Roman infantry tactics
Roman infantry tactics refers to the theoretical and historical deployment and maneuvers of the Roman infantry from the start of the Roman Republic to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The article first presents an overview of Roman training. Roman performance against different types of enemies is analyzed, the focus below is primarily on Roman tactics - the how of their approach to battle, and how it stacked up against a variety of opponents over time. It does not attempt detailed coverage of things like army structure or equipment, various battles are summarized to illustrate Roman methods with links to detailed articles on individual encounters. For in depth background on the structure of the infantry relevant to this article. For a history of Romes military campaigns see Campaign history of the Roman military, for detail on equipment, daily life and specific legions see Roman legion and Roman military personal equipment. Roman military tactics and strategy evolved from typical of a small tribal host seeking local hegemony.
This advance was affected by changing trends in Roman political and economic life, and that of the larger Mediterranean world and these elements waxed and waned over time, but they form a distinct basis underlying Romes rise. This included the reversal of status of cavalry and infantry in the Eastern Empire and this bounty of military resources enabled Rome to apply crushing pressure to its enemies, and stay in the field and replace losses, even after suffering setbacks. One historian of the Second Punic War states, According to Polybius, Brunt adjusted Polybius’ figures and estimated that the population of Italy, not including Greeks and Bruttians, exceeded 875,000 free adult males, from whom the Romans could levy troops. Rome not only had the potential to levy vast numbers of troops, Brunt estimates that Rome mobilized 108,000 men for service in the legions between 218BC and 215BC, while at the height of the war effort Rome was able to mobilize approximately 230,000 men. Against these mighty resources Hannibal led from Spain an army of approximately 50,000 infantry and 9,000 cavalry, rome’s manpower reserves allowed it to absorb staggering losses yet still continue to field large armies.
For example, according to Brunt, as many as 50,000 men were lost between 218BC and 215BC, but Rome continued to place between 14 and 25 legions in the field for the duration of the war. Put simply, the disparity in the number of available troops at the outset of the conflict meant that Hannibal had a much narrower margin for error than the Romans. This load consisted of armour, a called a gladius. There were tools for digging and constructing a castra, the fortified base camp. One writer recreates the following as to Caesars army in Gaul, Each soldier arranged his heavy pack on a T or Y-shaped rod, shields were protected on the march with a hide cover. Each legionary carried about 5 days worth of wheat, pulses or chickpeas, a flask of oil and a kit with a dish, cup
Roman siege engines
Roman siege engines were, for the most part, adapted from Hellenistic siege technology. Relatively small efforts were made to develop the technology, however, up to the 1st century BC the Romans utilized siege weapons only as required and relied for the most part on ladders and rams to assault a fortified town. Ballistae were employed, but held no permanent place within a legions roster, until in the Republic, Julius Caesar took great interest in the integration of advanced siege engines, organizing their use for optimal battlefield efficiency. To facilitate this organization and the army’s self-sufficiency, a corps was developed. There were legion architects who were responsible for the construction of war machines who would assure that all artillery constructions in the field were level, ensuring that constructions were level was the job of the libratores, who would launch missiles and other projectiles during battle. The engineering corps was in charge of production, frequently prefabricating artillery.
Roman artillery was very efficient at that time, and during a siege the Romans would attack the weakest area of their enemy’s defenses and attempt to breach the walls at that point. To support this effort, artillery fire would commence, with three objectives, to cause damage to defenses, casualties among the opposing army. It would provide cover fire for troops building siege ramps or those in siege towers, there were machines called tormenta, which would launch projectiles such as javelins, rocks, or beams. These devices were on wheeled platforms to follow the line’s advance and it was stated that sinew, instead of twisted hair, provided a better “spring. It is somewhat difficult to define and describe Roman artillery, as names are easily confused. Perhaps best known are the ballista, the onager, and the scorpio, after the absorption of the Ancient Greek City states into the Roman Republic in 146 BC, some advanced Greek technology began to spread across many areas of Roman influence. This included the hugely advantageous military advances the Greeks had made, as well as all the scientific, political, the torsion ballista, developed by Alexander, was a far more complicated weapon than its predecessor, and the Romans developed it even further.
Vitruvius, in his De Architectura Book X, describes the construction, every century in the Roman army had a ballista by the 1st century AD. It was the command of the chief of the ballista, under whom were the experts, or doctores ballistarum and finally. Ballistae were heavy missile weapons, hurling large rocks great distances to damage rampart walls and they resembled large crossbows, rather than catapults. The arms were drawn rearward with a lever to further twist the skeins. It has been said that the sound of a ballista-fired stone struck fear
The Limes Tripolitanus was a frontier zone of defence of the Roman Empire, built in the south of what is now Tunisia and the northwest of Libya. It was primarily intended as a protection for the cities of Leptis Magna, Sabratha. The Limes Tripolitanus was built after Augustus and it was related mainly to the Garamantes menace. Septimius Flaccus in 50 AD did an expedition that reached the actual Fezzan. The Romans did not conquer the Garamantes so much as they seduced them with the benefits of trade, the last Garamantes foray to the coast was in AD69, when they joined with the people of Oea in battle against Leptis Magna. The Romans, in order to defend the main Roman cities of Tripolitania, after that the Garamantes started to become a client state of the Roman Empire, but nomads always endangered the fertile area of coastal Tripolitania. Because of this Romans created the Limes Tripolitanus The first fort on the limes was built at Thiges, the limes was expanded under emperors Hadrian and Septimius Severus, in particular under the legatus Quintus Anicius Faustus in 197-201 AD.
He fulfilled his task quickly and successfully, former soldiers were settled in this area, and the arid land was developed. Dams and cisterns were built in the Wadi Ghirza to regulate the flash floods, the farmers produced cereals, vines, pulses, almonds and perhaps melons. Ghirza consisted of some forty buildings, including six fortified farms, two of them were really large. It was abandoned in the Middle Ages, with Diocletian the limes was partially abandoned and the defence of the area was done even by the Limitanei, local soldier-farmers. The Limes survived as an effective protection until Byzantine times, in Libya today, very substantial remains survive, e. g. the limes castles at Abu Nujaym and Al Qaryah al Gharbīyah, the frontier village Gaerisa, and about 2,000 fortified farms like Qaryat. Ghadames Mizda Bani Waled Abu Nujaym Qaryat Jona Lendering, archived from the original on April 5,2008. Detailed map showing the Limes Tripolitanus at Tunisia-Libya border, la Tripolitania in Storia Einaudi dei Greci e dei Romani.
The UNESCO Libyan Valleys Archaeological Survey Margot Klee, Grenzen des Imperiums, leben am römischen Limes Jona Lendering, Sherds from the Desert
The Early Roman army of the Roman Kingdom and of the early Republic. During this period, when warfare chiefly consisted of small-scale plundering raids, it has suggested that the Roman Army followed Etruscan or Greek models of organisation. The early Roman army was based on an annual levy, the infantry ranks were filled with the lower classes while the cavalry were left to the patricians, because the wealthier could afford horses. Moreover, the authority during the regal period was the high king. Until the establishment of the Republic and the office of consul, from about 508 BC Rome no longer had a king. The commanding position of the army was given to the consuls, the term legion is derived from the Latin word legio, which ultimately means draft or levy. At first there were only four legions and these legions were numbered I to IIII, with the fourth being written as such and not IV. The first legion was seen as the most prestigious, the latter being a recurring theme in many elements of the Roman army.
The bulk of the army was made up of citizens and these citizens could not choose the legion to which they were allocated. Any man from ages 16-46 were selected by ballot and assigned to a legion, until the Roman military disaster of 390 BC at the Battle of the Allia, Romes army was organised similarly to the Greek Phalanx. This was due to Greek influence in Italy by way of their colonies, patricia Southern quotes ancient historians Livy and Dionysius in saying that the phalanx consisted of 3,000 infantry and 300 cavalry. Each man had to provide his equipment in battle, the equipment which he could afford determined which position he took in the battle. Politically they shared the ranking system in the Comitia Centuriata. The Roman army of the mid-Republic was known as the army or the Polybian army after the Greek historian Polybius. The latter were required to roughly the same number of troops to joint forces as the Romans to serve under Roman command. Legions in this phase were always accompanied on campaign by the number of allied alae.
After the 2nd Punic War, the Romans acquired an overseas empire and these volunteers were mainly from the poorest social class, who did not have plots to tend at home and were attracted by the modest military pay and the prospect of a share of war booty. The minimum property requirement for service in the legions, which had been suspended during the 2nd Punic War, was effectively ignored from 201 BC onward in order to recruit sufficient volunteers
In the Roman Empire, the Latin word castrum was a building, or plot of land, used as a fortified military camp. Castrum was the used for different sizes of camps including a large legionary fortress, smaller auxiliary forts, temporary encampments. The diminutive form castellum was used for fortlets, typically occupied by a detachment of a cohort or a century, in English, the terms Roman fortress, Roman fort and Roman camp are commonly used for castrum. However, scholastic convention tends toward the use of the camp, marching camp. For a list of known castra see List of castra, the term castrum appears in three Italic languages, Oscan and Latin. g. Castrum Album, Castrum Inui, Castrum Novum, Castrum Truentinum, Castrum Vergium. The plural was used as a place name, as Castra Cornelia. Castrorum Filius was one of names used by the emperor Caligula, the terms stratopedon and phrourion were used by Greek language authors to translate castrum and castellum, respectively. A castrum was designed to house and protect the soldiers, their equipment and this most detailed description that survives about Roman military camps is De Munitionibus Castrorum, a manuscript of 11 pages that dates most probably from the late 1st to early 2nd century AD.
Regulations required a major unit in the field to retire to a properly constructed camp every day, to this end a marching column ported the equipment needed to build and stock the camp in a baggage train of wagons and on the backs of the soldiers. They could throw up a camp under enemy attack in as little as a few hours. Judging from the names, they used a repertory of camp plans, selecting the one appropriate to the length of time a legion would spend in it, tertia castra, quarta castra. A camp of three days, four days, more permanent camps were castra stativa, standing camps. The least permanent of these were castra aestiva or aestivalia, summer camps, in which the soldiers were housed sub pellibus or sub tentoriis, under tents. For the winter the soldiers retired to castra hiberna containing barracks and other buildings of solid materials. The camp allowed the Romans to keep a rested and supplied army in the field, neither the Celtic nor Germanic armies had this capability, they found it necessary to disperse after only a few days.
The largest castra were legionary fortresses built as bases for one or more whole legions, legions were raised for specific military campaigns and subsequently disbanded, requiring only temporary castra. From on many castra of various sizes were established many of which became permanent settlements, from the most ancient times Roman camps were constructed according to a certain ideal pattern, formally described in two main sources, the De Munitionibus Castrorum and the works of Polybius
It had a stone base and a stone wall. There were milecastles with two turrets in between, there was a fort about every five Roman miles. From north to south, the wall comprised a ditch, military way and vallum and it is thought the milecastles were staffed with static garrisons, whereas the forts had fighting garrisons of infantry and cavalry. In addition to the defensive military role, its gates may have been customs posts. A significant portion of the wall still stands and can be followed on foot along the adjoining Hadrians Wall Path, the largest Roman artefact anywhere, it runs a total of 73 miles in northern England. Regarded as a British cultural icon, Hadrians Wall is one of Britains major ancient tourist attractions and it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is a misconception that Hadrians Wall marks the boundary between England and Scotland. In fact Hadrians Wall lies entirely within England and has never formed the Anglo-Scottish border, while it is less than 1 kilometre south of the border with Scotland in the west at Bowness-on-Solway, in the east it is as much as 110 kilometres away.
Hadrians Wall was 80 Roman miles or 117.5 km long, its width and height varied according to the materials available nearby.5 metres high. These dimensions do not include the walls ditches and forts, the central section measured eight Roman feet wide on a 3 m base. Some parts of section of the wall survive to a height of 3 m. Immediately south of the wall, a ditch was dug, with adjoining parallel mounds. This is known today as the Vallum, even though the word Vallum in Latin is the origin of the English word wall, in many places – for example Limestone Corner – the Vallum is better preserved than the wall, which has been robbed of much of its stone. The A69 and B6318 roads follow the course of the wall from Newcastle upon Tyne to Carlisle, although the curtain wall ends near Bowness-on-Solway, this does not mark the end of the line of defensive structures. The system of milecastles and turrets is known to have continued along the Cumbria coast as far as Risehow, for classification purposes, the milecastles west of Bowness-on-Solway are referred to as Milefortlets.
Hadrians Wall was probably planned before Hadrians visit to Britain in AD122, according to restored sandstone fragments found in Jarrow which date from 118 or 119, it was Hadrians wish to keep intact the empire, which had been imposed on him via divine instruction. The fragments announce the building of the wall and it is entirely possible that, on his arrival in Britain in 122, one of the stops on his itinerary was the northern frontier to inspect the progress of the building of the wall. Theories have been presented by historians, mostly of an expression of Roman power and these troubles may have influenced Hadrians plan to construct the wall as well as his construction of limites in other areas of the Empire, but to what extent is unknown
Structural history of the Roman military
From its origins around 800 BC to its final dissolution in AD476 with the demise of the Western Roman Empire, Romes military organization underwent substantial structural change. At the highest level of structure, the forces were split into the Roman Army, within the top levels of both army and navy, structural changes occurred as a result of both positive military reform and organic structural evolution. These changes can be divided into four distinct phases, phase I The army was derived from obligatory annual military service levied on the citizenry, as part of their duty to the state. During this period, the Roman army would wage seasonal campaigns against largely local adversaries, phase II As the extent of the territories falling under Roman control expanded and the size of the forces increased, the soldiery gradually became salaried professionals. As a consequence, military service at the lower levels became progressively longer-term, Roman military units of the period were largely homogeneous and highly regulated.
The army consisted of units of infantry known as legions as well as non-legionary allied troops known as auxilia. The latter were most commonly called upon to provide infantry, logistical. Phase III At the height of the Roman Empires power, forces were tasked with manning and securing the borders of the vast provinces which had brought under Roman control. Serious strategic threats were common in this period and emphasis was placed on preserving gained territory. The army underwent changes in response to new needs and became more dependent on fixed garrisons than on march-camps. Phase IV As Rome began to struggle to control over its sprawling territories, military service continued to be salaried. However, the trend of employing allied or mercenary elements was expanded to such an extent that these came to represent a substantial proportion of the armed forces. At the same time, the uniformity of structure found in Romes earlier military disappeared, soldiery of the era ranged from lightly armed mounted archers to heavy infantry, in regiments of varying size and quality.
This was accompanied by a trend in the empire of an increasing predominance of cavalry rather than infantry troops. In this period there was focus on smaller units of independently-operating troops, engaging less in set-piece battles and more in low-intensity. According to the historians Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, writing at a far date, Historian Theodor Mommsen referred to it as Romes curiate army, named for its presumed subdivision along the boundaries of Romes three founding tribes, the Ramnians and Luceres. This armys exact structure is not known, but it is probable that it resembled a warrior band or group of bodyguards led by a chieftain or king. Mommsen believes that Roman military organization of this period was regimented by the Laws of King Italus but these laws, the army consisted, according to Livy, of exactly 3,000 infantry and 300 horsemen, one third from each of Romes three founding tribes
Founding of Rome
The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were suckled by a she-wolf. The national epic of mythical Rome, the Aeneid of Virgil, the Aeneid was written under Augustus, who claimed ancestry through Julius Caesar from the hero and his mother Venus. This started a series of armed conflicts with Turnus over the marriage of Lavinia, before the arrival of Aeneas, Turnus was betrothed to Lavinia, who married Aeneas, starting the war. Aeneas won the war and killed Turnus, the Trojans won the right to stay and to assimilate with the local peoples. Toward the end of line, King Procas was the father of Numitor. At Procas death, Numitor became king of Alba Longa, but Amulius captured him and sent him to prison, for many years, Amulius was the king. The tortuous nature of the chronology is indicated by Rhea Silvias ordination among the Vestals, the myth of Aeneas was of Greek origin and had to be reconciled with the Italian myth of Romulus and Remus, who would have been born around 771 BC if taken as historical figures.
They were purported to be sons of Rhea Silvia and either Mars and they were abandoned at birth, in the manner of many mythological heroes, because of a prophecy that they would overthrow their great-uncle Amulius, who had overthrown Silvias father Numitor. They were abandoned on the Tiber River by servants who took pity on the infants, the twins were nurtured by a she-wolf until a shepherd named Faustulus found the boys and took them as his sons. Faustulus and his wife Acca Larentia raised the children, when Remus and Romulus became adults, they killed Amulius and restored Numitor. They decided to establish a city, they quarreled, Rome began with a fratricide, a story that was taken to represent the citys history of internecine political strife and bloodshed. The ancient Romans were certain of the day Rome was founded, April 21, even the official Fasti Capitolini offers its own date,752 BC. Recent discoveries by Andrea Carandini on Romes Palatine Hill have yielded evidence of a series of walls on the north slope that can be dated to the middle of the 8th century BC.
According to the legend, Romulus plowed a furrow around the hill in order to mark the boundary of his new city, there is no consensus on the etymology of the citys name. Jean-Jacques Rousseau suggested Greek ῥώμη, meaning strength, vigor, a modern theory of etymology holds that the name of the city is of Etruscan origin, derived from rumon, river. There is archaeological evidence of occupation of the Rome area from about 14,000 years ago. Evidence of stone tools and stone weapons attests to about 10,000 years of human presence, several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. Between the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron age, in any case, the location that became the city of Rome was inhabited by Latin settlers from various regions and pastoralists, as evidenced by differences in pottery and burial techniques
The Auxilia constituted the standing non-citizen corps of the Imperial Roman army during the Principate era, alongside the citizen legions. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the number of infantry as the legions and in addition provided almost all of the Roman armys cavalry. The auxilia thus represented three-fifths of Romes regular land forces at that time, like their legionary counterparts, auxiliary recruits were mostly volunteers, not conscripts. The Auxilia were mainly recruited from the peregrini, free provincial subjects who did not hold Roman citizenship and constituted the vast majority of the population in the 1st and 2nd centuries. In contrast to the legions, which only admitted Roman citizens, reliance on the various contingents of non-Italic troops, especially cavalry, increased when the Roman Republic employed them in increasing numbers to support its legions after 200 BC. The Julio-Claudian period saw the transformation of the Auxilia from motley levies to a corps with standardised structure, equipment.
By the end of the period, there were no significant differences between legionaries and auxiliaries in terms of training, and thus, combat capability. Auxiliary regiments were stationed in provinces other than that in which they were originally raised, for reasons of security. The regimental names of many auxiliary units persisted into the 4th century, but by the units in question were different in size, despite its formidable strength, the legion had a number of deficiencies, especially a lack of cavalry. Around 200 BC, a legion of 4,200 infantry had an arm of only 300 horse. In addition the legion lacked missile forces such as slingers and archers, until 200 BC, the bulk of a Roman armys cavalry was provided by Romes regular Italian allies, commonly known as the Latin allies, which made up the Roman military confederation. This was Romes defence system until the Social War of 91–88 BC, the Italian forces were organised into alae. Since a pre-Social War consular army always contained a number of legions and alae.
The overall cavalry element, c. 12% of the force, was greater than in most peninsular Italian forces. The Roman/Latin cavalry was sufficient while Rome was in conflict with other states in the mountainous Italian peninsula, which disposed of limited cavalry resources. The decisive Roman victory at Zama in 202 BC, which ended the war, owed much to the Numidian cavalry provided by king Massinissa, from then, Roman armies were always accompanied by large numbers of non-Italian cavalry, Numidian light cavalry and, Gallic heavy cavalry. For example, Caesar relied heavily on Gallic and German cavalry for his Conquest of Gaul, as the role of native cavalry grew, that of Roman/Latin cavalry diminished. In the early 1st century BC, Roman cavalry was phased out altogether, after the Social War, the socii were all granted Roman citizenship, the Latin alae abolished, and the socii recruited into the legions
Sir John Soane RA was an English architect who specialised in the Neo-Classical style. The son of a bricklayer, he rose to the top of his profession, becoming professor of architecture at the Royal Academy and he received a knighthood in 1831. His best-known work was the Bank of England, a building which had an effect on commercial architecture. He designed Dulwich Picture Gallery, with its galleries, was a major influence on the planning of subsequent art galleries. The museum is described in the Oxford Dictionary of Architecture as one of the most complex, Soane was born in Goring-on-Thames on 10 September 1753. He was the surviving son of John Soan and his wife Martha. The e was added to the surname by the architect in 1784 on his marriage and his father was a builder or bricklayer, and died when Soane was fourteen in April 1768. He was educated in nearby Reading in a school run by William Baker. After his fathers death Soanes family moved to nearby Chertsey to live with Soanes brother William,12 years his elder, William Soane introduced his brother to James Peacock, a surveyor who worked with George Dance the Younger.
Soane began his training as an architect age 15 under George Dance the Younger and joining the architect at his home and office in the City of London at the corner of Moorfields and Chiswell Street. Dance was a member of the Royal Academy and doubtless encouraged Soane to join the schools there on 25 October 1771 as they were free. There he would have attended the lectures delivered by Thomas Sandby. Dances growing family was probably the reason that in 1772 Soane continued his education by joining the household, Soane, a non-swimmer, was going to be with the party but decided to stay home and work on his design for a Triumphal Bridge. By 1777, Soane was living in his own accommodation in Hamilton Street, in 1778 he published his first book Designs in Architecture. He sought advice from Sir William Chambers on what to study, must discover their true beauties, and the secrets by which they are produced. Using his traveling scholarship of £60 per annum for three years, plus an additional £30 travelling expenses for each leg of the journey, Soane set sail on his Grand Tour, his ultimate destination being Rome, at 5,00 am,18 March 1778.
His travelling companion was Robert Furze Brettingham, they travelled via Paris and they finally reached Rome on 2 May 1778. Soane wrote home my attention is taken up in the seeing and examining the numerous
A limes was a border defence or delimiting system of Ancient Rome. It marked the boundaries and provinces of the Roman Empire, the word limes was utilized by Latin writers to denote a marked or fortified frontier. This was the definition and usage of the term. It is now common to accept that limes was not a term used by the Romans for the imperial frontier. This is a modern, anachronistic interpretation, the term became common after the 3rd century AD, when it denoted a military district under the command of a dux limitis. The limites represented the line of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent in the 2nd century AD. It stretched over 5,000 km from the Atlantic coast of northern Britain, through Europe to the Black Sea, the remains of the limites today consist of vestiges of walls, forts and civilian settlements. Certain elements of the line have been excavated, some reconstructed, the two sections of the limes in Germany cover a length of 550 km from the north-west of the country to the Danube in the south-east.
The 118 km long Hadrians Wall was built on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian c, AD122 at the northernmost limits of the Roman province of Britannia. It is an example of the organization of a military zone and illustrates the defensive techniques. The Antonine Wall, a 60 km-long fortification in Scotland, was started by Emperor Antoninus Pius in AD142 as a defense against the Barbarians of the north and it constitutes the northwestern-most portion of the Roman Limes. Limes Norici, the frontier of the Roman province Noricum, from the River Inn along the Danube to Cannabiaca in Austria, Limes Pannonicus, the frontier of the Roman province Pannonia, along the Danube from Klosterneuburg Austria to Taurunum in Serbia. A mediaeval limes is the Limes Saxoniae in Holstein, the stem of limes, limit-, which can be seen in the genitive case, marks it as the ancestor of an entire group of important words in many languages, for example, English limit. Modern languages have multiplied its abstract formulations, for example, from limit comes the abbreviation lim, used in mathematics to designate the limit of a sequence or a function, see limit.
In metaphysics, material objects are limited by matter and therefore are delimited from each other, in ethics, men must know their limitations and are wise if they do. An etymology was given in detail by Julius Pokorny, Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch. According to him, it comes from Indo-European el-, elei-, lei-, to bow, to bend, the Latin meaning was discussed in detail by W. Gebert. The sense is that a limit bends across one in some way, the limes was a cross-path or a cross-wall, which the Romans meant to throw across the path of invaders to hinder them