Caesar, a History of the Art of War among the Romans down to the End of the Roman Empire, with a Detailed Account of the Campaigns of Caius Julius Caesar - Vol. 1

By Theodore Ayrault Dodge | Go to book overview

CÆSAR.

I.
MARIUS AND THE ARMY CHANGES. 110-86 B. C.

CÆSAR'S legion was more like the Greek phalanx than like the legion of the Second Punic War. The latter had intervals between maniples equal to maniple front, and the maniples stood checkerwise. Each man occupied a space five feet square. The material of the legion was of the highest order -- the burgesssoldier of the simple republic. But gradually the professional soldier came into vogue; the citizens avoided military duty; and a less reliable material filled the ranks. Marius first enlisted men solely for their physical qualifications; and foreign mercenaries were added to the army. The general, not the republic, claimed the soldier's fealty. Arms and equipment remained the same, but the trustworthiness of the soldier decreased, and the intervals in the line of battle were lessened. The cohort was no longer a body of citizens marshaled on a basis of property-standing, but a body of from three hundred to six hundred of any kind of men, and the legion was marshaled in two or three lines of cohorts. The army ceased to be a national militia, but was composed of regulars and auxiliaries. Ballistics and fortification were improved. Sieges grew to be more expertly managed. The fleets gained in importance. Marius' great work was the change he wrought in the army; but he was also the means of rescuing Rome from the invasion of the Teutones and Cimbri, the former of whom he defeated at Aquæ Sextiæ in Southern Gaul, and the latter at Vercellæ in Northern Italy. Both victories redound much to his credit.

THE legion with which the Romans vanquished the Grecian phalanx, and which gallantly took the fearful punishment inflicted on it by Hannibal, again and again facing destruction with unflinching courage, until the Carthaginians, exhausted by attrition, were forced to abandon Italy, was a very different body of men from the enthusiastic legion

-1-

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