Centurion Lucius turned to face his optio and gave that
knowing smile. A smile born of 5 years campaigning against
Carthage. Lucius was not only smiling at the youth and innocence
of these new recruits but at their ignorance of what was
to face them. He knew better than most that training these
recruits was not just about discipline but about formations
and when to use them. If these recruits were to go beyond
one battle they had to have drilled in to them how to change
formation at the sound of the horn.
gave the command to his optio who marshalled the recruits
in to some sort of line. Lucius slowly shook his head watching
the confusion as the recruits tried to form up. He knew
it was going to be a long day. His optio bellowed "Pay
Attention" and Lucius looked up at the new men
of the Tenth Legion.
began Lucius, "I am going to explain the benefits
of Formations. The reason why the Legion wins many battles
is its ability to change formation to meet the change in
conditions in the heat of battle".
are the infantry – the backbone of
the Roman Army. You need to know when to form Line, Column,
Wedge and Square".
Tiberius saw one of the recruits scuffing his sandals. Tiberius
promptly moves over and stabs him with the butt of his gladius.
"I told you to pay attention’",
carried on –
From breaking camp in the morning and making the day’s
march, you are in column, when moving to your position for
battle you may need to move fast then you are in Column
again. A Forced March is only done in column. A
forced march has in the past resulted in stragglers,
make sure you are not one of those for you may pay the penalty
with your life. Never get caught by the enemy in column.
If contacted by an enemy force you are very restricted as
to the number of men who can fight to the unit’s front.
standard battle formation, each man is expected to step
from the second rank and fill any gap in the front rank
and maintain a solid line at all times. This Line is the
most flexible of formations. Movement is not slow and 20
men can fight in the front row of each unit. Remember your
left side is shielded but not the right, try to keep your
enemy on the left side.
Few Barbarian units can survive an attack by the Wedge formation.
One and a half times as many men can strike from the same
space as a Line formation. But, in Wedge, your movement
is slow and it is easy to be outflanked by enemy cavalry.
The Wedge is also impossible to use on the charge without
loosing formation and cohesion.
– This formation should be a last resort. Although
all sides have shield protection, the square moves very
slowly and only one quarter of the men can face in one direction
for combat or firing.
to recognise the signals for each formation. The Cornicen
will blow the horn to show you which sound is used to signal
which formation. First the Column …..’
heat of the sun was already parching lips and Lucius could
feel the dust in his throat. Better get these recruits in
to shape soon, he thought, for the Carthaginian’s
were reported to be assembling in Iberia for another War.
right he saw a similar scene was being played out by a tribune
from the Scipio family. The tribune was directing the new
men of a cavalry turma practising the formations
of the Roman horsemen.
Lucius saw the turma form up in three decurie
(three lines) one behind the other and practice the charge
with spear in hand. The Roman Army only made the charge
when its cavalry were in Line formation to maximise the
the charge they quickly regrouped in to the Column
formation for rapid movement back to their start position.
Just like the infantry, the Column formation was reserved
for when the army was on the march or rapid movement across
the battlefield where contact with the enemy was unlikely.
the cavalry demonstrated the Wedge formation.
A very effective formation when clashing with enemy heavy
cavalry. The Wedge is a difficult formation to maintain
by the best of drilled troops and only the regular armies
showed much use of this formation. Although slower than
the Line, Roman cavalry could still achieve a charge in
the Wedge formation.
scanned the training ground of the Roman camp but could
not find any sight of the allied Light Cavalry attached
to the Legion. They must have been sent on a scouting mission.
The Light Cavalry trained by the Roman Army also practised
the Cantabrian circle. A formation first seen in Iberia.
This was a circle of horsemen each throwing his javelin
as he came closest to the enemy. The tactic was fine against
enemy heavy infantry but of little use against equally mobile
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