Friday, August 30, 2013

More Thoughts on Roman Dux

First things first, welcome JP. He is the latest to join up here. He is a busy man with two blogs that are well worth looking at. The first is Herefordshire 1938. The second is The Very British Civil War Miniatures Guide. The Very British Civil War is something that keeps trying to tempt me but I have held firm on so far.

Roman Dux
I am getting closer to the point to getting miniatures for this. But I want some more things fleshed out. I am still attempting to decide if I am going to aim for a Hadrian's Wall based campaign or on one of the German Limes along the Rhine. The Rhine one is sorely tempting me. Those are fortifications I think I am capable of modeling. A long wooden palisade and a ditch with scattered watchtowers with signal pyres. Definitely doable. Then a fort further back to support troops. This rather than the Hadrian's wall model with two towers and a milecastle supported by a fort.

In either case, it would be the Auxiliaries that would handle most of the man power. So that led to a couple hours of Google time looking up Auxiliaries. The formation that caught my eye was the Cohors Equitatae. Since nothing is easy (Nil Facilis Est), this type of formation could have 2 different subtypes. Both offer possibilities. The first is the Cohors Quingenaria. A small force of around 500 men with 120 being mounted and the rest formed into six centuries of 80 men each. The second is the larger Cohors Millaria of around 1000 men featuring 240 cavalry and 10 centuries of infantry.

While looking into these I found an interesting sentence that I could not find anywhere else. There is a claim that these units fielded archers in addition to normal infantry. This would make one of these formations a true all arms force. Perfect for a skirmish game. I will take the smaller force as it neatly fits into the fort that would support a section of Hadrian's Wall - 6 centuries and 120 cavalry. Some sources point out that the cavalry would be more messengers and skirmishers than true fighting cavalry. But that is fine for the purposes here.

How to split this up? Well, I am determined to try the 8 man group size to base the troops on. Who would be the leaders. Well since the size of the force would be a cohort, the commander of the Cohort would be a senior centurion, the Pilus Primus. But we can't have lowly centurions being in charge of anything. This detachment will need some noble senator or the like hanging around to inspire the to deeds of greatness. So that means we need s tribune who was given an independent command. (probably as a punishment for something said while in the cups at the officers mess to end up our in some backwater). Each century would have its centurion. In addition, an Optio would be present to support the centurion. Also a Tesserarius would be present in each century as a third in command. That gives us an officer pool to draw from for our games. The cavalry would be led by a Decurio. The senior Decurio commanded a turma of 30 cavalrymen.

A watchtower would be garrisoned by a 8 man tent party that would be rotated regularly. A foot patrol would be anything from 1 to 4 tent parties of infantry led by an Optio or Tesserarius (watch commander). A cavalry patrol would be lead by a Decurio and contain two groups of 4 men. (OK a Decurio would have had 10 men under his command but what can you do) Now this is too small a selection of forces for Dux B. So what we are interested in is not small patrols but what tribune would put in the field when the locals are acting up. The whole force of 500 is way too much. So what do we do?

Lets look at what our force has. Taking some liberties, lets assume that one century of our Cohors Quingenaria is sagitaria (archers). That gives us 5 centuries of infantry. Given that we are an Auxiliary unit, our forces would be entirely Warrior rated for Dux. (Maybe. We will see) Our Vexillation that we will send in the field will include: 1 tribune (has to cover himself in glory after all), a centurion, an Optio, 5 groups of 8 Auxiliary infantry, 2 groups of 4 archers and 2 groups of 4 cavalry. The cavalry would be counted as heavy and are armored with swords.

Opposing Forces
Now, the problem part is who do they fight? For the German Limes, we have Germanic tribes. Because I am fundamentally lazy here, they would look like... Saxons. But what troops would they have? Hmmm.... Well the best way to address this (remember I am lazy) is what miniatures are out there? Well Peter Pig (I am a big fan) has javelin armed troops, Sword armed men, archers and light cavalry. Essex has javelin armed, spear armed, axe armed, and heavily cavalry. Some are naked. Obviously those poor guys must have had Mussolini as their quartermaster.

My idea is to leave the less disciplined German or Celt tribes as 6 men per group. So our enemy would have a Chief, a hero, and two sub-chieftains. They would have 6 groups medium infantry that may not form a shieldwall. They are rated as warriors. They have an additional 2 groups of levy troops armed with shields and javelins plus some hand weapon. Again no shield wall. The javelin armed troops may throw their javelins before they charge. They have one group of skirmishers (4 men armed with with either bows or slings). They also have two groups of skirmish cavalry armed with shields and javelins.

Ideas, Frosting and other nonsense:
In order to reward the performance of our little lead troopers, lets look at the awards presented to Roman Troopers.

As a bravery medals, the Romans gave soldiers torcs (worn on the chest rather than neck), Armillae (arm bands), phalerae (early medals in the form of gold, silver or bronze discs worn over the armor. About 4" in diameter or so), hasta pura (a small silver spear awarded for saving a life), vexilium (a miniature silver replica of a infantry standard) and a cup (probably bronze/silver or Gold). Also several different crowns could be awarded for service. This gives us some trinkets that our Tribune could be awarded out to our lead troopers.

Wikipedia has a nice picture of some phalerae. See:

A renactor site shows a centurion with some torcs above some phalerae. See:

Also a unit could be awarded phalerae as well as individuals. So the signifier would add them to his standard. The greater the decoration, the larger the unit pride.

Anyway, this is just some random thoughts.


  1. Very interesting thoughts here, Chris; I will follow your project with true interest. Will I finally find THE rules to play with my Romans after so many past disappointments? Cross fingers

  2. Another interesting rumination on this modification for Dux Britanniarum. I hope to see more.

  3. Thanks for the welcome sir!
    Go on, give in..... :D