Tuesday 8 August 2023

Roman Tour - Later Moorish

The Roman province of Africa was established in 146 BC and later, during the reign of Augustus, became a senatorial province (Africa Proconsularis). Rebellion by native tribes began as early as 5/6 AD, but a decade later, Tacfarinus was able to form an anti-Roman coalition among the Numidian and Maretanian tribes.

The province remained administered by a governor, however, command of the legion would be that of a legatus. During this period, the III Augusta would be permanently garrisoned in the province to become a large military settlement. Its veterans and later generations would defend the province against further Berber rebellions, the longest lasting from 138 to 161.


Game one

Threading through a narrow passage between rocky ground and difficult hills, Rome found the Moorish infantry positioned on the hills and to their right, the cavalry.

The hill position to front would become the first object for the auxiliary. The hills on the right of the column were quickly occupied by two cohorts of auxilia, but that on the left proved a harder task. The legion and artillery awaited the auxiliary outcome before moving against the Moorish cavalry. Interpreting the intent of the Romans, the rebel commander sent the bulk of the cavalry to outflank the Roman line.

Moorish resistance proved tenacious enough to disperse the auxilia, seeing the remaining cavalry departing to their front, the legatus sent legionnaires to finish clearing the hill of Moorish infantry. This would prove a costly error.

Clearing the hill position had cost both sides heavy casualties, but also left the artillery isolated. This did not go unnoticed. Moorish infantry lurking nearby, destroyed the artillery leaving the Roman centre exposed. Unable to recover the situation, the legatus called for a retreat. A Moorish victory 4 – 3.

Game two

Reinforced, Rome continued its campaign against the rebels and found them occupying a position in the hills and rocky ground to front. Rome deployed in their standard battle formation and prepared for an assault.

Forming two assault groups comprising of legionnaires and auxilia, one would assault the position with the second in support. Roman cavalry, positioned in a second and third line, would counter any attack by their cavalry.  

Roman auxilia cleared the rocky ground of enemy skirmishers leaving the Moorish infantry positioned on the hill to feel the weight of the approaching legion and auxilia. Despite their number, Moorish counter attacks were easily repelled. Equally, Moorish cavalry proved ineffective against Roman infantry.

Further resistance became futile and suffering severe casualties, the Moors departed the field. A clear victory for Rome, 4 – 0.


Though costly, the first engagement was a major win for the Moors. the first in a long line of defeats against Rome of other eras. What the army lacks in punch, they make up for in speed. Attempting to repeat their winning formula, a heavy dose of over confidence cost the Moors dearly losing the battle in game two.

Early Imperial Roman

1 x General (Cv), 1 x equites (Cv), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxilia infantry (4Ax), 1 x archers (4Bw or Ps), 1 x light horse (LH), 1 x artillery (Art).

Later Moorish

1 x General (LH), 5 x horsemen (LH), 6 x javelinmen (3Ax or Ps).

Recommended reading

Legio III Augusta https://www.livius.org/articles/legion/legio-iii-augusta/

Tacfarinus https://www.livius.org/articles/person/tacfarinas/

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