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Roman Battle Tactics 109BC-AD313 (Anglais) Broché – 24 juillet 2007


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Amazon.com: 14 commentaires
42 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good Research but no coherent theory 26 août 2007
Par R. A Forczyk - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Writing about Roman military tactics or organization is an extremely challenging task, given the fragmentary archaeological evidence available and heavy reliance upon a handful of ancient literary sources. Inevitably, modern historians attempt to tease out additional details about the Roman way of war from these fragmentary clues but this leads to multiple theories with no clear conclusion. The fact is, there are many things that we don't know for sure about the Roman Army and that we will probably never know. That said, Ross Cowan's Roman Battle Tactics 109 BC -AD 313, No. 155 in Osprey's Elite series, attempts to explain Roman military dominance in the late Republican and early Imperial phase through the use of literary and archaeological materials. I thoroughly enjoyed Cowan's earlier volume in the Warrior series and it is clear that he brings fresh insight to this subject, but this volume seemed more awkwardly constructed. Although the organization seems apparent, the volume seems to bog down into one battle description after another and reminds me of one of my college professors who gets so involved in an exercise at the chalkboard that he forgets about his class. It seems like the author turns his back on the reader about halfway through the volume in his quest for "the answer." Overall, this is a decent volume and it makes some interesting points, but it quietly drifts into a "death spiral" with no real conclusions.

Roman Battle Tactics 109 BC - AD 313 begins an introduction that describes the organization of the manipular legion, basic battle formations and the importance of intervals in the battle lines. The author goes far out on a limb in the sub-section on the cohort's command structure, contesting Adrian Goldsworthy's theory that the senior centurion commanded the cohort; the author says, "there is no evidence whatsoever for this." However, "lack of evidence" doesn't mean much in Roman history since there are many unknowns. The author then - with no real evidence of his own - claims that the legionary cohort had no commander and the individual centuries cooperated in battle. This claim appears flimsy at best and later at the Battle of Forum Gallorum in 43 BC, the author writes that a retreat was order by Mark Antony and "the legionaries finally listened to orders." Without a layer of command between legion and century, to whom would a commander transmit orders? Later, when the author discusses the cuneus and "pigs head" as a combined attack by multiple centuries, how would they centuries be able to accomplish this without a senior leader directing it?

The main part of the volume is divided into a 33-page section on legionary battle lines and maneuvers and an 11-page section on offensive and defensive formations. Essentially, the author explains a tactic - such as the orbis formation for all-around defense - and then explains its use in 4-5 battles. This approach succeeds in demonstrating that Roman tactics were fairly consistent during this 400-year period but it falls short of any "unified theory" about Roman tactics. I noted too, that there was fairly little said about the Roman use of tactical reserves but clearly this was one of the major Roman advantages over their Barbarian opponents. Perhaps the best part of this volume is the artwork by Adam Hook, which consists of 7 color plates: legionary centuries in close and open order; the testudo; the cuneus and the pigs head; a legion in battle array; a legionary century charging; Lanciarii attacking Parthian Cataphracts; and a cavalry wedge.
16 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Interesting resource on Roman battle tactics 7 mai 2008
Par Steven A. Peterson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is a fascinating little volume, slim but filled with interesting speculation and documentation on Roman battle tactics from 109 BC to 313 AD. By necessity, there is much inference about actual tactics, given the difficulty of ascertaining with certainty exactly how the legions fought.

Nonetheless, the author, Ross Cowan, uses the historical record judiciously to reconstruct tactics. He notes his goal at the outset (Page 3): "This book will focus on the tactics of the legion, because that is the formation for which we possess the most evidence, especially the legions of the Late Republic."

There are reconstructions of disasters, such as Crassus' disastrous defeat at Carrhae. There are discussions of Julius Caesar's great victories in Gaul and against Pompey's legions, including a nice description of the key battle at Pharsalus. Also interesting, the discussion of Antony's and Octavian's victory over the Republican army commanded by Brutus and Cassius at Philippi, after their murder of Caesar.

There is detail on the evolution of legion tactics, on the components of legions (from archers to cavalry to infantry and so on).

All in all, an interesting slim volume (only 63 pages of text). For those wishing to gain more knowledge of Roman battle tactics, this represents a nice entree to the literature.
16 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Perfect source for a complex topic 23 août 2007
Par K. Murphy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Though Osprey has provided a myriad of books on the appearance, gear, and organization of the legionaries and auxiliaries of Imperial Rome, this is one of the first to deal with exactly how these men fought in great detail.
Cowan, the author of the highly useful Legionary Warrior titles, describes both the various formations and the actual fighting styles of the legions, and supports his concise text with drawings and battle plans. As in his previous Osprey titles, he does not breeze over the warfare of the 3rd Century, but deals equally with all the general periods of Roman history held within these dates.
Also supplementing the text are plates by Adam Hook and numerous photos of military gravestones and other related items.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Nothing new here 10 mai 2011
Par Mr. Mice Guy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This is an interesting introduction to the subject, but doesn't appear to have anything new to say to anyone who has read the subject in any depth.

The chapters are:
Introduction - p3:
Size and organisation of the legion.
From maniple to cohort.
Basic battle formations.
Intervals in the battleline.
Legionary Battle Lines and Manoeuvres - p13:
Simplex acies: Forum Gallorum 43BC; Ruspina 46BC; Carrhae 53BC.
Duplex acies: Ilerda 49BC; Maximinus in AD238; Arrian in AD135.
Triplex and quadruplex acies: Ilerda 49BC; Muthul 109BC; Chaeronea 86BC; Pistoria 62BC; Gaul 58BC; Pharsalus 48BC; Uzzita 46BC; Rhyndacus 85BC; Thapsus 46BC; Second Philippi 42BC.
Detached forces and surprise: Tigranocerta 69BC; Aquae Sextiae 102BC; Lauron 76BC; Segovia 75BC.
Downhill and uphill charges: Mts Armanus & Gindarus 39 & 38BC; Ilerda and Dyrrachium 49 & 48BC; First Philippi 42BC; Mons Graupius 84AD.
Offensive and Defensive Formations - p46:
Cuneus & 'pig's head': Bonn AD69; Britain AD61; Cremona AD69.
Orbis: Cirta 105BC; Sabinus and Cotta 54BC; Britain 55BC; Germany 16AD; Nicopolis 47BC; Adretum AD9; Danube AD173/174
Testudo: Issus AD194; Daphne AD272; Cremona AD69.
Agmen quadratum & testudo: Media 36BC; Ardashir AD233.
Epilogue - p57:
Adrianople AD313; Ctesiphon AD363.
References, commentaries, index etc.pp59-64.

The colour plates are
A. Legionary centuries inclose & open order; with 3 vignettes of figures in the formations.
B. The Testudo; front view and two side views of the three ranks.
C. The cuneus and 'pig's head'; main plate shows two converging intantry columns, three vignettes show alternative interpretations.
D. Battle array - two page illustration of a legion flanked by auxiliary infantry, flanked in turn by auxiliary cavalry, as at the defeat of Tacfarinas in 117AD; with 7 vignettes of figures from the illustration.
E. Legionary century charging.
F. Lanciarii attacking Parthian cataphracts (light infantry attacking from between two close-order centuries), with 3 vignettes.
G. Cavalry wedge & testudo.

As you can see, an introductory section to the tactics and formations, followed by more in-depth descriptions and examples. As I said, nothing new as such, but an interesting introduction for the newcomer, with good, informative colour plates.

Another Military Revolution debate begins???
--------------------------------------------
Gareth Sampson, in his The Crisis of Rome: The Jugurthine and Northern Wars and the Rise of Marius, on page 188 says:
"Thus Marius gave his legionaries more mobility, with less reliance on a baggage train, armed them with a modified type of pilum, and made the legionary eagle the sole Roman standard. Yet given the paucity of our evidence, why has so much been made of the so-called Marian military reforms? In short, this is a recent construct, created by modern historians." He then quotes from M. Bell's article on tactical reform:

"At some point between the time of Polybius and that of Julius Caesar, a major tactical reform of the Roman army took place, which is not explicitly described by any ancient authority. The major component of this reform was the replacement of the legion of thirty maniples by the legion of ten cohorts. In addition, the velites or Roman light troops distributed among the maniples were abolished."

Back to the author: "Put simply, many historians, unable to accept that there was a major military reform which is no longer documented, chose Marius as being the most logical source of this reform...".

"...It is clear that Polybius's account is far from consistent in his use of the terms maniple and cohort (when translated from the Greek), and that whilst his main account of the Roman army is based on the maniple, cohorts crop up in a number of places in his narrative, from as early as 206 BC onwards. Further uncertainty is added by Livy and Sallust... Thus we have total confusion in our few sources about what the major Roman tactical unit was."

"We have to raise the possibility that this 'confusion' was a reflection of the true situation... there is nothing to say that the Romans rigidly used the same formation on each occasion and that at some fixed point they altered one for the other. This is the conclusion that Bell comes to, detailing the various occasions when a Roman commander would use one rather than the other."

"Thus we have to conclude that there is no evidence whatsoever that Marius was responsible for reorganizing the Roman legion based on the cohort as opposed to the maniple. In fact, the existing evidence suggests that this change had already taken place and that it was not a straight replacement of one with the other, once again being more a case of evolution rather than revolution".

Further Reading:
Andrea Palladio and the Architecture of Battle with the Unpublished Edition of Polybius' Histories
Scores of battle plans and diagrams based on descriptions from Polybius and Caesar - incredible detail and accuracy.
New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare (History of Warfare (Brill))
See the following essays in particular:

PHALANGES IN ROME? – Nathan Rosenstein – “…Questions the almost uncontested view that the early Roman army fought in a phalanx. He does so, on the basis of a war-and-society analysis that raises questions about the census and the suitability of early Roman institutions to sustaining a hoplite force”. He discusses the dating of the adoption off the phalanx, why it was adopted, and the development of the manipular army.
P303: “…the likelihood that the manipular army ever evolved from a classical phalanx is very remote.”

CAESAR AND THE HELVETIANS – David Potter: Caesar’s military education and the tactical transformation of the Roman army in his day.
P329: “Caesar began his career as a Marian general, modelling his conduct in war upon that of his uncle. He very rapidly dropped Marius’ old style tactics, and adopted [sic] himself to the practice of the post-Sullan age, possibly with the aid of the writings of Sulla and his generals, as well as with men like Labienus and Sabinus at his side during the early years in Gaul, and with the aid of their subordinates”.
4 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A powerful history of military forces and strategies during early Roman times. 2 septembre 2007
Par Midwest Book Review - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Joining others in Osprey's 'Elite' specialty military titles is Ross Cowan's ROMAN BATTLE TACTICS 109BC-AD313 a powerful history of military forces and strategies during early Roman times. Any special-interest military collection strong in ancient battle history will find this an excellent survey of one of the world's finest military machines, including evidence for military traditions, battle campaigns, and color interpretations of tactical scenarios.
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