I'm not sure what you were expecting; you must have been aware that human players were moving concurrently, so why did you expect things to somehow be different in battle?
I wasn't aware of this, because when I played, there were actual turns. Not concurrent movement. I would take my turn, then I would have to wait a long time for the others to take their turns. My guess is that you're remembering a later version of Freeciv. All I know is that they changed a great turn-based game into a "My connection to the server is faster than yours" game for no good reason.