In 378 AD, The Roman army under the command of the emperor Valens, suffered its worst defeat since the Battle of Cannae over five centuries prior. Outside the town of Adrianople, the Romans, through a combination of bad intelligence and an unfounded confidence on the part of Valens, lost to the Gothic army.
In 375, the Huns had driven the Goths out of their homelands. With no where left to go, the Gothic tribes pressured Valens to allow them to live as foederati (allies) within Roman territory. Seeing this as an opportunity to ease his manpower shortages and increase the size of his army, Valens consented. Once the Goths arrived on Roman territory however, the Roman governors began to exploit them for their own personal gain. When the newly settled Goths suffered through food shortages, the provincial governors charged exorbitant prices for food. This and other factors enraged the Goths. Finally, after suffering many hardships, the Goths revolted. After devastating the surrounding countryside, the Roman emperor sent his general Frigerid to fight the rebellious Goths. Two years later, neither side had emerged as the clear victor.
Frustrated, Valens decided to take matters into his own hands. After joining forces with his general Sebastian, his army was prepared. Roman intelligence indicated that the Goths were headed to the city of Adrianople. After a 20 km march across difficult terrain, the tired Roman army reached the outskirts of Adrianople. There they constructed a camp complete with defensive works. While at the camp, Valens received a letter asking him to wait for reinforcements to come. Wanting to receive full credit for the battle and because bad intelligence indicated that the Gothic army numbered only 10,000, Valens decided to attack without the extra reinforcements. The next day, the Gothic general Fritigern sent an emissary to the Romans to negotiate for peace. Valens rejected these proposals because he thought it would be an easy victory. The following day, August 9, the Romans prepared for battle. After a seven hour march that left the Roman soldiers weak and disorderly, the army arrived outside the Gothic camp.
Meanwhile, the Gothic...