Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Roman Dux under Construction

Well I have decided to to the German Limes route with this. The Upper German-Raetian Limes to be exact. This was a 353 mile (568km) stretch of fortifications with some 900 watchtowers and over 60 forts. Each watchtower was behind the palisade wall by some 20 to 50 meters. Each watchtower was separated by 300 to 800 meters provided they had a clear line of sight to one another. Just as with Hadrian's wall there were small fortlets (kleinkastel) staged along that held detachments from 40 to 80 men in strength. My area that I wish to copy is that of the Cohort fort of Saalburg. This is a great site in that they have some of the most complete reconstructions of a roman fort in Germany. Also it is dead easy to find data for it on the internet. (Remember, I am lazy.)

What did I stumble upon today but the most marvelous site: It has fantastic maps of the whole area that I am looking to include in my campaign. Here is the first map I made from this site.

Map from Terrible white lettering over the map is all mine.

Here we see the Cohort Fort of Saalburg with the watchtowers associated with it and the milecastle/kleinkastle that also had the same unit - Lochmühle. Saalburg was the home of Cohors II Raetorum Civium Romanorum Equitata. This was an Auxiliary unit that was at least in part mounted. This fits in with my preference for a mixed unit. To the northeast, Lochmühle had elements of the same unit present. While the milefort to the southwest was a unit of Auxiliaries from Legio XXII.

The Cohors II Raetorum Civium Romanorum Equitata was a Cohors Quingenaria Equitata unit. Formed by six centuries of infantry (80 men each) and four turma of cavalry (30 men each). This matches with the size of the fort.

The fort of Saalburg is well documented and there are any number of diagrams showing what it would have been like.

Taken from

Just 200 meters from the back gate of the Saalburg fort is the lime itself. The German Wikipedia sites are actually really helpful here. There is a diagram of what the gate through the lime would have looked like near this fort.

taken from

The child fort at Lochmühle is another story. This is far less documented as what it would look like. The general size is known. It was a 18 meter by 22 meter rectangle. It was set back about 30 meters from the lime. The artists reconstruction is dubious in that some sources claim that this fort had only one gate and this shows two gates.

Image taken from

Basically if you take the drawing at face value, there are room for 4 tent parties and an officer in the truncated barracks as well as a storeroom, a workshop and an outdoor oven. So that works out to about 32 men plus a head NCO, just under half a century.

That just leaves the watchtowers. These would be temporary duty for about 8 men who would take turns manning the towers. These would be wood or stone structures of 3 stories in height with the entrance on the second floor. In addition to this, there would be the patrols. Plenty of things to be going on for a campaign.

I am putting an artificial dividing line for the towers to be at tower 3/63 for the purpose of the campaign. That would be as far to the southwest as the troops at Saalburg would have to patrol.

Now, if push really comes to shove and the forces at Saalburg need backup, they have to call out to Legio XXII Primigenia Pia Fidelis at Mogontiacum or Legio VIII Augusta at Argentoratum or even Legio III Italica at Castra Regina. This could come into play if I ever venture into 6mm miniatures for Romans.

I think my next step will be to make some terrain.


  1. So, what first? A watch tower to fight over? A good way to kick off the campaign might be to buy a watch tower and a then have the first game be a relief force saving a tower under attack?

    1. Actually it will be the Limes wall itself. I am thinking of using bamboo skewers for the palisade wall mounted in styrofoam to handle the rise and approximate a ditch. I will sketch out something later today.

  2. If you want a fort useful for 15mm, take a look at this:

    1. Wow. Chris, I believe the squish sound you just heard was Emilio grinding your last doubts underfoot. Go forth and build a paper fort right now! Ok, ok, I'll get my coat.

    2. I have seen this before and have been sorely tempted. My one problem is that when I look at my 15mm paper terrain, I don't like it. Not sure why but I just don't.

    3. You don't have to like it. You get the whole kit for under a tenner and build it in an evening or two, then get it on the table and as you go on, you migrate to resin. A quick start and then a slower upgrade.

    4. This is a compelling argument. They also have a viking settlement and a Roman Villa by the same group.

      Emilio, are you sure it is in 15mm? I could not find anything about scale in the description.

    5. From a user review on teh Usborne website:
      so cheap!
      Bought one for 15mm miniature war gaming - such a cheap way to build an impressive display piece.
      charlarino, 30th May 2013

    6. Very nice. You are completely distracting me from launching my CSIR supplement you know. :) I can get it for $7.50 from Amazon. It is now on the wishlist.

    7. Chris, I built that fort, or a similar one, years ago. Now it is gone, sadly. If I recall correctly, it was 1:120 scale, may be a bit small for modern 15mm figurines, that are 1:100.

    8. That is good to know. Still, the price is right.

  3. Just checked, I still have the title page of the book, and it is 1:120. Some other models from the same publisher are HO, that is, 1:87, better for 15mm. I got the medieval castle (big!!) and the medieval village too. They were HO scale. The roman villa I don´t know.