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I recently asked for reactions to a book called "Caesar's Legion" by Stephen Dando-Collins. It got bad reactions and reviews here on our net.<br>
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However, he raises an interesting notion. He states that there was no system of replacements for Roman Legions. Roman Legions were raised in one mass enlistment for 20 years (or so) and received no replacements over the next 20 years, at which time, old legionairres were discharged, and a whold new batch of recruits were sworn in.<br>
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Query: Does anyone know of an organized system of replacements for the Roman Army that made good losses from battle, sickness and other losses? <p></p><i></i>
Good question which belongs in the History forum.<br>
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Cheers<br>
Jenny <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

That's BS. Of course new recruits were added to replace those lost in battle and to disease and desertion! If the Romans were to follow this method, their legions would probably be 500 strong at the end of their 20 years, heh, and they would hardly be effective as a fighting force. Simply ridiculous. I'd like to know where this Stephen Dando-Collins got that information (or if he simply made it up out of thin air). <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

I read the book over a year ago and I remember being amazed at the way he introduced this notion as being a "recently discovered" concept – but he gives no reference as to who discovered it or what evidence there was for it. So that has to make you suspicious that he has made it up. It was used as a corner-stone of his interpretation of the history of the legion; it performed badly at battle X because it was very weak, it was used for Y because it had just been reformed, etc.<br>
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Shaun <p></p><i></i>
Actually, not so BS - loathe as I am to give any support to Mr Dando-Collins, he was dealing with the period of the late republic, when such a system does seem to have been in operation - albeit rapidly replaced with the more familiar Augustan system of constant recruitment.<br>
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Under the old republican system, as described by Polybius, legions were raised by the consuls, served for the period of a campaign and then were demobilised until the republic once more had need of them. This system was already breaking down by the early 1st century, when units like Sulla's 'Valerians' (I do hope this is the correct name - I don't have my copy of Plutarch to hand!) stayed under arms for a long period and became rather wedded to their commander in the process. By Caesar's day, legions seemed to be kept up far beyond a single campaign - at the start of the Gallic war there were several available to him of (it seems) a high level of experience. Where these legions came from is a debatable point - Collins pretends to have the facts, saying that the tenth were raised in Spain etc, but nobody knows (although one can hypothesise - see below!)<br>
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Reading Caesar's Commentaries, it becomes clear that he still used a form of the old Republican recruitment system - he raises several new legions of recruits, but never mentions his original legions - those he refers to as 'veteran' - being reinforced. Indeed, the very notion that an entire legion can be classed as veteran indicates that these men have not had their initial draft diluted by the introduction of new levies - these levies are instead formed into new legions. This does lead to a severe depletion of numbers - the sixth legion at Zela are described by Caesar as being down to about half their original number, but rather than build the legion up again to full strength with recruits, he forms these recruits (ex Pompeians, mainly) into new legions, numbered up to around XXXV or so. How many of the old tenth legion may have survived to be demobilised in 45 is unknown, but I would guess that a strong veteran formation would lose less men in combat that a raw and untested one, and thus after a few years of campaigning would reach a level. This is a guess though.<br>
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Appian describes how Antony and Octavian reorganised their armies after Philippi - all the veterans were retired to colonies in Italy, and the remaining men reformed into eleven new legions (some of which took the names of the old Caesarian formations). While Appian might exaggerate - surely these legions would need experienced centurions, for example - this does suggest that the triumvirs were still using a form of the Republican system. Very soon afterwards, however, this was discarded, and the legions that Octavian raised to fight S. Pompey (including X Fretensis, for one) were maintained as standing formations through the Imperial age. I think what the Augustan system produced was in effect a standing Roman army, doing away with the republican system, which still harked back to the idea of men being levied only for specific campaigns.<br>
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Incidentally, a few people here have complained of Collins' statement that the tenth legion were raised in Spain. With the same reservations about supporting the nonsense of this book, I would mention that Appian (BC III.83) says that the tenth legion were 'recruited from non-Italians'. This could mean many things, but since so many of Caesar's legions were raised in Cisalpine Gaul, for instance, I think it unlikely that Appian means that the tenth were raised there - far more likely that he is referring to an initial recruitment in either Transalpine Gaul (where they were based during the incident Appian describes) or Spain. Of course, there's nothing to say that the legion didn't originally come from the east, but I believe at this time it was unusual for legions to be moved from one side of the empire to another. As Caesar puts such store by the tenth so early in the Gallic war, it would be tempting to imagine their having been one of those legions that he raised himself during his governorship of Spain in 60 - perhaps even a 'legio vernacular' like the later 'fifth Alaudae' - and used to subdue the Iberians. Collins, I believe, states this as fact, and of course it is no such thing - it is, however, a reasonable hypothesis.

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A quick note about those 'Valerians' I mentioned - I can't find the reference to them in Plutarch that I thought I remembered, but Cassius Dio mentions them in his Book 36 - they form part of the army of Lucullus, later taken over by Pompey, and Dio describes them being demobilised and them (immediately?) reenlisted by Pompey. This argues for a relatively short term of service, and for the mass reenlistment of veteran formations rather than their reinforcement with new levies. The origin of these Valerians, and the meaning of their name, I can't find - possibly the explanation lies in one of the lost sections of Dio's Book 35. <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

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Dear friends,<br>
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The book Ceasars legion was given to me two years ago. I have never seen any book with so many mistakes. I won't go into them in detail (see discussion above) but must state that Caesar's legion was of course Legio X Gemina and not Fretensis. I have studied the Legio X Gemina very closely and can prove that after the battle agianst Ariovistus it was called Legio X Equestris. After the uprise against Augustus it was called legio X Equestris Gemina. The title Equestris was later abandoned.<br>
Conclusion: Dando's second half of the book is about a completey different legion. Btw it was never proven that LXG used the bull as a shieldmark, although the bull was the birthsign of Ceasar (L X Fretensis had the boar on their vexillum).<br>
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Greetings<br>
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Arpvar<br>
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"I have studied the Legio X Gemina very closely and can prove that after the battle agianst Ariovistus it was called Legio X Equestris."<br>
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Can you? I never knew there was any evidence, just guesswork based on the later inscription. It does seem extremely probable that this title was awarded after the Ariovistus episode - what's the proof you've found? <p></p><i></i>
I just really find it hard to believe that during the later part of the republican period and then after wards that troops were not routinely replenished.

Is there any documentation to prove that once a unit conducted are enlistment, that they received no replacements for the duration of their enlistment?

I don't buy it. When you factor in disease, safety and training accidents alone, a unit would be quickly whittled away and combat ineffective. ON campaign, yeesh..can't even imagine how bad that would be.

Cheers!!
Mike
Perhaps the replenishment came not in a "as needed" fashion, but when the legion disbanded after campaigning season and returned home to see to their estates, returning the next year with fresh troops. That would assume the same legion existed and the men were not re-recruited into a newly formed legion for the next campaigning season. This applies to the Republican legion by the way.

But, if campaigning abroad for years on end without the ability to replenish directly from citizens, once a couple of legions got to ineffective numbers it would then make sense to group them together under a new name, and a new legion recruited back home to bring up the army's strength. In Republican times it seems to have been beneficial to keep men from the same locality in the same units, as their social heirarchy would define a ready made seniority in the ranks, as well as loyalty to each other.

It makes sense that cowardice would be less likely as that man would be shunned back home once his comrades told the stories. In a sense they would be like local American Revolutionary militia units, fighting for each other and their neighbours and kin under a single cause - pride and booty :wink: . By bringing in troops from all over the place and just throwing them together ad hoc could undermine that social cohesion. Only once a professional standing army was created could that cohesion be drilled into the men as the legion became their home village.
Tarbicus wrote:
Quote:In a sense they would be like local American Revolutionary militia units, fighting for each other and their neighbours and kin under a single cause - pride and booty. By bringing in troops from all over the place and just throwing them together ad hoc could undermine that social cohesion. Only once a professional standing army was created could that cohesion be drilled into the men as the legion became their home village.

That's a good analogy, I'd say.

This is a pretty hazy subject, and we don't have a fantastic amount to go on, but I do think it's clear that the legion of Caesar's day was a quite different sort of formation to the legion of the Empire, or of the mid Republic. Aside from equipment and so on, one of the major differences seems to have been in enlistment and terms of service - the sort of contract that a soldier entered into when he signed up with the legion, and what he believed his job to be. For all that legions were being kept in the field for years on end, and moved from one campaigning area to another (Spain to Gaul, for instance, pre-Caesar), the idea that the legion was raised to defend the state against a specific enemy, and that once this enemy was defeated the soldiers could expect to be demobilised, and paid handsomely by the state in the person of their commanders in money and land, was clearly still the case. Examples from the time of Caesar support this. The Ninth legion mutinied at Placentia in the autumn of 49, for example, as they believed their terms of service had expired. They had, at this point, been under arms for something over eleven years and were one of Caesar's 'veteran' legions. As Appian describes it:

Quote:...Another part of Caesar's army mutinied at Placentia, shouting at their officers that their discharge was overdue and they had not received the 500 denarii which Caesar had promised them as a donative at Brundisium... (Caesar) spoke to the still-mutinous troops as follows: "... In Gaul you gained great profit from my leadership. You swore to follow me for the whole of this war, not simply a part of it, and now you abandon us in mid-course and mutiny against your officers and think to give orders to those from whom you should accept them." Appian, Civil Wars II.48

Again, in Italy in 47, another disturbance in the army, this time involving Caesar's most senior legion, the tenth:

Quote:...because the men had not received what they had been promised after the victory at Pharsalus, and were also being kept in service beyond their time. They all demanded to be discharged and sent home. Appian II.92

In both cases, Caesar manages to quell the mutinies by calling on his troops' record of honourable service - apparently, all the men involved had served with him a long time. Nevertheless, their conception of what service involved is clearly quite different to that of the imperial 'professional soldier'.

With this in mind, then, the idea that commanders could replenish losses in individual legions with fresh drafts of men would seem to be anathema to the principles of army service - would such men share in the well-earned rewards when their legion was demobilised? Surely not. On the other hand, any commander 'refreshing' a legion in this way would risk an uprising by the older troops, who might see it as a sign that 'their' legion was going to be kept in service longer than the original draft's enlistment time. A tricky state of affairs!

Arklore70 wrote:
Quote:When you factor in disease, safety and training accidents alone, a unit would be quickly whittled away and combat ineffective. ON campaign, yeesh..can't even imagine how bad that would be.

But that does seem to be what happened! The case of the Sixth legion, mentioned above, would bear this out. The legion was probably recruited in Cisalpine Gaul in 52 or thereabouts. By Zela in 47, this is their condition:

Quote:...the sixth legion, composed of veteran soldiers, which he (Caesar) had brought with him from Alexandria, and which, by its many labors and dangers, the length of its marches and voyages, and the frequent wars in which it had been engaged, was reduced to less than a thousand men... Caesar. Alexandrian War 69

By which I take it that many men of the legion might have been sent off in vexillations elsewhere, but that clearly a great toll had been taken of the original strength! At this point, Caesar had around thirty-five legions in his army - why, then, did he not use some of his vast number of recruits to build the Sixth back to full strength? Surely the only reason can be that this simply was not the accepted practice of the day - the Sixth were veterans, they had a solid sense of esprit de corps, and they functioned best as a single formation, sure of their fellow soldiers, their commander and their terms of service.

- Nathan
Well, to add further fuel to the fire, consider that the 1st Cohort of every legion was a double cohort. Consider that veterans were regularly re-enrolled, some serving as many as 3 sixteen year terms. Might the double cohort of each legion have been made up of re-enlisted veterans of the legion, who, because of their special status, would not serve with mere recruits?

Also, the Romans seem to have place a confidence in veterans all beyond their numbers.

Some legions were never "full strength".

Also, this could explain the disapperance of legions. Perhaps they were just not re-enlisted.

The idea of "replacement" may be a modern one. In the American Civil War, Union regiments were sometimes fought out of existence, because there was no replacement system.
Quote:Well, to add further fuel to the fire, consider that the 1st Cohort of every legion was a double cohort. Consider that veterans were regularly re-enrolled, some serving as many as 3 sixteen year terms. Might the double cohort of each legion have been made up of re-enlisted veterans of the legion, who, because of their special status, would not serve with mere recruits?

Republican legions didn't have milliary first cohorts, nor was there any 'standard' term of service rather than a maximum.
I suspect it would be possible to find enough evidence to suggest that veterans - or rather experienced soldiers - would be spread around in legions as much as possible during the Republican period. This may be the rationale behind the recruitment of legionaries as described by Polybius - like choosing sides in primary school playground games. Ok, the system's odd and cumbersome and may well not have happened like that for a long time before Polybius was writing, but the intention behind it may well have been to ensure that experienced soldiers were spread out between the different legions being raised.
Given that most legions in the Republic were only in existence for a few years before being disbanded, whenever new legions were raised there are likely to have been enough citizens around with previous experience to make a difference - though of course not necessarily in times of severe military crisis & call on manpower like the latter stages of the Punic Wars or the Cimbric wars possibly.
Nathan, might your 'Valerians' be the 'Fimbriani' legions that were kept in service for an exceptionally long period of time, partly it seems as punishment for being a mutinous bunch who killed their commander?

Kate
The two 'Cannae' legions 'exiled' to Sicily were brought up to strength by Scipio before he took them over to Africa in 204 BC (Livy 29.24). Scipio discharged those whom he considered unsuitable for service, replacing them with levies he'd brought over from Italy. The legions were brought up to 6,200 infantry + 300 cavalry. Stumbled across that when looking at those legions for another reason entirely...
There clearly was then a facility for bringing up to strength existing legions with new recruits. Nathan raises an interesting point though about problems in the late Republic with expectations of reward on discharge and length of service (whatever the heck that was!).

Kate
Kate - excellent detective work, and I believe you're right! The 'Valeriani' mentioned by Dio are indeed the same as the 'Fimbriani' - they were the legions originally commanded by L Valerius Flaccus in Asia, who mutinied on the instigation of Marian partisan Flavius Fimbia and killed Flaccus - when Sulla turned up with his own army some time later, Fimbria killed himself and his men surrendered. They were taken into Sulla's army on the condition that they continue to serve until the end of the war without discharge.

Interesting that both the Fimbriani/Valeriani and the Cannae legions were forced into indefinitely extended service as a punishment for their failings. As for Scipio reinforcing the 'penal legions' in Sicily, I suppose by that point they had been in service for a comparatively long time and were therefore valuable veteran troops - the African campaign would give them the chance to redeem themselves, but by that point they may have been a bit too ragged to make useful units in their own right. Clearly this was a special case, but I take the point that there must have been some facility for combining or augmenting standing formations in the field, albeit rather ad hoc.

- Nathan
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