Protect the Wagons!

Cyra the Saxon did not trouble Cynwiddon for over two months after his first disastrous raid.

However, in the third week of May, in the year of our Lord 485, the barbarians were plaguing these lands once more.

Hearing of these troubles, Praefectus, Aelius (promoted after his first victory over Cyra) led a patrol guiding valuable supplies to one of the British outposts on the frontier in Caer Ira. Just as the patrol neared the outpost at the end of the day, the Saxons appeared out from the west, with the setting sun behind their backs.

Decurion Rellius, who was in temporary command of the outpost, led his untrained levies out to hold the gate for the British wagons. The Saxon warriors, led by an aristocratic Saxon named Hennig, smashed into the levies’ shieldwall. The fighting was fiercest around Hennig himself, a short and wiry man, who tore through the British, killing five men within moments of laying into them.

The Britons’ fortunes lay upon a knife edge. It seemed Rellius’ levies could hold out much longer against Hennig’s onslaught, and Praefectus Aelius and his wagon escort were still a long way away. Furthermore, Cyra’s own bodyguards were not far off and threatened to intercept Aelius before he could come to Rellius’ aid. If Rellius failed, then the Saxons could direct their entire force against the Praefectus’ small wagon escort with impunity, and blockade his one line of retreat to the safety of the outpost.

Then, when all seemed lost, Hennig, the ferocious pagan responsible for the disaster, was cut down by a mere shepherd boy, a refugee from the Saxon invasion of Durobrivae. Without Hennig to spur them on, the Saxons were unable to prevent the Decurion from stabilising the shieldwall for long enough to allow Aelius to send his elite compulares to his assistance.

Cyra’s hearthguards went chasing after Aelius’ compulares. They smashed into the Christians with an unbounded ferocity that sent the British reeling. Within minutes, the elite compulares were fleeing the battlefield.

Cyra led the rest of his men against the Britons guarding the wagons. The fighting towed to and forth. Aelius himself entered the battle, seeking out Cyra himself. Cyra’s latest shieldbearer slashed at Aelius’ neck; Aelius blocked the blow with his shield and cut the man dead.

Bellowing, “CYRA!”, he then rushed at the Saxon leader, and hacked at Cyra’s sword-arm. Cyra’s wounds were too much for the Saxons around him, who turned and fled, taking the hapless Saxon with them.

Seizing the moment, Aelius hurried to Relliu’s rescue only to have all the men around him cut down and his own champion killed. Every time the Britons believed themselves to be on the cusp of victory, the Saxons dealt them another body blow.

At that moment, Decurion Flexigus, who had stayed behind to gather stragglers from the British column, arrived and threw them against the Saxons’ left flank, where the Saxon noble Merx struggled to hold the line. This last charge was too much for the Saxons, and they began to stream back away from the outpost, away from the wagons and away from Aelius, who was isolated and alone in a sea of enemies.

The day was won. But not without cost. At least nineteen Britons were dead, and around eighteen Saxon bodies were found as well. But the heavy losses did not deter Aelius, who spurred his men on in pursuit.

Hennig’s heroics nearly won the day for the Saxons, but fortunately , Rellius’ men were able to stop him and hold on long enough for the Britons to feed in reinforcements until the battle was won. Although the Saxons inflicted just as many casualties on the Britons as they lost, the British were buoyed from their previous victory and were able to sustain such losses long enough to kill Hennig, wound Cyra and shatter the Saxons’ brittle morale. If they had not lost their leaders, the Saxons might have been able to keep fighting for longer, and possibly win through.

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About Joshua Letchford

I'm a 23-year old Christian from far north Western Australia. I'm interested in philosophy, logic, politics, history, military history, strategy, board games, wargaming and reading. I recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in politics and ancient history through Macquarie University, which I studied externally so I could stay connected with my family and my small town community.
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