The Battle against the Invading German Tribes

Aquae Sextiae (Aix en Provence) 102bc

On the day of my birth, a great battle took place, a battle whose outcome would determine Rome¶s fate for generations. Rome would fight for her life on this day, and the veterans of this great battle would determine Rome¶s course in ways no one could have predicted. The subsequent events would bring a state of affairs no less threatening to the future and existence of the Roman Republic than the German Hordes were on this day.

As the sun rose over the province of Gaul, its heat drove the morning mist from the low lands, heralding a new day for two great opposing armies. Amid the trumpets calling the men to muster, was the sound of almost two hundred thousand grumbling ranker soldiers, screaming centurions and cavalry calls, as the men of two great armies readied themselves for the new day. Cavalry units swarmed about the margins of the two camps, like flocks of birds, occasionally coming into contact with each other disrupting their order and grace and replacing it, instead, with the sounds of steel and death. The enormity of the threat to Rome was laid out in its menacing martial splendor on the plain bellow the camp. The invading Germans fielded over one hundred twenty thousand warriors in a phalanx offering battle on a mile wide front. This was only part of a much larger force belonging to vast migration of Germanic peoples south to the more productive lands of Italy from their former home in the north. Resplendent in their polished armor and tall feathered helmets the tribal armies from beyond the Rhine River presented a daunting enemy for forty thousand fit and trained Roman legionaries and allied auxiliary troops.

The sun was up for some time before the German line had begun to resemble more than an unruly crowd while the Romans had completed their formation and were given the order to taunt the enemy as much as possible. The Numidian cavalry¶s harassment of the Germans was delaying the German¶s maneuvers even further and preventing their much touted Berserkers from taking the field against the Roman velite (light infantry) skirmishers. It was well past midday when Gaius Marius finished addressing his troops, reminding them of their former great deeds, the martial prowess of the Roman people and the peril threatening their homes and families. He and the Legions were ready for battle against the greatest threat to the existence of Rome since the Gauls sacked the city, three hundred years before. Marius handed the reins of his horse to his attendant, took his two pila and shield and made his way to the front before the colors where he commanded his Spanish legion on the right end of the battle line known as the place of honor. It is called that because the line of battle naturally shifts to the left during a pitched battle, as the men tend to seek the cover of their shields, and the exposed right side must be defended by its best soldiers against the enemy¶s stronger left side. Marius¶ soldiers were fit and ready to fight in the midday sun, as they had been acclimated to the heat by the many construction projects they worked on while waiting for this battle. In contrast the mass of unruly Germans was sweltering in conditions hotter than they were used to.

Previously the Germans had annihilated every Roman army sent against them. Every Roman¶s blood ran cold at the thought of their destruction at the hands of these barbarian giants from beyond the Rhine River.

The great masses that covered the battlefield were now in motion to the sounds of trumpets on both sides calling the men forward to glory and promises of booty to be taken from the vanquished. The Romans staying disciplined swallowed hard before the enormous mass of raving maniacal giants some naked some in polished armor and beast like helmets. Upon closing some distance a centurion calls out; ³who are we? And the Legions begin to chant in one great voice ³MARIUS¶ MULES! MARIUS¶ MULES! MARIUS¶ MULES! To such a great effect it gave the German¶s pause from their own primal shouting, at which time the front ranks of the Romans let loose their pila in a hail at the enemy lines taking down many of the enemy and sticking into many of the shields of the front ranks. The naked berserkers bounding about like raving animals and howling like wolves, raged uncontrollably easily dodging the heavy pila and swarming over the legionaries¶ wall of shields, eyes bulging with mad fury. The much feared berserkers were cut to pieces and thrown aside as the Romans advanced.

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