Thread Rating:
  • 3 Vote(s) - 4.33 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
(01-10-2016, 08:28 PM)John1 Wrote: "the conclusive battle featured a very large horde of rebels all together in the same place."
Yes I believe Tacitus, but mustering a force of the scale he suggests, having swollen its numbers since Colchester would have taken time, it's unlikely they would have broken off a route march and gone straight into contact. A muster of either side is likely to have taken days.

Yes, if substantial numbers had returned to their homelands and had to be recalled to rendezvous in some part of the country constantly changing because of the movements of one side or the other and which they had probably never visited and had no knowledge of. Not such a problem if the band stuck together and picked up additional forces as they went along.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
(01-10-2016, 08:28 PM)John1 Wrote: he didn't see it as a good place to make a stand. 

And the inhabitants didn't see it as a good place to linger... which strongly suggests they were expecting an imminent attack from a force large enough to threaten ten thousand Roman legionaries, auxiliaries and cavalry... If the Britons were not approaching London in force, Paulinus would not have gone there and evacuated it. I can see no other sensible reading of this!


(01-10-2016, 08:28 PM)John1 Wrote: he could hold a position north on Wating Street to gather his forces and strike at Iceni territory from the North West.

So who's striking at whom now? He wants to strike at them, but instead waits around and then they strike at him? I think you're letting your imagination run away with itself!


(01-10-2016, 08:28 PM)John1 Wrote: mustering a force of the scale he suggests... would have taken time

Even longer if they all went home first, of course...


(01-10-2016, 08:28 PM)John1 Wrote: it's unlikely they would have broken off a route march and gone straight into contact.

Not sure if I understand what you're saying here. Of course, if Paulinus is blocking or threatening the route of their march, they don't have much choice about it...


(01-10-2016, 08:28 PM)John1 Wrote: that sounds like paradise


"We're trying to find a sitter for our seven kids, to cover two months of righteous mayhem and plundering of the imperialist oppressors. We can pay half a cow"

(Message in the Thetford Gazette, planting season, AD61)
Nathan Ross
Reply
@ Ren - A vividly incoherent picture. 

How about if 90% went homeward, 10% went raiding and burning. An 80/20 or 75/25 split would still work for me.

The homeboys secured their loot, gathered more friends and relatives, mustered in Thetford then headed up the Nene in the hopes of getting behind the Roman force. That will solve your navigational worries, all together and following a blue line on the ground. The 10% can harry Paulinus' column back to the Nene. Meeting the 90% at Hunsbury then heading off together on foot and horseback with 100 or so waggons carrying extra ammo they pitch up at Church Stowe. Thanks for the pointers....I think you cracked it.

"I can see no other sensible reading of this!"
try hmmm.....open boggy plain, no walls, lets find somewhere better whatever happens to be over the hill in Essex, or maybe Suffolk, but most likely Norfolk by now......if we're quick we can get up north so they can't get between us and our new garrisons and territory up to Mona.

"He wants to strike at them, but instead waits around and then they strike at him?"
He wants them to strike at him on his chosen/prepared ground but if they don't he wants an option to go to their manor and sort them out.

 "I think you're letting your imagination run away with itself!"
Better than letting someone elses sketchy latin history dictate to me...... you wouldn't want a commander with the imagination to think up a counter attack position, or pose a threat to the enemy territory would you..... nooo that would be asking for trouble all that thinking ahead nonsense takes your eye off the ball.

"Even longer if they all went home first, of course..."
Not a significant impact if you go no further south than Colchester and nip straight over to Watling Street along the Nene.

"Not sure if I understand what you're saying here. Of course, if Paulinus is blocking or threatening the route of their march, they don't have much choice about it..."
that's ok I'm finding most of my posts are coming back with some less than accurate interpretations plastered onto them. What was their destination if he blocked them (or at least loitered in the vicinity of them) at Tring?

"We can pay half a cow"
Half a Cow, I get bitched at for a packed lunch and you're offering up half a cow !!!!!!! Some double standards there Mr Ross.....is it a big cow?
Reply
(01-10-2016, 08:58 PM)John1 Wrote: The homeboys secured their loot, gathered more friends and relatives, mustered in Thetford then headed up the Nene in the hopes of getting behind the Roman force. That will solve your navigational worries, all together and following a blue line on the ground. The 10% can harry Paulinus' column back to the Nene. Meeting the 90% at Hunsbury then heading off together on foot and horseback with 100 or so waggons carrying extra ammo they pitch up at Church Stowe.

(01-10-2016, 10:00 AM)John1 Wrote: I guess that's what happens when fighting wars 2000 years late from the comfort of an armchair.

Nuff said!
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
"Nuff said!"

really? no waggon location and capacity plan for Tring........go on.

78256
Reply
(01-10-2016, 10:36 PM)John1 Wrote: no waggon location and capacity plan for Tring........go on.

Nope. That would be sheer quesswork and I'm not into quesswork.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
(01-10-2016, 08:58 PM)John1 Wrote: then heading off together on foot and horseback with 100 or so waggons carrying extra ammo they pitch up at Church Stowe.

Aha, yes. Trouble is with all this, it seems like you're choosing the battle site site first, because it looks good, then selectively bending the evidence around it to create a strategic situation that will lead both sides there...

Still no reason why Paulinus would retreat from and evacuate London, unless the main rebel army were heading towards him.


(01-10-2016, 08:58 PM)John1 Wrote: Better than letting someone elses sketchy latin history dictate to me......

Who, Tacitus? If we're not letting him (and Dio) dictate our evidence to us, what else do we have? Without them we wouldn't even know this rebellion had ever happened... [Image: shocked.png]


(01-10-2016, 08:58 PM)John1 Wrote: What was their destination if he blocked them (or at least loitered in the vicinity of them) at Tring?

That's always been one of my problems with Tring. But a site on the Iknield Way (I still prefer Dunstable) would enable Paulinus to block a northward advance through the Chilterns from London and St Albans (both sites mentioned in T's narrative of the campaign, therefore of significance). A battle at Tring would need the Britons either to have decided to confront Paulinus directly, or to be moving off themselves towards another target further along Akeman Street. Neither option is beyond plausibility.

'Loitering in the vicinity', as you put it, is a central part of the Fabian delaying strategy, which I still believe Paulinus adopted, and to which Tacitus alludes in his account.


(01-10-2016, 08:58 PM)John1 Wrote: ....is it a big cow?

Enormous. Size of a hut. Now I suppose you're going to ask me how big the hut is... sigh.
Nathan Ross
Reply
 "it seems like you're choosing the battle site site first, because it looks good, then selectively bending the evidence around it to create a strategic situation that will lead both sides there... "
that's exactly what I'm doing, I thought I'd been really up front about that, championing one site means I have to test all other assumptions against that site. It doesn't mean you are wrong in your assumptions but I am very motivated to find alternatives that point CS-wards.

"That's always been one of my problems with Tring"
hmm shame, there is a case for Dunstable being a blocking position, but not CS so I'll have to go with the loitering in the vicinity model myself.

"Who, Tacitus?"
yeah Tacitus, I think sketchy is a reasonable description of his description, it's brief and vague enough for all sorts of interpretations. Great up to a point, like there was a rebellion and a good defensive position, and lots of dead people but numbers are give or take 100,000 or so, but that's about it really. Sketchy.

"what else do we have?"
Location and topography, it's that geography thing again

"I suppose you're going to ask me how big the hut is"
No, I'm well aquainted with our old friend Jabba.....

"I'm not into quesswork"
Really? I thought you were a Tring advocate......
Reply
(01-11-2016, 12:35 AM)John1 Wrote: Location and topography, it's that geography thing again


But without Tacitus's narrative (which tells us that the rebels threatened London after Colchester, causing Paulinus to withdraw, and (probably) thereafter attacked St Albans, giving us some sort of coordinates for our hypotheses) then we have little idea of the location at all.

And without Tacitus's description of the battle site it would be pointless to try and identify it. No defiles or plains, no wagons - nothing. We may as well assume that there was no final battle, or that it happened just outside London, or even at Colchester. Or in Thetford for that matter.

So both location and topography rely almost entirely on our written sources. You cannot have the one without the other.
Nathan Ross
Reply
No argument from me on that. We have a sketchy text and we're all interpreting location and terrain from that. Your question was what do we have other than the text? we have location and topography, and hydrology as Steve has demonstrated. Hopefully we'll get more defined archaeology at some point, but you're not buying my field work interpretation so I can't claim that as another thing we have.
Reply
(01-11-2016, 01:12 AM)John1 Wrote: what do we have other than the text? we have location and topography

I don't think so. Both these factors are determined by reference to Tacitus, and we have no other way of judging them. So neither factor exists for us outside of that frame of reference.


(01-11-2016, 01:12 AM)John1 Wrote: Hopefully we'll get more defined archaeology at some point

Hopefully! But the chances are slim...

Anyway, we're all pretty much aware of our respective views on this and that, and we've teased pretty much every possible scrap of interpretation out of our limited sources. I still don't believe we know where this battle happened, or even if it happened in the way we think.

Of the sites we've discussed over the years, I still find Dunstable (Manshead) the most plausible, as it's both a close match to the topography in Tacitus, falls within what I would consider to be the probable area of the campaign, and fits with a reasonable strategic narrative without much need for additional hypotheses.

There are a number of other sites I'd consider within these margins - Tring/Aldbury, Virginia Water, Bagshot, perhaps somewhere around Dorking. But I suspect that if the actual site is ever discovered, we'll be surprised to find it's somewhere completely different, that we've never thought of!

However, 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.

So - I shall leave it there for now. It's been a great discussion! [Image: smile.png]
Nathan Ross
Reply
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
Reply
SEE POST 1216 FOR CORRECTION
and to put the principle of 50 mile raiding parties into context;

   

Green = 50 miles from Colchester
Amber = 100 miles from Colchester

T = Tring
D = Dunstable
CS = Church Stowe

I guess the 50 mile rule could also apply to the speed a messenger/scout could warn of an approaching enemy.

79341
Reply
John wrote:

....and to put the principle of 50 mile raiding parties into context;

Once SP had decided to stop to give battle wherever that site was, the Brythons had to give battle because they themselves couldn’t afford to be caught on the march, if they were in the field at this time.

Even if they were not in the field in huge force, by SP stopping with a small force, not too close to his main army, it was a golden opportunity for the tribes to band together as a huge force to destroy the Governor – a major prize and an implacable enemy.

This does mean that it would have been unnecessary for SP to arrange his army to intercept a returning and victorious army, they would have come looking for him however or wherever he was deployed, as long as it wasn’t too far away.

His skill was not in interception but in choosing the correct site to give him maximum advantage both as a defendable position for him and the refugees that could be held but also as jumping off point to attack from in the battle and as a future base where the rest of his forces could meet up to continue the campaign and therefore as a future threat that had to be removed.

Deryk
Deryk
Reply
Nathan has pointed out that the radial distance on post 1214 are incorrect, serves me right for trusting the scale bar on the base plan (Lund Uni might want to take a look at that). 

So here is the revised distance, recognising it is 50 miles London to Colchester in English miles;

   

and as a bonus offer the 50 miles from London looks like this;

   

both maps demonstrate the compressed campaign space if one day reconaissance or raids can really cover 50 miles.

80907
Reply


Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Armchair Wall walking mcbishop 3 2,544 01-11-2012, 03:22 AM
Last Post: Vindex

Forum Jump: