The Road to Hell I.
This is coolbert:
Roads, as I have blogged about in previous entries, can be a tremendous BOON to the military. Allow supplies to flow where before NONE could!
Roads too, can also be a BANE to a military force.
Military units, devoted to movement by road, commanded by inexperienced or inept commanders, using inflexible or inappropriate tactics, can find themselves in precarious circumstances where OBLITERATION may be a consequence.
[a situation that can be made EVEN MORE precarious when confronted by an enemy who is more adept, flexible, responsive, using tactics suited for the situation.]
Perhaps from current history Mang Yang Pass is the archetype in this regard. Distinguished French troops, road-bound, almost totally annihilated by Viet Minh forces [First Indo-China War].
From ancient history, we have the destruction of three Roman Legions under the command of the consul Varus at the Battle of the Teutoburger Wald. Generally accepted to a major point in world history. NO further expansion of Roman power into Germania was EVER possible after this Roman debacle.
Excessive dependency upon roads combined with inclement weather [several days of continuous downpour!] placed the Roman legionnaires at great disadvantage. Inability to move forward or backward, no open terrain within which to maneuver, placed the Romans in great peril. Circumstances taken advantage of by the barbarians [Germanii]!
From the television series "I Claudius":
[a surviving Centurion reporting to Augustus Caesar what occurred on the battlefield.]
* "The wagons became mired in the mud and could not forward or backward."
* "The bow strings became wet, the archers being unable to fire their arrows."
* "The ox-hide shields were so sodden with water they could not be lifted."
* "The barbarians first attacked in small groups, then in ever increasing numbers."
* "Those Romans taken prisoner were placed in wicker baskets and burned ALIVE!!"
And from the history of Cassius Dio:
"They [Romans] had with them many waggons and many beasts of burden as in time of peace; moreover, not a few women and children and a large retinue of servants were following them"
[this impedimenta [Roman term] disallowed any possibility of inspired defense or maneuver. The Romans would have hesitated before abandoing the wagons and baggage train and civilians present!!]
"again a heavy downpour and violent wind assailed them [Romans] . . . they [Romans] could not handle their bows or their javelins with any success, nor, for that matter, their shields, which were thoroughly soaked."
FORTY YEARS AFTER THE ROMAN DISASTER, SURVIVORS BEING HELD AS SLAVES BY THE GERMANII WERE STILL BEING FOUND. ROMAN STANDARDS CAPTURED DURING THE BATTLE WERE RECOVERED, DECADES AFTER BEING LOST IN SOME INSTANCE!