The Third Samnite War had raged for three years, and Rome had the upper hand. The Roman generals, Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius Mus, were laying waste to Samnium, having driven the Samnite army from their homeland in south-central Italy. But the Samnites managed to form a grand coalition, with Etruscan, Umbrian and Celtic Senones. The Roman counteroffensive was two-pronged; by ravaging their homelands, they succeeded in detaching the Etruscans and Umbrians from the enemy host. Their main army then confronted the Samnites and Celts at Sentinum east of the Apennines. The battle was close-run. Decius died in a desperate counterattack, his flank buckling before a Celtic chariot charge, but Publius managed to outflank the Samnites, routing them. He then enveloped the Senones, who formed a ‘tortoise’ shield formation. Campanian lancers from the rear drove them onto the Roman frontal assault. The decisive battle of the decisive war with the Samnites ended in complete victory for Rome.
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