Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 4: Movement and supply: Logistics and the army train

Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 4: Movement and supply: Logistics and the army train

Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 4: Movement and supply: Logistics and the army train

As the introduction makes clear the ancient sources don’t provide us with much information on the way in which armies were supplied. Most of the few mentions that we do have are either meant to impress us with the size of an invading army (Xerxes in Greece being the best example) or come about because an army has suffered a disaster because they ran out of supplies (take your pick of most Roman invasions of Parthia - Mark Antony is chosen here).

As a result of the lack of direct sources most of these articles have to ask questions- how were the mobile late Roman armies supplied, how did their improved logistics allow the increased success of Assyrian armies, what would have been required for the Babylonian invasion of Arabia, how did logistical failures lead to Caesar's worst battlefield defeat at Ruspina, how much food and water would Xerxes have needed during the invasion of Greece, how hard would those supplies have been to move, and how does that alter with different sizes of army? This is an interesting approach and allows us to look at periods of history where the direct sources don’t always help.

The article on the mobile Roman smithy is of technical interest, looking at the types of tools and equipment available to the smith, but the author has to admit that there is no evidence that the Roman army actually had mobile smithies.

Away from the theme there is a long article on the portrayal of the ideal warrior in Greek lyric poetry and an examination of what we know about Mithraism, a late mystery cult often associated with the Roman army (I've visited the remains of one mithraeum on Hadrian's Wall).

Movement and supply - Historical introduction
Late Roman baggage trains - The Strategikon as source
The Assyrian Army - True masters of logistics
The reenactor - The Scythian guerrilla
Adventures of Nabu-na'id - The Babylonian conquest of Arabia
A setback for Julius Caesar - Logistical failure in North Africa
Mark Antony's Parthian campaign - Parthia strikes back
Feeding an invasion - Xerxes' expedition to Greece
Forging ahead! - Blacksmithing on the move
Warfare and Greek lyric poetry - Waxing lyrical on the ideal warrior
The mysterious 'Mysteries of Mithras' - Was Mithraism a Roman military cult?

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