Persevering courage, however, at length prevailed over every impediment, and they made their way up to the ditch and rampart in several parts at the-same time, but with many wounds and much loss of soldiers.
The consul, therefore, assembling the military tribunes, said they must desist from this inconsiderate enterprise; and that it appeared to him to be the safer course, that the troops should be led back to Beneventum for that day, and then on the following day to pitch his camp close to that of the enemy, so that the Campanians could not quit it, nor Hanno return to it;
and in order that that object might be attained with the greater ease, that he should send for his colleague and his army; and that they would direct their whole force on that point. This plan of the general was disconcerted, after the signal began to sound for a retreat, by the clamours of the soldiery, who despised so pusillanimous an order.
Nearest to the gate of the enemy's camp was a Pelignian cohort, whose commander, Vibius Accuaeus, seizing the standard, threw it over the rampart.
Then pronouncing a curse upon himself and his cohort, if the enemy got possession of that standard, he rushed forward before the rest, and crossing the ditch and rampart, burst into the camp of the enemy.
The Pelignians were now fighting within the rampart, when in another quarter Valerius Flaccus, a military tribune of the third legion, taunting the Romans with cowardice for conceding to allies the honour of taking the camp, Titus Pedanius, first centurion of the first century, snatched the standard out of the hands of the standard-bearer, and cried out, “Soon shall this standard, and this centurion, be within the rampart of the enemy;
let those follow who would prevent the standard's being captured by the enemy.” Crossing the ditch, he was followed first by the men of his own maniple, and then by the whole legion.
By this time the consul also, changing his plan on seeing them crossing the rampart, began to incite and encourage his soldiers, instead of calling them off; representing to them, how critical and perilous was the situation of the bravest cohort of their allies, and a legion of their countrymen.
All, therefore, severally exerting themselves to the utmost, regardless whether the [p. 977]
ground were even or uneven, while showers of weapons were thrown against them from all sides, the enemy opposing their arms and their persons to obstruct them, made their way and burst in. Many who were wounded, even those whose blood and strength failed them, pressed forward, that they might fall within the rampart of the enemy.
The camp, therefore, was taken in an instant, as if it had been situated upon level ground, and not completely fortified. What followed was a carnage rather than a battle. The troops of both sides being huddled together within the rampart, above six thousand of the enemy were slain; above seven thousand, together with the Campanians who fetched the corn, and the whole collection of waggons and beasts of burden, were captured.
There was also a great booty, which Hanno in his predatory excursions, which he had been careful to make in every quarter, had drawn together from the lands of the allies of the Romans.
After throwing down the camp of the enemy, they returned thence to Beneventum; and there both the consuls (for Appius Claudius came thither a few days after) sold the booty and distributed
it, making presents to those by whose exertions the camp of the enemy had been captured; above all, to Accuaeus the Pelignian, and Titus Pedanius, first centurion of the third legion.
Hanno, setting off from Cominium in the territory of Cere, whither intelligence of the loss of the camp had reached him, with a small party of foragers, whom he happened to have with him, returned to Bruttium, more after the manner of a flight than a march.