The Romans had long assumed that their holdings in Britain were safe but a great barbarian conspiracy has proven otherwise. Near-simultaneous invasions from north, west and east have broken the back of the Roman defenses as Saxon, Pict and Irish raids devastate the colony. Worst again, many “loyal” tribes have seized at renewed hope and risen against our rule. Roman Britain is utterly shattered by a year of conflict. Those surviving Romans and loyal Britons are trapped in fortified settlements awaiting assistance from the mainland. Outside those enclaves, the land teems with invaders, raiders, bandits and deserters.
The great manor at Holchester avoided the initial wave of attacks and its local militia, leavened by the survivors of several legions, have created a safe haven. Unfortunately, the peace has proven fragile as a large Irish raiding force has been sighted in the area. The magistrate has requested the assistance of the field army and they have dispatched what forces they can spare.
(I’d open with an apology for the quality of the pictures but as the game wasn’t intended to be a battle report, my remorse is limited.)
Records indicate that the armies clashed at dawn, near an unnamed and unlamented village of hovels. The scribes do indicate that the Church of Saint Elesbrius the Inconsiderate was nearby but burned in the conflict. The small northern wood acted to split the battleground into two portions.
On the right flank, near the village, Holchester’s militia units and heavy infantry march against an outnumbered sub-clan. The veterans march to the fore as the less-trained men follow close behind. Their Irish enemies are a mix of regular warriors and a core of nobles.
In the centre, the field army’s heavy cavalry and scratch cavalry formations aim at the heart of the Cuachraige force and their general. This is the primary enemy clan and a heavy blow here could eliminate most of the ruling order and spark infighting amongst the raiders.
On the isolated left, Saxon mercenaries of the Hendrica tribe and their bow-armed “minders” prepare to sweep west of the forest. The second Irish sub-clan lurks ahead on the hillside.
The opening blow falls on the centre as Roman horse crash into into the middle of the Culraige. The heavy cavalry roll over the first line of Irish infantry with relative ease. However, the nobles waiting in the second line coolly close into melee as their kinmen rout past them.
Below the church, the Saxons begin to test themselves against an entirely new foe, the Irish.
The right sees only brief skirmishes as both sides slowly advance. A plucky units of skirmishers manage to rout and disorder two units of militia before drifting behind the lines. Both sides haltingly move against each other but the forces have barely clashed before the Roman commander orders a fighting withdrawal.
The cause of his concern becomes clear as despairing horns sound in the centre. The cavalry have bogged down in a mass of infantry and are being slaughtered in a swirling combat. The few, ragged, survivors ride free and start to make for Holchester as quickly as their blown horses will allow.
The left has degenerated into an utter bloodbath. Both sides, driven by thoughts of honour, pride and presenting a brave face to new foes, slaughter each other in waves. Commander after commander lead their men on fatal assaults and fall. Their subordinates step forward only to die in turn. By the end only the Irish remain standing. They are exhausted and every man of note is dead or wounded.
The Irish take the victory. They have been bloodied but their men are undefeated. Even if exhaustion slows their advance, they can be expected to renew the attack. On the other hand, the Roman forces are badly reduced. The militia have managed to extract themselves, some of the regular cavalry have survived but the Saxon mercenaries have been entirely eliminated. They won’t need paying but they will be missed.