Chapter 552: Attack and Defence of the Camp in Scylletium (III)
But with the Theonian light infantry focused on attacking the tower, the Syracusan light infantry could throw javelins from the tower and, with the protection of the siege wagons, rush to the trench and hit the enemy on the wooden walls. Furthermore, they could even shoot flaming arrows at the walls as well.
The Theonian legionaries needed to guard against the javelins from the tower and below the wall. Besides that, they needed to protect the wall from the fire and prevent the enemy from climbing up using the ladder. Thus they were a bit overwhelmed.
“Siege wagon! The enemy’s siege wagon reached near the wall!!” A soldier exclaimed.
After Matonis cut down an enemy climbing the wall, he hurriedly looked below and saw an intact siege wagon passed through several blazing, piled-up siege engines. The enemy had almost pushed it near the wall through the filled-up trench.
“POUR THE BITUMEN!” Shouted Matonis hurriedly.
‘Clang!’ A javelin heading to Matonis was blocked by a soldier using a long shield.
“Legatus, we ran out of flammable oil!” A soldier cried in distress.
“Go to the camp and look for more! Is there any more bitumen left?!” While giving his order to the guards, Matonis commanded the soldiers, “Destroy that!”
Although wood and stones struck the siege wagon, they only seemed to have little impact on it. On the contrary, under the siege wagon’s protection, the Syracusans hit the wooden wall hard with the battering ram, resulting in the wooden wall making a creaking sound as it shook. Even the climbing Syracusan soldiers nearby end up falling down the trench.
Matonis helped the wall’s battlement with both hands as he thought anxiously about how to deal with the situation. He then heard someone shout in the rear, “It’s burning! The wooden wall is burning!”
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“Your majesty, a fire broke out on the section where the fourth legion is responsible for defending after the Syracusans struck it with their oil jars and flaming arrows. Although we had extinguished the flames, the fire burned up to ten metres of the wooden wall. Fortunately, the enemy hadn’t filled the trench in that part, so the enemy couldn’t immediately breach the wall. In addition, Epiphanes had sent a brigade of light-armoured soldiers from the fourth legion to set up a defensive formation behind the wall…” Tolmides reported the critical situation to Davos, who had already come out of the tent and watched the fourth and seventh legions.
While Davos slightly frowned, he looked at the light-armoured brigade in front of him. After pondering for a while, he said, “It seems Dionysius is determined to attack my central camp. Although the Syracusans would still take some time to breach the camp, it would be difficult for just the fourth and seventh legions to stop the attack of so many people… Tolmides!”
“Go inform the left and right camp’s second, fifth and sixth legions to immediately rush to the central camp!” Davos ordered decisively, startling Tolmides, “Your majesty. If we withdraw all the troops…what about those two camps?!”
“Just give it to Dionysius if he wants it.” Davos said lightly, resulting in the soldiers’ days of hard work turning to nothing.
“Wait, don’t let them all withdraw. Instead, have the light infantry temporarily stay for defence as they could still kill some enemies once they attack.” Davos emphasised.
“Yes, your majesty!” Tolmides turned around to leave. But he suddenly heard an exclamation from the front, followed by a loud crackling sound as a big breach appeared on the wooden wall.
“Your majesty, the enemy broke down a section of our wooden wall with a siege engine!” Shouted the herald, who had come back.
Davos, however, remained calm as he turned around and shouted, “Izam!”
“Brothers! Follow me!!” After waiting a long time, Izam led his mountain reconnaissance brigade to rush toward the opening.
Seeing this, Tolmides speed up his pace.
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“Your majesty, the soldiers on the left and right camp of Theonia had begun to rush towards the central camp!”
Hearing the cavalry scout, Dionysius stood up excitedly, “Davos finally got fooled! Immediately assemble our troops to attack Theonia’s left camp!”
Theonia’s central camp faced the western wall of Scylletium, while the left and right camps were like outstretched hands encircling the north and south sides of the city. In the left camp of Theonia, the ones stationed there were the fifth legion and most of the soldiers of the sixth legion: Although the fifth legion was later replenished with some troops after suffering the heaviest damage in the war, their strength was no longer as good as before. In contrast, the sixth legion was newly formed just after the war, so they had only participated in the Battle of Crotone so far. Thus whether it’s the soldiers’ quality or the degree of teamwork, the sixth and fifth legion couldn’t compare to the cooperation between the second legion and a small number of sixth legion soldiers stationed in the right camp. Such difference in strength is evident from the traps placed in front of the two camps.
After trying to understand the situation for the past few days, Dionysius naturally wanted to start with the weakest link of the Theonian army.
Scylletium’s north gate opened wide and nearly 20,000 men departed under the personal leadership of Dionysius: There were more than 10,000 elite Syracusans, who were reorganised and equipped with a relatively complete armour, plus several thousands of freemen wielding simple wooden shields and spears.
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The news soon reached Theonia’s central camp, causing Henipolis to shout, “Your majesty, our left camp might not be able to hold on!”
“Didn’t I just say it? If Dionysius wants it, then let him have it.” Davos remained calm and said, “He thinks that by breaching our camp, he would be able to crush us. Yet he didn’t know that he had fallen right into our trap. Now that Dionysius only focuses on the battle’s outcome, he would no longer be able to consider the overall war situation…”
Henipolis nodded absent-mindedly while writing down what Davos had said on a papyrus.
“Inform Philesius and Olivos to lead the troops to form a phalanx 20 metres away from the eastern wooden wall. In addition, have the second legion that Amintas led be on standby on the northern wall of the central camp to defend against the enemy that continued heading here after occupying the left camp.” Davos continued giving orders, “And…once they are all ready, tell Matonis and Epiphanes to stop sending more troops to block those breaches and let the enemy come in.”
After finishing the deployment in one breath, Davos relaxed a bit. He then turned his head to look at Henipolis, who was somewhat bewildered. Thus he could only explain it to him, “It doesn’t matter to us whether we lost the right camp and left camp. Our original aim was to increase the Syracusans’ casualties as much as possible so that Dionysius would lose a lot of elite soldiers, thus taking away their initiative. But now that Dionysius left the city’s protection and attacked us by leading the army, he is practically doomed to fail…”
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Dionysius led his army to attack the empty left camp and paid some casualties, but he found it easy how the attack had gone. He then thought that it was mainly due to his fierce attack on the Theonian central camp that confused Davos in transferring the main force of the left camp. Unfortunately, he did not have the time to slowly savour the joy of victory at this moment as he had to lead his massive army to attack Theonia’s central camp, and the price he would pay would be greater. Thus he must seize the time to flank the camp and crush the Theonians quickly!
After quickly rushing to the south passage between the tents, Dionysius could hear the sound of battle and scream becoming louder and clearer…
‘We are almost there!’ Said Dionysius as he became more excited.
But after bypassing the tent area, he stopped in astonishment: A tall, long wooden wall more than 20 metres in front had blocked their path forward. Furthermore, there is a trench in front of the wooden wall!
“How could this be?! Why did the Theonians build such a thick wooden wall and dig a wide trench inside their entire camp instead of just dividing it with a fence?!” Dionysius’ expectation of winning was shattered at this moment. And the strong sense of loss and fear of failure had made Dionysius, a decisive person, roar with grief and anger.
“Milord, watch out!” As the light infantry of the second legion, who were on the wooden wall, rained arrows and javelins on them, the Syracusan soldiers hurriedly raised their round shields for defence. At the same time, the guards quickly went to protect Dionysius.
The clanging sound caused by the collision of arrows and shields had only made Dionysius even more anxious. With the Theonians building a wooden wall and trenches to protect the central camp, it seemed they intended to abandon the left and right camps. Unfortunately for the Syracusans, the wooden wall and traps outside blocked the entire camp, resulting in them not knowing the situation inside. Furthermore, their envoys were blindfolded whenever they went to the Theonian camp to negotiate, so they knew nothing about the camp… ‘Did Davos fool me again?!’
After breaching the left camp and continuing south, Dionysius thought entering Theonia’s central camp would be easy. Hence the soldiers only carried ladders and didn’t have any siege engines. Moreover, they could not push such massive siege engines like siege towers and siege wagons inside the camp. Thus the Syracusans felt helpless when faced with the heavily guarded central camp.
Dionysius felt a deep sense of frustration after spending so much time and energy planning this attack, only for it to fail. It had made Dionysius muddled that he could only murmur Davos’ name as he couldn’t think of a good way to deal with their current difficulties…