The Roman Emperor Augustus was in shock when he received the news that his legions were decimated to the last man by the Germans. After hearing all of the details of the incident he repeatedly beat his head against his palace walls in frustration while screaming “Varus, give me back my legions.” After the defeat of his legions by the Germans, Emperor Augustus had to send his General Tiberius to avenge Rome’s devastating defeat at the hands of the Germans. The battle of Teutuborg Forest in 9 A.D. was one of Rome’s most humiliating defeats. It is listed on the Bible Timeline Poster at 1 A.D.-50 A.D. The loss that took place from this battle forced Rome to change how it formed its legions and employ its military tactics.
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Emperor Augustus sent his forces into Germania in 9 A.D. to gain control over the barbarian tribes that had been plaguing the land for many years. Many Germans were situated along the Rhine River between Gaul and Germania was constantly harassing the Romans. The Romans controlled Gaul (which is now modern France) and the Germans kept challenging their power by trying to expand into Western Europe.
General Varus was one of Augustus’ leading generals and a gifted military commander. He was given the responsibility of leading Roman legions in Eastern Europe around 9 A.D. Emperor’s Augustus sent him on a mission to put an end to the German’s advancement into Roman territory.
General Varus was provoked by a man named Arminius to attack the German tribes. Arminius was a German prince (son of a chief) who was forced to go to Rome as a hostage from his birth. Arminius had fabricated a clever lie about a group of rebellious Germans revolting near the Rhine. After informing Emperor Augustus about the matter, he gained his approval for an attack against them. Since Arminius was a trusted soldier and who knew all about the Germans, Varus didn’t question him. Instead, he received his instructions from Augustus and marched his three legions into Germania.
The rebellion was taking place at a location that was far from where the legions were stationed along the Rhine. They had to march for many miles to reach the marauding Germans. Arminius was put in charge of leading the Romans to the rebellious tribes. He navigated the Romans throughout the thick and barely impassible forests that were situated in ancient German lands. While the Romans were making the trek, a large rainstorm had taken place.
The Romans were forced to travel through mud and other rough conditions. This wasn’t the only problem that the Romans had to deal with they also marched to their destination with their troops spaced over a 9-mile stretch. Thousands of troops were miles away from each other, and if something were to happen during the march, then it would take some time before soldiers could aid their comrades.
The rain poured down on the Romans for most of their journey and by the time they made it close to their destination it had stopped. Arminius then decided to go on a brief mushroom hunting expedition and General Varus agreed to his activity. While the Romans were rested, Arminius had managed to navigate them into a trap, and his ruse worked. The Germans violently attacked the unsuspecting Roman Legions and slaughtered thousands of them.
The Romans couldn’t effectively counter the Germans, and they were being beat at every turn. Since their armies were spread out for about 9 miles, this made it easy for the Germans to pick them off at will. Eventually, General Varus and his commanding officers were killed, and the vast majority of the Roman soldiers were also slain. The ones that were fortunate enough to escape were forced into slavery. Many of the captured officers were sacrificed to the gods of the German tribes. After this defeat, the Romans never again tried to conquer German lands. General Tiberius was sent to Germania to avenge this humiliation set in Rome, but he left Germania after he accomplished this task.
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