Bellis Multitudinis - Refight of Magnesia
In october 1999 we organized a DBM game based on the battle of Magnesia, 190 BC, where the armies of republican Rome crushed the hellenistic army of Antiochus III, King of Seleucid Asia. For the orders of battle and special rules we used the excellent Magnesia scenario designed by Luke Ueda-Sarson, without which this refight would not have been possible.
The battle took place on a relatively featureless plain. The Seleucid army had a fortified camp on a gentle hill. The Seleucid right (Roman left) flank was guarded by River Hermos.
The initial plans and orders
I have said all the appropriate prayers, performed the sacrifice of wine and all else that is necessary. Finally I have had my priests read every possible omen, so that with rheumy eyes they convince me that We know the will of the gods better than any other mortal, discounting themselves, of course. And in every other respect have We given Our everything, that the gods of Asia and Greece should favour us over the Roman on this day. As We have given Our all, must you men also act manfully and follow the will of the gods on the field of Magnesia today. All the peoples of Greece and Asia will remember this day forever.
-Antiochus III the Great
For the greater glory of Rome! Gnaeus Domitius
The battle started with the Seleucid psiloi and scythed chariots rushing off to meet their doom in the hands of Roman Velites. By turn 4 the initial skirmish had been decided, and remains of the Seleucid chariot force fled from the field, causing some panic among the Hellenistic foot.
The mounted Seleucid left flank, Seleucus and Zeuxis, skirted round the flank of the Roman allies, Eumenes and Dipohanes. By turn 9 both allied generals had died and the Roman flank collapsed.
On the other flank the Hellenistic army advanced cautiously. The main Hellenistic force, the phalanx, watched the events from their position on Mt Sypilos.
By turn 15 Antiochus decided to advance with some of his elephants, and shift part of the phalanx to his left, where his subordinates had broken the Roman allies. The Romans, however, attacked the practically unsupported elephants, killing them.
At the same time the agema of King Antiochus had clashed into the roman legionaries near the banks of Hermos. This did not go well, and the mounting losses caused Antiochus' command to break.
Antiochus did not have to lament the situation for too long, as on turn 16 he was killed. Mendes, commander of the far right phalanx, was engaging the legionaries to his front, pushing them forward. The Romans were suffering heavily, and were very close to breaking.
Having lost his flank support with Antiochus, Mendes' phalanx was easily outflanked and on turn 20 his command broke.
The Hellenistic cavalry on the other flank had regrouped after it's pursuit of the fleeing allies and was charging the Roman right.
The hellen phalanx was finally charging into the roman legions in the center of the battlefield, but failed to smash the latin line. On the left flank the armoured cavalry charged the line of legionaries and latin cavalry several times, but failed to break them. The gods truly sided with the Romans, their dice coming up with 5 and 6, against the Hellenistic 1 on innumerable occasions on turns 21 to 23. At that time the Hellenistic cavalry broke from the mounting losses, and the rest of the Hellenistic army followed them off the field.
The romans had won the hard-fought battle of Magnesia, and the players retired to discuss the battle over a pint or ten...
Gnaeus Domitius:It is time for a feast my friends! We have defeated Antiokhos and his soldiers! Now will someone pass the wine?
Marcus Aemilius: Here's the wine Gnaeus Domitius. That indeed was a glorious battle. I can still fell the fear of the Seleucids as they turned and fled. But Eumenes was a bit disappointing.
Tiberius Semphorius Gracchus: Eumenes.. right.. haha. But maybe he decided the battle after all. If his and Diphanes' men hadn't fled the Seleucid right wouldn't have broken up so badly in the pursuit. But I must congratuleta you, Gnaeus Domitius for withdrawing the equites so fast.
Gnaeus Domitius: Yes, thank you. But the breaking of Eumenes really wasn't the first decisive thing in the battle..
Lucius Cornelius Scipio: Indeed. The velites performed magnificently against the seleucid skirmishers, and then delayed the phalanxsh long enough to allow the chavalry wtihhdraw... but on the other hand.. now where whas I?
Marcus Aemilius: Antiochos really has great wine! But anyway... you must agree that the battle really shtarted only when the lheghinosh attackged. Rhight?
Lucius Cornelius Scipio: Yessh! The Sheleushid Chataphractsh rheally were phitiful! Fhirts they come thundering down their mount Shyfilus and driving our velites befeore them but when they had to phase the legionsh they shtarted to phull back!
Tiberius Semphorius Gracchus: And then good old Gnhaes ordered ush to charge after them! Ha! You should have sheen their faces! They just weren't able to believe ush attacking!
Lucius Cornelius Scipio: But I must sthill give them some... shome... whhat's the word? Credit! Them fight wash agtually where ehven. And your legion was quite nearly broken Thibberius... or whas it mine?
Gnaeus Domitius: And by that time i had arranged the allied legion under my command to cover the flank of your attack... and the chavalry on the egsthreme rhigt.. I musth adhmit that I really was quite nervoush when the Sheleukhid khataprktchs formed to attack the leghion and the equitesh.
Marcus Aemilius: And by that time the Sheleuks had shtarted to attack everywhere.. we we were defending in a shuaqre and their forst khataphract cataphrr chataprkh charge had just been broken. Each phalag phanx phalangskh manouever for attack...
Lucius Cornelius Scipio:Our legions both performed magnificently agains the phalangites. But the right fhlank was the chritical fhront. Actually if any legion had bhroken the rest would propably have ghone thuuuu.
Gnaeus Domitius: But the Ithalians held like a whall of stheel! The khtataphrackts charged five... or whas it really ten tim-
Tiberius Semphorius Gracchus: I rheally think it whas fou-
Gnaeus Domitius: well anyway they held. And at the same time their thriarii and the eghuites ecxshploited the weak hinghe in the sheleuchik mhounted line and and and bhorke them. And thenh the hrest of the sheleuk line shtarted to crumble.
Lucius Cornelius Scipio:Yesh but the shmaller phalanx had bhroken beefore that rgiht?
Marcus Aemilius: ThruelIy! It really whas a long shtruggle, but we attackhed their flhank and thieir fighting spirit hhad allhready benn broken as Antogonos-
Tiberius Semphorius Gracchus: Antoichosh really..
Marcus Aemilius: Whoever. He had dhied anyway.. as hish ktaphracts broke. Andh before the plalangh bhore I hhad earlier in the bhattle PERSHonally led my bodyghuard to rhepel a flanking attac-
Gnaeus Domitius:Whew ran outth ow whine!
Tiberius Semphorius Gracchus: Hey yhou there! Go fetch ush shome more of thisss!
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