Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/159

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BATTLE OF CHALONS. 153


CHAPTER VI. THE BATTLE OF CHALONS, A.D. 451.

The discomfiture of the mighty attempt of Attila to found a new anti-Christian dynasty upon the wreck of the temporal power of Rome, at the end of the term of twelve hundred years, to which its duration had been limited by the forebodings of the heathen.—Herbert.

A BROAD expanse of plains, the Campi Catalaunici of the ancients, spreads far and wide around the city of Chalons, in the northeast of France. The long rows of poplars, through which the River Marne winds its way, and a few thinly-scattered villages, are almost the only objects that vary the monotonous aspect of the greater part of this region. But about five miles from Chalons, near the little hamlets of Chape and Cuperly, the ground is indented and heaped up in ranges of grassy mounds and trenches, which attest the work of man's hands in ages past, and which, to the practiced eye, demonstrate that this quiet spot has once been the fortified position of a huge military host.

Local tradition gives these ancient earth-works the name of Attila's Camp. Nor is there any reason to question the correctness of the title, or to doubt that behind these very ramparts it was that 1400 years ago the most powerful heathen king that ever ruled in Europe mustered the remnants of his vast army, which had striven on these plains against the Christian soldiery of Thoulouse and Rome. Here it was that Attila prepared to resist to the death his victors in the field; and here he heaped up the treasures of his camp in one vast pile, which was to be his funeral pyre should his camp be stormed. It was here that the Gothic and Italian forces watched, but dared not assail their enemy in his despair, after that great and terrible day of battle, when

"The sound Of conflict was o'erpast, the shout of all Whom earth could send from her remotest bounds, Heathen or faithful; from thy hundred mouths, That feed the Caspian with Riphean snows, Huge Volga! from famed Hypanis, which once

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