Before the dictator and the new legions could arrive among the Hernicians, matters were conducted with great success under the direction of Caius Sulpicius the lieutenant-general, making use of a favourable opportunity.
On the Hernicians, who after the death of the consul came up contemptuously to the Roman camp with the certainty of taking it, a sally was made by the exhortations of the consul, the minds of the soldiers also being full of rage and indignation. The Hernicians were much disappointed in their hopes of approaching the rampart; in such complete confusion did they retire from thence.
Then on the arrival of the dictator the new army is joined to the old, the forces are doubled; and the dictator in a public assembly, by bestowing praises on the lieutenant-general and the soldiers by whose valour the camp had been defended, at the same time raises the spirits of those who heard their own deserved praises, and at the same time stimulates the others to rival such valour.
With no less vigour [p. 455]
are the military preparations made on the part of the enemy, who, mindful of the honour previously acquired, and not ignorant that the enemy had increased their strength, augment their forces also. The entire Hernician race, all of military age, are called out. Eight cohorts, each consisting of four hundred men, the chosen strength of their people, are levied.
This, the select flower of their youth, they filled with hope and courage by their having decreed that they should receive double pay. They were exempt also from military work, that, being reserved for the single labour of fighting, they might feel that they should make exertions more than are made by ordinary men.
They are placed in an extraordinary position in the field, that their valour might be the more conspicuous. A plain two miles in breadth separated the Roman camp from the Hernicians; in the middle of this, the spaces being about equal on both sides, they came to an engagement.
At first the fight was kept up with doubtful hope; the Roman cavalry having repeatedly essayed to no purpose to break the enemy's line by their charge.
When their fighting as cavalry was less marked by success than by great efforts, the cavalry, having first consulted the dictator, and then obtained his permission, leaving their horse behind, rush forward in front of the line, with a loud shout, and recommence the battle after a new style;
nor could they be resisted, had not the extraordinary cohorts, possessing equal vigour both of body and spirit, thrown themselves in their way.