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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 34: Some Samnite cities conquered.[294 BC]
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Amongst the latter was Milionia, which Postumius unsuccessfully attempted to carry by assault. He then attacked the place by regular approaches, and after his vineae were brought up to the walls he forced an entrance. From ten o'clock in the morning till two in the afternoon fighting went on in all quarters of the town with doubtful result; at last the Romans got possession of the place; 3200 Samnites were killed and 4700 made prisoners, in addition to the rest of the booty. From there the legions marched to Feritrum, but the townsfolk evacuated the place quietly during the night, taking with them all their possessions, everything which could be either driven or carried. Immediately on his reaching the vicinity, the consul approached the walls with his men prepared for action, as though there was going to be as much fighting there as there had been at Milionia. When he found that there was a dead silence in the city and no sign of arms or men was visible in the towers or on the walls, he checked his men, who were eager to get into the deserted fortifications, for fear he might be rushing blindly into a trap. He ordered two troops of cavalry belonging to the Latin contingent to ride round the walls and make a thorough reconnaissance. They discovered one gate open and another near it also open, and on the road leading from these gates traces of the enemy's nocturnal flight. Riding slowly up to the gates they obtained an uninterrupted view of the city through the straight streets, and brought back report to the consul that the city had been evacuated, as was clear from the unmistakable solitude and the things scattered about in the confusion of the night -- evidence of their hasty flight. On receiving this information the consul led his army round to that side of the city which the cavalry had examined. Halting the standards near the gates, he ordered five horsemen to enter the city, and after going some distance three were to remain where they were, and two were to return and report to him what they had discovered. They reported that they had reached a point from which a view was obtained in all directions, and everywhere they saw a silent solitude. The consul immediately sent some light-armed cohorts into the city, the rest of the army received orders to form an entrenched camp. The soldiers who had entered the place broke open some of the houses and found a few old and sick people and such property left behind as they found too difficult to transport. This was appropriated, and it was ascertained from the prisoners that several cities in the neighbourhood had mutually agreed to leave their homes, and the Romans would probably find the same solitude in other cities. What the prisoners had said proved to be true, and the consul took possession of the abandoned towns. |
Event: Fourth war with Samnites
Vineae:Movable shelters, open at both ends, pushed along on wheels, and made of stout wattling, covered with leather. As the name suggests, the earliest were probably constructed of interlaced vine stems. Under their protection battering-rams could be worked, mines commenced, and other siege operations conducted.
Standard:When an army was in camp, they were fixed in the ground, each marking the station of the cohort to which it belonged; when they were taken up it was the signal for breaking up the camp and commencing the march.