Chapter 688: Theonia v Rome (II)
What he called “requisitioning” was, in fact, using force to plunder. Although Rome and its allies received food supplies from the Senate and its allies when fighting together, the Roman army would still plunder occupied enemy territory from time to time, as this could weaken the enemy while strengthening itself.
But now, Camillus realised that their scattered centuriae would become the most likely target of the Theonian cavalries’ attack, “Furius, we’d better get the light infantry ready. Once we find the Theonian cavalry heading north to attack our returning soldiers, we will immediately send our light infantry brigade to drive the enemy off and pick up our returning boys.”
Furius rejected, “The Theonian cavalries had probably come from Circeii. With Circeii twenty kilometres from us, it is unlikely that the Theonians will have the energy to travel further north to harass our soldiers, no matter how powerful they are.”
“We don’t know much about the Theonians, so don’t underestimate them! It’s always better to be more prepared in advance.” Camillus patiently lectured.
“Alright, I’ll arrange for it,” Furius said while shrugging his shoulder.
Just as he was about to leave, guards rushed in, “My lords, many cavalries in black armour have appeared to the south of the camp!”
Camillus and Furius left the commander’s tent worriedly.
Since the news about unknown cavalry attacking their cavalries had spread in the camp and caused a stir among the soldiers, many discussed this matter in whispers. So as soon as they saw Camillus and Furius passing by, they asked them about it.
But how could they answer that? So Camillus and Furius hurried to the south wall, where soldiers gazing out at the camp filled the passageway, curiously discussing something in low voices.
After climbing a watchtower, the two looked out and saw hundreds of cavalry in black armour standing in neat order hundreds of yards away; several huge flags held high with the top of the flag shining with golden light. Though only a hundred cavalrymen stood quietly, Camillus and Furius felt they shouldn’t underestimate them.
“I heard Theonia’s army had a statue of their gods adorned on the top of their flag. It seems they are indeed Theonia’s cavalry!” Said Furius with a grave expression.
Camillus, on the other hand, didn’t speak as his eyes were fixed on the general with a bright plume on his helmet among the Theonian cavalry, trying to guess the purpose of the Theonian presence in front of their camp.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
At the moment, Amintas, with the cavalry, was carefully studying the layout of the Roman camp.
“let’s get closer.” Said Amintas as he urged his horse forward.
Then a commotion broke out in the Roman camp.
“Legatus, it’s too dangerous to go any further!” Amintas’ adjutant reminded loudly.
“Aristonos, you are Scambras’* son and have inherited his bravery.” (Scambras had gotten the nickname ‘the Growler’ as even though he was the oldest in the Senate, he would often lash out fiercely at those he opposed on the hall.) Amintas then jokingly said, “But did you lose your courage after staying a short time in the Army Staff?!”
Even after Amintas said this, Phryntor, who was standing next to him, didn’t react.
Aristonos, who wasn’t in the mood to joke around, said hurriedly, “Legatus, I’m just worried about your safety!”
“We are still far from the enemy’s camp, not to mention we are all on horseback.” Amintas smiled and turned his head to the side, “And even if the enemy cavalry rushes out, Ledes, your cavalry will protect me, right?”
Ledes, the leader of the First Cavalry Legion, said thoughtfully, “From our previous battles with the Roman cavalry, their cavalry is no match for ours. So you can rest assured that I will return you safely to your camp, no matter how many cavalries come out of their camp.”
“Hahaha, I’ll hold you to your word! And it’s wonderful to know that our cavalry has the advantage!” Amintas laughed while observing the Roman camp.
But his smile didn’t last long. Even though the Romans had a significant advantage in their war against the Volsci, it was clear that they had kept their vigilance high with how thoroughly they built their camp. The Romans had densely arranged abatis below the wall, dug trenches surrounding the entire camp, built sentry towers just behind the walls every twenty to thirty metres, and earthen barricades coupled with towering wooden walls, making Amintas unable to see the inside of the camp.
Apart from not knowing whether the enemy laid traps outside the camp, Amintas could tell that they couldn’t underestimate the Roman camp’s defence even from the outside. He could only frown and mutter softly, “Attacking this encampment won’t be easy.”
It was at this moment that Phryntor said in a serious tone, “Legatus, there’s something else we should be aware of! Soon after we arrived, soldiers soon filled that place.” Phryntor pointed at the dense but uncluttered Roman soldiers on the wooden wall in front of him and reminded, “It just goes to show how well-trained this Roman army was! Capturing their camp and destroying this Roman army would be a challenge, resulting in the First Legion’s casualties never being low!”
Amintas turned silent for a moment before saying, “Then let’s draw them out for a field battle!”
“Amintas, now that they know our army has come, do you think they would dare to go out of their camp to fight the Volsci and us?!” Ledes reminded tactfully.
“We still have to try!” Although Amintas did say that, he didn’t think it was too likely either. After all, they had already walked around this Roman camp. But they couldn’t find any apparent gaps. And by observing the camp, he had gained a preliminary understanding of the Roman army and its generals: they were cautious, serious and rational!
‘Could we really only stay in the camp and wait for the Roman army to converge and attack us?!’ Amintas felt reluctant.
Just as he was about to turn his horse to the place where they would build the camp, a mounted scout arrived from the northwest, “Reporting to legatus Ledes! We found several Roman troops plundering the Volscian village in front of us, so senior centurion Agonis asked if they should wipe them out.” (According to the establishment of the Theonian cavalry, a cavalry legion has two thousand men spread in four brigades of five hundred men each. A brigade has five centuriae of one hundred men each, and a centuria has ten squads of ten men each.)
“How many enemies are there?” Ledes asked.
“About two hundred enemies.” The scout replied.
“Has Agonis become so stupid that he even had to ask us if he could eat such a fat piece of meat that was already so close to his mouth?!” Ledes then said impatiently, “Tell your senior centurion to kill as many enemies as possible!”
“Roger!” Then the mounted scout urged his horse to leave.
“Wait!” Amintas called out to him, “Have you really only spotted those two hundred or so enemies? Or are those two hundred or so men the only ones outside the enemy camp?”
Although Amintas’ question was a bit roundabout, the mounted scout still understood it. Thus he pointed to the northwest and said, “Legatus Amintas, our brigade had only searched that direction and not anywhere else.”
Amintas immediately looked at Ledes and said, “Old friend, I need your help! Send out these men of yours and find out how many Roman soldiers are plundering in this area, and report back to me quickly!”
“Understood.” Ledes immediately turned to his men and assigned them their tasks.
“Legatus Amintas, do you want to lure the Roman soldiers out of their camp?” Phryntor’s mind worked quickly as he roughly guessed Amintas’ intention.
Amintas looked at him and said with a hint of excitement, “We can’t just do nothing and watch the Romans rendezvous. Once the fifty thousand-strong armies come, our First Legion, no matter how powerful we are, won’t be able to stop them!”
Phryntor nodded in agreement.
“Aristonos!” Amintas looked at his adjutant and said, “Send out our heralds to quickly inform our brothers to stop building the camp. Instead, have them put on their armour, take their weapons, march here in formation, and wait for my orders.”
“Roger!” Aristonos replied excitedly.
Ledes, who had just sent out some of his cavalries, immediately warned after hearing Amintas’ order, “Since we aren’t clear about the situation yet, you shouldn’t make such a big move. If those two hundred men are the only enemies out there, the Roman army definitely won’t leave the camp. So apart from wasting our efforts in vain, you will also receive the soldiers’ criticism!”
“They would dare?!” Amintas’ stared at him and said in a decisive tone, “I fear it will all be too late by the time we find out! And I think this would be our only chance to get the Romans to engage us in a field battle!”
“I agree with legatus Amintas about giving this a try. If the situation isn’t what we think it will be, we could just have the soldiers stay in Privernum tonight and start building the camp tomorrow.” Phryntor said that after noticing Amintas’ personality, ‘This legatus had a strong desire to fight and wouldn’t miss even a small opportunity for a battle.’
He then added, “But beyond that, we must remind Privernum and the Volscian army in Setia in advance to join hands with us to defeat the Romans if they do indeed leave camp.”
“I’m only responsible for fighting the Romans; I’ll leave the other tedious things to you. Does that suit you?” Amintas asked directly.