The campaign in Spain progressed with grinding difficulty, such that Sertorius started to see defections from some tribes. Whilst Pompey was but in his twenties and not yet a member of the Senate his connections to Sulla and his support during the Civil War saw him sent to Spain with 6 Legions. The arrival of Pompey saw Sertorius elect to switch fronts and confront Sullas Pupil in person.
Pupil or Student is likely apt, for although Pompey had raised armies with personal money and successful attacked Roman forces decisively during the civil war he had not yet campaigned.
The Battle of Lauron 76 B.C. was one of a series of Battles that exposed some of the weaknesses of Pompey’s approach to the art of war.
Faced with a perceived inferior enemy, his confidence and brashness stood the chance of leading to disaster. Pompey was on his way to lay seige to Valentia, in May he discovered Sertorius reducing the township of Lauro near the Turis river which had declared for Rome.
Misled Pompey assumed he could trap Sertorius against the walls of Lauron. Trumpters declared to the city that all should come and see the siege lifted. In the picture here we can see Pompeys disposition.
Each wing was advanced so as to pin Sertorius. The XIV Legion is at the top of the picture and the XII is at the bottom.
They faced off against the III and the Galatian Cohorts. In the center the V, VII and XV Legions arrayed in a typical formation. Details are sparse for the actual course of the battle. We do know however that a force of 6,000 mostly light troops and some Lancers ambushed the rear of the XII. Pompey was trapped and had to fight a desperate rearguard action costing the lives of 10,000 legionaries. Pompey lost much of his cavalry. In our review and examination we will see how each side fairs. We know a trap is to be sprung, but have suspended fore knowledge for the duration! I wrote down 3 attack plans for Pompey and rolled a die to choose which he should pursue. His plan is to advance on the flanks, holding in the center until the time was right to ram home in the center. Lets see what happened in our recreation.
The forces of Sertorius extend their lines, thinning out dangerously in the center. Pompey’s plan was to hold center, this is too rich…..
Pompey advances in the center.
The reality here is however that Sertorius must expect to take heavy losses with these light infantry attacking in the rear. They are no match for this Legion if it can re face it self and crush the spear men before the Galatians Legion engages.
Part 2. coming soon.