It should be understood that Roman battle tactics depended largely on the enemy they were fighting and the terrain, but here are the basics. There was a meeting or “consilium” of officers the night before the battle in which all officers were briefed on what the role of their men would be. The morning of the battle itself there was a sacrifice and the reading of the omens (always good). Next came the inspirational speech by the general in which he praised the Roman valor and degraded the enemies courage. They marched out and the lines formed into center, left and right wings, the auxiliaries and cavalry took their assigned places and they waited–in silence. And here is where the famous Roman discipline was put to practical use.
The enemy would be jeering and taunting them and making feints and retreating. All the while the Roman lines would be silent and walking towards the enemy at a slow pace. When they approached close to the enemy, at about 50 feet, simultaneously they broke into a run, threw their pila and raised their battle cry as the cornu and trumpets sounded the attack.
This delivered two shocks to the enemy. The physical shock of the pila and the psychological shock of a previous silent and slow moving force suddenly erupting into a screaming charge. It is said that often this initial Roman charge was enough to rout the enemy before any or little contact.

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