top of page

A little bit of everything

Magnesia (189 BC) is the classical ancient battle that offers a little bit of everything. You get Roman legions, pike phalanxes, cataphracts, elephants, scythed chariots, camels, as well as lots of Asiatic light troops. It was the perfect battle to play-test my revised version of Legio VI — expanding on the version used for Ilipa, to cover the Macedonian wars.

Antiochus the Great, king of the Seleucid Empire greatly outnumbered the Romans (commanded by Lucius Scipio) but many of his troops were of dubious quality.

The Romans, with Pergamene allies, were high quality but risked being outflanked. The Roman left, however was protected by the River Hermus.

The Seleucid left advanced against the outnumbered Pergamenes, the scythed chariots leading the attack. Most chariots were destroyed or driven off before they could have any impact but one broke through the Achaean thureophoroi, creating havoc before it too crashed.

Antiochus personally led his strong right wing to attack the Roman allied legions on their left.

The intervention of the Roman reserve resulted in the Seleucid cataphracts being driven back but the elite Agema and Agyraspids succeeded in pushing back one of the Legions. The Romans withdrew half of their Triarii from the rear of their legions to move around the flank of the Seleucid Agema.

As the action heated up on both wings, the Seleucids held back their centre of pikemen interspersed with elephants, and flanked by Galatians and Cappadocians.

It looked as if the Seleucid left, commanded by Seleucus, was about to overwhelm the Pergamenes on the Roman right. Then Eumenes, king of Pergamon, personally led his royal cavalry in a near hopeless charge against twice as many Seleucid cavalry. The gods were clearly on his side as, against the odds, Eumenes not only forced the Seleucids back but severely wounded Seleucus in the process.

As the Pergamenes were establishing ascendency on the Roman right. Scipio led his legions forward against the Seleucid centre. He also withdrew maniples of triarii from his rear lines to drive off the the troops protecting the left flank of the Seleucid phalanx.

When the decisive clash came in the centre, one legion easily drove off the Cappadocians and elephants on the left of the Seleucid phalanx. The other legion fought the phalangites to a stand-still. However one of the Seleucid elephants rampaged, breaking through the ranks of pikemen and disordering them. The intervention of the Galatians against the Roman flank prevented absolute disaster but, after relieving ranks, the Romans continued to push the phalanx back.

Although Antiochus was slowly driving back the allied legions on the Roman left, it was not enough to save the day. His left and centre were done for, so he had no option other than to retire from the field. Lucius Scipio therefore earned the title ‘Asiaticus’.

118 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Stirring stuff, the troops look superb 👌

bottom of page