Late Roman (West) - DBA 77a
|1 x 4Kn or 3Cv||Roman knights are either the Gallic Equites Catafractarii or the Clibanarii. The Clibanarii were more common in later years and were modeled after eastern cavalry. The Equites sagittarii Clibanarii and the Equites Persae Clibanarii emulated the bow-armed Persian heavy cavalry. Other Clibanarii, such as the Cuneus Equitum Clibanariorum Palmirenorum were modeled after the fully armored lancers fielded by the Parthians and Palmyrans.|
|2 x 3Cv||Include both the regular Equites (e.g. Equites Armegeri) and the Sagitarii or mounted archers. Roman horsemen were typically well-equipped with mail and shield and wore the conical spangenhelm helmet.|
|1 x 2LH||Specialist troops recruited from among Rome's allies to scout for and screen the army.|
|4 x 4Bd||The still formidable Roman legionary, now typically Gallo-Roman or Germanic in origin rather than Latin, and equipped with ring mail or leather armor (or no armor), a leather helmet, an oval or round shield, thrusting spear and the spatha sword.|
|3 x 4Ax||Allied or Foederati units, typically Germanic or Gallic in origin (e.g. Auxilia Celtae, Auxilia Brisigari), employed in a variety of specialized roles. In the frontier militias, the Auxilia could be descendants of Hadrian's veterans who were settled in border garrisons generations before.|
|1 x Art or 2Ps||The Notitia Dignitatum records one unit of catapult operators (Ballistarii) stationed at Bontobrica near Mainz on the Rhine frontier.|
Late Rome-West enjoy a quite barbarous list of opponents: Alan (#55d), Scots-Irish (#61), Moorish (#65), Caledonian/Pict (#67), Middle Imperial Rome (#69) Early Goth or Vandal (#70), Early Frank, Burgundian, Alamannic or Rugian (#74), Early Saxon, Frisian, Suevi, Bavarian or Thuringian (#75a), Late Roman-East (#77b), and Later Visigoth (#80).
The Knight option coupled with Roman Blades make the Late Roman-West army a dangerous opponent for most Warband heavy opponents, but the Late Romans must also contend with barbarian armies (e.g. Alans, Vandals, etc.) that are both more mobile and that can also match the Romans Knight for Knight and occasionally Blade for Blade. A careful combined arms approach and appropriate use of terrain so that the Roman Auxilia can contribute are essential. Skillful generalship is necessary to avoid the decline and fall of your Late Roman ambitions.
For a mobile field army, a march camp--perhaps with hasty defenses--is certainly appropriate. For the frontier Ripenses and Limitanei, a pallisaded garrison is a likely choice. A cart or wagon element representing a baggage train is also well suited.
The following tips by Luke Ueda-Sarson were forwarded by Larry Nellinger, Jr.:
Assuming you are playing 4th or 5th century Romans, you want the following (some of these bits are conjectural, but they are the best guesses vailable):
Legionaries and their supports (including artillery, marines and promoti light horse, but excluding foot guards): Leather armour (legionaries only), red helmet crest, red tunic, brown breeches, maroon scabbards and belts, black shoes if shoes provided, otherwise sandals. Field regiments will have purple shoulder markings and cuffs.
Auxilia (including cavalry, both heavy and light-other than promoti light horse), foot guards, foot auxilia and their supports: White (or cream colored) tunics (heavy cavalry have mail), yellow helmet crest (and plumes for some cavalry - with green horse cloths), maroon scabbards and belts, brown breeches and black shoes. Field regiments will have purple shoulder markings and cuffs.
Shield patterns varied enormously. By this time, the old-style winged thunderbolts had disappered. You need to look at the Notitia dignitatum (parts of which are reproduced in WRG/Phil Barkers 'Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome' or something lie that. If you play Romans you NEED this book. It covers Goths too).
The following notes by Simon MacDowall, author of
I use 25mm mostly and the Foundry figures (and most new ones now) are all in mail. If I were you I would paint the cuirasses iron or bronze, although my feeling is that such cuirasses were more likely only worn by officers, but of course we cannot be certain. There is pretty good evidence for iron muscled cuirasses and the yellow-brown ones that Phil Barker has mentioned could quite likely be bronze. There are 15mm figures in armour, the best are by Donnington which are actually based on my book. My favourite is the one based on Plate A with spangenhelm and scale armour. Donnington is pretty hit and miss, some of their figures are terrible, others excellent; their Late Romans are amongst their best. We cannot absolutely rule out rawhide cuirasses I just think it is a bit unlikely. I believe most or all Legionaries would have worn mail or scale and many auxiliaries would have as well, at least up untill the end of the 4th Century. 5th Century troops would probably have been less well equipped but there is hard evidence for armoured infantry in the East in the 5th C. - Simon
The following notes by Moramath were clipped from the rec.games.miniatures.historical newsgroup. He is commenting on recent historical reinterpretations of ancient sculptures which has led to the rejection of Barker's conclusions that Late Romans wore leather armor moulded like a breastplate:
I'm not current with the latest research, but don't despair if you have some of those figures, the old Phil Barker view is not impossible, but it is less likely and very unfashionable. If I ever get round to a DBA "End of Roman Britain" Army I'll be including a base or two of those lads to represent Six Victrix , for old time's sake and no better reason than in one of the museums in York one of the first things you used to see was a large sandstone statue of a chap exactly so equipped. This is conventionally identified as the god Mars, and the cuirass extends over the shoulders in a manner which is recognised as artistic convention as it's utterly impractical. There are, however, remarkably similar figures on fragments of a lost triumphal column incorporated in a Turkish bath in Constantinople whose kit looks more functional. As to what the cuirass was made of, that's another matter, but I seem to remember the Greeks in the mythological battle (Amazonmachy) on one of the Dura-Europos shields have what appears to be a yellow-brown cuirass and maybe petruges (but not at the shoulder), while the rest of their kit is pretty much mid third century AD.
(Editors Note: Comments on Red versus Unbleached Tunics):
Maybe bleached for Centurions (Centenarii?) and Officers with embroidery/aplique panels as per Barker, but also sometimes with another band along the bottom hem and a vertical strip similar to those on the chest running up the side seams from the hem to about two-thirds the way to the waist in "purple." "Purple" in this case can mean madder-based red-brown through to crimson for rankers, same or possibly proper murex based purple for officers. The circular patches on the thigh and cloak corners can, less frequently, be square or octagonal. There is some indication of even bigger patches on the cloak.
The current view seems to derive from Nick Fuentes paper "The Roman Military Tunic" published in M. Dawson "Roman Military Equipment: The Accoutrements of War (Proceedings of the Third Roman Military Equipment Research Seminar)" British Archaeological Reports International Series 336, Oxford, 1987. I haven't access to this volume but the conclusions are summarised on page 84 of Brassey's History of Uniforms - the Roman Army: The Wars of the Empire, (Graham Sumner, ISBN18575632120). Basically, it is that during the early Empire legionaries wore white, while centurions and officers wore white on parade, with centurions wearing red in the field. However, for the Late Empire red is not completely unattested, see Plate 7b in "Roman Military Equipment" by M C Bishop and J C Coulston (Batsford 1993, ISBN 0713466375) for a catacomb painting of a 4th Century soldier in a red tunic. According to the Brassey's volume mentioned above this chap was a soldier in an Auxilia Palatina. Slingshot 198 also has an article which includes descriptions of some painted Late Roman shields from Egypt which bear images of what appear to be wearing pinkish tunics, the same source confirming green for saddlecloths.
The still-classic reference for 4th-5th century Roman history is Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Also see Best of Gibbon's Decline and Fall).
Vegetius' manual, Epitoma Rei Militaris, describes the Roman military system at a point sometime between 383 - 450 AD. (Latin Text)
As part of their Wargaming in History series, Sterling Publishing Co. has reprinted a quite entertaining softcover by Simon MacDowall entitled "Romans, Goths & Huns," which was originally released by Argus Books in the U.K. in 1990. The book includes a stripped down version of MacDowall's own Legio rules for ancient-medieval warfare.
The following selections are available in the De Bellis Bookstore:
Caesar : A History of the Art of War Among the Romans Down to the End of the Roman Empire", by Theodore Ayrault Dodge (Da Capo Press, Oct. 1997). 816 pages, softcover.
Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation, by Arthur Ferrill (Norton, June 1998). Softcover. (Mini-review: a history of the period offered in support of Ferrill's thesis that the recruitment of barbarian infantry into the Roman Army was a principle cause of the empire's fall.)
Late Roman Cavalryman 236-565 AD (Warrior 15), by Simon MacDowall (Osprey, Nov. 1996). 64 pages, softcover.
Late Roman Infantryman 236-565 Ad (Warrior 9), by Simon MacDowall (Osprey, Sept. 1994). 64 pages, softcover.
Romano-Byzantine Armies 4th - 9th Century (Men-At-Arms 247), by David Nicolle, A. McBride (Illustrator) (Osprey, Sept. 1998) 48 pages, softcover.
The Late Roman Army by Pat Southern (Yale Univ. Press, Aug. 1996). 240 pages.
The Rise and Decline of the Late Roman Field Army, by Richard S. Cromwell (White Mane, May 1998). 97 pages.
See also the links to Roman history sites on the DBA Historical Resources page.
Comments, questions or suggested additions to this page can be sent to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.
Last Updated: March 27, 1999