The News in Brief
Trebbia, Sicily, May 16: A Gaelic attack on the Roman camp here today turned into general rout when the Romans under Gen. Sriramius fought valiantly to protect their camp from the marauders. The defeat brought to an inglorious finish both Chief Somatix's career and life for the Romans promptly executed him on surrendering. The Gauls failed to cash in on their superiority in numbers and the advantage of having the rising sun behind them and consequently lost a battle they could have won with little effort.
The victory has asserted the Roman superiority in the whole of north Trebbia and has erased any hope of the Gauls winning back Trebbia from the Romans in the near future. An exultant Gen. Sriramius told press persons after the battle that he looked forward to conquering the regions further north of Trebbia which are still in the hands of the Gauls. Reports indicate that the Gauls were planning to lie low for a while and regroup their forces before any serious intervention into Roman affairs
Warbands are not forever
Trebbians are not a people unused to war; yet they found it very interesting to watch the battle when the Romans met their sworn enemies the Gauls in a field in the outskirts of Trebbia today. They were not disappointed for both the Roman CinC and the Gaelic CinC entertained them well, the former with his tactics while the latter with his antics both on and off the battlefield.
Gen. Sriramius reached the battle field quite early and surveyed the scene which looked gloomy for the Romans: they had to face east and this meant that they had to cope with dazzle in addition to the Gauls, which was bad enough. To add to his worries news reached Sriramius that Gauls out numbered his men two to one. "Alea Iactea est", said the general. He had a strategy and was going to stick on to it right to the end (of either of the two parties). Accordingly Sriramius ordered his two legions to dig in which they did in the two flanks while he had his ally (Sriramius was wary of his ally - "one cannot trust all Romans", he said) sent to the center to face the music first with his cavalry. Seeing the capability of elephants Sriramius had borrowed one from the circus hoping that it still remembered a thing or two from its days in the army.
Chief Somatix for his part had decided not to overload his limited processing capability with trifles like strategy but decided to draw on from his experience of having fought with his father. He placed the bulk of his army in one huge line and send flank marches on the two flanks. Standing atop his shield on his chariot he ordered the Gauls to advance with an aim of reaching the Romans before the sun rose too high to give them any advantage in combat. The Gauls advanced steadily yelling battle cries in crude languages and for a while it looked as if they would reach the Romans intact, much to the dismay of Gen. Sriramius who wanted to break their lines like anything . For this purpose he send forth his scouts (LH) and a cavalry unit with orders to delay and taunt the advancing enemy but not to engage in close combat. His ploy worked well and the advance of the Gauls was slowed down to a crawl as the were denied marching space by the Roman cavalry who always kept one step ahead of them. Even then Gen. Sriramius couldn't have hoped even in his wildest dreams that the Gauls themselves would do his work for him. But alas, Gauls are Gauls and Chief Somatix is Chief Somatix; he started issuing orders in earnest and in the heat of the moment (?) concentrated on his charioteers and ignored a section of the warbands who broke free taking the absence of orders for a command to do as they pleased. Breaking all formation they rushed forward towards the enemy. Others too were swept away by the enthusiasm of their ferocious friends.
True, some warbands did receive orders, but in a matter of minutes they too were swept away by the enthusiasm of their brethren who invited them to join the mad rush. Disordered or not the sight of the fiercest of Gauls warriors approaching was unnerving and the Roman advance units watched in awe the charging barbarians. Some of these men headed for the hills while some pursued the Roman scouts and some others went for the Roman camp. The Roman scouts did their work well and drew the fierce men away towards the waiting cavalry and elephant and managed a spectacular kill which fueled the fury of the warbands.
Chief Somatix awed and dumbstruck by the result of his incompetent actions ordered his charioteers to strike the Roman lines in an effort to save the situation. With a clash the Gaelic charioteers met the Roman cavalry and engaged in a tough struggle with both sides failing to make any impact. At the same instant the warbands met the skirmishers atop the hill and found out to their dismay that the psiloi were unstoppable in rough terrain which they regarded as home ground. The psiloi used techniques as crude as the language of the barbarians but with better effect. Screams of the warbands matched those of their brethren who were being cut down by the Roman cavalry despite the initial advantage they had enjoyed. The Roman spearmen like wise enjoyed a smooth fight and repulsed their attackers.
The sun finally rose high enough to relieve the sore eyes of the Romans and an elated Gen. Sriramius let out a yell of happiness. Restraining his urge to go out and fight he concentrated on the flank march of the enemy which had arrived atop the hill and were dismounting to charge the walls of the camp. The legions stood their place and repulsed several attacks by the dismounted cavalry even as the rest of the Gaelic cavalry inched their way down the hill. To the dismay of Chief Somatix the other flank march failed to arrive ( some say that they did arrive but seeing the state of affairs chose not to enter the field. In any case their commander later sought asylum in Syracuse after the battle). Finally the swarming warbands hit the Roman camp with a thud that was heard far and wide and engaged in a purely one (Roman) sided fight against the legions. Devoid of overlaps and rear support, the warbands were no match for the legions protected by their fortifications. The first row was cut down and so were those behind them. In one instant it was all over and a disheartened Chief Somatix surrendered even as his troops abandoned him and fled .He was later executed. The battle was over.
General Sriramius: The excitable Roman Gen. Sriramius has been described by his superiors as an 'excitable' person, with more than a trace of Gaul in his behaviour. This young man rose to his current post under the tutelage of several masters including Gen.Mohanius. Son of a General in the artillery wing, Gen. Sriramius opted to join the infantry and rose through the ranks to become a general. His hour of success came when he defeated the Gauls under Chief Somatix at Trebbia in a fierce fight today. Restraining himself, Gen.Sriramius managed to stay inside the camp and control the battle from there. Not lacking in thought and deed, Gen. Sriramius needs to practice self-control and, perhaps yoga, to propel himself to further heights in the army. Working under great generals of his time has helped Gen. Sriramius a lot and he can always draw on his experiences with them in the event of an unexpected set back.
Chief Somatix: First (and last) time unlucky "Chief Somatix Jr.was a man of courage; I wish he had the brains to match it" said his personal bodyguards to our reporter. Born into the house of a general, young Somatix aspired to follow his father's footsteps and become like him, the over lord of all Gaelic tribes. For this he joined the army and with due effort and some favouritism rose through the ranks to become a General of the Army. He was soon to realize childhood dreams of his following the death of his father. Ironically he did this too well for he too surrendered and was executed just like his father.
Chief Somatix Jr. always lived in the shadow of his civilian life and concerns. Unable to focus on war for long, he failed to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his army. Courage was a quality he had in abundance but it failed to match the lack of strategy and plain common sense costing him his life in the long run.Gaul can but hope that its future leaders are wiser and that they learn from the mistakes of Chief Somatix.