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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Having looked at Nathan's excellent summation, I was wondering if we can say that we have moved on at all? So I thought I would have a stab at reviewing what was said and what appears to standing up to the questioning?

Nathan wrote:


1) Security. Arriving at London after his march south, Paulinus was faced with a native uprising of unforeseen scale and effectiveness. His first priority would be to take his troops and the refugees in his train to a strong defensive position. The closest of these was the chalk upland of the Chilterns - and the quickest way of getting there was a two day march back up Watling Street...


The scale of the uprising was indeed of an unforseen and effective nature. Refugees tend to flee from an enemy and if SP was going to battle and trying to attract the enemy to follow him (using the scorched earth policy as stated)he would not have wanted to be burdened with refugees. The other point is why think that the Brythons would not have sent flying columns after his small army now burdened with refugees travelling at 10 miles a day and cut him off before he reached Dunstable via the Icknield way or via the Roman Road to Braughing then to St. Albans?

Nathan wrote:

2) Intelligence. With rebellion all around him, Paulinus could not be sure of any local support. It has been suggested that he might fall back on the lands of Cogidubnus to the west - but while we know that Cogidubnus was loyal (because Tacitus tells us so), Paulinus couldn't be so sure at the time. And even if the king was loyal, what of his people? By marching his troops west, Paulinus would be putting them in open country, in the midst of a native population that could throw in their lot with the rebels at any moment, and depending on the loyalty of a vassal king. The only ground that Paulinus could be certain of was that which he had seen very recently with his own eyes - the line of Watling Street. By withdrawing north, he could maintain his strategic independence and keep his army secure from local threats.

We do know that the countryside that SP had already marched through was dangerous and in turmoil. The Atrebates had been peaceful and thriving for 17 years and Cogidubnus had been installed for a considerable length of time and probably educated in Rome. It would be unlikely that Governor had not already met him. I cannot see that this is a worse place to be than Watling Street or less secure.


Nathan wrote:

3) Reinforcement. We don't know where II Augusta were, or even where they started from (Exeter? Gloucester?). If they were on the road anywhere near Silchester, Paulinus could have waited for them in London. If they were further west, or stationary at home base, then setting out blindly westwards in the hope of meeting them somewhere on the road would be folly. However, by redirecting their march north-east up the Iknield Way, II Augusta could have come up behind Paulinus's static position at Dunstable. Also, of course, the line was open for reinforcement from the north down Watling itself - the rest of the twentieth and the ninth. Cerialis had escaped his own rout with his cavalry intact: quite possibly he fell back on the Neronian fort at Great Chesterford, only thirty miles north-east of Dunstable. Paulinus could therefore have been reinforced from three directions; no other location gives him this possibility.

Perfectly valid, not sure whether Great Chesterton was built at that time (but might have been). There are other scenarios of course of moving men around the country by the available military roads.

Nathan wrote:

4) Morale. Troops tend to become demoralised when retreating. This is true - but Paulinus was certainly retreating whichever way he went! The men of the fourteenth had been based at Wroxeter for (probably) over a decade: they had comrades there, a supply depot, many of them would have had families there, and they would have regarded it as home. By guarding the line of the Chilterns, keeping his army between the rebellion and the road to Wroxeter, Paulinus could keep his troops on ground they knew - a road they had marched many times - and they wouldn't feel they were abandoning their route home either. A march west, on the other hand, into unknown tribal lands that most of his men would never have seen before, would definitely seem like running away!

Not totally convinced but certainly the Fourteenth had been based in forts on Watling Street so many would have felt at home there as well.

Nathan wrote:

5) Containment. Paulinus marched south 'through a hostile population'. So there was insurgency brewing in the Midlands - by leaving the area Paulinus would leave this insurgency to erupt into open rebellion, cutting the country in half and threatening his bases in the north. By keeping a force in the Chilterns he could effectively oversee and threaten the hostile natives of the Midlands, containing the spread of further rebellion.

As the natives had already seen him retreating I am not convinced that they would be that worried about him or felt that once the other force arrived that they would not attack as well. It is likely that it was not just the Iceni and the Trinovantes who fought at the final battle on the Brython's side.


Nathan wrote:

6) Blocking. As an agricultural people, the Iceni and Trinovantes would have had to return to their lands towards the end of summer to plant crops for the winter. So Paulinus knew that they'd have to move north at some point. His 'delay' ('until another season', says Dio - the autumn planting season perhaps?) could have reflected this. By holding a position around Dunstable he could intercept the tribal horde moving up Watling to join the Icknield way, or move eastwards along the Chilterns to block any north-eastern route there.

I believe that the season referred to is the "fighting" season and nothing to do with agriculture. I think that blocking the tribes from planting their crops was not his priority. Destroying them was.


Nathan wrote:

7) St Albans. Tacitus isn't clear about whether St Albans was destroyed before or after London, but since the rest of his account is chronological and he mentions St Albans second, we'd need some reason to suspect it wasn't destroyed second! Paulinus could have fallen back on St Albans from London, and then moved ten miles further into the Chilterns as the British approached from the south.

Certainly possible but St Albans could have been destroyed second but by a separate force or by SP as pert of his retreat.

Nathan wrote:

8.) Fabius Cunctator. As an educated Roman, Paulinus would have a thorough knowledge of the deeds of past generals. His tactics seem to indicate an appreciation for Fabius Maximus 'Cunctator', whose delaying tactics against Hannibal so resemble his own against Boudica. In fact, if Paulinus actually did destroy London himself (as I've suggested), this would fit with a Fabian 'scorched earth' strategy. But the Fabian delay tactic only works if a general keeps his force in close proximity to the enemy, enabling him to threaten their flanks, maintain intelligence on their strength and block their movements. Marching off into the distance, hoping the enemy will come trailing in pursuit, does not fit with this strategic model. By keeping relatively close to London, on the high ground of the Chilterns, Paulinus could block the enemy and strike at their flanks and rear if they tried to move west.

I do believe that SP did use a "scorched earth" policy but literally to deny the Brythons food and to delay or indeed stop their advance. He would appear to be forced into battle because they wouldn't stop hounding him. This was their best chance to defeat him before he could get re-inforcements for his army.

This is why it is strange that he obviously never contacted the Ninth to join him although they were the closest or was it that because they were holding down the Brigantes? Even so you do not hear about the Ninth cavalry at the battle - was this because it wasn't fought near them? Surprisingly why weren't they picked up on route to London.

Nathan wrote:

9) Supply. The burnt Roman grain in the destruction layer in London proves that there were supplies there when Paulinus arrived. He would have taken as much as he could carry when he departed - and, I believe, destroyed the rest himself. So his army would be provisioned, albeit for a short while. He had no immediate need to fall back on native allies (even if he could be certain of them!). Water is more of a problem - but if Paulinus was based around Dunstable he could probably have watered his animals and supplied his men on the low wet ground to the north-west, only moving up to his position on the dry chalk upland when he had firm intelligence of the approaching British.


Agree with the burning, not so sure about the relationship with the Atrebates, plenty of water in the Thames valley.

Nathan wrote:

10) Marching speed. Not Paulinus's but Boudica's, in this case. The British tribal horde was vast and disparate, comprising a number of peoples and probably a number of subordinate leaders. They would have moved very slowly, and possibly not in a straight line either! Colchester, and then London, gave the British firm strategic objectives. After that, Boudica's army was in danger of splitting apart. We know that Paulinus defeated them en masse, so they were still a cohesive force at that point. To suggest a battle location anywhere beyond 50 miles or so of London (at least five days journey for the British) is, I believe, to imagine an unrealistic unity and motivation in the British horde.

All valid points. The horde would move at about 10 / 12 miles per day. I think that if you can keep a group motivated for 5 days you can keep them motivated for 7 or 8 days. (we've come this far lads - us women can do it....what are you men or mice?) Big Grin
Deryk
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Messages In This Thread
Re: Calling all armchair generals! - by Ensifer - 03-11-2010, 03:13 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-18-2012, 06:26 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 12:02 AM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 02:50 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 05:40 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 11:26 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 05:11 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 09:42 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 10:10 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 03:11 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 03:25 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 08:36 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-26-2012, 02:57 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-27-2012, 01:50 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 08-05-2012, 02:24 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Deryk - 08-23-2012, 05:06 PM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-07-2014, 02:18 PM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-08-2014, 01:50 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-11-2014, 02:03 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-18-2014, 07:54 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-20-2014, 02:37 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-25-2014, 08:29 AM

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