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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
TRING BATTLE PART 1

Hi All

So to the battle.

I am postulating that Seutonius Paulinus had decided (for the reasons that I have already surmised) to occupy the “Tring Plateau” as I have termed it as a natural fortress.

I believe that he had the remaining Roman citizens from Londinium and Verulamium (who had not left when he arrived at these towns) with him and set up camp on the plateau.

Again I surmise that SP had time to defend the position and to send messages to local auxiliaries to join him which they duly did (Tacitus).

There is a possibility that either the veterans of the Twentieth were with SP, the Fourteenth and the mounted Batavians attached to the Fourteenth as well as cavalry.

On the other hand the veterans of the Twentieth possibly based at Gloucester and the cavalry regiments of the First Wing of Thracians also possibly based at Gloucester and also the Indus Wing of the Gauls possibly based at Cirencester

It would have taken them about 2 to 3 days to get to Tring more than enough time before the Brythons arrived.

Either way the Tring site suits both scenarios.

So what could be defended?

On one side of the plateau lies Grim’s Ditch along the ridge. It would not have been difficult or take much time to fortify this defence with wooden stakes or pits or indeed with calthrops as well as artillery.

As Nathan showed in his excellent diagrams, there are four comparatively easy access points to the plateau.

The rest of the plateau could only be accessed up extremely steep hills unaccessible by chariots.

Having taken Nathan’s and John’s points about the woods on board this is only one of the natural defences (although we are led to believe that the woods were important for SP according to Tacitus) – the other being the steepness of the valleys or access from the plain to the plateau parts which are almost sheer.

I would also add that the use of calthrops in this scenario would not have been unusual and would not have been difficult to distribute them throughout the woods completely slowing down the advance however I can see that this cannot be relied on

We are led to believe by Dio that Boudicca’s forces at the battle site had increased from 120,000 at Colchester to 230,000 at this juncture.

An increase in forces of an army is only to be expected where people or factions are attracted to the standard of a successful general – in this case Boudica .

If we are to believe Dio this would indeed be a huge number but if various parts of the country were up in arms as Tacitus implies, a number of tribes with anti Roman feelings could have come together at the battle site to make up the numbers.

Apart from the Brythons who had just sacked Londinium and Verulamium warriors could have met at Tring along the Icknield Way East from the lands of the Iceni (as per John’s scenario) or from the South West or from the Midlands and congregate opposite the plateau by Akeman Street.

The assembly of such a vast horde would have taken some time and would have decamped along the line of march possibly Akeman Street and the Icknield Way taking advantage of the River Bulbourne to replenish their water supplies.

This would have been opposite the Roman Camps.

It is also likely that they would have been familiar with the site.

Seutonius Paulinus’ military challenge was to somehow nullify the numerical advantage of the Brythons.

A huge task which makes me think that he had some knowledge of the site to have chosen the plateau with its mountain-like valleys which suited his style of battle (we should not forget that he had already had 2 years of successful campaigning in Wales before his success at Anglesey).

We should not ignore that both Tacitus and Dio state that SP changed his mind about giving battle, Tacitus because he received reinforcements (perhaps part of the original call to arms) and Dio because the enemy still pursued him and that he was running low on food.

So it appears that circumstances allowed SP to confront the Brythons either because he thought the time was opportune or through necessity.

Both accounts reinforce that SP was thinking on his feet at all times and having to be prepared for all options both planning for and reacting to constantly changing conditions.

I believe that there was an overall plan to defend the citizens now sheltering on the “Tring Plateau” which used the natural terrain to both protect and extend the Roman Line and at the right time give the Romans an advantage over the Brythons so the plan had to be both fixed yet fluid.

Like others I think that the Tacitus version of the battle is too simplistic and perhaps that is because Agricola may have been part of one of the three divisions mentioned by Dio and therefore reports his division’s activities to Tacitus because that is what he saw.

I would be the first to acknowledge that I am indeed an armchair general and do not have any military experience so I would be grateful for any military opinion on the following proposition.

Strategically the battle hinges on making the Roman line being able to stretch to a long distance, encourage the enemy to engage, not be outflanked yet make progress as an effective killing machine that it was, with the minimal loss of his troops.

Seutonius Paulinus would have needed to get the Brythons to attack his line in a particular way so needed to create the stage.


To be continued.......
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
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Deryk - 09-04-2013, 08:52 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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