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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
John Pegg has published a case for Church Stowe.
https://www.academia.edu/1280170/Battle_..._Stowe_CP1
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Sorry this is an eleven year odd article. However the author still stands by it.
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I certainly do, but what do you find "odd" about the paper?
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(01-08-2021, 12:07 AM)John1 Wrote: I certainly do, but what do you find "odd" about the paper?
 Sorry Sir. For "odd" read "old".
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Another note on the origins of the 'cavalry dash' to London by Suetonius [Paullinus].

A colleague has brought to my attention a paper by Overbeck ...

Tacitus and Dio on Boudicca's Rebellion
John C. Overbeck
The American Journal of Philology
Vol. 90, No. 2 (Apr., 1969), pp. 129-145 (17 pages)
Published By: The Johns Hopkins University Press
https://doi.org/10.2307/293422
https://www.jstor.org/stable/293422

https://www.jstor.org/stable/293422?refr...4b9d&seq=1

Jstor link

In it Overbeck refers to the words of Theodor Mommsen, the famous classicist, as they relate to Tacitus' account of the Boudica uprising and the question of whether Suetonius conducted a 'cavalry dash', or his whole army was in London.

Mommsen's work is the 'The Provinces of the Roman Empire', 1886 available via Project Gutenberg ...

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/48966/48...#CHAPTER_V

Gutenberg link


Mommsen's text is in Footnote 106 ...

"A worse narrative than that of Tacitus concerning this war, Ann. xiv. 31–39, is hardly to be found even in this most unmilitary of all authors. We are not told where the troops were stationed, and where the battles were fought; but we get, instead, signs and wonders enough and empty words only too many. The important facts, which are mentioned in the life of Agricola, 31, are wanting in the main narrative, especially the storming of the camp. That Paullinus coming from Mona should think not of saving the Romans in the south–east, but of uniting his troops, is intelligible; but not why, if he wished to sacrifice Londinium, he should march thither on that account. If he really went thither, he can only have appeared there with a personal escort, without the corps which he had with him in Mona — which indeed has no meaning. The bulk of the Roman troops, as well those brought back from Mona as those still in existence elsewhere, can, after the extirpation of the 9th legion, only have been stationed on the line Deva—Viroconium—Isca; Paullinus fought the battle with the two legions stationed in the first two of these camps, the 14th and the (incomplete) 20th. That Paullinus fought because he was obliged to fight, is stated by Dio, lxii. 1–12, and although his narrative cannot be otherwise used to correct that of Tacitus, this much seems required by the very state of the case."

So, in 1886, that is prior to the work of Prof. Haverfield, Mommsen describes and ridicules what we call the 'cavarly dash' to London. Mommsen then seems to ignore Tacitus' account of Suetonius being in London and, instead, argues that the Roman army was on the line 'Deva—Viroconium—Isca' [by Isca he might mean either Exeter or Caerleon]. He does not say the battle was fought on that line.

I'm not sure what Mommsen is implying with regard to whether, or not, he thinks the whole army was in London; he just doesn't say! But he is clear that the 'cavalry dash' has "has no meaning".

I cannot decide if Mommsen thought that Tacitus' was wrong in stating that Suetonius was in London - he just seem to ignore the passage as Overbeck points out.

Anyway, I think this pushes the date for the 'cavalry dash' back a little further - I've not checked all the previous thread pages. Are there any earlier offers on the origins of the the 'cavalry dash'?

Regards, Steve Kaye
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(01-10-2021, 12:16 PM)Steve Kaye Wrote: I think this pushes the date for the 'cavalry dash' back a little further

It certainly does! Thanks for that, Steve - Haverfield would certainly have read the mighty Mommsen, and no doubt drew his idea of Paulinus's movements from that source. Fascinating to see the way this idea had developed from that root over more than a century.

It appears to me, however, that Mommsen is rather supporting (or inventing!) the 'cavalry dash' idea rather than opposing it: If he really went thither, (meaning London), Mommsen says, he can only have appeared there with a personal escort, without the corps which he had with him in Mona...

But I don't see the idea of Paulinus marching an expeditionary force from his main Anglesey army back into the south-east to counter a native uprising as at all 'without meaning' - and, once he learned of the fall of Colchester, re-routing this force to London to secure the supplies there and protect the citizen inhabitants seems eminently meaningful!
Nathan Ross
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Nathan, on first reading Mommsen's text I also thought he supported the 'cavalry dash', but he isn't. Read the preceding sentence before, "If he really went thither,... " , and the true meaning of this 19th century English translation of the original German should become clearer. It is tricky though.

Plus, Prof. Overbeck in his paper writes of Mommsen's text, " Well then, should we suppose that Tacitus made up the entire passage out of whole cloth, as we must if Suetonius did not go to Londinium? In fact Tacitus does give us a reason for Suetonius' march: it was to apprise himself of the situation in this center of communications, military stores, and population (a center the importance of which Tacitus carefully impresses on us at this very point) and to consider whether it could serve as a base for operations. His conclusion was that it could not, and so he abandoned it. Doubtless this was a painful decision to make, but Tacitus seems to have agreed it was necessary. Mommsen's criticism fails to take full account of Tacitus' narrative."

Regards, Steve Kaye
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(01-10-2021, 03:50 PM)Steve Kaye Wrote: on first reading Mommsen's text I also thought he supported the 'cavalry dash', but he isn't.

Ah yes, it seems you're right! Although it's a fairly tortuous bit of prose, as you say...

Mommsen seems to be assuming that Paulinus 'wished to sacrifice Londinium' before he had even commenced operations!
Nathan Ross
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It looks as if the idea may have originated with Mommsen; he certainly does not allude to its having been suggested by anyone else.  He asserts that the only way Suetonius could have gone to London would have been if he were accompanied by his personal escort, his main army being elsewhere.  This he dismisses as a meaningless exercise.  I don't think that many of us here would disagree with that.  However, the implication is that he does not believe Tacitus when he says that Suetonius did go to London.  What seems to have followed is that other commentators, Overbeck included, who do believe Tacitus' account, have nevertheless accepted Mommsen's assertion that, if so, he could only have had his personal escort with him, hence the cavalry dash.
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)
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I have no problem with the so called "cavalry dash" being made up of Suetonius' guard cavalry. Many consuls did recces during the republic with their guard cavalry, Scipio at the Ticinus comes to mind. However, I am not sure if some of the posters on this forum oppose this interpretation or are for this interpretation.
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(01-11-2021, 05:20 AM)Steven James Wrote: I have no problem with the so called "cavalry dash" being made up of Suetonius' guard cavalry. Many consuls did recces during the republic with their guard cavalry, Scipio at the Ticinus comes to mind.

I don't think that there is any comparison.  As I read Polybius and Livy, the Roman and Carthaginian armies were an close proximity and Scipio led out all his cavalry and javelineers.  This is a world away from dashing 250-odd miles ahead of his main army, through hostile territory, with just his personal bodyguard for protection, when the slightest mishap could have resulted in a whole province being left leaderless.  This is not the conduct of a cautious general who liked to leave nothing to chance.
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)
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Renatus wrote:
I don't think that there is any comparison. As I read Polybius and Livy, the Roman and Carthaginian armies were an close proximity and Scipio led out all his cavalry and javelineers. This is a world away from dashing 250-odd miles ahead of his main army, through hostile territory, with just his personal bodyguard for protection, when the slightest mishap could have resulted in a whole province being left leaderless. This is not the conduct of a cautious general who liked to leave nothing to chance.
 
Can it be confirmed with certainty the distance between the main army and Suetonius was 250 miles? If Suetonius did make such a long journey with only his guard cavalry, it would not be the first time.
 
In 198 BC, the consul Quinctius left Brundisium and sailed to Corcyra with 8,000 infantry and 800 cavalry. From Corcyra, the consul crossed over in a quinquereme to the nearest part of the coast of Epirus, and proceeded by forced marches to the Roman camp. There he waited a few days until his troops (the 8,000 infantry and 800 cavalry replacements), which were following him from Corcyra to join him. Polybius claims a quinquereme can carry 120 soldiers, which is the standard size for a consul’s guard cavalry during this period.
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(01-12-2021, 01:18 AM)Steven James Wrote: Can it be confirmed with certainty the distance between the main army and Suetonius was 250 miles? If Suetonius did make such a long journey with only his guard cavalry, it would not be the first time.

We don't know how far it was, since the entire episode is fictional.

Anglesey to London is about 250 miles. Wroxeter to London is about 150. But the point is that nowhere do we read that Suetonius Paulinus did such a thing - he marched to London with his troops, that's all. And the idea that he did not, but instead undertook some reckless mounted recon mission, is disproved by Tacitus's own estimate of the general's military reputation in later years: "he was naturally inclined to delay, and a man who preferred cautious and well-reasoned plans to chance success... thinking that it was soon enough to begin to conquer when they had made provision against defeat" (Histories, II.25).
Nathan Ross
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There are two aspects to this that seem to me to have received little or no attention.

First, if Suetonius had made a cavalry dash to London, having then decided that he did not have the forces to defend it, he would have been at pains to get back to his army as quickly as possible: a cavalry dash in reverse.  Yet, he offered the citizens of the town the opportunity to accompany him.  This might have been possible if they were to keep pace with infantry but not if they were having to keep up with fast-moving cavalry.  It would have been an empty gesture.

Secondly, we need to consider when he first heard of the revolt and what he knew about it.  The citizens of Colchester evidently had some warning of the threat to the colony, as they were able to get a request for help to Catus Decianus and he had time to cobble together his ill-equipped force and send it out.  Similarly, warning had clearly been sent to Petilius Cerialis in Lincoln.  It seems almost certain that a similar notification was sent to Suetonius.  I calculate that, with sufficient remounts and relief riders and some hard riding, word could have got to him within 24 hours.  His first instinct, then, would be to take troops to the relief of the colony.  This would inevitably been a much greater force than his bodyguard, i.e., the 14th Legion.  He would probably have been well on his way before news of the fall of Colchester and the defeat of Cerialis reached him and, as Nathan suggested above, he diverted to London.  Now having some idea of the extent of the danger, he would surely have taken his full force with him, particularly if he was thinking of making a stand there.
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)
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(01-12-2021, 12:15 PM)Renatus Wrote: There are two aspects to this that seem to me to have received little or no attention.

Little, perhaps, but not none. We've mentioned and discussed both points here before, although many years ago - and it's good to reiterate things for the benefit of anyone who does not care to read through the entire thread!

But yes, it is only Tacitus's dramatic narrative presentation, I think, that gives the misleading impression that Paulinus did not hear about the uprising until after the siege of Colchester had already commenced. In reality he could have been informed very soon after Boudicca first began mustering her forces, and begun his march soon afterwards, which removes any necessity for explaining the apparent speed of his movement down to London.


(01-12-2021, 12:15 PM)Renatus Wrote: warning had clearly been sent to Petilius Cerialis in Lincoln.

Incidentally, I don't think we know that Ceralis started from Lincoln (or Longthorpe), do we? Nothing in our sources says that he was not (for example) simply leading the vanguard detachment of Suetonius Paulinus's troops, and decided to hurry on ahead when he heard about the siege of Colchester. Either option is perfectly possible.
Nathan Ross
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