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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Hi Deryk,

Welcome back. As you say, it is unlikely that we will agree on everything but, at least, if we both put forward our arguments, others can decide whether they prefer one or the other, or neither.


Quote:I can appreciate that London was the Roman Administrative centre with a strong commercial side but how much wealth would have been left after the administrators and wealthy had already evacuated I think is a moot point even before Seutonius Paulinus arrived.
Tacitus does not tell us how many (if any) of the wealthy left London with Catus Decianus nor how much of their portable wealth they were able to take with them. In a sense, it doesn’t matter; the Britons would have perceived it to be a place where wealth could be found for the taking, even if the cupboard was bare by the time they got there. Also, although its being the administrative centre may have been of greater importance to the Romans than to the Britons, nevertheless it would be the place where government revenues were collected and the Britons may have been eager to get their hands on them. Again, we do not know if Decianus emptied the coffers before leaving but the Britons would not have known that either.


Quote:The difficulty I have in believing that London was a prime target for the Brythons is partially based on the fact that they should have overrun London at least a week before SP arrived.

The excuse that they were a drunken mob does not fit with the logistics at all or that this was a “knee jerk” reaction to Boudica getting beaten. This was a planned and combined operation (possibly with the backing of the Druids) and in this case they could have been in London 5 days after sacking Colchester even taking into account a fair amount of looting and celebration.
I wondered about that myself. However, we do not know how long the rebellion had been brewing before it burst out into open revolt. Clearly, the inhabitants of Colchester had sufficient warning to get a plea for assistance to Decianus and for him to send 200, admittedly poorly armed, troops in response. (As a digression, who were these troops? My guess is that they were the legionaries seconded to the governor’s officium, who had probably left their battle equipment at their base fortresses and had only their sidearms with them.) They also were able to get a similar request to Cerealis. Probably, reports of the impending revolt were sent to Paulinus at the same time, either directly or relayed to him by Cerealis, and he may have been well on his way down Watling Street when news of the fall of Colchester reached him. It seems evident from Tacitus’ account that Colchester had fallen before Cerealis and the Ninth had arrived on the scene and that the rebels had turned to meet them. This would have further delayed their departure for London.

Although I would hesitate to dismiss the rebels as simply a drunken rabble, I doubt that the revolt was as planned and co-ordinated as you would like it to be. Tacitus has a telling description of it: (in the Loeb translation) “ . . . the enemy neither took captive nor sold into captivity; there was none of the other commerce of war; he was hasty with slaughter and the gibbet, with arson and the cross, as though his day of reckoning must come, but only after he had snatched his revenge in the interval.” This suggests more of a rampage than an ordered advance and contains the implication that the Britons knew the consequences of not pressing home their advantage while they had the opportunity.


Quote:I can understand the Romans mustering at London but then to have advanced onto the Trinovantes homeland to Colchester to bring them to battle but as you rightly say he didn’t have enough men.

I think that this point actually answers your point that the standard Roman tactic would have been to beat the army in the field – NOT wait for the Brythons to come to them.
I don’t understand. I was not suggesting that Paulinus would wait for the Britons to come to him, except to the extent that he had to wait for reinforcements before advancing himself.


Quote:I am coming to the opinion that as Tacitus states (but as I have previously ignored) “he resolved to quit the station, and, by giving up one post, secure the rest of the province. “
I do not recognise the quotation, unless it is a very free translation of the passage about abandoning London, which you have referred to. Can you give a reference?


Quote:To a degree Dio makes us think that he was panicked into fighting but this does not reflect the records of the general.
I think “panicked” is putting it too strongly but Dio’s comment that Paulinus was compelled to give battle against his better judgement has the ring of truth about it. Even great generals can miscalculate and I believe that Paulinus did on this occasion. Tacitus’ statement that he “prepared to abandon delay and contest a pitched battle” (Loeb again) has the appearance of making a virtue of necessity. His account of the battle also makes it look all too easy. Dio’s hard-fought battle is probably nearer the truth. Given the discrepancy in numbers, it may well have been what the Duke of Wellington might have called “a damn’d close-run thing.”
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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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
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Renatus - 10-02-2012, 02:58 AM
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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