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Old August 14th, 2015, 01:08 PM   #51

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Originally Posted by caldrail View Post
Troops with no training at all don't behave in that sort of organised manner. They tend to act alone with very brittle morale and little firm resistance.
Welcome to Rome. Training is their advantage. They drilled specific maneuvers half the time they were training. And they did train. Why do you think they called that massive area near Rome the "Field of MARS"


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That's not quite the same thing. The veterans are part of the line.
They were in the Principes (second row). Hastati were not veterans of that many conflicts.

[/QUOTE]
With one primary condition - that they huddle together in a protective mass. Doing anything else places them at the mercy of the cavalry. [/QUOTE] Not at all! You need to provide some source that shows that the "Square Formation" Was anything but a unique formation used against cavalry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infantry_square

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Not true at all. Some forms of infantry are better in one direction, but even the hopelessly restricted phalanx can reverse direction with little effort. Typically infantry faced with a threat of cavalry adopts a more defensive formation for survival, although I have to concede the advantage of lines in battle is that the flanks are protected forcing a cavalry unit in those circumstances to consider fighting head on - but then, it was standard Roman training not to do that, but to approach, throw missiles, and wheel away. Roman cavalry didn't like melee - too dangerous for the riders. far better to intimidate the infantry and wait for them to break. Once men start running, they'd be very lucky to escape cavalry.
Firstly, Rome was not threatened by cavalry until they started facing armies from out of Rome. Secondly, it doesn't matter what Roman cavalry practice is. Like you said, it was "too dangerous" to charge. Why? Because charging a formed line of soldiers several ranks deep is suicide.

Besides, if you break through their hastati line, you risk leaving your cavalry surrounded since the Principe units can advance to save the Hastati.

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That's a modern approach that evolved with the need to manage armies in the age of gunpwder. Ancient armies did not function with that kind of chain of command. Units were largely on their own to use initiative (or stick to the plan), and in fact, centurions were expected to show this initiative. Caesar refers to it. When he heard rumours and speculation among the men he was angry, berating his centurions. "Your job" He told them, "Is to lead men in battle. Leave the strategy to me". That is pretty well standard for ancient and medieval armies, particularly since a general did not command from the rear, but might well be personally involved in the fighting, and indeed, Caesar was known to take his place in the line and fight alongside his men, one reason why he was popular with his men (the others being victories and booty).
It is true that Roman organization was far from our pyramid system, but even it had ranks. Centurions, Legates, and Tribune (or their equivalents). Most Roman generals front from the back, and Caesar only sometimes fought with the men to increase moral. Similar to the Aquilifer jumping to shore.

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What NCO's? That's modern organisation. The Romans did not use command at that low level and had no need of it bearing in mind the sizes of units involved. As far as being happy, Roman armies were as prone to morale failure as any other human beings. One anecdote has officers desperate to wake Marius as he slept under a tree. His army was basically crumbling away. And Caesar recalls the difficulties of keeping men in the line. One standard bearer threatened him to get out of the way with the sharp end of the pole, whilst another simply handed the standard to him and ran off.
Centurions were NCOS. They were promoted from the standard infantry. That is what an NCO is! "Commisioned Officers" don't start there. They are put directly into place. Legates take their rank directly, and are not promoted from lower ranks. And yes, Roman armies do sometimes crumble. All did. Which is why, ta-da, a means for a safe retreat was needed, despite your idea that it was too "unroman".

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Squares are a formal version of something that's been around from the start. If you want protection from cavalry, huddle together and present no easy target. At that point it becomes about survival and thoughts of movement are limited to a less than desirable sprint for safety.
Again, cavalry wasn't a big threat in Italy. And Roman armies were trained to ignore survival instincts and trust their commanders. That's why they were victorious so often. That's why they would continue to attack an army despite losing to it several times in the past.

Again, so sources that armies had always used a square-style formation.

Also, You pretend they only cared about cavalry. No. They cared about infantry. That square would have been destroyed by infantry. Do you think the infantry just sat on a hill while the cavalry worked?

Infantry would line up to deal with enemy infantry. It would be on the flanks that they dealt with cavalry (I'll remind you that cavalry was almost always on the flank). And that was largely dealt with by velites and allied cavalry. You forget that Rome focused on the enemy army as a whole, not just their cavalry.

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neither am I. However there must have been a significant gap. otherwise the risks of disorder are too great.
It didn't hurt the Phalanx. Substantiate this idea that a line formation was a greater threat to order then square formation.

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No it doesn't. It makes for confusion and the gaps in the line aren't the huge disadvantage you believe them to be. Enemy forces will tend to attack another, not the gaps between them, or there's little point being in the battle. Once you push men into one continuous line (why didn't you do that from the start if it was so advantageous?) there's too much confusion.
They will in fact attack the gaps. Why would they blindly charge directly into the front of the enemy when you can hit their side? They aren't like horses, with blinders on the keep their sight on the enemies face. Their commanders would have joyishly ordered men to exploit those gaps and surround. I don't get this "little point being in a battle" idea. The point is to win. And winning is in exploiting those gaps.

In what way is there too much confusion? Are the Romans so mentally broken that they can't move a few metres to the left and move up, despite being drilled on it? A kid could pull that off.

And they were lined up when the hit the enemy. They were in block formation prior because moving miles and miles in line formation is not easy. They would maneuver to place in blocks because it was convenient. Then they would form the line.

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Not in the manner you suggest. It had more to do with forcing men to surrender, retreat, or simply die. The line of units helps because it protects flanks. And since historically no army every presented a continuous front in the manner you suggest, one has to question the reality of it.
Stop saying that until you give a real source. You are just throwing this claim around as objective fact (and using to objective "no army ever"). Armies fought in line formation. Until you prove that they didn't, you are failing to present your BOP.

"Since historically few armies ever presented a block formation front in the manner you suggest, one has to question the reality of your claims." Your move. Sources, or nothing.

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If only it was that simple. History is full of failed communication, disordered forces, and clumsy decisions.
History is a massive field of study. Even a hundred examples is not a large enough number to cover it all. Even today there are problems just like this. Both Rome and her enemies made mistakes. And those mistakes happen whether in line formation or blocks.

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The lessons learned from soldiering in the past (and repeated in documentaries concerning the war in Afghanistan for that matter) is that survival is about fighting alongside your colleagues supportively. Strategic formations aren't the preserve of the common soldier and often of little value to him when survival becomes important.
Modern warfare should never be compared to ancient warfare. ever. But since you did, I'll remind you that the common soldier is taught, both today and back then, to respond to leaders, not survival instinct.

And can you explain how line formations take out the "supportively" aspect of warfare? And don't say "cohesion" because you are the only one that seems to think cohesion isn't possible in line formations. You're responce here does not in any way counter (or even seem to connect with) the quote your think you're rebutting.
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Old August 14th, 2015, 03:52 PM   #52
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IIrc, the advantage of the "refused" or "echelon" attack is that if the enemy tries to envelope the forward formation, the "refused" or "echelon" unit will attack the enemy formation as that formation tries to envelpe the forward troops.

Might that be the reasoning behind the "checkerboard" on "quincunx" approach?
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Old August 14th, 2015, 11:07 PM   #53

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Originally Posted by MJuingong View Post
IIrc, the advantage of the "refused" or "echelon" attack is that if the enemy tries to envelope the forward formation, the "refused" or "echelon" unit will attack the enemy formation as that formation tries to envelpe the forward troops.

Might that be the reasoning behind the "checkerboard" on "quincunx" approach?
While it is a benefit, the ultimate value was in the ability to allow for an orderly retreat to the rear.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 01:25 AM   #54

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What?? ALL armies presented a continuous front!! Yeah, you don't want your cavalry or elephants stepping on your toes, and the light bobs can cheerfully do clumps or swarms or clouds. But for the heavy foot--legionaries, phalangites, musketeers, housecarls, or Hessians--the next man or the next unit is about an arm's length away. Leave a space big enough to drive a truck through, and guess what? Someone will! (Actually, we should leave the guns out of this--they do change things!)
Only in your imagination. When armies meet, they do so to fight each other, not squeeze through tiny gaps. As it happens, there were always plenty of gaps in a battle line

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Do you really think that ancient and medieval armies did *not* have continuous lines of infantry? Because that just boggles my mind, and I have no idea how anyone could come to that conclusion.
You might want to study ancient & medieval warfare at this point.

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Sure, so what? The Romans had a system of signals and commands. It must have worked sometimes, or they would not have kept using it. Is an imperfect system worse than none at all?
Fine, but lets not invent something that was never there.

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Exactly! An nothing supports like a solid line. One line facing another means that virtually no one on the battlefield has to figure out anything complicated. Line up, go forwards. Beat on the guy facing you until he falls down or runs away. Chase him until the horn tells you to stop. That works from Sumeria through Ulundi.
You have a quaint mental image of battle. I guarantee that serious study of deployments will not show any prediliction towards continuous lines. It just isn't practical. It leaves no room for manoever, causes confusion between units, and in fact, should the morale of one unit fail, the cliose proximity of another will almost guarantee a disaster as neighborouring units get the hint.

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Welcome to Rome. Training is their advantage. They drilled specific maneuvers half the time they were training. And they did train. Why do you think they called that massive area near Rome the "Field of MARS"
It is worth pointing out that you were talking about untrained troops, and for that matter, it wasn't unusual for Rome to field troops that had not received any significant training. Also, please be aware that Roman military training was rather less expansive than many websites would have you believe.

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They were in the Principes (second row). Hastati were not veterans of that many conflicts.
I already know that. The idea being that newbies were quickly experienced at warfare and supported by people with experience and preserves as many veterans as possible. However that doesn't change the format of these divisions being part of a line instead of a seperate component.

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Not at all! You need to provide some source that shows that the "Square Formation" Was anything but a unique formation used against cavalry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infantry_square
Shield walls. Shiltrons. Wedges. And so forth. The square was, as I said, a formalised version of a simple idea. Huddle together and present a difficult target for cavalry. That's a reality of warfare and has been from the beginning.

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Firstly, Rome was not threatened by cavalry until they started facing armies from out of Rome.
You might want to study Roman military histopry in more detail at this point.

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Secondly, it doesn't matter what Roman cavalry practice is. Like you said, it was "too dangerous" to charge. Why? Because charging a formed line of soldiers several ranks deep is suicide.
That's a little naive to be honest. Cavalry attacked frontages as required, but the manner of doing so varied. So really it does matter what the Roman cavalry did on the field. It mattered a great deal. Or why were they so well trained? Why did their manuals specifiy certain drills and tactics?

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Besides, if you break through their hastati line, you risk leaving your cavalry surrounded since the Principe units can advance to save the Hastati.
Yes, you do. Hey guess what, isn't a battle dangerous? But then the idea would be to defeat the Principes and then the Triarii coming to their rescue. Can't do that? Then do something else, like whittle down the Roman line with passsing attacks, which was quite common.

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It is true that Roman organization was far from our pyramid system, but even it had ranks. Centurions, Legates, and Tribune (or their equivalents). Most Roman generals front from the back, and Caesar only sometimes fought with the men to increase moral. Similar to the Aquilifer jumping to shore.
Front from the back? Interesting.... But nonetheless your concept of Roman ranks is based on equivalence with modern practice and that's a fallacy. We see trhings as graded and so forth, that's why our funerary inscriptions state the rank of the man who died. The Roman inscriptions do not. They simply list what the dead man did during his career, which yields interesting information. Such as why a centurion was listed as having been Primus Pilus (top centurion) twice. There were levels of authority in Roman legions but it didn't work in the straict classification you assume. For instance, you will not find any mention in Roman sources or archaeology of ranks for the common soldier.

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Centurions were NCOS. They were promoted from the standard infantry. That is what an NCO is!
Nope. Centurions were a seperate military caste and not promoted from the rank and file in the manner you assume. There was a persistent strain of democracy within the legions and some centurions were given the status by vote of the soldiery, others received the role via family status from outside the legion by appointment. Nor were they NCO's from a command perspective. They were officers, and very powerful ones at that. Centurions had authority to make decisions on the battlefield, to ensure discipline of their men, and were expected to maintain standards. Bear in mind that some excess centurions were given territorial office, particularly with regard to security and taxation, something a petty NCO would not be allowed in any army.

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Again, cavalry wasn't a big threat in Italy. And Roman armies were trained to ignore survival instincts and trust their commanders. That's why they were victorious so often. That's why they would continue to attack an army despite losing to it several times in the past.
That's exaggerating somewhat. Nobody ignores survival instincts. Whilst some make a decision to fight to the last, Roman armies were not known for doing that, and occaisions when they were slaughtered had more to do with being trapped than fatal heroism.

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Also, You pretend they only cared about cavalry
I never said that..

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No. They cared about infantry. That square would have been destroyed by infantry. Do you think the infantry just sat on a hill while the cavalry worked?
Yes. They did. Because otherwise they become vulnerable. Please please please do some reading about military history. This is worse than teaching kindergarten.

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Infantry would line up to deal with enemy infantry. It would be on the flanks that they dealt with cavalry (I'll remind you that cavalry was almost always on the flank). And that was largely dealt with by velites and allied cavalry. You forget that Rome focused on the enemy army as a whole, not just their cavalry.
IUnless of course the situation was different. Sometimes it was. Leuctra, for instance, where the opposing greek armies lined cavalry ahead of the phalanxes.

quote]It didn't hurt the Phalanx. Substantiate this idea that a line formation was a greater threat to order then square formation.[/quote]
What? A square is a defensive formation used in a later period to ward off the threat off cavalry action. The phalanx was a offensive formation used to maximise the effect of long pikes.

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They will in fact attack the gaps.
LMAO.... How can you attack thin air? You mean attack through the gaps surely? Why? That's only risking getting surrounded. The next time there's a riot in some city somewhere, watch the news footage. Polioce and rioters don't aim for the gaps unless they intend going around. Mostly they just throw missiles and shout, or the police use horses and hoses to push back the protestors. Nobody really cares about the gaps. it's the other side that they're to confront.

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In what way is there too much confusion? Are the Romans so mentally broken that they can't move a few metres to the left and move up, despite being drilled on it? A kid could pull that off.
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Modern warfare should never be compared to ancient warfare. ever. But since you did, I'll remind you that the common soldier is taught, both today and back then, to respond to leaders, not survival instinct.
On the contrary. Modern training exploits survival instincts.

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And can you explain how line formations take out the "supportively" aspect of warfare? And don't say "cohesion" because you are the only one that seems to think cohesion isn't possible in line formations. You're responce here does not in any way counter (or even seem to connect with) the quote your think you're rebutting.
No. It isn't worth the effort. Most of this argument is about basic concepts which you have little deomnstratable understanding of. Sorry, but you don't, or at least, nothing you've said so far shows any real grasp of military studies. Seriously, you need to do more study and drop many of your preconceptions.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 02:03 AM   #55

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Originally Posted by Matthew Amt View Post
Okay, this seems to be the real point of contention, and I'm not sure how to answer in the few minutes I have left. Ancient and medieval armies fought in lines. Leaving gaps was an invitation for someone to waltz in and hit one of your disjointed blocks in the flank or rear and destroy it. Open flanks are bad, right? Why build a formation composed mainly of open flanks?? Why do ancient sources always talk about lines, and the importance of keeping them intact?

Rats, gotta run. I'll try to hit the rest in a little while.

Matthew
Wouldn't those men attacking through the gaps simply be attacked by the other troops if they tried that? It's different from just having a regular open flank.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 02:08 AM   #56

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Originally Posted by Pyrrhos The Eagle View Post
Wouldn't those men attacking through the gaps simply be attacked by the other troops if they tried that? It's different from just having a regular open flank.
Agreed. That is the advantage of having echeloned formations.
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