Situation: In 54BC, Caesar finally turned his attention away from the Rhine frontier and the areas of the Helvetii, instead moving to pacify Southwest Gaul, which had become progressively more rebellious. The previously quiescent Santones tribe had joined the Ariovistus and Caesar moved to quell this new rebellion, taking the IX and X Legions on the expedition.
The Santones originally blocked Caesar on the line of the Garumna river. Lacking a viable bridge or ford, Caesar was forced to cross downriver, then move back along the opposite bank, committed to attacking the Santones in a strong position on a narrow front.
|The Santones occupy the line of hills and a settlement (top); the X Legion (right) and IX Legion (left) approach|
|Vindiorix positions himself with the cavalry (left), with half of the tribal foot warriors within the wood on the hill; Aviacos commands the foot warriors around the settlement (right)|
|IX Legion (right) and X Legion formed up ready to advance. Two cohorts of IX Legion form a reserve, as does the Roman cavalry, whilst the bolt-throwers are attacked to X Legion.|
|X Legion in a deep formation, ready to attack towards the Gallic settlement...|
|...whose warriors will attempt to defend it to the last|
|A closer shot of the foot warriors in the woods|
|As expected, the battle begins with a Roman advance, except on the far side of the stream (top), where Gallic javelinmen advance to skirmish with Caesar's slingers.|
|The remainder of the Gallic javelinmen attempted to delay and disrupt the X Legion, but in the confusion of battle, the Legionaires advance quickly enough to catch them...|
|...and rout them in short order, unsurprisingly.|
|The charge is completely successful! The leading two cohorts are routed or killed in a few moments...|
|The Santones turn the tables again! The charge of the foot warriors breaks the two remaining cohorts in the front line, who have to be reinforced by the Roman foot reserve.|
|However, these reserves again turn the tide and the Gallic right is now in full and headlong rout.|
|In the background, Caesar's X Legion has cleared the approaches to the settlement and is about to storm it, when the remaining Santones lose confidence and decide to withdraw hastily.|
|Another view of the position at the end of the battle.|
Game Results: A surprisingly close this one, since both the Santones and the IX Legion suffered heavily, although Caesar triumphed in the end. The Romans lost just over 1,600 legionaries (and a few slingers), whereas the Santones lost around 1,800 dead and wounded, and about 2,300 dispersed.
Game Notes: As ever, both the mechanics and calibration of Polemos: SPQR really encourage Gallic armies, with their mixture of cavalry and tribal foot, to attack - it is simply a better option than trying to defend in nearly all circumstances. The downside - being caught disordered in pursuit after an initial victory - is just a risk that has to be taken, since otherwise they will simply forfeit their advantages to the Romans. Vindiorix was probably justified in his actions therefore, although they led to defeat.
The set-up for this one was quite interesting. Using the terrain generator in the rules (as I do for all these campaign battles), I managed to generate an unworkable battlefield (!). This happens because it is possible to generate a river between the two armies with no crossing points. Instead of rolling again (I hate doing stuff like that), I instead generated more battlefield at the 'top' of the original and changed the direction of the attack: the stream, track, the hill on the settlement and the hill above the stream were all created in this way (I assumed that the overall terrain would be more thick than in the original placement).
Obviously it has been a little while since I got one of these games to the table: time hasn't much changed my opinion of the rules! They give a decent game with believable results, but sometimes feel a bit harder work than Neil Thomas or DBA. Anyway, whatever, it was just nice to be able to get a game in and get the campaign moving on a bit.