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

We don't know enough about the Iceni economy or trade links to know how easily they could have rearmed, I think. I don't know of any iron mines in East Anglia - iron was a valuable commodity, and swords in particular were prized items, which is why they were so often given in sacrifice. Any weapons - or metal to make them - would have to have come through Roman-controlled territory. Even by sea - ships at this time probably could not sail directly across to the Iceni coast from the continent.

Before the death of Prasutagus, there was no apparent reason for revolt. After it, the Iceni were being molested by Romans, probably tax assessors and the like, who surely would have reported any overt warlike preparations.

So I don't think we can assume that the Iceni, still less the Trinovantes, were either well armed or well trained and disciplined. The vast majority of their forces would have been a sort of farmers' militia, armed with improvised weapons.

 
Well one thing we can be sure of is firstly that we don’t know enough, secondly cannot assume and thirdly that the truth will be stranger than the speculation!!!! 

You may well be correct regarding the farming militia (the auxilliaries that Caesar talks about) as these crop up throughout history as part of an army but I believe that there was a warrior caste perhaps allowed by the Romans during the reign of Prasatugusfor policing duties, ceremonial guard duties to the aristocracy etc.

The Governor may have been quite happy for them to have weapons as in themselves they were no threat as an army until linked into units and combined with the militia.

Perhaps also the Roman Administration believed that the Iceni and Trinovantes were completely cowed and compliant.

Skills of riding for a Rural Race would have been normal (boys are often used as herders) and perhaps chariots / carts again would have been allowed for transportation.

Previous understanding of battles (the last Iceni experience would have been just over a decade previously) and tactics could have been passed down or indeed the leaders could have still been alive. 

Possibly they discussed the successes of Caractacus and his subsequent capture and perhaps Roman reactions as well and the ongoing war in “Wales.”
 
Nathan wrote:

However, there does seem to be some evidence for native British armies taking non-combatants along with them, rather than leaving them to fend for themselves at home. I don't think we need to assume these were restricted to cart-driving wives!

What evidence is that exactly?

Nathan wrote:

Yes - and if the crop in question was supposed to be planted in the springtime, this means that 'those of all ages' had left home for the initial attack on Colchester, rather than joining the warriors later in the campaign

This whole thing about the wheat is confusing as we have discussed before.

Of everything it seems to me that wheat was a necessity for both the Brythons and the Roman Empire and until the Roman invasion of AD43 the Brythons were a net exporter of wheat.

It is inconceivable that the Brythons would not have planted their crops – it was a matter of life and death.

From what you are indicating, the Brythons would have left to go on the offensive by at the very latest April and possibly March when the crop could be sown, which is really early in the Fighting Season and seems unlikely given the timescales.

Again we cannot make assumptions about when the wheat was sown or whether it was winter wheat or spring wheat.

Tacitus states:  

“Nothing however distressed the enemy so much as famine, for they had been careless about sowing corn, people of every age having gone to the war, while they reckoned on our supplies as their own.”

The statement itself is strange inasmuch as the Brythons would have been able to loot the granaries at Colchester so would have had considerable stores from there alone apart from any other areas that they overran.

Nathan wrote:

But the Romans had not yet occupied the Iceni lands - they were only preparing to do so.
The texts don’t really support that theory.

Contemporary writings state:

“The event was otherwise. His dominions were ravaged by the centurions; the slaves pillaged his house, and his effects were seized as lawful plunder. His wife, Boudicca, was disgraced with cruel stripes; her daughters were ravished, and the most illustrious of the Icenians were, by force, deprived of the positions which had been transmitted to them by their ancestors.”
 
“The whole country was considered as a legacy bequeathed to the plunderers. The relations of the deceased king were reduced to slavery”

According to the texts it seems that the Rome reduced the Iceni aristocracy from allies to slaves in a very short time indeed and it may well have been at this time that small forts were erected that were later to fall into the hands of the Iceni.

The erection and garissoning of the "castella" would have been a military action directly responsible to the Governor, it is on reflection the support of the military was the only way that the Procurator could have implemented the State's authority.    

The Iceni homelands were already a Province before the uprising supported by the Governor who would feel that the new Province was adequately garrisoned .

Nathan wrote:

And Colchester was not in Iceni territory anyway. The Iceni could not have believed that by sacking one colony in a neighbouring tribe's land they would 'take their country back' - they would know that they had to defeat the Romans decisively, or face a rapid retribution.

From my point of view you have hit the nail on the head but I come to a different conclusion:
 
The uprising would not have been possible if Roman forces were not stretched to the limit between garrison duties and running a campaign in the North West. 

As you say retribution would have been swift and Colchester may even have been defended by war hardened troops a few days march away rather than the Procurator’s inadequate force if the country had the force available.

The Brythons had been watching how the Roman Army operated for many years and would know the tactics. When an attack occurred the Roman Army would respond immediately to disperse the insurgents. So hit and run tactics (guerrilla warfare if you will) suited the Brythons.

Colchester was obviously a large city – effectively the thriving capital with its own port at Fingringhoe Wick. Many tens of thousands of people resided there including a large number of ex soldiers and all residents had Roman citizenship.

A few war bands would not have been enough to contain the population so the mobilisation of the farming militia would have been necessary.

My contention is that the Brythons were expecting a swift reaction from the Romans and allowed for it knowing that the nearest troops were in the local forts (that they captured) and the nearest Legion was at Godmanchester or Longthorpe. 

The 9th paid the price in an ambush coming to the rescue of Colchester after it had fallen.

(As an aside you would have thought that the Roman intelligence would have noticed that the Brythons weren’t sowing their corn over territory covering hundreds of square miles or that the land had become completely deserted or that their forts had been captured – if this was a slow moving horde. The more you consider it the more you realise that considerable planning went into this)

As the Brythons would have realised that to rise up, capture forts, destroy a colony and a partial Legion that the Governor would want vengeance and come to get it.

They had a problem. They didn’t know where he would come from or how many men he would have with him or when he would arrive. 

He had a maximum of 35,000 troops to call on and could do what he eventually did, bring a huge army and put the homelands and populations of the Trinovantes and the Iceni to the sword: 

whatever tribes still wavered or were hostile were ravaged with fire and sword.”   

As they would have known that they would not stand a chance in a pitched battle with this number of troops or whilst they were travelling on the road.

Also if they were in one huge horde on the way to London it would have been easier to totally bypass them, and destroy their lands.

Their best bet was to disperse with the plunder from Colchester and to lay ambushes for the incoming Romans and protect their families.   
 
Renatus wrote:

I have been thinking about this. There was an element of regaining homelands. Tacitus tells us that the Icenian nobles had been dispossessed and that the Trinovantes had been driven from their farms. He also mentions in the Agricola the castella that were overrun in the initial stages of the revolt. I take these to be small fortified posts or fortlets, which may have been an acceptable feature of the arrangements with Prasutagus but which had then become symbols of oppression. That said, however, the revolt involved much more than the simple recovery of homelands; it was a concerted effort to combine the tribes in driving the Romans from Britain once and for all.

I agree with this but suspect that the “castella” were the forts imposed upon the Iceni after Boudica had been scourged and her possessions taken by the Roman State.  

Renatus wrote:

This being so, the rebels would have known that they had to maintain constant pressure on the Romans until the task was accomplished and that this might take some time.


It is, of course, possible that some wives might have remained at home with the children and that others might have left their children in the care of their grandparents. However, if this were the case, the revolt would have to have achieved its objective before the onset of winter, so that the warriors could return for the winter planting and with sufficient captured provisions to sustain their families until the spring. If they failed to do that, those left behind would starve.

On the other hand, if they returned home with the Romans still undefeated, the pressure would be off and the initiative would pass to the Romans. Suetonius would have time to regroup and summon reinforcements from the Continent. Even if they were unable to cross the Channel before the seas closed in November, they would be ready to embark in the spring and Suetonius would then be in a position to lead a massive campaign of retribution.

Cannot disagree with this excellent summation.

Renatus wrote:

There was no guarantee that the rebels would have been able achieve their goal within the necessary timeframe. The alternative, therefore, as I see it, is that the rebel army would have had to remain in the field until the Roman forces were finally overcome and that, whatever the hazards, this would have necessitated taking their families with them. Leaving them behind to face possible starvation over the winter was not an option.

 
This is of course a highly plausible option but where were they going to get their grain for an ongoing campaign with over 150,000 people? 

The corn from Colchester is one possibility but this would have only have been enough for around 30,000 people for a limited period and would have required a huge baggage train, London was stripped of supplies by SP and St Albans similarly (even SP was running short of food having had access to the granaries)

The insurgents would never have been able to rely on grain being available to them in other tribe’s lands. (It is said that the mere threat of a Roman army marching through a land and eating its food was enough to cause the surrender before a battle was even needed –no doubt the same devastating effect would be the case with any army living off the land – so the locals were not going to starve themselves).    

As this was the case the safer option for the young and the elderly was to remain at home.

It also begs the question that if that SP’s best option was to hold off to the next season and build up his forces why did he go to London with such a small force (7,500 men? Perhaps less if some were left to protect Verulamium).

As you say SP’s best option would have been to hold off until the next season and then destroy them with a much larger army.

This again supports the argument that he had little information at all about the uprising and I still am puzzled as to why the Romans were so poorly informed even some days after the fall of Colchester. 

Tacitus states:

"he was naturally inclined to delay, and a man who preferred cautious and well-reasoned plans to chance success."

In fact I think that this is exactly what he was going to do once he was able to assess the situation accurately, which wasn't until he was in London.

This is then supported by Dio:

“However, he was not willing to risk a conflict with the barbarians immediately, as he feared their numbers and their desperation, but was inclined to postpone battle to a more convenient season.”

But then his options change as by taking the Roman citizens from London with him he is slowed down by them and then starts to run out of food and is being chased by the Brythons.  

“But as he grew short of food and the barbarians pressed relentlessly upon him, he was compelled, contrary to his judgment, to engage them.”


This then provides us with a dilemma – if the Brythons were catching him how was this a slow moving horde, made up of families?

 
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 - 09-21-2016, 09:27 AM

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