The Roman Legions
The Roman armies developed many of their warfare techniques from the Etruscans
and they improved upon them. They also used the tactics of Alexander the Great
and the Greeks, including the Greek phalanx
warfare. But Roman commanders knew that the phalanxes were too large and too
slow to be useful in the many wars they were encountering.
The generals devised innovative new plans for the organization of their armies
for war. They reorganized their troops into legions
of 6,000 men. They divided these into smaller more mobile units of 120
soldiers that would route the slow moving phalanxes of their attackers.
Roman soldiers known as legionaries
were very well trained and disciplined. Deserting was met by punishment of
death. The discipline within the legions was so strict and their methods so
brutal that they eventually brought fear into the entire known world.
The legionaries built a massive network of roads up and down the Italian
Peninsula which soon became major trade routes. They also set up military cities
known as coloniae
Once the Roman army had conquered an enemy they would treat them remarkably
well by giving them partial rights and maybe even citizenship especially if the
conquered enemy would contribute anything to help fight in Rome's wars such as
soldiers or ships.
Military Organization and Development
Looking back upon history no people have been more affected by their military
institutions than that of Rome. The Roman military system rested upon the
responsibility of the male citizen to render military service. Early organization of
the army probably followed the Homeric method with nobles in chariots and an
army of common people. As Rome developed under the Etruscan's, a long, closed
phalanx had been developed as the basic formation.
Definite improvements in the military organization were made in the fourth
century BC. At that time soldiers pay
was introduced and the legionary formation developed. The legion originally
contained about 4,000 men divided into smaller units for flexibility of movement
in a country. The throwing of the javelin
also was adopted and the cavalry
was strengthened. The many Roman wars forced them to develop a universal
military training system and Roman army discipline was vastly superior to that of
nearly all peoples she met on the battlefield. The Roman military was well
organized and their insistence upon fortified camps was another definite advantage
which Roman military training included. In military matters at least, Rome
could face the future with confidence.