By this expedition of the consul, the war, instead of being brought nearer to a conclusion, was only spread to a wider extent: for all the tract adjacent to the foot of Mount Ciminius had felt his devastations; and, out of the indignation conceived thereat, had roused to arms, not only the states [p. 611]
of Etruria, but the neighbouring parts of Umbria.
They came therefore to Sutrium, with such a numerous army as they had never before brought into the field;
and not only ventured to encamp on the outside of the wood, but through their earnest desire of coming to an engagement as soon as possible, marched down the plains to offer battle. The troops, being marshalled, stood at first, for some time, on their own ground, having left a space sufficient for the Romans to draw up, opposite to them;
but perceiving that the enemy declined fighting, they advanced to the rampart; where, when they observed that even the advanced guards had retired within the works, a shout at once was raised around their generals, that they should order provisions for that day to be brought down to them: “for they were resolved to remain there under arms; and either in the night, or, at all events, at the dawn of day, to attack the enemy's camp.”
The Roman troops, though not less eager for action, were restrained by the commands of the general. About the tenth hour, the consul ordered his men a repast; and gave directions that they should be ready in arms, at whatever time of the day or night he should give the signal.
He then addressed a few words to them; spoke in high terms of the wars of the Samnites, and disparagingly of the Etrurians, who “were not,” he said, “as an enemy to be compared with other enemies, nor as a numerous force, with others in point of numbers.
Besides, he had an engine at work, as they should find in due time; at present it was of importance to keep it secret.” By these hints he intimated that the enemy was circumvented in order to raise the courage of his men, damped by the superiority of the enemy's force; and, from their not having fortified the post where they lay, the insinuation of a stratagem formed against them seemed the more credible.
After refreshing themselves, they consigned themselves to rest, and being roused without noise, about the fourth watch, took arms.
Axes are distributed among the servants following the army, to tear down the rampart and fill up the trench. The line was formed within the works, and some chosen cohorts posted close to the gates. Then, a little before day, which in sum- mer nights is the time of the profoundest sleep, the signal being given, the rampart was levelled, and the troops rushing forth, fell upon the enemy, who were every where stretched [p. 612]
at their length.
Some were put to death before they could stir; others half asleep, in their beds; the greatest part, while they ran in confusion to arms; few, in short, had time afforded them to arm themselves; and these, who followed no particular leader, nor orders, were quickly routed by the Romans and pursued by the Roman horse. They fled different ways; to the camp and to the woods. The latter afforded the safer refuge; for the former, being situated in a plain, was taken the same day.
The gold and silver was ordered to be brought to the consul; the rest of the spoil was given to the soldiers. On that day, sixty thousand of the enemy were slain or taken. Some affirm, that this famous battle was fought on the farther side of the Ciminian forest, at Perusia; and that the public had been under great dread, lest the army might be enclosed in such a dangerous pass, and overpowered by a general combination of the Etrurians and Umbrians.
But on whatever spot it was fought, it is certain that the Roman power prevailed; and, in consequence thereof, ambassadors from Perusia, Cortona, and Arretium, which were then among the principal states of Etruria, soliciting a peace and alliance with the Romans, obtained a truce for thirty years.