Artillery of Roman Legion

Oct 2011
468
Croatia
But Diocletian was 100 years before 400 CE. My readings suggest the divided legions eventually became permanent. Two cohorts here, two more over there, two more in a third place stopped being in the same legion and became three separate legions each of two cohorts. Probably long after Diocletian, but by the time of Adrianople, for example. At least one modern history of Adrianople refused to describe the Roman units as legions and instead called them regiments to reflect that none of these units had anywhere near ten cohorts. Admittedly it was a popular history. I don't claim it as authoritative, but I don't think we can compare the legions of Diocletian with the legions of Adrianople or the Notitia.
That is definitely a possibility. I do know that at least palatinate legions were reduced in number significantly, but yes, that may be the case for legions in general. However, later Byzantine meroi - the legion-equivalent - are 5 000 strong again. I wonder when exactly that particular reorganization happened.
 
Mar 2018
839
UK
If memory serves me, Roman legion usually deployed in ranks 6 files deep. Assuming one meter distance between legionaries, that is 6 meters. Even with two meters distance, that is 12 meters. Add some 6 - 12 meters yet again for carrobalista, and you still have 75 - 90 meters useful range.
And the triplex acies means that you have three such rows, with 2 gaps (plus another one for the scorpions). That leaves only 28 meters of range. You don't want any kind of misfiring or bad wind or you'll be dropping your own men!


That, I do agree with. Ballista shooting pots of Greek fire would be more useful, but even that usage I do not recall any references to.
Greek fire was invented centuries after the fall of the West however, so I don't think it's particularly pertinent here?
 
Oct 2011
468
Croatia
And the triplex acies means that you have three such rows, with 2 gaps (plus another one for the scorpions). That leaves only 28 meters of range. You don't want any kind of misfiring or bad wind or you'll be dropping your own men!
From what I recall, triplex acies was more of a Republic / Pricipate thing, whereas Late Roman legion deployed in formation akin to Anglo-Saxon shield wall. Here it is suggested that phalanx-like formation might have replaced triplex acies as early as 2nd century AD. And even before that, triplex acies was not a hard-and-fast rule.

Greek fire was invented centuries after the fall of the West however, so I don't think it's particularly pertinent here?
Greek Fire in its Byzantine form is a type of flamethrower. But artillery-launched incidientary weapons - basically ceramic pots filled with flammable substance - were utilized as early as 4th century AD.
 
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Mar 2018
839
UK
From what I recall, triplex acies was more of a Republic / Pricipate thing, whereas Late Roman legion deployed in formation akin to Anglo-Saxon shield wall. Here it is suggested that phalanx-like formation might have replaced triplex acies as early as 2nd century AD. And even before that, triplex acies was not a hard-and-fast rule.
Thanks. I don't understand the book however, the Primus Pili would have been in the front rank of the first cohort, which was normally placed in the front right of the deployed legion. This isn't the manipular system where the more senior centuries are placed to the rear.

But that's besides the point. If the Romans did deploy in a single line, then a lot of my objections about shooting scorpions from the back disappear.
 
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Oct 2011
468
Croatia
Thanks. I don't understand the book however, the Primus Pili would have been in the front rank of the first cohort, which was normally placed in the front right of the deployed legion. This isn't the manipular system where the more senior centuries are placed to the rear.

But that's besides the point. If the Romans did deploy in a single line, then a lot of my objections about shooting scorpions from the back disappear.
They did. There is in fact a name for such a formation: simplex acies, and IIRC Caesar often deployed his legions in such a manner (as I mentioned, triplex acies never was a hard rule).

You have some more here:
 
May 2019
202
Salt Lake City, Utah
Siege engines will not have tactical battle field applications. Smaller mobile platforms would be best used in oblique and enfilade fire. I would think such units would need light arms (sling, missile, etc.) to protect them, particularly in enfilade avenues, from enemy cavalry.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,891
Australia
The smaller scorpios shouldn't be considered artillery any more than a heavy crossbow. These engines should only be considered artillery if they require more than one person to operate.

 
Last edited:
Sep 2012
1,140
Tarkington, Texas
I was of the opinion that the Roman Army broke down artillery and transported it on mules. The larger artillery pieces would be constructed on site using local lumber. This would mean it took time to assemble them.

Pruitt