- Apr 2017
How was the attached scorpio bolt thrower of a Roman Century placed in relation to the rest of the artillery of the Legion? Were they put by themselves or grouped with the rest of the artillery?
I seem to recall one description of a battle where Roman scorpions proved decisive in defeating some attacking force somewhere in Germania. But descriptions of their actual use are really limited.This is mostly speculation from my part, but it's based on two facts:
1) We know there was a decent amount of anti-personel artillery in the legions
2) Descriptions of battles (outside of sieges) don't mention them during the actual description of battles [to my knowledge at least, please correct me if I'm wrong].
From that I'd guess that they were mostly 'operational' rather than 'tactical' weapons. By that I mean that they are used, either directly or the threat of them, to manipulate things before battle is engaged, but do relatively little during engagement. For example, say a Roman army wants to ford a medium sized river. Doing that with the enemy on the other side waiting for you is difficult. So you place the scorpions on your bank of the river and start shooting. The enemy won't stand there dying, so they clear out and give you some space to ford in peace. Scorpions are a great help, without technically being part of the battle. Same thing if you're facing a well formed enemy on a nice hill. Nobody wants to charge up that, so you belt them with scorpion bolts until they decide to fight on the flat bit of ground you've chosen.
In all those cases you'd want to deploy them towards the edge of their range, all at once. That means in front of your battle line, but with enough of a infantry/cavalry escort to keep them safe. As soon as the enemy responds to them, you can pack them up to the rear nice and safe. They're not there like napoleonic artillery to inflict casualties, but more as an area denial/manipulation weapon.
Incidentally, are there reports in antiquity of two armies with comparable field artillery engaging each other?
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