Chapter 728 – Rescuing Ausculum (I)

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Miltiades was lost in thought as he listened.

“One more thing, you’d better have some fast sailing ship in the port of Sipontum so I can inform you quickly if I need the support of the Fourth Fleet.”

Miltiades shouted in dissatisfaction from hearing that, “Our Fourth Fleet has only a hundred warships in all! My warships and sailors are insufficient to patrol such a long coast, intercept enemy forces coming from the sea… and help you fight!”

“If you do well in this war, I believe the Ministry of Military will consider increasing the size of the Fourth Fleet.” Alexius could only encourage him in this way.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

After Phregulus gathered the Fourth Cavalry Legion, Alexius immediately led the two thousand cavalries out of Brindisi and charged north into the Peuceti region.

In the evening, they finally reach the military base near Silvium.

Melisander, the Fourth Legion, personally welcomed Alexius into the base. And Alexius, who had been on the move all day and barely rested, was so tired that he was walking shakily. After all, he is already over fifty years old and no longer has the energy of a young man. But he still asked with concern, “Has the Tenth Legion assembled?”

“All our brothers are in the base.” said the youngest legatus loudly, “We are only waiting for your order, Commander, and we will go to the battlefield at once.”

“Arrange accommodation for the Cavalry Legion and one for me so I can finally get some rest.” Feeling sleepy, Alexius couldn’t help but yawn, “Tomorrow…we leave early in the morning!”

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The soldiers who heard it were thrilled.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Early the following day, the salpinx rang out from the base.

The soldiers of the Tenth and Fourth Cavalry Legions were told not to pack their armour and weapons and carry them on their shoulders. So after hastily wearing them, they walked out of their camp and hurried to the training ground.

In the conference at the base, Alexius, Melisander, and Phregulus held a brief military meeting.

“What is the enemy situation in the Dauni region now?” Alexius asked.

Since the tenth legion is adjacent to the Dauni region, Melisander was naturally the most informed and up-to-date, so he replied. “From the scouts’ report yesterday, the massive Samnite force is still encircling the cities of Ausculum and Vibinum. On the other hand, the enemy occupying Gerunum hadn’t yet left either, while a few Samnites stormed into the centre of Dauni to loot…”

In reality, only two days have passed since the Samnite invasion. Thus they couldn’t attack new targets so quickly.

Alexius then asked, “Where is the Eleventh Legion?”

“They are still in the base, defending,” Melisander replied.

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After invading the region two years ago, Alexius was already familiar with Dauni’s terrain.

Lucera, the capital city of Dauni, isn’t in the centre of the Dauni region but is closer to the northwest, near the Samnite Mountains, which have no major city as a barrier on their western side. So the Samnites coming down from the mountains could reach Lucera in just over half a day if they were fast enough. But after the conquest of Dauni and the appointment of Antonios as Praetor of Lucera, Antonios wrote to Davos. He suggested building the base in the Dauni region on the western side of Lucera as a fortress to guard it.

And Davos approved that proposal.

With Ausculum, Vibinum and Gerunum all under attack and the city of Lucera potentially under attack on three fronts, it was prudent for the newly formed Eleventh Legion to remain at the base and wait for reinforcements.

Alexius thought for a while and then decided, “The Tenth and Fourth Cavalry Legions will cross the river from the upper reaches of the Ofanto and rescue Ausculum!”

“Understood!” Both Phregulus and Melisander replied excitedly.

Adjutant Umaeseus reminded him, “Commander, we still don’t know how many enemies are in Ausculum and if they have set up ambushes?!… Isn’t it too risky to rely on just one legion and one cavalry legion to attack? Shouldn’t we learn from the First Legion?!!”

“I believe in the strength of the Tenth and Fourth Cavalry Legions! I also believe the Samnites would not expect our reinforcements to attack them so soon, leaving them defenceless!” Alexius raised his head slightly and said confidently, “And even if there is a large Samnite force in Ausculum that could surround us, I believe Kapus, Antonios and Tagetinos will come to our rescue with all their might as long as we can hold our ground, allowing us to defeat the main force of the Samnite’s in one fell swoop!”

Alexius has read the war report of the First Legion, so he was clear that his soldiers and equipment were similar to those of Amintas, who went to rescue Volsci. But unlike Amintas, who went to fight alone, he is fighting within the kingdom!

So he firmly believed that Kapus and Antonios… these old comrades of his, would rescue them in case of any unexpected situations, even though he and Antonios still had some minor enmity.

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. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Those who besieged Ausculum were mainly the Pentri tribes. When they set out to storm Ausculum, they attacked so suddenly that the people of Ausculum were still grazing their livestock and planting on their farms, leaving them completely defenceless.

Upon hearing of the Samnite invasion, many ran to the city in a panic, leaving the Samnite warriors to follow closely, trying to seize the opportunity to storm the city.

But the Praetor of Ausculum was Hegesitus, the former chieftain of the Siro tribe, who had bravely resisted the oppression of the Bruttian Alliance and started Theonia’s war to conquer Bruttii. He had also assisted Heilos in the South Italian War, served as Praetor of Brutii, Messapi and Peuceti for over a decade, and was transferred to the Dauni region the year before.

A few months ago, he received a warning from the Ministry of Military, who had asked all the towns and cities in Dauni to strengthen their vigilance and watch out for the Samnites’ attack.

So he took it seriously, mobilising the people to fortify the city and increase the number of patrols and gathering citizens who had participated in military training in the square every few days for an hour or two of formation and combat training. He also organised the citizens with horses into a small team that would take turns patrolling the foot of the mountain to the west every day.

But after a few dozen days in which the Samnite mountains remained as usual without any sign of war and after his subordinates had persuaded him to do so, Hegesitus began to relax his guard a little and reduce the training* (after all, frequent military training wasn’t helpful for the upcoming spring sowing). Then to his surprise, the Samnites suddenly attacked.

The Ausculum scout who went out on patrol soon spotted the enemy and shouted, “The Samnites are coming!” to alert the people of the villages he passed to evacuate as he hurried towards the city.

Rather than panic at the news, Hegesitus calmly ordered the city gate closed, the drawbridge pulled up, and the alarm sounded so that the young citizens still in the city could take up their shields and spears and go to the wall to defend it.

At the same time, he asked the soldiers at the top of the wall to shout to the fleeing people outside, advising them to flee further east to Herdonia, as the gates of Ausculum would remain closed during the enemy attack!

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Because of these measures, the city of Ausculum was already on the defensive when the Samnite army, composed mainly of Pentri warriors, arrived near the city.

Although only a few citizens can fight at this time due to the sudden Samnite attack, Ausculum is also a large city in the Dauni region, with an eight-metre-high wall.

With the Samnites rushing in without siege equipment, Badani could only make the tens of thousands of warriors form a formation below the city wall and roar simultaneously, trying to intimidate the people of Ausculum into surrendering.

But how could Hegesitus be frightened by such things? Thus Badani could only camp outside the city.

Over the next few days, Badani ordered his warriors to cut down trees and make many ladders and logs. He then launches an offensive against the city of Ausculum in an attempt to take this important city in the southwestern part of the Dauni region by force of numbers, thus restoring the prestige of the Pentri tribe and himself as its great chieftain.

Then Badani ordered his men to launch a fierce offensive.

The Samnite warriors carried the ladder and logs while risking being shot by javelin and arrows and rushed towards the city from the north, west and south.

As its city’s praetor, Hegesitus came to the top of the wall and bravely led the soldiers to resist the enemy.

The Samnites attacked like a tide, wave after wave, until the outnumbered Ausculum soldiers could no longer withstand the constant attack.

In the afternoon, the Samnites kept reaching the top of the wall several times, causing Hegesitus to hastily gather the few remaining reserves and manage to drive the enemy down. Suddenly, a soldier hurried towards him from the southern wall, “Lord Hegesitus, the enemy managed to climb the southern city wall, so Lord Karykes asked for reinforcements!”

“What reinforcements do I have left?!” Hegesitus bitterly smiled as he reached up to wipe the blood from his face, which obscured his vision. Then he looked around at the exhausted soldiers and the deafening war cries of the Samnite warriors below the wall, “Go to the city at once, gather the old men and have them rush to reinforce the southern wall! Hold fast! Tell Karykes to hold out! As long as we can hold out today, our reinforcements will come tomorrow!”

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