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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Nathan wrote:

............unless somebody comes along and offers some entirely new thoughts or theories, or some new discovery turns up, we're just going over the same ground.


Although I would agree that we are going over the same ground there are some points that for completeness do need to be stated.

The whole business about SP leaving London, which way he went and why he left is extremely important.

I would agree that he could have retreated because he thought that there was a huge army in the field on its way to attack him.

Equally he might have wished to seize the initiative from the Brythons who had proved to have run a successful campaign.
  
Up to this point he had reacted to the moves of the Brythons:

1.    The Brythons attacked and destroyed Colchester without any Romans being aware that they had a huge army in the field; to such an extent they did not even have time to send the women and children and the elderly away or raise defences.
 
2.    Cerialis heard that they were under attack and set off to defend Colchester with half a Legion and perhaps a wing of cavalry if that. So he was obviously unaware of the sheer size of the attacking force. Again poor information. 
 
3.    He either blunders into this huge host (which seems unlikely for an experienced although rash commander) or he is ambushed because the Brythons would be expecting a relieving force having watched Roman tactics over the previous 17 years. The Brythons were very good at ambushes.
 
4.    Also he and his cavalry are separated from his infantry which he either abandons on the field (unlikely for an undoubtedly brave commander) or simply the infantry are snuffed out quickly on the march following him.
 
5.    SP hears of the attack on Colchester and immediately gets ready to get to the seat of action which presumably would have been Colchester. A classic and forseeable reaction.
 
6.    He left with his army and marched down Watling Street but rather than taking the direct route as you may expect, carries onto London. This may have been because he had lost touch with Legions (the Ninth and the Second) that he was expecting to support him for whatever reason.
 
7.    Did this mean that he left the majority of his army at a pre-prepared site at Church Stowe? Did he leave some at St Albans as a defence for that Roman city?  It is acknowledged that he had a ”small army” by the time he reached London but what this means in terms of numbers is unknown but it would have been less than 10,000 men and may have been only 7,000 or less.
 
Up to this point SP had been wrong footed time and time again. Yet he was a successful and experienced general. 

His opponents were therefore experienced in war and would have been prepared for the reaction by Rome on the destruction of Colchester.

There is nothing to say anywhere that the Brythons were inept, or a drunken mob, or not an army.

If they were it reflects badly on the Roman war machine that it could not control this rabble easily or out manoeuvre them. This seems highly improbable.

This is a description added by later commentators to fit their theories and to reflect the one statement “they placed their wives in wagons at the extremity of the plain where they might survey the scene of action……”. Not families, not children, not old women…. But wives; a typical baggage train for an army.

It is an explanation of how the Brythons were prevented from leaving the field rather than being able to flee and escape as they normally would (although two thirds of the army did)

By the time SP had reached London he would have known that no men from other Legions would reach him in time. 

He would have had confirmation that Colchester had been destroyed and all the local forts there had been captured.

He did not have enough men to advance into the occupied territories (being aware that Cerialis had been defeated by advancing there) and London was not an easy place to defend and at the extremity of Roman control with most of his forces in the West or North.

So the decision to withdraw strategically and swiftly knowing that the Brythons had an extremely mobile force (probably defending their borders from the expected Roman reaction) that could be upon him in 3 days and destroy him by attrition on the march, makes perfect sense.

This withdrawal could have bought him time and he was no longer chasing the Brythons but was able to dictate the direction of the campaign.

According to the contemporary commentators his first thought was to retreat and start the campaign in “the next season” but then he decided to stop and fight partly because he was running out of food but also because the Brythons kept following him “relentlessly” and he was obviously concerned that fighting “on the march” was risky.

This is exactly how the Brythons kept harassing Caesar in 54BC which forced that great man to ally himself with the local tribes to get food. 

So perhaps the Brythonic chariots and cavalry were catching up with SP now he was loaded down with refugees.
He chose a battle site (but forget to tell us where ) Smile  with a certain topography that gave him a secure advantage and waited for reinforcements from the local forts and the Brythonic army

The main Brythonic infantry army would then have mustered and advanced to fight him because the cavalry and the chariots could not beat the Legion in a fixed battle but combined with infantry might.

Perhaps warriors from many tribes trekked to the site for the battle this is certainly implied.

So why is this scenario important?

Because the battle site would have had to have been totally secure from all directions and there are very few that are.

Deryk.
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 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
RE: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand. - by Theoderic - 01-11-2016, 10:45 PM

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