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"Non-combatants" in late Republic legions
#1
Since this forum is probably the best place to ask (Big Grin), what was the status of non-combatant personnel in Roman Legion after Marian reforms ?

There seemed to be quite a good number of those in legion, so what was their status ? They obviously took care of baggage train, baggage animals etc. and provided lot of functions that supply troops do nowadays.

Were they Roman citizens ? Latin rights ? Slaves ?

Any good sources and references about them ?
(Mika S.)

"Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior." - Catullus -

"Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit."

"Audendo magnus tegitur timor." -Lucanus-
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#2
I'm not sure there would have been all that mansy noncombatants, given Marius' reforms were largely designed to reduce their number. WE still have musicians, who were regular unit members, thus either citizens or allies, and fabri, who I am not entirely convinced were noncombatant in a strict sense, but also regular soldiers. Presumably, there were muleteers and grooms, who would probably have been slaves in Roman units, possibly juveniles or junior retainers in auxiliary units (there was no fixed auxiliary establishment yet so local custom prevailed). IIRC Marius limited the number of such slaves to one per a certain number of men, can't recall off the top of my head. We would not see the specialisation of the imperial legions with brickmakers, metalsmiths, builders, supply and quartermaster troops, police, administrative assistants, medical staff and technical specialists yet (and technically, these were all combatant troops until at least the third century, though their actual battle effectiveness may have been questionable).

Republican armies also seem to have dragged a 'tail' of merchants looking to sell the soldiers food, clothing, equipment and recreational beverages and services and purchase their loot off them. Technically, these troops were responsible for their own upkeep and equipment and thus must have presented a tempting commercial opportunity. I know of no regulation concerning these people.
Der Kessel ist voll Bärks!

Volker Bach
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#3
Well...considering that I'd think every "octet" needing a mule as baggage animal to transport tent and extra equipment/spare water/food. I'd also think every century would need a wagon (carrying all extra and centurion's posessions) unless travelling very lightly (which would be case in forced marches).

That would mean 60 wagons and 600 mules. No means excessive baggage train, but maybe 2 men per wagon and 1 per mule just to steer them...and those 720 men had to come from somewhere.

My question thus is, did legionary "miles gregarius" perform those tasks or were they relegated to non-soldiers that did belong to legion but were not soldiers ?
(Mika S.)

"Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior." - Catullus -

"Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit."

"Audendo magnus tegitur timor." -Lucanus-
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#4
I wouldn't have thought that what Marius did had signficant effects beyond what he did with his legions during one campaign, but then I don't believe in any set of 'Marian reforms' making fundamental changes to the Roman army anyway. But that's another argument....

Servants / slaves were a status symbol of the soldier as well as performing important functions assisting the soldier and the army with their tasks, and frequently accompanied them on campaign during both the Republican and Imperial periods - they can be found depicted on tombstone sculpture, for example. They are likely to have been people of pretty low status, and I suspect non-citizens as well as slaves, given that in the 1st century BC anyway, property qualifications for legionary service (though still existing) were to all intents and purposes ignored.

Though not armed under normal circumstances, I don't think the term 'non-combatant' can be used to describe servants / slaves attached to units / soldiers, since they clearly did get involved in combat when appropriate:
Front Strat 2.4.6
Livy 27.18
Caesar, B.G.2.27

Interestingly, when foragers and servants near Q.Cicero's camp came under attack by the Germans (B.G.6.40), the servants showed a basic military sense by making for the nearest high ground and, when dislodged, joining the legionaries who were forming up and followed the veterans in a charge into the camp and safety. It's at this point that Caesar tells us the 'camp followers' - merchants, prostitutes, soothsayers etc. - who were camping beneath the fortifications (ie: outside the camp) were wiped out. This indicates the clear difference between camp servants and camp followers.

For further information, see:
Speidel, M.P., 'The soldiers' servants' in: Ancient Society 20 (1989), 239-248 (though primarily on the Imperial period).
There's also something by Welwei, but I don't have the reference - does anyone else?
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#5
Quote:Since this forum is probably the best place to ask (Big Grin), what was the status of non-combatant personnel in Roman Legion after Marian reforms ?
....
Any good sources and references about them ?
Have a look at Goldsworthy's review of Roth's "The Logistics of the Roman Army at War" at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/1999/1999-11-01.html - there's a paragraph on different types of sutlers, servants, etc.
cheers,
Duncan
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#6
Excellent !! I'll try to check those sources !
(Mika S.)

"Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior." - Catullus -

"Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit."

"Audendo magnus tegitur timor." -Lucanus-
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#7
Quote:Interestingly, when foragers and servants near Q.Cicero's camp came under attack by the Germans (B.G.6.40), the servants showed a basic military sense by making for the nearest high ground and, when dislodged, joining the legionaries who were forming up and followed the veterans in a charge into the camp and safety. It's at this point that Caesar tells us the 'camp followers' - merchants, prostitutes, soothsayers etc. - who were camping beneath the fortifications (ie: outside the camp) were wiped out. This indicates the clear difference between camp servants and camp followers.

Snipped a lot to save space, sorry ! :oops:

That is indeed what I ment with "non-combatants", since there seems to have been sort of "class" that did belong to legion. They did not usually fight and were probably not trained to. But in many desperate situations, they did arm themselves and fought. I think that also happened when legion commanded by Sabinius and Cotta (was it 14th ?) was wiped out by Nervii commanded by Ambiorix.

So, that'd indicate there was definite difference between camp/legion servants and camp followers. Might even be that those servants were distributed as 1-2 per contubernium. Evil Wikipedia-source would say that there was 2 servants attached to each octet..but alas, haven't found any real source that actually says so (not been looking too hard, tho).

That'd make them more akin to modern supply troops and it'd make sense to have them inside legionary camp and have "camp followers" forbidden inside legionary camp (since they did not belong to organization where everyone has his own dedicated place in camp).
(Mika S.)

"Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior." - Catullus -

"Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit."

"Audendo magnus tegitur timor." -Lucanus-
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#8
BTW, laudes to Kate and Duncan..and thanks ! 8)
(Mika S.)

"Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior." - Catullus -

"Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit."

"Audendo magnus tegitur timor." -Lucanus-
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#9
Where galearii or their equivalent around in Republican times? Slaves fully trained in combat, their name coming from the helmets they wore.
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
A A A DESEDO DESEDO!
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#10
I have read that each contubernium of 8 had a couple of attendants, one to handle the mule, and another for general camp help, but I can't remember if it was in Adrian Goldsworthy's The Complete Roman Army or somewhere else. It would make sense.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#11
You do not need one man per mule to steer them.
Remember the mule trains and borax wagons of the wild west had one or two men per 12-24 mules. A team of mules can pull several wagons along a flat road or over reasonably flat ground.
One of my ancestors tales, passed down from my grandfather was of his uncle, who was managing a team of mules ( a mule skinner). There were 24 mules that pulled as one team, they pulled 3 to 5 wagons in tandem filled with borax across the prairie. One time, caught in a blizzard (northerner) my grandfather's uncle laid huddled in the back of the wagon under all the coverings (furs and blankets) possible to keep from freezing to death. The mules continued on to the home station and their food, saving everyone's lives, (mules and mule skinner).

Romans were aware that mules can follow the lead mule, and often gave the lead mules bells on their harnesses.
Caius Fabius Maior
Charles Foxtrot
moderator, Roman Army Talk
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#12
Useful knowledge about the way mules work.....and a little-known part of the story of the West. The anecdote alone is worthy of a laudes!
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#13
Quote:Useful knowledge about the way mules work.....and a little-known part of the story of the West. The anecdote alone is worthy of a laudes!
What are the sources that make the 'mule train' in Roman times so definitive?
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
A A A DESEDO DESEDO!
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#14
Quote:
Paullus Scipio:3badgvuu Wrote:Useful knowledge about the way mules work.....and a little-known part of the story of the West. The anecdote alone is worthy of a laudes!
What are the sources that make the 'mule train' in Roman times so definitive?
Probably no source, just.... Mules are mules, 2000 years have not changed the nature of them. Instinct is instinct. Man on the other hand forgets.......
Matt Harley from sunny Kidderminster in the UK.

"Me sequimini ad agrum puellae."
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#15
I think you'll find references to them all through the sources - Polybius refers to the tents and baggage being carried on "pack- animals" as opposed to carts/wagons in his survey/description of the Roman Army
- presumably so the Army wasn't tied to roads. This can be taken as a reference to Mules and perhaps donkeys (who are a bit small to be ideal). A couple of specific references spring to mind in connection with the nick-name 'Marius's Mules' for legionaries.
Plutarch 'Life of Marius' XIII
"Setting out on the expedition, he laboured to perfect his army as it went along, practising the men in all kinds of running and in long marches, and compelling them to carry their own baggage and to prepare their own food. Hence, in after times, men who were fond of toil and did whatever was enjoined upon them contentedly and without a murmur, were called Marian mules. Some, however, think that this name had a different origin. Namely, when Scipio was besieging Numantia, he wished to inspect not only the arms and the horses, but also the mules and the waggons, that every man might have them in readiness and good order. Marius, accordingly, brought out for inspection both a horse that had been most excellently taken care of by him, and a mule that for health, docility, and strength far surpassed all the rest. The commanding officer was naturally well pleased with the beasts of Marius and often spoke about them, so that in time those who wanted to bestow facetious praise on a persevering, patient, laborious man would call him a Marian mule."
(thanks to Bill Thayer saving my typing fingers) Smile

...and also Frontinus 'Strategemata' IV.1.7
For the purpose of limiting the number of pack animals, by which the march of the army was especially hampered, Gaius Marius had his soldiers fasten their utensils and food up in bundles and hang these on forked poles, to make the burden easy and to facilitate rest; whence the expression "Marius's mules."
(courtesy Bill Thayer and Lacus Cutius again !) Smile

...and there are physical remains too such as the skeleton found on the Kalkriese site.
It seems wherever Legionaries went, Mules went too !! Smile 8)
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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