Excerpt from Conscience of the King

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Excerpt from Conscience of the King

by: Alfred Duggan (Author)
from: Conscience of the King (Pp. 211 - 212)  1951

     I was just bracing myself for the oblivion that wise men hope for, or the unpleasantness that the outraged gods will have in store for me if they really do exist, when I had an inspiration. No leader can get undrilled barbarians to manoeuvre, especially when they see the enemy charging, but there are two commands they always understand; one is to retreat, and that was useless for lack of time; but the other is to attack. Naturally the best warriors in the army had been sharing my dinner, and they were still clustered round me. I yelled as loudly as I could, and began trotting up the hill-side at the steady double.
     Just before the collision I stole a glance over my shoulder; not a blow had yet been struck, but already my army was dissolving; some comrades were trying to form the shieldring for a defensive fight, a great many had already taken to their heels, and those who looked to their leader in a crises were climbing the hill.
     When the charge met us it was not as bad as I had expected. I know nothing about cavalry and how they ought to behave in battle and I have never ridden a horse in a charge; but I imagine that it is difficult to stop the silly creatures once you have started. Anyway, for a moment I saw a horseman rushing towards me, the head of his lance growing larger and larger; then the point had glanced off the smooth of my little red shield, the sky seemed to be full of hoofs, and I picked myself up to find that they were galloping away. Artorius had a second line, and I suppose their duty was to spear those of us who were lying on the ground, but in the excitement they had got too close to the front, and their horses seemed, to jump over us as we lay flat. In short, that first charge scattered the army as a fighting force, but did not kill many men.
     When the only hoofs I could hear were in the distance, I stood up very cautiously, and continued straight up the hill. Cynric was also unhurt, and so were many of my companions; by the time I reached the top I was at the head of quite a considerable body of shaken and frightened troops. It is a very sound rule, when you are caught in an ambush, to go straight for the attackers; they have usually made elaborate arrangements to cut off your retreat, but never expect you to push farther into the trap.
Additional Information:
See The Battle of Mount Badon page.