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The First Cohort of a legion was the most senior cohort of the legion and served as a bodyguard for the legions sacred eagle. Did its members get to wear crests and if one legion was stationed in a province did it serve as the legate's bodyguard?


Intriguing idea that the First Cohort were "authorized" to wear crests as part of their distinction!
Although I have never come across any reference supporting that, unfortunately. I tend to still agree with the consensus that the crests were for "dress parade" (admittedly not an accurate term), and likely not part of battlefield wear, not in the Principate at least.

I'm also not aware of any mentions in the historical literature mentioning them being the "bodyguard" of the Legate. The Legions in Egypt were not commanded by a Legate but by a Praefect, and there seems indications that Legions in their various regions / provinces were slightly different in their structure and organization compared to each other. Another shoe in the works of the [outdated] mindset that the Romans in the 1st century were as detailed and "uniform" as modern armies are.
But it's been a while since I've really dug deeply into the historical writers, so I may have missed/forgotten something?

Again, records from Egypt might help to point out what soldiers are doing at any one time. There is a "duty roster" attributed to Leg III Cyr in the early 2nd Century that shows about 2 months' length of duties for soldiers. What has been translated as "Helios' Boots", as a "personal assistant" or something similar, is noted in the document (unfortunately I am not aware of any images of it in the original Latin, or Greek, to attempt another translation). It's been suggested that maybe it is referring to a "bodyguard" or "armed escort" but the information is confusing, and, as mentioned Egypt being unique, operations and protocol may have varied wildly in other provinces.

I'm not aware of any mentions really in any Roman period of Legion troops wearing specific clothing or colors or devices to mark them out as a specific kind of troop or an elite unit, nothing like we see in modern armies in the last 2 centuries. Praetorian Guards notwithstanding, which seem to arrange themselves into Cohorts, not into Legions. (and even then, we have little information to tell us what kind of equipment they wore, although by their name and their stature, appear to wear "ancient" or "traditional", older types of gear to be recognizably Praetorian, but even those mentions are confusing and vague)

We have even less information/detail about the equipment, arms and armor being used.
Quote:.... and if one legion was stationed in a province did it serve as the legate's bodyguard?


The bodyguards of a Legatus augusti pro praetore or a Proconsul were the Equites et Pedites Singulares. A force of about 500-1000 men collected from multiple units of the Exercitus Provinciae. Well, guarding the governor was just one of their duties.

There are hints, that even a Legatus legionis could have Singulares. However, afaik there is no inscription of a Singularis legati, just many inscriptions of a Singularis consularis. Consularis means, that he reported to a governor, no matter if this governor was of praetorian or consular rank,