The consul, being roused by the tumult, ordered two cohorts of the allies, a Lucanian and Suessanian, which happened to be nearest, to defend the head-quarters, and led the companies of the legions down the principal street.
These ran into the ranks, scarcely taking time to furnish themselves with arms; and, as they distinguished the enemy by their shout rather than by sight, could form no judgment how great their number might be: thus, ignorant of the circumstances of their situation, they at first drew back, and admitted the enemy into the heart of the camp.
Then when the consul cried out, asking them, whether they intended to let themselves be beaten out beyond the rampart, and then to return again to storm their own camp, they raised the shout, and uniting their efforts, stood their ground;
then made advances, pushed closely on the enemy, and having forced them to give way, drove them back, without suffering their first terror to abate.
They soon beat them out beyond the gate and the rampart, but not daring to pursue them, because the darkness of the weather made them apprehend an ambush, and content with having cleared the camp, they retired within the rampart, having killed about three hundred of the enemy.
Of the Romans, including the first advanced guard and the watchmen, and those who were surprised at the quaestor's quarters, two hundred and thirty perished.
This not unsuccessful piece of boldness raised the spirits of the Samnites so high, that they not only did not suffer the Romans to march forward into their country, but even to procure forage from their lands; and the foragers were obliged to go back into the quiet country of Sora.
News of these events being conveyed to Rome, with circumstances of alarm magnified beyond the truth, obliged Lucius Postumius, the consul, though scarcely recovered from his illness, to set out for the army.
However, before his departure, having issued a proclamation that his troops should assemble at Sora, he dedicated the temple of Victory, for the building of which he had provided, when curule aedile, out of the money arising from fines; and, joining the army, he advanced from Sora towards Samnium, to the camp of his colleague.
The Samnites, despairing of being able to make head against the two armies, retreated from thence, on which the consuls, separating, proceeded by different routes to lay waste the enemy's lands and besiege their towns. [p. 673]