Hannibal attempted to surprise Piacenza, but Scipio issued out with his cavalry and inflicted a check upon him, Hannibal himself being slightly wounded. The Carthaginians then marched away and stormed the town of Vicumve, and during their absence the two consuls evacuated Piacenza and marched south. Scipio led his portion of the little army to Ariminum (Rimini), Sempronius took his command to Arretium (Mezzo), where they both speedily received reinforcements. Hannibal made an attempt to cross the Apennines, but the snow lay deep among the mountains, and, unable to effect his purpose, he fell back again to winter in the plain.
In the meantime Cneius Servilius Geminus and Caius Flaminius had been elected consuls. Flaminius succeeded Sempronius in command of the Roman army at Arretium, while Geminus took the command of that at Rimini. Between these consuls, as was usually the case in Rome, a bitter jealousy existed. Geminus was the nominee of the aristocratic party, while Flaminius was the idol of the populace, and, as has often been the case in war, this rivalry between two generals possessing equal authority wrought great evil to the armies they commanded.
CHAPTER XIV: THE BATTLE OF LAKE TRASIMENE
The battle of Trebia cost Malchus the loss of his father. It was against the portion of the force headed by Hamilcar that the Romans, who cut their way through the circle of foes which Hannibal had thrown round them, flung themselves. Hamilcar had in vain attempted to stem the torrent. Surrounded by his bravest officers, he had cast himself in the way of the Roman legion; but nothing could withstand the rush of the heavy armed spearmen, who, knowing that all was lost, and that their only hope was in cutting their way through the Carthaginians, pressed forward, shoulder to shoulder, and swept aside the opposition of their more lightly armed foes. Hamilcar and most of his officers fell, striving to the last to stem the current.
It was a grievous blow to Malchus, when, as he was exulting in the great victory which had been gained, the news came to him that his father had fallen. Hamilcar was very dear to him. He had been his companion and his friend, his guide and adviser. He had encouraged him in his aspirations, and had from his earliest years urged him to make the sacrifices and exertions necessary to qualify him to bear a prominent part under his cousin Hannibal.
He had been his tutor in arms, and had striven to inspire him with the noblest sentiments. Since they had reached Spain he had seen less of him than before, for Hamilcar felt that it was best for his son to depend upon himself alone. He was proud of the name which Malchus was already winning for himself, and knew that it was better for him that his advancement should be considered due to his own exertions and gallantry and not to the influence of his father.