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Battle of Ruspina (46 BC)

Following his victory over Pompey at Pharsalus, Caesar set sail to North Africa with the veteran V Alaudae and five other legions of raw recruits to finish off the Pompeian forces who had rallied there and to secure Rome's fertile bread-basket. The Pompeian forces in North Africa were primarily Numidian allies under the capable command of Titus Labienus, a former subordinate who had proven to be an effective but brutal general in Caesar's Gallic campaigns.

Caesar made a difficult landing during a storm that scattered his forces and immediately established a fortified camp near the small town of Ruspina. Having lost many of his supplies, he was forced to forage in the surrounding countryside. His army was so engaged when the Romans were surprised by a large force of Numidians under Labienus. What ensued was a running fight as Caesar attempted to withdraw his army to the safety of the fortified Roman camp.

The battle was fought in three stages. In the first stage, the Numidian Light Horse overwhelmed the outnumbered Roman cavalry and encircled Caesar's legionaries, many of whom were raw troops who made the mistake of breaking ranks to chase away the harassing horsemen. In the second stage, Caesar sought to regroup and restrain his impetuous troops by forming them into two lines, facing opposite directions, with his remaining cavalry covering their flanks. He then advanced his lines in both directions driving off the Numidian Light Horse. During the brief respite, he retired his forces quickly down the valley to a hill, where he reformed his lines. In the third stage, strong Numidian reenforcements under Petreius arrived and the Numidians renewed the attack. Caesar's exhausted troops gave way and may fled toward their camp. In the pursuit that followed, however, both Labienus and Petreius were wounded. In the resulting confusion, most of Caesar's army was able to successfully make its escape.

Caesar's own accounts of the battle describes Ruspina as a fighting retreat conducted in good order. Other accounts are less generous and estimate that the Romans may have lost as much as one third of their army in the action.

Following the set-back at Ruspina, Caesar was reenforced with at least four veteran legions and promptly set about crushing the Pompeian resistance in Africa at Thapsus, before turning his attention to a new Pompeian uprising in Spain.

The Armies

Roman (#59) (CnC Julius Ceasar): 2 x 3Cv, 3 x 4Bd, 6 x 4Bd*, 1 x 2Ps

Numidian (#53), expanded as follows:

Main Force: (CnC Titus Labienus): 6 x 2Ps, 6 x 2Lh, 6 x4Aux
Reenforcements (Ally Gen. Petreius): 3 x 3Cv, 3 x 4Aux

Deployment

Romans deploy first in the zone indicated on the battle map. Initial Roman deployment must also be on the floor of the valley (i.e. the area between the slope lines). Numidians deploy second anywhere in the zone indicated on the battle map and then move first.

Numidian reenforcements under Petreius will appear at the beginning of the tenth or later Numidian bound if the CnC rolls an unmodified PIP result of 6. The reenforcements may be placed anywhere within 400p of the Numidian base line, but not within the zone of control or in the rear of any Roman element. Placement of the reenforcements requires 1 PIP and is in lieu of movement for that bound.

The Battle

Game Map (ASCII)

For purposes of this game scenario, a 3 by 3 game board should be used.


Valley Rim|                                                 | Valley Rim
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===========================Numidian Baseline=============================

SCALE: The space between each dot/letter is one inch.

TERRAIN KEY:

.=Good Going (Good Going)
#=Rough/Broken Ground (Bad Going)
s=Slope (edge of Valley rim)
h=Gentle Hill (Good Going)

Terrain Notes

Slopes rise upward to left and right from the lines indicated to form the valley walls. Slopes confer a +1 modifer in close combat to the uphill element.

The rough/broken ground along the valley rims (i.e. board edges) are areas where the slopes become steeper and more rocky, making the going difficult, but not impassable.

Special Rules

The Roman CnC may not deliberately "flee" his troops, but must maneuver them in accordance with the DBA rules governing movement of individual elements and groups. Groups may, however, perform an "about face" as long as no element in the group is in contact with an enemy element. A group which conducts an about face changes its facing to the rear and may move normally, deducting the depth of its base from its movement allowance. Only one about face may be performed per group per bound.

The six Roman Blades marked * are raw troops. They will follow-up an enemy recoil like impetuous troops (i.e. Warband, Knights or Scythed Chariots) unless the Roman CnC has allocated 1 PIP at the beginning of the Roman bound to keeping them under control.

Labenius is allotted 1D6 +2 for PIPs. If/when reenforcements under Petreius arrive on the field, the Numidian CnC changes to 2D6 for PIPs, which can be split between both Numidian commands as the CnC sees fit.

A Numidian element is destroyed during close combat if its total is one quarter or less than that of the enemy, regardless of other results specified. This allows Roman Blades a small chance to kill the more numerous Numidian psiloi.

The Roman camp is a fortification located off the Roman board edge and is not considered for game purposes. The Numidians do not have a camp.

Victory Conditions

Roman player wins by successfully withdrawing his army off the Roman baseline without losing its general or 4 elements. Withdrawal can be accomplished by either physically moving elements across the baseline or by forcing the Numidian commander to quit the pursuit by killing 8 Numidian elements (or the CnC element plus 3 other elements).

The Numidian player wins by denying the Roman victory.


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Last Update: Jan. 6, 1999

Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.