Philosophical Europe ||| The Political Progress ||| European Witness ||| EU News
European Forum ||| Special Homages: Meister Eckhart / David Copperfield
From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IV. THE RISE OF ROME TO 264 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 25
THE ROMAN ARMY
While the Romans were conquering Italy, they were making many improvements in their army. All citizens between the ages of seventeen and forty-six were liable to active service. These men were mainly landowners—hardy, intelligent peasants—who knew how to fight and how to obey orders. An army in the field consisted of one or more legions. A legion included about three thousand heavy-armed footmen, twelve hundred light infantry, and three hundred horsemen. After the conquest of Italy the states allied with Rome had to furnish soldiers, chiefly archers and cavalry. These auxiliaries, as they were called, were at least as numerous as legionaries. The Romans, in carrying on war, employed not only their citizens but also their subjects.
METHOD OF FIGHTING
The legion offered a sharp contrast to the unwieldy phalanx. Roman soldiers usually fought in an open order, with the heavy-armed infantry arranged in three lines: first, the younger men; next, the more experienced warriors; and lastly the veterans. A battle began with skirmishing by the light troops, which moved to the front and discharged their darts to harass the enemy. The companies of the first line next flung their javelins at a distance of from ten to twenty paces and then, wielding their terrible short swords, came at once to close quarters with the foe. It was like a volley of musketry followed by a fierce bayonet charge. If the attack proved unsuccessful, the wearied soldiers withdrew to the rear through the gaps in the line behind. The second line now marched forward to the attack; if it was repulsed, there was still the third line of steady veterans for the last and decisive blow.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy