After evading or defeating a number of hastily raised Roman forces Spartacus was at last brought to bay by a properly trained Roman army of three legions led by Peticus The Unlucky. The terrain was fairly rough, which favored the Slave Army, but the majority of their men were poorly equipped and trained hordes. The balance of the army, and it's main hope was the hard core of experienced warriors armed with captured Roman weapons and equipment.
Peticus contemplates the advance of the Slave Army
Spartacus deployed his best equipped men under his own command in the center. His lieutenants Gannicus and Crixus commanded the Left and Right wings composed mainly of hordes of desperate but poorly equipped and trained men arrayed around a small core of well equipped, experienced men. Peticus opposed one of his legions to each of the three Slave generals. His plan was to delay a decision in the center where the best of the enemy army was by making use of rough wooded terrain. At the same time he would crush the weaker enemy wings and envelop their center.
The left wing of the slave army is broken
The Roman right flank had little trouble breaking the enemy facing them but they were unable to capitalize on their success because, at the summit of the hill dominating that part of the field the rebel commander Gannicus struck down the commander of that Legion throwing their command structure into chaos. Gannicus stood his ground on the hill but the rest of his command crumbled and fled. Without their commander the victorious Roman legion was unable to effectively intervene on behalf of their hard pressed center.
Crixus charges downhill into Victory and Death
On the Roman left flank the Slave commander Crixus "The Undefeated Gaul" compensated for the shortcomings of his willing but poorly equipped hordes by agressively leading from the front surrounded by his hard core of Gallic and German warriors. Crixus heroism cost him his life, but he broke the Roman left. At this point Peticus decided to withdraw from the field and Spartacus, who had narrowly escaped defeat was only too happy to see him go.