RomanArmyTalk

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Salve, I am one of a very small cohort in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. We primarily focus on the Roman Legions on campaign in 65 AD, Britannia.
Here are some questions to pose to you all:
1) What hot beverage did campaigning Legionaires drink? We crave a cuppa at breakfast - so what did they crave?
2) If all they had to wear were wool tunics and a wool blanket, how did they stay warm enough on cold nights? I was forced to don bracae and borrow another cloak - in July...what did they do in December?
3) Did they have waterproof groundsheets or the like?
4) If less than a dozen men were on patrol, they did not bring along a heavy leather tent. What did they use? Was there no canvas for such uses? Was it not in use by the navy for sails?
Moved to Roman HIstory and Archaeology

Welcome to the Forums Simon. I'm sure the members can answer your questions.
Whilst I'm not entirely sure of specific references, some reasonable speculations can probably be made:

1 - assuming a fire is practicable and not risking their lives (soldiers like fires a lot), then I suspect the hot component is from some sort of porridge, although a slurp of hot, watered, wine is not impossible. I'm not sure how early in history people might have used ground-nuts for a coffee-like hot drink.

2 - soldiers of the Napoleonic period (where information is more available), let alone later and into the 20thC, didn't often have a lot more to wear. An untreated wool blanket is often pretty water-resistant. With no restrictions on environmental damage (and a lot more trees and undergrowth about), sleeping can be made pretty comfortable with bracken, leaves, grass and inter-twined branches. Otherwise, of course, soldiers went cold - which is often the case. It certainly helps keep you awake on sentry duty. They were (even in Britain) more used to generally being colder than us modern Westernised wimpy types!

3/4 - whilst I've never studied the contubernium tent in detail, I understand it's believed to be made up of sections (are there 8?). I believe it to be mostly prepared goat-skin and therefore probably fairly water-resistant. Why couldn't each solder carry one part, perhaps use it as a poncho in the rain? More, certainly if on a march/patrol, wouldn't (as with any longer march when not expecting to return) there be a mule? Either way, as I understand it, wasn't it expected that 3 days of rations (and thus all that is needed apart from fresh water) could be carried? That should include anything the soldier might take to help stay warm.

All you really need to stay pretty comfortable (apart from food and fire) is a good knife, some twine/cord/string and a good blanket/cloak/hide - and, if the reference remains valid - your towel! :lol: