The In Quest of the Lost Legions: The Varrusschlacht

The In Quest of the Lost Legions: The Varrusschlacht

by Tony Clunn


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It was a military disaster on a huge scale. It dealt a body blow to the might of Imperial Rome, and may have changed the course of European history. Three entire legions and support troops - 25,000 thousand men in all - were wiped out by German tribesmen in the Teutoburger Wald in AD 9. It was a savage running battle lasting four days, and where Varus' surviving legionaries made their last stand is the subject of this book. The author claims to have established Kalkriese as the last point of attack, the bottleneck where the six to seven thousand were trapped and died. Here we have a gripping story of field detection, buried treasures, local legends and archaeological research, persistence and reward. The fruits of many years are here in this vivid record of one man's mission of discovery - into the fate of so many men all those centuries ago.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780754110682
Publisher: Minerva Press
Publication date: 12/31/1999
Pages: 337
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

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The In Quest of the Lost Legions: The Varrusschlacht 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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According to legend the forests of middle Europe were once so vast and dense that a squirrel could traverse the continent from its southern marches to the North Sea, hopping from tree limb to limb, without once setting feet upon the ground. Although this legend, like most, suffers from exaggeration, it probably does not stray too far off the mark in representing the essential nature of the Teutoburger Wald (Teutoburg Forest) at the beginning of the first millennium AD. Two thousand years ago this forest, located in what is now the German state of Westphalia, was a gloomy wilderness of giant trees, dismal swamps, and tangled undergrowth: the sort of place that inspired the more nightmarish fairy tales of the Western literary tradition, a woodland Hansel-and-Gretel hell populated by all manner of fell beasts and fey spirits. In September of AD 9 three Roman legions commanded by P. Quinctilius Varus ventured into that grim, green nether world--and never came out again. Their fate is no mystery: they were annihilated by German Cherusci tribesman, under the leadership of their charismatic chieftain Arminius, in what is rightly regarded as one of history's most decisive battles. But where, precisely, that battle occurred has remained at issue for centuries, the subject of much speculation, conjecture, and no little argument in European and military history circles. And then Tony Clunn happened upon the scene. In truth, to say that Clunn 'happened' upon the site of what is now commonly referred to as the Varus Battle (Varusschlact in German) is, in fairness to Clunn, a misuse of the language. As revealed in his book In Quest of the Lost Legions: The Varusschlact, Clunn undertook his search for the hitherto undiscovered battlefield with unyielding determination and a tenacious, one might even say obsessive, sense of purpose. Excerpting from diaries chronicling his efforts, Clunn shows himself to be a man on a mission, engaged in a labor of love, and not to be denied the fulfillment of the former or the consummation, as it were, of the latter. The preceding is meant as a high compliment, and not only because this reviewer admires Clunn for his archaeological achievements and the excellent book they engendered, and least of all because this reviewer and Clunn are frequent and friendly correspondents. Which is to say that Clunn, who is not a professional archaeologist, is worthy of praise because he gained monumental success in an endeavor where the professionals, every one of them, had previously failed; and that he did so in large measure by dint of his zeal and commitment to a project in which success was his only reward. A major in the British Army when he began his explorations in 1987 (he has since retired from active military service, although he still works as a Retired Staff Officer with the British Forces in Germany), Clunn was suited by job and temperament to search out the places where death claimed thousands in the most violent circumstances. Here it is worth noting that the passage of arms in the Teutoburg Forest was not a single battle but actually a series of intermittent battles fought over a three-day period along the Roman line of march. It was a 'lost patrol' scenario on a grand scale, with some 20,000 Roman soldiers and as many as 5,000 servants, dependents, women and children mostly, slain either in combat or in the Cherusci's post-battle sacrificial rites. The Romans had been moving from their summer camp near Minden to winter quarters on the Lippe River, just east of the Rhine; Varus had taken them into the Teutoburg to pacify rebellious tribesmen in the vicinity. That Varus even thought to engage the enemy while on line of march with dependents and a cumbersome baggage train in tow indicates that he viewed the hostile Germans as a minor threat, few in numbers and poorly organized, and therefore easy to suppress. The first inklings of the disaster to come might have been communicated by the forest itself.