Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Editio. X

(At the Po River in Cisalpine. 262 BC Summer)  Tiberius Caesetius Pulvillus the General of Legio IV 'Herculia' sat on his horse and gazed over the Po River at an army of Veneti (a Celt tribe). The Roman legion was in position to receive an attack, but the charge would have to be through the shallows of the River. Word of the demise of Legio I at Patavium had been a shock, yet he still had a well trained legion that was mostly consisting of fully staffed cohorts.

Pylvillus's counterpart, General Segovax of the Veneti Army had a larger force, but Pulvillus was not going to attack, rather he had decided to hold the perfect defensive position at the ford of the River Po. The action commenced with the Veneti firing arrows at the Romans, the Romans with Velities firing pilum did not have the range to effectively counter the fire of the Veneti. The Celts barrage did much damage to the Roman front lines positioned to defend the river ford.
Legionaries of Legio IV in desperate and bloody hand to hand combat!

Emboldened by his defeat of the Roman 1st Legion Segovax impetuously decided to advance his infantry across the river into the Roman line. In the shallow water the Veneti advanced in a mass of screaming warriors! The Roman Velites now had a enemy in range and opened up with a barrage of pilum (javelins). Many Veneti were hit, the river turned red with blood but the Celts marched on towards the Roman line through the low current.

General Pulvillus pulled off a quick maneuver sending up fresh infantry that had not been subjected to the arrows of the Veneti. The Romans steeled themselves and received the shock of the Celts crashing into the formations of hastari & principles. Back and forth the enemies traded blows, the Romans kept their discipline and formation while the Veneti became a mass of soldiers pushing forward but that only pressed their front into a Roman killing machine; Legionaries bracing with shields while stabbing and hacking with scuti (swords).

The Romans killed with hate the foe that had slain all of their brothers in the 1st Legion. The Celts were ground up by the Roman formations, then the Veneti's much reduced in numbers broke and ran. General Pulvillus ordered the Roman cavalry in at this crucial moment. Through the shallow ford and over to the other side of the river charged the cavalry! No quarter was given, all the Celts that the horsemen could catch-up to were hacked down with lances. General Segovax himself met this fate, very few Celts survived the day.

Pulvillus savored the victory, yet felt discomfort as he viewed all the Roman corpses strewn over the field of battle. He had a half strength Legion to campaign with now.

Viewpoint from the Veneti side of the Po River, at this point the Celts had degenerated into a unwieldy mass of warriors all trying to ford the river and get at the Romans.

A Campaign Overview.
Map of Patavium.
Here we view the region of Patavium as we move from summer to fall. The Romans appear to have the advantage. A full strength yet green Legio III which had rapidly marched up north from Rome and a half strength Legio IV facing a foe with two small depleted armies in poor condition. 

Intelligence has been problematic during this Cisalpine campaign but the Roman generals feel they now have a grasp on the dispositions of the Veneti armies, but a large Insubres force at the border is a wild card for the Roman commanders. Will the Insubres come to the aid of their Celtic brothers or are they waiting to snap up Patavium if the Romans delay their advance?  

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