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Ancient texts

Liv. (10.14)

Third war against Samnium
Date: 297 bc
Consul: Q. Fabius Maximus
Inf.: 2 legions
Cav.: 600
Casualties: ?
Leader: ?
Inf.: ± the Roman forces
Cav.: ± the Roman forces
Casualties: 3400† 830 capt.

Battle of Tifernum

Fabius Maximus
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


Phase I


By 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 had been 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 were growing 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.


Phase II


Phase III


When Cornelius Scipio unexpectedly (except for Fabius of course) showed his "legions" on the top of the hill, Fabius yelled his colleague finely showed up. (Which couldn't be true because his colleague Decius Mus was far away in Etruria). And his whole army repeated this yell. 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 were killed; 830 prisoners made and 23 standards captured

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