Friday, June 10, 2011

Massacre at the Teutoburg Forest

Rome’s greatest defeat came in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, which I would rather label the Massacre or Ambush at Teutoburg Forest. To me, a battle results from a conscious decision on the part of two commanders to engage one another. There was no decision like that in this case because the Romans were not in a position to defend themselves.

The attack took place in 9 A.D. against the legions XVII, XVIII, and XIX of Sextus Quinctilius Varus who had been commander of Germania since 7 A.D. Normally stationed near the Weser River, Varus heard of revolts around the Rhine so he traveled west to investigate.  All three legions were wiped out, and when the seventy-two year Caesar Augustus was told of the debacle, he screamed for Varus to return his legions.

Part of the intrigue of the story centers around Arminius, son of the leader of the German tribe Cherusci, who was given to the Romans as a hostage in 11 B.C. He was raised in Rome, eventually being elevated to a Knight. Arminius (in Germany he's called Hermann) was assigned to the legions of Varus as a trusted advisor, but in secret he plotted with the German tribes to attack the Roman legions.

More at Ancient History Blog

More links:

  1. Teutoburg Forest, Little Bighorn, and Maiwand: Why Superior Military Forces Sometimes Fail
  2. Rome's Bloody Nose. The Pannonian Revolt, Teutoburg Forest and the Formation of Roman Frontiers.