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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 7: War with the Hernici (Cont.)[362 BC]
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After Genucius had fallen, Gaius Sulpicius had assumed the command, and before the arrival of the dictator [Note 1] and the newly-raised legions, he distinguished himself by a smart action. The death of the consul had led the Hernici to think very lightly of the Roman arms, and they surrounded the Roman camp fully expecting to carry it by assault. The defenders, encouraged by their general and burning with rage and indignation at their recent defeat, made a sortie, and not only destroyed any hopes the Hernici had of forcing the entrenchment but created such disorder amongst them that they precipitately retreated. By the arrival of the dictator and the junction of the old and newly-raised legions, their strength was doubled. In the presence of the entire force, the dictator commended Sulpicius and the men who had so gallantly defended the camp, and whilst he raised the courage of those who listened to the praise which they so well deserved, he at the same time made the rest all the keener to emulate them. |
The enemy showed no less energy in preparing for a renewal of the struggle. Aware of the increase in the strength of their enemy, and animated by the thought of their recent victory, they called every man in the Hernican nation who could bear arms. Eight cohorts were formed of four hundred men each, who had been carefully selected. These, the picked flower of their manhood, were full of hope and courage, and they were further encouraged by a decree which had been passed to allow them double pay. They were exempt from all fatigue duty, in order that they might devote themselves more than the rest of the troops to the one duty reserved for them - that of fighting. In order to make their courage more conspicuous they occupied a special position in the fighting line.
The Roman camp was separated from the Hernican by a plain two miles broad. In the middle of this plain, almost equally distant from both camps, the battle took place. For some time neither side gained any advantage, though the Roman cavalry made frequent attempts to break the enemy's line. When they found that the effect produced was much feebler than the efforts they made, they obtained the dictator's permission to abandon their horses and fight on foot. They raised a loud cheer and commenced a novel kind of fighting by charging as infantry. Their onset would have been irresistible had not the special cohorts of the enemy opposed them with a strength and courage equal to their own.
Event: War with the Hernici