I was recently asked how I approach the projects that I work on. My instant thought was that would be like me explaining what goes into sausage - something most people just don't want to know. Now I am having second thoughts about that. I have always had a fascination with the Roman Empire. When I was taught about the empire in school I came away with the impression that it was a hugely organized and efficiently run mechanism that started to break down and fail around 400 AD or there about. Where as throughout its history it seems that it fought against itself almost as much as it fought its enemies. Still, they are impressive.
I have relatives in Germany and knew a little that the Roman Empire extended its borders up into Germany but had little idea of what was going on there at the time. So like most projects, it began with a little Google. I found a site on the Saalburg fort and its reconstructions and that is what hooked me to the time and place.
Next was confirming what I already knew about the Roman military at the time and figuring out what they could do. Then I have spent some time figuring out what was there was in terms of a military presence in my selected area. This is probably a trip down an unnecessary rabbit hole. Anyway, here is some notes I have put together so far that you may or may not enjoy.
First, I am limiting the project to the German Limes at roughly 100AD or there about. I have found some excellent web sites that are really useful.
First up is Vici.org.
Next is an awesome map site http://imperium.ahlfeldt.se/places/16049.html.
Here is a screen shot from their page on the area that I am looking at. The map is much easier to deal with than the one from Vici.org as the symbols for the forts are not as large. But Vici.org has more of the minor roman roads present in their map. So both are rather useful. What I cannot find is any markings for German Villages other than the small round red (at least I think they are red) ring forts marked inside the Roman area on the map above. Those are not as helpful. The ring forts date back to more of a celtic origin from the early iron age. It is likely that those settlements were largely abandoned by the time of Roman occupation.
I am focusing on the Civitas Taunensium area of Germania Superior. That is more or less what is featured on the map above. Nida was the capitol of the civitas. Saalburg would have been one of its border forts. Nida was not nearly as large a town as that of Mogontiacum (Modern Mainz). There are no less than three fortification sites present in the town. By the 3rd Century AD, the town had established city walls and had grown to a civilian population of close to 10,000 people. But by 100AD the town was a village outside of the roman fort. I am assuming that the Kastellung A - the stone fort - would be the one that would have been standing at the time. The roads leading in and out of Nida matched to the entrances to this fort.
The garrison of Nida was held by several different units during its history. These included Ala I Flavia Gemina, Cohors XXXII Voluntariorum civium Romanorum and Cohors IIII Vindelicorum. These are all Auxiliary units. The first being a cavalry unit. The second is interesting as it is a volunteer unit of Roman civilians. These would normally have been men eligible for the Legions. They were raised after the disaster in the Teutonburg Forest. Depending on who you read there were anywehre from 17 to 42 of these types of Cohorts raised. This unit is placed in Nida at close to the end of the first century from an inscription found from a centurion being dedicated into the cult of Mithras. They then were transfered to Ober-Florstadt.
The Vindelicorum Cohort was apparently an infantry cohort. They have a reenactment group that has put together a fun little video on their web page. Its loud so be prepared to lower the volume on your speakers before giving it a go. Apparently, this unit spent most of its time as a garrison of Grosskrotzenburg. Bricks made by this unit at their foundry in Grosskrotzenburg found their way all across the limes.
The cavalry unit appears to have been raised close to 70ad. It was a quingenary unit of about 500 cavalrymen. It was raised in what is now Switzerland but served in this area close to the time we are looking at. The fort at Nida was large enough that it would have been able to support two Auxiliary cohorts. Thus it is likely that the cavalry and one of the infantry units served side by side there.
The town of Nida is a major cross roads that link the significant fortifications of the bulge in the limes. The limes follow a series of large hills that provide a slight natural barrier to the flatter agricultural lands to the south. Along these hills, the limes were built. Straight north of Nida is Saalburg, a cohort fort hosting the Cohors II Raetorum Civium Romanorum Equitata. This is a mixed arms cohort with 480 infantry and 120 cavalry. This is the unit that I am focusing on.
Saalburg has a museum now and much work has been done to reconstruct the fort.
The way I am thinking of putting this together, the actions would take place around the watchtowers that are places between the forts and possibly one of the kleinkastles like Lochmuhle. Even in 15mm, the Saalburg fortification would take up most of the table. The Germans might press in and raid one of the villas in the south or the Romans may press across the limes in a punitive expedition against a German village.
The goal is to keep the Roman formations as historical as possible while not doing over much violence to the Dux rules. I have some ideas and did a theoretical German attack on a small roman fort on paper. It seems to work. I will post more once I get some miniatures ready.