Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Battle of Bibracte 58 B.C.

Julius Caesar had been pursuing the Helveti when he decided to break off the pursuit and replenish his supplies at the town of Bibracte.   The Helveti took this as a sign of weakness and decided to attack.   Caesar had six legions, four veteran and two new, 5000 Gallic cavalry, and some light infantry.   The Gauls had about 92,000 warriors, including some cavalry.

The battle was re-fought at The South Bay Game Club on June 15 using Scutarii.   The rules are available on the Hoplite Research web store at HR Games  and from various dealers in the US and Europe.  A Yahoo Group has also been started.at  Domus Scutarii

The participants were, starting in the front from left to right, Bill McHugh (not pictured), Manny Granillo, Mike Conley, James Poli, Robert Packard, and Allen Sissenwen.


Robert was Julius Caesar and James was also a Roman commander.  Mike, Allen, Manny, and Bill commanded the Gauls.   Bill had to leave early for a wedding and was only present for the start of the battle.
Both sides were allowed to deploy their troops as they saw fit.   The Romans formed up on the hills along their table edge, placing their four veteran legions in the front in a double line, the two new legions in the rear and split the light infantry and cavalry evenly between both flanks.  The four veteran legions had 4000 men each and the two new legions had 4500 men for a total 25,000 men represented by fifty 16 figure bases.   They also had twelve 8 figure light infantry bases organized into six 16 figure units of 500, and ten bases of 6 cavalry figures.   Total force 956 figures plus seven generals and escorts.  All figures for the Roman army are from Rapier Miniatures.

The initial Gallic force had 5000 cavalry and 70,000 warriors.   The cavalry had ten 6 figure bases and the infantry had 140 12 figure bases for a total of 1740 figures plus seven generals and escorts.   An additional 34 bases of 12 figures would arrive later raising the total number of figures to 2148..  The Gauls formed up their infantry in a large body four bases deep, placed 2000 cavalry on their left flank, and 3000 cavalry on their right flank.  The Gallic army was a mix of Heroics and Ros, Irregular, Rapier, and Baccus and included figures from my other armies to provide enough units for the battle.

Game scale was one turn = 15 minutes, 1mm = 2 paces (1 inch = 50 paces), and one unit equal to about 500 men.

The battlefield had a stream running across the width of the table in a valley between the hills on both sides edge of the table.  The material for the hills was placed under the game mat.  Both armies deployed on their respective hill lines.

The initial Roman deployment.  Sub0ordinate generals yet to to be placed.  There is a special rule for Roman armies that encourages players to deploy in multiple lines as they did historically.
The Gallic battle line, looking east.
The Gauls advance as the Romans wait for them on the hill slopes.   The Romans have shifted their reserve legions to their flanks.
The cavalry engages on the eastern end of the battlefield.   The Roman commander was slain during the initial contact.
The rest of the Gallic horde continues its advance.
View from the other end of the battlefield.
The cavalry battle continues on the eastern end of the battlefield.  The dice were used to keep track of damage to the units.
The opposing armies make contact.  The cavalry on the western end had already been fighting.
Roman cavalry and light infantry on the eastern flank break and flee.
The fight continues on the western end of the battlefield.
The center of the battle.   A rather dicey situation.   I will probably have to go back to using counters instead of dice.
Later in the battle.   Part of the Gallic center routs.  The Romans had previously pulled back their front line behind their second line of  cohorts as several cohorts in the front rank had become shaken.   This gave them an advantage as they now had fresh forces facing an already worn enemy.
The Gallic right flank starts to back away from the Romans.  With part of their forces routing the Gauls had decided that it would be better to withdraw across the stream to the hills they started on.
Right center of the Roman line.  The second line is engaging the Gauls while the first line attempts to recover from being shaken.
Manny joined the game after our lunch break and took command of the 17,000 Gallic re-enforcements. 
A large hole in the Gallic battle line.
Manny quickly advanced to engage the Roman right flank.  

Manny was able to hit the Roman line in the flank and attacked with seven dice to the single die of the Romans.   However, fortune gave him mixed results.   His attack caused several units on the Roman right to rout, but the single Roman die was able to score a hit and Manny's general died leading his men into battle when he checked for loss of his general.   It was later rumored that he had tripped while dismounting from his chariot.

On the following turn the Romans won the initiative and chose to move second.   The rules use an IgoYougo sequence of play with both sides dicing for initiative at the start of the turn.  The side that wins the initiative die roll gets to decide if they will move first or second during the turn.  For this battle any tie die rolls were won by the Romans.  The first thing that side whose turn it is has to do is check morale of any units that have taken damage during the previous round of combat.   Both sides had taken quite a bit of damage by this point.   As the Gauls started checking morale quite a few units that were already shaken failed their morale and routed.   Units that had someone near them rout also had to check and many of the remaining warriors fled.   Caesar was able to claim a victory though all his cavalry and light infantry had fled.

The game started about 10:30 and finished at 3:30 with a half hour to 45 minute lunch break.