Roman Castra

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,466
Slovenia
#11
Definitely! At least one of Caesar's camps was attacked by Gauls, though that *might* have been a "winter camp", more substantial than a marching camp. Legio IX was attacked in their marching camp during Agricola's campaign into Caledonia, as I recall. And there was some savage fighting along the ramparts during one of the battles of Cremona in the Year of Four Emperors.

Matthew
Eburones ambushed and destroyed a legion which was marching from a winter camp and after that sieged another camp with another legion in it.
 
Likes: Matthew Amt
Sep 2017
536
United States
#12
It's also important to remember that 5000 men marching in a column stretch out a *long* way. The head of the column would arrive hours before the tail so, in order that nobody marches at night, the van guard has to stop mid afternoon. Nothing better for them to do at that point than start digging. The rear guard, repays the favour by taking down the camp while the van starts marching off in the morning.

I remember reading somewhere that no Roman fortified nightly camp was ever successfully assaulted. Is this true?
Not really sure (as I was asking Matthew for a few examples myself) but I can't imagine that in all that history (and the eventual demise of the empire in 1453, though I'm sure they'd stop using 'castra' long before then) that there wasn't a fortified camp successfully assaulted.
 
Jan 2009
1,179
#13
Battle of Philippi, both Marc Antony and Brutus overwhelm the camps of their opposites, Cassius and Octavian.

On the other hand, in the Batavian Revolt, Castra Vetera held out until starved to submission. Granted, it was a full fortified base, not a march camp.
 
Sep 2017
536
United States
#14
Battle of Philippi, both Marc Antony and Brutus overwhelm the camps of their opposites, Cassius and Octavian.
That is true, though most of the troops met out in the battlefield first. I think he was more talking about legions fortified within their camps rather than losing a field battle and having their camp sacked.
 
Mar 2018
390
UK
#15
Not really sure (as I was asking Matthew for a few examples myself) but I can't imagine that in all that history (and the eventual demise of the empire in 1453, though I'm sure they'd stop using 'castra' long before then) that there wasn't a fortified camp successfully assaulted.
While I see your point, I guess that the reasoning is why would you attack a nightly castra? Just wait until the morning when they'll march out. Then you can either fight a standard pitched battle in front of the castra, or you can ambush a nice long column while they march elsewhere.
 
Likes: Matthew Amt
Sep 2017
536
United States
#16
While I see your point, I guess that the reasoning is why would you attack a nightly castra? Just wait until the morning when they'll march out. Then you can either fight a standard pitched battle in front of the castra, or you can ambush a nice long column while they march elsewhere.
Good point. I'm sure there would be a few scenarios where you'd want to, but I suppose the vast majority it would just be better to wait.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,121
#17
It's as well to point out that a marching camp was not quite as impressive as a permanent fortification. The palisade would be only there with the availability of suitable woodland to provide materials, and even then, little more than a garden fence. The ditch was the most prevalent and important part. The legions had tools for the plotting of camp layout and the first thing was that scouts would pinpoint the best location. Please note that the Romans considered the interior of their camp as their own territory, irrespective of where it actually was. Note also the importance of guarding the camp at night, a bit tough on the unfortunate chosen who not only tramped for miles with heavy loads and took part in the back breaking labour to prepare the camp, but also had to stay out all night. And stay awake too - it was known that soldiers found ways to get some sleep when supposed to be on guard duty, and faced at the very least a ban on sleeping inside the camp protection afterward, eating barley (animal food), or even much harsher physical punishment if their slumber caused a problem.
 

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