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Although at the invasion stage (Julius Caesar and Claudius)the Legions appeared to have worked together as a Battle Group until the surrender at Colchester. After this it appears that the Second under Vespasian subjugated the West, the Ninth worked their way up towards Lincoln, the Twentieth as occupiers in the East and South (and then after the Second to the Welsh Borders)and the Fourteenth North Westwards.

Do we have any proof that they acted as individual Legions or that they acted / joined together together as a larger Battle Group?
I think they would have done both, take the Falklands War instance, the Parachute regiment fought at Goose Green as single regiment, yet fought with other regiments elsewhere during the war. The legions themselves were still part of the Roman Army and were basically, what we would call regiments and were divided up as such.
In (very) general terms, a battle group is a combination of force elements within a Brigade; so in modern military history, infantry (light, wheeled or armoured) and armour combined (wheeled or tracked), supported by dedicated artillery fire and/or helicopters depending on the battle group's role. The term battle group also really only applies to manoeuvre warfare which, as far as I'm aware, was not an ancient army style.

The closest you would get to a Roman "battle group" would be the combination of infantry, cavalry, archers (mounted or foot) etc. So, essentially, a Legion with its Auxillaries is already a "battle group" although I don't really think the term translates at all well to the ancient battle field.

The tactics, manoeuvres, field signals etc common throughout the Roman Army suggests that any Legion could fight next to another effectively. In my opinion, however, a lot would depend on the style of commander. It could be argued that our old friends Petillius Cerialis and Suetonius Paulinus had widely different approaches to command.
Most of what we think we know about the movements of the legions in Britain in the decades after the invasion is just conjecture based on later evidence, I think. There's the note in Suetonius (Vespasian 4.1) that the future emperor "was sent in command of a legion to Germany... from there he was transferred to Britain, where he fought thirty battles with the enemy. He reduced to subjection two powerful nations, more than twenty towns, and the island of Vectis." Tactitus (Histories 3.44) then tells us that Vespasian was in command of the Second legion. Since most of the inscriptional evidence for II Augusta is in the south west, and Vectis is off the south coast, we can assume that Vespasian led his legion that way.

The ninth ended up around Longthorpe and Lincoln decades later, so we could assume that they were sent off in that direction. Same with the Fourteenth at Wroxeter. The Twentieth spent time at Colchester, so perhaps they were some kind of reserve...

So Vespasian was probably still commanding the second when he subjegated those powerful nations, but he may have had detachments of other legions added to his force. Legions at this date appear to have had particular auxiliary units attached or associated with them (mention in Tacitus, I think, of a certain legion 'and its auxiliaries'), so together these may have made up what you could call a 'battle group' for a particular campaign. Later in Suetonius there's mention of 'two legions with eight alae and ten cohorts' sent to Judea, which suggests this may have represented the usual accompaniment (around 4500 auxiliaries per legion, in this case).

As we know from our discussions on the Boudica revolt, though, Roman troops at this time didn't always operate as full legions. Often they were detachments of several cohorts, a few thousand men sometimes from different legions brigaded together with auxiliaries. The assumption that individual legions moved on a neatly linear course from point A (London, or Colchester) to point B (Exeter, Caerleon, Wroxeter or Lincoln) over the course of two or three decades is almost certainly too simple. There are men of the twentieth attested at Wroxeter, for example, and of the second at Alchester. So the reality was possibly a lot more complex, with bits of armies and legions moving about all over the country in various combinations, under various commanders.
Quote: So the reality was possibly a lot more complex, with bits of armies and legions moving about all over the country in various combinations, under various commanders.

I thought that's what a Vexillation was?
Quote:[I thought that's what a Vexillation was?

Hmm, probably... ;-)

As far as I know, a vexillation could be any force operating under its own vexillum. The usual sort appears to be a detachment from a single legion (Vexillatio legionis XIIII Geminae Martiae Victricis, for example) sent off to join a larger force on campaign or to garrison some place or other.

If there were troops from more than one legion involved, I think they would form plural 'vexillations' - like CIL 05, 00954, from Aquileia: Vexillationes legionum I et II Adiutricium, or the Vexillationes exercitus Germanici (AE 1898, 00018c).

But then it gets confusing, as some vexillations (singular) seem to contain troops from more than one legion: e.g. AE 1925, 00078: Legio I Italica legio V Macedonica legio XI Claudia vexillatio Moesiae inferioris.

So whether a force comprising (say) two cohorts each from three different legions, with auxiliaries, would still be referred to as a singular 'vexillation' or as something else I don't know!
Thank you for the insights gentlemen.....

I was under the impression that effectively auxilliaries were added to a legion when it was deemed necessary therefore making for a very flexible fighting force.

In the case of the Fourteenth as an example it is recognised that they had a number of Batavians attached to them during the Boudican uprising but I do not know whether these were attached as part of the invasion force for Anglesey or had been attached from the original AD43 invasion.

Regarding artillery, would there have been specialist units or would each Legion have contained its own?

My apologies for the term "Battle Group" it was just a way to indicate a fighting force gathered together for the purpose of a particular war as opposed to the general army being used for garrison purposes.

Kind Regards - Deryk
Quote:Thank you for the insights gentlemen.....
Best not to assume all members of discussions are 'gentlemen' but Happy New Year anyway ;-)


Quote:I was under the impression that effectively auxilliaries were added to a legion when it was deemed necessary therefore making for a very flexible fighting force.
The relationship in fact seems to have been much closer. Nearly all legionary fortresses had auxiliaries based either within the fortress or immediately adjacent so that the distinction between 'vexillation' and ordinary legionary fortresses that archaeologists have preferred over the past few decades are not quite as straightforward as once thought. There was indeed a time when it was fashionable to speculate that certain auxiliary units were always brigaded with 'their own' legions, but that view came to be denigrated (for no good reason, in my opinion).

At the same time, legions were fragmented and outposted from those legionary fortresses, so they seldom operated alone, either in the field or in garrison. In fact, take everything you've read in the standard textbooks, invert it, mix it all up, and only then do you come close to our present understanding of how the Roman army operated in the field and in garrison. Websterian Hindsight Goggles[sup]TM[/sup] tend to make us think what was done in earlier periods was abnormal, practice in more settled times being normality. That would not be the Roman perception of things (the same thing applies to interpreting early cohort forts as always being 1 fort = 1 auxiliary unit, a meme driven by Edwardian scholarship on and interpretations of Hadrian's Wall).

Mike Bishop
Quote:the Fourteenth... had a number of Batavians attached to them during the Boudican uprising

The eight cohorts of Batavians were actually 'attached to the Fourteenth' in the context of the civil war in AD69 (Tacitus Histories I.59) - it's possible they had been attached before this as well, and since Batavians seem to have been involved in Plautius' invasion and Paulinus' attack on Anglesea, these same cohorts may have been with the legion the whole time. But it's interesting that that these particular Batavians seem to have got on very badly with the Fourteenth, even fighting with them when they shared a camp. I suppose it's not unknown for units that serve together for a long period to end up hating each other's guts, but it's also possible that these were different Batavians, and/or the Fourteenth had other auxiliaries during its time in Britain.



Quote:Regarding artillery, would there have been specialist units or would each Legion have contained its own?

Vegetius (II.25) says that each century had its own carroballista, and each cohort its own larger stone-thrower (which he calls an onager). This is a late source, but Josephus has Vespasian's three legions in Judea mustering 160 artillery pieces between them, so the numbers could be accurate for the first century as well.

This might not mean that each legion carted all this artillery about with them everywhere they went though - perhaps the machines from each legion were grouped together under a separate command?
Quote: Websterian Hindsight Goggles[sup]TM[/sup]

Big Grin
I can't really give a good reason for thinking this, except for my own opinion, but would it have been sensible for them to carry the metal parts--the "washers", rope skeins, trigger mechanism, metal frame, etc.--and then use trees at the site for rebuilding the larger machines?

Using green wood has its problems, but warping and shrinkage don't express themselves for a while. Sieges of cities usually didn't last long enough for the wood to begin to degrade. That would lead to a long bunny trail, though.

Early on, when the 9th HSPA took such a hit from Boudicca, the 2nd AVG didn't seem to be "working together" all that well. Had they been where they were ordered, that revolt might have been quelled much sooner.
Quote:Do we have any proof that they acted as individual Legions or that they acted / joined together together as a larger Battle Group?

All commanders of legions (legati legionis) or auxilia/ala reported to the Governor of the province, the Legatus Augusti pro consule. At least until the province Britannia was splitted.

Afaik, the Legatus in southwest England, who did not follow orders during Boudicas campaign was forced to suicide later, as usual for cowards.
I recall there is a medal of sort, commemorating the cooperation of legio II augusta and VI during the 3rd or 4th century (date uncertain), but I can't find the image right now.
Frank.

I'm not so sure but was it not the Praefectus Castorum Pomponius Postumus of the 2nd AUG who was in charge at that time, so it does make for an interesting situation as to why he did not move when ordered, could it have been that there were other pressing reasons as to why he did not respond and just where was the Legatus or Tribunus Laticlavus at that particular time.
Even though they had scouts and informers in various towns, the spy network was nothing like what we have today. There is no way, really, that the 2nd could know just what the enemies to its north were about to do. Give them a few Predator drones, and they might have been right on Boudicca's flank, popping up to the battle at exactly the right moment. Many in the 9th probably would have applauded loudly.

I remember reading somewhere that the 2nd was concerned about leaving his area undefended for a week or more, but I can't swear that is historically accurate.
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