After matters had been settled in the City and the position of the plebs firmly assured, the consuls left for their respective provinces. Valerius wisely suspended operations against the combined forces of the Aequi and Volscians.
If he had at once hazarded an engagement, I question whether, considering the temper of both Rome
and the enemy after the inauspicious leadership of the decemvirs, he would not have incurred a serious defeat.
Taking up a position about a mile from the enemy, he kept his men in camp. The enemy formed up for battle, and filled the space between the camps, but their challenge met with no response from the Romans.
Tired at last of standing and vainly waiting for battle, and regarding victory as practically conceded to them, the two nations marched away to ravage the territories of the Hernici and Latins. The force left behind was sufficient to guard the camp, but not to sustain an action.
On seeing this the consul made them in their turn feel the terror which they had inspired, drew up his men in order of battle and challenged them to fight.
As, conscious of their reduced strength, they declined an engagement, the courage of the Romans at once rose, and they looked upon the men who kept timidly within their lines as already defeated.
After standing the whole day eager to engage, they retired at nightfall; the enemy in a very different state of mind sent men hurriedly in all directions to recall the plundering parties; those in the neighbourhood hastened back to camp, the more distant ones were not traced.
As soon as it grew light, the Romans marched out, prepared to storm their camp if they did not give them the chance of a battle. When the day was far advanced without any movement on the part of the enemy, the consul gave the order to advance. As the line moved forward, the Aequi and Volscians, indignant at the prospect of their victorious armies being protected by earthworks rather than by courage and arms, clamoured for the signal for battle.
It was given, and part of their force had already emerged from the gate of the camp, whilst others were coming down in order and taking up their allotted positions, but before the enemy could mass his whole strength in the field the Roman consul delivered his attack.
They had not all marched out of the camp, those who had done so were not able to deploy into line, and crowded together as they were, they began to waver and sway. Whilst they looked round helplessly at each other, undecided what to do, the Romans raised their war-cry, and at first the enemy
gave ground, then, when they had recovered their presence of mind and their generals were appealing to them not to give way before those whom they had defeated, the battle was restored.