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jected his campaign centrally across Northern Mesopotamia. In different parts of the

country he had been obliged to establish garrisons of occupation. Each remove reduced the

number of his effective forces. Added to this was a certain want of knowledge of the

enemy's country, which confused the Proconsul in determining his line of advance. It was

finally determined that the route of the expedition should be through Upper Mesopotamia.

This country had already been entered by the army in the preceding summer, but had been

given up for the winter. This course would bring the expedition into supporting distance

of Armenia, and it was expected that the Romans would receive from that country a large

accession of force.

Meanwhile Orodes had organized his army and thrown it forward to confront the enemy. His

forces were under the immediate command of the Surena or Generalissimo, who in this

instance- though his name has not been preserved -appears to have been a military captain

of the greatest ability and courage. For many years he had been one of the principal stays

of the Empire. Through his agency, indeed, Orodes had been confirmed on the throne. He had

already recovered several important places, including the rebellious city of Seleucia. The

army now sent out to meet the Romans under his command was composed entirely of cavalry.

It had perhaps been foreseen that it was by this branch of the service that victory might

be expected rather than from the Parthian infantry. The latter was no match for the Roman

legionaries, whose valor had spread a wholesome fear throughout the civilized world.

The winter quarters of the Roman army had been on the Upper Euphrates. Here lay the

province of Osrhoene, whose prince, Abgarus, though in alliance with the Romans, was

secretly in sympathy and communication with the Parthians. He was intrusted by Crassus

with a command of light-horse, and was assigned to the duty of scouring the country in

advance of the army, and of determining the route across Mesopotamia. It has been asserted

by Plutarch and others that this treacherous guide purposely led Crassus and his forces

into a desert region, where water could not be found, and where every advantage would be

on the side of the Parthians in battle. Perhaps the inhospitable character of the region

was exaggerated. But at any rate the advance now lay through an. open country little

obstructed by rivers or hills, and well fitted for the operations of the Parthian cavalry.

Of the character of the latter and its method of giving battle, sufficient has already

been said in a former chapter.

At the same time of the advance of Crassus the Parthian army was brought to the front, and

the two forces rapidly approached with every element of determination and passion on both

sides. At length the conflict was precipitated on the river Belike about midway between

Carrhaeand Ichnae. It was the 6th of May, in the year B.C. 54. The Parthian army, under

the command of the Surena, was carefully stationed in half-concealment behind some woods

and low hills in the neighborhood.. The cavalrymen had been ordered to cover their arms

with their garments or to keep them behind the horses, so that the blaze of weaponry might

not flash upon the Romans in its appalling splendor until the moment of battle.

Crassus came on from the west. His army of about forty thousand men was composed mostly of

Roman legions or heavy infantry. To this was attached a body of cavalry which the

Proconsul had brought with him out of Gaul, where it had been organized by Julius Caesar.

All of a sudden the Parthian drums sounded the battle-note. Then the cavalry flashed into

line, and the charge began. The Parthian lines came on at full gallop, but stopped short

of the legions by the space of a bow-shot. Then began such a tempest of arrows as the

invincible legionaries had never before been obliged to face. No armor could resist the

stroke of these fiery missiles. The air was darkened by the discharge. The Romans could

not come at their enemy. When they advanced the Parthians receded to a distance, firing

backwards with the same facility as when they halted and faced the enemy.

Such battle had never before been known in the Mesopotamian plains. The Romans