This book looks at the professional standing army of the early Roman Empire, from 27 B.C., when Octavianus became Augustus, marking the start of the Principate, to the accession of Hadrian in 117 A.D., the point at which the Empire effectively ceased expanding. Augustus's predecessors had raised legions when they were needed (although in the prolonged crisis that ended the Republic many legions remained in existence for so long that they seemed permanent), but Augustus decided to place the army on a permanent standing, creating the skilled professional legions that now dominate our image of the Roman army.
The book starts with a well illustrated section on the tactical organisation of the army, showing the standard formations used by the Romans. This is followed by sections on the evolving military equipment of the Legions, the command and control structures, from the top of the legion to the junior officers within each century. The available sources only allow for a short section on the tactics used by the army in battle, before we move on to look at the army's famous engineering skills.
The second part of the book moves beyond the details of how the army was organised to look at the major wars and campaigns of the period, with special attention paid to four key battles – the disaster on the Teutoburger Wald, the defeat of Boudicca, the second battle of Cremona, fought between the Legions, and Mons Graupius, somewhere in Scotland, a battle won by the auxiliaries.
The book concludes with some useful 'extras' – a list of Emperors, a chronology, a good glossary and a list of the titles used by the Legions during this period.
Fields has produced a wide-ranging volume that serves as a very good introduction and overview of this topic.
Roman military organization
Weapons and equipment
Command and control
The Roman Army in battle
Author: Nic Fields