Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Roman Invasion of Britain - Scenario 3

Invasion of Britain (55 BC) 

This is the third scenario in our campaign representing the Roman Invasion of Britain based on my own campaign rules.

The scenario was played using the Commands & Colors Ancients rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra and using paper figures from Peter Dennis instead of blocks.

When Caesar resumed his march inland, the Britons united under Timpotarus and the newly appointed Cassivellaunus. The Britons were ordered to avoid pitched battles with the legions. Instead, they were to just harry the flanks of the legions and to wear down the Roman cavalry by drawing them into skirmishes, only to retire after a brief fight. Caesar was impressed with the mobility and open order fighting capability of the tribesman. He countered by increasing the size of his foraging parties and emphasizing the need for mutual support between the legionnaires and the cavalry. 

The next Roman foraging party was almost 20,000 strong, with three legions and all the cavalry. Caesar assigned the legate Gaius Trebonius to lead this detachment. Despite being aware of the large amount of Roman infantry in the column, Tinpotarus and Cassivellaunus broke their own rules and attacked.

Seeing that the infantry could be encircled, legate Gnaeus Hostilius Aper brought up the Roman cavalry in support of the legions.

View from the British side of the battle.


The Scenario Set-up

Note: This is scenario 219 from Commands & Colors Ancients - Expansion 2. The Romans have 1 glory point from the previous scenario and the Britons have 2 glory points. Glory points in our campaign rules are an addition to the standard C&CA rules.

Tinpotarus and Cassivellaunus saw the Roman foraging party advancing towards them and decided to attack and destroy before it could link up with the rest of the army.

Tinpotarus ordered his troops to encircle the Romans - by MW

Cassivellaunus ordered 4 units on his right flank to advance. A unit of light cavalry skirmished with the Roman flank. Two javelin armed infantry units advanced on the Romans and opened range combat. No serious losses were inflicted. Cassivellaunus himself followed behind with a unit of seasoned warriors.

The Roman commander ordered his light troops to skirmish, but without causing any serious casualties.

Tinpotarus ordered 3 units on his left flank, two of chariots and one light cavalry, to attack the Roman Auxilia which had advanced unsupported.

One unit of chariots took heavy losses. The Auxilia fled from the attacking British, but regrouped behind their cavalry without having taken any serious casualties. From the cover of the woods, the British light cavalry threw their javelins at the Roman cavalry causing some loss.

On the Roman left flank, their commander followed by 4 units widened their line and attacked the British light cavalry.

The British light cavalry evaded the attacking Romans but took heavy losses in doing so and retreated to the hill in its rear.

Cassivellaunus ordered his infantry to double time at the Romans, he himself led one unit of warriors into the fray.

The Roman light infantry evaded the charge but the legionaries stood firm.

Cassivellaunus unit slaughtered the legionaries to their front, but didn't succeed in capturing their eagle.

The other two units of British warriors caused severe losses to the second unit of legionaries but were then both forced to retreat out of the fight. 

In the face of the attacking warbands, Gaius Trebonius, the Roman commander, rallied the depleted unit of legionaries to which he was attached. To do this he used his only glory point. Glory points are an addition to the standard C&CA rules in our campaign rules.

He then ordered his two units that were in contact with the enemy to double their effort and they attacked with a clash of shields.

Cassivellaunus was killed and the unit of warrior totally eliminated. Gaius Trebonius had been lucky! However he decided not to push his luck, and ordered the legionaries to stand firm rather than advancing and capturing the British battle standard.

When he later reported on the action to Julius Caesar, Gaius Trebonius explained that this was the moment, when his skill and the legionaries bravery, turned the tide of the battle.

To his right, the Roman light infantry attacked the British chariots which evaded but in so doing lost two-thirds of their number.

After rallying one unit of warriors up to full strength using his first Glory Point, Tinpotarus ordered all his centre units to advance and attack the Romans. 

The warriors charged into the line of legionaries while the javelin armed infantry opened up on the Roman light infantry. 

But Gaius Trebonius, the Roman commander, had been waiting for this and he ordered the legionaries to strike first before the first (full strength) unit of British warriors had a chance to attack. This was unexpected and half the warriors were casualties, the rest retreated.

The second (half strength) unit of warriors then attacked the Romans without doing any damage, and they themselves were wiped out in the Roman counterattack.

The Roman commander ordered a mounted charge. 

On his left flank, two units of Roman cavalry charged the British chariots which skilfully evaded without loss.

But on the Roman right flank, the mounted charge was much more successful and the chariots were destroyed while trying to evade.

Tinpotarus ordered a counter attack and the British performed a mounted charge.

On the left flank, a unit of light cavalry with some understrength chariots attacked both Roman cavalry units. Tinpotarus used his second and last Glory Point to join the light cavalry charge.

The Roman cavalry destroyed the chariots but the light cavalry, with Tinpotarus at their head, slaughtered both Roman cavalry units.

On the right flank, two chariot units charged the Roman cavalry.

The British chariots and Roman cavalry both took equal casualties, but without any decisive result.

The Roman Auxilia and their full strength cavalry unit then each attacked a British chariot unit. The Auxilia eliminated half the chariots without taking losses themselves. The second British chariot unit evaded the Roman cavalry without loss.

The British commander then ordered his light troops to attack. On the right flank, the chariots charged. On the left and in the centre, the light troops threw their javelins at the two Roman commanders hoping that a lucky shot would kill a Roman commander.

The chariots eliminated the weak Roman cavalry unit. The desperate attempt to kill a Roman commander failed (as expected, it was only a very slim chance.)

Both side now needed one victory to win the battle, but the understrength British chariot was in a poor position, not having room to evade, and it was eliminated by the Romans giving them the victory.

The Roman infantry knew that they would have been in serious trouble, had not legate Gnaeus Hostilius Aper brought up the cavalry so quickly. So as a play on his name, they presented him with a pig from their foraging.

Gnaeus Hostilius Aper with his soon to be roast pig - by MW

Scenario Result 

Roman Victory: Romans 6 - Britons 4

Romans 6 victory banners and 2 glory points

Britons 5 victory banners and 1 glory point

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  Romans       1     15
  Britons       2     17

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