Battle of Saguntum or the Turia, 75 BC

The battle of Saguntum or the Turia (75 BC) was a drawn battle during the Sertorian War, and saw Sertorius initially gain the upper hand before being forced to retreat.

The main campaign for the year began with a major victory for Pompey outside Valentia, where he defeated Sertorius’s legates Perperna and Herennius and captured the city. At about the same time Metellus had defeated Sertorius’s able subordinate, probably at Segovia, so the two Roman armies were free to unite. Neither Pompey nor Sertorius wanted that to happen - Pompey because he wanted all of the glory of the final victory, Sertorius because he wanted to defeat the two Roman armies before they could unite. The resulting battle of Sucro was a draw, and on the following day Metellus arrived, forcing Sertorius to retreat.

Plutarch describes the battle of Saguntum in his life of Sertorius. In the aftermath of the battle of Sucro, the two sides moved to the plains around Saguntum, where Sertorius reduced his foes to the greatest of straits, without risking a battle. Eventually Metellus and Pompey forced him to fight by plundering. At first Sertorius was victorious, killing Pompey’s brother in law Memmius. His men then advanced towards Metellus, who ended up being caught up in the fighting. Metellus was wounded by a spear and this shamed his men into fighting with more determination. The chance of victory was snatched away from Sertorius, who was forced to retreat and take refuge in the mountains.

In Appian's account of the battle it took place soon after the drawn battle at Sucro. The armies had moved north up the coast towards Seguntia (Sagunto). Once again Sertorius defeated Pompey, killing 6,000 of his men and suffering 3,000 casualties of his own. Nearby (it isn’t clear how close) Metellus inflicted yet another defeat on Perpenna, inflicting 5,000 casualties.

On the following evening Sertorius attacked Metellus’s camp, and attempted to cut it off with a trench (presumably in the hope of leaving Metellus trapped against some unmentioned barrier). Pompey had to rush up to help his colleague, forcing Sertorius to retreat. 

According to Plutarch Sertorius was able to raise a fresh army after this battle, and used it to attack Metellus and Pompey’s supply lines, once again avoiding any major battles. The two men were forced to retreat into winter quarters, Metellus in Gaul and Pompey somewhere in northern Spain (Plutarch says amongst the Vaccaei, who inhabited the north-west of Spain).

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 June 2018), Battle of Saguntum or the Turia, 75 BC , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_saguntum.html

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