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Greatest Battles that the Romans Fought

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  Quote J.Caesar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Greatest Battles that the Romans Fought
    Posted: 09-Apr-2006 at 13:53
Battle of Arausio was easily the biggest Roaamn deafeat in N. Europe however your stats wrong. 200,000 Cimbri vs. 80,000 Roman and 40,000 aux., Taotal deafeat for Roman do to in fighting between two Roman generals who refuse to assist each other! However, Cimbri losses are unknow but assuredly severe too, given the Roman seemingly always assure this. Loking at later battles the Germans and Celts always had severe losses irrespective how many troops the Roamns had, either east of the Rhine or in Britain. Only Hannibal and the Parthians could really only match Rome in its prime.
Anyway the near anihilation of the Cimbri occured after.
Still say the battle of Vercallae has to be the most one sided in history before the davent of modern weapons given how the Romans were so outnumbered and sufferd less than 1000 losses. This has been proven.
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  Quote RomiosArktos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Apr-2006 at 16:42
Battle of Farsalus 48 B.C
The two greatest generals of their time clash on the Thessalian plain
CEASAR and his commanders vs POMPEY and Ahenobarbus.

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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Apr-2006 at 22:19
Originally posted by J.Caesar

However, Cimbri losses are unknow but assuredly severe too, given the Roman seemingly always assure this.


Not always. There is no basis for this assumption: Romans had several defeats in which they inflicted virtually no casualties (eg some of the battles associated with Numantia etc). It is usual that Romans inflict severe casualties whether they win or lose but by no means is it universal. Most estimates put Cimbri losses at Arausio as no more than a few thousands, given the developments on the field.

Only Hannibal and the Parthians could really only match Rome in its prime.


Well, Hannibal's army was mostly Celts, so ....

The Parthians never threatened Rome, they only threatend the success of Roman campaigns i.e. their achievements were purely defensive.
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  Quote J.Caesar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Apr-2006 at 23:39
I checked all sources..there is not any known number of Cimbri losses. However, you have to conclude given the ease of Vercallae ,which ended this arguement, (Cimbri annihilated) , Cimbri losses were high, as tGerman losses at Tuetunberg. American Army historian visited there and is rasing serious doubts about the outcome. He insitss that German forces fled once they obtained standards. Many strange deatails point out to misleading evidense from German historians he feels and backs it up with evidence.His evedince is such that burial mounds were done by Romans at the exact time. He has convinced me that the German/Celts were in reality very poor fighters in this day.
Battles proved this out. As he stated, Vercallae,Aquae Sexitae, Allesia proved how poor they are. Less than 1000 Roman dead in each of the first two battles in which great numbers of barbarians outnumbered the Romans. ' 200,000 plus thousand American boy scouts with army knifes would have fared better'.

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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2006 at 00:16

Sure, the Germans had heavy casualties at Teutoburger, but again, it is no evidence for heavy Cimbri losses at Arausio.

Neither is Vercellae. The two battles were obvioulsy quite different. Cimbri had previously defeated Romans in all engagements, eg at Noreii, where they did not even hold a very signifigant numerical advantage. The Romans apparently feel their losses were so insignifigant as to be not worth mentioning (unlike Teutoburger, in which German losses are in fact mentioned as being at least noteworthy).

The great strength - and the great weakness - of Roman forces was their adherence to command. In situations where their formations were fragmented and command disrupted - such as in the rout at Arausio - Roman forces were next to useless, because they had no skill at individual combat.



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  Quote Theodore Felix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2006 at 09:39
Ill have to agree with Ahmed the Fighter on this one. Not exactly the most romantic battle for classical Roman fanatics, but all the battles mentioned, Alesia, Magnesia etc. were battles Rome could have lost but still regained in the end. Chalons was different. Had it lost then everything might have crumbled at that point on and medieval history could have been shaped very very differently.

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 03:38
Are you sure about the figures of the army number?200 000 Cimbres or 180 000 Gaul soldiers?Do you think that historians don't exaggerate the number of the armies?
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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 03:45
Originally posted by King Kaloian of all Bulgarians

Are you sure about the figures of the army number?200 000 Cimbres or 180 000 Gaul soldiers?Do you think that historians don't exaggerate the number of the armies?


If you're talking about Arausio, I think that number is probably quite accurate. The Romans didn't exaggerate their own numbers, so the figure of 120 000 for the Roman army is almost certainly correct. It is not really conceivable that a Cimbri army of any less than 200 000 could have utterly wiped out that entire force (10 survivors, apparently!), so there's no reason to doubt that figure.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 10:36
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2006 at 07:18

One of bloodiest battles in roman history is The battle of Mursa (in modern Croatia) between Western Roman Empire (emp. Magnentius) and Eastern Roman Empire (emp. Constantius II) in 351 AD.

Casualties of both sides were about 55 000 roman soldjers and barbarian mercenaries.

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  Quote J.Caesar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2006 at 11:35
Edgewater has very lttle knowledge of Roman warfare and is talking about things on the ridiculous level. Roamns lacking in hand to hand...so ridiculous. So many accounts of Romans handling all even when scattered. Roamns fighting without weapons even(broken swords) and handling the so called northern barbarians. The Celts or Germans never attacked the Romans unless they had huge numbers on their side.Their are so many accounts of Roman victories while being outnumberd, including the anhiliated Tuetones and Cimbri. Romans trained for hand to continuously and themindividual soldier was expected to perform much physical training and heavy marching. The slashing sword style the Celts/Germans utilized were dealt with by Roman soldiers quite easily. The Romans didn`t  surrender much at all,( Spartns were heroes in the Roman world)while the Celts/Germans surrendered in masse often.
The favored and most successful gladiotors were Roman and Greek. Celt and Germanic were considered quite inferior.
Roamns feared and respected the fighting skills of Hannibal and the Parthins only.

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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2006 at 12:40

 J. Caeser.

 The Romans wernt strangers to surrendering theres the famous Roman surrender of 137bc when the Romans were humiliated by the Numantines. Only thanks to Gracchus was a massacre of the Romans prevented, instead a treaty was signed and the Romans were forced to bend down below two spears with a bar over it, a sign of subservience.

 However I do think this whole idea that the Romans were poor individual fighters is totally baseless, to fight in formation as a team it is still required that every soldier in that team be fully proficient with his weapon. There is absolutely no use whatsoever in a formation if those within it are useless with a sword, the Romans trained for a reason and I dare say they were more than a match for the average barbarian fighter, no matter how brave or how big his axe was.

 Totally totally baseless, as is the idea that all barbarians were experts with their own weapons individually, like as soon as they picked up a sword they were somehow became proficient with it. Across the board a well-trained Roman soldier was superior to the barbarians he could expect to fight, certainly before the barbarians closed the gap on the Romans in regards to order, tactics and technology. 

 Decius Meridiam.

 Can you be sure those figures are accurate? I very much doubt the Roman empire could of afforded (and survived) the loss of 110,000 men in 1 battle, easily 1/4 or 1/3 of its entire army. I can't believe casualties were that enormous at 55,000 each.

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2006 at 18:09
Actually the ancient historians (esp. Ammianus Marcelinus) says 55 000 died as a whole in this battle, which probably means about 20-30 000 for each army. However this was a serious strike for roman military power and very much weakened it.
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  Quote RomiosArktos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2006 at 18:17
And especally in the middle of the 4th century when the manpower for the army was impossibe to be found inside the empire.If truly 55.000 people died then it was really a major Roman civil war battle.

It seems more probable that the loser has taken most of the casualties,since in ancient battles many  soldiers fled and  died in the pursuit and not in the battle itself


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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2006 at 19:00

Originally posted by Decius Meridiam

Actually the ancient historians (esp. Ammianus Marcelinus) says 55 000 died as a whole in this battle, which probably means about 20-30 000 for each army. However this was a serious strike for roman military power and very much weakened it.

 The way your phrased, made it sound like you were saying 55,000 died on EACH side, ammounting to 110,000, simple misunderstanding.

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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2006 at 00:06

 

Originally posted by J.Caesar

The Celts or Germans never attacked the Romans unless they had huge numbers on their side.

While this is true, the strength of their forces at the point of engagement was almost always far less than that of Roman legions in formation - men per square footage of front and all that.

Roamns fighting without weapons even(broken swords) and handling the so called northern barbarians.

Obviously a stirring image, for propaganda purposes. A guy fought with a broken sword ... so what ... it really doesn't say much. It isn't like an entire army all happened to have broken swords. And I don't think it is at all comparable to fighting stark naked!

Their are so many accounts of Roman victories while being outnumberd, including the anhiliated Tuetones and Cimbri.

And as many accounts of their annihilation, as well. The Cimbri annihilated the Romans in two major battles and were defeated in the third, after wandering the empire unchallenged for a decade, putting Caesar's brief romp on the far side of the Rhine in true perspective.

The slashing sword style the Celts/Germans utilized were dealt with by Roman soldiers quite easily.

Here you have a misconception. Among the Celts, such as the forces at Allia, it is not a mass of men swinging swords, but a front of swordsmen with shields behind a screen of javelineers, with cavalry forces in reserve. The Romans at this time were using the phalanx, and more or less adopted the tactics of Brennus' forces (cavalry, and the use of skirmishers) and merged them with concepts of the phalanx to produce the legion.

Germanic forces did not utilize the sword much at all, only their elites used it. More typical weapons for the mass of Germanic forces were hunting weapons and tools adapted to war - the spear, the bow, the axe.

The favored and most successful gladiotors were Roman and Greek. Celt and Germanic were considered quite inferior.

True, but then gladiatorial combat was not of the same nature as combat in war. Romans and Greeks may have made good fighters in the games, but in the real world, they were certainly not in very high demand as mercenaries.

Roamns feared and respected the fighting skills of Hannibal and the Parthins only.

It is a simple fact, that neither of these forces prevailed against Rome. Rome was only ever defeated by Celts and later by various Germanic groups. Why would the Romans fear the people who lost all their wars, and not fear those who actually conquered Rome itself on multiple occasions? The notion is absurd! The Parthians won a few battles, but nobody fears an enemy who can only win battles but cannot threaten invasion or conquest.

As far as Hannibal - are you saying the Romans feared only Hannibal, but not his army (which was primarily made up of Celtic mercenaries)?    What did they think he was going to do without it?

The Romans didn't fear that the Parthians would destroy Rome, only that they would block Roman expansion in the East. Hardly the same thing, as the kind of fear Hannibal's army inspired, and not even close to the memory of Allia - a day which was commemorated ever after in Roman history by the closing of all shops and public places, a national day of mourning. The Parthians never made the Romans take up one of those. Caesar himself speaks of tribes like the Belgae as being quite formidable; they feared the Marcomanni, they feared the Celtiberians, and they feared the Cimbri until Vercellae (or they wouldn't have let them romp around among their vassals and allies, looting at will, for a decade). Name a Roman historian, and he evinces the fact that the Romans greatly feared other groups - be it Caesar, Polybius, Livy, etc. What evidence do you have to dispute these histories? Gut feelings, I suppose?

 

Neither the Parthians nor Hannibal ever made any momentous impression on the Roman way of war, there were no major changes in Rome's tactical doctrine afterwards (though they did cause changes to strategy). In contrast, Brennus' victory caused the Romans to abandon the phalanx and adopt the legion, along with Celtic arms - the helms they wore, the pilum, and the gladius, and to begin using cavalry. The Marcomanni Wars, far less succesful than the Punic Wars, occasioned further reforms of the Roman military and the adoptation of Marcomanni arms - chainmail, the round shield, and so on. Besides the Germans and Celts, the other major influence on Roman military doctrine was the Greeks. The phalanx was originally used because they shared a common cultural link, and combined with other influences to create the legion, but also Pyrrhus occasioned the adoptation of cataphracts (not, as commonly presumed, the Parthians). What unique influence did Parthian armies ever have on the nature of the legion? Did they start using mounted archers? Elephants? The only thing the Romans ever did with elephants was capture those of their enemies and display them, or use them in the arena as a spectacle. They either prevailed against these forces or simply were never seriously threatened in Italy, so there was no reason to adopt the tactics of such peoples as the Parthians, who could defend themselves but were too impotent to threaten an invasion of Rome itself. The Romans adopted the tactics of people who gave them a bloody nose in Italy itself, or who were a potentially direct threat to Rome itself.



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  Quote Ikki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2006 at 11:49
Roamns feared and respected the fighting skills of Hannibal and the Parthins only.

 

Neither the Parthians nor Hannibal ever made any momentous impression on the Roman way of war, there were no major changes in Rome's tactical doctrine afterwards (though they did cause changes to strategy). In contrast, Brennus' victory caused the Romans to abandon the phalanx and adopt the legion, along with Celtic arms - the helms they wore, the pilum, and the gladius, and to begin using cavalry. The Marcomanni Wars, far less succesful than the Punic Wars, occasioned further reforms of the Roman military and the adoptation of Marcomanni arms - chainmail, the round shield, and so on. Besides the Germans and Celts, the other major influence on Roman military doctrine was the Greeks. The phalanx was originally used because they shared a common cultural link, and combined with other influences to create the legion, but also Pyrrhus occasioned the adoptation of cataphracts (not, as commonly presumed, the Parthians). What unique influence did Parthian armies ever have on the nature of the legion? Did they start using mounted archers? Elephants? The only thing the Romans ever did with elephants was capture those of their enemies and display them, or use them in the arena as a spectacle. They either prevailed against these forces or simply were never seriously threatened in Italy, so there was no reason to adopt the tactics of such peoples as the Parthians, who could defend themselves but were too impotent to threaten an invasion of Rome itself. The Romans adopted the tactics of people who gave them a bloody nose in Italy itself, or who were a potentially direct threat to Rome itself.

Romans began not only to enlist massivelly the horse archers but foot archers from the eastern provinces. In fact, the parthian threat changed the roman way of war althought the most strong change came with the sassanid armies, strong in all types of cavalry and infantry, but specially in heavy infantry. The arrive of the cataphracts to the battlefields (please don't compare with previous cavalry units) change the entire roman army: adoption of phalanx, adoption of heavy cavalry, add the rise of the achers and the horse archers to the level of Comitatensis in the military reforms of Diocletian and you will see that the military influence of parthian-sassanid was the more powerful.

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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2006 at 16:04
Originally posted by Ikki

Romans began not only to enlist massivelly the horse archers but foot archers from the eastern provinces.


Well, that's true, but you're talking about the auxiliaries here - in the all periods and places of the empire, they utilized aboriginals in their standard gear for the native auxiliaries, on every frontier. Nothing special about that.

The arrive of the cataphracts to the battlefields (please don't compare with previous cavalry units) change the entire roman army


Right, but Pyrrhus was actually using real cataphracts, not just cavalry, just as he was using elephants and slingers. The Romans did adopt a small number of heavy cavalry from the Pyrrhic War. It should be mentioned that cataphracts were not at all unique to the Parthians - they were a feature of the Hellenic armies and were present in all Ptolemaic/Seleucid/Macedonian/Pyrrhic armies.

Diocletian's reforms actually resulted in a weaker military, but one more easily subject to political control. Despite a few early gains, after Diocletian's reforms, the Roman military is generally in a defensive stance against Germanics after this, and eventually begins to falter and crumble. Plus, Diocletian's reforms did not substantially change the arms or doctrines of the Roman army, which were evolving into a more or less Germanic form - chainmail, oval shields, etc - rather, they simply reorganized Roman forces, making most units smaller and reducing the power of commanders. Few tactical changes resulted, rather the change was more strategic, basically adopting a defensive stance.

add the rise of the achers and the horse archers to the level of Comitatensis in the military reforms of Diocletian


Hmmm .... the comitatensis was a Diocletian invention ... it just means the field army as opposed to the militia garrisons of the border. There were plenty of native auxiliaries in the comitatensis, African spearmen, Gauls, Germans. I don't see anything special about the Parthians being there too. All of the auxilia palatina were attached to the new comitatensis.

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  Quote Ikki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2006 at 16:58
Originally posted by edgewaters

...
Originally posted by Ikki

Romans began not only to enlist massivelly the horse archers but foot archers from the eastern provinces.


Well, that's true, but you're talking about the auxiliaries here - in the all periods and places of the empire, they utilized aboriginals in their standard gear for the native auxiliaries, on every frontier. Nothing special about that.


Nothing special but both the archers and the horse archers will take the first place in the auxiliar system, while other auxiliars as slingers, javeliners and archers with simple bow lost (with time) the site. Because the romans need fight with the parthians, they used massivelly oriental archers with composite bow (that arrive to the west with the parthians...) and horse archers in their main campaigns. A roman army of ten legions and a few slingers from the II century BC is totally different to the post Trajan armies of thousand spearmen, archers and cavalry, at least equal to the number of legionnaries.

The arrive of the cataphracts to the battlefields (please don't compare with previous cavalry units) change the entire roman army


Right, but Pyrrhus was actually using real cataphracts, not just cavalry, just as he was using elephants and slingers. The Romans did adopt a small number of heavy cavalry from the Pyrrhic War. It should be mentioned that cataphracts were not at all unique to the Parthians - they were a feature of the Hellenic armies and were present in all Ptolemaic/Seleucid/Macedonian/Pyrrhic armies.


The cataphracts contingents of the sassanid armies was very much strong, as you know the legions could deal with the hellenistic armies, but in front of the sassanid army they was crushed and must changed the legion way of war to a phallanx type.

Diocletian's reforms actually resulted in a weaker military, but one more easily subject to political control. Despite a few early gains, after Diocletian's reforms, the Roman military is generally in a defensive stance against Germanics after this, and eventually begins to falter and crumble. Plus, Diocletian's reforms did not substantially change the arms or doctrines of the Roman army, which were evolving into a more or less Germanic form - chainmail, oval shields, etc - rather, they simply reorganized Roman forces, making most units smaller and reducing the power of commanders.


Diocletian didnt do a military revolution (in the field of doctrine) because the roman armies had change greatelly sice their contact with the eastern peoples specially parthian-persians, the work of Diocletian-Constantine was organization and the assumption of the new circumstances because the ancient system didn't work well.

add the rise of the achers and the horse archers to the level of Comitatensis in the military reforms of Diocletian


Hmmm .... the comitatensis was a Diocletian invention ... it just means the field army as opposed to the militia garrisons of the border. There were plenty of native auxiliaries in the comitatensis, African spearmen, Gauls, Germans. I don't see anything special about the Parthians being there too. All of the auxilia palatina were attached to the new comitatensis.


Well, why do you think that the romans enlisted now, in their elite armies, horse archers and cataphracts? But not like auxiliars, now at the same level as the legions or superior, because now with the elite troops as reserve armies the movility of the cavalry was crucial. Do you know? The parthian-persian and other oriental peoples (like the sarmathians) influence...

Don't confuse with me man, i'm not one of those orientalist that saw east in all the things of this live . But in this military question, i have very clear that the rise of archers, heavy and horse cavalry must be ascribed to the eastern influence, to a response of the roman to new enemies i think is impossible refuse this.

bye


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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2006 at 17:28
Originally posted by Ikki

Because the romans need fight with the parthians, they used massivelly oriental archers with composite bow (that arrive to the west with the parthians...) and horse archers in their main campaigns.


Only their main campaigns in the Near East, which was completely typical - they were hiring natives as auxiliaries. You take what you can get. This was not an empire-wide reform of the Roman legions themselves - auxiliaries are a different thing altogether.

Well, why do you think that the romans enlisted now, in their elite armies, horse archers and cataphracts? But not like auxiliars, now at the same level as the legions or superior, because now with the elite troops as reserve armies the movility of the cavalry was crucial.


The majority of the horse archers were found in auxiliar palatines - which were indeed elites (as elite as auxiliaries can be, anyway), but most of the auxiliar palatines were made up of Germanic or Gaul infantry. The elite cavalry were organized in the vexillations - in which there were no horse archers.

But in this military question, i have very clear that the rise of archers, heavy and horse cavalry must be ascribed to the eastern influence, to a response of the roman to new enemies i think is impossible refuse this.


Heavy cavalry actually originates from Alexander's Companions, not from the East. It was adopted by the Hellenic armies such as the Parthians, but also by the Romans after their war with Pyrrhus.

Archers and horse cavalry never formed a signifigant element of Roman doctrine, except as native auxiliaries - and in this they aren't any more notable than any of the other native auxiliaries, and certainly not as numerous. It wasn't something that the Romans themselves adopted. Clearly they are an Eastern phenomenon, but they didn't cause any sort of "RMA" (revolution in military affairs) for the Romans' own forces.

Edited by edgewaters
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