Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Battle of Naples

Lombard cavalry horde (Nick) vs Byzantine (Cameron) mixed army meet on the northern Italian plains. Tactica rules

The report from Byzantium

All hail the Imperial Emperor! I, Commander Cameron of the XI Byzantium Legion bring bad tidings to your court.

On the day of our good Lord’s Levant feast I met the malodorous Lombards in Northern Italy and it is my sad duty to report that your many fine legions under my command have been lost on the field of battle. I have barely escaped with my own life and was forced to put my entire honour guard to the sword in order to obtain the fresh horses I needed. The Lombard pursuit was long and fierce.

What went wrong you may well ask? How could it come to this sorry state of affairs? A mighty Byzantium army crushed by a rabble of steppe slum-dwelling horse humpers? Woeful and lamentable is the tale I have come to tell.

The plains of the battlefield were, as plains are sire, flat. Very flat. So flat that nary a rock or tree were to be had anyway. In short, oh great emperor, there was nary a place to poo in peace. Yes, my lord, public poo’ing throughout. Great was our shame.

Given that our army was a mixed force of cavalry and infantry, as all good armies should be, and that the perfidious Lombards were entirely horse mounted I made certain dispositions. As is proper for a Byzantium General. And am I not your favourite nephew married to your favourite daughter? Remember this, oh Great One, as you read my tale of misfortune.

All infantry and my best cavalry units were instructed to form a short defensive line in the far left corner of the battlefield. Have you seen a hedgehog, my Emperor? Like the hedgehog we hunkered down and pricked up. The hedgehog is wise in the ways of the world is he not? Ask your most unloved courtier, my Lord, to take a kick at the nearest hedgehog and observe who wins.

Additionally, I positioned cavalry units on both extremes of the battlefield with orders to ride like the wind and gallop around the flanks of the enemy as he approaches. My plan, oh mighty Emperor, was for the Lombards to impale themselves on our hedgehog of spears while our flanking cavalry hit them in the rear.

When I asked for guidance from the fire-eating Rostafarian sorcereress that accompanies your every army she told me it was indeed a fine plan. And so I believe it was my Emperor. I also spoke to your god and given that he didn’t call back I can only presume that he also approved. Of course I sacrificed ten oxen and a chook the night before and, according to your standing instructions, had unnatural intercourse with them all before they were slaughtered in order to appease the gods of war.

Perhaps, oh great one, this last deed could be deleted from your wise counsel that precedes every battle? Are all your generals instructed thus? One of the ox bit me and I seriously doubt if I will be ever be able to reproduce and spread the seed of military greatness onto another generation.

Here-in Lord, lie our dispositions.

Battle was joined and it immediately became apparent the weakness of my plan. I had miscalculated my Emperor, not realising that the battlefield wasn’t large enough to permit flanking manoeuvres.

My vision may have been blurred somewhat from the previous night’s ‘celebrations’ and I was having trouble sitting straight in the saddle. Or standing. Or sitting. Or anything. The ox my lord…

Here is how things developed.

You can clearly see, oh great one, my cavalry on either flank attempting to encircle the Lombard foe. A man as wise as yourself could also note the hedgehog being formed in the left corner with our skirmishers doing a mighty job delaying the enemy while our main body moved into their assigned positions.

The Lombards peeled of three units of cavalry to block our right flankers and sent hordes of skirmishers to block our left flank attempt. Their remaining cavalry advanced to the centre and then halted to await developments.

Alas both our left and right flanking attempts, with insufficient space to swing wide, were quickly trapped and all but eliminated. Only a remnant of the light cavalry on the left managed to break clear and take out one unit of Lombard cavalry before themselves being destroyed. They fought like lions however and went down to the last man.

From this point onwards it was all, as they say in Byzantium, Bad, bad, bad. The Lombards regrouped and then thundered in on our hedgehog. Unfortunately their numbers were too great and we were overwhelmed in short order. A terrible day for all concerned.

So thus it came to pass, my Emperor, that your mighty legions, under my command, lost the battle. I beg your forgiveness and can only say that I have learned from my mistakes and will do better next time.

Do not forget your favourite daughter, my lord. She is wilful and needs a strong husband. And have I not suffered enough already?

Commander Cameron


PanzerIII said...

A very amusing commentary by our War Correspondent :)

Cromwell MkI said...

The difference between the professional journalist & the mere amateur is too well highlighted in these reports.