It had been slow going for Nevitta and the Jovian and Herculean Legiones ever since they had set foot on Europa a few days back. Between being ambushed on the beaches as they disembarked from their liburnes, the constant harassing attacks by Gothic horsemen and the siege of Gallipolis, they made slow but steady progress through the Via Ignatia towards Constantinople.
From the command tent of the temporary marching camp the legions had erected, Nevitta pondered as to what was keeping the traitor Verenianus from openly meeting him in battle. He was a grandiose man, but of relatively simple tactics. Skirmishes and harassment simply weren’t his style. As he perused scouting reports sent in earlier in the day, Nevitta could not help but think perhaps he was walking into a trap. The Goths were still on the loose, even if their best warriors had been destroyed attempting to take Constantinople.
What the hell, he thought. Between him and the rapidly advancing army of Aetius, nothing would be able to oppose them. With such thoughts, he put down the scouts wax tablet and set off for bed, in full armour and armed, just in case.
The expected resistance came as they approached the outskirts of Constantinople. It appeared that Verenianus, having not learned his lesson, attempts to lay siege to the city again. The fool, thought Nevitta. Why this army had not fled on spotting the legions approaching is beyond him, perhaps there is disarray in the rebel leadership? Not that it matters; their fates will all be decided on the battlefield:
Led by a certain Felix Ammanius, all three armies are composed of the same basic troop type. Limitanei Armatus, Numerii, Auxilia and other supporting troops, all taken from the Limes on the Danube. Though outnumbering the legiones, they are no match for Nevitta’s battle hardened and experienced soldiers.
Battle is joined by a small valley on the Via Ignatia. The enemy occupy the high ground, and Nevitta, more cautious than usual, deploys his smaller line in a triple acies, intending to wait for the enemy to come to him.
This they do, in the form of skirmishers sent to harass our left flank.
We dispatch our left ala to deal with them:
Which not only pursues the enemy horse off the field, but in turn proceeds to harass the enemy’s own flank.
Seeing that the entire flank of the enemy has surged forwards to support their beleaguered skirmishers, Nevitta dispatches the rest of his cavalry to shore up the odds:
But when the entire rebel line moves forward as one, the time for skirmishes is over. The time for battle has arrived:
“Men, form a line on the hill, on the double!”
With this simple manoeuvre accomplished, Nevitta sees to his right flank, and dispatches the returned cavalry to cover it:
They quickly encircle and destroy a unit of rebel cataphracts which attempted to outmanoeuvre our forces, although sadly a unit of our own equites sagitarii has become stranded inside enemy lines and has been routed.
Soon afterwards, battle proper is joined by the opposing lines:
Steel clashes on steel, missiles fill the sky, the sounds buccina’s and cornu’s fill the air, centurios bark out orders, veterans hide behind their shields and slash away, green recruits soil themselves and lunge wildly into the fray. The slaughterous poetry we name battle began.
But it did not last long:
Our cavalry, being numerous, well lead and expertly trained, has no trouble clearing the flanks of the enemy, and then cutting off the enemy escape and destroying their isolated units piecemeal. Here and there, enemy leaders fell, the lancea of cavalry troopers stuck to their backs:
Centurio Theodosius was one such unlucky leader. Attempting to rally his fleeing men, he made a good target for a sagitarii decurio, which shot his arrow true right into the throat of the veteran.
With the loss of such men, the fate of the enemy soldiers was sealed.
Death and defeat followed for them. *
Meanwhile, Aetius dispatches Valens and a small contingent of cavalry to deal with an enemy scouting force:
This the aristocrat accomplishes easily enough, earning the further trust of Aetius in his choice of this lieutenant.
On hearing that Constantinople has been relieved, Aetius makes for the rebel city of Hadrianopolis. There he meets a large rebel relief force, intent on stopping him nearing the city.
The enemy ranks are again composed of lesser troops. No sign is seen of Verenianus, the mastermind behind this rebellion, or his Gothic allies.
Aetius adopts a more straightforward formation, a single acies:
On the centre he has positioned the Tertia Iulia Legion, on the right the Joviani Iuniores, plus auxiliaries, and on the left the Herculiani Iuniores, and a detachment of the Rugian foedus, auxiliaries of the Rugian nation, dependents of the subdued Quadi, bound by treaty to serve our Roman forces.
It is not long before the lines meet:
And our men unleash a most justified bloodbath upon what the rebels charitably call soldiers. Masters of lies and deceit, they fool even themselves!
Our Rugian cavalry quickly show their mettle in battle by killing the enemy leader, Lucius:
This is why Rome conquers these tribals! This is why Rome’s glory knows no bounds! Only through our superior leadership and administration will these barbarians know glory! Only through us can we focus their savagery and forge them into something more!
The second enemy army approaches, and we thus manoeuvre our own line to meet the new foe:
Festivities are begun with a friendly exchange of javelins.
Not content with the results, Aetius orders his entire left ala to fall upon the enemy skirmishers:
We quickly rout them, and the line is ordered forward.
The lines dash forward, and once more our men bleed the enemy dry.
Like pigs at a slaughter, they are penned in by our cavalry and fed straight into the meat grinder that is also known informally as a Roman battle line.
Speaking of pigs, one particularly valiant one leads a headlong charge into the midst of our troops, no doubt tired of living and seeing his men butchered like the animals they are:
He hesitates, turns back and attempts to flee, but once more our Rugian horsemen come to the rescue and put an end to both the flight and the life of our heroic piglet. These men really are impressing their worth on our commanders today, may we double the conscription quota of these brave souls next time our recruiters grace their presence!
Victory is ours!*
Sadly, a garrison remains in the city, and so we are forced to besiege it, considerably slowing down our advance into the rebel heartlands and the pursuit of Verenianus.
Meanwhile, near Trapezus:
Our Armenian allies have made a strange excursion into our Roman lands. While we would like to think this is to kindly deal with the rebels that have made these hills their home, we are forced to think otherwise. To this end, Heraclianus the Horseman is ordered at haste to move to Armenia. Being held in good esteem with the Armenians for services rendered, it should not prove difficult to reach an agreement. He is also ordered to secure mercenaries and Armenian allied troops for Julian’s planned expedition east.
And of Julian himself, he currently supervises the construction of a staging point of his planned invasion. This fort he calls the ‘Moor Camp’ as it will be the residence of the berber and mauri auxiliaries called forth from Mauretania for the expedition, once they arrive.
With our border temporarily secured, Julian retires to the newly annexed town of Nineveh.
While in Germania, we consolidate our newly conquered lands with forts and watchtowers, keeping a close eye on the subdued Quadi, but more menacingly...
On the marauding Alemmani, which although defeated in battle and expelled from Roman lands, now sow destruction and strife among German lands, especially those of the Vandals. These are quick to send an emissary to Rome, begging for aid. In Rome, the fate of a nation hangs in the balance...