Chapter 697: Theonia v Rome (XI)
Chapter 697: Theonia v Rome (XI)
In addition to Patroclus, the senior centurions of the fourth and fifth brigades and the various centurions immediately decided to have the soldiers sprint to quickly entangle the enemy and prevent them from escaping.
But the exhausted Theonian soldiers stumbled as they tried to catch up with the enemy, increasing the distance between them and the Romans.
As for the young Roman centuriae on both flanks, they had difficulty retreating because they had attacked so hard that the formation of the two sides became too tightly intertwined. Especially in the Theonian army’s rear right flank, where nearly half of the two thousand young Roman soldiers who came to attack had their eyes filled with murderous intent. So the only thing on their minds was to attack, ignoring the sound of the horn and shouting.
Suddenly, more than two thousand Volscians from Antium and Setia joined the First Legion’s third and light-armoured brigades, quickly attacking the young Roman soldiers and surrounding most of them.
Without panicking, the Roman centuriae in the rear turned to fend off the Volscians’ attack while the soldiers in the front attacked the Theonians more desperately. By doing so, they almost broke the formation of the third and the light-armoured brigade. Fortunately, they already knew that reinforcements had arrived, which gave them the confidence to hold out.
At the same time, Amintas urgently ordered the second brigade’s soldiers next to the third brigade to strengthen the line of defence.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Once the other Volscians arrived at the battlefield and saw the Roman army retreating, they immediately began their pursuit.
With the Theonian heavy infantries’ exhaustion, they already have difficulty continuing the chase after only a short run. Thus only the light infantry and the cavalry continued to pursue the enemy.
The seventh brigade, made up of light infantry, still had the most energy in the First Legion, so they tried to rush to intercept the six centuriae of young Roman soldiers who had attacked their left flank.
But it turned out that these Roman centuriae, who were on the left flank, hadn’t known about the arrival of the Volscian reinforcements and had only withdrawn on military order. Since they didn’t retreat because of a rout, their morale was still good. Moreover, their withdrawal is similar to the Theonian army and had withdrawn fully intact rather than running scattered. Hence they could immediately organise a counterattack.
After suffering casualties, the seventh brigade no longer dared to stand in front of the enemy but followed behind them, attacking with spears and arrows, and achieved some success.
The Theonian cavalry pursued in a more direct manner, riding their horses from the rear of the enemy, breaking up the enemy’s centuriae and stabbing any enemy who fell to death. But this method was more exhausting to the already tired horses. Thus they only used it a few times at the start of the pursuit. Afterwards, they would only attack the few enemies that fell behind.
With the battlefield only five kilometres from the Roman’s camp, Camillus managed to retreat to the camp’s northern gate unhindered with the vast majority of experienced and veteran centuriae and light infantry.
Upon receiving the report, Furius opened the gate and waited for Camillus.
But instead of entering the camp immediately, he reminded Furius to guard the camp to stop the enemy’s attack. At the same time, he asked the light infantry to quickly go up the walls and climb the sentry towers to attack any enemy who dared to approach the camp. Meanwhile, he himself would lead three thousand experienced and veteran soldiers to form a phalanx a hundred metres away from the camp, swiftly attacking the Volscians who would soon arrive.
And since the Volscians had long scattered and disorganised when chasing the defeated troops, Camillus and his troops easily defeated them.
After defeating the pursuing forces and ensuring the retreating Roman’s safety, Camillus didn’t order a counter-pursuit. Instead, he instructed the troops to retreat steadily towards the camp’s northern gate fifty metres away. And with the light infantries’ arrows and javelins, Camillus defended the retreating force’s escape route.
But when the Volscians finally gathered all the pursuing soldiers and formed a new army to approach the Roman camp, Camillus had already led his troops to withdraw.
With the Roman soldiers on the wall, the Volscians finally gave up on the idea of an attack on the Roman camp.
At last, this arduous battle had come to an end.
Even after winning this battle, Amintas remained dejected as he looked at the wounded soldiers lying on the ground. When the rough statistics of their casualties came out, it showed the First Legion had suffered more than 2,400 casualties, which is already a fourth of the legion’s entire men. The ones to suffer the most were the third brigade and the light infantry brigade, who had lost more than half of their number. Although some of the wounded only suffered flesh wounds, which allowed them to recover quickly after bandaging, treatment and rest, it still weakened the First Legion.
Beside him was Ledes, who likewise sighed. The First Cavalry Legion paid a great price by blocking the retreat of the Romans tasked to plunder provisions at the start and the Roman heavy infantry and cavalry reinforcements. Their final casualties were as high as 700 men, nearly half their legion. But the most serious was their loss of horses, and replacing them may take a while before they can return to the battlefield.
“We had suffered a great loss in this battle!” Ledes lamented loud enough for Amintas to hear. Although he tried to help Amintas in the battle, this didn’t stop him from venting his anger.
Amintas didn’t reply, as he didn’t have the heart to contradict him. While ordering the medical camp to treat the wounded, he asked the soldiers of the escort team to help bandage the wounded and carry out first aid treatment(the soldiers would also receive such education during their military training).
By this time, the First Legion’s soldiers were already too exhausted even to remove their helmets and armour. Instead, they lay on the floor and slept so soundly that they didn’t even respond after getting stepped on, leading the guards to mistake them for corpses numerous times.
Amintas walked carefully between the sleeping soldiers, afraid to wake them. He had been the legatus of the First Legion for nine years and had come to know all the soldiers and officers closely. So it pained him to see the soldiers and officers with whom he was on friendly terms fall one by one into a pool of blood because he had ordered them to fight the enemy!
At the same time, he started blaming himself. King Davos had repeatedly warned him to watch out for the Roman army before their departure. But he still underestimated the Romans and ordered the legionaries to attack the enemy that outnumbered them after a long march. He had treated the Romans as if they were the Messapians, Peuceti and Dauni, with whom the Theonian legions had fought in the past. And the fact proved that King Davos’ fears were correct. With organised formations and tactics similar to Theonia’s, this army was far superior to Theonia’s former enemies!… ‘If only the First Legion weren’t exhausted and had more men, we would have never fallen into such a passive situation! Rome…Rome…’
Amintas was lost in his thoughts while walking. Suddenly, Hybaterus stood in front of him unsteadily, with his bandaged right arm and bloodstain running down his forehead. As a result, he could barely salute with his left hand, “Le…Legatus…”
“Lie down, Hybaterus!” Amintas said in a hurry, showing a rare gentle smile of concern to the senior centurion of the third brigade.
“Legatus, my brothers of the third brigade…” Hybaterus’ expression became down as tears welled up in his eyes before he could even finish speaking.
The smile on Amintas’ face froze. He could only say, “We won this victory thanks to the tenacity of your third and eighth Brigades in holding off the enemy’s attack! Our medical camp will do its best to save the soldiers under your command, so ensure you get proper treatment and recover as quickly as possible! The First Legion cannot do without you!”
Amintas left in a hurry after saying that.
Then his adjutant Aristonus came over and whispered, “Legatus, Sthephilos had suffered some minor injuries.” Since they are all children of the Theonian statesmen, they are all familiar with each other.
“He easily got wounded!” Amintas’ words dumbfounded Aristonus.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
In the military tent of the Roman camp, Camillus briefly told Furius the course of the battle.
After hearing that, Furius couldn’t help but suck in cold air, “Camillus, you mean to say that…the Theonian soldiers marched from Circeii to the south of our camp without stopping in between, then attacked our troops gathering provision, and then…also held off our nine thousand heavy infantry until the arrival of the Volscian reinforcements?!…”
“Yes!” Camillus sighed and said gloomily, “The most important thing is that we have many more soldiers than them. We have more than nine thousand heavy infantry, two thousand light infantry and seven hundred cavalries. I had led nearly twelve thousand soldiers while the Theonians…after the numerous reports from our scouts, the Theonians have about ten thousand men but only have about seven thousand heavy infantries… Yet even with such an army that was far inferior and less to ours, we still failed to defeat them even after our soldiers fought them furiously for more than two hours!”
Over the years, the Roman army remained invincible in the Latium and Etruscan regions. So Furius, who was already accustomed to victory, had a hard time accepting the fact that the Roman army was inferior to the Theonians. And since he knew Camillus well, he didn’t think the respected veteran would distort the facts to clear himself from the crime of losing. Thus he couldn’t help but ask again, “Is the Theonian army really that strong?!”
“Let’s leave the Theonian cavalry aside since you already know about them. As for the light infantry: Since we didn’t put any care about them, our allies had to provide the light infantries, resulting in them being undisciplined and lacking in training and cooperation, while the Theonian light infantry had well-trained and well-cooperated archers and javelinmen, and slingers who could attack a far longer range with their lead projectiles. Thus before my arrival, a light infantry of only about a thousand men had suppressed our two thousand light infantry and seven hundred cavalries…”