Tuesday 9 January 2024

Rome and the Jewish Revolt

There were a series of large-scale revolts by the Jews of Judaea and the Eastern Mediterranean against the Roman Empire between 66 and 135 CE The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE) and the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 CE) are better documented when compared to the campaigns against the barbarians across the Rhine and Danube rivers. With the exception of Beth Haron, the First Jewish War is characterized as a series of sieges, ending with the sacking of Jerusalem. In contrast, the Bar Kokhba rebellion, free of the dissention as experienced during the first revolt, waged a protracted guerilla war against Rome, this serves as the backdrop for the following two battles. 


Jewish forces defend in hilly terrain consisting of three difficult hills, a road and hamlet. 

Game one

The rebels took a position along the heights behind the village and straddling the road Jewish regular troops could be seen. Light armed troops extended the rebel position further to their right.

Setting aside any idea of finesse, Rome would take the village and sweep sweeping the hills clear of any rebel resistance. The cavalry would turn the rebel flank and cut off their avenue of retreat.

Displaying grim determination, the rebels sent light troops to seize the hill which split the Roman deployment.

Confident its auxilia on the left could deal with rebel skirmishers, Rome advanced its legion against the village while auxilia prepared to sweep the hills on their right.

Rebel skirmishers engage the auxilia for possession of the hill and supporting zealots find an opportunity to attack the left flank of the legion.

The rebel skirmishers proved no match against the auxilia and were slowly driven back off the hill. At its base, the zealots begin to experience heavy casualties.

As the legion swept through the village, the rebel leader ordered the regulars to help defend the village. Too little and too late, the high number of casualties prompted the flight of the rebels. Tomorrow would be another day. Rome 8+3Hd – 1

Game two

Positions reversed, Rome deployed its legion outside the village and positioned the auxilia to occupy it and the surrounding hills. The cavalry deployed on the right of the legion.

Unexpectedly, the rebels opened the battle pressing forward to attack the village and contest possession of the hill position to its flank.

Coming under pressure from twice their number, Roman auxilia begin to give ground. Elsewhere, the rebels seemed hesitant to enter the village as the Roman auxilia were supported by archers.

Roman ballistae repositioned itself to better support the defense of the village and as ballistae bolts rained on rebel formations, these withdrew to a safer distance.

Meanwhile on the Roman left, after beating the rebel attack around the hill, the auxilia withdrew to a nearby second hill position.

Roman casualties had been heavy throughout the battle, but the rebel forces suffered twice as many and therefore break off the combat, leaving the field. Rome 8 – 4



Despite the cavalry advantage, Rome fought both engagements with only its infantry, for the most part employing all the auxilia with a few legionnaire cohorts in support. 

While writing the report, I discovered an oversight regarding the restriction of shooting to and from a hamlet. This is treated similarly as shooting to or from difficult hills or woods. No casualties were inflicted, but it did prompt some rebels to recoil. 



Jewish Revolt

2 x generals (3/4Ax), 4 x regulars (4Ax), 4 x masses (5Hd), 4 x masses (3Ax), 4 x zealots (3Wb), 6 x archers/slingers (Ps). 

Early Imperial Roman

2 x General (Cv), 2 x equites (Cv), 8 x legionnaires (4Bd), 6 x auxilia infantry (4Ax), 2 x archers (4Bw), 2 x light horse (LH), 2 x artillery (Art).

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