In addition the legion lacked missile forces such as slingers and archers.
Women were encouraged to have many children to support the man power needs of the state. Their leaders were men with military experience and expected to command the legions in times of war. Both the populace and military seemed to have a relentless drive, never yielding to defeat, even after suffering catastrophic losses.
The citizens and army soldiered on through dark times that would have caused their contemporary states to sue for peace. Nobody in Rome ever spoke about ending a war in any other way then victory and their will was reflected in an almost mechanically efficient army.
The attack of a Roman legion certainly seems like an emotionless killing machine to many historians, but the reality is they were as emotionally charged as the barbarian warriors that battled, just more disciplined.
Besides discipline, the Romans were also ahead of their enemies in organization.
Often it was a the details that gave the Romans the edge, the depth of a ditch dug around a camp or having a warm breakfast before a battle were all considerations made by Roman commanders.
Regardless, they adapted to new threats quickly, becoming proficient enough in areas were they lacked to wear down their enemies. The Romans were originally a tribal group of three tribes. Little is know about this early period, all records were destroyed by a Celtic invasion in BC.
These early Romans would have probably fought as skirmishing light infantry armed with javelins, slings and possibly some bows. During the 7th century BC they came to be dominated by the Etruscans, their more advanced northern neighbors. Etruscan kings would rule Rome for years as military dictators.
Around BC the Romans expelled the kings and set up a new republic government. They copied the Etruscans hoplite tactics, who had learned them from the Greeks and organized annual armies of citizen soldiers.
Men were required to equip themselves and were organized by how much equipment they could afford. The majority of Romans were formed into spear, shield and possibly helmet equipped infantry units, depending on what they could afford.
This was the birth of the legions, farmer soldiers fighting for their families and territory.
In BC, a Gaelic warlord and chieftain named Brennus invaded the newly formed republic. The entire Roman army was wiped out and the city sacked. The Etruscans had left Rome with poor defenses and the surviving citizens barricaded themselves on the Capitoline Hill.
Tradition says the decimated and humiliated Romans were forced to pay Brennus and his Celtic warriors 1, pounds of gold to leave the city. However, the counterweights Brennus used on the scales were heavier then 1, pounds causing the Romans to complain. To this Brennus replied, "vae victis" meaning "woe to the vanquished", and threw his sword on top of the weights increasing the injustice.
The insulted Romans had no recourse, and were forced to provide even more gold. The humiliated Romans had been taught a lesson they would never forget. The memory of this event fueled their militarism as they vowed to never let it happen again at any cost.The Roman military was the most successful and powerful in history, dominating the Western world for over a thousand years.
The size, strength and organization of their infantry force wouldn’t be equaled again for another thousand years.
- Developed surveying and engineering skills to build an entire highway system - Used roads for trade and army movement - Perfected the use of the arch, and invented waterproof concrete MILITARY: The Roman army was determined and disciplined - Roman soldiers were experienced and professional - The army was organized to have long campaigns.
War also led to acquisition of land and slaves which would lead to a greater harvest, which could support a larger army. Plunder was also a large part of war and this allowed for pressure to be taken off of the government finances and allowed for investments to be made that would strengthen the polis.
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One of the longest Roman sieges was the attack on Carthage in the Third Punic War between and BCE. The massively fortified city resisted until Scipio Africanus the Younger built a comprehensive siege wall and systematically attacked the weaker harbour walls with siege engines.