The Roman Army

10 facts

The Tortoise

The Testudo (The tortoise)


In the Roman Army a common defense practice was the tortoise. The people at the front would put there shields up in front of them and people behind would put there shields above there head creating a something that completely block off any front on ranged attacks.



The Pigs Head

Another formation was known as the pig's head. The infantry was placed into a wedge-shaped formation and would push into the enemy with a wall of shields.


Some other Formations

The Repel Cavalry

The order to repel cavalry brought about a the following formation. The first rank would form a firm wall with their shields, only theirpila protruding, forming a vicious line of glistening spearheads ahead of the wall of shields. A horse, however well trained, could hardly be brought to break through such a barrier. The second rank of the infantry would then use its spears to drive off any attackers whose horses came to a halt


The Seventh Formation

When the Romans were outnumbered or had inferior troops, this was often the only hope for victory. The left flank was kept guarded by whatever protection was available. The right was protected by the light troops and cavalry. With both sides well covered, the army had little to fear from an attack.


The Sixth Formation

The sixth formation was similar to the second, with both having the right wing attacking the opponent's left from behind. In this attack, the enemy's left wing cannot be reinforced, for fear that it would leave an opening for the Romans to exploit.


Typical Legion Formation

This was the default arrangement for a full legion in battle. The cavalry rode up front, on the sides where they could protect the flanks. In between them were two rows of five cohorts. Behind the main group were seven units of light troops, followed by seven units of reserves.

The Second Formation

This formation, considered by some to be the best, took advantage of the fact that the left side of a soldier, and so the left side of the army was considered to be weaker, because it had to support the weight of the shield. The right wing moved around the opponent's left, and attacked from the rear. The left wing kept its distance, while the reserves supported the left wing or guarded against the enemy attacking the center.