Caesar equitatu praemisso subsequebatur omnibus copiis; sed ratio ordoque agminis aliter se habebat ac Belgae ad Nervios detulerant. Nam quod ad hostes appropinquabat, consuetudine sua Caesar sex legiones expeditas ducebat; post eas totius exercitus impedimenta collocarat; inde duae legiones quae proxime conscriptae erant totum agmen claudebant praesidioque impedimentis erant. Equites nostri cum funditoribus sagittariisque flumen transgressi cum hostium equitatu proelium commiserunt. Cum se illi identidem in silvas ad suos reciperent ac rursus ex silva in nostros impetum facerent, neque nostri longius quam quem ad finem porrecta loca aperta pertinebant cedentes insequi auderent, interim legiones sex, quae primae venerant, opera dimenso castra munire coeperunt. Ubi prima impedimenta nostri exercitus ab eis, qui in silvis abditi latebant, visa sunt, quod tempus inter eos committendi proeli convenerat, ut intra silvas aciem ordinesque constituerant atque ipsi sese confirmaverant, subito omnibus copiis provolaverunt impetumque in nostros equites fecerunt. His facile pulsis ac proturbatis incredibili celeritate ad flumen decucurrerunt, ut paene uno tempore et ad silvas et in flumine et iam in manibus nostris hostes viderentur. Eadem autem celeritate adverso colle ad nostra castra atque eos qui in opera occupati erant contenderunt.
Caesar had sent on the cavalry, and was following up with all his forces; but the arrangement and order of the column was different from the report given by the Belgae to the Nervii. For, as he was approaching an enemy, Caesar, according to his custom, was moving with six legions in light field order; after them he had placed the baggage of the whole army; then the two legions which had been last enrolled brought up the rear of the whole column and formed the baggage-guard. Our cavalry crossed the river along with the slingers and archers, and engaged the enemy's horsemen. The latter retired repeatedly upon their comrades in the woods, and, issuing thence, again charged our men; nor did our men dare to follow in pursuit farther than the extent of level open ground. Meanwhile the six legions first to arrive measured out the work, and began to entrench camp. The moment that the first baggage-detachments of our army were seen by the enemy, who were lurking hidden in the woods--the moment agreed upon among them for joining battle--they suddenly dashed forth in full force, having already in the woods ordered their line in regular ranks and encouraged one another for the conflict; and so charged down upon our cavalry. These were easily beaten and thrown into disorder, and with incredible speed the enemy rushed down to the river, so that almost at the same moment they were seen at the edge of the woods, in the river, and then at close quarters. Then with the same speed they hastened up-hill against our camp and the troops engaged in entrenching it.
Translation and notes by H.J. Edwards
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