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


If, as seems likely, he had been informed of the impending uprising by Catus some time before, he could have reached the vicinity of Godmanchester by the time the rebels took Colchester and defeated Ceralis. From there he could have marched down to London 'through the midst of the enemy' in only three days

I think that the timing of the messages from Catus and Cerialis to SP are important regarding this and there are further mysteries here.

For some reason (apart from the portents mentioned by Tacitus) the citizens of Colchester were concerned enough to ask for extra soldiers from Catus but he only sent 200 poorly armed soldiers although there were some other soldiers in the town already.

It is a mystery why Colchester would ask the Procurator rather than the local commander for troops and one that we have not really addressed.

Yet whatever threat was perceived it didn’t seem to be so serious, in fact no defences were constructed and the women and children also stayed.

As we have discussed before, Catus probably would have sent a message to the local commander, Cerialis (and perhaps SP) that he had transferred soldiers to Colchester (possibly wanting replacements from the Legion for himself) and this message is important to the timeframe.

If Cerialis was at Longthorpe with half his Legion and his cavalry, he may have been concerned enough to send out scouts into the Iceni territory and found that population was far more sparce than normal and realised that the situation could be serious and felt that as he was the local commander with area responsibilities and as the Governor was days away in Anglesey, he needed to act.

Sending a message to his superior of his intentions he left but he was too late and was overwhelmed by the “victorious Brythons” who had already destroyed Colchester.

I does seem incredible that no one had noticed the uprising coming or “the horde” moving at a slow pace down to Colchester.

Cerialis does not seem to have been chastised for his actions apart from being thought of as impetuous and went on to higher command and a glittering career. 

Nathan wrote:
 
.....we know that Paulinus had intended Postumus's detachment of the Second Legion to join him in time for the battle. Assuming he only summoned them after he'd heard of the defeat of Cerealis (which we don't know for sure!), he must have considered that he had enough time for Postumus to march from wherever he was stationed - which was probably Exeter. 

As I think Michael has said before, if Postumus actually didn't have enough time to have joined Paulinus, he would not have had to kill himself in shame!


Good point that Michael makes but that doesn’t really alter the timescales – obviously SP sent for re-inforcements at some stage but when?

At what stage did anyone hear of the destruction of Colchester and the defeat of half of the 9th Legion? Possibly this was sent from Catus before he fled, fearing that “the Horde” would descend on London swiftly, which was obviously not the case.
There are two options here depending on when the message reached SP on the march.

If it was early on before he left Watling Street to Godmanchester his obvious action was to carry on along Watling Street to St Albans to protect those Roman citizens and once they were secure then to carry on to London.

Or if he was already committed to Godmanchester the scenario that Michael and you favour holds true although he could have diverted to St Albans via Braughing before reaching London.

Although this was obviously a changing situation there had to be one place allocated where SP would meet with his reinforcements. 

The obvious place would be St Albans.

If he did take the route to Godmanchester and then on to London he could not have made that decision until he retreated to St Albans having scouted out London.

If on the other hand he went to London via St Albans he had the option then to regroup at St Albans with his reinforcements or to fight at London and call his re-inforcements to London from St Albans.

Therefore the Watling Street route seems more likely to get the reinforcements in time to meet the enemy, especially if he sent the messages whilst on the march before High Cross so the messages could be sent along the Fosse Way (with its posts to obtain horses) to Cirencester, Gloucester, Alchester and Exeter.

Nathan wrote:

At that pace, troops from North Wales could have reached Godmanchester in 12 days (217 miles), and London in 14 days (249 miles). Troops coming up from Exeter could have reached Silchester in 7 days (130 miles), Alchester in 8 days (143 miles), and either London (175 miles) or St Albans (180 miles via the Fosseway and Akeman Street) in 10 days. From Gloucester it would be 4.5 days to Silchester (81 miles), 5 to St Albans (91 miles).

Totally agree with your timings.
 
Nathan wrote:

In any case, we know that Paulinus did reach London before Boudica, so either the Romans were moving implausibly fast, or the Britons were (far more plausibly) slow!

As you know I am not of the opinion that the Iceni went to London as part of their original campaign as to do that they would have left their land open to pillage from SP in retribution with nowhere for them to settle. I have always been of the opinion that the farmers went home to gather their crops and that the army watched the roads to ambush any Roman columns (a classic Brythonic tactic) or to be able to re-call the infantry for a pitched battle if necessary.

Rome’s tactic was to attack towns or ravage crops to force a formal confrontation which they were likely to win with the support of the cavalry but SP obviously felt that he needed more troops to bolster his army and especially legionaries who in a formal battle put the Brythons at a disadvantage.

This is in my opinion why the Brythons waited and it wasn’t until SP had committed, visited London and then retreated (away from their homelands) that they then pushed on to London and St Albans (perhaps the Trinovantes to London and the Iceni to St Albans).   
 
Nathan wrote:

I would expect the rebel army would not be rolling along in a single column (as in John's favourite 'parade theory'!) but spreading out across the landscape, plundering settlements and villas and gathering food and forage as they went. Chariots (if the rebels actually had them) and cavalry would be good for scouting and skirmishing, but against formations of Roman infantry they'd be fairly useless. Only by keeping their force together could the rebels confront Paulinus effectively.

…….the Iceni and Trinovantes had been disarmed 14 years beforehand, and only their middle-aged warriors would have had fighting experience. Prior to the capture of Colchester, they would have few weapons either. I don't doubt that a certain amount of drinking went on, although that doesn't make them a rabble - but they were not, I would say, a disciplined army with a clear chain of command, capable of marching for days on end at a steady pace.

It depends to a degree whether the Brythons had time to re-arm in secret and train the young warriors and this is not unknown in more recent times (Nazi Germany is a typical but not unique example). Obviously the Brythons had carts, from which chariots could be made and we have discussed that the uprising was not a “knee jerk reaction” but a planned rebellion across tribes so weapons could have been smuggled in (the Iceni were not a poor tribe).  

Nathan wrote:

If we base our estimates on the places where there's evidence of destruction tied to the revolt (Putney, Brentford, Staines, Silchester, Winchester), then the 'other tribes' might have been those in the south-east: the Cantiaci, Regni, Belgae, and perhaps parts of the Atrebates.

Well this is a new one on me as the tribes that I had thought that rose up were in the Midlands, West MIdlands and East of the country but there have been “burning episodes” in the South as you rightly point out and if this was the case it takes the revolt to a higher level…
 
Nathan wrote:

Pulling back to St Albans would have taken Paulinus and the refugees out of immediate danger, as the rebels were heading for London. The 20 miles between the two towns, and the close proximity of the Chilterns, would have acted as effective protection, I think. But Paulinus would still be close enough to observe what the rebels were doing, and anticipate their next movements.


I would agree with you regarding the spreading out across the landscape and that in a pitched battle with the Roman army the only way for the Brythons to win was by overwhelming numbers but these would take a while to muster and get to the battle scene which is why I would also agree that SP would have had plenty of time to prepare a suitable battle site.
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 - 12-29-2017, 05:07 PM

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