Originally Posted by irishcrusader95
recently finished Micheal Grant's book on the history of Rome and i just have a few questions on the Roman army.
3. did recruits mostly only come from italy or did they draw a lot from other territories as well, in which case would there not have been language difficulties?
4. can anyone give me the brake up of a legion, i know that each was divided into sections for easier control, sort of like how a modern army is broken down into division, regiment, company, platoon and squad.
6. can anyone give me an overview to their usual tactics in battle, i know they changed overtime along with the army but i am taking of when they were at their hight like under Trajan and Marcus Aurelius.
*3. Until the 1st century AC, the majority of soldiers were Italians. The recruitment of foreign troops began with the Punic wars, specially during the second one, when large non-Roman armies were fielded elsewhere, Iberian and Numidians were the most remarkable. They could fight as mercenaries, but they were usually "allieds". These foreign troops were disbanded when conflicts finished.
By the late Republic, a growing number of foreign auxilliars were recruited, the Germanic cavalry of Caesar for example. They became an integral part of the late Republican army. In regard to legionnaries, in those days, the most important area of recruitment in Italy were old Samnite territories and Cisalpine Gaul. During the Civil Wars, native citizen legions were movilized in Hispania.
During the 1st century AD, Italians declined into the army, being more and more restricted to high positions. During the 2nd century AC, the Hispanic legionnaries were the most numerous together with Gauls, with Italians on high ranks. However, soon the army began to recruit the most men in the frontiers that they were defending. From the 3rd to 5th centuries the most important area of legionnary recruitment were the Balkans.
When the Empire began and the army was professionalized, the auxiliars were officialy integrated in the structure of the army. They can't be considered foreign, but neither were them citizens. Romans used to integrate invading and defeated enemies into their ranks, for example, the Sarmatians that Adrian enlisted and were then sent to Britain. Because they got the citizen after serving, this was the most useful tool of romanization.
During the Late Empire, the differences among citizen legionnaries and non citizen auxilliars dissapeared. A new group of troups rose: the Foederati. Barbarian peoples, not always foreign to the Empire, that had to fight for the Empire, in spite of not being directly commanded by Roman officials.
*4. There were four phases on the Legion development:
A. The Servian Legion, from the 6th to late 4th century: is badly known, the Legion was not an unit, but the entire army of Rome. It was divided in five different ranks, corresponding to social classes. Most of infantrymen were hoplites, with support of light infantry and cavalrymen. High class men fought on horse.
B. The Manipular Legion: this cover from late 4th century or early 3th century to around 100 BC. The legion was based on the Maniple. A single maniple was 120 men strong, combining two 60 men centuriae. The centuria stopped being the basic unit of the army, the maniple was. A general, in order to maneuver, would take one, two or three maniples, not centuriae.
The army deployed in three lines, the famous "Triplex Acies": the first line were the Hastati, men among 20-25 years old, equiped with shield, sword, two javelins and little armour. The second were the Principes, men among 25-35 years old, equiped in the same way than Hastati but with more armour. The third line were the Triarii, the veterans, who fought with spears instead of swords. The lines had ten maniples each, but the Triarii maniples were 60 men strong instead of 120, something that has lead to some authors to speculate if this distribution was correct. The Triarii acted as reserve, while Hastati and Principes alternated the frontline position.
1200 men fought as velites, with shield and javelins only. They were the poorer men and also the younger.
The cavalry was 300 men strong, but their most important contingents fought in Alae, independent of Legion. They were deployed in 10 turmae of 30 cavalrymen.
There you have: Legion=4500, Maniple=120, Centuria=60, Contubernium=6 men.
C1. The "Marian Legion": this was the dominant legion from 100 BC to 300 AC. The Legion was reorganized in the next way: first, the men equipment was standarized in the way that Principes fought. So the new Legion had 4800 infantrymen plus 120 cavalrymen, 4920 men in total.
The Centuria was increased to 80 men and got tactical importance, the Maniples were effectively disbanded though they remained in a honorific way. Marius, or whoever, took one maniple from each line and combined them: 160+160+160 = 480 men. The Centurions were two, two for each centuria of the old maniples, for example 1st Centurion of the Hastati and 2nd Centurion of the Hastati, though as I said the maniple was not used anymore.
With this men, he formed the Cohort, the most important tactical unit. A robust and flexible unit. The Legion had now 10 Cohorts, each 6 centuria strong, deployed in Triplex Acies: 4 cohorts in front, 3 in second, 3 in third line, usually. Each centuria was usually deployed 8 men deep, 10 in front.
In this case you have: Legion=4920, Cohort=480, Maniple=160 (honorific), Centuria=80, Contubernium= 8 men.
The basic chain of command was: Legatus, commander of the Legion; Centurio, commander of the centuriae; Decanus, commander of the contubernium. There were also a lot of intermediate ranks, but the most important one was the Centurio. There were six centurions on each cohort, by order of precedence: hastatus posterior, hastatus prior, princeps posterior, princeps prior, pilus posterior and pilus prior. The pilus prior was the centurio in charge of the Cohort. The pilus prior of the first centuria of the first cohort was called Primus Pilus, and hade precedence over the rest.
C2. The Imperial Legion: they fought in the same way that Marian Legion, with some differences. In order to put a bigger pressure on the right flank, the most important one for the Romans, the first Cohort, that on the front, right side, was nearly doubled. So it had 800 men in 5 centuria only, 160 men each centuria, a formidable shock unit. Most experienced troops were usually deployed on the flanks and the rear of each unit.
So the Imperial Legion had 5240 men.
Probably the Triple Aciex was replaced by a simple two lines deployment. But this is uncertain, because regarding tactical issues historians know more on the army of the Late Republic than on Principate army.
It looked like this:
D. The late Imperial Legion: the legion was reduced to 1000 men, but its internal structure is poorly known. We know that Cohorts still existed.
On the way that the army fought during the 2nd century.
Consider what I told before on Imperial Legion. Then some things should be cleared: Romans made an extensive use of auxilliars, usually they were as much as legionnaries on the battlefield.
Auxilliars were organized in Cohorts: infantry cohorts were quingenarias of 480 men in six centuriae, or miliarias of 800 men in 10 centuriae. Auxilliar cavalry was organized in Allae: quingenaria of 512 men, or miliaria of 768 men.
Romans also introduced mixed units of infantry and cavalry, they were the Cohorts Equitatae. If this cohort was quingenaria, it deployed 480 infantrymen and 120 cavalrymen. If the cohort was miliaria, 800 infantrymen and 240 cavalrymen.
These auxiliaries were as varied as the Empire: Syrian archers, Germanic spearmen, Numidian cavalrymen... ad infinitum.
The usual way of fighting was deploying the legions backed and flanked by auxilliars, the best known deployment is that of Arrian agains the Alans in Asia Minor: Arrian’s Array Against the Alans