Sea Battle of Naulochus

From eBook; Octavian Chronicle $9, Battle of Naulochus-36 BC
On September 3, 36 BC, the three hundred ships of Sextus Pompey’s fleet were lined up along the northeast coastline of Sicily, facing north. Behind them was the port city of Naulochus. Octavian had three hundred ships, under the command of his good friend, Marcus Agrippa, lined up directly across from and facing Sextus’ fleet. A great sea battle was about to begin. Sextus had all but lost the land battle for Sicily, so his only chance for victory was to defeat Marcus Agrippa who had never fought a sea battle before. Sextus believed he had the upper hand, but he had no idea of Agrippa’s strategy which included a secret weapon he’d personally invented. Had he known, he might not have issued the challenge which Octavian and Agrippa are about to discuss here.   

Later that day, Octavian received Sextus’ message. He walked slowly to Agrippa’s tent while he read the message over a few more times. He walked in and handed it to him. “Tell me what you think. Every time I go to battle at sea, it turns out badly for me.” Agrippa took the scroll and studied the message carefully, rubbing his chin as he did. Octavian sat down across from his good friend, not saying a thing, not wanting to disturb him while he was thinking.

When he finished, Agrippa put the scroll down and said, “After what he’s done to our country, we’ll take Sicily by land whether we win the sea battle or not. I’ll make sure of that.

“As far as his offer, if we don’t fight him at sea, he’ll sail away and cause us trouble from some other place, so I think we have to accept it and defeat him once and for all.”

Octavian said, “From what our spies tell us he has no idea of the preparations you’ve made. I know you can defeat him. I’ll send a message back to Sextus right now.”

Agrippa said, “Tell him you find it hard to refuse a challenge. Let him think he’s drawn you in and outwitted you. Tell him we’ll meet him north of the city of Naulochus between Mylae and Pelorus. We definitely won’t fight him in the strait of Messana.”

“That’s right. He issued the challenge. We’ll pick the place of battle.” When Octavian stepped outside the tent, he saw Cornelius and waved him over.

“What is it, Caesar?”

“I’ll need you to send a messenger to Sextus to let him know we’re going to accept his challenge to fight him in a sea battle.”

“Why would we do that?” Cornelius was surprised. “We have him just about defeated on land!”

“Sextus proposed it,” said Octavian. “I think Agrippa can defeat him, and if he does, we’ll be rid of Sextus for good, otherwise he’ll just cause us problems from some other port city.”

“I guess you’re right,” said Cornelius, a frown on his face.