Spring, 273 BC
Battle of Messana
Both legions made the crossing, cornering Shipitbaal
on the eastern coast. Mus
arrived first from inland heights to the west, while Laevinus
was late coming from the south.
Nearly two thousand sacred band infantry led the resistance, and they lived up to their name, occupying most of Mus
's best troops.
Most of the remaining Carthaginians were skirmishers, but even so they repeatedly charged into hand-to-hand combat and the sheer numbers prevented the more numerous Roman cavalry from driving all of them off. Eventually some of the infantry had to be split off to deal with them. A disorganized and uneven battle was not decided until Laevinus
arrived, but eventually even the few remnants of the sacred band were driven away.
Losses were heavy on both sides, over six thousand Romans and ten thousand Carthaginians. Shipitbaal
retreated to Messana with less than a third of his original command, while Mus
's infantry ranks were largely decimated by the day's bloody business. Judging by this battle, it appears that Carthage will be quite a difficult adversary to overcome.
Despite the weakened state, there was little choice but to move northwest and cut off another large army, this one with no general to command it and apparently consisting largely of barbarian mercenaries from southern and western Europe. Some of them are the very same type of fighters that Numerius
has spotted in Genua
. It seems they may have formed an alliance of convenience ...
In the updated report shown below, we can also see a new Aiakid town further west into the Sicilian heartland, known as Agyrion
. No large force concentrations have been seen there or anywhere else among the Greek holdings here.