Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/126

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120 BATTLE OF THE METAURUS.


the front division of the legion, and the Principes the second. Each division was drawn up about ten deep, a space of three feet being allowed between the files as well as the ranks, so as to give each legionary ample room for the use of his javelins, and of his sword and shield. The men in the second rank did not stand immediately behind those in the first rank, but the files were alternate, like the position of the men on a draught-board. This was termed the quineunx order. Niebuhr considers that this arrangement enabled the legion to keep up a shower of javelins on the enemy for some considerable time. He says, "When the first line had hurled its pila, it probably stepped back between those who stood behind it, and two steps forward restored the front nearly to its first position; a movement which, on account of the arrangement of the quineunx, could be executed without losing a moment. Thus one line succeeded the other in the front till it was time to draw the swords; nay, when it was found expedient, the lines which had already been in the front might repeat this change, since the stores of pila were surely not confined to the two which each soldier took with him into battle.

"The same change must have taken place in fighting with the sword, which, when the same tactic was adopted on both sides, was any thing but a confused melee; on the contrary, it was a series of single combats." He adds, that a military man of experience had been consulted by him on the subject, and had given it as his opinion "that the change of the lines as described above was by no means impracticable; but, in the absence of the deafening noise of gunpowder, it can not have had even any difficulty with well-trained troops."

The third division of the legion was six hundred strong, and acted as a reserve. It was always composed of veteran soldiers, who were called the Triarii. Their arms were the same as those of the Principes and Hastati, except that each Triarian carried a spear instead of javelins. The rest of the legion consisted of light-armed troops, who acted as skirmishers. The cavalry of each legion was at this period about three hundred strong. The Italian allies, who were attached to the legion, seem to have been similarly armed and equipped, but their numerical proportion of cavalry was much larger.

Such was the nature of the forces that advanced on the Ro-