|Consul:||Q. Fabius Maximus|
|Inf.:||± the Roman forces|
|Cav.:||± the Roman forces|
|Casualties:||3400† 830 capt.|
Battle of Tifernum
In the third Samnite war consul Q. Fabius Maximus moved his army to the surroundings of Tifernum in Samnium. As a good habit in those days once on enemy territory his army moved devastating, robbing and plundering. This consul had learned the lessons of the Caudine forks well and had scout parties all around his army.
Doing so he learned in time the Samnites had laid another ambush and he went on in a carré so he was prepared for an attack from all sides. The Samnites on seeing their ambush wouldn't work descended from the hills where they were hiding and both parties prepared for a pitched battle.
After several hours of fighting the Samnites were still not moving one step back and gave the Romans a hard time.
Fabius Maximus had to find a solution and fast because his own men became tired.
And he did. In fact he did two things that cannot be seen as separate actions like Livius tells us. At that time in the battle it is very likely the hastati already had been pulled back. Those of the first legion Fabius Maximus sent under the command of Cornelius Scipio to go secretly as possible behind the hills and to move unseen behind the enemy. There they should come over the hill in a wide formation with all standards.
Livius tells us Fabius had the cavalry charge in an attempt to break the enemy. I don't believe that. The full line was in close combat and the flanks of enemy well covered by the Samnite horse. A charge by the cavalry couldn't possibly bring victory. Unless it was meant as a distraction to conceal the departure of the hastati.
When Cornelius Scipio unexpectedly (except for Fabius of course) showed his "legions" on the top of the hill, Fabius cried his colleague finely showed up. And his whole army repeated this cry. (Which couldn't be true because his colleague Decius Mus was far away in Etruria). But the Samnites didn't know that, and really believed a fresh army was approaching and started to flee.
Now the resistance was broken and the Romans could claim their victory.
3400 Samnites killed; 830 prisoners made and 23 standards captured