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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Dealing first with Deryk’s two questions:

1. I have suggested previously that Paulinus’ motive in taking the civilians with him from London was to save those with the wealth and skills necessary for rebuilding the province after the revolt had been suppressed. However, the need to save Roman citizens is equally plausible. The two are, of course, not mutually exclusive. That said, it seems to me that he could have had three possible intentions regarding the civilians: first, to escort them away from the immediate danger and to leave them to make their own arrangements after that; secondly, to convey them to a place of safety and to leave them in the care of the local inhabitants; thirdly, to take them into his own protection and to keep them with him until all danger had passed. The third is, I think, Deryk’s preferred option, although he accepts that it would have been risky. Mine is the second, as I do not believe that Paulinus would have wanted to encumber his army with civilians any longer than necessary and thereby to prejudice its ability to engage the enemy, should circumstances demand.

2. I would formulate this question slightly differently, since our sources do not tell us precisely what route he took or where the final battle took place. I would suggest: ‘Why would he retrace his steps up Watling Street and not escape to the West’. I can see the force of the argument that he might wish to save the citizens in Verulamium as well as those of London but, following my earlier reasoning, I do not see him wanting to add to the burden of civilians that he already carried. On balance, I hold to my view that he expected the rebels to return to their homelands by the most direct routes after plundering London which, as Deryk has pointed out, would not involve their going anywhere near Verulamium. He, therefore, thought that he could safely leave his civilians there and then proceed westwards to rendezvous with his reinforcements.

As to the battle itself, we are not helped by having two sources that describe it completely differently. In my view, although he undoubtedly over-simplifies it, Tacitus’ account is to be preferred. He almost certainly had the benefit of his father-in-law’s recollections, Agricola having been on Paulinus’ staff; Dio’s version, a hundred or so years later, is much more stereotypical. The objection expressed by Nathan and Deryk that, on emerging from the defile, the Romans were in danger of being engulfed by the numerically vastly superior rebel force applies equally to an engagement in the open field and we cannot get away from the fact that, whatever their disadvantages, the Romans won. Ancient sources are notoriously unreliable when it comes to numbers and frequently exaggerate the size of enemy forces. Nevertheless, we can accept that Paulinus was outnumbered, as we are told that he did not have the forces to take full advantage of his victory and a substantial number of the rebels escaped and were prepared to continue the conflict. By taking up a position in a defile, Paulinus was able to nullify the Britons’ numerical advantage and to force them to engage him on the same frontage as himself. It would seem reasonable, therefore, to assume that the Romans did not emerge from the defile until the Britons were in full retreat and less able to offer a consolidated resistance. If we want to allow some credence to Dio’s account, it may be that it was at this point that the Roman force split into three divisions and engaged what amounted to the wings of the rebel army as well as the retreating centre. Even so, as I have said before, in the words of the Duke of Wellington, it was “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 - 08-27-2013, 05:58 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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