Make Roma Great Again
ru | en

Ancient military campaigns

Attention! The text below was auto-translated from Russian. You can switch the site language to Russian to see the text in its original language or wait until it is fully translated.

The success of any ancient military campaign was influenced not only by the combat skills of the military, but also by the level of their readiness for long marches. How long and how fast the legionnaires could march, as well as how well they would be provided with food and ammunition in enemy territory, sometimes played a crucial role.

Roman generals, in an effort to train and harden their troops, forced the soldiers to run a lot and make long marches on foot with heavy loads on their shoulders. Ancient historians attribute such actions to Quintus Fabius Maximus, Publius Scipio Aemilianus, Quintus Metellus of Numidia and other famous generals. However, he became most famous in the field of training the army .Gaius Marius. His soldiers marched in full armor, which weighed so much that, according to Plutarch, these soldiers were called " Mary's mules."

Hiking gear on Trajan's column, early 2nd century AD

The most detailed information about how Roman military exercises took place is found in the work of Vegetius "On Military Affairs", written in the late IV or early V century. When writing this work, the author used many works of his predecessors-from Cato the Elder to Tarrunten Paterna, which have not survived to our time.

"As if the first initiation to military training for new recruits should serve as training in the military step. Most of all, you should take care both during the campaign and in the battle formation that all the soldiers maintain the correct ranks when moving. And this can only be achieved if, through constant exercise, they learn to move quickly and smoothly. Always the greatest danger is exposed to the army divided and not keeping strong ranks. In military increments of 5 summer hours, 20 miles (=30 km) can be covered. At a full pace, faster, 24 miles (= 35 km) are covered in the same number of hours."

Further, Vegetius recommends performing the march in full display:

"It is also necessary to strictly teach young recruits to carry weights up to 60 pounds (about 20 kg), walking at a military pace. To do this during difficult campaigns, it is necessary to carry both food and weapons. You don't have to think that it's difficult to wear it if you form a skill: there's nothing that constant pre-exercise doesn't make very easy."

In accordance with the regulations approved by Augustus and confirmed by Hadrian, the military leaders were instructed to hold exercises three times a month, during which

"...the infantrymen in full armor, with spears in their hands, had to walk 10 miles at a military pace and also return to the camp, and they had to run some of the way."

The stamina of the Roman soldiers gained as a result of training is admirable. Cornelius Tacitus tells us that during the Civil War in 69, six German legions of Vitellius covered 30 miles (=40 km) in a day, and then fought all night. He also notes that the outcome of the battle would have been different if the soldiers had had the opportunity to eat, warm up and rest before the battle.

The army is on the march. A mural from the synagogue of Dura Europos depicting the passage of Moses and the Jews across the Red Sea. Archaeological Museum, Damascus. 3rd century AD

Camping equipment and household items

Marching household items were no less important than the weapons used by legionnaires in battle, as the duration of battles in campaigns was much shorter compared to the time spent on movement and providing halts. It was necessary to take with them various consumables, food, spare items of equipment and many items without which it would be impossible to set up a camp.

Additional legionnaire equipment items needed during the campaign:

On contubery:

Camping equipment


A military campaign in the style of living history (living history, revived history) is a real challenge of endurance, requiring careful preparation, high-quality equipment and good physical shape from the reenactor. The goal is to complete the route in combat uniforms with camp and household equipment in conditions that are as close as possible to a real ancient campaign. You should take care of food in advance, flint for kindling a fire, a spare set of clothes and shoes, and take a pair of raincoats for a cold night. It is the foam that is most useful in case of adverse weather conditions. You should plan the route of the hike in advance, plan the location of the camp near the source of fresh water, pay special attention to collecting furka and fixing the shield (it can be fastened with straps on your back or carried in your hand). A successful solution to these problems will ensure optimal energy expenditure and some comfort during the hike.

Legionnaires on a hike, reconstruction
Legionnaires on a hike, reconstruction
Legionnaire on a hike, reconstruction

Related topics

Legionnaire, Legion, Gaius Marius