These measures were all carried out with great dispatch. Gnaeus Julius the consul was left behind to protect the city; and Lucius Julius, the master of the horse, to meet the sudden demands which arise in war, that the troops might not be hampered in camp by the want of anything that they might need.
The dictator, repeating the words [p. 345]
after Aulus Cornelius the pontifex maximus, vowed1
to celebrate great games2
if he succeeded in quelling the outbreak, and, dividing his army with the consul Quinctius, set out from Rome and came to the enemy.
Seeing that the opposing forces occupied two camps with a little space between, the Roman generals followed their example and encamped about a mile from the enemy, the dictator nearer to Tusculum and the consul to Lanuvium.
Thus the four armies in their four intrenchments had in their midst a field of sufficient extent not merely for small preliminary skirmishes but even for drawing up lines of battle on both sides.
Nor from the moment the Romans had pitched their camp near that of the enemy did they once cease skirmishing; and the dictator was well content that his men should match their strength against their adversaries, and by trying the outcome of these contests come, little by little, to count upon a general victory.
The enemy in consequence abandoned all hope of success in a regular battle and attacked the consul's camp at night, committing their cause to the hazard of a dangerous enterprise. The shout which suddenly broke out aroused not only the consul's sentries and after them his entire army, but the dictator as well.
When circumstances required instant action, the consul proved to be wanting neither in resolution nor in judgment. With a part of his soldiers he reinforced the guards at the gates; with a part he lined the palisade.
In the other camp, with the dictator, there was less confusion and a correspondingly clearer perception what was needful to be done. Reinforcements were immediately sent to the consul's camp, under Spurius Postumius Albus [p. 347]
the lieutenant: the dictator himself, taking a part of3
his forces, marched by a slight detour to a place absolutely screened from the fighting, that he might thence strike the enemy unawares as he faced the other way.
The lieutenant Quintus Sulpicius he put in charge of the camp; to the lieutenant Marcus Fabius he assigned the cavalry, but ordered him not to move his command till daybreak, as it would be hard to control in the confusion of the night.
Everything that any wise and active general could have commanded and carried out in such a situation was duly commanded and carried out by him; but an unusual proof of judgment and daring and one which reflects no ordinary credit upon him was this, that he actually attacked the enemy's camp (from which, as he ascertained, they had marched out with more than half their troops), dispatching Marcus Geganius with some chosen cohorts on that service.
This officer found his foes absorbed in the issue of the dangerous work undertaken by their fellows, and with no thought for themselves, neglecting their sentinels and outguards;
he attacked them, captured their camp almost before they fully realized that they were assailed, and sent up a prearranged signal of smoke, on seeing which the dictator cried out that the enemy's camp was taken and bade spread the news.