The Commentaries of Princeps Quintus Sertorius
As did Great Pompey, Sertorius anticipated that, like loss of Rome, the loss of Osca would be a very ill omen and cause morale to plumment (though now it is known to be otherwise). Having taken office in Hispania as Propraetor and having need of a title suitable and necssary for the task ahead, and mindful of that extended to
Pompey and Metellus of Proconsul, the need for a superior authority, the legal and political questions regarding the status of the Consulate, as well as the dubious precendent for the dictatorship when out of Rome itself, he proposed that the Hispanian Senate elect him as first citizen (Princeps) to lead the Republic in Hispania until the Roman Republic as a whole was restored to liberty or the security of an independnet Republic in Hispania was established.
Facing the Sullans was a daunting task, made potentially easier by the hostility and ambition of Mithridates of Pontus in the east. Yet the expectation was that he would merely encroach in the eastern fashion rather than offer a bold and direct attack upon the Sullans, so it was anticipated the might of Italia would reinforce
the Sullan-occupied lands in the northeast and south with a ring of towns to strangle Iberian freedom. Mithridates might strike later at his convenience. The opposing Sullan forces in Hispania were not known in any detail - great swathes of the country were under their control, and an army under Metellus was in the south with maybe 2 or 3 legions while Pompey was present in the northeast, with perhaps up to 4 (actually 3).
The capital of Osca was situated in the north, within easy cross-country march from Sullan Emporiae, where Pompey was rumoured. Hence the first order of Sertorius was that some reinforcements and suppplies be sent therein to ready the town to stand siege. Metellus Pius in the south was seen at his ease nera pleasant Corduba, a central position at the junction of the great south road and the road north linking it to the great north road. It was a position well poised, wherefrom he might strike north, east, or west with great speed and make a swift return to the town without yielding his position.
The Princeps was positioned not far north where he could strike with great force at Metellus, but he considered whether there was any need. A commander may find himself in so favorable a position that its advantages by binding him to it may prove adverse to his campaign. It was judged that Metellus unless reinforced in strength or learning of Sertorius on the march in the northeast would judge it imprudent to
risk attack from east or west on Corduba by striking north, and instead would prepare against a powerful blow from Sertorius coming south down the road.
Active demonstrations would be ordered within his scouting range in order to satisfy his apprehensions and help fix him in place. The defensively capable Lucius Hirtuleis** 5-3-3 with an army judged sufficient (with uncertainty as to the worth of the legion-sized Hispanien alae against real legionaries) was posted at Consabura to block or delay Metellus with the option of falling back into a fortified town.
Consabura is a strategic crossroads city and depot at the junction of the great north road and the connecting road from Corduba. (see Post 1 Map 4 featuring Metellus). An attack in the far west against Lacobrigia found use for forces in Lusitania and if it diverted Sullan forces west or encouraged Metellus to sit in place, so much the better.
Sertorius would take a host including the II, III, IV and V legions and substnatial supports east along the northern great road to the sea in search of a decisive battle with Pompey in the field or a siege to fix him in his works. It was thought Pompey might enter the interior by the main riverside road so that was the path of march against him, but he might also strike directly for Osca. In that case Osca had walls so strong as to require breaches before any assault. This would allow Sertorius time to relieve it or, if he failed and was driven back or routed, necessarily draw Pompey away in pursuit.
It was conceivable that Metellus might abandon Corduba and move east and then north along the coast against the Hispanien coastal towns, which might leave him and Pompey ideally placed to crush Sertorius between them - in theory - but as events in future shall prove it is difficult to coordinate supporting attacks among multiple forces, particularly from different locations. This was judged a small risk well taken.
Should Fortune favor the true and the brave, by then Pompey would be driven back and the north secured, after which Sertorius and his victorious forces could sweep down the coast and wipe the bloody red stain of Sulla from the map, making all the peninsula Iberian blue! Once cleared, it might be possible to defeat naval descents by shrewd deployment and use of shifting reserves emulating the conceptions of Alexander and Pyrrhus on a grander scale. This then was the strategy.
And as things happenned Metellus did not shift away from his favorable position in Corduba and remained fixed facing Consabura. Pompey moved directly on Osca. Sertorius and his host swept to the sea, north, and back toward Pompey. This led to a series of victories, and not bloodless ones,. Fortuna stirred a favorable tide for Iberia upon the first day which, taken up with vigor in its flood, cascaded victories and a torrent of blood.
At this time the Hispanien Western Army faced down Metellus Pius on the Corduba-Consabura axis. After sending forces to defeat a raid north, a detachment moved against Italica to the west, but Metellus
was able to dash west to drive them back and return to Corduba before his absence could be exploited.