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Roman Legionaries

In consequence of drilling, the Roman soldier was able to carry - besides his offensive and defensive armor - two or three stakes (valli), his baggage, and provisionsf for a certain number of days, the whole amounting to at least 60 pounds. Troops thus laden have been known to travel twenty-five miles in five hours. The commanders marched on foot, at the head of the army, setting to all an example of endurance, cheerfully submitting to every inconvenience, whether from the roads, the weather, the climate, or any other circumstance.

Admirable order reigned in the camps and during the march of the Roman troops; and a strict discipline guarded them against licentiousness and theft. Faults were punished, in proportion to their degree, with the rod, with degradation to a lower rank, and sometimes even with death. Indiscriminate pillage of an enemy's country was forbidden, but parties Were especially detached for that purpose, and the spoils were held in common to be distributed by the tribunes among the soldiers. No one was allowed to eat before the signal was given, and this was done but twice a day. The soldiers stood up while taking their dinner, which was a very frugal meal; their supper was a little better.

When it happened that the Roman troops failed in their obligations, or an uncommon effort was required of them, they were called to a sense of their duty, or made equal to the emergency, by the revival and even the increase of the former strictness of discipline. On such occasions, their commander made them undergo painful marches, or otherwise imposed such labors on them that they soon asked for the combat, as the end of their excessive fatigues.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:28:21 ZULU