Success Of The Roman Army Essay

1846 words - 8 pages

The empire that the Roman’s built can be argued to have been the greatest in world history. The Roman Empire controlled the largest land area in European history and influenced a huge region, acting as a cultural center for the entire continent of Europe. Their strength derived from their prowess and skill on the battlefield. The Roman Army was extremely effective and became the basis of our military structure today by utilizing technological advances in strategy and weaponry, and simply having more discipline.

During their time, the strategy the Roman’s employed was second to none. The success of their strategy started with the Roman’s separating their armies into smaller, more specific ...view middle of the document...

What the hastati and velites did was prepare the enemy to be attacked by the next wave of their army, the principes. The principes were mainly middle-aged men, which employed more experience and higher quality weapons. They could afford slightly better equipment than both the hastati and velites, since they were in a wealthier class. Principes charged into the enemy as they were trying to recuperate from being attacked with the pilum, and more often than not would quickly force them to retreat (Roman Empire Wars).

The most experienced and wealthiest men often made up the triarii. They spent most of their time at the back of the army and only went into battle, only if there was no other option. If the principes required assistance, they would fall back and allow the triarii to advance. Since they were in the wealthiest class, the triarii were equipped with the most expensive equipment, including mail, a bronze helmet, a scutum, and a short thrusting spear (Burns). With the enemy already wounded, combined with experience of the triarii, it was often an easy victory.

The demand for troops caused a dangerous low in the number of workingmen for the Roman’s (Rosenstein). A man by the name of Gaius Marius was elected as Consul in 107 BC, and completely changed the recruiting strategy, according to UNRV History. What he did was give the unemployed a chance to make a living by opening the army to everybody, and not just the working class (Marius Reforms the Legions). Not only was the Roman Army opened up to include more than just the working class, when Rome would conquer another empire or region, a treaty would be made, that would require the conquered territory to provide fit fighting men for service (Marius Reforms the Legions). What this did was ensure that Rome would always have a fresh supply of men. This made it easy to raise armies and campaign in a larger portion of the year, than just when the crops weren't growing (Rosenstein). Gaius then put all of the new recruits into a consolidated unit called the legionaries.

The legionaries were more proficient in battle, and were trained better and more thoroughly. Each legionary was given the same weapons and armor as every other legionary, so that no one was any better than another. Generally, the legionary would throw his pilum (throwing spear) into the mass on oncoming troops and rendering enemy shields or troops useless before engaging in battle. When commanded, they could go into a formation called a testudo, where the legionaries would group together, make a wall and ceiling with their shields, which protected them from almost everything their enemy threw at them (Gray).

The Roman Empire saw expansion come easier, because of these units combined with several other factors. One of the factors the Roman’s became famous for, was their ability to change and adapt their weapons to target the weaknesses of the enemy, they were currently battling. They would use long and durable...

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