Aeneas Tacticus 15.





15. [Expeditions Into the Countryside]

1. So much for preparations within. If after this a message arrives by hand or fire-signal, asking for help in the country, an expedition should be made to the district attacked. 2. The generals should be present on the spot to marshal the force, and to prevent small parties from marching out one after another to rescue their own property; for such ill-organized and ill-timed exertions would lead to disaster by affording an easy prey to ambushes. 3. The men should be assembled at the gates as they come up, till a certain number, say one or two companies, has arrived; then, after they have been properly formed up and a capable leader placed in command, they should be sent on as fast as they can go without losing their formation. 4. In this way one detachment after another should be dispatched without delay, until the expeditionary force is considered sufficiently strong: the object is to keep several detachments in touch with one another on the march, and, in case one detachment should require another’s assistance or the whole force be compelled to engage, to make concentration easy, so that no troops will have to come up at the double from a distance. 5. Any cavalry and light troops available should be sent out first in advance, also in good order, and should reconnoitre and occupy commanding positions, in order that the main body may have as much notice as possible of the enemy’s plans, and thus be secure from a sudden attack. 6. At bends in the road, at the foot of hills, and at turnings – wherever there is a choice of roads – signals should be placed, to prevent stragglers who do not know the way from taking a wrong turning. 7. In returning to the city every precaution should be taken, especially against ambushes; for lack of caution has before now involved an expedition in the sort of mishap which I am now going to relate.
8. A raid made by the Triballi into the country of Abdera was met in a splendid fashion by the men of Abdera, who marched out and were victorious in a pitched battle against this powerful and warlike tribe, inflicting great loss on them. 9. The Triballi, mortified by their defeat, retired to collect their forces, and then advanced a second time, posting an ambush as they went, and proceeded to lay waste to the territory of Abdera within a short distance of the city. The men of Abdera, whose previous success had made them despise their enemy, rushed out and charged them with the utmost vigour and enthusiasm; the enemy led them on, step by step into the ambush; 10. and therefore they lost more men, it is said, than any other city of the same size ever lost in so short a space of time. For even when news reached the city of the fate of the first sally, men kept pouring out, cheering one another on in their eagerness to rescue those who were in front, until not a man was left within the walls.






created 14/02/2010 - updated 04/07/2017