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THE BATTLE OF ECNOMUS
 THE Romans no sooner saw the Carthaginian fleet than they
knew that it would be necessary to fight before they
could sail on their way.
As the enemy's ships were drawn out in a long weak
line, the Consuls determined to charge through its
No sooner had the Romans begun the attack, than
Hamilcar ordered his ships to row away, as though they
had been put to flight.
As the Carthaginian had foreseen, two divisions of the
Roman fleet followed, one of them having Regulus on
On sped the Punic ships, eager to separate the Roman
divisions from the rest of the fleet. When the enemy
was some distance off, Hamilcar ordered his ships to
turn, to attack the vessels that had followed them.
But at close quarters, as the Carthaginians should have
known, the Romans were more than a match for their foe.
The bridges of the Roman ships fell, grappling the
enemy's vessels to their own, and in a fierce
hand-to-hand fight Hamilcar and his ships were soon
Regulus then hastened to the help of his fourth
division, which had been attacked by Hanno, and was now
fighting desperately between two divisions of the
enemy. Here, too, the Consul was successful, and
forced Hanno to retreat.
Meanwhile, the third division of the Roman fleet had
been driven toward the coast, but had suffered little
 for the Carthaginians feared to approach too near lest
they should find themselves grappled by the Roman
bridges. These they were learning to dread.
The two Consuls soon set the third division free, and
before long they had taken sixty-four of the
Carthaginian ships with their crews, while more than
thirty vessels had been sunk.
As for the Romans, they had lost only twenty-four
ships, and these were sunk not captured.
The victory of Ecnomus left the way to Africa open, and
after putting in on the Sicilian coast for repairs, the
Roman fleet sailed away toward the Gulf of Carthage.