Battle of Valentia, 75 BC

The battle of Valentia (75 BC) saw Pompey defeat two of Sertorius’s subordinates and capture the city of Valentia, giving him a successful start to the campaign of 75 BC that he wasn’t able to turn into a successful conclusion to the war (Sertorian War).

At the end of the campaign of 76 BC Pompey had been forced to retreat into northern Spain to go into winter quarters. In 75 BC he returned to his earlier plan of advancing down the east coast, hoping to capture Sertorius’s bases along the coast. Sertorius himself appears to have taken up a central position, from where he could watch both Pompey and his colleague Metellus Pius, who was based in the south of Spain.

Pompey’s campaign began well. He advanced down the coast, and was attacked by Herennius and Perperna outside Valentia. The battle ended as a costly defeat for Sertorius’s men, and Pompey was able to capture Valentia.

In his Life of Pompey Plutarch records that Herennius and Perperna lost 10,000 dead in the fighting outside Valentia.

Sallust records some details of this fighting in his version of a letter that Pompey sent to the Senate asking for reinforcements. His lists it after the capture of the enemy camp at Sucro and the battle of the River Turia, as the ‘destruction of Gaius Herennius, leader of the enemy together with his army and the city of Valentia’. 

In the aftermath of this victory, Pompey decided to attack Sertorius before his co-commander Metellus Pius could move up from southern Spain to share in the victory. The resulting battle of Sucro was rather inconclusive, but Sertorius was forced to retreat after Metellus arrived on the day after the battle, turning the odds too badly against Sertorius.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 May 2018), Battle of Valentia, 75 BC , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_valentia.html

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