Daniel and his twenty men ambush the Roman soldiers who are transporting Joel. However, since they are not well-trained and fewer in number, the ambush quickly goes wrong. Samson changes the momentum by rolling a huge rock down on the soldiers, but this is not enough, and Daniel and some others are trapped. Daniel passes out and when he wakes up, he learns what happened:
"[Samson] didn't even fight them. He was -- you don't need to worry about the galleys, Daniel. He won't live to reach the coast."
Daniel turned his head away. Then he saw Nathan, sprawled with his face against the rock, the blood gathered in a blackened pool beneath him.
But the might of Rome, seen close at hand, had shaken them. They knew that without Samson they would have failed, and the eager confidence of the night before would never be regained.
(Speare, The Bronze Bow,Google Books)
Until this moment, a lot of the rebellion has been romantic, almost fun. Daniel and the others have not experienced the direct consequences of their actions; death of close friends seemed impossible. Now, with both Samson and Nathan dead, they realize how badly they have misjudged the enemy, and what they must be willing to sacrifice to win. The possibility of dying for the cause made a good slogan, but it is only now that they fully realize what it means. Joel feels guilt over their deaths more strongly, because they died so he could live; Daniel feels the guilt as well, but because he led them into the battle knowing that they had little chance of success. Through this battle, Daniel discovers the pain of leadership, and moves closer to rejecting war and revenge for peaceful rebellion.