Death March Carrhae

The Roman legion marches towards its doom

The Battle of Carrhae is a battle that occurred near the town of Carrhae in Parthia in 53 BC. It features in Rome: Total War as a historical battle. You take the role Marcus Licinius Crassus as you try to survive a Parthian onslaught.


Rome Carrhae

Marcus Licinius Crassus (Romans)Edit

The Roman army is composed mainly of heavy infantry with a few units of cavalry. They lose most of their cavalry early on in the battle when they are ambushed by Parthian Cataphracts.

Surenas (Parthians)Edit

Parthia2 Carrhae
The Parthian army is split in two: one army is a force of cataphracts that ambushes and slaughters the Roman cavalry, then moving on to the infantry, and the other army is composed of horse archers harassing the Roman infantry after the cavalry is destroyed..
Parthia1 Carrhae

In HistoryEdit

Carrhae was a battle that need not have happened. It was the success of Julius Caesar in Gaul that led Licinius Crassus, a rival for power, to move against the Parthians: Caesar was doing rather too well. Crassus had been a member of the First Triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey and then a consul with Pompey. His achievements were in danger of being overshadowed. In 55 BC Crassus went to Syria - a province he had been given when the spoils of the Empire were divided up - with war on his mind. The Parthian Empire to the east was an opportunity for glory and even greater wealth, altough his desire for war was completely unnecessary and probably beyond his skills to manage. To be fair to Crassus, he was an adequate general rather than a great commander like Caesar and Pompey. He probably knew he owed his place in the Triumvirate to his enormous wealth. There also have to be some doubts in Julius Caesar's true motives in writing to Crassus urging him to go to war.

Catafracts Carrhae

Parthian Cataphracts preparing to ambush the Roman cavalry

In 53 BC he got his war but foolishly rejected local advice and marched directly towards the Parthian heartland: he had been advised to attack through the mountains of Armenia. The legions crossed the Euphrates at Zeugma, pressed eastwards, but on hearing the Parthians were near, Crassus reformed the army into a massive marching square. An army of horse archers and cavalry under the inspiring commander Surenas then confronted him. As the Roman infantry stood firm, the Parthians began the battle with a cacophony of beating drums to dishearten their enemies. Then the arrow storm started...

The Parthians captured and executed Crassus. He was probably the wealthiest man in the Roman world, and the Parthians poured molten gold down his throat. They also slaughtered the Roman wounded and took the survivors into captivity. The final insult was that they captured many standards, including legionary eagles.

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