Most people don’t realize this, but over 2,000 years ago two sets of ancestors in the great Kenney household name were set on opposing fields. On one side, the slovenly yet eager slaves-turned-rebels of the Sparticus Revolt led by none other than Jasonicus Maximus (it’s true — go read your Bible). The other side was a Roman tribune… led by none other than Shaunicus the Great.
Eventually, near the city of Capua, these two great armies clashed in an epic battle, which we recreate for you here…
On the arid Campanian plains, the two generals taunted one another. Much beer was consumed on this pre-Easter day, for who would have thought that these two mighty armies, after having gorged themselves on ham and biscuits and chicken and asparagus… these fine soldiers would have accepted the taunts of their opposition for much longer.
No… it would come to war. And war is what it would be.
“Jasonicus likes snails… and oysters…”
…and so, after hearing their brave general assailed by the Roman legions arrayed before them by quotes from movies that hadn’t been filmed yet (this was the 1st century B.C. after all) and Monty Python quotes, the Spartacans had no choice. To avenge their leader Jasonicus Maximus, they would attack the legions of Shaunicus the Great in epic tabletop combat!
Thus did the armies of Spartacus and Crassus meet on this awesome Easter Sunday… where maybe we should have been outside enjoying the awesome weather… but nay! The armies drunkenly arrayed themselves as so:
The loyal freedmen of Spartacus would hear none of it. Rallied by their general, they arrayed themselves in a long, long line of former gladiators, slingers, and a mob of fighters to the far right of the Roman wing. “I scoff!” exclaimed the Roman general. “Dude — where’s William Wallace when you need him, eh?” the Roman soldiers chuckled as they twirled their gladii in the afternoon sun…
Of course, the freed slaves of Spartacus knew something the Romans did not… the rules. But the Romans had two things the soon-to-be-crucified slaves didn’t have. One, was cavalry. The second? A clue… and more beer. So to the Roman right, the horsemen came. Their goal? The Spartacan camp, where the Roman horsemen went riding off for Step 3 in Conan the Barbarian’s quest for the good life.
Thus did the Roman legion and the Spartacan rebels march toward one another… every step bringing the two armies closer to the river of blood that would await the days end.
Slowly — because we placed the two armies too far apart — each side took in the opposition. Romans cohorts formed on the flanks of their general, with their auxiliaries anchoring the left, and the Roman cavalry swinging around the right to raid the Spartacan camp behind them. Seeing the dust, a detatchment of the Spartacan mob chased our brave Roman horsemen… further dividing their pathetic and weak band of slaves. Mwuhaha!
And then… the resounding clash of arms!!!
Almost immediately, things did not go well for the Roman right. The mob packed in tightly, their spears thrusting over the arms of their leaders. Immediately, one Roman cohort was overwhelmed, and the cries of the dead (and Shaunicus) could be heard for miles…
Meanwhile, on the Roman left, the cohorts of Rome do their job, repulsing the attack across the line, pushing back the Spartacan general and offering the Romans a chance to snatch away the initiative from the rebel attackers.
The Roman legion now pushes back, reforming her lines and wiping out a Spartacan cohort on the Roman left. Meanwhile on the right, the lines reform in order to meet the oncoming leaderless warbands who smell Roman blood and want more.
…and more they get. The mob, now lusting for blood, drives into the Roman legions who falter and stagger back on the left. Even the Roman center begins to buckle under the intensity of the attacks of free men and former gladiators…
…but what’s this? Shaunicus finally springs his trap! Turning the Spartacan right flank, the Roman legions now have the Spartacans in a pincer movement! Not only will the Roman right turn the Spartacan left and roll them up into their mob of gladiators, the Roman cavalry continues to spur on their horses towards the prize of the enemy camp. Once they see their camp in flames, the Spartacan rebels will turn and run, only to be captured and crucified along the Appian Way as they deserve!
Jasonicus Maximus knew the dangers, and he knew only one way out…
Headlong into the Roman left, he sent his skilled attackers of gladiators, freed men, and former legionaries into the maul of Roman arms. As the Roman lines begin to buckle, the Spartacan armies begin to feel as if the tide of battle is swinging their way…
But the Romans hold, though the cost is bloody. As the right reforms, the auxilia hold their slingers at bay while the Roman legions form up for the grand push. Pushed back once, they will not be denied victory.
…and though the Spartacans rallied, the Romans held. Roman arms were coming closer victory; their carefully laid plans coming closer to fruition. Finally, it would be the screams and lamentations of the women that could be heard from the Spartacan camp as the hooves of Roman cavalry had finally outrun their pursuers that would drive their armies into one last fanatic push.
The Spartacan revolt was on the edge of a knife, their armies battered and outflanked, ready to be snuffed out by the dictators and tribunes of Rome. Jasonicus could no longer hold back. It would be victory… or death!
…and for the Romans, it was most decidedly death.
While the Spartacan legions held against the flanking attacks of Rome’s mightly legions, the Spartacan mob on the Roman right pushed forward. It was here that Roman generalship failed. Unable to command his men and unable to press forward, Shaunicus could only defend and watch as the Spartacan rebels reformed and fought through the brilliantly devised pincer movement so carefully executed.
The freed men of Spartacus would not be denied. And on the Roman right on that fateful day, the cohorts of the Roman legion melted away in blood and sand… as the Spartacan mob broke the bones and wiped out both cohorts of the Roman right. The Roman cavalry, just paces away from the Spartacan camp, broke and ran…
The Roman legions knew their right flank was exposed. First in ones and twos, then finally entire commands, broke and ran across the fields… there was no hope for orderly withdrawal. Only for saving oneself against the barbarous former slaves who would be slaves no more.
…and so the legions of Shaunicus the Not-So-Great were vanquished by the armies of the newly named Jasonicus the Shaunslayer over 2,000 years ago, only for the history to be refought and haggled over every holiday season at the Kenney household.
Next time, we’ll replay Carthage or something…