bruce at puremagic.com
Sun Nov 12 02:26:12 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000
J C Lawrence wrote:
> Legionaire 's pace, ie the walking pace of a Roman Legionaire, was 4
> miles per hour. They also had a rigidly defined scaled march
> pattern (walk so long, break for so long etc), with multiple grades
> for increasing distance rates etc (which I don't recall just now.
> Anyone?). It was in fact the distance mapping of the distance which
> could be covered by a legionaire was what defined the distance
> between forts and stages on roads, and in turn defined (in many
> cases) where towns sprung up (to support the garrisons/forts).
I dug out my copy of _Epitome of Military Science_ by Vegetius,
translated by Milner.
Book I, Section 9:
9. Recruits should be trained in the military step, in running
and in jumping.
So, at the very start of the training recruits should be taugh
the military step.(1) For nothing should be maintained more on
the march or in battle, than that all soldiers should keep ranks
as they move. The only way that this can be done is by learning
through constant training to manoeuvre(2) quickly and evenly.
For a divided and disordered army experiences danger from the
enemy which is always most serious. So at the military step 20
miles should be covered in 5 hours, at least in summer time.(3)
At the full step(4), which is faster, 24 miles should be covered
in the same time.(5) If you add anything to this, it now becomes
running, for which a distance can not be defined. But recruits
should particularly be accustomed to running too, so as to charge
the enemy with greater impetus, occupy favourable positions
swiftly when need arises and seize them first when the enemy wish
to do the same, to go out on scouting expeditions speedily,
return more speedily, and overtake fugitives with ease.
1) militaris gradus
2) For the technical sense of the verb ambulo = decurro
3) ie, 18 miles, 658 yards in 5 * (14*5)/12 hours, or about 3.04
mph. The Romans counted 12 hours of daylight, which averaged
about 14.5 modern hours in summer and 9.5 hours in winter at the
latitude of Rome. 1 standard Roman mile measured 1,617 yards.
4) plenus gradus
5) ie, 22 miles, 86 yards in 5 * (14*5)/12 hours or about 3.65
mps. The militaris gradus is unique to Vegetius. It will
correspond to the speed to the "standard march" or isutum iter
known from Caesar's Bell. Civ, defined as a normal route-march on
good roads in good weather between camps, leaving time to build
the camp and curare corpora, and leave in good time the next day.
Vegetius is a relatively late source for the Roman period, but I
hope that helps.
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