Some older histories consider them to be backward savages, ruthlessly destroying the civilization and "grandeur that was Rome." apart (32 ranks). Military historians have also suggested that the Scots, particularly under William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, consciously imitated the Hellenistic phalanx to produce the Scots 'hedgehog' or schiltron. After the pila were cast, the soldiers then drew their swords and engaged the enemy. The promachœ (the front-liners) had to be physically and psychologically fit to sustain and survive the clash. Such practices as permitting the settlement of massive, armed barbarian populations on Roman territory, the watering down of the privilege of citizenship, increasing use of alien contingents, and relaxation or removal of traditionally thorough and severe Roman discipline, organization and control, contributed to the decline of the heavy infantry. When conducting a siege the army would begin by building a military camp. Good Roman commanders did not hesitate to exploit useful intelligence, particularly where a siege situation or impending clash in the field was developing. [32], Growing Roman tactical sophistication and ability to adapt overcome earlier disasters. According to Vegetius, during the four-month initial training of a Roman legionary, marching skills were taught before recruits ever handled a weapon, since any formation would be split up by stragglers at the back or soldiers trundling along at differing speeds. [citation needed]. The legion was split into ten sub-units called cohorts, roughly comparable to a modern infantry battalion. 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. [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. The campaigns of Hannibal illustrate this well, as Numidian and Spanish/Gallic horsemen repeatedly outflanked Roman formations, dealing devastating blows in the sides and rear. Various approaches have been taken to reconcile these possibilities with the ancient writings. Heavy infantry formed into a dense mass, Armed with short swords, large oval shields, and chain armor. It is also possible Polybius included the area the soldier occupied, which meant the soldier had six feet of space between them and the other soldiers. Sometimes Roman soldiers would have mules that carried equipment. See the Battle of Beneventum for evidence of fire-arrows being used. It was held one-handed, with the other hand holding the hoplite's shield (called Aspis). Krousis: The opposing phalanxes meet each other almost simultaneously along their front. Brunt adjusted Polybius’ figures and estimated that the population of Italy, not including Greeks and Bruttians, exceeded 875,000 free adult males, from whom the Romans could levy troops. Nevertheless, some historians emphasize that the final demise of Rome was due to military defeat, however plausible (or implausible) the plethora of theories advanced by some scholars, ranging from declining tax bases, to class struggle, to mass lead poisoning. Personal items might include a dyed horsehair crest for the helmet, a semi-water-resistant oiled woollen cloak, socks and breeches for cold weather and a blanket. Behind the vanguard came the main body of heavy infantry. [73] Rome's massive manpower supply was the foundation of this approach. Flank attacks were always possible, but the legion was flexible enough to pivot to meet this, either through sub-unit manoeuvre or through the deployment of lines farther back. Roman casualties were approximately 20,000 killed and 10,000 captured making the battle one of the costliest defeats in Roman history. Pike and shot became a military standard in the 16th and 17th century. Such decline, of course, is closely linked with the decay of other facets of Rome's economy, society and political scene. This carrot and stick approach forms an integral part of "the Roman way" of war.[77]. 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. The Gallic opposition was also composed of a large number of different peoples and tribes, geographically ranging from the mountains of Switzerland to the lowlands of France and thus are not easy to categorize. Phalanxes might deepen their ranks heavily to add both stamina and shock power, but their general approach still favoured one massive line, as opposed to the deep three-layer Roman arrangement. The camp would then be burned to the ground to prevent its later occupation and use by the enemy. These territories were incorporated into the Roman Republic, and as these Hellenic states had ceased to exist, so did the armies which had used the traditional phalanx formation. The phalanx (Ancient Greek: φάλαγξ, Modern Greek: φάλαγγα, phālanga; plural phalanxes or phalanges; Ancient and Modern Greek: φάλαγγες, phālanges) is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar weapons. His placement of siege engines and bolt throwers in the towers and along the wall of his enclosing fortifications at Alesia were critical to turning back the enormous tide of Gauls. The earliest soldiers of the Roman army were hoplites. Roman Infantry of the Roman Kingdom and Republic, Roman infantry of the Late Republic and Early Empire, Individual weapons, personal equipment and haulage, Initial preparations and movement for battle, Mixing of a continuous front with interval fighting, Roman infantry versus the Macedonian phalanx, Roman infantry versus Gallic and the Germanic tribes, Tactical performance versus Gallic and Germanic opponents, Superior tactical organization: victory of Caesar at the Sambre River, Persisting logistics strategy: Gallic victory at Gergovia, Roman infantry versus mobile and guerilla warfare in Hispania. On occasion, a legion would have ballista, or a piece of field artillery that threw large arrows. It seems likely that both motions were used, depending on the situation. When in combat, the whole formation would consistently press forward trying to break the enemy formation; thus when two phalanx formations engaged, the struggle essentially became a pushing match. "[86] In an earlier engagement outside the walls of Ctesiphon, Marcellinus again notes the value of the quick advance by the infantry: Mixed results against major cavalry enemies. While defensive configurations were sometimes used, the phalanx was most effective when it was moving forward in attack, either in a frontal charge or in "oblique" or echeloned order against an opposing flank, as the victories of Alexander the Great and Theban innovator Epaminondas attest. [13] Legionaries were trained to thrust with their gladii because they could defend themselves behind their large shields (scuta) while stabbing the enemy. [63] When implemented consistently, this strategy saw some success against Roman operations. 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 … Caesar himself rallied sections of his endangered army, impressing resolve upon the troops. [37], Another unique feature of the Roman infantry was the depth of its spacing. pp. Rome's War in Parthia_ Blood in the Sand-Vallentine Mitchell p 60, Hugh Elton, 2012, Frontiers of the Roman Empire, pg 36-131, Michael Fronda (2010) Between Rome and Carthage.. p. 38, Military establishment of the Roman kingdom, Military establishment of the Roman Republic, Military establishment of the Roman Empire, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, From Sumer to Rome: The Military Capabilities of Ancient Armies, Visual Evidence for Roman Infantry Tactics, http://www.roman-empire.net/army/training.html, http://www.therthdimension.org/AncientRome/Roman_Army/Training/training.htm. elelelelef!) This could be the longest phase. This caused the enemy phalanx to collapse, securing a route for the Romans. Shameful too is a corpse lying low in the dust, wounded behind in the back by the point of a spear." Pep talks, sacrifices to the gods and the announcements of good omens might be carried out. The Gauls and Germans also fought with little or no armour and with weaker shields, putting them at a disadvantage against the legion. A taxis (mora for the Spartans) was the greatest standard hoplitic formation of 500 to 1500 men, led by a strategos (general). While not all such men could be considered models of perfection, they commanded with substantial respect. The question is that Greece is also incredibly hilly in many areas. Leadership debacles are common in Roman military history, from the routs against Hannibal to the demise of the unlucky Crassus against the Parthians. Theoretically indestructible from the front, its flanks and rear were very vulnerable, and once engaged it could probably not easily disengage or redeploy to face a threat from those directions. 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. Shield and sword at close quarters on such terrain neutralized the long pike, and supplementary Macedonian weapons (lighter armour and a dagger-like short sword) made an indifferent showing against the skilful and aggressive assault of the heavy Roman infantrymen. 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. [22] During this period, some ancient writers paint a picture of meetings between opposing commanders for negotiation or general discussion, as with the famous pre-clash conversation between Hannibal and Scipio at Zama. [27], As the army approached its enemy, the velites in front would throw their javelins at the enemy and then retreat through the gaps in the lines. As German scholar Hans Delbruck notes in his "History of the Art of War": The Gallic also demonstrated a high level of tactical prowess in some areas. In front of the main infantrymen were skirmishers called Velites. At the Battle of Sentinum for example, c. 295 BC, the Roman and Campanian cavalry encountered Gallic war-chariots and were routed in confusion—driven back from the Roman infantry by the unexpected appearance of the fast-moving Gallic assault. [97], Roman organization was more flexible than those of many opponents. 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. 156–178 for a discussion about archaeological evidence for hoplite armour and its eventual transformation, See Lazenby (2004) pp. As camp building commenced, the barbarian forces launched a ferocious attack, streaming across the shallow water and quickly assaulting the distracted Romans. Some equipment was moved by pack animals and carts. His field pack included a shovel, a dolabra or pickaxe, and a wicker basket for hauling dirt. alalalalai!) The phalanx was a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar weapons. Such a maneuver may be feasible during a lull in the fighting during a battle, however during the heat of battle the maneuver would be difficult to manage and time-consuming. The operations of the Roman commander Publius Ventidius Bassus illustrate three general tactics used by the infantry to fight their mounted foes. Use of war machines and covering fire: Many Roman battles, especially during the late empire, were fought with the preparatory fire from catapults, ballistas and onagers. 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. Compared to the tightly packed spearmen of the phalanx, the Roman heavy infantry, through their training and discipline, and operating in conjunction with light foot and cavalry, could quickly adopt a number of methods and formations depending on the situation. The Limitanei would defend the borders of the Empire from small attacks by the Germanic peoples. The ground was also sown with caltrops of iron barbs at various places to discourage assault. phalanx formation phalanx gun roman phalanx. Shields were protected on the march with a hide cover. Rough terrain or hilly regions would have made it difficult to maintain a steady line and would have defeated the purpose of employing the use of a phalanx. Some scholars challenge the notion that a "mobile reserve" in the modern military sense existed in the Roman Empire, and instead argue that the shifts in an organization represent a series of field armies deployed in various areas as needed, particularly in the East. 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