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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:55 am 
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Mike, as always, mighty good!

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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:33 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:37 pm
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at long last, here follows the next update...


Endgame, Part I
Date: Sextilis XI MDCCXI AUC/August 11th, 878 AD
Location: Outside the walls of Rome
Time: early afternoon

After the armies of Prince Guaifer and Count Pandenulf arrived in the vicinity of Rome, Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica spent the better part of the next three weeks jockeying for best advantage with their enemies. While this was going on, military engineers attached to the legions used their time to construct an extensive array of field works; the better to hinder/oppose their enemies when they finally decided to move. At the same time, raids were conducted against the enemy camps in order to keep Prince Guaifer and Count Pandenulf’s troops off-balance.

On the northern frontier, Legiones II Italica, III Augusta and IV Antonia have completed their advance through the mountain passes into Bavaria Transalpina and begun the construction of permanent legionary fortresses from which to control the surrounding countryside and to support further advances when called for. In keeping with the best of Roman military tradition, each fortress is laid out in exactly the same manner as the others. The basic plan is a square, with two main streets; the Via Principalis and the Via Praetoria. These streets will be covered by four double-towered gatehouses; the Porta Praetoria (front gate), the Porta Decumana (back gate), the Porta Principalis Dextra (right gate) and the Porta Principalis Sinistra (left gate). The camp’s primary defense consists of a stone wall on top of an earthen rampart. When completed, the rampart will measure ten pedes in height; the wall will measure fifteen pedes in height, ten pedes in thickness and be capped with a battlement. At the corners and the midpoint of the wall between the portae and the corners, there will be square towers measuring thirty pedes on a side and forty pedes in height. Lastly, the base of the earthen ramparts will be further protected by a of defensive trenches (fossae).

In and around Rome, the air is heavy with anticipation; as if great matters are now coming to a head. Inside the city, the giant equestrian bronze of Emperor Marcus Aurelius has returned to its former place on the Capitoline Hill; the only change is that the statue now faces in the direction of the Papal Palace on the Campus Vaticanus, with the Emperor’s left arm grasping the reins of his horse and his right arm extended and pointing towards the palace (as if making a challenge).

Inside the papal palace, Marinus was removed from the throne of St. Peter and thrown into prison, there to await judgment for the murder of Pope John VIII. Cardinal Formosus used his influence (quietly backed by Legate Germanicus’ formidable presence) to call a conclave of the College of Cardinals. After a strictly pro-forma election, Cardinal Formosus was installed on the papal throne under the name which he chose, Alexander III. Immediately, the famous proclamation ‘Habemus Papam’ (We have a Pope) was read out loud to the citizens of Rome from the steps of the papal palace.

Outside the city, Legate Germanicus and Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva are riding forth with a mixed party of officers from both legions; they are also accompanied Duke Lambert and several members of the Duke’s staff. The combined party rides to the top of a nearby low rise in order to better survey the defensive works of the two legiones. Legate Germanicus now draws his reins, stands tall in his saddle and observes the field works through his telescope.

“I think that the enemy will move against us sooner or later; what say you, Legate Marcus?”

“We are of like mind, Legate Germanicus. If the truth be told, I would rather it be sooner instead of later; standing and waiting wears upon me like the burden of Atlas.”

“We’re as ready as we’re ever going to be. The Ballistae Igneii and the Polyboloi have been sited so as to be mutually supporting, and I have my troops sow several areas in front of my position with caltrops and crows-feet; this way, the enemy will be forced to concentrate themselves and come at us through particular avenues of approach (which avenues were laid out with an eye towards exposing enemy troops to as much fire as possible from the artillery). With any luck, the enemy will have suffered significant casualties before they close with us. I say, let the arm of Jupiter Best and Greatest strike with us; we are outnumbered by more than three to one.”

“Legate Marcus, we Men of Rome have never been troubled overmuch by the prospect of facing superior enemy numbers. Remember the efforts of the great Julius Caesar at the siege of Alesia, where he had 60,000 troops facing off against 80,000 Gauls in the city. When the siege was progressing, Caesar received word than an enormous force of 250,000 Gauls was coming to break his siege; in total, the Divine Julius faced odds of 5 ½ to one. By inspired leadership and the use of clever tricks and stratagems, he won the day. Let us follow his example and we will be victorious…” Germanicus turns his attention to Duke Lambert and says you and your men will be with me in the center of my lines; fight well, and you will have earned the gratitude of the Emperor.” Lambert quickly replies “I thank you for that honor, Legate.”

Meanwhile back in the city, matters have come to a head between Pope Alexander III and the former pope Marinus. With the backing of Duke Lambert, Marinus was put on trial before the College of Cardinals for murdering Pope John VIII. The trial lasted the better part of a full day, with the principal witnesses being the Pope’s servant Paolo and the apothecary from whom Paolo purchased the poisoned mushrooms at Marinus’ direction. The disgraced ex-pope had o defense other than to rail loudly at what he perceived to be a gross miscarriage of justice. The old principle that a man’s misdeeds will eventually catch up with him holds true, as Marinus was convicted and sentenced to death by beheading. Within three hours, the sentence was carried out in the courtyard of the papal palace; as soon as the axe fell, Marinus’ remains were unceremoniously dumped in the Tiber River.

A Clash of Arms
Date: Sextilis XIV MDCCXI AUC/August 14th, 878 AD
Location: the plains outside the city of Rome
Time: mid-morning

Three days after Pope Alexander assumed the throne of St. Peter, Roman sentries suddenly heard the blare of trumpets and the thunder of drums emanating from the enemy camp (accompanied by great clouds of dust that begin to rise into the morning sky; at last, Prince Guaifer and Count Pandenulf’s troops are on the move. Word of this development was immediately sent to Legate Germanicus and Legate Marcus, who reacted without the slightest hesitation by sending forth the famous order ‘Ad Arma, Ad Arma’ (To Arms, To Arms). Immediately, the well-trained and superbly well-led troops of Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica stood to and took up their positions.

Prince Guaifer and Count Pandenulf’s cavalry troops are arrayed in a central phalanx four ranks deep. The infantry is formed in two large bodies on either side of the cavalry and the whole is supported by archers and other light troops (peasant levies, slingers, etc) on the flanks.

By virtue of his superior position in the feudal hierarchy, Prince Guaifer is in overall command of the troops coming against the Nova Romans; Count Pandenulf is his second-in-command. Just as the blare of trumpets and the beating of the drums signal that the advance is about to begin, the two nobles exchange glances; Prince Guaifer nods, drwas his sword, then stands tall in his saddle and shouts forth “FOR YOUR LANDS AND THE HOLY MOTHER CHURCH… FORWARRDDD….MARCH!!”

The blaring of the trumpets now signals the beginning of the advance. At this same time, the beating of the drums sounds out a cadence to keep the army in line. Prince Guaifer is in command of the right wing, while Count Pandenulf has command of the left. Slowly, ponderously, their combined command advances across the field towards where the hated Nova Romans are waiting. The distance is but a mile-and-a-half, and this is eaten up in regular measure; 1 ½ miles, 1 ¼ miles, one mile….

Due to a lack of effective communications, some elements of the enemy force start to advance faster than some of their fellows. The Prince and the Count are having a good deal of trouble with keeping their troops in line, with the result being that the advance (never very fast to begin with) is slowed down even more.

By way of comparison, Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica are holding formation; their lines as straight and unyielding as the blade of a gladius. The Nova Romans are drawn up in front of their defensive works and behind their field obstacles (the idea being to accept battle, rather than charging forth to give it). All along the line, artillery crews are wheeling their Ballistae Igneii into position and getting them ready to fire. Since the opening volleys will be at range, the first shots will be with iron round shot; the objective of the artillery crews will be to graze their fire, so that their shots strike the ground some little distance in front of the enemy formation and bounce into it at waist-height (killing or dismembering ten or twenty men in each file). Next, the round shot will be followed up with Semina Ignis; the prospect of having to climb over the mangled bodies of their fellow soldiers while having to advance through dozens of thunderous explosions will certainly affect enemy morale. Later on when the enemy gets closer, the artillery centuriae will switch to a combination of grape shot and scatter shot; this is when the crews manning the polybolos will add to the mayhem; already, they are tending to their machines by seeing that the skeins are properly adjusted and that there are supplies of javelins ready to hand.

Legate Germanicus is carefully observing the enemy’s irregular rate of advance. He knows full-well that this will be the most important battle he has fought thus far, as there are no other legions between here and the city of Nova Roma When Germanicus judges that the time is right, he calls to the officer in command of the artillery Centuria and says “Centurion Marcus, now is the time for which you and the men under your command have trained long and hard these past several months; know that the eyes of the Emperor, the Senate and the People of Nova Roma are upon you. You may fire when ready.”

“By your command, Legate.”

Centurion Marcus hastens to carry out his orders; all of the Ballistae Igneii have already been loaded with iron round shot. What now remain is to sight them on the advancing enemy troops and to raise them to the proper elevation; this is but the work of a minute or two. Centurion Marcus now shouts out “ARTILLERY CENTURIA, FIRE BY PIECE FROM THE RIGHT AND LEFT TOWARDS THE CENTER…READYY…FIRE!!.

Instantly, there are a number of earsplitting thunderclaps accompanied by great thick clouds of sulfurous-smelling white smoke as the deadly projectiles fly towards the advancing enemy troops. Over on the Nova Roman left, the artillery centuria attached to Legio I Italica is doing the very same thing; all told, the initial volley amounted to a total of 36 shots.

Until the ballistae igneii opened fire, the mood of the enemy troops was generally good as they feel that they will soon close with the hated Nova Romans and show them their steel. These feelings last only until the enemy’s deadly fire begins to tell upon their formation. Upon impact in front of the enemy, each projectile bounces off the ground and strikes the troops in their files at or about waist-height; the effect is that no less than a dozen (and sometimes as much as twenty) men are seriously injured or killed by each of the heavy iron shots.

As soon as the first projectiles begin to strike among his troops, Prince Guaifer exclaims loudly “WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALMIGHTY GOD WAS THAT??” Over on the left flank, some of Count Pandenulf’s troops are already starting to waver or otherwise slow their rate of advance. As encouragement, the count draws his sword, waves it defiantly and shouts “MEN, REMEMBER WELL THAT THE EYES OF GOD ARE UPON US….FORWARD, I SAY!!”


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