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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
(09-09-2016, 12:29 PM)Theoderic Wrote: Catus didn't do much at all apart from look after his own interests

So Tacitus makes out - but we should consider that part of his intention in this section of Annals may have been to extol the virtues of Paulinus, and exonerate him for any perceived failings (not realising the revolt was imminent, taking too few men with him, not relieving Colchester in time, etc).

Making Catus - an equestrian, of whom nothing further is heard - the fall guy for everything serves his purposes well. In fact, as Paulinus was governor he would surely have known what Catus and co were doing to the Iceni, and may have directed it. He was at least as much to blame for the uprising as the procurator.

Catus had only a small military force at his disposal, and could not command legionary troops, so his options were limited. Once Colchester had fallen, and Cerialis had been defeated, fleeing to the continent (probably taking many of his staff, his personal and imperial wealth, and the provincial records with him) would have been a sensible thing to do!


(09-09-2016, 12:29 PM)Theoderic Wrote: it seems incredulous that the people of Colchester... would not have evacuated the women and children nor built defences that we are aware of. 

Annals 14.32 claims the citizens of Colchester were 'hindered by secret accomplices in the revolt, who embarrassed their plans' and persuaded them not to construct a ditch or rampart. So - fifth columnists, as Michael points out.

Also - where would they have evactuated to? Colchester was a military settlement, home to a large number of veteran legionaries. Short of heading for London, 50 miles away, it was probably the safest place in the vicinity. Or so the 'secret accomplices' may have argued...


(09-09-2016, 12:29 PM)Theoderic Wrote: I still maintain that this was not a mass migration and it is rare for people to take their children or old aged to war.

Not a migration, no. But remember Paulinus's words in his pre-battle speech: the rebel army contained 'more women than warriors'. So there would have been a substantial number of civilians with them. Whether these civilians were there all along, or joined the army after the fall of Colchester, is unknown. But they would certainly have slowed things down.


(09-09-2016, 12:29 PM)Theoderic Wrote: This army in my opinion was made up of tribal warbands, a very mobile force, like the insurgents of today, able to strike quickly using cavalry, chariots and horse drawn wagons for transport and logistics.    

Traditional hit and run insurgency tactics would have worked well against a scattered foe, but for attacking cities and disciplined armies in the field the rebels needed vast numbers, so keeping everyone more or less together would have been critical.


(09-09-2016, 12:29 PM)Theoderic Wrote: London... had no value for the Brythons.

It had warehouses full of Roman grain, which the rebels needed. It was the centre of provincial administration, and the home of the hated procurator. So it had both logistical, military and symbolic value, I would say.


(09-09-2016, 12:29 PM)Theoderic Wrote: Tacitus makes it clear that by the time he got to London the he knew the 9th had been defeated

I still think the scheme that Michael proposed some time ago makes the best sense: Paulinus marched initially towards Colchester, intending to meet Cerialis en route, perhaps at Godmanchester. By the time he arrived there, the rebels had taken Colchester and Cerialis had marched off ahead to confront them, and been defeated.

Paulinus, hearing of this and realising that the next rebel target would be London, which had supplies of grain and a large number of vulnerable civilians, redirected his march south from Godmanchester, through the margins of rebel territory, to arrive at London after two or three days, ahead of the main rebel advance.

(It's also possible that he was joined at London by auxiliary units from the south coast forts.)



(09-09-2016, 12:29 PM)Theoderic Wrote: The Brythons never won any pitched battles over the Romans as far as I understand it so an organised battle was not really what they wanted unless the odds were vastly in their favour but their best bet was to defeat a diisorganised army on the march.

Their defeat of Cerialis was probably a pitched battle. No source implies that it was an ambush, or that Cerialis was attacked on the march; he knew he was in hostile territory, advancing against a sizeable enemy, and would have been keeping good march discipline.

We know he had a camp (to which he retreated), and it seems the infantry were deployed separately to the cavalry (which would have been on the wings in a standard battle array, and thus managed to escape the rout intact).

So it seems likely that Cerialis met the rebels somewhere near Colchester, deployed for battle, but was overwhelmed by their vastly superior numbers.
Nathan Ross
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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 Nathan Ross - 09-09-2016, 01:38 PM

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