When the Volscian general saw that their attack could not anywhere be stopped, he ordered his troops to give ground to the men with bucklers, the enemy's new cohort, until, carried forward in their rush, they should be cut off from their friends.
On this being done, the horsemen were intercepted, and were unable to break through in [p. 383]
the same way as they had got over, since their enemies1
were most thickly crowded together where they had made their path.
When the consul and the Roman legions could nowhere see the soldiers who a moment before had been a shield to the entire army, they pressed forward to save at any cost so many heroic men from being surrounded and borne down by the enemy.
The Volscians, facing two ways, sustained on one side the onset of the consul and the legions, and on the other front pressed home their attack upon Tempanius and his troopers;
who, having failed, in spite of many attempts, to force their way through to their friends, had seized a certain mound and, forming a circle, were defending themselves, not without taking vengeance on their assailants. The battle did not end till nightfall.
Neither did the consul relax his efforts anywhere, but kept the enemy engaged as long as there was any light. Darkness put a stop to the indecisive struggle, and the terror in each camp was such, in consequence of men's ignorance of the outcome, that both armies, abandoning their wounded and a good part of their baggage, retreated to the nearest hills, as though defeated.
Nevertheless the mound was besieged till after midnight. But when word was brought to the besiegers that their camp was abandoned, they too supposed that their side had been defeated, and every man fled where his panic led him in the darkness.
Tempanius feared an ambush and kept his soldiers close till daylight. Then, descending with a few followers to reconnoitre, he discovered by questioning some wounded enemies that the camp of the Volscians was deserted, whereupon he joyfully called his men down from the hill and made his way [p. 385]
into the Roman camp.
There he found everything2
abandoned and forlorn and the same desolation he had met with on the ground of the enemy; and, before the Volsci could learn of their blunder and return, he carried with him such of the wounded as he was able, and not knowing what way the consul had gone, took the nearest road to the City.