Partizan game: The Battle of Medway AD 43: Roman Invasion of Britain

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Sally
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Partizan game: The Battle of Medway AD 43: Roman Invasion of Britain

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After some minor skirmishes in Eastern Kent the British tribes under the command of Togodumnous and his brother Caracticus massed to the west of the river Medway to face the Roman Legions and auxiliaries which is thought to have numbered 40 to 45 thousand in total. The Roman overall commander Aulus Plautious seems to have organised the Roman force into separate battle groups probably to facilitate the crossing of the Medway at several points relatively close to the Iron age settlement of Rochester. The combined British tribes may have numbered as many as 150 thousand in total but this number is provided by Roman sources after the battle, and as history is written by the victorious, one can perhaps question this approximation!
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medway battle map partizan 23-10-08.png (636.69 KiB) Viewed 33957 times
The Battle
Lead by Vespasion units of the Legio II Augusta crossed the Medway after auxiliary units had already crossed and attacked the chariot horses of the British. It would seem that some Roman units had been specially trained in river crossing and succeeded in crossing in full armour. It was thought that auxiliary cavalry units flanked the Legionaries as to form a barrier of protection from the river current during the crossing. The battle was fought over 2 days and the first day after a very tough, long struggle, the whole Roman army finally establish its position on the western bank of the river. This set the scene for the second day of battle in which the Roman general Gnaeus Hosidious Geta led an attack which nearly saw him captured. But as the fighting continued the Romans eventually gained the upper hand and put the entire British force to flight. They then retreated to an even more defensible position on the north bank of the Thames

The Game
The Battle of the Medway AD 43 run by the Forest Outlaws at Partizan.
With the British tribes spread along the western bank of the Medway this scenario was designed to re-fight the first day of this 2 day battle in which the Romans successfully crossed the river and established their battle lines on the west bank of the Medway in preparation for day 2 of the battle. Tony and Chris spread the Roman forces along the length of the 12ft table in order to pin as many British units as possible. This meant that when the Legio II Augusta lead the attack across the river the Brits could not use all their masses against them without leaving significant gaps which the Romans could then exploit.
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The fighting was initially concentrated on the southern part of the river where the large number of British light chariots where swiftly sent in support. I came to check on the progress of the game at regular intervals and take photos to record progress. It was evident within the first hour that Tim and Chris L the British commanders had tough choices to make over just how many British units they could commit to the fight in the south not knowing when the other Roman legions would attempt a river crossing in other places. The Batavians, specially trained in river crossing held their position during the early stages of the game but were a constant threat.
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After a couple of hours of game time the British forces in the south had become visibly ‘thinned’ and despite reinforcements arriving from the centre the Romans were making significant progress on the west bank of the river. The Romans then established a shield wall of legionary units which would be incredibly difficult for the British warrior hordes to break.
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Roman cavalry and light cavalry units then crossed the extreme northern part of the river which forced the British to commit light cavalry units to the opposite end of the table. This was soon followed by the start of a general Roman advance to and across the river across the width of the board. By mid afternoon despite a number of local successes the battle of attrition was being decidedly won by the Romans. Gradually more and more legionary units established their lines along the west bank of the Medway.
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This game was drawing to a conclusion with the Romans achieving their objective, echoing the historical outcome of the battle on day one, and in doing so, setting the scene for the second day when the British would attack and attempt to force the Romans back across the river.
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