posted on Oct, 27 2005 @ 01:11 PM
Rome faced many problems similar to Hitler.
Namely, particularly during the second (Imperial) period they started out with large, well trained, _peacetime_ force in which the Vexilatio each
consisted of 5-6,000 men. 'Fresh' under the presumption of a 6-7 year period of service. And towards the later end of the Western Empire period
had as many as 80 Legio but only of roughly 1,000-1,200 men each. Whereby stop-loss could see expected service periods (before which you were
ineligible for full citizenship) of up to 25 years. Which is effectively life without parole and leaves you with a spent-force effect even before the
real problems of recruitment and maintaining forces on a fading infrastructure system could be factored in.
It should also be noted that the WORKING unit structure of the later period forces was the Praesental _Army_ which had largely taken over Vexilations
with a Legio system and followed on from the Sacer Comitatus and Palatini of the early/mid Imperial times.
As with the earlier force, it consisted of a cadre HQ&M (what we would probably call a Corps) structure with an elite 'Palace Guard' (Praetori) of
both mounted and infantry forces around which regional and frontier forces could be built up. Logistics were equally removed as the Emperor financed
any standup with a separate recruit tax and appointed a Comes` field commander instead of leading from the front as of old.
Nominally, Imperial Purple could still command the service of frontier forces and provincial (National Guard equivalent) units but more often than
not, they would only stand to for actions relevant to their own particular area of interest.
This reflects the reality that much of the federal control by which Rome ruled as a city-state running an Empire which would be considered a fair
sized nation today had died in the corruption and simple swamping of the bureacratic system by later Imperial times. And so you saw much more local
control by separatist governors hiring mercenary troops as not merely adhoc Socci auxilliaries for their 'specialist' weapons and mission
capabilities. But as main-force troops in full up cohortes level forces of 500 or more men.
And because of the great number of migrating/displaced peoples assuming Roman citizenship 'by squatter's rights' and the falling percentages of
dedicated frontier Legiones, this further blurred the line between what had nominally be 'citizen soldiers' and mercs into a single, hybrid, very
ill-disciplined (partisan to their commanders) force.
Such gets ugly when the Socci demand tribute like the very barbarians (one tribe over) they are supposedly defending against, even as it makes a
further hollow-force mess of nominal paper orbats at the 'National Call Up' activation level. With shadowed unit troops supposed to come under the
control of one force being actually politically if not organically commited to a standing mission already.
I would also beg to differ as to the effectiveness of late period Roman cavalry vs. Medieval troops. A full strength Vexillationi of auxilliary
cavalry could number 500 horse. A regular equitatis cohortes level force on the model of the old Alae 'wing' system could still summon between 120
and 250 dedicated horse troops.
These numbers would _vastly_ exceed the number of knights that any medieval hedgelord could count on as house carl type trained and kitted horsemen.
Roman troops would then seek to control local roadways (most of which would still be, ironically, of their own construction) while rolling up each
_individual_ resistance before a feudal levy system could raise and marshal an effective defense.
Under such a rollback and death-in-detail containment system, the numbers of a full legion would stand it well as it is likely that the medieval
courier system would be paralyzed almost immediately. As would it's incredible ability to construct fortifications in a fairly short time. In this
process, they would be foraging off the land so whatever the medievals had for 'field rations', so too would they, but in greater numbers because
they would kick over the villages to put the natives into flight (clogging roads and cities) as well as destroying home and hearth for anything they
did not intend to occupy.
Such is _very_ different from Medieval 'orchestrated' warfare wherein the peasants only suffer /after/ occupation.
While the Romans did indeed have heavy cavalry, the likelihood is more that of an 'Me-109 vs. B-17 vs. P-51' scenario. In that the Romans need only
get in among the mounted knights on their heavy and slow chargers so that they could choose between turning their backs to an enemy at their flanks
and rear quarters (going after the Legionary infantry) or being 'peeled away' to try and chase lighter skirmishers with animals that wind easily in
the long run after one good gallop. Cavalry which do not 'thunder through the earth' (freight train effect) MASS are laughed at by infantry as
suicide plungers. Cavalry which masses but cannot outrun light harrassing forces get's pulled to pieces from the periphery and often becomes it's
own worst enemy as horses founder and trip up those behind them.
On another note, the _steel_ that the Romans made was just fine in terms of armor. The Lorica Segmentata might not match that of an upper class
knight but it didn't weigh 70lbs either. And it would DEFINITELY beat the ring and chainmail of the levvied forces simply because it is always
better to deflect than to 'catch' an armor piercing tip. Later Imperial armor in fact bore much resemblance to the full-up rigid breastplates of
early Medieval period (though admittedly there was also a return to a lot of lower quality protection such as leather and early ring for the frontier
My Bet? The medieval feudal system was like the components of a bomb, unassembled. Isolated in their own little burgs, a local baron was essentially
harmless unless he took to banditry on the side (and that only until you made a gory example of him).
OTOH, you bring him together with his ten best drinking buddies and you have a revolution in progress as they all compare how /really/ poor and
hopeless their positions are compared to you the rolling-in-it 'king'.
Where pillage and loot is ironically the driving motive for BOTH warfare modes but only the Romans are /encouraged/ to it as a functional, day-to-day
basis, centralized rule by a defacto emperor does not last long in the face of absent opportunities and mutual angst that is the second instance.
And so, short of a necessary herd-thinning 'adventurist diplomacy' as typified by the The Crusades; feudal armies tended to be very much for-show
affairs, deliberately isolated in home garrisons.
OTOH, the Roman legions were a conquering force and always had been such that, if you get them into motion in their enemy's backfield, digging them
out like ticks on an Alabama hound is not going to be pretty.
THIS is how you beat a nominally stronger military force. By destroying it's weak civillian infrastructural logistics and just _keeping on the
Which is something that most Medieval 'armies' would not understand as they were designed to be cellular law enforcement as much as
exploratory/exploitative force constructs and would have a hard time with anything but the setpiece battle on a negotiated playing field.
Not least because, when finally put at bay, the Romans will simply erect a fort around themselves and dare you to come get them across a period
equivalent to our own killing zone (tank traps, obstacles, 'barbwire', punji sticks the whole gamut) ala Alesia. Something that, in the quest of
elevated nobility, had been almost /entirely/ abandoned as a viable warfighting technique until as late as the Civil War (protect your fortification
by controlling it's approaches and funneling the enemy into preattrited kill sacks).
In this, Roman siege systems (around whose designs much of the early Medieval systems were /still/ being referenced) would be 'just as good' as
anything that the Knights are apt to build (cavalry having too few numbers to be a 'self engineered' force as one of it's principal vulnerabilities
in static warfare) and having a decent wall at their back, the Romans would likely be able to sortie cohorts to harry the enemy levies that tried to
lock down their own scavenging with no real risk.
Cost the Germano-Gaulic forces 240,000 + 60,000 men to learn that lesson. Against a mere 28,000 Romans...