Home Forums Ancients Roman Auxiliaries in the Late Republican / Augustan Period

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    I don’t think I understand well the change in the way auxiliary units were raised, equipped and used in the course of this period – could anyone explain it to me please? Or point me to a good guide?


    A Lot of Gaul

    The short answer is that, following the Punic Wars, Roman commanders of the Late Republic hired specialized non-Roman mercenary auxiliary troops to supplement the legions in roles for which legionaries were not well suited, namely light infantry, missile troops, and skirmishers. During the same period, the Roman equites were increasingly serving as an officer corps rather than as cavalry troops, causing commanders to employ auxiliaries in that role as well. These auxiliary troops included Balearic slingers, Cretan archers, Numidian cavalry and many others, fighting in their native manner and with native clothing and weapons.

    When Octavian/Augustus reformed the Roman army, one of his changes was to begin the development of permanent units of auxiliaries for cavalry, missile and skirmishing troops, and also as heavier spear-and-shiled troops to supplement the legions. These units were still comprised of non-Romans, but were increasingly regularized, including receiving standardized clothing and weapons as part of their service.

    For more information, Wikipedia has a pretty good introductory article:

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by A Lot of Gaul.

    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field


    “Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome” from Wargames Research Group covers the period you asked about.  They also have another book, “Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars” that slightly overlaps into the late republic.  They both have  information on organization and equipment along with drawings illustrating the way the soldiers appeared.   The first book details the difference between Cohors Quingenaria, Cohors Millilaria, Cohors Equitata, the few Cohors Dromedaria, and Cavalry Alae.

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