Lost Troops Released by Haboob

| April 21, 2017

Roman soldiers fighting during Roman show in Jerash, Jordan

While the winds of the Gobi Desert normally blow toward Beijing, in a surprising twist, some fully-armed and armored survivors of the 53BCE Battle of Carrhae marched out of a westward-bound haboob on a bright, sunny morning, long after deploying eastward toward the ancient town of Liqian, a remote town in Yongchang province, just this morning.  They said they were looking for Marcus Crassus, whom they universally referred to as “simiani inanis” (“a conceited ape”) and were quite disappointed to be told that he had already been assassinated at a confab with the Parthian Army more than twenty centuries earlier.

Upon seeing 21st century transport trucks on the highway they were following, Laertius Barbecanus, the surviving Tribune for the 356 troops (about four and a half centuriae), sputtered “Irrumabo, ubi sumus?” (“Where the f–k are we?”)  He gave a quick order to his troops, who immediately formed a defensive testudo and launched a few pilae (battle darts) at the road monsters. A brief intervention by this reporter resulted in handshakes all around and the bewildered truckers proceeded on their way.

According to Barbecanus’s report, his Cohort VI had engaged with a ragtag band of Parthian soldiers, lost a few hundred troops to the Parthians in a set piece battle, chased them into the mountains and lost track of them, ran into a dust storm, wandered a bit more, and got completely lost themselves while they survived on looting, pillaging and foraging. Engaging in more than a few rolls in the hay with some local villagers who were kind enough to take them in, they were hired as mercenaries to defend the local village, which then became known as Li-Jien.

“I’m sure we left behind our share of spurius (bastard children),” he said, with a twinkle in his eye. “Well, now what do we do? If the Roman Army has gone down the cacatorium, we need something to do. Who’s in charge?”

When told that his troops might consider either the U.S. Army or the U.S. Marine Corps, Barbecanus’s eyes lit up. After the promotional literature was translated into Latin and classical Greek, the centuriae all liked the idea of learning to use new weapons and transportation methods, although they thought the pay and benefits could be improved. They agreed that it sounded good, took a vote, and asked to visit a couple of very confused US Army and USMC recruiters.

Category: Historical

Comments (32)

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  1. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    What’s this an incognito WOT? If so, First!

    • ChipNASA says:

      Too early.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      No. It is simply posted for your amusement, to keep you busy, because I have no idea when Our Glorious Leader will release the Hounds of WOT.

      Besides, I thought you might enjoy a little painless history.

  2. Thunderstixx says:

    Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of WOT !!!

  3. John D says:

    They’re gonna LOVE Red Lobster!

  4. Doc Savage says:

    Ah yes…..time to upgrade from the old M1A3 Arm launched Pilae to the real crowd pleaser..the M134 7.62 minigun.

    Have at it Boys.

    • OldSoldier54 says:

      … or if you really have a case of the hips, break out the GAU 19B .50 cal mini-world destroyer.

      “When you care enough to use only the Finest.”

  5. OldSoldier54 says:

    Wait … is this the “Lost Legion” that was told to march East after suffering the displeasure of Caesar or his representative that I read something about years ago?

    Hmmm. Parthian raiders … didn’t they invent the stirrup, and were the origin of the phrase “parting shot?”

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      I’m not sure.

      I believe that was supposed to be the Sixth Victrix, but they were actually in Germania at the time.

      This particular story is based on a news report of what appear to be Roman artifacts near a town named LiQian in Yongchang, including the fact that Roman legions did hire themselves out as mercenaries when they weren’t at war. And I was having some fun. But if I see any Roman soldiers this summer (and I may), I’ll get photos.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Almost forgot: the Parthian archers were deadly with the bow, and their horses were armored head-to-hoof like modern tanks, in flexible armor.

      • AW1 Tim says:

        You’ll be interested to note, then, that it seems that some 1st & 2nd century Roman glass items made it all the way to Japan via the Silk Road. and were discovered in tombs excavated there.

        The one that I remember was a 2nd century blue glass bowl whose particular glass was, IIRC, located to a factory somewhere in the eastern Med.
        Archeologists know that the glass bowl made it to Japan prior to the 5th century, because that’s when the tomb was laid up.

        While it doesn’t prove that Romans, per se, were in Japan, it does prove that their wares were being traded along the Silk Road since at least the 1st century AD.


      • rgr769 says:

        If you travel to Londonistan this summer you can get photos of their Roman Legion re-enactors.

    • timcatual says:

      Sometimes called a “Parthian shot”

      You wound, like Parthians, while you fly,
      And kill with a retreating eye.
      — Samuel Butler, An Heroical Epistle of Hudibras to His Lady (1678)[1]


  6. The Other Whitey says:

    The Lost Legion really got lost like a motherfucker, eh?

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Never let the 2LT have the map and compass……..

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Certainly not, unless he can produce his Boy Scout Troop Pathfinder Badge! And then make sure you have spares – just in case.

  7. ChipNASA says:

    Ex-PH2 said “Boob”

  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    Here’s something I’ve always wondered about. The atl-atl is a spear-chukker. It adds speed and distance to a spear. It has a notch at the holding end to provide extra propulsion, and hence, extra force, to the spear so that the mammoth or giraffe can be brought down quickly. It’s something the cavemen invented to make it easier to guarantee their kills, which meant food for the clan or tribe.
    So why wasn’t this handy-dandy launcher kept or recouped for ancient warfare for the pilae/war darts? Was it too cumbersome? Or just forgotten?

    • Tom Huxton says:

      The atlatl gave a mechanical advantage by lengthening the arm. projectiles would be roughly the weight of a baseball bat. Furthermore, stone weights could be added to the distal end of the atlatl to further add range. These stone weights, when found, are usually listed as “mace heads”. The weighted atlatl could be used as a mace in battle, but the primary use was a mechanical advantage in throwing.

      Arrows were much lighter to transport than atlatl spears, and better for close-range fighting.

  9. Skyjumper says:

    Apparently it was used in a limited capacity in battle.

    The Aztecs started there battles against the Spanish troops by throwing atlatl darts and then followed this up with close up and personal melee attacks with the maquahuitl.


    Looks like the Mayan’s & the American Indian also used them in battle at times.

    Those were some bad muther-duffers back then.

  10. CCO says:

    For NOT(History), see The Ten Thousand by Harold Coyle.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      That is a pretty good story, as I recall. A modernized Anabasis. I liked his earlier works, but the latter ones seemed to get a little stale for me.

      Ringo did a take on Anabiasis in “The Last centurion”. Quite worth a read.

  11. jonp says:

    Fighting, living off the land..sounds like Army Rangers to me.

    There are many reports of a lost legion. No One knows where they went but the stories of blue eyed children in Eastern China may be the answer as your story suggests. I remember reading about this a number of years ago and didn’t find it far fetched.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Thank you! That is, in fact, the very story that generated this ‘news item’ idea.

      • JacktheJarhead says:

        Actually more than just blue eyes. There are a number of villages that the people are actually Caucasian in appearance. So this is not too far-fetched. I mean other than them showing up now. But thanks, reminds of a couple of stories by David Drake.

        • Jonp says:

          Maybe they got stuck in the black hole Don Lemon said swallowed the Malaysian airliner and just fought their way free. Look for it to be a topic on Coast To Coast in the near future