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Time Commanders - Mons Graupius 2/5

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  • Description: The Caledonian irregulars were no match for the discipline of the legions. It is estimated that a total of 20,000 Romans faced 30,000 Caledonian warriors, and a further assembly of wives and children.

    The allied auxiliary infantry, 8000 in number, were in the centre, while 3000 cavalry were at the flanks. The Roman legionaries were in front of their camp wall, being kept in reserve. The Caledonian army under Calgacus was stationed on higher ground; its vanguard was on the level ground, but the other ranks rose in tiers, up the slope of the hill in a horseshoe formation.

    After a brief exchange of missiles, Agricola ordered auxiliaries to close with the enemy. The Caledonians were pushed back up the hill. Those at the top attempted an outflanking movement, but were themselves outflanked by Roman cavalry. The Caledonians were then comprehensively routed and fled for the shelter of nearby woodland, but were relentlessly pursued by well-organised Roman units.

    It is said that the Roman Legions took no part in the battle, being held in reserve throughout. The successful auxiliaries had been recruited from the Batavians. According to Tacitus, 10,000 Caledonian lives were lost at a cost of only 360 Romans. 20,000 Caledonians escaped and Roman scouts were unable to locate them the next morning.
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