Caesar, as soon as he saw the Cheruscan bands which in their impetuous
spirit had rushed to the attack, ordered the finest of his cavalry
to charge them in flank, Stertinius with the other squadrons to make
a detour and fall on their rear, promising himself to come up in good
time. Meanwhile there was a most encouraging augury. Eight eagles,
seen to fly towards the woods and to enter them, caught the general’s
eye. “Go,” he exclaimed, “follow the Roman birds, the true deities
of our legions.” At the same moment the infantry charged, and the
cavalry which had been sent on in advance dashed on the rear and the
flanks. And, strange to relate, two columns of the enemy fled in opposite
directions, that, which had occupied the wood, rushing into the open,
those who had been drawn up on the plains, into the wood. The Cherusci,
who were between them, were dislodged from the hills, while Arminius,
conspicuous among them by gesture, voice, and a wound he had received,
kept up the fight. He had thrown himself on our archers and was on
the point of breaking through them, when the cohorts of the Raeti,
Vendelici, and Gauls faced his attack. By a strong bodily effort,
however, and a furious rush of his horse, he made his way through
them, having smeared his face with his blood, that he might not be
known. Some have said that he was recognised by Chauci serving among
the Roman auxiliaries, who let him go.

Inguiomerus owed his escape to similar courage or treachery. The rest
were cut down in every direction. Many in attempting to swim across
the Visurgis were overwhelmed under a storm of missiles or by the
force of the current, lastly, by the rush of fugitives and the falling
in of the banks. Some in their ignominious flight climbed the tops
of trees, and as they were hiding themselves in the boughs, archers
were brought up and they were shot for sport. Others were dashed to
the ground by the felling of the trees.

It was a great victory and without bloodshed to us. From nine in the
morning to nightfall the enemy were slaughtered, and ten miles were
covered with arms and dead bodies, while there were found amid the
plunder the chains which the Germans had brought with them for the
Romans, as though the issue were certain. The soldiers on the battle
field hailed Tiberius as Imperator, and raised a mound on which arms
were piled in the style of a trophy, with the names of the conquered
tribes inscribed beneath them.

That sight caused keener grief and rage among the Germans than their
wounds, their mourning, and their losses. Those who but now were preparing
to quit their settlements and to retreat to the further side of the
Elbe, longed for battle and flew to arms. Common people and chiefs,
young and old, rushed on the Roman army, and spread disorder. At last
they chose a spot closed in by a river and by forests, within which
was a narrow swampy plain. The woods too were surrounded by a bottomless
morass, only on one side of it the Angrivarii had raised a broad earthwork,
as a boundary between themselves and the Cherusci. Here their infantry
was ranged. Their cavalry they concealed in neighbouring woods, so
as to be on the legions’ rear, as soon as they entered the forest.

All this was known to Caesar. He was acquainted with their plans,
their positions, with what met the eye, and what was hidden, and he
prepared to turn the enemy’s stratagems to their own destruction.
To Seius Tubero, his chief officer, he assigned the cavalry and the
plain. His infantry he drew up so that part might advance on level
ground into the forest, and part clamber up the earthwork which confronted
them. He charged himself with what was the specially difficult operation,
leaving the rest to his officers. Those who had the level ground easily
forced a passage. Those who had to assault the earthwork encountered
heavy blows from above, as if they were scaling a wall. The general
saw how unequal this close fighting was, and having withdrawn his
legions to a little distance, ordered the slingers and artillerymen
to discharge a volley of missiles and scatter the enemy. Spears were
hurled from the engines, and the more conspicuous were the defenders
of the position, the more the wounds with which they were driven from
it. Caesar with some praetorian cohorts was the first, after the storming
of the ramparts, to dash into the woods. There they fought at close
quarters. A morass was in the enemy’s rear, and the Romans were hemmed
in by the river or by the hills. Both were in a desperate plight from
their position; valour was their only hope, victory their only safety.

The Germans were equally brave, but they were beaten by the nature
of the fighting and of the weapons, for their vast host in so confined
a space could neither thrust out nor recover their immense lances,
or avail themselves of their nimble movements and lithe frames, forced
as they were to a close engagement. Our soldiers, on the other hand,
with their shields pressed to their breasts, and their hands grasping
their sword-hilts, struck at the huge limbs and exposed faces of the
barbarians, cutting a passage through the slaughtered enemy, for Arminius
was now less active, either from incessant perils, or because he was
partially disabled by his recent wound. As for Inguiomerus, who flew
hither and thither over the battlefield, it was fortune rather than
courage which forsook him. Germanicus, too, that he might be the better
known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up
the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction
of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late
in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench
a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the
enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success.

Having publicly praised his victorious troops, Caesar raised a pile
of arms with the proud inscription, “The army of Tiberius Caesar,
after thoroughly conquering the tribes between the Rhine and the Elbe,
has dedicated this monument to Mars, Jupiter, and Augustus.” He added
nothing about himself, fearing jealousy, or thinking that the conciousness
of the achievement was enough. Next he charged Stertinius with making
war on the Angrivarii, but they hastened to surrender. And, as suppliants,
by refusing nothing, they obtained a full pardon.
The Annals by Tacitus