Mark Anthony makes his move
The thirteenth annual Society of Ancients Battle Day held last Saturday (2 April) featured the Battle of Pharsalus. So I packed up my collection of 6mm late Republican Romans and made my way down to Bletchley. It was certainly easier transporting the 6mm figures than it was taking Alexander the Great's 28mm army last year.
Pompey's Legions in their Battle Array
I deployed the troops historically but then allowed the players to fight out the battle as they wished.
The view from Pompey's Camp
Pompey’s cavalry initially took off at a gallop but when their lines began to become disordered they slowed down and advanced more cautiously.
The cavalry action unfolds
Caesar decided to move up his reserve cohorts to join his outnumbered cavalry right from the start rather than waiting for Pompey’s men to break through and then hit them in the flank. This further slowed down the Pompeians as they suddenly found themselves confronted by a mixed cavalry and infantry force. Caesar threw himself into the fight, joining the front rank of his Gallic cavalry and urging them forward. With Caesar’s personally intervention the Pompeians began to get the worst of it and had to give ground.
Mark Anthony reviews his legions
Mark Anthony had a rough time of it on Caesar's left flank. His opponent, Afrianus, a newcomer to the game, managed some spectacular dice rolling, drove off the Caesarian light troops, forced back the VIII Legion and made Mark Anthony commit his reserves to shore up the flank.
The clash of Legions
In the end it all came down to the clash of legions in the centre. Here, Caesar’s higher quality held their own against Pompey’s numbers. Even though Pompey’s men were deployed in three lines which allowed them to conduct two line reliefs to Caesar’s one, gradually the Pompeians were forced back. Their only success was on the two flanks. Even the vaunted Xth Legion had to give ground but as they stepped back the other Caesarian legions punched through in the centre.
Once one Pompeian Legion broke the panic spread and Pompey’s line fell apart like a stack of Dominoes.
It was all over for the Republican cause.
The moment Caesar's legions break through
My thanks Dan Faulconbridge of Wargames Illustrated who took most of these photos. There will be a full report on this year’s Battleday as part of the Julius Caesar theme in WI345 coming out in July, much of which is being penned by yours truly. In the meantime there are some more pics on the WI website.