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Unsolved Mystery the Roman Ninth Legion Disappears Into the Fog

Cheryl is a freelance writer, poet, and former newspaper columnist who enjoys researching the unexplained.

Roman soldiers

Roman soldiers

Fascinated with the fog

They say fact is stranger than fiction and I agree. I read about this fantastic occurrence of disappearing soldiers in the hub Top 10 Unexplained Mysteries by Rui Carreira. You can read his story by clicking here. I was simply fascinated by the idea that 5,000 men simply disappeared into the fog, never to return. In 1969, in the last half of my 6th-grade year, I purchased a Scholastics book titled Fog Magic. It was about a young girl who found a long-ago town each time she walked in thick fog near her home. She had many adventures with these townspeople. I remember walking in thick fog on the property my family-owned, just behind out house, hoping to have such an adventure. I also enjoyed the 1980 movie The Fog where long-dead Pirates showed up when an intense fog covered the area. Since I cannot find a long lost town or pirates when the fog appears, I decided to tackle this mystery.

Map of ancient Rome.

Map of ancient Rome.

The ninth Roman Legion

Historians have been baffled for years regarding the disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion. What has been reported is that 5,000 of the top Roman soldiers seemed to vanish in the swirling mists of Caledonia as they were marching north to stop a rebellion. A film about this event titled The Eagle was released in 2011. The movie tells the story of a young Roman officer who is trying to recover the lost Roman Eagle Standard of his father's Scottish legion. This story is based on the Ninth Spanish Legion's alleged disappearance in Britain. The movie is based on the 1954 book, titled, The Eagle of the Ninth. The book suggests that the soldiers disappeared in Caledonia which is modern-day Scottland, in 120 AD and indicates there was never a record of them being seen or heard from again. There is much debate as well as a dispute regarding this story but the fact remains that 5,000 men disappeared without explanation. The idea of a legion of skillfully trained men, marching up the mountain in unison and vanishing into the fog makes for a marvelous tale, but is it true or is there any evidence to disprove this legend?

The Eagle, movie.

The Eagle, movie.

Legend, tall tale and myth

It is believed that these skillful fighters disappeared as they walked up a mountain. Some say these top fighting men were defeated at the hands of the British and the Emperor covered up his embarrassment by developing the disappearance theory. The English believe the Ninth were massacred and that this is "an inspiring tale of home-grown "Davids" successfully taking on a relentless European "Goliath". For the Scottish, this tale has gained them extra mileage much like the story of Braveheart. According to History Hit, in 82 AD, in the midst of Agricola’s campaign in Scotland, the Ninth is severely beaten by a Caledonian force but allegedly remained with Agricola for the duration of his campaign. At its end in 84 AD, all mention of the Ninth Roman Legion vanishes. History indicates that the Legion was replaced in 122 AD at Eboracum by the Sixth Victrix. When a list of existing legions was listed in Rome, in 165 AD, the Ninth Hispania was not mentioned. Rumors suggested that this legion was defeated by the Celts but there is no corroborating evidence. There is also a theory that the ninth replaced the tenth legion who relocated to Vindbona, (Modern day Vienna) in 103 AD. This is because of a discovery in 1959 of a fortress in lower Germany. History Hit also points out that many believe the entire ninth legion was transferred to Nijmegen. This theory casts doubt on the belief that the 5,000 soldiers endured a humiliating defeat at the hands of the British.

Without a trace

it just does not sound logical that 5,000 men disappeared without a trace but the group known as Rome's Ghost Soldiers, Legio IX Hispania, the Spanish Ninth Legion, the ninth roman legion apparently did and now have made history. The exact date of the disappearance is unknown but some historians suggest they annihilated in Britain in 108 AD. Meeting their destruction in Britain is the most prevalent theory but again there is no evidence to back this up. The History Collection reveals that Archaeologists found inscriptions related to the Ninth Legion in Nijmegen, Netherlands. There were tile stamps dated to AD 120 and a bronze pendant with silver plating that bore the inscription ‘LEG HISP IX’ on the back. Considering that there is no specific evidence and only suggestions, I prefer to believe with those who say the men of the ninth legion simply disappeared into the fog. I can invasion them marching to the tune of Soldiers of Fortune, (Tom and Jerry) until they were completely enveloped by the fog. The song is in the above video and here are the lyrics. Until there is proof positive of some other explanation for their disappearance, this is my story and I am sticking to it.

We live! Men who are happy and free!

Birds of a feather who travel together, good soldiers of fortune are we.

We roam knowing united we're strong.

Taking your treasure, we do it with pleasure. And who's there to tell us we're wrong.

Shadows to hide us and bright stars to guide us the night we roam.

No ties to bind us where our lives may find us we call our home.

We fight, fight, fight, fight, soldiers of fortune are we.

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Birds of a feather who travel together, good soldiers of fortune are we.

We ride! Soldiers of fortune are we.

We like what we make it, we'll grin and we'll take it. Whatever our fortune may be.

We ride, breaking the night with a song.

Laughing at danger, we say "Howdy Stranger!" and danger will hurry along.

We fight, fight, fight, fight, soldiers of fortune are we. We're off, WE'RE OFF!

Doing and daring, fighting and daring. Soldiers of fortune are we

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cheryl E Preston


JEREMIAH MWANIKI KILUNDA from Nairobi on September 29, 2020:

A captivating story.

Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on September 29, 2020:

Yes I know. Thank you for reading

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 29, 2020:

This is an interesting article and I can't imagine how that number of men disappeared. The various possible scenerios don't seem realistic but that has to be some reason. Thanks for a fun read, Cheryl.

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on September 29, 2020:

Mysterious indeed. Thanks for sharing. I have not heard this story earlier.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 28, 2020:

I guess some mysteries will always provide fodder for people to imagine what might have happened.

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