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The Army On the March

The following is their manner of moving camp. At the first bugle the men all strike their tents and collect their baggage; but no soldier may strike his tent, or set it up either, till the same is done to that of the Tribuni and the Consul. At the second bugle they load the beasts of burden with their baggage: at the third the first maniples must advance and set the whole camp in motion. Generally speaking, the men appointed to make this start are the extraordinarii: next comes the right wing of the socii; and behind them their beasts of burden. These are followed by the first legion with its own baggage immediately on its rear; then comes the second legion, followed by its own beasts of burden, and the baggage of those socii who have to bring up the rear of the march, that is to say, the left wing of the socii. The cavalry sometimes ride on the rear of their respective divisions, sometimes on either side of the beasts of burden, to keep them together and secure them. If an attack is expected on the rear, the extraordinarii themselves occupy the rear instead of the van. Of the two legions and wings each takes the lead in the march on alternate days, that by this interchange of position all may have an equal share in the advantage of being first at the water and forage. The order of march, however, is different at times of unusual danger, if they have open ground enough. For in that case they advance in three parallel columns, consisting of the Hastati, Principes, and Triarii: the beasts of burden belonging to the maniples in the van are placed in front of all, those belonging to the second behind the leading maniples, and those belonging to the third behind the second maniples, thus having the baggage and the maniples in alternate lines. With this order of march, on an alarm being given, the columns face to the right or left according to the quarter on which the enemy appears, and get clear of the baggage. So that in a short space of time, and by one movement, the whole of the hoplites are in line of battle—except that sometimes it is necessary to half-wheel the Hastati also—and the baggage and the rest of the army are in their proper place for safety, namely, in the rear of the line of combatants.

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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
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