Archive for June, 2010

After Action Report: WAB 2.0 Mother of all Ancient Battles

Annals of Scipio Tyranus: Centurion Legio XX Day 32 Britannia Campaign 43AD

It is rare for the battle tested legionaries of Legio XX Valeria Victrix, to have to call on the assistance of less experienced Legio’s, but when we marched on the main barbarian confederation towards Noviomagus, our great legati, General Aaron Marcellus, immediately despatched riders to the nearest legion’s, requesting assistance, as our spies reported a veritable sea of rippling flesh and iron, a number of barbarians that even the blood thirsty blades of Legio XX could not hope to quench.

As I and the other centurions readied our legionaries for battle, the regimented footfalls of Roman Legionaries approached. Aid came in the form of a cohort from Legio XIII Augustae, accompanied by not only a substantial portion of their auxilia and Germanic Cavalry, but a unit of marines they had managed to collect along the way. The other Legion in the region, Legio III Augustae, itself under-strength due to constant harassment from the Barbarian Horde, was only able to despatch an under century to assist us; General Marcellus absorbed these units under his command for the duration of the battle. As the sun started to set, the general, along with the two Augustan Legion Tribunes drew up an order of battle, as we knew our barbaric opponents where surely doing the same.

The field of battle was for the most part flat, with a stream running down the eastern flank, and a modest hill rising on the west, from which our carroballistae were able to sight the entire battlefield; Legio XIII formed their ranks on the left, with Legio XX forming on the right, Legio III held the weakened centre of our lines, supported by Twenties archers, and a massed formation of Thirteen’s Auxiliaries.
It was at that point that the Barbarians decided to rise from their filth and meet us on the battlefield; massed warriors to the west, cavalry and chariots to the east, and raving fanatics beating their chests and exposing themselves opposite the rather raw Legio III at the centre, supported by an entire screen of skirmishers and slingers; from their vantage point atop the hill, the crew of the carroballistae informed sent word to the General that the entire western flank of the barbarian army, were in fact German mercenaries!

The first blood of the day was drawn by the carroballistae, as it skewered three German warriors with a single bolt, leaving their bloodied bodies held erect; unfortunately it would also be the only successful kill from it this day. As the carroballistae and archers of Legio XX continued to harass the barbarian lines, in fact their presence alone forced an entire unit of barbarian cavalry from the western flank, a move that would prove advantageous as the battle progressed.
The first Roman blood spilled this day was not even Roman, as a number of our Auxiliaries, and the marines, who were screening the Legionaries, started taking fire from massed formations of slingers and javelins, resulting in multiple deaths until they were able to return the favour in kind.

Uncharacteristically of the barbarians, but it seemed that their masters had reined in their blood lust, as for the most part, they managed to keep a single line, a tactic almost reminiscent of our own, but being the barbarians they are, they quickly reverted to their animalistic ways, with entire bodies of Celtic and Germanic warriors surging towards our ranks, only to recover themselves and form up once more.

This uncharacteristic move may have worried the less experienced legionaries on the western flank, but it did nothing against the veterans on the eastern line, as they wheeled and readied themselves for the inevitable charge by the Barbarian cavalry; orders quickly filtered down the lines that the Legionaries on the western flank needed to close the gaps between them, and engage the Germanic and Celtic Warriors en-masse, and to leave the cavalry to Legio XX. With the blaring of horns, the juggernaut that is the Roman Legion trudged forward towards the enemy; ahead of them, skirmishers and marines traded javelins with their opposing contemporaries until an almost unheard sequence of commands from the Marine Centurion sent his marines charging forth towards their barbaric adversaries, running off a screening unit of skirmishers, but sent them running head long into a unit of German fanatics.

To the surprise of those around them, the marines, actually held their own against the fanatic’s despite being outnumbered 2-to-1, they managed to hold the line until reinforcements in the form of Legio XIII legionaries arrived to assist them.
By the time the sun had reached its height, the battle had been joined on the entire western flank, reaching as far as the veteran legionaries of Legio XX’s first Century with mixed results running the length of the line. XII’s legionaries held the German tribesmen at the extreme edge of battle, but experienced problems closer to the centre against Celts, where III’s century managed to steel their resolve when staring down at the face of fanatics howling for their blood, in fact gaining the upper hand a number of times, against both them, and the Barbarian Warlord.

While Twenties Legionaries seemed somewhat un-needed at this point, it soon changed, as the Barbarian Cavalry seized a somewhat flagging battle, and attempted to strike at the very heart of Legio XX; with chariots charging IV Century, at the centre of our line, with first Century engaged with Celtic warriors, and II Century repositioning itself to deal with an approaching cavalry threat, it seemed that things were not going well for us; until it seemed Mars smiled on us, as General Marcellus, who had taken command of the auxiliary cavalry, boldly counter charged units of Celtic Light and Noble Cavalry. This move seemed to be the lynchpin of the battle, and where things started to go wrong, not only for the barbarians, but for our already tested flank.

General Marcellus led the charge deep into the mass of Celt Cavalry, the sound of horses colliding with each other echoed throughout the battlefield. As if blessed by the God of War himself, our auxiliary cavalry actually managed to break the Celtic Noble Cavalry, forcing their immediate retreat! Such unprecedented act caused the entire eastern barbarian flank to falter, from the skirmishers on the extreme edge of the battle being penned down by our own auxiliaries, to the chariots that charged IV Century turning their tails and running, despite the wounds they sustained on our men.

The same success could not be said for our brothers in Legios III and XIII, as not only the marines they brought with them break, Legio III’s century broke, and XIII’s entire formation of auxilia that they used to supplement losses they had already sustained in the campaign were slaughtered to the man, causing panic to run through the inexperienced troops throughout the centre up to Twenties archers who stood firm even as the centre started to falter; one very lucky and gifted archer actually managed to skewer one of those one-in-a-million shots, killing a Germanic Fanatic, through two manoeuvring units of Roman infantry.

As Legio XIII held the extreme western flank, and Legio XX comfortably held the east, forcing entire cavalry units to flee before us, before turning our attention to the beleaguered centre; Legio XX’s first Century started to feel the strain, a lucky break on the western line caused a sizable chunk of the Germanic and Celtic horde to flee, including their warlord. It was this point which allowed General Marcellus the opportunity to isolate and destroy those Barbarians that still held firm, but in an odd sign of compassion to the misguided horde, he let the Barbarian warlord and chieftains the chance to escape. We retired from battle, bruised, blooded, but otherwise victorious; the raw legionaries of Legio III and XIII gained their first exposure to the Celtic menace we have been dealing for an entire season.

4000 point Imperial Romans vs 4000 point Celtic/Barbarian Horde 3 v 3
Result: Decisive Roman Victory (Battle Points)