Commentarii de Bello Civili
We broke camp outside of Rome shortly before dawn on July 27, and arrived at the crossroads of the Via Aemelia and Via Flaminia around the ninth hour. Four other legions (2 BDA armies) came in behind mine. At the appointed hour, with eagles gleaming proudly in the rising light of morning, I gave the order, and the cornicerns sounded with a mighty blast as we began our advance.
No sooner than we began the march, I heard the answer of the Senatorial armies beginning their counter-march into my left flank. Quickly gathering my sub-generals (Aulus Flavius Vespasianus and co.), a plan was devised that the four legions in the rear would wheel to the left to protect my advance up the Via Flaminia. We entrenched our camp behind Aulus’ lines and proceeded towards the Tiber.
The struggle began very quickly, since the Senate had much time to prepare for us. Clashes between psiloi and auxiliaries on the Triumvirate left flank began after about one hour (4 bounds) of marching. Reports from the camps of Africanus and Optimus reported similar action. All in all, the reports were that the action was fierce, and that our men were hard pressed. I kept the legions in column as we proceeded to the Milvan Bridge, and deployed all of our light troops on our left flank to screen any skirmishers who may have broken through our picket.
Our first major obstacle was the terrain; our men could only proceed to the Tiber by moving through a narrow defile. My spies reported that the legions of Manius Furius Cicero were approaching to attempt to intercept me. So it seemed good to me, after scouting for ambush, to proceed with due haste through the defile. I knew there would be no room to deploy my cavalry on the other side of the defile before we came to grips with the enemy, so I held my Evocati and cavalry back on the road while the foot proceeded forward.
In order to prevent the harassment of my legionaries from skirmishers, I sent my light troops around the hills through open ground to meet at the van of the column. By this time our left flank (Aulus Flavius Vespasianus’ command) was beginning to clash with the enemy mounted, so I sent my Turmae to assist. From all reports, the enemy was driven back, but some of their light horse slipped through a gap and headed for my light troops. Normally, I would trust in the men to repel the horse, but suddenly, over the horizon, charged the personal standard of the villain Manius Furius Cicero. Always choosing the easy fight, he hit my men head on while the light horse hit my men in the rear, slaughtering them all. At that moment I was informed that Manius Furius Cicero’s light horse had engaged the van of of my legions, and we had begun to form lines before the rest of the column had proceed out of the defile. To add to that, Manius’s legions were breaking column and preparing to attack within the hour. Worst of all, I received word that our right flank, commanded by the other two Triumvirate was faltering after word began to spread of the death of Africanus. The news was that we were beginning to rout in the area of the hottest fighting right outside Rome.
At this point the men came under further threat by several cohorts that were guarding the Milvan Bridge. Thankfully, Juniores came to my right flank and provided a diversion. My frustration at this point was extreme, since it was obvious that my orders were not reaching the front of my lines and the men were only capable of the most minor maneuvers. Further compounding our miseries was word that our left flank was collapsing. With both flanks routing I knew it was pointless to try and hold the center any longer, and that our cause was lost. I withdrew my sword with the intent of an honorable death, but my men cast themselves to the ground and wept, crying out that they could not bear to go on without their captain. After much counsel it was decided that we should make for Brundisium at double march.
Once arriving in Brundisium we easliy overcame the local garrison and met up with the fleet I had ordered to be built in Sicily, waiting along the coast for my arrival should things go badly. We made for Epirus, and from there we came to Illyricum, and stayed among those who support our cause. We will conscript new auxiliaries and plan to Winter in Germania. We will march in Spring to Hispania and meet with Optimus, and others who survived the battle at Rome.
-Athanasius Numerius Calpurnius Ingenuus
After conscripting and setting up supply logistics we broke camp and made the march towards Germania for Winter. We have friends among the Chatti upon whom we can depend on for supply and cavalry.
Last night we met resistance from an army of Gallic origin, of all places. It was a mercenary band, apparently paid off by the Republic to do their dirty work. Initial sightings happened in the morning, after our scouts spotted the main column crossing a steep hill about ten miles away. I set a couple cohorts to entrenching and guard the camp, and another couple as our rear guard. We deployed between a steep hill and large wood to our right. I knew we were in a very dangerous position, so I sent skirmishers forward to begin breaking up the Gallic line which had made its way into a small plain. I pulled my cavalry into the front lines between the legionaries, and sent a picket of men into the woods on our right to preventing the Gallic psiloi from harrassing our right flank.
Our skirmishers did exactly what they needed to and made a column of the filthy Gauls charge our lines. Meanwhile, the picket o the right succeeded and I ordered half of the picket to set up in a flanking position in the woods. When the column of impetuous Gauls came into contact with our line, our psiloi retreated through our lines and I moved my personal unit of Evocati cavalry into the front while my men charged the Gallic flank from their position in the woods. Great slaughter of the Gauls commenced and the army shortly routed. Upon retiring to our camp, I learned that the Gauls had sent a contingent of chariots to break through our rear-guard. I was quite surprised to hear that the raw cohorts I left behind (for lack of experience) actually repelled the attack!
What I take away from this battle is this: do what the enemy does not expect! The enemy was expecting that I would lead the army into the plain in the middle of the battlefield. Instead, I chose to anchor both flanks on bad-going, while causing confusion among his undisciplined ranks with my skirmishers, which caused serious command and control issues for the enemy while I set my trap. Also, it is always wise to leave a rear-guard against a more mobile army.
The experience was good for the men-it raised morale, and it provided an opportunity for the recruits to wet their blades.
Athanasivs Numerivs Calpvrnivs Ingenvvs
To: Tiberivs Flavivs Vespasianvs Optimvs Maximvs
I write to you from Illyricum, to which I managed to sail with my legions from Brundisium. I have yet to receive word as to whether Numidicus is dead or not, but I hope for the best. I also await word on the condition of our dear Aulus Flavius Vespasianus.
We lost the day, that much is true, and I await the first opportunity I have to eviscerate the cowardly Manius Furius Cicero, who seemed content to ride down skirmishers with his crony, the barbarian Mike O’niel. All is not lost though, I suffered no casualties among the ranks of my legionaries, and we are conscripting light troops here while making provisions. It is my plan to march to Hispania immediately, assuming it may be our only safe-haven. I hope to arrive in time to fend off either an Autumn or Winter campaign by the Senate.
Labor omnia vincit.