The Battle of Chalons 451 AD   2 comments

In 451 CE. Attila the Hun with his horsemen, after having been repulsed before Orleans in Gaul, was brought to bay by Aetius, the Roman general, and his allies, the Germanic Visigoths, Burgundians, and Franks. It should be remembered in this connection that the Huns were, if possible, more hated by the Germans than by the Romans.

We will be taking part in the Society of Ancients Battle Day.

This year we will be recreating the famous Battle of Chalons 451 AD.  We will fight this in 15mm using Impetus Rules.  We have previously fought this battle using Impetus and Warmaster rules.

At the moment we are creating the Army Lists.  For the terain we will be using the modular terrain boards with 15mm buildings and terrain.

The battle of Chalons or Catalaunian Plains, 451 AD is recorded by Jordanes :

“The battlefield was a plain rising by a sharp slope to a ridge which both armies sought to gain; for advantage of position is a great help. The Huns with their forces seized the right side, the Romans, the Visigoths and their allies the left, and then began a struggle for the yet untaken crest.”

One flank is anchored on the river Marne.  There was no outflanking manoeuvre recorded so I placed some dense forests on the other flank.  Attila’s camp is purely figurative and the Romans are not expected to storm this fortress.  It is simply there for effect and for Attila to retreat to of he is getting beaten. Troops cannot therefore hide in the camp and fire from the ramparts in order to effect the Battle though we can assume they are there to defend the camp.

The troops on the Roman side represent those available to Aetius at the time and his Visigothic Allies.  Not all the infantry would have been true Roman Legions (heavy infantry) or Auxilia (light infantry) as traditionally described and recorded in the Notititia Dignitatum.  However they clearly were able to hold their ground whilst the Theodoric’s Shock cavalry forced the victory.  The troops on the Roman side commanded by Aetius and Sangiban would have been equipped I imagine in arms and armour forged in the Gallo-Roman weapons factories whether they were Alans or Romans from the Civitas of Aurelianum (Orleans) .   I have imagined that Aetius would have brought up the Roman Field Army, comprised of better quality troops (Palatina) andadded to this the Local Comitatenses (heavy and light infantry) placed under his command.   Sangiban would have his own Alans (heavy and medium cavalry plus archers, but equipped in the Roman fashion).   Some of the Allied troops, settled in Gaul and equipped in Roman fashion; commanded by officers trained in Roman tactics would have possibly been extremely similar in appearance to “Roman” troops.  These perhaps represent some of those categorised as “Comitatanses” in Aetius’ Command.  The Visigoths at this time were a mix of Gothic people fairly recently settled in what was to later become the Visigothic Kingdom of Toulouse.   I have chosen to depict them as more distinctly “Barbarian” in appearance, though probably they would be equipped with Roman-made weapons and armour.  The Warrior infantry under Theodoric’s command represent those less Romanised Franks and Burgundians as well as their own infantry.

Sangiban was considered treacherous and untrustworthy by Aetius and is said to have been placed in the centre of the battle so he could not switch sides or flee without fighting.  It is rumoured that he was suspected of negotiating the surrender of Aurelianum (Orleans) to Attila before the arrival of Aetius’ relieving force.  We have chosen therefore to represent as an Incompetent Commander of a small force of Alans.

For the Huns the forces are mainly Hunnic light cavalry supported by Noble Cavalry armed with Lances, spears and bows.  This was a major battle fought to a conclusion so most of the Huns are fighting in formed units as medium cavalry.  This was not a battle that was based on skirmish and flee tactics across the wide open steppes.  For their Gepid or Alamannic Allies I have depicted these as medium cavalry fighting with spear and shield.  The Ostrogoths are heavy cavalry armed with Lances relying on the shock of the charge in a similar way to their Visigothic cousins.  The infantry would be German (Alamannic) warband tributaries.  For example the Burgundians who appear to have been fighting on both sides as well as the Gepids, Rugians, Thurungians and Franks.  These are depicted as heavy infantry warbands armed with a variety of weapons such as a spear, sword or axe but again relying on the shock of the charge with the better armed, more experienced warriors in the front ranks.  This was Attila’s Army at its apogee; undefeated and led by the “Scourge of God”.  Thus the allied troops are fighting at their full effectiveness and ferocity at his command.   I have chosen therefore to depict him as “Charismatic” with Noble Cavalry and Veteran warriors.

Skirmish Duel and Die Roll of Destiny

The Battle will begin with a Skirmish duel involving the skirmish troops from each command not included in the Army Lists below.   For each command (left, centre, right) roll a d6.  The victorious side can claim a Die Roll of Destiny for their command during the battle.  In this way the preliminary skirmishing between the numerous horse archers and infantry can be abstracted to enable us to quickly get to grips with combat, deploying the forces closer together.  To represent the relative strengths and aggressiveness of the contingents as

The protagonists and map of the field of battle

Source Headfirst digital media.

aetius

Aetius

attila

Attila

theodoric

Theodoric

Chalonsmap

The Field of Battle

1936

The Forces

The forces are designed using the Impetus Army Lists.

Name Type M VBU I D VD Weapon Others Command Points
Ostrogoths, Sarmatians  
Heavy Cavalry CP 10 6 3 C 3 Impetuous   21
Heavy Cavalry CP 10 6 3 C 3 Impetuous   21
Heavy Cavalry CP 10 6 3 C 3 Impetuous   21
Heavy Cavalry CP 10 6 3 C 3 Impetuous   21
Heavy Cavalry CP 10 6 3 C 3 Impetuous   21
Archers S 8 2 0 B 1 Shortbow B     12
Archers S 8 2 0 B 1 Shortbow B     12
Horse Archers CL 12 4 1 B 2 Compositebow B     27
Horse Archers CL 12 4 1 B 2 Compositebow B     27
Horse Archers CL 12 4 1 B 2 Compositebow B     27
Horse Archers CL 12 4 1 B 2 Compositebow B     27
                237  
Gepids, Thuringians, Heruls, Rugians, Franks               
German Cavalry CM 10 5 2 B 3   23
German Cavalry CM 10 5 2 B 3   23
Archers S 8 2 0 B 1 Shortbow B     12
Slingers S 8 2 0 B 1 Sling     12
Javelinmen S 8 2 0 B 1 Javelin     12
Bowmen T 6 3 0 C 1 Shortbow A     11
Veteran Warriors  FP 5 5 1 C 1 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 1 C 1 Impetuous   9
Veteran Warriors  FP 5 5 1 C 1 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 1 C 1 Impetuous   9
Veteran Infantry FP 5 5 1 C 1 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 1 C 1 Impetuous   9
Veteran Warriors  FP 5 5 4 C 2 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 4 C 2 Impetuous   9
Veteran Warriors FP 5 5 4 C 2 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 4 C 2 Impetuous   9
Veteran Warriors FP 5 5 4 C 2 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 4 C 2 Impetuous   9
                  243  
Huns                    
Hunnic Nobles CM 10 6 3 B 3 Compositebow C     31
Hunnic Nobles CM 10 6 3 B 3 Compositebow C     31
Hunnic Nobles CM 10 6 3 B 3 Compositebow C     31
Hunnic Nobles CM 10 6 3 B 3 Compositebow C     31
Hunnic Nobles CM 10 6 3 B 3 Compositebow C     31
Hunnic Nobles CM 10 6 3 B 3 Compositebow C     31
 Huns CL 12 4 1 B 2 Compositebow B     27
 Huns CL 12 4 1 B 2 Compositebow B     27
 Huns CL 12 4 1 B 2 Compositebow B     27
 Huns CL 12 4 1 B 2 Compositebow B     27
      294  
VDT           79 VDT      
Command Structure Name   Ld   Poor   0
Attila, Charismatic Leader     4 26   Huns 40
Valamir, Fair Commander     2 25   Ostrogoths 20
Ardaric, Fair Commander     2 28   Gepids 20
                Infantry Warriors are in Large Units    
Defeat           39.5       854

 

Name Type M VBU I D VD Weapon Others Command Points
Romans First Command            
Clibanarii CP 8 7 3 B 3   35
Equites CM 10 5 2 B 3   23
Equites Illyricani CL 12 3 1 B 1 Javelin   21
Legio Palatina FP 5 6 1 B 3 Longspear, Pilum   30
Legio Palatina FP 5 6 1 B 3 Longspear, Pilum   30
Legio Palatina FP 5 6 1 B 3 Long Spear   27
Large Unit Archers T 6 3 0 B 1 Shortbow A   10
Legio Palatina FP 5 6 1 B 3 Long Spear   27
Large Unit Archers T 6 3 0 B 1 Shortbow A   10
Legio Comitatensis FP 5 5 1 B 3 Long Spear   21
Large Unit Archers T 6 3 0 B 1 Shortbow A     10
Legio Comitatensis FP 5 5 1 B 3 Long Spear   21
Large Unit Archers T 6 3 0 B 1 Shortbow A     10
Aux Palatina FL 8 5 1 B 3 Javelin   23
Aux Palatina FL 8 5 1 B 3 Javelin   23
Aux Comitatensis FL 8 4 1 B 2 Javelin   22
Aux Comitatensis FL 8 4 1 B 2 Javelin   22
Funditores S 8 2 0 B 1 Sling     12
Lanciarii S 8 3 0 B 1 Javelin   14
Scorpio Art. 3 1 0 B 1 ART B   15
                  406  
Alans, Second Command                  
Light Horse CL 12 4 1 B 2 Shortbow B     27
Catafractarii CP 10 6 3 B 3   30
Equites CM 10 5 2 B 3   23
Equites Sagittari CL 12 3 0 B 1 Compositebow B   22
S Archers S 8 2 0 B 1 Shortbow B   12
                  114  
Visigoths, Third Command                    
Nobles  CP 10 6 3 C 3   Impetuous   21
Nobles  CP 10 6 3 C 3   Impetuous   21
Nobles  CP 10 6 3 C 3   Impetuous   21
Nobles  CP 10 6 3 C 3   Impetuous   21
Nobles  CP 10 6 3 C 3   Impetuous   21
Nobles  CP 10 6 3 C 3   Impetuous   21
Nobles  CP 10 6 3 C 3   Impetuous   21
Light Horse CL 12 4 1 B 2 Shortbow B     27
S Archers S 8 2 0 B 1 Shortbow B   12
Veteran Warriors FP 5 5 4 C 2 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 4 C 2 Impetuous   9
Veteran Warriors FP 5 5 4 C 2 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 4 C 2 Impetuous   9
Veteran Warriors FP 5 5 4 C 2 Impetuous   16
Warriors FP 5 4 4 C 2 Impetuous   9
      261  
VDT           88 CVDT      
Command Structure Name   Ld   Good   20
Aetius, Genius Leader     4 42   Romans 40
Sangiban, Incompetent Commander       2 10   Alans -10
Theodoric, Average Commander     3 36   Visigoths 20
              Auxila:  FL nullify impetus bonus of impetuous foot  
          Roman T in LU can fire over Roman FP with no indirect fire penalties (p35).
Defeat           44       851
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Posted March 11, 2013 by wargamesdiary

2 responses to “The Battle of Chalons 451 AD

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