This is the third(ish) part of our four(ish)-part (I, II) look at the role of the general in the command of pre-modern armies, particularly in the context of a pitched battle. Last time, we looked at the limits on the ability of the general to communicate his orders to his army. While films and video games often present army command as fairly frictionless – the general can communicate a wide range of orders in the heat of battles, which are easily understood and rapidly acted upon – in actual command, the ability to issue any orders once the battle began was quite limited, leaving a general with a few key decision-points rather than a wide open field of possibilities.
In this post and the next few (since it has become necessary to divide this topic up a bit) we’re going to look at the army itself and the degree to which different armies might be differently capable of following the orders a general gives or the plans he makes. In particular we’re going to be talking about the role of three factors: synchronized discipline, independently acting junior officers and finally cohesion in shaping the options available to the general. Originally I had planned to do those all in one post but it has become fairly clear they need to be split up, so each gets its own post. In essence all three of these factors constrain the degree to which a general can get his army to execute certain plans, particularly complex plans.
We’ll start with synchronized discipline.
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For once, synchronized discipline is not a feature of armies entirely absent from historical tactics games. ‘Discipline’ is often a statistic or feature for more elite units in these games, sometimes as a simple stat boost (often to morale), but in other cases it really does open up new command options. In many Total War games, ‘disciplined’ units (the terminology varies) often have access to advanced formations that less well-trained units of a similar type lack. Thus for instance in Empire: Total War, only the professional line infantry (and its elite variants) can actually use the fancy fire-by-rank drill once you research it; less well-trained militia can’t. The same is true of more professional units in Total War: Three Kingdoms, being able to arrange into various defensive formations that militia units with equivalent arms cannot.
But for understandable gameplay reasons the distinction rarely extends beyond allowing or disallowing certain special abilities on a unit. If I, say, order a unit of professional state-troop Swordsmen to deploy from column into line (by right-click dragging to tell them to adopt a wider formation), they do it instantly and easily, with each man flowing into his new position in the formation. And if I give the same order to a literal Peasant Mob they…also seemingly effortlessly flow into the new desired width, each man moving mechanically to his new assigned position. But as you may recall, deploying smoothly from column into line was sufficiently tricky to do on the fly that most armies seem to have avoided it in the pre-modern period, instead matching their marching width to their fighting depth so they could march into position and then right- or left-face to make the transition easier.
The film equivalent to this is the overly complex battle plan arrived upon by the hero just before the battle and at best only briefly explained to the army (and always off-screen so that we can preserve tension), but which the army executes flawlessly in the moment despite apparently never having trained to do that. Take, for instance, the famous ‘Battle of Stirling’ scene in Braveheart (1995) – a scene which, I must note, has next to nothing to do with the historical Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297), including lacking the all important bridge the battle was fought around. In any case, in the film, Wallace, having apparently invented the pike in the previous scene, deploys them in a large army under combat conditions. And in the words of Todd Howard, ‘it just works.’1 Everyone flawlessly knows what to do when he shouts ‘now!’ – no one panics, no one reacts with confusion, no one fumbles their new and unfamiliar weapons.2 No one runs away because they don’t trust this newfangled weapon or tactic.
Now in a video game the reason that soldiers can act in a coordinated way so easily of course is that all of those individual models in a unit of ‘Peasant Mob’ are being directed centrally.3 Even in a game like Mount and Blade: Bannerlord where each soldier is simulated separately from any unit, they still ‘snap’ to formations like this because the game can both instantly determine exactly where each model should stand and also instantly direct each model to run over and stand at that exact point (you can actually see this very obviously if the commander of an infantry formation is on horseback – order the formation to move and the commander will charge forward on their horse and stop at the exact spot they will occupy in when the rest of the formation arrives). But of course that demands both information and communication capabilities which, as we’ve discussed, no pre-modern army – and indeed, no actual army – has.
Rather an army, at its core is simply a very, very large crowd (placed under conditions of extreme psychological stress). Think about the effort that goes into herding crowds to do even very simple things, like filing into and out of a stadium at a sporting event – how much it takes just to get a crowd to walk slowly in one direction through clearly marked doors and routes!
So how do real armies function and given their limitations how can they coordinate the action of many hundreds or thousands of humans together?
All Together Now
Pre-modern armies certainly do demand a considerable degree of coordination. In film and even sometimes in video games armies clash together in a confused melee with friends and foes all intermixed at random. Indeed, I have been asked by students more than once “What happens when X type of soldier ends up in a confused melee?” and had to explain that the answer is ‘they don’t.’ Because no one fights that way, at least not intentionally.
In a fight, after all, a combatant is extremely vulnerable to attacks from behind or in their peripheral vision, especially if they are focused forward on the foe in front of them. A confused melee would thus produce extreme casualties and produce them extremely quickly. But fighters want to survive their combats and their leaders would like not only to win the battle but to have an army at the end of it. Remember: the purpose of the battle is to deliver a siege: if you win the battle but with only a pathetic handful of survivors, you haven’t really won much of anything.
The battle line is the obvious solution: each fighter is only responsible for a few feet of frontage directly in front of them, a small enough area that they can focus on it visually and direct whatever shield or armor or weapons they have towards it, giving them a greater margin of safety. Adding depth to the formation (that is, increasing the number of ranks, that is a row of fighters right to left) both secures each fighter against the possibility of being flanked due to the death of the fellows to their right or left (as now they’ll just be replaced by the next rank moving up) and adds a morale reinforcement which we’ll come back to in a few weeks. But now you have a formation that consists essentially of a large number of files (that is, a single row of fighters front-to-back) which need to move together to create that unbroken, mutually supporting front line so that no one is being attacked from many sides at once. Again, all of this is before we start adding fighting styles like pike-formations or shield-walls that are designed to excel in this environment (and fare poorly out of it).
As an aside, this is one dynamic that I find games like Mount and Blade or the Total War series that simulate individual soldiers struggle to get quite right. In most games the line of formation either remains almost perfectly rigid (think units on ‘pike phalanx’ in Rome: Total War) or units the moment they come into contact form rough blobs of models all pushing forward. But actually you are going to have men in the rear ranks trying to keep their relative position to the front ranks so the formation neither holds rigidly steady nor dissolves but is going to almost flex and bend (and if you are lucky, not tear or break). This is only an aside though because we’re not well informed about these sorts of dynamics, so it is hard to speak about them in-depth.
But to fight this way now means that all of your soldiers (really here we are talking about infantry; cavalry must also be coordinated but in different ways and because they are often composed of elites that coordination may be produced through different training methods) need to move in the same direction at the same speed in order to retain that front line where they can support each other. Again, we are not yet to something like a shield-wall or a sarisa-phalanx which demands tight coordination; even in a rough skirmish line you need to get everyone moving together just to maintain that unbroken front. A break in the front, after all, would be dangerous: enemies filtering into it uncontrolled could then flank and defeat individually the members of the broader line (two-on-one contests in melee combat typically end in seconds and are very lopsided), causing collapse.
Now the good news is that if all you need an army to do is form up in a rough line a few ranks deep and then move more or less forward, the coordination demands are not insurmountable. We’ve already discussed using marching formations to create the line of battle so all you need is a way to regulate speed (since forward is a fairly easy direction for everyone). It isn’t quite ideal for everyone to simply self-regulate their speed by looking around (at least not for a contact infantry line; for missile-skirmish troops moving in a ‘cloud’ rather than a line they can absolutely do that) because that will produce a lot of stagger-start-stopping and accordioning which at best will slow you down and at worst will eventually turn your neat line into a rough crowd – one easily defeated if it is opposed by a line of infantry in good order. Keeping everyone in the same speed can be handled with music: the regular beat regulates the footsteps. That can be a marching song or it can be an instrument (ideally one easy to hear).
We’ve talked about armies – or components of armies – like this. I’ve described hoplite phalanxes through much of the classical periods, for instance, as essentially unguided missiles for this reason: the general hits ‘go’ and the line moves forward. Likewise a shield-wall formation like the early English fyrd doesn’t need to do complex maneuvers. And for many armies, that was enough: a body of infantry which either held a position or moved forward in a single line, in some cases with a body of aristocratic cavalry which might be capable of more complex maneuvers (that the aristocrats had trained in since a young age). And you can see, if your culture has armies like this, why the general might be focused on either leading the cavalry in particular or else being the motivating ‘warrior-hero’ general – such an army isn’t capable of much command once the advance starts in any event. They haven’t trained or prepared for it.
But what if you need the formation to turn? Or change width or depth? Or adopt some kind of special formation like a square or a circle? Or, heaven help you, make a feigned retreat? Or any other ‘cool general stuff?’ Now we come to the problems because even if you can communicate what you want to happen, the problem you have is coordinating hundreds of people doing it.
Let’s take the really simple example: COMPANY, RIGHT WHEEL! The command here is to take our line, which is wide but not deep (let’s say we’re 4 men deep and 25 men wide) and rotate it so that it turns almost like a door with its right-most soldier as the hinge. But now things are terribly complicated: at that command, everyone suddenly needs to be covering ground at different speeds (even if still stepping in time)! The fellow on the far left needs to be moving quite quickly to cover the outer edge of the circle we’re drawing with our turn, while the fellow on the extreme right is basically stopped (or in a marching right wheel, advancing at a slower pace) – and everyone in the middle needs to keep the same relative position to everyone else as they do it so the line doesn’t fall apart.
Obviously doing that quickly in a situation where you are under a lot of psychological pressure is going to take practice. Which brings us to:
Drill and Synchronized Discipline
The usual solution to this difficulty often goes by the terms ‘drill’ or ‘discipline’ though we should be clear here exactly what we mean. Discipline in particular has a number of meanings: it can mean the personal restraint of an individual, a system of rewards and punishments (and the effects of that system; the punishments are typically corporal) and what we are actually interested in: the ability of a large body of humans to move and act effectively in concert (all of these meanings are present to some degree in the root Latin word disciplina).4 For clarity’s sake then I am going to borrow a term (as is my habit) from W. Lee, Waging War (2016), synchronized discipline to describe the ‘humans moving an acting in concert’ component of discipline that we’re most interested in here. That said, it is worth noting that those three components: personal restraint, corporal punishments and the synchronized component of discipline are frequently (but not universally) associated for reasons we’ll get to, not merely in the Roman concept of disciplina, but note also for instance their close association in Sun Tzu’s Art of War in the first chapter (section 13).
The reason we cannot just call this ‘drill’ is because while drill is the most common way agrarian societies produce this result, it is not the only way to this end. For instance as we’ve discussed before, steppe nomads could achieve a very high degree of coordination and synchronization without the same formal systems of drill because the training that produced that coordination was embedded in their culture (particularly in hunting methods) and so young steppe nomad males were acculturated into the synchronicity that way.5 That said for the rest of this we’re going to place those systems aside and mostly focus on synchronized discipline as a result of drill because for most armies that developed a great deal of synchronized discipline, that’s how they did it.
Fundamentally the principle behind using drill to build synchronized discipline is that the way to get a whole lot of humans to act effectively in concert together is to force them to practice doing exactly the things they’ll be asked to do on the battlefield a lot until the motions are practically second nature. Indeed, the ideal in developing this kind of drill was often to ingrain the actions the soldiers were to perform so deeply that in the midst of the terror of battle when they couldn’t even really think straight those soldiers would fall back on simply mechanically performing the actions they were trained to perform. That in turn creates an important element of predictability: an individual soldier does not need to be checking their action or position against the others around them as much because they’ve done this very maneuver with these very fellows and so already know where everyone is going to be.
The context that drill tends to emerge in (this is an idea invented more than once) tends to give it a highly regimented, fairly brutal character. For instance in early modern Europe, the structure of drill for gunpowder armies was conditioned by elite snobbery: European officer-aristocrats (in many cases the direct continuation of the medieval aristocracy) had an extremely poor view of their common soldiers (drawn from the peasantry). Assuming they lacked any natural valor, harsh drill was settled upon as a solution to make the actions of battle merely mechanical, to reduce the man to a machine. Roman commanders seemed to have thought somewhat better of their soldiers’ bravery, but assumed that harsh discipline was necessary to control, restrain and direct the native fiery virtus (‘strength/bravery/valor’) of the common soldier who, unlike the aristocrat, could not be expected to control himself (again, in the snobbish view of the aristocrats).
In short, drill tends to appear in highly stratified agrarian societies, the very nature of which tends to mean that drill is instituted by a class of aristocrats who have at best a dim view of their common soldiers. Consequently, while the core of drill is to simply practice the actions of battle over and over again until they become natural, drill tends to also be encrusted with lots of corporal punishments and intense regulation as a product of those elite attitudes. And though it falls outside of our topic today it seems worth noting that our systems of drill to produce synchronized discipline have the same roots (deriving from early modern musket drill).
Nevertheless, a thoroughly drilled army becomes capable of a lot more; to get a sense of how much more I think we ought to take an example.
The Limits of the Possible with Synchronized Discipline
Of course I chose the Romans. Could there have ever been any doubt?
But in all seriousness, to say the Romans had a reputation for this sort of thing is honestly underselling the point. Polybius remarks both on the superior flexibility of Roman soldiers (18.31.9-11) and the intensity and effectiveness of Roman rewards and punishments (6.35-38). Josephus, a Greek-speaking Jewish man from the province of Judaea who first rebelled against the Romans and then switched sides offers the most famous endorsement of Roman drills, “Nor would one be mistaken to say that their drills are bloodless battles, and their battles bloody drills” (BJ 3.5.1).
It is hard to tell if the Roman triple-line (triplex acies) fighting system6 created the demand for synchronized discipline or if the Romans, having already developed a tradition of drill and synchronized discipline, adopted a fighting style that leveraged that advantage. Probably a bit of both, but in any event our evidence for the Roman army before the very late third century is very poor. By the time we truly see the Roman army clearly (c. 225 BC) the system seems to already be in place for some time.
A Roman consular army was a complex machine.7 It was composed of an infantry line of two legions (in the center) and two socii ‘wings’ (alae) to each side, along with cavalry detachments covering the flanks. Each of those infantry blocks (two legions, two alae) in turn was broken down into thirty separate maneuvering units (called maniples, generally consisting of 120 men; half as many for the triarii),8 which were in turn subdivided into centuries, but centuries didn’t really maneuver independently. In front of this was a light infantry screening force (the velites). So notionally there were in the heavy infantry of a standard two-legion consular army something like 120 different ‘chess pieces’ that notionally the general could move around on their own and thus notionally the legion was capable of fairly complex tactical maneuvers.
You may have noted that word ‘notionally‘ because now we get into the limits of drill and synchronized discipline, because this isn’t a system for limitless tactical flexibility of the sort one gets in video games. Instead, recall that the idea here is to create coordinated movement and fighting (the synchronized discipline) through rigorous, repeated practice (drill). Of course one needs to practice specific things. Some of those things are going to be obvious: a drill for marching forward, or for turning the unit or for advancing on the charge.
In the Roman case, a ‘standard’ battle involved the successive engagement and potentially retreat of each heavy infantry line: first the hastati (the first line) formed a solid line (filling the gaps) and attacked and then, if unsuccessful, retreated and the next line (the principes) would try and so on. Those maneuvers would need to be practiced: forming up, then having each maniple close the gap (we don’t quite know how they did this, but see below), the attack itself (which also involved usually throwing pila – heavy javelins), then retreat behind the next line if things went poorly. It’s also pretty clear from a battle like Cynoscephelae (197) or Bibracte (58) that individual maniples or cohorts (the Romans start using the larger 480-man-cohort as the basic maneuver unit during the second century BC) could be ‘driven’ over the battlefield to a degree so there were probably drills for wheeling and turning.
Now even in this ‘standard’ battle there is a lot of movement: maniples need to open and close gaps, advance and retreat and so on. This is what I mean by saying this army is a complex machine: it has a lot of moving parts that need to move together. The men in a maniple need to move together to make that mutually-supporting line and the maniples need to move together with each other to cover flanks and allow retreats. In terms of how the individual men moved, I’ve tended to think in terms of a ‘flow’ model akin to this video of South Korean riot police training, rather than the clunkier Spartacus (1960) model.
But once an army has practiced all of these drills, it creates the opportunity for great improvisation and more complex tactics as well. Commanders, both the general but also his subordinates, can tell a unit to perform a particular maneuver that they have drilled, assuming the communication infrastructure exists in terms of instruments, standard shouted commands and battle standards (and note back to last week on how Roman methods of battlefield communication were relatively well developed). That, for instance, allowed Aemilius Paullus to give orders to his first legion at Pydna for each of those maneuver units to either push forward or give ground independently, presenting the Macedonian phalanx with a tactical problem (an unevenly resisting line) it did not have a good solution for (Plut. Aem. 20.8-10). Having good junior officers (next week’s topic) was required but it wasn’t enough – those officers needed units which were already sufficiently drilled so that their orders (to press hard or retreat and reform in this case) could actually be carried out by soldiers for whom the response to those calls had become natural through that very drill.
At the same time I don’t want to give the wrong impression: even for the Romans battles where there was this sort of on-the-field improvising led by the general were uncommon (though not extremely rare). For the majority of battles, the legionary ‘machine’ simply pushed forward in its standard way, even when – as at Cannae (216) – pushing forward normally proved to be disastrous. Just because an army can fight flexibly doesn’t mean it will or even that it should.
Orders by the Menu
But the real reason I wanted to run through the Roman system for doing this is actually to demonstrate the limits of this kind of synchronized discipline. Because yes, this sort of drill and training allowed constituent units to potentially maneuver more dynamically and flexibly (when under competent leadership; it is quite striking that Roman command skill with this sort of thing was very dependent on the skill of the general (and one assumes by proxy the skill of his subordinate officers – more on that next week)), but only to do those things which they had practiced.
And therein lies the rub: just as the commander doesn’t have a multitude of points where he can intervene in the battle but rather a limited set of key decision points, so too he does not have an infinite set of potential orders he (or his subordinates) might give at any given moment. Instead, the commander (or his subordinates) has a McDonald’s Menu worth of options he can employ. He can order anything on the menu and expect the unit to respond accordingly but he cannot order anything not on the menu, nor can he order an altered version of a menu item (no Big Mac without cheese; Sir, this is not a Wendy’s).
Now generals could and did use drilling in the early stages of the campaign to add one or two ‘menu items’ to their drill so as to be prepared for this or that problem. Indeed the general preparing some sort of surprise of this sort and then deploying it against an enemy is a standard topos of effective ancient generalship (although in many cases we may doubt the purported gimmick was actually used (e.g. Dionysius 20.1.6, Dio 10.5)). But that is the thing: such extra ‘menu items’ have to be prepared in advance and often well in advance of the battle. Caesar, for instance, anticipating war elephants drills his troops in anti-war-elephant tactics before the Battle of Thapsus (46 BC, Caes. Bel.Afr. 84). Alexander’s phalanx seems to have been drilled to respond to scythed chariots as well (Arr. Anab. 3.13.5-6).
That said the bulk of the menu was likely to remain constant. After all these ‘menu items,’ while they have simple names are often actually fairly complex to do and train when you are dealing with units of dozens or hundreds. Turning back to our example of Company, Right Wheel! we can get a sense of the complexity of training that maneuver by the way they did it. The ‘right guide’ (the man on the extreme right) adopts a set pace (nine inch steps) while the ‘left guide’ moves at the normal regulated speed (note this requires training your soldiers not only to step in time but to step at standard lengths) and every soldier in the middle regulates his motion by maintaining elbow contact with the man to his side. That’s a good method to get the result, but it isn’t an obvious or simple method: the fellow training the company to do this needs to already know how to do this.
Now in the modern period with mass printing, you could print drill manuals that had all of the commands and instructions on how to do them, but in the pre-modern period that kind of mass printing isn’t an option (and our military texts almost never go into this kind of granular detail) so your officers have to learn to train the behavior by observing it and participating in it themselves. Which means in turn a great deal of your ‘package’ is set before the army is even mustered at the beginning of the campaign season because you are relying on a package of culturally embedded knowledge about how armies ought to function. And if your culture doesn’t have that tradition, inventing it from scratch is going to be hard and take time; and by ‘time’ I mean ‘decades.’ Effective drill for volley fire (the ‘countermarch’), for instance, answered a need that had existed for most of the 16th century, but the embryonic ideas for it only started emerging in the 1570s, the actionable plan on how to do it in 1594 and it was only then finally deployed in a major battle in 1600 at Nieuwpoort.
However, the time available for that kind of training is limited. Remember that drill works by repeating the same set of actions over and over again until they become almost instinctive. That takes a lot of time and repetition! That both means it is going to be difficult to find space for new ‘menu items’ (especially with green troops that still need to learn the basics) but also that synchronized discipline itself is expensive. Our ancient sources stress how Roman levels of synchronized discipline required diligent and continuous drilling to create and maintain.
Doing that in turn would demand keeping the soldiers in question under arms for training for long periods when they were not fighting. In the Middle Republic this seems to have been accomplished through rolling recruitment: Rome was essentially always at war and always raising armies so there were always a goodly number of veterans to train and ‘break in’ the truly green new recruits in any given draft (though again – and I owe this notion to Michael Taylor – there are some signs that the less intense conflict of the mid-second-century leads to some dulling of the Roman edge). As we transition through the Late Republic into the Early Empire, that is replaced by the slow professionalization of the Roman army, culminating in the force of long-service professionals created by Augustus. Being mobilized in peacetime, professional soldiers could be drilled extensively (assuming their cultural values are going to let them drill you; also be wary here of assuming standing forces of ‘military settlers’ are professional in this way).
But all of that is extraordinarily expensive. Keeping those soldiers under arms, after all, means that they need to be fed, clothed and paid. Even in a system like the Middle Roman Republic where soldiers provided their own kit out of their own wealth (because Roman soldiers in the Middle Republic were recruited from the modestly well-to-do smallholding class), by drafting those men you have removed them from that economic activity. The expense of doing this would have been in most cases enormous and of course those are resources that could be deployed to any number of other uses, including simply raising a larger army of less disciplined, well trained troops. For, say, a Greek polis given the choice between having 450 men under arms all year round and excellently trained or having 5,000 hoplites under arms only in the one month where there is a battle to fight the clear answer is the latter. A lot of things need to line up before producing armies with high levels of synchronized discipline makes sense: the state needs a lot of resources, year-round security challenges and a tactical system which is effective and demands this kind of investment. So while developing synchronized discipline offered an army a degree of greater control and flexibility, it was prohibitively expensive.
Conclusion, Part IIIa
It isn’t hard to understand, given those costs, why most pre-modern armies didn’t invest this heavily in synchronized discipline or drill, especially if their infantry was expected merely to be a pinning or holding force and for aristocratic cavalry to be the ‘battle winning’ force. By and large armies capable of the kind of synchronized discipline of a Roman or Han dynasty (or early modern gunpowder) army were the exception, rather than the rule.
Yet in games the player is never really given this choice or forced to make this trade-off between more expensive armies which allow for greater control and cheaper armies which can only be handled in very limited ways. Even if ‘cheap’ units can’t adopt advanced formations (and they often can), they can still maneuver around the battlefield with as much agility as far more highly trained units. It is infrequent, for instance, to have units which can be perhaps trusted to hold their ground but which cannot really be ordered to attack (we’ll come back to the absurdity of being able to order a ‘peasant mob’ to charge elite units and having them do it in a bit), which was a fairly common concern of pre-modern commanders.9
Now I should note that so far we’ve mostly talked about drill’s role in producing synchronized discipline, but this is also a way of producing cohesion as well: the process (often quite brutal) of inculcating synchronized discipline produces cohesion through the shared experience and shared suffering of the troops. It is essentially a tool for creating ‘synthetic’ cohesion, particularly useful if an army has no ‘organic’ cohesive elements. Cohesion, of course, as its own effects on the ability of an army to execute complex plans.
Next week, we’ll turn and look at another key element in enabling even this limited degree of tactical flexibility: junior officers. Because it doesn’t matter how well drilled the army is, if there is no command structure to communicate orders from the general to his troops, those orders will not be acted upon.
- Trying to do this in real life is more likely to look like the actual launch of Fallout 76 than Todd Howard’s imagination of the launch of Fallout 76.
- The utterly confused and wild melee that follows is actually also a pretty good example for why armies form in lines and do not fight like they do in the movies, something we’ll come to in a moment.
- And in a film they can all do it because it’s in the script.
- I’m not going to go on at too much length on the importance of disciplina as a key social concept in Roman society, but it was very important. Fortunately I have already recommended J.E. Lendon’s Soldiers and Ghosts (2006) which presents disciplina as one of the two core animating concepts of Roman military values (alongside virtus) so you can go read that!
- For more on this, see T. May, The Mongol Art of War (2007)
- Which, like everything in the Roman army is a slight miscount. There are four lines in the triplex acies of the Middle Republic, because the velites skirmish out in front; they’re not included in the number because the triplex refers to the lines of heavy infantry.
- I’m going to focus on the Middle Republic here, but a lot of this continues and some of it even intensifies into the Late Republic and the Early Empire
- Note that we are assuming the organization of the socii broadly matched the Romans, which it seems to have done in general features, though we are often not well informed on particulars.
- I always really liked that in the old Sierra Civil War Generals games, unit cohesion would first prevent the unit from charging, then from attacking in general long before the unit broke and fled so that weak, low-morale units could defend but it was unwise to order them to attack and some units simply lacked the cohesion to charge even without having taken losses. Really wish those games would get a remaster and re-release, they were quite good.