Monday, 31 October 2011

Battle On The Medway

The first Battle on 'English' soil that we have any hope of recreating is the Battle of the Medway between the forces of Claudius Caeser and the British. The Celtic Bridge (or crossing point|) was where the Medway cuts through the North Downs - where the foreground Rochester road and rail bridges are located, L. This is a strategic choke point between the continent and the rich lowlands of Britain. The Celts burnt the bridge and concentrated on the right bank, hoping to hit the Romans as they crossed before withdrawing to the right to a bridge over the Thames.

The Romans probably approached along the far side of the North Downs to the left. Two legions demonstrated on the bank at point L to hold the attention of the British. Meanwhile, Batavian cavalry crossed the river to the left of point B, near the Royal Dockyard. Batavians were river specialists from Holland who could swim the river in full combat gear. They curved around behind the British and a cavalry cchariot battle developed.

Vespasian crossed the river with his legion at a point hidden from the British upstream at point V, where the modern M2 motorway and high speed Eurostar line cross the river. He then moved down the right hand (north) bank to urprise the Celts on their left flank. The British were now pinned on both flanks and the main Roman force crossed the river.

Crossing point for the main Roman force of two legions in immediate foreground.

The British were forced into a set piece battle with the Roman Army and slaughtered. Caratacus escaped north to the bridge on the Thames with other mounted warriors. He was hard pressed all the way by Roman auxilliaries and the Batavi again swam the river to outflank the Celts while the other auxilliaries struggled to find the causeway through the Thames marshes.

Caratacus escaped but his army was destroyed. The Romans poured across the lowlands. This was the battle that won the Roman Province of Britannia. They did not meet further resistance until they reached the highlands of Wales and the English Westcountry.


  1. Interesting post John!! I wouldn't have fancied swimming across the river!!

  2. Dear Ray
    Especially not now. You'd be dead of Wiel's disease before you reached the far bank.

  3. Is that a old Oberon class diesel submarine there in the river?