Caesars Raid 55BC - Landing
When the Fleet reached the coast at about Walmer, it turned and made for the
shore which was described as open and even. The British forces meanwhile had
followed along the cliffs and were ready to oppose the landing. To Roman eyes they seemed to
be a disorganised barbarian mass. But the British order of battle was based
on the tribe. With each tribe having its place, and each tribesman having
his place in the tribe's formation.
The Roman warships drew too much water to get close to shore so that the Roman soldiers had to jump into water of uncertain depth while carrying armour and weapons. The transports also had some problems with the depth of water with troops who successfully disembarked having to wade up to 200 yards before being able to reach shoreline.
The various units were disorganised as they tried to disembark, and came under fire from the British who were able to stand on shore or in shallow water to launch their missiles. In addition, the British drove their chariots through the shallows to attack individual and small groups of Romans. The Romans had not previously encountered opponents who had used chariots in this way and overall the landing was in serious trouble.
Caesar then ordered the catapult armed warships to row hard to the flanks of the landing and launch their javelins from there. These heavy catapults had a range of up to 1,000 yards, and the British had not encountered them before, so they drew back a little in confusion.
This cleared enough space to allow some legionaries to land in greater numbers and begin to form groups, although individual units and centuries were still disorganised. As they began to move ashore they again came under missile and chariot attack. The landing was once more in the balance with Roman formations only part formed and in some confusion.
Caesar then ordered small scaphae which were towed behind the larger warships and smaller reconnaissance warships filled with reserve troops and sent to land them near where groups of legionaries were trying to get themselves organised. Having landed all his reserve troops the battle for the beach-head swung in the Roman's favour. The Roman solders gained the shore and with Roman discipline and organisation having been restored solid groups of legionaries from both Legions began to form up.
Although individual British tribesmen were brave and formidable in battle they were no match for Roman disciplined formations and tactics and with casualties rapidly increasing the British were soon put to flight.
But with the lack of cavalry the pursuit quickly ended and the British were able to regroup inland and start to organise a guerrilla resistance.
Meanwhile the Romans began to secure and fortify the beach-head with a fortified encampment. They also completed the landing of their men and supplies from the ships anchored offshore or beached near the encampment.
- 55BC Objectives
- 55BC Timing
- 55BC Crossing
- 55BC Military Units
- 55BC Landing
- 55BC Land Operations
This page last edited -
22 December, 2012.
Copyright © Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.