Page:Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 1 (1897).djvu/89

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15
OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

frequently compelled or persuaded to consume their dangerous valour in remote climates, and for the benefit of the state.[1] All these were included under the general name of auxiliaries; and however they might vary according to the difference of times and circumstances, their numbers were seldom much inferior to those of the legions themselves.[2] Among the auxiliaries, the bravest and most faithful bands were placed under the command of præfects and centurions, and severely trained in the arts of Roman discipline; but the far greater part retained those arms, to which the nature of their country, or their early habits of life, more peculiarly adapted them. By this institution each legion, to whom a certain proportion of auxiliaries was alloted, contained within itself every species of lighter troops, and of missile weapons; and was capable of encountering every nation, with the advantages of its respective arms and discipline.[3] Nor was the legion destitute of what, in modern language, would be Artillery styled a train of artillery. It consisted in ten military engines of the largest, and fifty-five of the smaller size; but all of which, either in an oblique or horizontal manner, discharged stones and darts with irresistible violence.[4]

Encampment The camp of a Roman legion presented the appearance of a fortified city.[5] As soon as the space was marked out, the pioneers carefully levelled the ground, and removed every impediment that might interrupt its perfect regularity. Its form was an exact quadrangle; and we may calculate, that a square of about seven hundred yards was sufficient for the encampment of twenty thousand Romans; though a similar number of our own troops would expose to the enemy a front of more than treble that extent. In the midst of the camp, the prætorium, or
  1. Marcus Antoninus obliged the vanquished Quadi and Marcomanni to supply him with a large body of troops, which he immediately sent into Britain. Dion Cassius, l. lxxi. [16].
  2. Tacit. Annal. iv. 5. Those who fix a regular proportion of as many foot, and twice as many horse, confound the auxiliaries of the emperors with the Italian allies of the republic. [See Appendix 4.]
  3. Vegetius, ii. 2. Arrian, in his order of march and battle against the Alani.
  4. The subject of the ancient machines is treated with great knowledge and ingenuity by the Chevalier Folard (Polybe, tom. ii. p. 233-290). He prefers them in many respects to our modern cannon and mortars. We may observe that the use of them in the field gradually became more prevalent, in proportion as personal valour and military skill declined with the Roman empire. When men were no longer found, their place was supplied by machines. See Vegetius, ii. 25. Arrian.
  5. Vegetius finishes his second book, and the description of the legion, with the following emphatic words: "Universa quæ in quoque belli genere necessaria esse creduntur, secum legio debet ubique portare, ut in quovis loco fixerit castra, armatam faciat civitatem".