectedly, before they could arm themselves, and in a very short time utterly destroyed them.

2Then leading on the soldiers while exulting in the glory of this easy victory, to defeat the other divisions, and advancing slowly, he learnt from the faithful report of his scouts that a band of ravagers, after having plundered the villages around, were resting on the bank of the river. And as he approached, while his army was concealed by the lowness of the ground and the thickness of the trees, he saw some of them bathing, some adorning their hair after their fashion, and some carousing.

3And seizing this favourable opportunity, he suddenly bade the trumpet give the signal, and burst into the camp of the marauders. On the other hand, the Germans could do nothing but pour forth useless threats and shouts, not being allowed time to collect their scattered arms, or to form in any strength, so vigorously were they pressed by the conquerors. Thus numbers of them fell pierced with javelins and swords, and many took to flight, and were saved by the winding and narrow paths.

4After this success, which was won by valour and good fortune, Jovinus struck his camp without delay, and led on his soldiers with increased confidence (sending out a body of careful scouts in advance) against the third division. And arriving at Châlons by forced marches, he there formed the whole body ready for battle.

5And having constructed a rampart with seasonable haste, and refreshed his men with food and sleep as well as the time permitted, at daybreak he arranged his army in an open plain, extending his line with admirable skill, in order that by occupying an extensive space of ground the Romans might appear to be equal in number to the enemy: being in fact inferior in that respect though equal in strength.

6Accordingly, when the trumpet gave the signal and the battle began to rage at close quarters, the Germans stood amazed, alarmed at the well-known appearance of the shining standards. But though they were checked for a moment, they presently recovered themselves, and the conflict was protracted till the close of the day, when our valorous troops would have reaped the fruit of their gallantry without any loss if it had not been for Balchobaudes, a tribune of the legions, who being as sluggish as he was boastful, at the approach of evening retreated in disorder to the camp. And if the rest of the cohorts had followed his example and had also retired, the affair would have turned out so ruinous that not one of our men would have been left alive to tell what had happened.

7But our soldiers, persisting with energy and courage, showed such a superiority in personal strength that they wounded four thousand of the enemy and slew six thousand, while they did not themselves lose more than twelve hundred killed and two hundred wounded.

8At the approach of night the battle terminated, and our weary men having recruited their strength, a little before dawn our skilful general led forth his army in a square, and found that the barbarians had availed themselves of the darkness to escape. And having no fear there of ambuscade, he pursued them over the open plain, trampling on the dying and the dead, many of whom had perished from the effect of the severity of the cold on their wounds.

9After he had advanced some way further, without finding any of the enemy he returned, and then he learnt that the king of the hostile army had been taken prisoner, with a few followers, by the Ascarii, whom he himself had sent by another road to plunder the tents of the Allemanni, and they had hanged him. But the general being angry at this, ordered the punishment of the tribune who had ventured on such an act without consulting his superior officer, and he would have condemned him if he had not been able to establish by manifest proof that the atrocious act had been committed by the violent impulse of the soldiers.

10After this, when he returned to Paris with the glory of this success, the emperor met him with joy, and appointed him to be consul the next year, being additionally rejoiced because at the very same time he received the head of Procopius, which had been sent to him by Valens.

11Besides these events, many other battles of inferior interest and importance took place in Gaul, which it would be superfluous to recount, since they brought no results worth mentioning, and it is not fit to spin out history with petty details.

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