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Ancient Warfare: Chronicles of Lucius IV  -by Paul Bruffell

Roman Battle Tactics

Lucius looked across the flat ground at the mass of Gallic tribesmen. A wailing banshee of noise came from their warriors as they whipped themselves in to a frenzy before the attack.

Lucius had seen it before and stood firm. Looking around he noticed the inexperienced Legionaries of his Century shifting nervously. ‘Stand Firm’ he said in a clear and confident tone. The shuffling of feet stopped.

If those warriors had attacked whilst the Legion was forming up for battle they may have crushed the Roman army but they just stood there chanting and banging their shields. Now the Legion was in battle formation and ready to take the fight to the barbarians. Nothing could stop his Legionaries now.

The Cornicen blew the horn and the Legion began to move forward at the walk. The cacophony from the Gauls seemed to fade in to the background as the sound of stamping feet signalled the Legion moving remorsefully forward.

It had been several days since Lucius had seen his posterior centurion Livius. Glancing to his right he took in the giant centurion that was Livius. Any man over 6 feet tall towered over most Romans and so it was with Livius. Livius commanded loyalty from his century by being the strongest and bravest and his purposeful stride was reflected through the march of his Legionaries.

Lucius swung his gaze back to the menacing Gauls as their noise changed to a scream and with it their warriors charged across the plain. Almost at the same time, the Legion’s trumpets blew and the first line of maniples charged forward throwing their pila with only yards to go. The whine of hundreds of javelins shooting through the air made the barbarians apprehensive and their charge stalled. Numerous Gauls fell before they even reached the Roman line. With scutum held to the front and gladius at the ready the Roman Legionaries crashed in to the Gallic warriors. In the confined space of close contact the Roman way of fighting began to take its toll on the Gauls.

More Gallic warriors joined the fight to Lucius’ front and the sustained fighting was showing signs of tiring the front maniple.

Lucius watched as the young men of the hastati began to give ground. The horn was blown again, this time to signal the 'Change Over' at the line of battle from hastati to the Princeps of Lucius’ Century.

‘Retire Front Line’ shouted the Centurions in unison. The Princeps opened ranks and the remaining hastati darted through as soon as they could disengage the enemy. Lucius signalled the advance and his Princeps closed ranks as they advanced. The Gauls gathered themselves and charged again, heartened by the apparent fleeing of their foe. Lucius new the next 30 minutes would determine the victor today.

The Hastati unit with its movement to the rear (in red) is achieved by clicking the unit then using menu – Units – Legionaries – Retire Front Line. This instruction can only be followed when in combat with the enemy. The Princeps unit with its movement shown in blue charges in to the gap and pins the enemy unit down. A Roman HI unit could charge through the retiring Hastati unit and replace it in the line providing stacking limits are not exceeded.

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