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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Feb, 2008 11:25 am    Post subject: Question on Roman Legionary Equipment         Reply with quote

Okay guys, I need some help on a time period outside of my expertise...

I am in need of some information on the packs carried by the Roman Legions for a class I am teaching. What I have commonly seen pictured is equipment suspended from a cross shaped frame. I need to know what the name of this type of pack is. What would the equipment consist of, and how much did the average fully loaded pack weigh? Also, if anyone has pictures they could share, that would be a great help -- especially ones of the pack in use (Romans carrying this pack on the march).

Thanks,
Chris

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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Feb, 2008 12:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Question on Roman Legionary Equipment         Reply with quote

Chris Goerner wrote:
Okay guys, I need some help on a time period outside of my expertise...

I am in need of some information on the packs carried by the Roman Legions for a class I am teaching. What I have commonly seen pictured is equipment suspended from a cross shaped frame. I need to know what the name of this type of pack is. What would the equipment consist of, and how much did the average fully loaded pack weigh? Also, if anyone has pictures they could share, that would be a great help -- especially ones of the pack in use (Romans carrying this pack on the march).

Thanks,
Chris


Source " WARFARE in the CLASSICAL WORLD ", John Warry, St.Martin's Press New York, 1980 Salamander Books Ltd,
page 134 - 135.

Weight of equipment 80 to 100 pounds including arms and armour.

Soldier's kit: Bronze mess tin and water bucket/kettle, a sickle for cutting grain and forage, a wicker basket for earth moving. a pick-axe ( Dolabra ) with it's sheath, a turf cutter, a picket for fortifying the camp,

In addition: A bedroll & cloak, 3 or more days ration of grain and hard-tack.
Each squad of 8 men were also allowed one mule, which carried heavier items such as the squad's leather tent and mil-stones.

This list may not be complete and don't forget clothing, armour & arms.

The cross shaped pole I don't have the name for but on a personal note when I go to the convenience store and buy numerous bottles of soft drinks etc .... that are heavy I use my walking stick on my shoulder to carry the bags and it's very much easier than lugging bags with the plastic handles cutting grooves in my fingers.

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Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Feb, 2008 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that they did use pack animals to help carry equipment. After their early battles with Gual, South of the Alps, they also learned to make carts. So each unit might have had a few donkeys with carts to pull their camping equipment. Perhaps also helmets and shields when not in hostel territory.
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M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Feb, 2008 4:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Awesome. Always wondered what else they toted around with them.

This might be an appropriate time to ask about plumbata, as well; are there any written accounts as to the effectiveness of "plumbata"?

M.

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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Feb, 2008 9:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Avete!

One place to start might be the Legio XX page on Packs,

http://www.larp.com/legioxx/packs.html

There's not a lot there, though, so you may also want to try a search on the Roman Army Talk board,

http://www.romanarmy.nl/rat/

We've discussed packs and weights a few times in the past year or so.

The pack pole itself is called a furca, and is described as a forked stick. The only place it is shown, however, is on Trajan's Column, and it has been pointed out that a crossbar is NOT actually visible. There is a horizontal bundle or roll, tied at one or both ends, but the ends droop and there is also a cord around the middle which seems to actually support it. So if the pole had a small fork near the top, or even a nail, the cord could go over that to keep the bundle from slipping down the pole.

I don't remember any evidence offhand that there was a bedroll in addition to the cloak, but it's been a while. Although Josephus mentions a pickaxe (dolabra), shovel, and several other tools, it is likely that each man carried only one digging tool. Each 8-man contubernium (tent-full) would therefore have a couple of each, a good variety. Palisade stakes are common finds, and are mentioned in literature, but were not a regular part of a man's load. Food certainly was, typically 3 days' rations. Estimates of the total weight of marching gear vary greatly, but I'd guess in the 70 pound range or so. About what infantrymen have carried for millenia! Note that this is a total weight including armor, shield, and weapons, which were required to be worn on the march. Battle gear was about half that weight or a little more, so pack and tools probably ran 30 to 40 pounds. It's very easy to drop it if necessary, but on the move it balances easily on the shoulder, resting against the back.

Yes, each 8-man squad had a mule to carry its tent, grindstones, and other heavy gear. Other carts and wagons carried more food, supplies, portable forges, officers' tents, etc.

That what you're looking for? Vale,

Matthew
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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Feb, 2008 12:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen,

Thanks for the insights. Knew I could count on you!

Matthew -- the links you provided are great. I can't wait to dig into them further!

Chris

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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Feb, 2008 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Check out Gary Brueggeman's Roman army site, too:

http://garyb.0catch.com/site_map.html
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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris-Try "The Roman Soldier" by G.R. Watson pp 62-66 This is a summary of all the antient authors,with citations and conversion from Roman to English measure. It makes very clear that the Roman Army felt that around 66 lb was normal, as in modern armies, but that roman soldiers were trained to carry 80-90 lb in emergencies, as in Julius Caesars campaign, at Munda where his men had to carry their full 23 day feild ration, as it was an emergency and Caesar did not have pack mules to issue Normally each tent unit or mess squad of 8 men had a mule to carry rations and theitr tent. Normally, the men only carried a emergengy ration for 3 days of hardtack, dried peas or beans,salt meat and acetum (Very sour red wine ) to clean their drinking water The Army knew from observation that sour red wine, added 1 part wine to 2 parts water prevented diarroea. They also used it to clean wounds and bandages. Modern science has confirmed that sour red wine is a good antiseptic.
Ja68ms
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