A KS2 History – Roman Britain – 2b Power of the Army
The Roman army was the largest fighting force in the ancient world.
The Roman empire had become powerful because of the strength of its army. It had conquered a vast empire that stretched from Britain all the way to the Middle East larhely because the army was very advanced and skilled. The soldiers were very well trained, they had the best weapons and armour.
Roman soldiers were very well-trained. He would march 20 miles a day, he could swim or cross rivers in boats, build bridges and smash his way into forts.
After marching all day, Roman soldiers had to build a camp, complete with a ditch and a wall of wooden stakes.
A Roman soldier almost always followed orders. Anyone who didn’t faced tough punishments. If you fell asleep on duty, you could be sentenced to death.
What Did the Roman Army Consist of?
At its largest, there might have been around half a million soldiers in the Roman army. To keep such a large number of men in order, it was divided up into groups called ‘legions’. Each legion had between 4,000 and 6,000 soldiers.
A legion was further divided into groups of 80 men called ‘centuries’. The man in charge of a century was known as a ‘centurion’. He carried a short rod, to show his importance. He would also use it to beat any soldier who disobeyed him.
Some soldiers had special skills. They shot bows and arrows, flung stones from slingshots, or could swim rivers to surprise an enemy.
Roman soldiers usually lined up for battle in a tight formation. After a terrifying burst of arrows and artillery, the Roman soldiers marched at a slow steady pace towards the enemy. At the last minute, they hurled their javelins and drew their swords, before charging into the enemy. Then they used cavalry (soldiers riding horses) to chase anyone who tried to run away.
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