Sunday 31 March 2024

After Strasbourg, 357 AD

The victory at Strasbourg (357) did not subdue the Alemanni as a further three campaign seasons were needed to bring them to heel, albeit briefly. Herwig Wolfrum, in “The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples” describes the continued incursions by the Alemanni following Julian’s departure to the east.

With a newly completed Late Roman Army, we will attempt to follow Julian’s footsteps across the Rhine and engage the Alemanni. The following reports demonstrate this was no easy task.

Game one.

Rome find the Alemanni prepared for battle with their flank and rear protected by woods. Rome deploys in three lines and gaps are made so as to match the breadth of the enemy line.

The thin ranks appear vulnerable and the Alemanni rush forward to break the Roman line. The Alemanni right are hesitant and slow their pace as they face Roman Cataphracti.

As the armies’ clash, Rome suffers heavy casualties in the centre, but hold an advantage to turn the Alemanni left. To meet the Cataphracti, archers advance forward and with a rain arrows them to retreat.

Oblivious to events happening on their left and right flanks the Alemanni continue their attack forward to meet the Roman second line.

Their breakthrough is stopped by units from the second line and counter attacks by the equites hold the Alemanni in check. Seizing the moment, the Cataphracti also charge the enemy giving Rome a clear victory over the barbarians (10+2Hd-6).

Game two.

The Alemanni are reinforced and meet Rome in deep ranks positioned between marsh and woods. Rome deploys in a standard formation, but have amassed all their light horse on the right flank.

Exhibiting contempt for the Roman light horse as they proceed to encircle their left, the Alemanni rush forward to ‘die killing Romans’.

The lines clash in centre while on both flanks play out their own arena of death.

Having made a breakthrough in centre, Alemanni columns continue their attack against the second Roman line.

The battle reaches a critical state with the destruction of a second legion. Nonetheless, the scales balance with the collapse of the Alemanni left flank with both armies reaching a break point. Just then, Roman light horse thunder down toward the Alemanni warlord.

The crisis in centre is held in check allowing Roman equites wreak havoc in the Alemanni rear sealing their fate. A very narrow victory for Rome (10+4Hd – 9).  


Game two is best described as a ‘meat grinder’ as it required nine turns to reach a conclusion. The Alemanni inflicted heavy casualties at the start, leaving Rome to slog their way back and match the barbarians. Turn eight, the score reached an even 9 – 9 plus horde, 

In general, there were opportunities in the centre for elements to flank columns, but maintaining a line proved a better choice as this reduced pip expenditure on the subsequent turn.

Losing all four Roman blade in quick succession was a surprise, but the positioning of a third line staved off a near disaster. Despite the late arrival of the light horse, Roman equites performed well. 

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