Formations were made based on military rank. [18] The Roman army after the Marian reforms was also unique in the ancient world because when lined up opposite an enemy readying for battle it was completely silent except for the orders of officers and the sound of trumpets signalling orders. Although this reduced the shield wall, the extreme length of the spear prevented most enemies from closing, as the pikes of the first three to five ranks could all be brought to bear in front of the front row. [51], Whatever their particular culture, the Gallic and Germanic tribes generally proved themselves to be tough opponents, racking up several victories over their enemies. [91] Other writers argue that while some ancient Romans did view the world in terms of barbarians versus civilized Romans (epitomized in Hadrian's Wall of separation), the reality of Roman frontiers was a fuzzy set of interlocking zones - political, military, judicial and financial, rather than a neat linear boundary. The Velites would fight in a swarm of uncoordinated soldiers. In this case the phalanx would sacrifice its left side, which typically consisted of allied troops, in an effort to overtake the enemy from the flank. As long as the Roman Senate and its successors were willing to replace and expend more men and material decade after decade, victory could be bought through a strategy of exhaustion.[75]. Marcellinus's commentary also sharply contrasts the fighting spirit of the Persian infantrymen with those of Rome, stating that they had "aversion to pitched infantry battles. Some soldiers also carried a type of turf cutter. The decline of the diadochi and the phalanx was inextricably linked with the rise of Rome and the Roman legion, from the 3rd century BC. The other six would follow behind the first four as reserves should many men fall in battle. The maniple units would be spaced 20 yards apart, and 100 yards from the next line of manipular soldiers. (The cavalry xyston was 12.5 feet (~3.8m) by comparison.) It seems likely that both motions were used, depending on the situation. Thus, a phalanx facing non-phalangite formations required some sort of protection on its flanks—lighter or at least more mobile infantry, cavalry, etc. Citizenship conveyed certain valuable rights in Roman society, and was another element that helped to promote the standardization and integration of the infantry. Some archaeologists have pointed out bronze armour does not actually provide as much protection from direct blows as more extensive corselet padding, and have suggested its continued use was a matter of status for those who could afford it. Oppidum expugnare was the Roman term for besieging cities. Essentially it is argued that the increasing barbarization of the heavy legions weakened weaponry, training, morale and military effectiveness in the long run. Caesar was to mount these in boats on some operations in Britain, striking fear in the heart of the native opponents according to his writings. Richard Gottheil, Samuel Krauss, "Bar-Kokba and The Bar-Kokba War", A history of Persia, Volume 1. Another is a particular attack formation, such as the wedge discussed above, or an encirclement as at the Battle of Ilipa. Please improve this article by adding a reference. [89], It could be argued that the use of barbarian personnel was nothing new. Homer used the term to differentiate the formation-based combat from the individual duels so often found in his poems.[3]. Gallic chariot warfare, for example, showed a high degree of integration and coordination with infantry, and Gallic horse and chariot assaults sometimes threatened Roman forces in the field with annihilation. Once the Marian reforms were enacted, the same formations and strategies continued to be used. It would also be very hard to remove a sarissa from anything it stuck in (the earth, shields, and soldiers of the opposition) if it were thrust downwards, due to its length. Facing the much larger army of Darius I, the Athenians thinned out their phalanx and consequently lengthened their front, to avoid being outflanked. Each maniple was divided into centuries. "[101] As such it was a strong force for cohesion among Rome's infantrymen. They also carried around tools such as dolabra, wooden stave, shallow wicker, and a basket. The early history of the phalanx is largely one of combat between hoplite armies from competing Greek city-states. The first encounter between a Greek phalanx and a Roman legion was the battle of Heraclea in 280, in which Pyrrhus of Epirus overcame his Italian enemies, but suffered heavy losses because the Roman army was more flexible and could replace the soldiers in the first line; they could continue to fight much longer. Centurions (roughly equivalent in rank to today's non-commissioned or junior officers, but functioning as modern captains in field operations) commanded cohorts, maniples and centuries. The short sword was a secondary weapon, used if the doru was broken or lost. [13], Other training exercises taught the legionary to obey commands and assume battle formations. Smaller detachments waged more personal and smaller scale, yet intense operations against tribal foes on the Rhine and Danubian frontiers. Lendon, p. 182: The phalanx was known to the Romans in pre-Republic days, whose best fighting men were armed as hoplites. After routing the Persian wings, the hoplites on the Athenian wings wheeled inwards, destroying the elite troop at the Persian centre, resulting in a crushing victory for Athens. The later debacles at Lake Trasimene and Cannae, forced the proud Romans to avoid battle, shadowing the Carthaginians from the high ground of the Apennines, unwilling to risk a significant engagement on the plains where the enemy cavalry held sway. Prestige varied based on the cohort they supervised. To instill fear into their enemy, the soldiers of a legion would march onto an enemy completely silent until they were close enough to attack. Before a battle the commander would try to maneuver his army in a way that granted him the advantage. Meanwhile, auxilia archers were deployed on the wings of the legion in front of the cavalry, in order to defend their withdrawal. Some elements that made the Romans an effective military force, both tactically and at higher levels, were: The Romans were able to copy and adapt the weapons and methods of their opponents more effectively. If cavalry is involved, they would be placed on the sides of the main cohorts. The. Another factor in the Romans' defeat was a treacherous defection by Arminius and his contingent.[53]. Others behind them would be stepping up into the fray meanwhile, engaging new foes or covering their colleagues. 15, for an introduction to the debate, Goldsworthy (1997) pp. Throughout the hoplite era the standard hoplites' armour went through many cyclical changes. 50-69, John Warry, Warfare in the classical world, University of Oklahoma Press, Fronda, 2010. The operations of Scipio were an improvement on some of those who had previously faced Hannibal, showing a higher level of advance thinking, preparation and organization. The phalanx was a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar weapons. Brady, op. According to Plutarch, the Roman general was shown the sword in the temple at Gergovia some years after the battle, but he refused to reclaim it, saying that it was consecrated, and to leave it where it was.[66]. [12] An Archaic hoplite typically wore a bronze breastplate, a bronze helmet with cheekplates, as well as greaves and other armour. Surprisingly, the least-seasoned men, hastati, made up the front rank. Assault roads and causeways were constructed on the marshy ground to facilitate manoeuvre, sometimes under direct Gallic attack. Surprisingly for such an infantry centred battle, Caesar relied heavily on cavalry forces to counter Gallic sorties. Without such long-term cohesion and leadership, however, their performance was uneven. Soldiers carried out training common to every organized army, from initial muster, arms and weapons drill, formation marching and tactical exercises. Packed into a dense armoured mass, and equipped with massive pikes 12 to 21 feet (6.4 m) in length, the phalanx was a formidable force. It is possible that long spear tactics (also found in North Wales) were an established part of more irregular warfare in parts of Britain prior to 1066. The primary hoplite weapon was a spear around 2.4 meters in length called a dory. [94] At the Battle of Châlons (circa 451 AD) Attila the Hun rallied his troops by mocking the once-vaunted Roman infantry, alleging that they merely huddled under a screen of protective shields in close formation. Several thousand men had to be positioned from column into line, with each unit taking its designated place, along with light troops and cavalry. Each line fought its own lonely battle and the last ultimately perished when the Romans reorganized for a final surge. For 'tis grievous to wound in the rear the back of a flying man in hostile war. Each hoplite provided his own equipment. Local peasants or farmers might have their supplies taken from them in order to supply the Roman legion. [81] Thus, the battles of Ventidius and Julian show that the Roman infantry, when properly handled and manoeuvred, and when working in conjunction with other supporting arms like slingers, could certainly meet the challenge of an enemy cavalryman.[81]. One innovation on the Greek phalanx that the Romans introduced was a triple line formation of three distinct ranks. The rugged terrain of Samnium where the war was fought highlighted the lack of manoeuvrability inherent in the phalanx formation which the Romans had inherited from the Etruscans.The main battle troops of the Etruscans and Latins of this period comprised Greek-style hoplite phalanxes, inherited from the original Greek military unit, the phalanx. In the defeat by Hannibal at the River Trebia, 10,000 Romans cut their way through the debacle to safety, maintaining unit cohesion when all around was rout, a testimony to their tactical organization and discipline.[97]. Parthian casualties were minimal.[80]. As combat lengthened and the battlefield compressed, the phalanx might thus become exhausted or rendered immobile, while the Romans still had enough left to not only manoeuvre but to make the final surges forward. The affair was decided in less than two hours, with a comprehensive defeat for the Macedonians. Like the Early Republican armies, the legions would still be organized into the same checkerboard formation. Lack of a strong cavalry corps, however, was a major flaw of the Roman forces. Each maniple was commanded by two Centurions and the whole legion was commanded by six tribunes. [43] Such "mixed" forces presented additional command and control problems. The Romans would then try to use their superior superior coordination to repulse the enemy attack and inflict heavy casualties. Many ancient armies used gaps of some sort, even the Carthaginians, who typically withdrew their initial skirmishing troops between the spaces before the main event. Cavalry opponents were one of the toughest challenges faced by the Roman infantry. Tactical superiority of Hannibal's forces. In the early days of the Roman Republic, military tactics were influenced by the methods used by the successful Greek Army. If the hoplites of the phalanx were to pick up speed toward the latter part of the advance it would have been for the purpose of gaining momentum against the enemy in the initial collision. Only the veterans of the triarii retained the long spear- vestige of the former phalanx. It was one of the most successful infantry formations of the ancient world, only rivaled by the manipular formation of the Roman legions. The circular hoplite shield was also enlarged and eventually replaced with the rectangular scutum for better protection. Fully developed by the ancient Greeks, it survived in modified form into the gunpowder era and is viewed today as the beginning of European military development. By the time the Romans were engaging against Hellenistic armies, the Greeks had ceased to use strong flank guards and cavalry contingents, and their system had degenerated into a mere clash of phalanxes. Strengths of the Macedonian phalanx. If indecisive, the contenders might fall back a short distance to recuperate, and then surge forward to renew the struggle. The influence of the Roman military and civic culture, as embodied particularly in the heavy infantry legion, gave the Roman military consistent motivation and cohesion. Wake, T., "The Roman Army After Marius' Reforms", 28 February 2006.,,, Caesar's Commentaries (THE WAR IN GAUL - THE CIVIL WAR), The Fifteen Decisive Battles Of The World,,, hanging Formations and Specialists: Aspects of Later Roman Battle Tactics,, Military units and formations of ancient Rome, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Military forces based primarily on heavy citizen infantry with tribal beginnings and early use of phalanx-type elements (see, Growing sophistication as Roman hegemony expanded outside Italy into North Africa, Greece and the Middle East (see, Continued refinement, standardization and streamlining in the period associated with, Continued expansion, flexibility and sophistication from the end of the, Growing barbarization, turmoil and weakening of the heavy infantry units in favour of. [18], Morale. Fighting with gaps is thus feasible as writers like Polybius assert. His field pack included a shovel, a dolabra or pickaxe, and a wicker basket for hauling dirt. 500 in the late Hellenistic armies. This then implies that the hoplites ranks closer to the front must be mentally prepared to replace their fallen comrade and adapt to his new position without disrupting the structure of the frontline.[11]. As noted above, the fierce charge of the Gauls and their individual prowess is frequently acknowledged by several ancient Roman writers. In the early imperial period, however, Germanic warbands inflicted one of Rome's greatest military defeats, (the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest) which saw the destruction of three imperial legions and was to place a limit on Roman expansion in the West. Tight control had to be maintained, hence the 3rd line triarii were sometimes made to squat or kneel, effectively discouraging premature movement to the front. |date= Commanders also kept an eye on the situation in Rome since political enemies and rivals could use an unsuccessful campaign to inflict painful career and personal damage. Ironically, in the final days, the bulk of the fighting was between forces composed mostly of barbarians on either side. [21] In this event, as in the battles of Cynoscephalae and Pydna, the phalanx became vulnerable to attacks by more flexible units—such as Roman legionary centuries, which were able to avoid the sarissae and engage in hand-to-hand combat with the phalangites. Therefore, although a Macedonian phalanx would have formed up in a similar manner to the hoplite phalanx, it possessed very different tactical properties. However, the phalanx did not disappear as a military tactic altogether. Chariot forces also attacked the legions as they were disembarking from ships during Caesar's invasion of Britain, but the Roman commander drove off the fast-moving assailants using covering fire (slings, arrows and engines of war) from his ships and reinforcing his shore party of infantry to charge and drive off the attack. A reconstitution illustration of the Greek hoplites marching in a phalanx formation. Another important area that must be considered concerns the psychological tendencies of the hoplites. As a result, battles between Greek city-states would not take place in any possible location, nor would they be limited to sometimes obvious strategic points. [16] See detailed battles: Views of the Gallic enemies of Rome have varied widely. While not all such men could be considered models of perfection, they commanded with substantial respect. 2001. While the phalanx was in march, an eis bathos formation (loose, meaning literally "in depth") was adopted in order to move more freely and maintain order. If they were losing the fight, the 'posterior' century returned to its position creating gaps again. By the 1st century BC the threat of the legions under a demagogue was recognized. It also allowed a higher proportion of the soldiers to be actively engaged in combat at a given time (rather than just those in the front rank). Engaged in foraging and camp construction the Roman forces were somewhat scattered. The cavalry screen on the flanks also added another layer of security, as did nightly regrouping in fortified camps. Rome had a vast manpower surplus far outnumbering Hannibal that gave them more options and flexibility. To combat the more frequent raids and advances of their hostile neighbours the legions were changed from slow and heavy to much lighter troops, and cavalry was introduced as a serious concept. With … The discipline of the Roman infantry restored the line, however, and a counterattack eventually defeated the Gallic forces and their allies. The question is that Greece is also incredibly hilly in many areas. In that case, each man's space was cut in half (0.9-1m or 3 ft in width) and the formation depth was turning on normal. He, therefore, opened sea and river routes, moving large quantities of supplies and reinforcements relatively close to the zone of battle, bypassing the dangerous land routes. The manipular system allowed engaging every kind of enemy even in rough terrain, because the legion had both flexibility and toughness according to the deployment of its lines. pp. The shape of the camp was generally rectangular but could vary based on the terrain or tactical situation. His operations also included pincer movements, a consolidated battle line, and "reverse Cannae" formations and cavalry movements. 2 vol. Tribunes were young men of aristocratic rank who often supervised administrative tasks like camp construction. However, at Cynoscephalae and Magnesia, failure to defend the flanks of the Phalanx led to defeat; whilst at Pydna, the loss of cohesion of the Phalanx when pursuing retreating Roman soldiers allowed the Romans to penetrate the formation, where the latter's close combat skills proved decisive. In fact, the mass formation of hoplites fighting with their shield and spear – known as a phalanx, was already adopted by the Greeks by 675 BC and reached the … - phalanx stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images. Others like Severus and Trajan saw great success in their invasions of Mesopotamia, defeating Parthian armies through combined arms tactics. At the Battle of the Sabis river, (see more detailed article) contingents of the Nervii, Atrebates, Veromandui and Aduatuci tribes massed secretly in the surrounding forests as the main Roman force was busy making camp on the opposite side of the river. Tribune – young officer, second in command of the legion. Typically a strong vanguard preceded the main body and included scouts, cavalry and light troops. However, at Cynoscephalae and Magnesia, failure to defend the flanks of the Phalanx led to defeat; whilst at Pydna, the loss of cohesion of the Phalanx when pursuing retreating Roman soldiers allowed the Romans to penetrate the formation, where the latter's close combat skills proved decisive. That their persistence was not actually endless does not negate the general pattern. The camp would then be burned to the ground to prevent its later occupation and use by the enemy. Each legion marched as a distinct formation and was accompanied by its own baggage train. As camp building commenced, the barbarian forces launched a ferocious attack, streaming across the shallow water and quickly assaulting the distracted Romans. The record is a mixed one, but whether under boisterous Republic or Imperial emperor, Rome produced enough competent leaders to secure its military dominance for over a millennium. The campaign of the Emperor Julian II against the Persians is instructive in this regard. The early Roman army, however, was a different thing altogether than the later imperial army. The initiative of such men played a key part in Roman success. Internal Roman fighting between Caesar and Pompey also saw the frequent employment of trenches, counter-trenches, dug-in strong points, and other works as the contenders manoeuvred against each other in field combat. The legion also carried an artillery detachment with 30 pieces of artillery. In the Brittany region of France, moles and breakwaters were constructed at enormous effort to assault the estuarine strongholds of the Gauls. Once the soldier had finished his training he was typically assigned to a legion, the basic mass fighting force. [7], The army of the Late Roman Empire would consist of the Limitanei and Comitatenses armies. These gaps left parts of the hoplite exposed to potentially lethal spear thrusts and were always an area of concern for hoplites controlling the front lines.[20]. phalanx formation phalanx gun roman phalanx. Each individual hoplite carried his shield on the left arm, protecting not only himself but the soldier to the left. [63] When implemented consistently, this strategy saw some success against Roman operations. However, even a reduced-depth phalanx proved unstoppable to the lightly armed Persian infantry. The Macedonian Phalanx had weaknesses similar to its hoplitic predecessor. The combat formation used by the Greeks and Romans was called the phalanx. One historian of the Second Punic War states: According to Polybius (2.24), the total number of Roman and allied men capable of bearing arms in 225 BC exceeded 700,000 infantry and 70,000 cavalries. The phalanx continued to be employed by the Romans as a tactic for their third military line or triarii of veteran reserve troops armed with the hastae or spear. A century might be supported by wagons in the rear, each drawn by six mules, and carrying tools, nails, water barrels, extra food and the tent and possessions of the centurion- commanding officer of the unit. It is tempting to suggest that Swiss military authorities had read Classical sources and were consciously copying Hellenistic practices. Caesar dealt with the real threat, turned around and by ruthlessly forced marching once again consolidated his forces at the town. Thus by localising the attacking power of the hoplites, Epaminondas was able to defeat an enemy previously thought invincible. The lines consisted of the least experienced men, the hastate, at the front followed by the principles and then the triarii, or the most experienced soldiers. After a long battle, the Persians withdrew- a tactical victory (albeit a costly one for the Romans according to some historians). For this reason, the formation was deliberately organized to group friends and family closely together, thus providing a psychological incentive to support one's fellows, and a disincentive through shame to panic or attempt to flee. [76] This "attritional" aspect of the Roman approach to combat contrasts with the notion of brilliant generalship or tactics sometimes seen in popular depictions of the Roman infantry. The legions also drilled and trained together over a more extended time, and were more uniform and streamlined, (unlike Hannibal's final force and others) enabling even less than brilliant army commanders to manoeuvre and position their forces proficiently. Gergovia was situated on the high ground of a tall hill, and Vercingetorix carefully drew up the bulk of his force on the slope, positioning allied tribes in designated places. Specialist groups like engineers and artificers were also used. The tribes of Europe did not have a state or economic structure able to support lengthy campaigns and therefore could often (but not always) be made to change their minds about opposing Roman hegemony. Where the Romans faced another large state structure, such as the Parthian Empire, they found the military road rocky indeed and were sometimes forced to an impasse. These included leaving huge gaps in the ranks to trap the charging elephants, and the recall, reposition and consolidation of a single battle line that advanced to the final death struggle against the Carthaginian veterans of Italy. The hoplites had to trust their neighbours to protect them, and be willing to protect their neighbours; a phalanx was thus only as strong as its weakest elements. Here, it has to be noted that the military manuals of Asclepiodotus and Aelian use the term lochos to denote a file in the phalanx. Here the troops seem to have been equipped with spears, helmets, and large shields covering the whole body. Each maniple had a trumpeteer. Against the fighting men from the legion however, the Gauls, Iberians and Germanic forces faced a daunting task. Also reconsidered by the Confederate Army at the time of the American Civil War and some were even manufactured but these were probably never issued. 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