|Roman watch tower along the Danube frontier is defended by the Martenses "pseudo-comitatensis" legion.|
Note the pair of signal fires that are ready to be torched if the German tribes are on the move.
It has probably never occurred to any of my blog readers that I would have an interest in the broad based "Ancients" historical period. What's this Fritz? Hey, hold on there for a second; tell me it ain't so!
Well it is in fact true. I like wargaming the Ancients (and the Medieval period too). More specifically, I like the "Late Roman" period ( circa 300AD to 407AD) because the Roman army is no longer the world beater that it was in its heyday, but it should still have an advantage over any run of the mill barbarian army. The Persians of course are a different matter, but that is a blog report for another day.
|My entire 28mm Late Roman army has made its first appearance on a game table since at least 2004.|
I have recently committed to participating in a campaign set in the Mediterranean part of the world during the period of the Roman Empire. It is an opportunity for the various campaign players to get their armies out on the game table and roll some dice. As far as I know, the rivals and opponents can be from any part of the Roman era. So it is possible that an army from Julius Ceasar's time could cross swords with an army of Visigoths and Vandals from the 400AD era.
|A view of the Roman battle line. The armored legio comitatensis units are deployed in the front line, supported by the unarmoured Auxillia Palatinum soldiers.|
Each player starts the campaign with a "homeland" consisting of three provinces or states. My domain is located in Asia Minor with the provinces of Galatia, Pontus and Cappadocia under my rule. My domain covers roughly the east half of modern day Turkey. I have Macedonians to the left of me, Persians and nomadic tribes to the right of me and here I am stuck in the middle of the Middle East. Oh, and Egyptians to the south of me.
So the campaign was the event that found me digging my Late Roman army out of storage and letting the little men see the light of day for the first time since 2004, when I moved to my present home in Hesse Seewald. I know that I played at least one game in 2001 because my nephew Alex and I played with the figures prior to his joining the U.S. Army. The Late Romans and Barbarians might have seen maybe one other battle, but certainly nothing since 2004.
Nearly all of my Late Romans are Wargame Foundry figures sculpted by the Perry brothers, before they went out on their own and started Perry Miniatures. I really like these figures. There are also a few Gripping Beast figures, but these are noticeably larger than the Perry figures. Most of my Gripping Beast figures are in the ranks of the barbarian tribes.
I had to give a list of the units in my Late Roman army to the campaign judge so that he could develop an army list for my domain as well as those of the other domains in the campaign. Accordingly, I brought out trays and boxes of figures from the catacombs of my house and set up all of my Late Romans onto my game table. I have to say that I was impressed by the spectacle of 12-13 infantry legions, auxillia and limitanei troops plus five units of cavalry. You can see them all lined up in battle array in the second picture from the top (see above).
The Late Roman field army was called the Comitatenses, which served behind the front line border soldiers called Limitani (which were of lower quality than the units in the Comitatenses). The Comitatenses was available to "plug the holes in the dyche" whenever a hoard of barabarians, usually Germanic tribes, broke through the border walls. Sometimes border troops were temporarily transferred to the main Comitatenses and they were called Pseudo-Comitatenses units
The senior units in the Roman army were called Palatini/Palatinae/Palatina, and this designation applied to both infantry and cavalry units. Cavalry units were called Vexillationes Palatinae (of which there were 5 such units) and infantry units were largely Legiones Palitina ( 5 units) or Auxillia Palatina (10 units - which were first raised by the emperor Constantine).
The non-senior units in the infantry were Legiones Comitatenses and the Pseudo-Comitatenses soldiers.
|Who are these guys? I really want to know.|
|Another view of the watch tower and the right flank of the Roman army|
Late Roman cavalry were organized into Vexillationes and these were frequently broken up into smaller units and deployed in different places throughout the empire. The Roman army had both heavy battle cavalry and light cavalry (often armed horse archers or spearmen).
|Scola Gentilum Seniorum - basically a "guard cavalry" unit.|
|Heavily armoured cataphract cavalry holding their long lances called "kontos". Note that the horses benefit from armour too.|
|The Scola on the left, and the Scutarii with their red shields are on the right. Both are heavy battle cavalry.|
|Roman light cavalry includes Equites Sagitarii or horse archers, backed up by spearmen of the Equites Dalmatae Passerentiiae|
|The Roman heavy cavalry protects the right flank of the army formation. Sentries posted in the watch tower keep an eye out for the barbarians.|
|The formidable looking Roman right flank.|
A Typical Late Roman Army in Gaul
The army located in Gaul consisted of the following units:
4 vexillationes Palatina
8 vexillationes Comitatenses
12 total cavalry vexillationes
1 Legio Palatina
9 Legio Comitatenses
15 Auxillia Palatina
35 total infantry units
My Late Roman Army
Scola Gentilum Seniorum - guard cavalry
Scutarii Seniores - heavy cavalry in chain mail with spears
Cataphracts - fully armored men (and horses too!) armed with a long Kontos lance
Equites Sagitarii - horse archers
Equites Dalmatae - spear armed light cavalry
Each of my cavalry units has 12 figures.
Lanciarii Gallicani Honoriani - Legio Palatina
Ioviani Seniores - Legio Palatina
Secunda Britannica - Legio Comitatenses
Cornuti Seniores - Auxillium Palatinum
Brachiati Seniores - Auxillium Palatinum
Petulantes Seniores - Auxilium Palatinum
Celtae Seniores - Auxillium Palatinum
Martenses - Pseudo-Comitatenses
? unknown - Pseudo-Comitatenses
Sagitarii - Archers
So there are ten infantry units in my army. The legios have 30 figures and the auxillia have 24 figures.
There are also three bolt thrower artillery pieces called Scorpions.
Please check in to my blog over the next several months to see how the campaign is going.